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Give us this day – Luther and Saxony

Dave Allen, the dry Church-poking Irish comedian would end his routine with the retort: ‘Good night and may your God go with you.’

I never questioned growing up that my God was a Catholic God.

Until I had a disagreement with my Jesuit-run school and ended up at my local Protestant school.

I, of course, took my dogma with me.

Which should have earned me a beating for telling them in religion class that they were all wrong.

But it didn’t.

I also found myself regularly in a Protestant kirk which broadened my understanding of Christianity.

And guess what, I didn’t burn.

Celebration: Of God in the Frauenkirche, Dresden

And nor did Martin Luther after the firebombing of the Frauenkirche in Dresden in the Second World War.

Luther, the Father of the Reformation, was a proud Saxon.

Although pride being one of the Seven Deadly Sins, it might be better to revise that to Son of Saxony.

And his permanence in front of the ruins of the Frauenkirche gave the Dresdeners strength in the immediate days after the bombings.

And in the forty years afterwards under Communist rule.

A proud Dresdener

The Frauenkirche was eventually rebuilt just as it was before the bombings.

Dresden rebuilt

And I had the privilege of hearing the pastor of the church tell us about standing at the pillars with his father and him telling him that it would.

The resourceful Dresdeners asked their citizens to send them their wedding photographs to help them see what it used to look like.

And the son of one of the English bombers built the orb that sits on top of the Frauenkirche now. Nice touch.

Read how Dresden rebuilt itself in my review of the city which was known as the Florence of the Elbe and is again https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/. And visit https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php.

MEET YOU AT YOUR PLACE OF WORSHIP

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Holiday Snaps – Post-exam hols

I’m glad that’s all over – the Post-Leaving Cert holidays.

By the time it got to my two the destinations had changed.., it was Lisbon and Amsterdam.

For me and my buddies it was camping in the French Riviera. And, no, of course it wasn’t Cannes.

But St Raphael.

The boys of ’82: Chris, Martin, Bandanaman and Adam

And yes, I’ve had to add that to the list of places I’m banned from.

Castle Douglas, the Lowenbrau and Hofbrau Huis in Munich, Kirchberg in Austria and a hotel in Interlaken, Switzerland spring to mind.

Of course your guys will have booked their richly-deserved hols by now.

But this just gives me the chance to flag up the French Riviera.

Which doesn’t have to cost you un bras et une jambe.

I found seven nights with Click&Go http://www.clickandgo.com for the sample date of September 15 staying at the Appart City Nice Acropolis Aparthotel including Ryanair flights for €933.04.

I upgraded from a camp site when I went to Cannes…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-dazur/.

Greece and Gozo

A spin around Gozo

Of course when we get older and wiser (well, at least one of us) we fall in love and get married.

In Malta (engagement) and Corfu (honeymoon).

Now in the words of Chris Tarrant, I don’t want to give you that… I want to give you this – Gozo and Halkidiki.

You’re very welcome.

Sunway http://www.sunway.ie is flagging up the less busy north of Greece as opposed to the south.

And has these deals all per person for seven nights in Halkidiki and including flights.

€399 – Alkion Hotel Room only, €445 – Lily Ann Village Half Board, €635 – Theophano Imperial Palace All Inclusive.

And Gozo, billed as how Malta used to be, although Malta as it is isn’t half bad…

Try €285 Calypso Hotel Bed & Breakfast – 4 nights, €369 Calypso Hotel Bed & Breakfast – 7 nights.

And let me give you a flavour of Gozo and Malta https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/malta-easer/.

Mid-term Spain breaks

Scenic: Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Pexels.com

And family mid-term breaks too are a thing of the past…

I’m in danger of getting nostalgic here but that quickly passes as I remember the Son and Heir ordering a T-bone steak in Majorca as a kid.

And only eating the chips!

But that’s only because I didn’t have this parenting lark sussed out, and I know you do.

TUI http://www.tuiholidays.ie have Dublin to Gran Canaria, seven nights’ self-catering, staying at the 2*+ Jardin Alantico, Playa Del Ingles for a family 2+1 from €1,599 on October 24. 

And on the same date, Dublin to Gran Canaria, seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 3* Marina Elite Resort, Balito Beach, 3*, family 2+1 from €2,479 and family 2+2 from €3,079

The Deep South

There’s a hairy little Jim waiting for the King

Cities take on a magical quality when you hear them in a pop song.

Unless it’s ‘I was sick and tired of everything when I called you last night from Glasgow.’

Sure Abba might have ‘wished it was the last show’ but Moscow rhymes too.

When I realised a lifelong dream to visit Memphis I just had to reenact every line from the Mark Cohn song in Insta.

I’m not sure though if it did the trick and my friends ‘could really feel the way I feel’.

Luxury Gold www.luxuryvacations.com does, and has a nine-day odyssey, Southern Grace, from Nashville through Memphis to New Orleans on September 27.

So you’ll be musicked out by the end of it all with Country, Elvis, Rock’n’Roll, Blues and Jazz all on the menu.

Luxury Gold offers a saving of €355 per person if booked before August 31. Was €3,525, now €3,170.

The Deep South is everything I thought it would be, and more, and I am drawn to it like a magnet.

Which is why I’m sharing my series The Three Kings on Dr Martin Luther King, BB King and Elvis here… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/elvispresley-the-king-of-kings/.

A blooming Rose

Scenes of the Rose Hotel and Tralee

She’s 60 this year… and doesn’t she look good on it?

No, not The Scary One, but The Rose of Tralee… quickly adding my devotion to my Rose of Kintbury.

So you’ll want to be there, right, for the festival from August 23-27.

The Rose Hotel offers one, two, or three-nigh breaks.

With prices from €220pps.

And you’ll likely rub shoulders with a Rose, with nightly entertainment from 9pm at Dott’s Bar.

Visit www.therosehotel.com.

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Disney’s castle and Germany

It’s the most magical place on earth… and it’s where the magic is supposed to happen. Neuschwanstein, or the Disney Castle.

Hence the carved swans in the bed chambers.

Not that Walt Disney and his wife had that in mind when they visited. Bavaria. Or maybe they did!

Anyway, it’s Walt inspiration, the model for his Sleeping Beauty Disney Castle.

Light show: The Disney Castle

Back in the day in the mid-Eighties I visited Neuschwanstein http://www.neuschwanstein.de, among the million who do every year.

What the other tourists climbing the hill made of the strains of a sozzled Scot and a busload of boozy Aussies I can only imagine.

But I rather think the eccentric King Ludwig II approves.

Lud, or Wig, commissioned the cliffside castle in 1868.

Just two years after Austria and Bavaria were conquered by Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War.

Medieval throwback: The interior

All part of Otto Von Bismarck’s grand plan to unify Germany.

But poor Lud was never able to enjoy the fruits of his (or others’) labours as he died first.

Pity really as it was in fine order.

With some lovely modern conveniences.

A very modern castle

That included running warm water, a bell system, flushing toilets, and even large window panes.

And grandeur. With much Wagnerian tribute.

And religious iconography, including a grotto!

Bavaria’s conquest did for Lud and he died In mysterious circumstances in 1868 with suicide a convenient explanation.

When only 15 of the 200 rooms had been completed.

Magical: They’ve been up to the Disney Castle

The final towers weren’t completed until 1892.

But within weeks of his sudden and mysterious death, the magnificent castle was opened to the public.

Disney dreams

I’ll gather my thoughts (the sober ones) and reprise my Oktoberfest in Munich.

But in the meantime you’ll have to make do with the Disney version. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-2/.

Also visit Disneyland Resort Anaheim https://disneyland.disney.go.com.

And a shout-out too for Attraction Tickets Direct who took me there https://www.attractionticketsdirect.ie.

Next week: Hogwarts Castle

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We will delight them on the beaches

We’re all different and my elder brother would prefer to stay in the hotel in Ibiza rather than hit the beaches.

My parents loved the beach and my Mum, in particular, loved to sunbathe.

Me being the restless sort and never a strong swimmer I preferred a beach game.

And I spent a week in Menorca playing Boules with German boy Uwe at the age of 9.

We didn’t share a word but we shared a love of sand as do parasol supplier We Are Promotional http://www.wearepromotional.co.uk/printed-branded-parasols-pubs-breweries/.

Beach boys (and girls)

They have given us this survey of our habits.

Which I’ll pick through for you.

The most expensive beach on amenities including luxury huts and parking is Renaissance Island, Aruba at £302.54pp.

And the cheapest is Huiquan Bathing Beach, China at £8.94pp.

In among them is Bournemouth. If fate had taken a different turn I could have been working there. http://www.visitbournemouth.com.

Fourth in the table at £168pp I’d have been looking for that factored into my salary.

Which would have had to be good to save up for those beach huts.

Fun for all the family

Huiquan again is the place to go for families (of four) at £34.96.

Beach bummin’ it

But I picked out Bathsheba Beach on the east of Barbados… let me share https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/. And check out http://www.visitbarbados.org.

There I ate a bucket of Bajan chicken, Banks beer in hand and waves crashing around my feet.

We Are Promotional costs Bathesba Beach at £108.03 including water sports, ice cream, lunch and beers.

Get there early: For your sun loungers

It’s always tempting if you’re up early and see an abandoned beach just to snuck up on a sunlounger and parasol and grab it.

I very nearly did it in Fort Lauderdale last December.

While I was intrigued to find the prices at Nazare in Portugal.

Portugeezers on the beach

Which is one of the best short-haul holiday countries for those living in Britain and Ireland (http://www.visitportugal.com).

At €18.89 it’s not as expensive as Waikiki in Hawaii, at £40.06.

But I’d still recommend the beaches of Portugal Centro between Oporto and Lisbon as a better alternative. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal/.

Tricks on the water

I’ve never worked out water sports. I tend to inhale when I should be exhaling.

Water show

But the Cool Set in Biarritz know what they’re doing.

The French Riviera resort comes third on their list of price of water sports at £89.90pp.

And let me show Biarritz off to you. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-dazur/. And visit https://www.france.fr/en.

Behind the most expensive, Coney Island in the US at £216.32pp.

And lastly, and most importantly in many’s eyes, ice cream.

It’s more than a euro a lick at Railay Beach, Thailand at £22.19pp.

Brighton rocks

Compare that with the tenth, Brighton at £4. And they’re all top tens. Visit www.visitbrighton.com.

My 99 in the beautiful beach town of Greystones, Co. Wicklow where I live is just €2.50… and the pound and euro are virtual parity. http://www.visitwicklow.ie.

Watch out for my top beaches in a blog coming to you soon.

While I’ll also share with you the origins of the 99, my old Sandy stomping ground of Portobello, Edinburgh.

MEET YOU ON THE SAND

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Flyday Friday – Flying the flag

When an airline pulls out of a route it merely opens up the market for another, and who can blame Aer Lingus for putting their hands up?

While recognising the challenges for everyone in the aviation industry, our national airline carrier was quick to flag up its product in the wake of the Norwegian news.

Aer Lingus, as we all know, has 16 direct routes to North America.

With Mineapolis-St Paul the latest to arrive on the rank.

And while it is something of sport to diss them probably because they represent the institution.

Crackin’ city: Philadelphia

But I’ve been more than a happy flyer with them, particularly when they moved me when a poor lady was sick next to me half an hour into our flight to LAX.

And they arranged a wheelchair for her on her arrival in Los Angeles.

Aer Lingus flies Dublin to LA from €209, a one-way fare based on a return trip. Valid for travel between October and November.

And at the other end of the scale is Dublin to Philadelphia from €139 and Dublin and Shannon to New York from €149.

Book at http://www.aerlingus.com. And remember that you’ll get pre-clearance. Happy days!

I could choose from many of their great destinations and hope to see a few more.

But I’ll flag up Philadelphia here and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/philadelphia-freedom/.

An epic Saga

Photo by Kata Pal on Pexels.com

Saga conjures up a different image for me. Of a time when I worked looking after oldies (of whom I am now one).

But in connection with Iceland, of course, it is something epic.

What Icelandair refers to as business equivalent comes in at a competitive €250 one way to Reykjavik.

The economy class is €68 one way.

The Autumn and Winter Special Offers end on August 27 at 23.59.

It is for the travel period of October 1 to March 28.

And it is based on one-way fares on a return ticket. https://www.icelandair.com/en-ie/flights/special-offer/

Fly belong to Glasgow

Being one of God’s chosen people, a Glaswegian, I keep an eye on happenings in the Dear Green Place from across here in Ireland.

And by Dear Green Place I refer to the orgins of the name of the city, the Scottish Gaelic phrase for it..

Now you may be thinking that this is just an excuse to put one of my oul puns on the Glasgow Music Hall songs.

And you would be half right.

Prize guys: In Glasgow

But it is also worth flagging up that easyJet has a new route from Glasgow to Birmingham.

Not that I’ll be needing it any time soon but you might.

I’m told that easyJet http://www.easyjet.com is the largest airline in Glasgow and operates up to 294 flights a week across 19 routes.

And that it was also the first airline the carry one million passengers in a year from Glasgow.

It also has up to three flights a day to Belfast which means the Son and Heir can fly over to see his grannie.

Everyone’s a winner.

And to find out more about Glasgow see http://www.peoplemakeglasgow.com and http://www.visitscotland.com.

And if you want to see what carnage myself and my mum caused when I took her to the World Bagpipes Championships in Glasgow then read on… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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Barbados: Friends in need, friends indeed

‘It’s all right for you going off to Barbados again,’ SHE opined from across the sofa.

I didn’t have the heart, or courage, to tell her that I had invited her a month or so previously but that she had declined.

And I would never have won that one even if I’d had it in triplicate.

I’m feeling lonely, honest! At Club Barbados

As it was I ended up going to the couples hotel Club Barbados http://www.theclubbarbados.com next to Sandy Lane but a lot more relaxed, on my own.

The first night I was there the courting couples were all up on the dance floor.

By Day 3 the word had got out and random couples were inviting me to dine with them.

And then just as I felt that I was part of a group came the stinger.

But I have some company

Out snorkelling I saw Mother and Father Turtle getting it on.

So, be warned.

And besides I really do want to introduce Herself to the island and the friends I have there and met then and the previous year at Crop Over.

And some keeping their eye on me!

Thankfully Tropical Sky tropicalsky.ie / 01 664 9999 will sort you out with a really affordable seven-night holiday for travel completed by December 20, if booked by August 31.

The offer means that this holiday now costs from €1,729pp.

That’s SOME company: With Rihanna

What’s on offer

And you’ll get a:

* $20 Spa voucher per guest

* All-inclusive beachfront resort near Bridgetown – within reach of the Mount Gay Rum Factory, George Washington House and the Barbados Museum.

* Highlights for couples include adult-only restaurant, Beach Bar & Grill for cocktails and relaxing Karma spa, as well as jacuzzi and swim-up bar.

Based on two sharing on all-inclusive basis and including flights from Dublin and transfers.

To get you in the mood… for a holiday!!! https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/ And a Jocktail Cocktail https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/15/jocktails-bajan-monkey/.

For more on Barbados check out http://www.visitbarbados.org.

And another view from another Barbados lover.. That’s someone who loves Barbados not a dirty secret I’m keeping. http://beautifulbarbadosblog

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Jocktails: The Bajan Monkey

They’re not called cheeky for nothing… the Bajan Green Monkeys that is.

And the Bajan people, to be honest.

But you’ve heard me talk about them before and I will again.

The Bajan Green Monkey is indigenous to Barbados, brought over to the Caribbean as pets during the African slave trade.

And here’s where to drink it: Barbados

Firstly, the colour.

Their fur is actually brownish grey but it’s their highlights of yellow and green which give them their green hue.

You’ll see the green monkeys crouching in the trees near your resort, checking you out.

And in glasses on the bar amid a plethora of fun and funky and well-dressed cocktails and equally fun and funky bartenders.

The green monkeys were http://www.theclubbarbados.com out in numbers at Club Barbados , the friendly couples hotel which neighbors the stuffier Sandy Lane on the Platinum Coast.

I tried all the colours: At Club Barbados

Don’t worry, though. They’re not in the least bit threatening unless you’re a piece of fruit.

And you’ll likely get a selfie with them.

But what you shouldn’t do is give money to those hucksters who have green monkeys on leads down at Oistin’s tourist trap.

Flag it up and they’ll get chased on.

And so now to a Monkey cocktail.

What’s your poison?

How to make it

The Bajan Monkey:

White rum.

Pineapple juice.

Falernum.

Pour over ice. And you’ll notice I’ve not given measures.

