As many folk who tread the boards of Malta’s theatres know, it can be tough sustaining a two-, let alone a three-weekend run of a show. Rare indeed then for a totally home-grown production to not only return but also to have done so via the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the London stage. Porn – a Maltese-made musical – is making its comeback this weekend (22-24 August). If you missed its previous runs, head to Valletta’s Pjazza Teatru Rjal (open-air theatre) to find out why it took you so long to see it.
First produced in Valletta in 2009, ‘Porn – the Musical’ is a locally written comedy that tells the story of the hapless Stefan Bugeja, a young Maltese man who goes off to America hoping to follow his dreams and start a new life. What he finds though isn’t entirely what he was expecting. It soon becomes clear that Stefan got far more than he bargained for as he unwittingly finds himself starring in a groundbreaking adult movie.
The show features such songs as ‘Everyone in Malta is Related’, ‘The Kind of Girl I Am’, ‘Naked on a Sunday’ and ‘I got a PhD’. Written by Malcolm Galea, Kris Spiteri and Boris Cezek, the show will star the original Edinburgh cast: Max Dingli, Sarah Naudi, Louis Cassar, Toni Attard, David Ellul, Eliza Borg Rizzo and Malcolm Galea.
Tickets: purchase from ticketline.com.mt
Following its original production, ‘Porn – the Musical’ went on to be performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2009 before transferring to London in 2010. The show garnered a great many positive reviews and in 2011 won the Off West-End Award for Best New Musical.
“A cult classic to rival such shows as Rocky Horror.”
“Take it in the spirit in which it’s intended and you’ll laugh your rocks off.”
Time Out London (Critics’ Choice)
“Thoroughly entertained its audience from foreplay to the final money shot.”
“Revels in its lack of depth and budget, sending up musical conventions, breaking the theatrical ‘fourth wall’ on occasion, and turning the crass dial up to 12.”
“A great musical, for a wider range of audience than you would think.”
“The fusion of seedy smut and puckish comedy is divinely inspired, and the show gleefully mocks every target available, including itself.” The Spectator
“This new musical … has all the right ingredients for a hit.”
When a hi-tech dental clinic sets up in one of Malta’s most prestigious new business locations, Skyparks, right outside ‘arrivals’ at Malta International Airport, it’s clearly a sign of the interesting times in one of the country’s sectors earmarked for growth – health services and bio-medical technologies.
Savina Dental & Implantology Clinics opened its door around a year ago at Skyparks realising a long-held ambition of Dr Joseph Xuereb, Savina’s Principal and founder dental surgeon. Having started out in Victoria, Gozo, where the first clinic still operates, Dr Xuereb was always driven by a desire to see his practice keep at the forefront of dental industry advances. Importantly, he wanted also to make a mark on how dental services are delivered in Malta, not only to local residents and expats, but also to the growing number of overseas patients.
The airport business park location and Savina’s professional team, which includes speakers of French, German, Arabic, Italian, are key to gaining overseas business. However, to compete internationally takes more than providing convenience for prospective clients. For a dental practice in Gozo to make the leap of faith took serious professional and financial commitment. We spoke to Dr Joseph Xuereb about his passion for his work, the aims of Savina at Skyparks, as well as his deep fondness for Malta, and especially his home island of Gozo.
Q. What attracted you to dentistry in the first place as a career?
I had always been inclined towards the caring professions, but to be quite frank, had never relished the prospect of pursuing a career in medicine. A word of encouragement from my father nudged me in the direction of dentistry.
Q. What has surprised you most about the dental industry over the years?
Right from my first involvement with dentistry, I was amazed at the rate of progress and new developments in the sector in the 1980′s. The introduction of new materials, techniques and equipment was happening at a steady rate back then, but is nothing short of frenetic now.
Q. And what avenues has dentistry opened up to you that you couldn’t have imagined in the early days?
To name a few, but perhaps among the most important fields dentistry is now unrecognizable in, dental implants, CAD/CAM and 3D dentistry and the myriad applications of lasers in dentistry must rank right up at the very top of innovation in our discipline,
Q. You are Gozitan born and bred and launched a successful career from Gozo managing to attract not just local but also overseas patients. What drew people to Savina as a clinic based on a tiny island?
It is difficult to reply to this without sounding like a trumpet-blower! I was always fascinated by the new developments in dentistry and was quick to implement them at Savina. In the late 80’s we introduced porcelain laminate veneers to the local scene, quite a revelation in those days.
Over the years, we introduced new ways to administer dental anaesthetics, became a mercury-free dental practice, pioneered gum surgery as an alternative to losing teeth and were among the first practices in the Malta to provide tooth whitening and dental implant treatment.
