It’s peak summer, if we hadn’t noticed, which means it’s the season to be visited in Malta if you live here. Just as it gets really hot and anything but floating in pool or sea is tiring, emails from wannabe guests start populating your inbox. I’ve had a guest for almost a week which is why we’ve been silent in the past days. It’s also the reason for this post.
If you’ve lived in Malta as many years as I have, family and friends, far flung, have all been, seen and ‘done’ Malta at least twice or thrice and decided it’s time to holiday elsewhere. By now they’ve decided ‘the islands are so small’ and that ‘it’s far too hot in peak summer to sightsee isn’t it?’.
My list of guests has included a relative who wanted to see all the religious festas in an action-packed Easter, an Italian with a young son in tow who dug holes in my kitchen table, and a New Yorker who wanted picking up from the beach at will, generally in the peak heat.
As I waived good-bye, I made a mental note of the points that make for all-round easier, less stressful guest stay in Malta. The list is based on years of hosting experience. If you’re newly living in Malta, read this and be better prepared. The next few summers will see masses of repeat visitors coming your way. Do ask them to read this before they book the flights!
If you’ve any nagging doubts about your guests’ stay (heavy workloads, kids sick, back from your holiday the day before they arrive, or you aren’t that close to them), just be brave and say a polite, quick reply, ‘NO it isn’t convenient’.
Sleeping arrangements, extra beds and bedding, bathroom space, transport, car hire, sightseeing itineraries, food, ideal restaurants, kids’ activities, how to fit in with your routine, and a whole lot more needs working through before they arrive if you aren’t to feel like a stranger in your own home while guests are around. You will also be asked about medical things so make sure you know the times of a local doctor and how to guard against and treat mosquito bites and sunburn and sunstroke.
Please, please, please think about all this before you stay with a friend in Malta, especially in summer months..
Sun & Heat
June – August can easily see temperatures sore to late thirties and even over 40°C. Do expect to find that unbearable if you’re from northern climates. Do take precautions. Don’t expect your host to be sympathetic when you loll around at their house saying it’s too hot to go out, or because you got sunstroke on day one. Don’t ask them to pick you up at the hottest times of day – our cars are boiling! Stay put in the shade somewhere, then bus it home.
Electricity & Water: fans, showers, aircons and plugs
We pay among the highest price in Europe for our electricity in Malta, so please don’t leave fans, aircons or lights on when you’re not in your guest room. Do try also to save water and not shower four times a day. Plugs are UK 3-pin so bring enough adapters if from Continental Europe.
Transport – hire cars, buses
Our latest guest was supposed to hire a car but the two near misses as we drove on day one, within 100m of our house, was enough to put him off the idea. But do talk to your host in advance about how you intend to get around sightseeing or to the beach; don’t assume they can always fit in or want to pick you up. Hire cars are still cheap in Malta and a good way to explore. See our tips for safe driving. Buses are very hot this time of year but think about how quaint the journey is in our ageing vehicles!
We are not on Holiday!
While your hosts will take time to be with you, remember that they are likely to be working through summer except for perhaps the regular shutdown around 15th August ‘Ferragosto’ (to the Italians) and Santa Marija week here (15th is a public holiday). Don’t expect your host to be able to stay up late every night or be on hand to please all the time. Be thoughtful about their work routine and ensure they have space and time for themselves too.
Read up About Malta
My latest guest somehow thought that Malta would be far greener and lush – in mid July? Err…
Do read up a bit, at least, on the Islands so you won’t have the wrong expectations. Some guests seem to think that because they are staying with people they know, they don’t need to plan at all! This site might be a good place to start.
There is way more I could add to the list, but perhaps I am just too tired in the heat to pen the thoughts. Or recovering from the guest and catching up on work perhaps?
Photo: Gethin Thomas
My strategy as an ex-pat is to live in a two bedroom apartment, with the second bedroom set up as a (bedless) study.
I like seeing my friends from “the old country”, and am happy to spend time with them if they come to Malta, but they don’t stay with me. And if they need wheels, they rent a car. I’m not a taxi and like you say in the post, I can’t put my life on hold – they may be on holiday but I’m not.
And let’s face it, a cheap flight+hotel package deal from a travel agent can even sometimes be cheaper than booking scheduled flights on their own.