Seven o' clock is holiday o' clock and I drag myself out of the comfort of my bed in order to put the last bits of packing out of their misery. I'm paying for using the wee hours to watch the remaining episodes of BBC Scotland's regrettable drama; The Deep. I will never get those hours of my life back.

My driver is as ever ten minutes early, and we're soon tooling down the highway towards Jeddah to the musical stylings of The Cranberries. I'm foolishly hoping that Jeddah airport will be in its usual state for the sort of 7am flights I normally get to the UK, when my front door to the departure lounge takes about an hour. But I've allowed three.

I'm not right. And how.

The Egyptair check-in desk is the sink for non-linear queue topologies worthy of a PhD. The queue bifurcates and merges, sources and sinks people from all three ends and succeeds in spending at least half an hour with the same number of people in front of me, despite a gradual stream of passengers actually managing to check in. And the levels of luggage some passengers are attempting to check in are phenomenal.

So much for check in. Passport control and security exact their share of the time, and by the time I reach the gate, it's reading "Boarding". Although that's not true, obviously.

After the traditional bus ride out to the plane, and the slow procession up the stairs, the wafts of cool air reaching me from the plane come as a blessed relief from the Saudi sun. Eventually I reach my seat, uproot the squatter, and flollop into it. Seat assignments are more of a guideline in this part of the world.

Egyptair has good seat pitch and no in-flight entertainment whatsoever. The food is just about good enough.

The screens showing the time remaining gradually count down as we near the end of the first leg at Cairo. As the plane comes to a complete halt and the captain switches off the fasten seatbelt sign, I'm barged by a chap who thinks he has a connection leaving in half an hour. He hasn't heard about the last-minute change to Egyptian daylight saving time. I leave him to the Sysiphan task of elbowing his way to pole position.

After an hour and a half in Cairo with Beer, the bus takes me out to the second leg without the aid of airconditioning. It's gracefully disintegrating, and appears to have come in off the street.

The flight is uneventful, and the Embraer's power is evident in the unfussy takeoff and landing. Signs of Malta's EU membership are obvious as I breeze past the line of Egyptian passengers at passport control by taking the EU passport holders aisle.

The first bus I see outside the airport turns out to be for the capital, Valetta, and it takes me on an only slightly roundabout route for the princely sum of 50 eurocents. The Osbourne Hotel is my destination, and it's easy enough to find, check in and leave again to explore the city.

I end the evening sitting in a cafe overlooking the Grand Harbour as the sun sets and the last yachts make it back home.

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