More recently, in 2009, Savina introduced stem cell banking from teeth to Malta, in 2010, installed the first-ever 3D Cone-beam CT scan for dental practices in Malta, in 2011 started implementing digital shade-taking for optimum aesthetic dentistry, in 2012 we were one of only three practices to adopt 3D digital impression taking for same-day porcelain crowns and bridges. In 2013 we invested in laser technology for use in periodontal (gum) and implant surgery as well as inaugurating our new practice at SkyParks Business Centre at Malta International Airport.
Q. Technology aside, what else do you think is important in giving patients, particularly overseas clients, the confidence to opt for Savina Clinics?
On a personal level, I think my post-graduate qualifications from the Royal College of Surgeons of England culminating in my Fellowship in 2004 must help in gaining patient confidence. In 2007, Savina Dental Clinic was accorded International Visiting Centre status by Zimmer Dental Implants in recognition of our record and commitment in the implant field. On a human level, our staff surely make an impact on patients with their professional and caring demeanour.
Q. Medical tourism is a term bandied about a lot. It’s clearly a business niche Malta has been exploiting. How new is the concept of dental tourism though? And why do you think Malta – Savina in particular – has a clear offer in this niche?
Way before the Internet and low-cost airlines made it easy for patients to seek dental treatment outside their immediate environment, Savina Clinic was treating the local expatriate community, who responded by encouraging their own friends and family not only to visit them but also recommending us as an alternative – this as early as the late 1980’s. This was a spur for us to keep expanding and investing in technology and training and this experience now serves us well in gauging patient demands and rising to their expectations.
Malta has the advantage of excellent connections with several key European cities as well as a reputation for being a centre of excellence across many disciplines. Our patient base has served us very well in that key aspect of advertising that is word of mouth – their personal and online recommendations are an important source of referral.
Q. Savina Clinic became ‘Clinics’ with the opening last year of a state-of-the-art practice at SkyParks, Malta International Airport’s business centre. Why there and why now?
In the short quest for a suitable location SkyParks entered the scene quite early, and from then on, it was no contest. Where else could be more central, with excellent parking facilities, in a state-of-the-art, iconic building, an address in one word, and above all absolutely perfect for our clients, both local and visiting? SavinaClinic is in a process of expansion and its business plan is entitled “Placing Malta at the Forefront of the European Dental Tourism Market” At a time when we are seeking to reach out to more of these visiting patients, for us, locating our clinic in SkyParks is being at the right place at the right time.
Q. What has Savina at Skyparks meant for your patients?
Designing the new clinic in an open space has given us the opportunity to produce an optimum functional and aesthetic result. The premises have a relaxing yet professional atmosphere, are equipped to provide any service relating to dentistry under on roof, both in terms of equipment as well as staff, with dentists specialising in all fields – surgery, restorative, periodontal and orthodontic – as well as highly-trained multilingual ancillary staff. As far as is possible, patients are treated by one dentist, who is their point of reference at all times but who can draw upon the experience of the entire team should the need arise. This is highly appreciated by patients as they feel secure and pampered and have the peace of mind and security of being treated in the most comprehensive manner under one roof
Q. We sense Savina Clinics is becoming a family business.
My daughter Alison, who graduated last year and joined the practice features prominently in our plans for the future. She will be pursuing her post-graduate education in the UK, but in the meantime forms part of a six-strong complement of dental surgeons and specialists who together run the Savina Clinics. In her own words: “This is what I have always wanted to do. I am sure dentistry will give me the same pleasure and satisfaction it has given my father and I look forward to the ever-present exciting new developments that make it so much easier to give our patients excellent all-round care”.
Q. Talk to us a little about ‘Dr Joseph Xuereb’ when he’s outside the Clinic?
There is never enough time, not enough hours in the day to do all the reading, walking, tennis, swimming, squash, following football and motor racing, eating, tasting exotic food and wine from around the world, travelling, relaxing and spending time with loved ones – but one must adapt and make the best of what time can be planned within the clockwork of the day’s limits. Music oils these wheels perfectly. Most importantly, one’s glass need always be half full!
Q. And finally, what are your favourite places and aspects of the Maltese Islands.
What a fantastic place Malta is to live in. So many magical locations, foremost among which is Gozo! Sailing in or out of Grand Harbour, ambling around Mdina at night, swimming in Comino’s Blue Lagoon, dining on Victoria’s Citadel at sunset, walking around the islands’ southern coastline must rank in my top ten list of all good things Maltese. All this and sampling our excellent produce and hospitality would surely round off any visitor’s checklist.