Remember the day between Wednesday and Friday is Hungry and Thursday, my food and drink column.

And this week I’m looking at Galician food and in particular something with arms and legs, the pulpo, or octopus.

Read more on Barbados

Visit https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/14/hungry-and-thursday-spanish-pulpo/

If you want to know more about Barbados visit http://www.visitbarbados.org.

And here’s my Bajan adventures (note to self, there must be more to come soon). https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/.

And because there are others out there who I’ve allowed in on the secret… read my fellow blogger http://beautifulbarbadosblog.

You want to see a deal? Thought you might… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/15/barbados-friends-in-need-friends-indeed/

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Hungry and Thursday – Spanish pulpo

Now this one’s got legs and will run and run… it’s Spanish pulpo, or octopus!

Walking the last leg of the Camino with www.caminoways.com involves you getting a car ride from Santiago airport to Sarria 100kms away.

My driver speaking little to no English and me poco Espagnol it was a long journey.

Ole: Spanish cooking at the Cook’s School

Broken up only by looking out onto lush Galicia and the roads I imagined I would be trekking.

In truth they were more forested and open plained and even more beautiful.

And the couple of Spanish words I did pick up from the driver.

Albergo and pulpo.

Horsing around: On the Camino

Albergo I figured out was ‘hostel’ from the driver pointing at them on the journey.

But ‘pulpo’ I had to figure out for myself.

Pulpo is octopus and is a specialty of the Spanish region.

Made it: Santiago

I still lick my lips at the memory of sitting up on a tall stool in Santiago de Compostela at a round bar table.

Picking my way at the pulpo and its tomato sauce… no Heinz or YR this.

Pulpo was my reward for completing the 118km stretch from Sarria to Santiago which entitles you to your certificate.

You get a stamp in your Camino passport at every 15km or so stop-off.

Where you will stay in a hotel and have your luggage taken to the next accommodation.

Even the animals are friendly

I walked on pure adrenaline, fuelled on sardines and cerveza (beer), water, home-made sandwiches from the supermarket, Starburst sweets and Garribaldi biscuits.

Show me how pulpo is done

And the good will of my fellow peregrinos who will greet you at every step with a hale and hearty Buen Camino which gave me an extra spurt.

I got a chance to see how pulpo is made when I attended a Spanish Tourist Board sponsored cookery class at Cooks Academy in Dublin http://www.cooksacademy.com.

Best leaving it to them. And they’ll talk you through how to make it.

If nothing else you’ll look the part in your natty apron and you can even borrow the chef’s hat.

I walked again with www.CaminoWays.com from Viterbo into Rome and will take to the Tenerife roads in a couple of weeks.

It was the only seat left

Camino Ways is offering €50 off per person for your next walking trip in October, a quieter and cooler time to walk.

Quote the code OCT19 when requesting your itinerary at www.CaminoWays.com and www.FrancigenaWays.com.

And walk with me on https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/.

Remember because it’s cocktail hour somewhere in the world right now…

And today is Jocktails day with us looking at the Bajan Monkey… and why not. See https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/15/jocktails-bajan-monkey/

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Twice Upon A Time In Hollywood

It’s probably not that different from when Sharon Tait went to El Coyote in West Hollywood in Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood.

The Mexican restaurant was where Sharon and her friends ate a Mexican meal and drank Margaritas.

Although the heavily-pregnant actress stayed off the cocktails.

Unbeknown to them when they returned home to the Hollywood Hills that it was to their fate.

Says it all: Photo by Paul Deetman on Pexels.com

At the hands of Charles Manson’s followers.

We had a separate restaurant booking when I visited in June but this caught the spirit of the West Hollywood I witnessed.

PUMP is the modern-day celebs restaurant today in West Hollywood where Real Wives of Beverly Hills’ Lisa hosts her pals.

If you get there on the right night you might see Lady Gaga fall out onto the sidewalk as she did last year.

Gaga must have been doing a stir fry at home the night we visited but Lisa was there all right.

It’s just that the star-struck member of our party couldn’t muster up the nerve to ask her over to our table.

Looking the part: Oscar anybody? At the Dolby

Of course you can see a galaxy of stars on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

It’s a little unsettling to see the attention around Michael Jackson’s star.

I preferred to pay homage to Marilyn Monroe while I thought it more respectful not to make too much of a fuss of Greta Garbo.

She vants to be alone.

And, of course it’s not just humans who are celebrated here… Disney’s family of characters also have their stars.

And Hollywood’s finest have their hand and duck imprints too.

And I’m quackers about a certain duck.

Tarantino’s new blockbuster is a great watch and deeply respectful to the memories of Sharon Tait and her friends in the parallel story he chronicles.

Hand it to them: Hollywood’s imprints

Hollywood watchers will want to try and spot the locations in the movie and you will find an easy to follow guide on www.discoverlosangeles.com.

www.visitwesthollywood.com.

Aer Lingus flies to LAX from Dublin Airport with pre-clearance. www.aerlingus.com.

I stayed at the Kimpton La Peer Hotel in the heart of West Hollywood and would thoroughly recommend it. www.lapeerhotel.com.

With a little imagination you feel that you yourself are a real celebrity.

And read https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/01/california-screamin-my-weekend-with-marilyn/

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The Debate – Northern Ireland

Fifty years ago this week the Battle of the Bogside in Derry/Londonderry triggered what the people of Northern Ireland termed, in their unique parlance, The Troubles.

Millions of words have been fired off in the thirty years of armed conflict since and in the 20 of the Peace Process.

And worse guns and bombs with 3,532 killed.

The question, and the debate, is as it has always been.

Should Ireland be unified or should Northern Ireland remain as it is, a self-governing entity?

Only it hasn’t been that for 934 days… the longest a country has been without a government in the world.

And he was a Dubliner

The sticking points have been, as they often have but with some new ones thrown in.

How to resolve the past, the Irish Language Act and same sex marriage.

And that’s even before we talk about Brexit and hard borders and soft borders.

Northern Ireland voted to stay in Europe but want a customs union.

But the overall vote was to leave although it didn’t say under what terms or any.

Confused? You will be.

And then there’s an international agreement, The Good Friday Agreement.

That brought the Troubles to an end which states that there should be freedom of movement between North and South.

But a No Deal threatens that.

A game of chess: The two sides of politicians

Which has reenergised a call among republicans for a United Ireland.

Although scratch the surface with those in the South and it’s a head and heart issue with many not wanting their Northern brothers and sisters.

Oversimplified? Yes.

For a better insight into Northern Ireland, the North, the Six Counties… take your pick according to your viewpoint then listen up.

The Ulster Museum in Belfast is a time capsule, interesting, engaging, interactive.

Visit National Museums NI www.nmi.com. And www.tourismni.com.

And also my ode to Belfast… http://Belfast chilled.

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Cruiseday Tuesday – rivers of dreams

There’s an old Irish ballad which proffers that only the rivers run free.

Not getting into that just now, but the gentle rippling of rivers do make us feel free.

Life has stopped me from taking up the many invites to go on a river cruise but I shared my invitations by commissioning others.

And it didn’t help that they returned raving about their trips… and Uinworld.

Life on the river: Portugal

Uniworld is doing the work for us by flagging up five for 2020… and I’m flagging up Portugal for starters.

While most of us look towards the Algarve, and there’s no harm in that, I was introduced to the Portugal between Lisbon and Porto.

Uniworld offers 11 days from Lisbon to Porto on the new ship SS SAO Gabriel as part of its Portugal, Spain & The Douro River Valley.

From €3,999pps. Visit http://www.uniworld.com.

Let’s do this one bite at a time, so I’ll tell you about the charms of other featured properties Germany, France, Vietnam and Egypt soon.

And let me share my love for Portugal and the Venice of Portugal, Aveiro, in https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal/ And http://www.visitportugal.com.

Your own Venice boat trip

Grand: The Grand Canal

So your large cruise ships aren’t going up into the historic centre of Venice (and for good reasons).

Go with Le Boat instead, self-drive cruising on craft that can sleep between four and ten people.

You’ll be able to visit Venice and its hinterland at your leisure.

And also head towards Trieste, beloved of James Joyce, and south of the Venetian lagoon to nature reserve of the Po Delta.

The seven-night self-catered cruise starts and finishes at Le Boat’s base art Casale on the Caprice.

It sleeps p to six. Arrive September 21. From £783 per boat/£131pp (was £967 per boat, saving 19%).

Transport to and from base not included. Visit www.leboat.co.uk.

Cruising Down Under

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie

The farter-in-law took his brood out to Australia in the Seventies.

And being the adventurous type he went off to see the Murray River… the traditional way.

These days he could have gone in luxury with Captain Cook Cruises.

They are offering a seven-night New Year’s Eve cruse on the Murray Princess, departing Mannum on December 27.

And it will follow in the footsteps of the 19th Century pioneers.

You’ll explore 420kms of the Murray River and learn all about Aboriginal history.

You will enjoy a New Year’s Eve a la carte dinner, festivities and dancing.

Early booking saver fares for the Mannum to Renmark New Year’s Ever cruise starts from A$2352pp twin share.

The cruise departs Mannum on December 27 at 4.30pm and arrives at Renmark on January 3 at 9.30am.

Your entry point to Australia is Adelaide. Check out your global airlines. And http://www.murrayprincess.com.au.

Medallion man

And now for a dip: On the Crown Princess

I like to share… and so do Princess Cruises.

Having enjoyed the luxuries of that ship recently on a day’s docking in Dublin Port and its new all-purpose MedallionNet WiFI I bring further good news.

The MedallionNet is currently available on eight ships including Crown Princess and Island Princess which will both be baed in the UK next year.

And now Princess tell us that it will be available on all of its ships by the end of 2020.

And now for the deal offer:

Princess Cruises has a seven-day Mediterranean and Aegean voyage on Enchanted Princess, departing September.

Sail from Rome (Civitaveccha) to Athens, calling at Naples, Kotor, Corfu, Charia and Mykonos. From €1,231pp,

With up to $250 on board spending money per person. http://www.princess.com.

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The Hebridean

Finlay, my Hebridean pal smiled as we recalled how the religious girls in the flat upstairs would stamp on the floor when we’d hold one of our late-night parties.

‘Ah, Jim, they never stood a chance.’

His giant frame was more stooped, his melodic voice more of a whisper now, but it was the same old Finlay.

It was the last I saw of Finlay but I remember him today, and other days, and when I do I smile too.

Who dressed me up in that? Finlay and pals

Finlay was a Hebridean, a Western Islander from the last Scottish rocks before North America.

Many other crofting families ended up there and one woman even begot a son who is running the world now.

Finlay wouldn’t have approved of him.

Finlay, a native Gaelic speaker, also ‘emigrated’ too, to the Scottish mainland.

The Skye is the limit

Hence his sonorous voice and the way he pronounced everything perfectly.

It was there at Aberdeen University that we became firm friends and flatmates.

And there that he looked after me, and us.

Like the time he stopped me getting a beating from Aberdeen football fans – I deserved the beating.

I’d hoped he’d come along with me to the Beerfest in Munich but those parties up in our flat, and others, drained his savings.

We did rave it up together in Skye at the annual Folk Festival when we emptied Broadford’s supermarket of booze.

I’m chasing the birds

And again when I showed off my new girlfriend around the Western Islands.

I didn’t expect to see him strolling down the main street on Skye.

Homeward bound

But he was looking to get back to his home island of North Uist.

I wouldn’t have been much of a friend if I hadn’t helped him.

And he in turn gave us an unforgettable night on North Uist.

Finlay is my youth, and that of my friends, but of course he is most missed by his wife Jaqui, his brother Archie and sister-in-law Elsie.

Over the sea to Skye: Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An chuid eile den tsíocháin mo chara.

The Hebrides, or Western Islands, is Gaelic Scotland.

It is unspoilt with beautiful beaches, ancient stone circles, fresh farm to fork food and is the home of whisky.

And people who are just like Finlay.

Isle be there

See www.outerhebrides.co.uk, www.isleofskye.com and www.visitscotland.com

You can get to the Islands by plane from Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester Visit which of www.flybe.com and www.loganair.co.uk serves you best.

The destinations are Stornoway on the biggest island Lewis, the Isle of Barra where you land on the beach, and Benbecula between North and South Uist.

There has been a bridge over to Skye for years now but you can take the bonny boat too.

Caledonian MacBrayne was traditionally the Islanders’ umbilical cord to the Mainland and is still the best way to arrive. www.calmac.co.uk.

And when they got there, to Glasgow, their meeting place was under the Central Station railway bridge ‘The Heelanmam’s Umbrella’.

Read my review of my home city https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/

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Atoll tale – the Maldives

It’s a good drying day on Kuramathi but then every day is… the temperature rarely dips below 28 degrees at any time of the year.

And so I’ve got the spare togs and towel hung up on the clothesline by the outdoor shower.

Wet after my early morning swim in my infinity pool which overhangs the Indian Ocean.

Something’s fishy: Drying day

But how to dry out myself after a Champagne and cocktail-fuelled karaoke and beach party the previous night?

A leisurely one kilometre walk around  Kuramathi is guaranteed to sweat off the booze.

And we’ll meet some interesting characters along the way.

Won’t you join me?

My new best friend

Gordon, my house gecko is the first to greet me, dancing around my feet as I leave my room before scuttling off through the reeds.

I’m heron all about the Maldives

Somewhere above him in the palm trees a Xxx warbles a morning song and memories of me murdering The Eagles, Elvis and Neil Diamond the previous evening come flooding back.

It’s 8am on Kuramathi which would be rush hour back home.

But here only the occasional electrical buggy bus or old-fashioned staff bicycle passes by on the sandy path while the only jaywalkers you’ll encounter are cooing couples.

Some gentlemen even hold parasols for their sweethearts to shield them from the sun. 

My pal Gordon

My own sweetheart is probably wrestling with a brolly back home in blustery, rainy Ireland… the thought quickly passes.

Ne’er a flutter of wind comes off the Indian Ocean.

Bus stop: On Kuramathi

Just as well really as this is a conservative island and it wouldn’t do to have a gust lift up my sarong as I amble along the coast.

Not that you’re likely to see another soul but still.

There’s every chance though that you’ll spot turtles and black finned sharks in the clear blue sea. 

Teardrops on the ocean: The Atoll

If you do see a turtle it’ll likely be Selma, who is something of a celebrity on Kuramathi as is her minder, Vanessa.

A German eco warrior and curator at the Island Eco Centre she claimed Selma as her own turtle and named her.

Turtle power

If you can snap a new turtle with your Go-Pro camera you too can get to adopt a turtle.   

On a 1.2km island resort repeat with hoilidaymakers, staff, restaurants and bars and all the necessary infrastructure to make an island bobbing along on the ocean to work only the best husbandry will do.

Bread of heaven: The pitta and sundries

Luckily Mother Nature lends a helping hand.

I check out Kuramathi’s living, breathing pharmacy of plants on my Botany walk.

They cater for every ailment and condition known to man and are used in the medications.

They also infuse the dishes you will taste at the half a dozen high-end restaurants around the island. 

Chicken lickin’: And I’ve got started on that lager

This being Asia you will get your share of Eastern delicacies at the bars and restaurants you pass.

Tuck in

I have my hosts Farooz and Fern and a host of hospitable and knowledgeable waiters to thank for walking me through their dishes.

My favourite the Malaysian chicken curry, while obviously Kuramathi is a fish-lovers’ dream with the red snapper and scallops also worth a special mention.

I can always do home games in the Maldives

And being Asia you can even order Chinese at breakfast… well, it works for 1 billion Chinese after all.

The European palate is also catered for with a particularly good Italian specialising in risotto on the island.

And you never have to put your hand in your pocket (just as well if you’re wearing a sarong) as you settle your bill at the end of your holiday. 

To infinity and beyond

There are three options, B&B, half-board and all-inclusive.

It probably depends on your appetite and your liver, but if you come all this way and can afford to push the boat out I’d say save yourself the stress and go all in.

Howzat!

Back to my morning constitutional and with the breakfast of champions already in me I’m off to take part in the big game.

Buggy driver Renga helpfully gives me a lift to the palm tree-lined pitch and introduces me to Hassan and the rest of the cricketers.

It’s 38 years since I picked up a bat in anger.

My dear Old Dad had high hopes for me and in my maiden school innings I went in to open only to be bounced first ball before surrendering my wicket the next.

I’ll get the right top next time… No. 7 please.

I learn my lesson here watching these big hitters and go in at the fall of the first wicket .

