Air Malta to start direct flights to Glasgow

Good news for Scottish residents looking for some sun in Malta, as Air Malta the national carrier announces direct flights from Glasgow airport to Malta.

As part of the company’s expansion of its service to regional airports in the ImageUK, Air Malta will fly once per week on a Tuesday to Glasgow, along with the following other routes;

  • Birmingham – Tuesday and Friday
  • Bristol – Tuesday
  • Cardiff – Tuesday and Friday
  • Exeter – Tuesday
  • Newcastle – Tuesday
  • Norwich – Tuesday
  • Glasgow – Tuesday

The flights include a generous 20Kg checked luggage allowance plus 10Kg cabin allowance and will offer prices to rival the budget carriers, such as easyjet and Ryanair.

Take a look on the Air Malta website for more details

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Keeping warm in the Maltese winter

For anyone that has visited Malta or Gozo on their summer holiday, the title of this article Fireplace_Burningmay seem a little odd, but for permanent residents, keeping warm during the relatively short Maltese winter is a real issue.

The property in Malta is built with the scorching summer temperatures in mind and not the wet and cold of winter and hence little thought is normally given to how to heat the property.  As I sit writing this, I am wearing three fleeces, plus we have a small electric fire on and my hands are still cold.

Unfortunately, there are only limited choices when considering heating in Malta.  Wood is imported and expensive, electricity is relatively expensive and oil fired heating systems are rarely built into properties, partly because the majority of housing is in apartments, with little space for a large storage tank.  In addition, there is no piped gas in Malta which makes gas central heating impractical.  With all the sunshine the islands receive, you would expect solar to be better utilised, but take up is still fairly low.

So what are the choices and their pros and cons?


As mentioned, there is no piped gas, so you need to rely on bottle gas.  It is used for cooking and space heating using portable heaters.  Gas was traditionally used due to low prices, but recent years have seen the cost of a bottle double.  Even so, it is still the cheapest form of heating.


  • Readily available
  • Relatively cheap
  • Fast heating
  • Convenient


  • Smell given off by heater
  • Condensation
  • Heaving heavy gas bottles about
  • Some safety concerns

Electric heating

Either using convector heaters or reversible air conditioning units provides convenient and safe heating, but electricity prices in Malta are high, making this method expensive, particularly when compared to gas.


  • Convenient
  • Instant heat
  • Safe


  • Expensive

Wood burning stove

In our house in the Pyrenees, we installed two wood burning stoves, because they provide good heat and are cheap to run.  Wood is plentiful and in some cases free – though you will need to cut the trees and collect the wood yourself!  In Malta, with little natural woodland left, wood for heating is imported and expensive.  Although wood burning stoves give off a nice heat and certainly provide a nice atmospheric centre piece to the room, they are time consuming to light and maintain.


  • Focal point
  • Good heat in one room


  • Wood is expensive
  • Heat takes time to get going
  • Can be messy to clean up


Alternative sources such as solar make sense in Malta, but this technology has mostly been used to heat water rather than provide a source of heating.  Generating electricity from solar needs a much larger area of panels which for many would not be possible.  Solar powered heating is possible, but a large storage tank for hot water, typically several thousand litres, is required.  Again this simply is not possible for the majority living in apartments, unless built into the property as a shared resource at the outset.


  • Cheap to run
  • Clean and safe
  • Government grants available


  • Expensive to install initially
  • Heating system most suitable for new builds


Although popular in many other countries, oil is getting increasingly expensive.  A full central heating system fired by an oil boiler is a great solution if the running costs are not an obstacle.


  • Effective, controllable heating
  • Easy to use
  • Can provide hot water as well


  • Initial installation cost
  • Cost of oil

One thing that does not seem to be considered in Maltese buildings is insulation.  From all the new builds I have seen around the island, not one has any form of insulation installed.  Of course, from a heating perspective, retaining the heat you generate is a great money saver and also makes the temperature in the building more consistent.  But insulation also works the other way in keeping heat out of the property in the summer months, so it seems very strange why insulation is not used.

We would love to hear about your solutions to keeping warm in the winter months, even if it is simply wearing more layers!!


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Carnival in Malta


Carnival float in Valletta
©Hamelin de Guettelet – Wikimedia Commons

Carnival season in Malta is nearly upon us and if you have never been, you have missed one of the major events on the Island.

Carnival is celebrated in most of the towns in one form or another, but most notably with large processions and celebrations in the larger towns.  As you would expect, Valletta hosts the biggest with floats carrying huge papier mache figures in bright and gaudy colours, plus a cacophony of sounds from the bands and spectators alike!

It is thought that carnival in Malta dates back to the time of the Knights of St John, when life was  very different and carnival brought relief from the hardship of 16th century life.  The event is always held in the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, presumably to allow the population to have a week of enjoyment before the forty days fasting of Lent.