Savina Clinics – Further Information
Tel (+356) 2165 7323 / 7965 7323
As a prelude to the Easter weekend and its considerable street festivities and events, we’re posting up some evocative photos taken on Our Lady of Sorrow’s day, which marks the official start to Easter.
This was shot at Valletta’s renowned event which saw streets closed as hundreds of participants filed to Our Lady of Sorrows church in the city. If you missed these street processions or are flying into Malta only now for your Easter holiday, these photos give you a good idea of the religious mood. The photos depicted here are sombre and will be echoed in many of the upcoming Maundy Thursday and Good Friday events (see our Guide to Holy Week) and in personal celebrations of Easter as people make a type of pilgrimage visiting seven churches.
About the photographer
Imsouchivy Suos (G.V.) is a street photographer originally from Phnom Penh, Cambodia who was in Malta as a student. This makes the sequence all the more fascinating as we see a well-known Maltese event captured by the lens of an outsider looking in on this timeless scene. To find out more about him and his work click here.
It’s not uncommon for would-be expats to Malta to ask us where’s best to live when they move here. Typically, they ask for an overview of property, whether it’s best to buy or rent, and for a low-down on the des-res areas. Malta’s main coastal resorts, in particular St Julian’s, tend to be firm favourites for expats, but why exactly? Here, Dragana Rankovic, an expat herself, now helping others to find their ideal new home on the islands, provides a helpful guide to property and lifestyle in St Julian’s.
Choosing St Julian’s
St Julian’s, located on the north-eastern coast of Malta is a popular living area that caters to tourists, expats and locals alike. Because Malta is an all-year-round holiday destination, St Julian’s is a town that is just as alive and dynamic in the winter as it is in summer. Despite being such a popular district, St Julian’s still retains a peaceful quality and its charm.
Today, St Julian’s sits snugly around a bay with its colorful Maltese luzzus giving a hint as to the traditional focus of the town. A walk along the seafront shows St Julian’s contemporary face with its restaurants, souvenir shops and boutiques. Don’t be deceived into thinking it’s just an expat-tourist area though as locals also enjoy the benefits of this lively resort. In 1854, there were just 600 residents of the town whereas today that figure is almost 8,000, creating a strong sense of community into this rocky inlet that was once a sleepy backwater.
Even though St Julian’s boasts many restaurants, bars and nightclubs, it also manages to offer a safe retreat for residents who live and work in this area. From families to retired couples, St Julian’s really does have something for everyone.
Where to live in St Julian’sSt Julian’s is a multi-faceted town which manages to fit together its various offers quite nicely. Deciding where you want to live in St Julian’s depends on what you are looking for and which ‘face’ of St Julian’s appeals most.
From new developments and penthouses to residential houses and apartments, there’s a location to suit, regardless of whether you wish to rent, buy or let a property in Malta. This makes St Julian’s a particularly lucrative area for fledgling landlords and experienced property moguls looking to invest.
Below, is a brief summary of the main areas in and around St Julian’s:
The areas around Paceville after the war were mostly farming communities surrounded with fields, and Paceville itself only had a few restaurants. Unlike today, parking in Paceville was relatively straightforward as people used to park their cars in fields, one of them being the field on which the St. George’s Park hotel was built.
Paceville’s slow transition into a tourist hub commenced in the 1960s, when two major hotel corporations, the Sheraton and the Hilton, developed five-star hotel properties in the area. Paceville offers great opportunities for investors who want to buy apartments for holiday lets as well as for young couples and professionals who either want to rent or buy property in Paceville.
Portomaso is one of the main new developments in Malta which offers luxurious residential accommodation overlooking the marina and which also provides a leisure centre, a beach club, shops, a Hilton hotel and a conference centre. It is here that you’ll find Malta’s only skyscraper, Portomaso Business Tower; coming in at 98m it houses a club on level Twenty Two.
Pender Gardens is another popular lifestyle development in St Julian’s, which offers a wide variety of residential and commercial property. With access to a fitness centre, pool and car park, apartments in Pender Gardens are highly sought after by both investors and residents looking to rent, buy or sale property in Malta.
St Julian’s Environs
Swieqi is close enough to Paceville to take advantage of the many amenities and events on offer, but far enough away to offer a quiet, peaceful residential environment. There are many great properties available for rent in this easily accessible location. Public transport into Valletta and other parts of Malta is excellent and one of the park and ride schemes is located here. Properties in Swieqi include maisonettes, apartments and terraced homes.
Madliena is another desirable area near Swieqi-St Julian’s and rumored to be the place where Mary Magdalene was shipwrecked. Madliena is undergoing development with Madliena Village; a number of luxury apartments offering superb sea views are being developed nearby, along with high-end properties in Madliena Ridge. Such interest is turning this quiet village into one of the most sought after areas to live in Malta.