I manage to amass a mighty two before being run out picking up a bruise or two diving for the crease.

And footie

Football the next day will be more successful with me setting up the winner.

And by the end of the week my party are telling me that their buggy drivers have been asking if they are here with Jims (sic) who is ‘a very good player.’ 

‘I’m asked if I would like to come back.

Magical Botanical

‘Does Roy Keane like a crunching tackle?’

Bruised though I am, I have discovered over the years that I am still considerably safer on dry land than in the water.

The ocean is better suited for the turtles and sharks.

Who I fear will only lick their lips at the sight of my blood the next day as I snorkel off the island of Kandolhu.

Too many bubbles

It is one of the five islands on this, the Rasdhoo Atoll.

But the sharks are actually quite tame.

And they are clearly so busy laughing at my flapping anyway to be bothered about nibbling my nobbly knee.

I’m consoled too that I’ll get a warm down later (yes warm down in this weather!) in Kuramathi’s spa.

A wee, wee island

When I say Kandolhu is an island, it really is just a bit of sandbank and floating coral.

Beautiful coral, but floating coral all the same.

And there is just 200mx120m of it. 

So it would take Usain Bolt 19.90secs to run the whole island.

Sea plane sailing

Not that that curtails them, there are 30 high-end villas and four restaurants on Kandolhu.

So how did we, and the Maldives, get here?

Well, Kandolhu and Kuramathi are just two of 1,190 coral islands situated in 26 atolls or clutches across 90,000sqkms of water south of Sri Lanka.

Sea planes

I had started counting them as I was flown into the main and only truly populous island Male (133,000).

And gazed down in wonder at these teardrops on the ocean. 

Even better our barefoot pilot took us up really close to the islands by then flying down on them on his sea plane.

I need a break: It’s thirsty work

The atolls I am told take up just 10% of the sea mass that surround them, I make a start on drinking the other 90% while snorkelling.

But I did manage to spot me a turtle who, Go-Pro or no Go-Pro, I name Vanessa… or Mother Turtle, my own name for her.

A day and a night

I clearly have a taste for this island life though perhaps not the water activities.

But I will go on to make my own splash on the island and the islanders in the time I’m here.

As a guest of Kuramathi Island resort and Turkish Airlines.

I have flown us here via Istanbul.

It is a 24-hour joyride with all the trappings of business class, and a stop-off in the world’s best business class lounge in Istanbul.

And yes, I tried really hard to miss my flight back to Dublin.

Mother Turtle: With Vanessa

The best taste of island life on Kuramathi though is what comes in the hurricane-shaped glasses with frozen strawberry daiquiris up to the brim.

On our last night on the island we take a sunset cruise out onto the ocean before settling in for the night at the Sand Bar.

Motion on the Indian Ocean

I fall into the beanbag on the beach where I almost fell asleep the first night.

And order my Kuramathi cocktail and another and another and listen to house band Limestone.

I had heard them on the way back from the football that afternoon where they gave us a sneak rehearsal of the closing number of their set, Hotel California.

Natty: Music on the Maldives

I lie back and look up at the stars while letting the sound of the waves lapping up against the sand wash over me.

The only breaker is Limestone’s natty singer making a better stab at The Eagles than I had done at the Karaoke Bar:

‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’

All right by me!

Travel facts

Resort info, see www. www.kuramathi.ie and www.kandolhu.com. Bookings: www.GoHop.ie/(01) 2412389 or www.TravelMood.ie Tel. (01) 4331000. Kuramathi Island Resort: Beach Villas from €2,155 pp; Over Water Villas from €2,895 pp for seven nights.

Including flight, taxis, transfers, full board. Optional basic all-inclusive package. €59 per day. Dine around select package. €99 per day.

Kandolhu Island: From €3995pp. Jacuzzi Beach Villa.

Ultimate Inclusions basis. for seven nights, prices correct at time of print.

Based on travel in May/June 2018 inc. flights with Turkish Airlines.

Round trip economy class starting price Dublin- Maldives from €748.59; return business class starting price for same route, €2,166.59.

See www.turkishairlines. com, or call: (01) 525-1849. Baggage allowance: Economy class, 30kg + 8kg hand luggage; Business class 40kg +16 kg for hand luggage in total.

And if you like a sunshine island… counting Britain and Ireland out, obvs… then try the Caribbean https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/22/rumba-in-barbados/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

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Moanday Morning – the weather

The world’s greatest comedian Billy Connolly argues that there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes.

I rarely get it right though, wearing far too many layers.

While our youngsters wear too few, and hardly ever raincoats.

Welcome to Ireland, the only country I know where you regularly need to go out with a brolly and a pair of sunglasses.

So what’s my Moan this Moanday Morning? Only the national obsession… talking about the weather.

Jump for joy: In the Pyrenees with a light cagoule in the summer

You know the type – ‘Oh, I’m not sure what the weather is going to do today.’

No. Of course you don’t… unless you’re Michael Fish (maybe wrong choice as he got Black Friday wrong) or Heather the Weather.

A weathered old excuse

When I asked a former colleague why the need to exchange amateur weather predictions I was told it was to fill the empty air in the conversation.

And I thought that was what ‘Hello’ was for.

The right trousers: On the Camino

So taking Billy’s advice I’d recommend these ‘right’ clothes – light easy to fold up cagoules for hot countries (or shelter) www.northface.ie

And trousers you can unzip around the knees.

They work particularly well on Caminos and I’ll be taking them with me on my hike in Tenerife in a couple of weeks.

Check out www.greatoutdoors.ie And for more guidance and a tempter for your Camino… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/. And also visit www.caminoways.com

A toast to the cloak: At Harry Potter World in Universal in Orlando

Of course common sense is needed – don’t wear a ski jacket in the hills and valleys in Switzerland in the summer.

A heavy load to bear

Just because they worked on the snowy mountaintop at the top of the Jungfraujoch the day before.

But do wear a light fleece, both in the mountains and in the valleys. They’re both very user-friendly.

In my defence I had slept in on the day I picked out the ski jacket for our hike through the valleys and packed in a hurry.

And I ended up having to cram said jacket into my backpack.

And that was a hefty, and sweaty, weight to cart around those hills.

Well it makes a story… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/

And if you want an explanation for this picture below… well, there is none. But it’s in the Maldives.. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/

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Give us this day -Padova

As calling cards go it does the job – simple, functional and just what is needed if your stock painting will be halos.

With a swish and a brush of red paint Giotto di Bondone had announced himself to the Papal envoy with his freehand circle.

And within a few years he would announce himself to the world with his magnum opus.

His fresco in 1305 in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padova would in turn inspire Michelangelo when he came to adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

For all of us who have attempted a still life and ended up with an egg in a basket of fruit instead of an orange you will know how difficult it is to draw the perfect circle.

But only perfect circles would do as Giotto’s patron Enrico Scrovegni had let his halo slip and needed a grand gesture.

To gain absolution and enter through the gates of heaven.

Enrico’s crime was usury – charging excessive interest on loans.

A crime so serious that it resulted in the banker being damned the fires of Hell.

Worth a shot in Ireland.

Rather than appealing straight to Our Lord, though, Scrovegni had the bright idea of asking Jesus’s mother to intercede on his behalf.

Mary cradles Christ

And then dedicated the chapel and the frescoes to her life with a celebration of her role in human salvation.

And just to leave nobody in any doubt of his devotion he had Giotto paint him into the main scene.

Presenting a model of the chapel to her in the fresco The Last Judgment.

The Scrovegni Chapel is Padova’s calling card but it is only a hint of a more expansive canvas.

I am in Padova (Padua), 38km west of Venice in the Veneto region and 209kms from Milan.

St Anthony’s Basilica

As well as looking upwards – Padova is the City of Frescoes – it looks outwards.

It has been home to the Venetians, French and Austro-Hungarians over the last millennium and embraced all their influences.

Today it is looking westwards which is where we Irish probably come in.

But more immediately to Milan’s Expo 2015, a showcase for feeding the planet and energy for life.

Padova has a rich history of doing both.

The Brenta River which leads right down to the Grand Canal teems with life.

While the Venetian Plain attracted the mariners of that great city to avail of its rich agriculture.

And build grand villas and palaces to entertain dignitaries.

It is also home to the oldest botanical gardens in the world.

On this trip, we will get to witness all of this.

But today it’s Sunday so Church and a visit to the Basilica of St Anthony of Padova.

The Piazza dei Signori

Yes, that St Anthony, the one who helps you – for some coins in his charity box – to find your keys,

St Anthony we are told has a wider reach than just those objects that fall out of your rucksacks and handbags.

He is also the patron saint of people who have lost their way in life or lost or fear losing something or someone close to them.

St Anthony’s bones are kept in an altar tomb in the basilica and people pass it in veneration, touching the side.

Which is adorned with photos of their loved ones.

A little bit more of St Anthony

The image of a young man, his head bowed and his hand placed on the side in silent invocation was truly moving.

I have to confess that this simple devotion touched me more than the veneration to St Anthony’s tongue and the bottom of his teeth in elaborate gold reliquaries further up the church.

The story goes that when St Anthony’s body was exhumed his tongue was still moist in recognition of his great preaching prowess.

So the Padovans decided to place it on show for veneration.

St Anthony hailed from Lisbon, but had he been Italian then you’d have to think his hands would have been on display.

Water, water everywhere

They are a famously expressive people, the Italians.

And while in the big cities there is less of a willingness to indulge those who wish to try out their Italian.

I found the Padovans and, in particular, our guide Mariaclaudia charmingly engaging.

Perhaps it is because this is a university city but not just any old university city, among the top ten oldest in the world.

And where Galileo taught.

Naturally the statue to him which is among 78 in the Isola Memmia in the Prato della Valle portrays him with his hands outstretched.

It is also where the first woman anywhere in the world graduated.

Piazza special

An inclusive place then and one where you can, if you don’t have two left feet like your writer, get up to dance the tango.

With dozens of other Padovans in the piazza at night.

The Villa Pisani

Perhaps with another glass of Venetian Spritz – the local speciality of Aperol (think Campari), Prosecco and mineral water.

Well, next time.

My own personal foodie

A word on the food and drink.

I had the good fortune to have accomplished Travel writer, food expert and bon viveur Peter on our trip.

I’m insisting that he come on all my future expeditions with me.

To describe in erudite fashion how good the likes of regional favourite Risi e bisi is.

A merely English translation as rice and peas clearly doesn’t do it justice.

So it’s best left in Italian.

A work of art on a plate

I’m sure other restaurants do Risi e bisi just as well as Taverna degli Artisti but my dish came at the end of an enchanting visit to Cittadella.

It is a 13th Century walled city which stands 14-16ft high and 4,793ft around.

Taverna degli Artisti stands opposite the quaint old we entered behind a market stall.

And through what looked like a lock-up door.

A treasure more memorable because it feels hidden away.

A touch of colour

There is nothing shy and retiring though about the baroque Villa Pisani in Stra on the banks of the Brenta.

Built by Alvise Pisani, the 114th Doge, or leader, of Venice in 1735, there would be 114 rooms.

Villa thriller

With frescoes of gods and men and women living and loving lustily.

With vino flowing as copiously as the water on the nearby Brenta.

And without the dams that that river employs to hold it back.

In the pink

Pride of place in the villa is Napoleon Bonaparte’s bedroom – the little general bought it in 1806.

Bony’s bed

Bony’s bedroom is surrounded by empirical emblems and deliberately is the first the sun hits in the morning.

Not to be outdone, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler met here in Villa Pisani for the first time.

One imagines there must have been a fight to get Bony’s bed.

The Villa Pisani comes with its very own maze, the Labyrinth of Love.

Where we are told a young cloaked woman would stand in the centre at the top of a spiral staircase.

Amazing maze

She was, of course, the prize for the man who managed to wend his way through the maze.

There is no historical record that Bony, Benito or Adolf burrowed their way manically through the maze.

But you would imagine that like us, they did.

We can only assume too that the young woman was on a day off when we visited!

But anyway it was time to get back on our burchiello – or boat.

As we skirted along the river at a gentle pace, gurgling wine and scoffing hors d’oeuvres we feel like those nobles of old.

Energy of the water

We are informed that many of the villas along the banks are also richly blessed but lie empty, still needing to be renovated.

It is a theme that keeps recurring: that the Italians, having finished what they had set out to build during the Renaissance packed up early.

And laid back and enjoyed the fruits of their labour.

So with dragonflies gently skimming along the water by our side I contemplate how the energy of life sometimes has to come in great rushes.

But it is often best captured in quiet moments and in water colours.

A gondola by the banks suggests Venice is drawing nearer but that is for another time.

Merchant of Menace

And besides the Brenta boat voyage runs both ways and it was inland to Padova and its environs that the Venetians, after all, came for their pleasure and sustenance.

So, who am I to argue?

Travel facts

How to get there: Aer Lingus flies to Venice on Fridays, returning Sundays.

From €657.80 www.aerlingus.com. Or depart for Treviso www.ryanair.com, depart and return Thursdays. From €297.80.

Package: The Only Weekend Padova option offers a double room in the central Hotel Europa which offers a comfy night’s stay, a balcony and breakfast. For two nights at €155.

And some extras

Extras: Padova Terme Euganee Convention & Visitors Bureau offers the PadovaCard for free www.weekendpadova.it/en/hotel-europa.

The Padova Card is valid 48 hours (€16) or 72 hours (€21) and valid for one adult and child under 14 www.turismopadova.it/en/context/423.

Besides free admission the Padova Card www.padovacard.it also provides discounts on attractions and allows visitors to use urban transit buses for free.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail.

And why not check out some other Italian adventures https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/ And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/.

And I’m flagging up http://www.topflight.ie and their Italy sale in https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/10/holiday-snaps-save-money-on-italy/.

Featured

This sporting weekend – rugby’s big in Japan

There are those with round balls and those with oval balls. And you’re born either one or the other…. a rugby or a football fan.

The good news is that you can change as an adult.

My Dear Old Dad was a young footballer of some ability. He played in the Scottish Schools Final at Hampden and later got offered professional terms.

But he decided to doctor instead.

And when he went up in the world he sent his boys to fee-paying schools which meant we played rugby and not football.

Reach for the skies. Photo by Aleksandar Makaric on Pexels.com

I enjoyed it for a while and would go to the Scotland matches at Murrayfield.

Until l turned my attentions to running, my wiry frame not cut out for the crunching game of egg-chasing.

My passion for football was reignited (my Dad, in fairness, never really lost his love for the game) when I went to University and took up social five-a-side.

And it’s never left me since, developing into an honest stopper, and a sports journalist to boot for half of my career.

So where does this take us in Travel?

Well, sports fans plan their time off around major sporting events, the annual seasons, but also the big competitions.

Get behind your team. Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com

It’s rugby’s big year with the World Cup next month. And those who are going will have worked out their travel plans by now.

But if like me you’re at home when they set the atmosphere with pieces on the country then let bespoke specialists Hayes & Jarvis take you.

Visit http://www.hayesandjarvis.ie (01) 513 6063.

Tokyo is where the final is, and living in Ireland I am duty bound to say that they will be there, although I will vainly hope that Scotland can forget they are Scotland and win some games.

Tokyo, I’m reliably informed by my Japanese friend in Scotland is a fashion and shopping haven.

Passport to success: My H&J passport cover

It has spectacular cityscapes, such as the historic Shibuya intersection. And why not transfer by bullet train to the ancient imperial capital city of Kyoto?

H&J’s Tokyo and Kyoto ten-day Multi Centre itinerary will include return flights from Heathrow to Tokyo. And an overnight tour of Hakone and Mount Fuji.

I’ve got my personalised Hayes & Jarvis passport ready… I take it everywhere with me.

And don’t forget to check out your Holiday Snaps’ passport to the world… your weekend noticeboard of all the best offers home and abroad. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/10/holiday-snaps-save-money-on-italy/

MEET YOU ON A SPORTING FIELD

Featured

Holiday Snaps – Save money on Italy

A man goes into the doctor: ‘Doctor, I feel like an Italian island,’ Doctor: ‘Don’t be Sicily.’

Dramatic: Sicily Photo by Mauro Reem-Itchy on Pexels.com

You obviously need more than a morning and afternoon to spend in Sicily but alas that is all we had on our day trip from Malta.

Of course we could easily put that right with award-winning Italian holiday specialIsts Topflight.

Their Italian sale is up and running from today with savings of up to 30%.

There are discounts for the remaining summer season (August – October) on every date across all their featured resorts including on a selection of family holiday options.

There is also a raft of Italian escorted tour experiences on sale.  

