Destination of the week: Malta
High fares and the strong euro have not deterred British travellers from planning summer trips to one of the EU's newest members: the alluring Mediterranean island of Malta. Competition on routes from London to the island's Luqa airport is intense this summer, because easyJet is now competing against British Airways from Gatwick. Despite the rivalry, fares are well above those prevailing for flights of a similar distance. For a week departing 21 May, for example, the lowest return fare on easyJet is £153. British Airways comes in at £158, but the extra fiver is made up for by the provision of complimentary food and drink to BA passengers.
However, the timings of BA's flights look onerous for both travellers and crew: the Boeing 737 departs at around 10 in the evening. It arrives at Luqa airport, in the middle of Malta, at 2.10am. The crew wait around for more than three hours, before departing at 5.25am. The idea seems to be to maximise the use of aircraft in BA's Gatwick fleet. For comparison, on the same dates Ryanair from Stansted is currently charging £164 return. Aficionados of Malta would regard these as small prices to pay for the privilege of visiting Mdina (a fine walled city) and the Grand Harbour at Valletta.
Film of the week: Spain by train
The latest instalment in The Independent's series of travel films is Twin Tracks: A Tale of Two Train Travellers. Ben Ross and Simon Calder traverse Europe's greatest narrow-gauge rail network from Leó*via Bilbao and Santander to Santiago de Compostela.
Warning of the week: Prague
Crimes committed against British visitors to the Czech capital are increasing in both scope and frequency, judging from the heightened warnings in the official Foreign Office travel advice.
All sorts of villains are after your cash, it appears, with these cautions cited from the city police in Prague: "Avoid contact with women and men acting as street prostitutes, as they are often pickpockets... Always exchange currency at a currency exchange office or bank, never with vendors on the street as this money is often counterfeit... Be aware of consumption charges in night clubs, as they are often high."
The Foreign Office also says that you should "make sure you know where your belongings are at all times, particularly while at restaurants, bars and nightclubs".
There is some good news, however; concerns about rip-offs from taxi drivers have eased in the past few months since the Taxi Fare Place scheme was introduced.
"Taxi companies operating from stands displaying the 'Taxi Fare Place' can charge a maximum of 28 crowns [£0.85] per kilometre," according to the FCO.
Bargain of the week: Thailand – Plus Bavaria
The leading German airline Air Berlin (0870 738 8880; www.airberlin.com) is now selling flights to Bangkok (pictured above), operated by its partner LTU. A test booking for May/June found a fare from Stansted via Munich of €698 (£582) return. Although lower fares are often available on other airlines, this link appears to have relatively little seasonal variation. In addition, you can also build in a short break in Munich, arguably the most attractive big city in Germany.Reuse content