Spinola Bay lies on the other side of St Julian’s and encompasses the traditional quiet bay with its luzzus and fishermen. There are still plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants, but the pace of life here is quieter and more conducive to those who wish to dine al fresco with a bottle of wine watching the sun sink over the horizon. This is the place where retirees find their escape and there are more traditional Maltese properties to be found in this region.
Public Transport in St Julian’s
Buses are plentiful in this district with several routes going to Sliema, Valletta and Paceville and stopping at various locations along the way, although they might operate a lighter schedule in the winter. There are also night buses on at the weekends and buses to the airport.
The new park and ride in Swieqi is also a handy way to get into town without worrying about parking. There are several taxi companies too, but these can be an expensive option unless you’re sharing.
Schools in St Julian’s
The most popular school in St Julian’s is the Sacred Heart Foundation which runs both a primary school and a senior school for girls. There is a good mix of local and expatriate children here and lessons are primarily in English. There is also the St Vincent School on St Julian’s Hill and a few public schools as well as a huge scattering of English language schools. Even if the locality doesn’t have the school of your choice, Maltese schools all over the islands are within striking distance; all run minivan transport for pupils at a reasonable rate per term.
Local Amenities in St Julian’s
There is always something to do in St Julian’s. The Spinola Palace Gardens offer a quiet retreat during the day with breathtaking views. Portomaso marina is full of luxury yachts, restaurants and bars and from here you can get to the beach which is popular in summer with sunbathers and swimmers.
For shops you need to head to Bay Street which also offers large-screen and an IMAX cinemas and a bowling alley. It was the closest Malta had to a shopping mall before The Point in Sliema, and you can get most things here from household goods to clothing.
For supermarkets there is an Arkadia supermarket beneath the Hilton Hotel. However most of the local butchers and grocers often have cheaper deals and can be fresher and there is no shortage of local food shops. There is also a Lidl in San Gwann not far from St Julian’s Bay.
Need some help with property in St Julian’s or elsewhere in Malta?
Dragana Rankovic can guide you in your search. Feel free to contact her directly by email or tel: (+356) 79791976. This video gives an overview of the Maltese Islands, of various places and moods, dawn to dusk, not just St Julian’s.
Malta, a Mediterranean destination that sounds all too familiar to many British people. Everyone has a granny, neighbour or work colleague who has been to Malta once, twice, or even more frequently. Whenever I make cursory mention to folk in the UK that I happen to live in Malta, I find ready and eager conversationalists. People open up about their time there in the forces, or that of their dad’s, or say how they’ve close friends in Qawra. They then go on to mention specific shops and bars they visited on holiday, or more likely the shopkeeper and bartender whom they got to know on first name terms.
While Malta may be familiar to the British, it has a lot to offer under the bonnet that’s uniquely its own, even though it’s had more than a dose of overseas’ cultural influences for centuries. This article by seasoned traveler Ariana Louis teases out several of the more unusual and iconic ways that Malta takes the Mediterranean holiday and makes it all its own; one that visitors will want to return to time and again.
A Shared History
Malta has always been one of the top destinations for UK holidaymakers, quite renowned as the number one spot for Brits in search of cheap holidays. After all, Malta and the UK do possess some shared history, since the country was actually a British colony until the mid-1960s. A cluster of Mediterranean islands situated right between the island of Sicily and the northern African country of Libya, boasts some of the most high-quality and luxurious hotels and resorts in Southern Europe.
Malta is a habitual stop on many Mediterranean cruises, and its capital, Valletta, is a very popular shopping destination for many patrons of such cruises. The open air markets that are littered all throughout this tiny country are a real source of insight into Maltese daily life and socialization rituals, in addition to being the places where one can buy the country’s traditional crafts, such as knitwear and lace.
When it comes to popular holiday activities, snorkelling and diving are probably the ones that attract British holidaymakers the most: the beautiful, clear Mediterranean waters create superb visibility, and the abundance of reefs and caves contribute to making diving in Malta a great experience for divers at every level. An experience that is, very importantly, also a safe one…since Malta does not have any dangerous predators in its waters.
Malta’s Night Life
For the younger ones, Malta holidays have also been recently becoming synonymous with, believe it or not, clubbing! In the last couple of years, the night life in Malta has really spiced up! During the summer, various internationally-renowned DJ’s are continuously invited to perform in the village of Paceville, on the coast near the small beach town of St. Julian’s.
All in all, Malta is a very much established destination for travel and leisure, with cheap flights frequently available from many major UK cities.