Topflight’s Italian Holiday Sale offers holidays from Dublin, Cork & Belfast. It ends at midnight on Thursday, 15th August. 

As a sample, Topflight offers seven days in Sicily on August 24, staying in the 3* Villa Linda (B&B), Giardini Naxos was €871 now €599pps.   

Or leaving on the same day, 4* plus RG Naxos (B&B), Giardini Naxos was €1255 now €869pps

And from Cork why not try out Lake Garda? Seven nights departing August 17 and staying at the 3* plus Hotel Garda Bellevue (H/B) was €1037 now €699pps.

Visit www.topflight.ie.

You want more Italy. Here’s how to make the best of Rome. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/

Dominican followers

Your own beach? Photo by Leonardo Rossatti on Pexels.com

My old work buddy Scott spent his honeymoon on a community centre floor in the Dominican Republic because of the hurricane.

Tropical Sky will ensure you spend your holiday in a 5* hotel at a great price.

They (tropicalsky.ie / 01 664 9999) have some of the best savings on the market.

With savings of up to €850 per person on seven night stays at Casa de Campo for travel completed by November 6, if booked by August 31.

The offer means that your holiday will cost from €1,509pp.

Among the features are 50% off access to three championship golf courses; 20% off Spa treatments pp.

You’ll have complimentary non-motorised water sports, tennis, horse riding, golf cart and teen-only activities, including billiards tournaments, air hockey and movie nights.

Based on two sharing on all-inclusive basis and including flights from Dublin and transfers.

Licence to chill

Toe the line: Hemingway’s six-toed cats

It’s obligatory as a Scot (and many others) to say that Sean Connery was the best James Bond but I’ve always been different and like my own childhood Bond, Roger Moore.

Pearse Brosnan is the best modern-day Bond while Timothy Dalton is the most underrated. Daniel Craig? Pat!

This year is the 30th anniversary of one of the best Bond films, Dalton’s Licence to Thrill when Bond went rogue.

The opening scene takes place on the Seven Mile Bridge with other segments filmed at Key West International Airport and on Whitehead Street at the Key West Lighthouse and Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum.

Pappa Hemingway is a template for journalists, and not just his adventurous life.

And he was also a cat man.

He had a penchant for polydactyl cats. That’s six-toed cats. Check out the 40-50 polydactyl cats who live on-site.

Tours are priced from $14 (approximately £11.50). visit: www.fla-keys.com/movies-tv and www.filmkeys.com/past-productions.cfm.

Aer Lingus flies to Miami. Visit www.aerlingus.com. We found a return trip Dublin to Miami from €457.63.

See you in Tenerife

Old fishing boat at the Mirador de El Archipenque. La Gomera island in the distance

I’m counting down the days to my trip to Tenerife in September.

Travel Department has a Tenerife Coast & Cuntry seven-night full-board guided holiday.

Excursions will include a full-day guided tour of the highlights of the island, a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage colonial city of La Laguna and a visit to Mount Teide National Park.

Prices start from €659pp for seven nights including return flights, full-board 4* hotel accommodation, all transfers and fully-guided excursions with an expert local guide, departing regularly from September – November 2019.

Visit http://www.traveldepartment.ie

The last days of summer

I always associate the Shelbourne Hotel with travel functions and balmy summer nights.

The iconic Dublin hotel are billing their latest package as The Shelbourne Swan Song.

It is a special occasion but you deserve it.

Running from August 18 until September 5 it’s an an overnight stay that includes breakfast and a Summer Spritz cocktail on their new Terrace for €299 for two people sharing.

Visit www.TheShelbourne.com.

Slieve Donard’s grand plan

Golden vision: Slieve Donard

You’d think it would be plenty plush enough – Hastings Hotels’ Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in Co. Down.

But they’re making it even better.

Their €1.2m renovation has included a refurb of its kitchen including all new equipment, as well as the redesign of the hotel’s drawing-room.

The final stage of the programme is due to be completed in September when 16 of the Slieve Donard’s luxury bedrooms will be upgraded.

Visit www.hastingshotels.com for Slieve Donard and Hastings’ other hotels. http://slievedonardhotel.guestreservations.com/

Christmas is coming

He’s getting ready: Santa in Lapland

It’s only 137 days until Christmas and Santa and TUI are getting ready.

TUI will fly you out and back to Lapland on the same day with departures from Dublin on December 7 and 14. 

All guides, visits to Santa and outdoor activities like sledging and snowmobiling are included.

All your thermal wear is included in our winter wonderland too; just bring your normal warm day clothes to wear underneath and you’ll be toasty and warm.

Adult price from €719 and child price from €599. Visit https://www.tuiholidays.ie. Call 1850 45 35 45 .

And I’m beginning to look a lot like Christmas too. Another opportunity to see what can be done with a green beard and some baubles.

Where are those baubles now?

And look out for a new feature https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/10/this-sporting-weekend-rugbys-big-in-japan/ today.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Jocktails – the Hurricane

I try to make a point of never sharing my cocktail with anybody else… but you’d do well to drink this Jocktails recommendation, The Hurricane, on your own.

This is Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane cocktail and it’s meant to fill 13 thirsty drinkers.

I guess it depends on your crowd!

I was introduced to the Hurricane which is an amber/gold rum cocktail with passion fruit juice, the fuller recipe of which I will print further below, at Pat’s on CityWall, Universal, in Orlando.

What you having’? The Hurricane at Pat’s in Universal Studios, Orlando

It was there that myself and a group of Irish rollercoaster fans wetted our whistles the night before tackling the big rides.

Be sure to line your stomach at breakfast the next day.

And it also loosened up our vocal cords with us belting out Don’t Stop Believing (obvs) and Piano Man.

Well, they do have duelling pianists and pianos.

And now for the history bit

A little history here about The Hurricane…

Pat ran a speakeasy called Mr O’Brien’s Club Tipperary (yes, he’s one of ours) in New Orleans.

And not that it’s much use to you now but the password was storm’s brewin’.

Pat had a surplus of rum and wanted to get rid of it so he could stock whiskeys.

He poured the mix into hurricane lampshades glasses and gave them away too sailors, and it remains popular particularly in the French Quarter.

The recipe: Mix 4oz of Pat O’Brien’s rum or any good dark rum with 4oz of Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix. Fill 26oz glass with crushed ice and garnish with orange and a maraschino cherry. Multiply by 13.

A nice touch is that it has been custom for bars to donate the prices of Hurricanes to Hurricane relief.

Visit www.patobriens.com www.patobriens.com and www.universalorlando.co.uk www.universalorlando.co.uk. And www.visitusa.ie www.visitusa.ie.

And while I dig out my first (not my last, it’s one of my favourite places and memories) review from Orlando, here’s the first Jocktail in this series to keep you going… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/01/jocktails-the-strawberry-daiquiri/ Caught up with you now… here’s my Aaawlando review https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/aaawlando-orlando-the-rollercoaster-capital/

Now to reward myself with a big Hurricane.

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Flyday Friday – Madeira

The mother-in-law has been asking where to holiday. I thought a single fare but I’m not that brave. And then changed my advice to Madeira.

The Bamba (the kids couldn’t say Grandma) has something of the green fingers about her.

So she’d love lush Madeira.

Madeira’s flora and fauna benefit from the volcanic ash on the island.

And the capital Funchal’s Botanic Gardens are renowned.

Its cake – no, it’s not the Madeira sponge cake as we know it.

It was given that name after Madeira wine which 18th Century British and Irish middle classes would drink with their cake.

Lush: Madeira. Photo by Valdemaras D. on Pexels.com

Their cake is called bolo de mel and is dark, spicy, honey cake.

Madeira’s favourite son would eat himself and his fellow islanders have honoured him with his own statue, the world’s worst.

You’ll arrive into Madeira International Airport Cristiano Ronaldo with TAP Air Portugal via Lisbon.

From €220 return via Lisbon. They offer a five-night optional stopover in Lisbon with no extra charge. Visit www.flytap.com.

Something for the weekend

What a picture: Lanzarote. Photo by Emils Plinte on Pexels.com

The weekends are when we usually book flights… now that’s not scientific. Just a hunch.

So use this weekend wisely and check out Aer Lingus’s 20% off flights to Europe. The offer ends at midnight on Monday. Visit www.ryanair.com.

Car for hire

Keys please: Rental cars

I don’t do much for myself and let the coach driver take me where I want. Far better though if you take it in your own hands.

Hire a car and you can make your own time and have freedom to see the place you want, at the time you want. And not have to bother about itineraries.

Ryanair is offering up to 50% off car hire for the autumn. Visit www.ryanair.com.

Not all car journeys though end well. Look at what happened to me when I got behind the wheel of a classic Fiat 500 in Cannes. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-dazur/

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Cool for cats – International Cat Day

Oh fur he’s a jolly good fellow… it’s International Cat Day.

I think you can always judge a person and a society on how they treat their animals.

I was taken on my recent travels in Istanbul by just what a high podium Istanbullers put their cats on.

The Grand Bazaar is an explosion of sights, sounds and colours.

But while I felt prepared for the Turkish dress-up shop, the Turkish delight shops and the rugs and jewellery vendors the book shops were just a little different.

I mean cats really do have the run of these stalls.

But the real Top Cat in Istanbul is Gli who lords it in the Aya Sofya museum.

Yes, Gli has his own official page on the museum’s website which is as it should be as he’s been living there for most of his 14 years.

And it is said that Barack Obama was taken by the majestic moggie when he visited.

Umut Bahceci who runs his Instagram account is the expert on all things Gli whose name means ‘Union of Love.’

Umut told Lonely Planet www.lonelyplanet.com.com that Gli will stand under the Muezzins’ lodge if he wants to be petted .

But if he wants to veg out he goes to the omphalos marble section of the floor.

Gli also likes to chase the light…

In the winter she will stand in front of the projector light that illuminates the nish, the altar, and the minbar, the pulpit because that’s where they warmth is.

In the summer he tends to sit near the windows.

Get out to Istanbul

The Aya Sofya costs just €4 or 30TL to visit and, it is well worth seeing. www.ayasofyamuzesii.com.tr

Turkish Airlines flies 14 times a week from Dublin. to the fabulous new Istanbul Airport and TA’s business lounge is a regular award-winner.

Duration 3 hours 50 minutes. See www.turkishairlines.com or call (01) 5251849.

Return economy class from Dublin to Istanbul costs from €325 (including taxes). Return business class (from €1,035 including taxes).

Happy Cat Day… and here’s our old pal Celtic… let’s hope there’s a spool of wool you can play with up there in cattie heaven.

And here’s my Istanbul review https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/

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Hungry and Thursday – American diners

I pretty much make it a rule of thumb never to get up early…

But I do get up early in America because of the jet lag and the opportunity to eat breakfast at a diner.

American fries. Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

I’ll gladly forego brekkie in the hotel… I don’t love buffets which I’ll come back to again.

But I do love diners… they’re a feast for the senses.

The colours; (they’re usually red), the high stools at the counter (again red) and the boards of specials with specifically American touches.

Such as pizza.

Just like this: Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

The waitresses – they’re usually called Wanda or Glenda or Brenda, busily taking orders in their notepads and shouting back to Mario the cook.

For eggs overeasy or sunny side up.

And she’ll cheerfully refill your coffee mug.

While Brad and Chuck put the world to rights.

You don’t get this at your breakfast buffet back in the hotel.

And that’s just what I did when I decided to forego brekkie in my hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

And instead head for Primanti Brothers www.primantibros.com just off the promenade where I went the full hog with their crispy bacon and pancakes.

Joe Primanti launched the business from a sandwich cart in Pittsburgh back in the depression before moving into diner premises and spreading his name nationwide.

And his Almost Famous Sandwich.

Which looks something like this… note too the chips.

And you can’t go wrong with a turbocharged chip buttie.

For all the updates and news on the Oo Es of A see www.visitusa.ie

And check out my musings on Washington DC and eating at Barack Obama’s favourite eating place in the US capital. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/easy-dc-2/

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The other Lourdes… a castle, eagle and fish

Up here in La Chateau fort de Lourdes, or Lourdes Castle, where eagles once flew, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the pilgrims below.

But Lourdes Castle was here for 1100 years already when Bernadette Soubirous went digging around in the grotto.

Continuing my Castles around the world series, today it’s the turn of Lourdes Castle.

I’ll swing for you

And Our Lady had already made her presence felt in 778AD to an emissary… Turpin (no, not that one), the bishop of Puy-en-Velay.

And more importantly a travelling companion of Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, and future Holy Roman Emperor.

Who just happened to be returning from fighting the Saracens and stopped off to try to recapture the castle of Mirambei from the Moorish chief Murat.

Still with me.

Murat though was a stubborn son of a Moor and wouldn’t give in to a mere mortal like Charley boy.

We’re watching you: Lourdes Castle

It was only when an eagle intervened and dropped a fish at Murat’s feet that things started moving at pace.

Murat hurled the fish down at Charley’s soldiers and mocked them by saying he had thousands in his cistern.

A bit Monty Python, methinks.

This is one we made earlier: Lourdes Castle how it was

Of course all it needed was for Turpin to suggest to Murat that if he wouldn’t surrender to Charley, a mere mortal, he should to Our Lady of Puys.

Which he did, agreeing to being baptised and taking the Christian name of Lorus.

Roi of the chateau: My Lourdes Castle

All of this you can discover with a trip up to the chateau.

Spend a morning up here. You won’t regret it.

Swinging time

Swing on the drawbridge (you know you want to) before checking out the various different rooms where Medieval life is played out.

You’ll see pantries, drinking dens and vessels, a chapel and ramparts which are all staples of your everyday castle.

Bernie’s hiding

But good fun all the same,

But what makes Lourdes Lourdes is Bernadette (and Our Lady of course).

Bernie is up among the Botanic Gardens, not where I expected to see her, but I naturally jumped the rope (don’t, it’s interdit).

And got my photo taken,

And if and if all that’s not enough here’s a model village too.

Village life: At the castle

And this is when I went to Lourdes looking for a miracle… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/

Visit www.en.lourdes.-infotourisme.com.

For Lourdes Castle €7.50 www.lourdes-visite.com

Ryanair flies to Lourdes twice a week from Dublin over the summer season. Return flights €120, but look out for offers. Visit www.ryanair.com.

Next week: Neuschwanstein (Disney inspiration).

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The debate – is it right to play with guns?

It’s always a hard watch on television – another gun spree in the USA.

And the grim stats in the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio are chilling.

There are more gun massacres in the USA this year than there have been days of the year.

And so it is only right that I should reflect on this picture of me letting off rounds in Machine Gun Vegas a couple of years ago.

Is it right then to play with guns?

In a less questioning age, when I was a child in the Seventies, I played Cowboys and Indians, and had toy guns in my holster.

Like any kid back then.

I’ve taken a different view as I grow up and become a father.

Before it was pointed out to me that I am happy to watch Tarantino movies.

Machine Gun Vegas is like a golf driving range for gun enthusiasts, men and women, young to old.

The security and training before you pick up any gun is thorough, as you would expect, and it is made perfectly clear that these are no toys.

America’s gun culture is, of course, foreign to those of us who don’t live there.

And Nevada’s gun laws were heavily criticised following the atrocity there.

Of course, it does seem strange to our minds to imagine what the combination of losing your shirt at the tables, drink and access to guns can bring about.

Listen and learn

I make a general rule of asking, and not pontificating, when abroad. And particularly about politics.

And where I can, and it is safe to, I search out those who will give me the answers.

Deadly. Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

We should never be without an opinion.

And it is right that we have been vocal about the Civil Rights Movement in America, Apartheid in South Africa and much else around the world.

It is America, though, which is best placed to find its own answers on how best to address gun massacres in their country,

For now though in the toxic atmosphere that is prevailing, the battle lines of public opinion are drawn.

And it needs a peacemaker to help to try to defuse that.

It’s Vegas, baby

The atrocity in Vegas so soon after I had gone chilled me to the bone.

I would say that I found Vegas, safe, clean and friendly and would advise that you should go…. you’ll love it.

Visit www.lvca.com. And www.machinegunvegas.com, And while they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas I share my review with you… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/vegas-strip-the-light-fantastic/

And tell me what you think?

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Cruiseday Tuesday – Grand Canyon

Yes, I know it’s inland. I haven’t lost my marbles. Go cruising this Cruiseday Tuesday and also enjoy Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

That’s what Jetlinecruise.ie is offering.

It’s a 13-nighter with a cruise on board the Carnival Cruise Line ship Inspiration, going from Los Angeles to Catalina Island and onto Ensenada, Mexico.