Large events are also held in Victoria and Nadur on Gozo and as with Malta, smaller celebrations take place across the island.  Of particular interest is the Kummittiva, which takes place in Xaghra.  This is a dance, celebrated at Carnival time, that was first performed over 120 years ago.  Originally, the dancers were all male, but over the years, finding enough men to take part has proved difficult and now women are allowed to take part.  The dance is very intricate and culminates in something akin to the Maypole dance of the UK.

Where ever you go for carnival, you are sure to see something different and quintessentially Maltese.  Take a look on Guide2Malta for event listings nearer the time to find all the carnivals taking place in Malta.

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Air France launches cheap air tickets, including Malta to Toulouse

Air France offers cheap flights to Malta

Air France offers cheap flights to Malta

Air France has just launched a new range of cheap flights to run alongside their standard airfares, including a route to Malta from Toulouse.

The new fares are similar to those offered by Ryanair and easyJet, but Air France will still offer in-flight meals and allocated seats with the cheaper tickets.  The main difference is the lack of any checked-in baggage allowance, but with a generous cabin luggage allowance included, it will appeal to many travelers looking for the cheapest flights to Malta, which start from just €99 return.

I commented recently on a flight we had taken with Air France, using the full price ticket and remarked on how nice it was to travel “old style” and not the budget airline “cattle class” style!  Now there is a choice, but I think the cheap version of the Air France ticket will still be a slight cut above the real budget carriers.

Maybe this will knock Air Malta into offering more competitive prices.

Read more on Guide2Malta

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Driving in Malta – again!!

In October, I wrote a blog about the driving in Malta and how I had been amazed by the very low standard.  On my short daily commute last week I came upon two examples of the standard of driving here.

On Wednesday, while going through Burmarrad, I saw a car parked on the central reservation.  Nothing unusual there you might think, considering we are in Malta – people park almost any where, including on roundabouts.  However, in this case, the central reservation is a low slab of concrete and tarmac, just a little narrower than the space between the wheels of a car – I think you may be ahead of me here!

The driver of this car had managed to straddle the central reservation and in doing so had removed part of his sump, liberally spreading oil all over the road.  Now you would think that the driver might notice the loud noise as the sump is ripped off and stop rather quickly, but from the distance the car has travelled, the driver was either oblivious or travelling at a fair old lick!

The following day, while going around the roundabout just outside St Paul’s Bay, I was surprised to see a car abandoned in the middle of the roundabout.  He was actually very lucky, having escaped hitting the large palm tree head on and instead having just scraped the half of the passenger side, coming to a stop with the passenger door jammed shut by the tree.

To get where he did was quite a feat.  The roundabout is not exactly small and the grassy incline he ended up on is fairly steep, so again, he must have been dozing or just going at some speed.  The day after it was announced that the driver had not been found and the police were appealing for witnesses.

The final part of this story is the Sunday Times of Malta running an article talking to young drivers on their experiences of driving in Malta and they all mentioned the bad driving and speeding.

Something needs to be done, but so far the government seems content with traipsing down the same road other governments have trod, with the “Speed Kills” mantra.  Yes speed can be a contributory factor, but the main culprit is simple bad driving.  Until the standard of driving improves, focussing just on speed is not going to have a great affect.

Perhaps you think otherwise?

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How the other half live

You would think that in these times of austerity, continuously pointed out to us by our political leaders, that those same political leaders would actually follow what they preach.
But apparently it does not apply to them!!

At the recent EU summit to decide the European Unions budget for the next few year, the gathered politicians sat down for lunch, (which I expect was not a quick sandwich from the cafe!) and helped themselves to free bottles wine costing £120 each!

I really believe that we need to be a part of the EU, but when you read of the lavish spending of our money on themselves, you have to question if it is all worth it.  The EU budget currently stands at 56 million Euros, and the EU leaders are intent on increasing that to 63 million Euros, no doubt to keep funding the staggering 40,000 bureaucrats that make the whole thing run.

It is high time that this particular gravy train was derailed and the money poured into the EU put to better use than helping the politicians to get sloshed.


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Visiting Valletta

Valletta the capital of Malta

If you visit Malta, Valletta has got to be at the top of your places to visit.  It is simply stunning.

Valletta is a fortress city, built by the Knights of Malta following the Great Siege of 1565 to ensure that the Knights could protect themselves from future aggressors.  What they built was not only massive stone defensive walls, but a city full of beautiful buildings.

Take a look at the sumptuously decorated St Johns Co-Cathedral for example.  Or the Grand Masters Palace and the ornate Auberge built for the Knights to live in.  The Knights didn’t just use stone though, they also built numerous gardens and planted areas such as the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens, which today provide welcome respite from the heat in the height of summer.

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