What Maltese Cuisine?
One thing that Malta is not really famous for, unlike its much larger neighbour up North (Italy, of course), is its cuisine and restaurants: indeed, many of us could admit to probably never even hearing about a Maltese culinary scene, ever! Yet, this is one cuisine that definitely should not be overlooked: influenced by British, Italian, Mediterranean and Northern African foodstuffs and techniques, the Maltese cuisine is definitely one of the most interesting in Europe.
Having been a somewhat “isolated” corner of the Mediterranean for many decades, fish, fresh vegetables and various pasta dishes taken from the Italian cuisine are the key protagonists in Maltese cuisine. Fish is made in soups, hearty stews and encased in puff pastry. As a matter of fact, puff pastry is used to encase a variety of foodstuffs, such as vegetables and different kinds of meat: might this be a reference to our own British pies? Indeed, such pies, called “pastizzi” in the Maltese language, are the most common street food in every Maltese village and town: it is a small ricotta, cheese and egg puff pastry, which can often be enriched with peas, meat and anchovies. Served hot, these are delicacies very much beloved by the Maltese people, who like to have them as a teatime snack.
Another Maltese unusual delicacy, which however many holidaymakers would not have the chance to taste, is an “escargot” stew that is made with the snails that come out with the rainstorms of late September. As in the French tradition, these are boiled, smeared in garlic and eaten cold, accompanied with a sauce of fresh herbs, garlic, and some slices of traditional Maltese bread.
The Maltese tradition is not inattentive to the drinking needs, either: the country can boast some quite good, cheap wines produced by “Marsovin” its main winery which has been owned by the same family for decades.
Malta’s own beer label
Maltese beers are also known as being quite good. Definitely an import of its former British colonizers, the UK’s favourite beverage gained even more popularity when a local family, the Farsons, decided to open their own brewery and produce the very first Maltese pale ale, the “Farsons Pale Ale”. In addition, a cool summer event to attend is the Farsons Beer Festival, which runs from end of July to the beginning of August and is held in the Ta’Qali National Park, located near the village of Attard.
With all these tantalizing choices, restaurant scouting could thus become an interesting activity to get into during your holiday in Malta. You may not admit it but the one thing you will never forget in any holiday is the cuisine. The tastes linger beyond the trip and once you love it, you will remember it for years! Have fun exploring, and enjoy your Malta holidays!
Ariana Louis is a teacher by profession and enthusiastic traveller by nature. Her passion and main objective in life is to be able to unleash her adventurous nature by visiting places all over the world, where her perky and extrovert self can be free to learn with and from the locals. As of now, she has travelled more than half-way around the world, and is currently embarked in a daring “love story” with Asia. Ariana is often helped by Travel Republic, which also offers Malta holidays, whenever she makes a trip abroad.
Photo credits: Top: Neil Alderney; (centre) Comino by Travphotos; (bottom) Michel27
If you live in Malta or any one of the 17 Eurozone countries, you may have noticed a newcomer in your wallet since May 2013. Or, like myself, you may not have. As someone who lived through the UK’s momentous changeover to decimal currency in 1971 and then Malta’s change to the Euro on 1 Jan, 2008, it’s strange to think that there are children, now aged 11 like my son, who’ve only ever known the face of Europa. I hazard a guess that only bank tellers have clocked the latest note change even though around 332 million of us use it daily.
This post is of the practical advisory type to help visitors and residents of Malta get to know their notes well, not just to spot fraudulent ones, but also to help them when they delve into purses and wallets. Since May, a new-design Euro fiver appeared; the first and lowest denomination new-look Euro note to be in circulation as part of an ongoing programme over the next few years to replace Euro bank notes. Wear and tear of old notes and replacement with smooth, sleek new notes apart, there practical reasons for the change.
The design changes are quite subtle to an untrained eye, but these quirky European Central Bank videos explain how to spot the design differences:
New security features and benefits
The new €5 banknote has benefited from advances in banknote technology since the first series was introduced in 2002. It includes some new and enhanced security features. The watermark and hologram display a portrait of Europa, a figure from Greek mythology – and hence the name of this series of banknotes. An eye-catching “emerald number” changes colour from emerald green to deep blue and displays an effect of the light that moves up and down.
Short raised lines on the left and right edges of the banknote make it easier to identify the banknote, especially for visually impaired people.
All these security features can be found on the front side of the new note and can be readily checked using the “feel, look and tilt” method [see videos above for how]. It is envisaged that they will be included in all the banknotes of the Europa series. The other banknotes in the series will be introduced in the years ahead, with the €10 as the next denomination.