Carnival time: Carnival Inspiration

They’re billing it as a Taster cruise.

So you will be sailing on January 12 with flights from Dublin to Vegas.

With three nights Neon City and LA stay, two nights Grand Canyon Ranch stay and helicopter flight over the Canyon.

I think it’s a no-brainer. The California Pacific coast is everything you see in the movies while the Grand Canyon is jaw-dropping and Vegas is a whirl.

The Palazzo: In Venice

I saw some things, let me tell you… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/vegas-strip-the-light-fantastic/

You’ll also get a free upgrade to oceanview stateroom. www.jetlinecruise.ie

Jock of Gibraltar

A little bit of Britain abroad: Gibraltar

It’s the type of synergy that the media love… a Scottish manager of the Gibraltar national football team which allows the headline writers to pun Jock of Gibraltar.

That’s Gibraltar, a little corner of Britain off Spain, and also the oft-forgotten extra border in the Brexit head wrecker.

But don’t you worry about that. Just enjoy the Rock on your Pincess Cruises’ deal of the week… seven days Med cruise.

You’ll sail on Crown Princess for seven days, departing April 11, calling in Gib, Marseille, Genoa and Florence/PIsa.

From €1,049pp with free flights and transfers. Free flights and transfers from Dublin, up to €350pp. Based on two people sharing an inside stateroom.

That means the offer is available for bookings made up to August 12. www.princess.com

Amplified Allure of the Seas

With my other hat I like to dabble making cocktails at home for the Scary One but the amplified Allure of the Seas wants to put me out of business.

You see this is just one of the gizmos on board, and I’ve seen it and drunk the cocktails the bionic mixologist has come up with at the Bionic Bar.

And Royal Caribbean has $165m worth of new experiences including the tallest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss.

And glow-in-the-dark laster tag and a lunar landing themed escape room.

Why not try a seven-nighter West Mediterranean, departing May 17 and October 25?

You will depart and return from Barcelona.

And you’ll stop off in Palma, Marseille, Florence/PIsa, Rome (Civitavecchia) and Naples.

Visit www.royalcaribbean.ie

Budget offer – €1 flights

Table for two: Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels.com

€1 flights you ask? That’s a budget.

And yes, it’s Royal Caribbean again.

Discover Corfu, Athens, Mykonos and more on Rhapsody of the Seas. With an award-winning kids and teen clubs too.

We were young, happy, free and sans kids when we honeymooned in Corfu (perhaps that was the source of our happiness and freedom.)

Prices from €1189, departing September 2020.

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Keep on truckin’… the five best carnivals

Mardi annual: Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, New Orleans

Come on take me to the Mardi Gras. Singing aside, yes, take me to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

I’ve flirted with Norleans, most notably at the annual IPW, the American Travel Fair, where the Preservation Society Jazz Band entertained us.

And drunk the Sazerac and eaten the gumbo and jambalaya.

But I’ve yet to get there… soon, though.

Of course, we owe it all to King Louis XIV, naturellement, and Pierre Le Moyne d’iberville.

The highlight is the Rex Ball. As they used to say in Norleans… laissez les bons temps rouler, or ‘let the good times roll.’

Visit www.mardigrasneworleans.com

Rio, Rio, by the sea-oh

Float on: Rio

Rio, the self-titled Biggest Show On Earth…. and it all starts with the Romans.

The Classical Romans threw a wine festival back in the day to the vino god Dionysius, or Bacchus.

The Portuguese adopted it with ‘Entrudo’ and then took it to Brazil.

In 1840 the first Rio masquerade took place with polka and waltz, of all things, front and centre.

Samba, the music of the Africans, took over in 1917. And we’ve never looked back.

Visit www.riocarnival.net/EN/tickets.

Notting Hill, London

Golden vision: PIcture: visitlondon.com.

The Caribbean Carnival of St Pancras Town Hall doesn’t have the same ring to it as Notting Hill.

But that’s how it started out indoors in 1959 before they took it outside.

And the rest is history.

A million people take to the streets every August Bank Holiday Weekend at the end of the month… She’ll have me cutting the grass.

Visit www.thelondonnottinghillcarnival.com.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Toast to Carnival: On Tenerife

Europe’s biggest carnival and the second largest in the world.

A fancy dress fest, it culminates in the entierro de la sardina (burial of the sardine).

And they pack them in for that like…!

Visit www.futenerife.com.

Carnavale de Venezia

The Mask: Venetian Carmival

It’s as old as time… well 1162 at least and a military victory before Carnavale went on to become a Rennaisance staple.

But the mean Holy Roman Emperor Francis II banned it in 1797.

Probably got given a dodgy mask at the hire shop.

And it only really came back in 1979.

A package for Carnavale

If you’ve got a fancy mask you want to give an outing then we found this package with Weekend A La Carte www.weekendalacarte.co.uk

Three nights Mascheranda package from February 21-24.

That’s entertainment, dance and costume hire. And party in the Palazzo Pisani Moretta on the Grand Canal.

And the chance to pose in St Mark’s Square.

Visit www.venice-carnival-italy.com.

And just to get your started here is Barbados Crop Over, Foreday Morning and Grand Kadooment… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/

MEET YOU AT THE CARNIVAL

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Holidos and Don’ts: When in Rome

Do like the Romans… or the French. Or the Americans… or the Asians… it’s Holidos and Dont’s: When in Rome.

These are the foreign customs that catch us out, but the trick is forearmed is forewarned.

And play it safe.

Back in the day when I was going to Italian classes I tried out an idiom in Rome on the concierge.

‘Buona notte e sogni d’oro’, says I, and the concierge would shoot a smile back.

When I returned to class Donata was aghast when I told her.

‘Good night and dreams of gold? You only say that to your girlfriend, Jim.’

So here’s a quick guide on other customs and sayings to keep you right:

Italian caffé

Italy: An easy one to start with. Never order a cappuccino after 11am.

Italians consider milk too heavy for after dinner or in the afternoon.

They will make an exception for macchiatos but that’s only a dash of milk.

And if you want an espresso, order a caffé (not a coffee shop) and that’s what you’ll get.

Check out my review of a walk through Lazio in Small Roads Lead to Rome… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/

And check out all things Italian at the website www.italia.it

Faux-pas in France

France: In the land that gave us the faux-pas, simply greeting somebody is fraught with difficulty.

If you want to be French (mais, oui) then you’ll want to kiss the person you meet on the cheek.

It’s usually the left cheek but there are regional variations, and you wouldn’t want to end up kissing a stranger on the lips.

I’d just shake hands.

And this is all before you get to what time of the day you go from saying Bonjour to Bon Soir.

How do they do it in the chic Cannes. Read my review… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-dazur/

And visit www.atoutfrance.fr for all things French.

Big in Japan

Japan: Etiquette is everywhere in Japan.

This one we like.

In Japan it’s the customer who should be thanked in restaurants so it’s not the done thing to tip.

Tips in America

Americans have been known to run after you if you don’t tip.

So, some general guidelines.

If you buy a drink at the bar, it’s probably a dollar, 15 to 20% in restaurants.

A fiver for the concierge, a dollar for the bellhop (don’t know why) and I usually leave a fiver for every night stayed for the housekeeping.

Where do I start with my American reviews.?

Why not the worst waiters in the world, those in Hollywood who would rather be waiting table for Spielberg. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/

And check out Visit USA. www.visitusa.ie. www.visitusa.ie and www.visitcalifornia.com.

Bad hair day in Jordan

It was never going to apply to me but one of our party quickly stuck her hair in a bun.

Why?

Her hair was wet, and Jordanians think women going out with wet hair have loose morals.

Not sure what it’s like in other Arab countries but best check first.

And also check out my review from Jordan… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/

And the Jordan tourist board. www.visitjordan.com

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Give us this day: Jesus, John & Jordan

And the lesson today in Give us this day is from John 1:28 and tells the tale of Jesus, John and the Jordan.

These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptising.

John 1:28

Not here in Israel…

Lost in time: Al-Maghtas

But here in Jordan.

Like all things in the Middle East there is a history and a land dispute.

Israel claims that John baptised Jesus in this spot, modern-day Israel, in the River Jordan.

While the Jordanians claim that it was further in, deep in their country, modern-day Jordan.

In what is, to our tongue, Bethany.

It looked like a dry ditch when I visited Al-Maghtas, ‘immersion’ in Arabic, in the baking heat of an early Jordan summer.

Could it have been like this: John’s Baptism of Jesus

But the fact is, and not meaning to sit on the fence wherever that might be, you do get a very powerful sense that Jesus of Nazareth was here.

The Pope on John, Jesus and the Jordan

Pope Francis visited the Jordanian site on the east of the river back in 2014 after he became pontiff.

While further to the west a group of Russian Orthodox Christians took a dip in the waters.

A river runs through it: The River Jordan

Which means you don’t have to imagine hordes of pilgrims being reborn again with the water of life.

You just have to open your ears and eyes to the spectacle before you from the Jordanian side.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.

Matthew 3:16-17

And sorry for mixing my evangelists which is a canonical crime on par with mixing metaphors.

Judge for yourself if I stay on the right path with my review of Jordan and we’ll visit Petra and go on a camel ride. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/(opens in a new tab)

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Holiday Snaps – Dog surfing, California

They’ve been in training all year for the big event, and it’s almost upon us – Surf City Surf Dog in Huntington Beach, Southern California.

This is where Bono, the Brazilian labrador made his name (I never did hear if he also wore shades).

And the pupparazi will be at Surf City Surf Dog in Huntington Beach in numbers for the free event on Saturday, September 28.

Where there will be a surFUR expo, athletes of all breeds and pawsome fun! 

Have I forgotten something? On Huntington Beach

Earlier this summer I visited Huntington Beach to see Dean Torrence trill Surf City USA and Snoop Dogg have us dancing on the prom to his DJ set.

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/

Get him on stage: Bandanaman

And here’s when I tried my hand at surfing on FlowRider on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/

And watch out for Ireland’s surfing superstar Gearoid McDaid’s masterclass and my day on Oasis of the Seas. www.royalcaribbean.com.

I also had a jaunt around Barcelona in the Star Ireland’s Chic magazine out today.

Aer Lingus flies Dublin to LAX with pre-clearance. Visit www.aerlingus.com.

I found an economy return for the sample dates of August 31-September 7 from €321.04.

Now I’m a big fan of Kimpton boutique hotels and LOVED the La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood just up from Huntington Beach. Visit www.lapeerhotel.com

So I’m angling for a stay at the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Huntington Beach when I visit Surf City USA next www.surfcityusa.com.. Visit www.shorebreakhotel.com. www.visitusa.ie.

And some Canaries

The origins of names can be surprising… The Canaries, for example are named after dogs (canaria) and not tweetie-birds.

The most common golden-coloured creatures on the Canaries are the sunbathers on the beaches.

TUI serves the Canaries all year round but if you’re looking for some last-minute sun…

And remembering that elsewhere if you live in the West or South in Ireland is Dublin…

From Cork to Lanzarote: Seven nights’ self-catering, staying at the 2+ Lanzarote Paradise Club, Costa Teguise, from €349pps. August 27

From Shannon to Lanzarote: The same deal but leaving on August 29.

Visit www.tuiholidays.ie.

India… at a stretch

Would you like to go to International Yoga Day in India and can you tell me by the close of play today?

As Mamma told me, they’re would be days like this!

Big-hearted fella that I am I nominated a yoga fan to go out there to stretch and contort her limbs.

I’m too kind for my own good!

That’s why I’d keep this Travel Department break to myself.

Explore Amazing India is a 12-night TD active Holidays small group tour.

And there’s more than just yoga.

You’ll cycle through Delhi at sunrise and hike between ancient forts in Jaipur.

How about a traditional homestay, learn to cook traditional Indian food on Dausa and a Hindu aarti ceremony?

As well, of course, as the Taj Mahal and the other iconic sites.

From €1,999pp for 12 nights including return flights and accommodations and features. Visit www.tdactiveholidays.ie.

Full steam ahead Thomas

A plaster cast, or stookie where I’m from, is a useful makeshift bridge for a Thomas the Tank Engine track. Take note, Thomas Land.

The Son And Heir had broken an arm but that wouldn’t stop him playing with his favourite toy.

He’ll be interested then in Irish Ferries discount on a trip to Drayton Manor & Thomas Land in Staffordshire near Manchester.

Thomas Land has 25 rides and attractions.

A couple of smilers: Thomas and The Son and Heir

From €595 for a family of four (kids under 11) for three nights in the 3* Tillington Hotel.

It also includes a one-day park pass to Drayton Manor & Thomas Land and a return car ferry.

Valid until August 16. Visit www.irishferries.com/drayton.

A call from The Ronald

Ronald and Nancy Reagan and Mickey and Minnie

I seem to be a magnet to American Presidents, living and dead. The Donald, The Dickie and now The Ronald.

The first has cropped up across America and the Caribbean looking for selfies with me.

While the Richard Nixon Library in California invited me to a 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings with Buzz Aldrin in attendance.

Now Ronnie’s pals www.reaganfoundation.org want me to get out there for a talk from a Supreme Court Associate Justice.

It’s flattering but if they want me to help run their country get me on the payroll.

Mexican waves

Strike a pose: Mexico. Pic by Matthew T Rader. Pixels.com

Mexico is one place I reckon The Donald wouldn’t follow me.

But HIS loss.

Escape2 has a seven-night all-inclusive Mexico trip from €1599 including Air France flight, departing November.

Stay at the 4* Riviera Maya. Visit www.escape2.ie. Contact (01) 435 0005.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Here’s to beer

It’s beer o’clock… who am I kidding? Any hour of the day is beer time on this International Beer Day.

And that’s why I’m saying… here’s to the Brewery and Two Goats Deli in Nieu Bethesda, Dulf’s Burger in Hamburg, Tom’s Bierhaus in Ieper in Belgium.

And where ever your local boozer is.

But firstly would you let me take you to a dusty Karoo town in the Eastern Cape of South Africa?

Because it was there that I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the baking sun, drinking samples of stouts and ciders.

And before falling asleep on the swing bed.

That said, they are good memories that I hark back to on this International Beer Day.

Bok to the beer

This is where I sampled South Africa out of a glass… or five.

For more visit www.karooconnections.o.za/tours/nieu. And check out my review of the Eastern Cape… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/

And here’s a couple of other pics of me drinking beer…

Burger and beer

In Germany, obviously, with a local Astra Pilsener lager and a hamburger. It must be Hamburg. Let’s relive it… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/hamburgers-and-ships/

Belgian beer

And a large one with Simon in Tom’s Bar in Ieper in Belgium.

It was a poignant trip finding my Great Uncles who fell in the War.

But this was downtime… and I bet Willie and Patrick drunk the beer too. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/firstworldwar-in-flanders-fields/

The Virginian

Virginia in the US: And this is a blonde I picked up in Bristol. A beer that is. visit www.virginia.org.

So why don’t you join me on my day out in Virginia which was billed as Beer and Battlefields and took me back in time to the days of Stonewall Jackson. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/easy-dc-2/

We’ll leave it at that for just now… I’m thirsty.

Dear Jesse

Apart from to say, a big thank you to Californian Jesse Avshalomov for giving us the excuse.

Because it was Jesse who founded the thing in 2007 in Santa Cruz, Southern California.

And since its inception it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon (which I’m catching onto now) spanning 207 cities, 80 countries and six continents.

Prost!

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Flyday Friday – Hotter in Dubai (and Iran)

The Outlaws love an overnighter though it’s more Dalry than Dubai, Tyrone than Tehran.

But if you’re going on a long-haul flight, and I have Tehran, Iran in mind here, then let’s talk again about the hub, Dubai.

And talk about Emirates which flies 22,000 people a month to Dubai… and want to send more.

If Dublin Airport completes its €1.8bn expansion.

With this in mind, the carrier’s country manager Enda Corneille raised the prospect this week, saying the next logical step would be a third flight out there.

He flagged Johannesburg and Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as popular fly-on routes with Irish visitors.

But if you want something a bit more left-field why not try Dubai and Iran?

And that’s where I hope to visit next year to see for myself and check in with my old pal Arthur. Watch this space.

Emirates flies to Tehran from €1,165 return. Visit www.emirates.com.

Thinking Out Loud about Ryanair

It’s a dream to see The Killers in Las Vegas.

And I’m going to put some undue pressure on the American Travel Fair, IPW, to have Brandon and the Boys play next years in Neon City.

But if your personal favourite is Ed Sheehan (no judgment!!!!) who hails from the rock’n’roll hotbed of Ipswich then read on.

Ryanair will get you there, to the nearest airport.

And they’ll give you tickets for the Omnipresent One for August 26.

For this and The Lion King in London, theme parks in Barcelona and much more visit www.tickets.ryanair.com.

I wanna be like Disney Paris

Real life is SO overrated, right? Wouldn’t it be better if we all lived in a Disney world?

Why then the trend for reality… Dumbo, the soon-to-be released Cats and before that The Jungle Book.

Talking of The Jungle Book, it was never off our video (ask your parents) when the Son and Heir and Daddy’s Little Girl were young.

And it, and Winnie the Pooh, are still the best films Disney made.

Holidays with Aer Lingus has two to four nights in an official Disney Hotel in Paris, theme park tickets and return flights, Dublin to Paris.

You’ll get 25% off Disney Park and Hotel, Paris. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/

New Special Offer available up to November 6. Book by August 27. Visit www.holidayswithaerlingus.com.

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Jocktails… the Strawberry Daiquiri

A sweltering hot summer in Boston after Aberdeen University, three jobs, and a thirst on me like a blindfolded man in the desert.

And a party of office workers unwinding in Quincy Market with a jug of Strawberry Daiquiri.

I was in… and from that moment the slushy, ruby-red rum cocktail has always ben my go-to.

It doesn’t have to be a cruise ship although here I am again…

I’ll bring you more Jocktails from around the world as I go but here’s the recipe.

And you might be surprised to hear that I’m the one who makes them around Casa Bandana while the Scary One is the one who devours them.

Strawberry Daiquiri

5 cracked ice cubes

1 measure of white rum

A half measure of strawberry liqueur.

A quarter measure of lime cordial

Garnish with a strawberry.

Jocktail tip: Stick some strawberries in the blender too for extra fruitiness.

Method: put the rum, strawbs and lime liqueur into the blender for 30 seconds. Pour into a margarita glass with the cracked ice in it and decorate with a slice of strawberry. Oh, go on, stick in a cocktail brolly and stick with a couple of maraschino cherries on it.

And because I’m writing about Boston, visit www.bostonusa.com and www.visitusa.ie. Boston is well served by the major airlines from Ireland… look out tomorrow for best deals in Flyday Friday.

And…

MEET YOU IN THE BAR

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Hungry and Thursday: The Munich Beerfest

I’ve been lucky enough to eat and drink in some fabulous restaurants, in equally stunning locations.

Doing what I do, travelling the globe…. FOR YOU.

But I’ve also enjoyed the comfort food which is often seen as the poor cousin, often disowned altogether by the foodie family, that I’ve encountered along the way.

And the people who serve it and with whom I have got to break bread.

In this weekly series I’ll celebrate both haute cuisine and hot cuisine, Bolly and Buds and everything in between.

First off let’s clink glasses and say Prost… and remember to look into each others’ eyes!

Germany: And the greatest beerfest of them all, the Oktoberfest, where a sallow youth found himself in the company of a busload of Aussies and Kiwis.

Four of us had arranged to go but three dropped out because they couldn’t raise the money leaving this early version of Bandanaman on his own on a coach with said Antipodeans.

Above is breakfast.

Each of us had to make brekkie of a morning on the bus which had a kitchen and seats that turned into beds… and our Kiwi legend Rambo, far right (he usually wore a scarf around his head which immediately endeared himself to me) dispensed with bacon, sausage and eggs and went straight to the schnapps.

I’ll have the one of the left. Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

Being raised on fizzy Scottish lager (Tennent’s hide your head in shame) I wasn’t ready for the real stuff, the Lowenbrau and the Hofbrau, the quantity of a stein, or their halls or their schnapps chasers. And it went straight to my head.

On your typical Oktoberfest day www.oktoberfest.de/en, and this year it runs from September 21-October 6, half a beerhall will chant Aussie and the other half Kiwi.

So being of the Scottish variety I wanted to redress the balance and climbed onto the bandstand past Gretchen and Greta who were carrying half a dozen beers on their breasts. Where I duly interrupted the oompah band to sing My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.

My Bonnie might but my body soon lay over the front entrance of the Lowenbrau.

More time to look around the Beerfest and try their half chickens on a spit and their sauerkraut. Best not after a rollercoaster ride though.

Barred from that hall I tried the Hofbrau the following year after the football at Bayern Munich’s old ground and did what no man should do, sober or drunk, and tried to split up two women fighting.

I’m sticking to my story that it was her boyfriend who thumped me on the nose. I was outta there and half an hour later in the hospital.

You’ll compile a book of tales from your Oktoberfest and I will return to the glass boot game, Hexengeist burning flame schnapps and why you should never drink and sled and much, much more. And the Aussies who set up Earl’s Court in my Aberdeen student pad.

Top Deck went on to reinvent themselves as Flight Centre who have been a couple of years here now on Dawson Street in Dublin. Visit www.flightcentreireland.ie or call (01) 695 0365. Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com, Ryanair www.ryanair.com and other major airlines fly to Munich.

But for now Prost… oh, bring back my Bonnie to me!

*I’ve only just got started here so watch out for specialist foreign dishes and restaurants and my Jocktails… bet you didn’t know that about me… or The Scary One?

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A carer, sharer Belfast

There are those who deserve a break even more than me (or the Scary One). No, really!

Take Ireland’s registered carers.

No arguments here.

Hastings Hotels have taken the first step (and we should all do more to appreciate our Carers) by inviting them to stay free of charge over the summer at Ireland’s tallest hotel, the luxurious Grand Central Hotel in Belfast.

Thank you for caring: Belfast’s Grand Central Hotel

And let me tell you, this hotel really is a landmark in the city. It is my compass when I arrive in Belfast, as I am increasingly doing more regularly now, at Lanyon Station and make my way into the centre to see The Son and Heir.

Until the end of August, accompanying carers can enjoy an overnight stay in a deluxe fully accessible room, plus full Irish breakfast and a complimentary cocktail in the Seahorse Bar.

Those living with cancer and beyond will be pampered with specially-designed nurturing spa packages at Hastings Culloden Estate & Spa and Slieve Donard Resort & Spa.

For more information on the Thank You For Caring and the Nurture Spa Experiences visit www.hastingshotels.com or call (0044) 48 9047 1066.

And for a reminder of a truly wonderful stay at the Grand Central with a little Moondance too here’s my review from last year… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/belfastvanmorrison/(opens in a new tab)

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King of the castle: Edinburgh

They’re on many a holiday itinerary and group activity and I’ve probably racked up more castles in my 53 years than Richard the Lionheart, and a fair few racks too! I’ll kick of this series where Robert the Bruce’s nephew Thomas Randolph kicked out the English.

Edinburgh Castle

A couple of Scottish laddies: Early Bandanaman and his pal Peter

It’s the castle I know best… we’d take every visitor through there from Glasgow when I was a child and as an adult I worked on the same street, the Royal Mile.

Hewn from volcanic rock , it has been inhabited since the Iron Age and was a royal residence of Scottish monarchs from the 12th to the 17th Century.

A couple of Scottish soldiers: We’re actually well hard

At the heart of many of the pivotal moments in Scottish history it was besieged 26 times in its 1100-year history, making it one of the most attacked garrisons in the world although today it’s mainly Americans and Asians wielding cameras.

Just in case there’s another siege, although it’s really for ceremonial reasons, at 1pm every day they fire a gun ‘The One O’Clock Gun’ from a cannon (don’t worry, it’s not live ammo).

Also home to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. No, the battalions don’t show off their conquests on their arms, that’s what they call a massed display of miltary bands. If you like kilties and the swirl of the pipes this is for you. Starting Friday, it runs to August 24.

Visit www.edinburghcastle.scot. www.edintattoo.co.uk. www.visitscotland.com. Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair www.ryanair.com both fly to Edinburgh.

MEET YOU ON THE RAMPARTS

Next week: Lourdes Castle.

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Morning Monaghan

I’ve always had the warmest welcome when I’ve stopped off in Monaghan at my auntie and cousins so any chance we get to reciprocate we lay out the red carpet which we did yesterday.

Monaghan, on the border of Northern Ireland, is a treat… great music with the capital of Irish Country music Castleblaney up the road and great food and music (try their craft beer) and trails for walking and biking.

And it’s where Paul McCartney goes in Ireland when he wants to get married.

If you’re looking for Ireland’s famous ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’ then this Midlands market town will be right up your street as we found in very different circumstances this very week a couple of years ago…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/monaghan’s-country-roads/(opens in a new tab)

Visit www.monaghantourism.com. www.andysmonaghan.com. www.westenra.com. www.glasloughvillage.com. www.castleleslie.com. www.tasteofmonaghan.com/glaslough-chocolate-company. www.brehonbrewhouse.ie. www.patrickkavanaghcountry.com.

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Give us this day: Lourdes

I’ve always thought the best way to really find out about the locals is to join them where they play and pray.

So I’ll be bringing you my thoughts on our life’s journeys every week on this day, HIS day.

First off: Lourdes. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/(opens in a new tab)

And carrying on the pray and play theme and because of the day that’s in it I’ll be showing how I scaled the most climbed mountain by cyclists on the Tour de France.

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Holiday Snaps

Start spreading the news… New York is more than just the city, although what a city! So start spreading out to New York State and start to discover its many charms.

Our friends at New York State who are never strangers and regularly come to see us in Dublin were in town again to share their wares.

NYS Partners represents Long Island, Greater Niagara, Buffalo, Wine, Water and Wonders NYS Tour and Dutchess County,

Bandanaman and Long Island are in more than nodding terms… it was my first billet in New York, aged just 17, when I stayed with my cousins.

Water water everywhere: Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

It may surprise some that Long Island isn’t in New York but it’s not one of the five boroughs: Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island.

But who couldn’t be entranced by the Hamptons mansions on Long Island, the setting for The Great Gatsby and still hang-out for the rich and famous…

New York State has water, and what water with Niagara, wine, and Buffalo with its wings and that’s the nourishment I need.

And if you want the last word on it… then New York State came up with the logo I heart NY. Insert the heart emoji yourself. You don’t expect me to do everything for you!

Visit www.iloveny.com.

Tee ladies

The R&A, the guardians of golf, except for in the US and Mexico (go, figure) were at pains up in Royal Portrush on Sunday to promote the fact that the golf season now moves on.

From the Open Golf Championship… and that the Solheim Cup is on the horizon for Europe and America’s best golfers at Gleneagles.

Maybe you’re already making a late pitch for Catriona Matthew’s European team or you just want a bit of recreational golf. Either way this package at the world’s Best Golf Hotel (World Golf Awards 2018) will be right up your fairway.

Enjoy an overnight stay and two days’ golf at the 5* Dromoland Castle. Arrive on October 20 for a two-course lunch at the Fig Tree restaurant followed by an afternoon Golf Clinic with Head PGA pro Ian Kearney at the Dromoland Golf Academy. You’ll dine at night at the AA Restaurant of the Year, the Earl of Thomond Restaurant.

Don’t get too relaxed though. After breakfast the next day there’s an 18-hole Ladies competition, teeing off from 9am-10.30am followed by the prize-giving.

From €295pps. If you’ve got time you can avail of the self-guided woodland walks around the 450 acres estate and fun use of the Leisure Centre and swimming pool.

Visit www.dromolandgolf.com/luxury-october-golf–break or call (061) 346 7007.

She sells Seychelles

This week I hope to meet my cousins over here for a family get-together when the conversation will quickly turn to golf… their great passion. And foreign shores.

A favourite holiday destination of my Uncle and Aunt was the Seychelles and my cuzes could sell Seychelles on the sea shore.

And so can Tropical Sky. Particularly at these prices.

Try savings of up to €1700 per person on seven night stays at the 5* Banyan Tree, Seychelles for travel completed before September 30. The holiday is now €3189pp.

Each villa is furnished in a traditional Creole style and comes with a private pool, indoor sunken bath and the option of in-villa dining or BBQ.

Based on two sharing on a half-board basis and including flights from Dublin and transfers. Visit www.tropicalsky.ie or call (01) 664 9999.

Sphinx she knows better

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And she’s usually (no, make that always) right. She told me that if she wanted my opinion she’d give it to me.

I know she makes a great Mum but I reckon my Scary One would have made a great Mummy in Egypt too.

She did though pass up on a trip out there a few years ago, though in retrospect I think she was wise to hold out for the real Egyptology over the resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Luxury Gold has two itineraries in Egypt in 2020. Each journey includes a luxurious voyage along the Nile aboard the deluxe all-suite River Tosca where you can relax on the sun deck, the pool or the shaded cabana.

Book before August 31 and save up to €1,000 per couple on departures between January and April.

Elegance of the Nile is 12 days with up to €1,000 saving per couple while Elegance of Egypt is seven days with a saving of up to €500 per couple. Visit www.luxurygoldvacations.com or call 1800 98 989 98.

All roads lead to Rhodes

Here’s a welcome: Rhodes. Photo by Jean van der Meulen on Pexels.com

You’ve left it late again. Don’t worry there are some great late deals to pick up.

TUI has Dublin to Rhodes, seven nights’ self-catering at the 2*+ Kassandra Apartment at Ialyssos from €449pps on August 28.

Or my old favourite for a late and good budget trip, Bulgaria. TUI has seven nights’ B&B on August 29 from €489pps.

Visit www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

Get your skis on

Are you having a laugh?

Well, no. The sun may be splitting the heavens but the skiers among us never stop dreaming of a white one.

Crystal Ski Holidays has two for one lift passes on select winter holidays to Andorra, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland. With deposits starting from €150pp.

Depart on December 21 and stay in the 3* Borsat IV Apartments, Tignes on a self-catering basis for seven nights from €705pp (four sharing).

Depart on December 21, stay in the 3* Hotel L’Aigulle Rouge, Les Arcs on a half-board basis for seven nights from €879pp.

I’ll come back to New Year later… it would be ridiculous to think of that yet. I’ll leave it a week.

Center of everything

The €233m forest resort that is Center Parcs Longford Forest had a soft opening yesterday.

Special offers from €399 for three or four nights in a two-bedroom lodge off-peak. Visit www.centerparcs.ie for a full range of rates.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Flyday Friday – time travels

You’d be mistaken for thinking that I’m always an accidental tourist. I do like to plan ahead particularly when it comes to our great annual festivals…. Christmas, New Year, Enkutatash.

My first Christmas and New Year invites came in this week. More about Christmas another time apart of course from using it as an excuse to reprise this picture…

But straight to Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year which I will be celebrating with my friends from Ethiopian Airlines in Dublin on September 12 as I have been doing these last two years.

And don’t you think I get younger (and better looking) each year?

Smiler: Meseret Tekalign, Country Manager at Ethiopian Airlines Ireland

That’s because the Ethiopians use an ancient Christian calendar and it is seven years behind our standard Gregorian calendar that we use in the West. So on September 12 it is the first day of 2012.

We reckoned you might want to be there in Addis on the day so we found you a return flight to Addis Abbaba on September 11 and returning on September 18 from £1692 (€1900). Visit www.ethiopianairlines.com.

Drop in on Boris

Taxi for May: Photo by Bruce Mars on Pexels.com

If you were looking at happenings in London on television through the gaps in your fingers then you wouldn’t be alone.

Truth is though that I wanted to be there… and not just to tell that eejit who was playing the glockenspiel through all the interviews where to stick his, er, stick.

Of course, we take London for granted because it is our back yard but we shouldn’t. It is one of the world’s great cities if not THE great city.

And it is so easy and cheap to get there. Ryanair flies one-way to London Southend for €12.99 one way among other cut-price flights across the continent. Visit www.ryanair.com.

And talking about Boris, did I ever tell you of how I spent the night listening to him playing jazz in London’s West End… or the nearest thing to him? Visit https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-london-life/(opens in a new tab)

It all points to Gatwick

Photo by Chris Schippers on Pexels.com

If you’re a bit of an oul luvvies like me, are a big Carnival fan, or you’ve something in mind yourself then you’ll want to know that Aer Lingus has a great London offer just waiting for you to avail of.

Collect Double Avios points along the way on your flight to Gatwick for flights booked and flown between July 25 and August 31. Visit www.fly.aerlingus.com.

Happy 80th Shannon

And so say all of us

And doesn’t Shannon look good on it.

Eighty years ago this month a Belgian tri-liner Sabena Daviola Marchetti S-73 landed on the old Rineanna airfield before its passengers were flown off via Foynes on a flying boat, while 500 excited locals watched the plane fly back to Belgium.

Shannnon goes from strength to strength and is a major economic driver while also carrying us to where we want to go and bringing friends, family and visitors here.

Visit www.shannon.airport.ie.

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Tee the Manor born

So how to follow up an Irish victory at The Open at Royal Portrush.

What about Ireland hosting the Ryder Cup again?

It seems like only 13 years ago since Ireland last staged the biennial event between Europe and the US and Darren Clarke skulled that pint of Guinness in celebration on the balcony.

JP McManus has long had his eyes on the prize for Limerick and this will be a realisation of a dream for the proud Limerick man.

The JP McManus Pro-Am has long been a fixture with all the top golfers and celebrities, and especially Tiger Woods, big fans of the course.

And, of course, where there’s a spanking golf course there’s a splendiferous hotel too.

The Adare House Hotel was only voted the Global Hotel of the Year award in the Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards in Vegas in 2018. And it has since gone through a refurb which has made it even better.

Look out for hotel stay and a round of golf deals. Yourgolftravel.com has one night, one round from £425pp (€475) with B&B and round at Adare Manor Golf Club. Visit www.golftravel.com. Visit www.adare.com.

I dare say too that my game will be in good enough nick even in 2026, so whoever is captain, and I’ll pitch Sergio Garcia, then take a look at this swing and you might well ask how can you go in against the Americans without me.

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It ain’t half hot, Mam

No, not an Irish version of a suspect colonial wartime sitcom in India.

But a nod to the balmy and clammy weather we’ve been having here in Ireland this week… trust me to get the wind and the rains up in Royal Portrush at the weekend although nothing could dampen our enthusiasm at seeing Shane Lowry win the Open.

Things have been hotting up too across the water in the UK with highs recorded of hot air… from the new resident of 10 Downing Street.

Valletta harbour. Photo by ines bahr on Pexels.com

Right across Europe the thermometers have been at boiling point.

Your intrepid blogger has been doing a bit of digging to see which of the European cities is the hottest and was surprised to discover that it is Valletta, courtesy of www.currentresults.com with an on average temperature of 22.,3. Today it’s 33.

Athens, which I had down as the hottest is only second on average according to that website.

Back in the day: In Gozo

Valletta, of course, is one of the great cities in Europe, nay the world. And when the temperatures soar as they are doing just now the thing to do is get out on the harbour.

And also get yourself out to the neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino.

Ryanair Rooms offers 30% off your stay with the 3* Buccaneers Boutique Guest House in St Paul’s Bay with prices from €66 and the *3 Alexandra Hotel, St Julian’s, with prices from €77. Visit www.rooms.ryanair.com.

And also visit www.visitmalta.com.

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Our Ireland: Camping in Tipperary

Team Murty were out mapping the country at the weekend…. Bandanaman braving the wind and the rain at The Open at Royal Portrush in Co. Antrim while The Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl were camping in Tipperary.

I’ve already brought you news of my overnight stay in Belfast at the Clayton Hotel and my round at the Open and lifting the Claret Jock!

I’m beginning to get to know Belfast well with the help of The Son and Heir who is billeted up there now and can even find my way around which even after 13 years working in Dublin I can’t claim to do there.

Our house: Daddy’s Little Girl

The Girls were full of country cheer on their return waxing lyrical about the friendliness of Munster people while also urging me to visit Cahir Castle, the Rock of Cashel and go underground to the Mitchelstown Cave in Tipperary.

If you’re a caver then you’ll be in heaven… or maybe your heaven is in the depths of the Earth.

Across in Co. Waterford, The Copper Coast Geopark is a designated area that extends 17 km from Kilfarrasy in the east to Stradbally in the west and is named after the 19th Century mines.

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Its rocks and geosites (which include Stradbally Cove, Dunhill Castle and Ballydwan Bay) tell the story of undersea volcanoes, arid deserts (in Ireland???) and dramatic ice-ages.

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Explore the Copper Coast Geopark Visitor Centre (open Wednesday to Sunday between 11am and 5pm) or book a half or full day tour to learn all about the site from the knowledgeable tour guide.

Book your stay at the Raheen House Hotel in the vibrant town of Clonmel, County Tipperary from €120 per night for two adults.

We’ve seen a house a like: The Girls in Co. Tipperary

Its history dates back to the 17th century and contains 15 elegant bedrooms within the tranquillity of its own 3.5 acre gardens. Visit www.raheenhouse.ie.

Or if you want to do what the girls did and reconnect with the Earth then they stayed at Parsons Green Caravan & Camping Park, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary. Visit www.clogheen.com.

Pictures by Sarah Frost (you know HER by now).

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Dodging asteroids in the Canaries

Stars shining above you. Night breezes seem to whisper I love you.

Yes, Mamma Cass and before her Ella Fitzgerald. Yes, stars always make us feel all romantic… and I’m feeling all floaty after watching a documentary about The Mammas and the Pappas.

And I’ll be looking up dreamily at the sky too in Tenerife in the Autumn. Probably best that the Scary One was coming with me with CaminoWays rather than the three amigos (travel pals) I will be trekking with but…

I’ll obviously be looking to avoid asteroids too when I’m there.

Thankfully those heroic scientists on the Canarian island of La Palma all be looking out for me as they man NASA’s 2,396m high Grantecan Telescope, the world’s largest optical reflecting telescope, which is ten years old today.

It’s all part of the Planetary Defence Program you understand which is reacting with urgency to the imminent threat of what’s up there in the sky looking to come crashing down on us.

Take, for example, the 2019 DS1 asteroid which was discovered by Grantecan on February 28 in the Catalina Sky Survey search programme when we were sleeping soundly in our beds. It was then 1,000,000km from earth but forewarned is forearmed.

Not much happens in Space without Grantecan which is located in the Roque de los Muchachos region knowing about it… it has spotted the remotest star in the Milky Way, Icaro, as well as the eldest stars (even older than Burt Bacharach) last April.

So where do you and I come in? Only that The Starlight Foundation organises visits to the observatory as well as stargazing tours daily until September 15. During the rest of the year you can visit on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

You want to see some showers… no, not those showers although it is getting hot and sticky and it would be good for the garden (are we never satisfied?) No, these are meteor showers.

Now that’s far away. A meteor shower. Photo by Raman deep on Pexels.com

The Perseid Meteor Shower will peak mid-August and is one of the best times to visit the Observatory. Other meteor showers do occur throughout the year: the Draconics, the Orionids, the Leonides and the Germinids.

There are various different, and easy, ways to get to La Palma. Far easier than those little green men on their asteroids. You can come through London and Manchester, or just a short flight from Gran Canaria or Tenerife, or even get there from the bigger Canadian islands by boat. Visit www.visitlapalma.es/en/como-llegar/ and www.fundacionstarlight.org.

And in a galaxy far, far and away… or Kissimmee near the Star Wars attractions in Disney in Orlando at least…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/23/star-wars-far-far-and-away-the-best-rooms/(opens in a new tab)

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The bells ring out for Philly

Philadelphia is a cracking city… full of history and sport. And that’s what I’m qualified in!

And where better to talk about it or discover what this great city has to offer than in one of many of Philly’s great bars with its famous local craft beer and signature comfort food, a Philly cheesesteak?

Philadelphia was the nascent United States of America’s first capital and home to its earliest and still most iconic national symbols.

The Liberty Bell which was commissioned in 1752 by the Assembly in the city is cast with the lettering ‘Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof,’ in a nod to the Book of Leviticus.

Photo by O-seop Sim on Pexels.com

It rung to mark the reading of the United States Declaration of Independence and was also used as a symbol of abolitionism, and Freedom during the Cold War.

It’s also where Betsy Ross is said to have sewn the first American flag.

Bells played a part too in the life of one Rocky Balboa whose statue stands the 72 steps up to the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can also do a Rocky tour of sites in the movies.

Philly really is a knockout and Aer Lingus will get you there for €154 each way from Dublin with pre-clearance as part of a return trip. Visit www.aerlingus.com.

Because we can sometimes be lazy (all right I can be lazy) then Aer Lingus is also offering a 4* Philadelphia getaway from €632pp which includes return flights from Dublin and three nights’ accommodation at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel. So that’s €612.57pp, a total price of €1225.14. Visit www.holidayswithaerlingus.com.

You want to know more about Philly visit the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau www.discoverphl.com and check out my review. It really is a crackin’ read… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/philadelphia-freedom/(opens in a new tab)

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Turning Japanese

In the words of the New Wave band The Vapors… I really think so.

The Olympics in Tokyo will take place one year from today while the Rugby World Cup is just 58 days away.

Of course you’ll have already made your plans for the Rugby World Cup but the concentration on the pagodas, the sushi, the sumo and the geishas will raise your interest further in the Land of the Rising Sun.

And it may well prompt you into making 2020 the year to finally take that trip of a lifetime.

Eastern promise. Photo by Satoshi Hirayama on Pexels.com

Japanese culture is still fairly exotic too us as we haven’t all had first-hand experience of it.

I am fortunate enough that one of my closest friends married a Japanese lady and I became immersed in their culture…. the saki, the kimonos, the nod to their forefathers in a humanist/buddhist service on the Scottish island of Islay.

You’ll love it…. and you’ll love this Wendy Wu Tours’ 2020 Early Bird Saver Group Tour with a discount of €200pp.

Hello petal. Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Wendy has a 13 days Discover Japan Twin Share fully-inclusive tour from €7,090pp. You’ll visit Tokyo, Kofu/Sawa, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Nara, Koya – Osaka.

So let’s look in more detail:

Neon city. Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

A Tokyo city tour: You’ll start on the observation deck of the 634m Skytree, the world’s tallest tower before visiting the city’s oldest temple, the Buddhist Sensoji Temple. You’ll sample the Imperial Palace Plaza and the Hamarikyu Garden before finishing your evening with a dinner cruise on Tokyo Bay.

Among the other highlights is a visit on the bullet train (a real treat if you take Dublin’s outdated and unpredictable DART service) to Odawara and cruise on Lake Ashi before taking the Komagatake cable car for views of the lake before. Then if the weather holds (a wee prayer to a Buddha here) it’s up to Mt Fuji’s 5th Station to enjoy the views, Continue to Yatsugatake for an overnight stay.

Food for thought. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Because we want to leave you to be surprised yourself we’ll leave you to find out the rest for yourself.

Visit www.wendywutours.ie or call (00353) 14854159.

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Star Wars – Far, Far and Away the best rooms

Didn’t I Star Wars get… and I almost killed a friendship just before it started.

A friend of mine back in the day was nicknamed Yoda which I inadvertently called them to their face.

My excuse that I didn’t know who Yoda was didn’t sail with my pals. Thankfully it wasn’t held against me and I have gone on to enjoy a lasting friendship with them.

I still haven’t watched a single Star Wars film so it hardly seems fair that I was chosen to attend the opening weekend launch of Galaxy’s Edge Smugglers’ Run in Disneyland Resort, Anaheim in May. Still, I wasn’t complaining.

The next big thing in Star Wars is the opening of Star Wars Rise of the Resistance on December 5 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. It will then go onto open in Disneyland in Anaheim on January 17.

So you want to bunk down in a Star Wars themed apartment so that you can stay in part for all the time you’re there?

Of course you do. Which is what Elegant Resorts and Kisssimmee, Florida, have in mind for you too.

Sleep on a TIE fighter, play video games in Tatooine and watch a movie on the Death Star as well as a number of other Star Wars related activities.

There are 11 rooms and it sleeps up to 22 guests.

Elegant Resorts has seven nights’ accommodation in the 11-room villa (W263) and return economy flights with British Airways from London Gatwick departing on September 1. Based on eight passengers. From £1,480pp..

Vist www.elegantresorts.co.uk. Kissimmee is known as the Holiday Home Capital of the World. Visit www.experiencekissimmee.com.

And, of course, Walt Disney World… www.disneyworld.disney.go.com.

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Moanday Morning… trains

Does your train service drive you as crazy as mine?

The Dublin Area Rapid Transport is one of the biggest misnomers out there.

The trains are cramped and uncomfortable… and whoever thought of buying rolling stock from a country in Japan where the people are so much smaller.

There are no toilets on board nor on most of the stations despite the fact that you could find yourself on a journey from Greystones to Malahide of an hour and a half.

And Yes, I understand that maintenance needs to be done as it was at the weekend at Pearse Station but I see little forward notice of work that is being done unless you go on the site.

And so Bandanaman is left having to share a taxi home from Dublin to Greystones after my day at The Open and with a driver who had to be told the way.

And every time I am left disappointed with my DART I think of how much better the Swiss do it.

I mean if the DART struggles to get trains on time through the Greystones-Bray tunnel then how would it deal with going up the Alps on the highest railway journey in Europe.

Find out how I did it in Switzerland… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/(opens in a new tab)

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The Claret Jock

I’ll be bringing you all the best on and off-course and in-tent action from the final day of The Open Golf Championship from beautiful Royal Portrush tomorrow.

I’m stopping off at the Clayton Hotel in Belfast first to catch up with the Son and Heir and see one of my favourite cities which gave me my first break in this scribbling lark. Visit www.tourismni.com, www.claytonhotelbelfast.com, www.theopen.com.

And read more about the game Scotland gave to the world in Holiday Snaps and some cosmic action about the Moon on this very special day.

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I’m wired to the moon – Holiday Snaps

It’s been said and will be again.

And I did get offered a chance this week to talk to VIPs who were wired to the moon this famous day 50 years ago.

And the special event is being held at the very minute too 50 years ago when President Nixon made his historic phone call to Neil Armstrong.

Just follow me: NASA astronaut Commander Jon McBride

Unfortunately I couldn’t hotfoot it over to the Richard Nixon Library in California for the exclusive event this evening with such short notice.

But we are friends from our meeting at IPW, the American Travel Fair in Anaheim, and I’ll get there next time.

Amid the great outpouring of national joy at America beating the Soviets to the moon some thought that Richard Nixon was being rewarded for what was John F. Kennedy’s great vision.

But that’s where the Nixon Library will put you right… the Nixons and the Kennedys despite standing against each other in the 1960 election became great friends.

North Alabama tourism project

Dick and John were both Cold War warriors, genuinely liked each other and Pat invited Jackie and the kids back to the White House when they moved in.

It is a myth that America is short on history – well, I would say that being an American History graduate.

And the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, 37 miles south-east of Downtown LA is where to go. Visit www.nixonfoundation.org to learn everything you need to know about the only Californian-born President.

And www.visitnasa.com for everything NASA related… there are 14 Visitor Center and space shuttle locations to complete your passport.

Guten Morgan

The final straw: After five cocktails

No, I’m not going all German on you though there would be no harm in that.

It’s just that the Morgan Hotel celebrated its first birthday since its reopening with a gala night and I awoke giddy of head and ready to share with all I met.

Alas this time breakfast wasn’t in the hotel, as it was back in February, but back home here in Greystones where The Scary One was scaring up some poached eggs on toast to soak up the FIVE cocktails from the previous evening.

If you want a reviving breakfast after a night on the town then The Morgan is ideal. It is a positive oasis from Temple Bar.

You’ll sleep like Rip Van Winkle with nary a sound from outside and the staff are super-friendly even remembering us from our visit in February.

The Morgan is continuing in real birthday mood with a sale with rooms for €149 per night. Book by July 31. Visit www.themorgan.com.

And watch out too for my review from earlier this year of The Morgan Hotel which I’ll get to work on soon. Well, it is the weekend!

The Travel Bible

It’s the definitive Book of Irish Travel.

Travelbiz.ie and its The Irish Travel Directory & Diary 2019.

If you’re not in it you’re not in Irish Travel and there I am – and I swear it was the first page I opened to.

Close your eyes and pick

Reach for the sky: Photo by Lukas Kloeppel on Pexels.com

Do you do the same?

Close your eyes in the departure lounge in the airport and when you open them fix them on the first destination you see on the board and decide to go there.

I’ll tell you what… I cheat too and look for the American destinations.

American Holidays has bumper family holidays for next Easter.

You’ll build memories that last a lifetime and myself and Daddy’s Little Girl will always have our ice skating experience at the Rockefeller Centre in New York.

American Holidays has New York Family Easter Break from €909pp with flights from Dublin to New York, five nights at the Sheraton New York Times Square, travelling April 2020. Based on two adults and two children sharing.

Visit www.americanholidays.com or call (01) 673 3804. Also visit www.nycvb.com. And I would also recommend a City Pass www.citypass.com.

We’re all big kids

I dare say La-La went to a good home but the Son and Heir was beside himself in Donegal when he was a toddler and the Yellow One went walkabouts.

As dutiful parents we did, of course, return to where we thought he’d dropped it but it was late and so it was a case of Good Night Teletubby.

It has seemed like it’s been Good Night Teletubbies too for today’s toddlers with Peppa Pig moving in on their manor.

But that’s probably premature. The Teletubbies ARE alive and kicking at Alton Towers Resort and CBeebies Land just two and a half hours from Holyhead, and Irish Ferries will get you there and give you this great offer.

So that’s a return car ferry, two-day park passes to Alton Towers Resort & CBeebies Land and a three-night stay in the Tillington Hall Hotel. From €595 for a family of 4.

You’ve got 12 themed areas that contain 40 different rides of attractions. CBeebies Land is located within Alton Towers and has 14 rides and attractions including the Teletubbies Big Band Live Show and the Peter Rabbit Hippity Hop ride.

Valid until 16 August – Call 0818 300 400.  Visit www.irishferries.com/alton.

You can wait to the last minute

Jump in, Majorca’s lovely: Photo by Mariia Kamenska on Pexels.com

Well, if Majorca’s good enough for Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Don’t be put off by the Magaluf of this world, Majorca is a varied and beautiful island, full of unspoiled beaches, great culinary delights, olde world towns and stunning mountains.

TUI has seven nights Dublin to Majorca, staying at the 3* Protur Bahia Azul Apartments in Cala Bona from €489pps for August 27. To book visit www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

And the Champion Golfer is…

I’m up in Royal Portrush for the weekend for The Open. And staying in the Clayton Hotel in Belfast tonight ahead of tomorrow’s final round.

With bumper crowds over these four days of competition it will be a reminder to those of us who already love the north and an introduction to those who don’t of all it has to offer.

Portrush itself is a gorgeous town and it’s worth going even when the golf isn’t on so that you can get a chance to check out Portrush Whiterocks Beach, Barry’s Amusements, Dunluce Castle and the Causeway Coastal Route.

I’ll share with you the tips I give to the winner when I return.

But in the meantime check out www.tourismni.com. www.claytonhotelbelfast.com, www.theopen.com.

Or if you’re there at the course, I’m the one in the bandana…

MEET YOU ON THE COURSE

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Flyday Friday

Mariaclaudia is not una donna to mess with.

She protects the town of Padova like one of her bambini and she is right to… she is beautiful and precious.

Which is why she smelt un ratto when the bould one on her press trip asked for himself and his colleagues, let’s call them Constance and Kieran (for that’s their names) off at the train station when we were given the afternoon off from our itinerary.

Sheepishly I had to admit that I was leading a recce to Venice but swore that I’d have them back in four hours for that evening’s grand reception in the Botanical Gardens.

I’d figured of course without the particular idiosyncrasies of the local rail network.

And so six hours later our motley crew arrived back with one of our number, Kieran, still in his T-shirt and Hawaiian boardies. At least Myself and Constance had taken a change of clothes.

At the risk of offending Mariaclaudia again, and I wrote a glowing letter to her bosses on my return, Aer Lingus has up to 20% off Venice and other hot destinations which makes it €81.99 one-way.

Travel between 21 July and October 16. Book by 22 July. Visit www.aerlingus.com.

And I’ll dig out that article on Padova… Padova, Mariaclaudia, do you hear?

Border country

Cypriot wonders. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hard border, soft border… is any other island split like us and faced with this interminable headache.

We don’t have to look too far for the answer in Europe.

Cyprus which even has a buffer zone.

If you’re fascinated by borders check it out. The taxi driver father of a soldier who was stationed out there told me that if either flag was higher and bigger than the other it would cause a diplomatic incident.

Ryanair has 20% off its seat sale for Autumn to Paphos and other destinations. In all it is offering these discount prices on 50,000 seats.

A tip on babies on board

It’s an old wife’s tale but it works. Damp teabags over a baby’s ears to ease the pressure on flights.

And just one of the tips that are passed on down the line by more experienced air stewards to their younger companions.

So as the KLM stewardess gets earache for asking a customer to cover up when breastfeeding, (and I’m not going to slaughter an airline who I’ve flown with and enjoyed,) it’s worth remembering how often families and other passengers are helped out by cabin crew when a baby makes its needs known.

Check with your airline before you travel on all aspects of childcare.

And while I’m on the subject I should flag up Etihad’s Flying Nanny Service. Visit www.etihad.com.

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Calling little green men

No not us here in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day but those little green men out there in Space.

The next big challenge is to find life on another planet. ‘Life, Jim, but not as we know it.’

Take me to your leader: Photo by Pixabay

Mars is said to have the building blocks for sustaining life and research is going on to see how we get out there.

A NASA astronaut from the NASA Space Center, Jon McBride, who I met here in Dublin told me that the biggest obstacle they have to overcome is sustainability… on such a long mission they will have to recycle everything. everything!

For all things related to NASA Visitors Centers: visit www.nasa.com. And for the US visit www.visitusa.ie.

And now that I’m counting down to the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing on Saturday I’m away to find out more and bring you some out of this world factoids for Saturday’s Cosmic Holiday Snaps.

Continue reading “Calling little green men”
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On the tee…

Me… but more like the G&Tee.

I’ll be heading up to Royal Portrush for the last day of The Open Golf Championship on Sunday as a guest of Tourism Northern Ireland www.tourismni.com and staying at the 4* Clayton Hotel in Belfast. www.claytonhotelbelfast.com.

That’s my Claret Jug: That’s my Bridge Trophy. Grannie and the Son and Heir

And I’ll share all the off-course news with you too when I get back.

In truth we’re something of a golf wannabe family, Every Wednesday which was my Dear Old Dad’s half day he and my Mum would go up to their golf club outside Glasgow for a round.

No, it’s not Portrush: Nailing it in Vegas

My Dad had a mantra on the green: ‘Never up, never in…’ which he used the day we went down to the practice day in Royal Troon and he made a passing comment to major winner David Graham by the side of one of the practice green. The Aussie shot back with a withering look.

I’ll be desisting if I see Tiger or Rory on the practice green, but it might be in the genes.

Clayton Hotel rooms from £99 per night. For all the news on the Open visit www.theopen.com.

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Tour de Friends

Back in the day I used to scoot in and out to work to the centre of Edinburgh from my home in Portobello, the Scottish capital’s town seaside resort.

But since relocating to hilly Co. Wicklow I’ve let it slide. Until….

It took my friends at Travel Department to come up with the brilliant and masochistic idea of getting a bunch of travel professionals to cycle one of those multi-cycle trucks around Dublin.

The ghetto blaster might have been boasting about walking 500 miles but we were out of puff cycling 500 metres. Still the playlist of karaoke classics kept us going… Don’t Stop Pedalling as Journey really meant to sing.

The magic bus: And we’re doing the pedalling

We were rewarded though with refuelling stops at the pizzatastic Pizza Yard in Ranelagh with its almost yard-long wooden board of pizza www.pizzayard.ie and Keshk Cafe Restaurant www.keshk.ie on Mespil Road with its array of Egyptian, Greek and Turkish fare.

All of which made us think of the types of exciting foreign destinations TD specialises in.

A bicycle made for two… and a few others: With Ruth Marnell, of O’Hea PR

For 2020 TD is offering cycling holidays with group sizes of 6-16. Imagine then whizzing around Italy, Portugal, Spain and Vietnam.

TD takes care of flights, transfers, accommodation, expert cycling guide and bike hire. Prices start from €2,229 pp for the 8-night Portugal Azure Ocean Cycling Holiday. 

Taking a detour for a minute (and I did, trying to find my way along the canal back to my DART station), let’s talk about Albania and how I wouldn’t have been allowed in when I was a young buck.

It’s my hairy-facedness that was the problem. Then it was only a moustache but Enzer Hoxha, their mad dictator (is there any other kind?) had a downer on furry top lips.

Albania, of course, has changed and has opened its doors to the West (and that means us). We had hoped to get in when we honeymooned in Corfu, a spit from Albania, but their Troubles put a paid to that.

So we’ ve unfinished business there. And TD active Holidays do business there. Result.

Take a horseback ride in Antigone National Park, a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Berat, with its collection of Ottoman houses, and a hike in Llogora National Park. Tours start from €1,399 pp for 10 nights. 

A vineyeard sitting at the base of a mountain in the evening sun.

One of the great joys of travelling is meeting new people and particularly so if you go solo…. as sometimes The Scary one insists I do.

TD knows its solo traveller… It has launched solo twin share options.

You will share a room with a fellow solo traveller (of the same gender) for the duration of the trip. I’m remembering introducing myself to bewildered and befuddled Aussie Harry across the bedroom in the middle of the night recently in Jordan. We became great friends.

This will appeal particularly to value conscious travellers, enabling them to avoid single supplements. The most popular tours for solo travellers booking with TD active Holidays include searching for vampires on the Explore Transylvania trip.

Write your own caption above for this one who has always wanted to go there… in search of her ancestors.

Visit www.traveldepartment.ie and www.tdactiveholidays.ie.

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Das boot…

Or how the Germans saved the world.

Now that’s grabbed your attention let me toast adidas for selling 1 million shoes made out of ocean plastic last year.

And, no, it doesn’t mean you’ll slip in the penalty box more often and win more penalties.

Do you want to know about Bavarian cobbler Adolf Dassler? Thought you might.

Adi, as he wisely abbreviated his name to, invented the boot and became something of a hero to the nascent post-war West Germany in the process.

Most importantly to the West German team who stunned the Ferenc Puskas-inspired Hungary team to win the World Cup in 1954, he also invented the screw-in stud which allowed them the better of the conditions.

As a further footnote to history that final which the Germans call the Miracle of Berne was played in the Wankdorf Stadium, Berne.

Someone must have pointed it out to the Swiss who renamed the ground when they demolished and rebuilt it in 1991, calling it the Stade de Suisse, Wankdorf. That should do it, then!

So you want to go to Herzogenaurach to visit the adidas museum?

Reflections on history: adidas. Photo by Paul Voie

Herzogenaurach which is 23km from Nuremberg and 187km from Munich dates back to the 13th century, has a castle, and a Medieval-themed festival Mittelalterspectaculum.

Numerous airlines fly to Nuremberg. I found KLM, a personal favourite which gives you the chance to stop off at one of the world’ great airports Schiphol with a round trip from £156 (€130).

Visit www.herzogenaurach.de/en. and www.herzo.adidas.com. www.klm.com. www.schiphol.nl/en.

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Cruiseday Tuesday: Rhine country

Cramped up in a booze bus to the Munich Beerfest in a tailback of traffic it certainly looked like those river cruise ships were certainly a more relaxed Germany holiday.

I’ve found as the years have glided by that Uniworld River Cruises are the way to amble along the river.

I was particularly taken on my teenage drinking trip when we stopped off at Nueschwanstein, the inspiration for the Disney Castle, with its swan theme. The Rhine really is fairytale stuff.

Serene: The SS Antoinette

Uniworld has a tempting range of discount offers on www.uniworld.com. The Castles Along The Rhine has a ring to it though doesn’t it? Eight days on the S.S. Antoinette from Amsterdam to Basel is under £3,000 (£2,999), down from £3,799. Depart September 22.

Flights are included for all 2019 departures. Included flights are from London Heathrow.

And here’s what you get…

Luxury living: On board the SS Antoinette

A Special allure

Royal Caribbean asks if we’re brave enough.

I am. I only did the Zipliner on Oasis of the Seas recently in Barcelona and FlowRider too, and again I’m a veteran of FlowRider having soared on it on Independence of the Seas.

The newly amplified Allure of the Seas is sailing from Barcelona next year.

So here’s what you can expect…

Royal Caribbean boasts that this is the tallest slide at sea… and I dare say the slidiest too.

The great thing about Royal Caribbean, apart from everything that is, is that they’re real party ships.

And the Music Hall is where to party on Allure with some great cover bands… and I’ve been known to sing along.. See my Royal Party on Independence….

Of course ships are known for their culinary excellence and Allure is no exception. I’d recommend Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar. It’s just how Mamma made it.

Now you want to see an offer. What about a seven-nighter Western Mediterannean with weekly departures from May 10 to October 25. You’ll take in Palma, Marseille, Florence/PIsa (La Spezia), Rome (Citavecchia) and Naples. From €1,079 per person based on two sharing., €2158 for two guests. €1pp flights, book by August 12. T&Cs apply. Visit www.royalcaribbean.ie.

A piece of cake… well, it had to be

Wow: Madeira. Photo by Valdemaras D.

Broomsticks airlines were running on time… and the mother-in-law had a smooth passage home.

She was asking for advice on where to go this autumn, and seeing as how I didn’t want to be turned into a frog (again) I suggested Madeira.

Madeira is unspoiled and not packed out with tourists. It’s also a great place to visit from a cruise ship.

Princess Cruises has an 11-day Canary Islands cruise, sailing from Southampton and taking in Vigo in Spain, Funchal in Madeira, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Las Palmas in Gran Canarai and Arrecife in Lanzarote.

From €999 per person based on two sharing an inside stateroom but not including flights. Mothers-in-law come with their own broomsticks, though. For more information visit www.princess.com.

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Moanday Morning: it’s just not cricket

The great thing about the England cricket team is that anyone can play for it.

Including… little old Scottish me. There have been a handful of Scottish players representing England and one, Mike Denness, even captained them in the Seventies.

My dear old Dad was no mean cricketer, playing at a high standard for his school St Mungo’s in Glasgow and had high hopes for me until I got bounced and collapsed to the ground in my first innings. After that I was just a fielder and last man in and didn’t bowl.

Jofra Archer’s home island: Yes, Barbados

I improved on that with a couple of runs (my personal best) when I played with the Sri Lankan staff in the Maldives a couple of years ago before skinning my knees on the astro-turf pitch when I tried to make a dodgy run.

In all 107 players born outside of England have represented England including of the recently crowned World champions the captain Eoin Morgan (Ireland), opener Jason Roy (South Africa), all-rounder Ben Stokes (New Zealand) and fast bowler Jofra Archer (Barbados). That’s almost a sixth of the total.

Now every country does it, it’s the rules, I hear you scream. But it’s just England seem to do it more than most.

It’s a vain hope but wouldn’t it be good to get back to the days when playing for your country was reserved for people actually from the country rather than mercenaries?

And the Jofra Archer case is particularly hard to swallow.

I don’t even think much of his books.

For a far better cricketing experience visit his home country of Barbados. Let me take you there www.visitbarbados.org. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/(opens in a new tab) and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/(opens in a new tab)

You want a Champagne super over. Then there’s a tease above on how I got on with the Sri Lankan cricketers in the Maldives. I’ll get my pads on and relive it yet… and transfer it on to the blog here.

MEET YOU AT THE WICKET

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More whiskey a go-go

It was 12noon, the mother-in-law had been here for a full day and a half so nobody could blame me for hitting the whiskey.

Thankfully I’ve got a brand new distillery down the road in one of my favourite spots here in Co. Wicklow, Powercourt Estate.

I’d heard all about what they were planning when I stayed over a year last Spring and am delighted to say that it is a fantastic addition to the hotel, the gardens, the centre… heck, everything,

There’s a tour for €20 which will let you in on the whole distilling process and I dare say that there will be whiskey at the end of it.

There’s also a fantastic and well-priced cafe too and a shop where you can buy the water of life and various whiskey-related products.

And the uisce bertha… well, I tried the Fercullen 14-year-old single malt (€92.95) which Niall told me was smoky. I’d say its not as peaty as Connemara or my own favourites the Islay whiskies and had a slight sweetness but it was certainly what the medical man ordered.

Before I developed my palate and got a few bob in my pocket I was wont to drink a Scotch blend Bell’s which was in every supermarket and off that you’d go into.

So I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to pull an imaginary rope on a very real 18th century outside the old Mill which is now the distillery.

Visit www.powerscourtdistillery.,com. And Powerscourt House & Gardens www.powerscourt.com. And Powerscourt Hotel. www.powerscourthotel.com.

And get out to the rest of the county. www.visitwicklow.ie.

And now that I’ve warmed myself up I’m digging out my review from Powerscourt from last year. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/flowerscourt/(opens in a new tab) And the gardens https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/how-the-seasons-pass/.

Now this might be a case of drinking down to the top of the label.

TOAST YOU ON THE ROAD

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Holidos and don’ts: does the shoe fit?

No, it’s not an excuse to show off my sarong. Although!

No, the prep notes are clear to anyone who goes out to the Maldives… it’s a sandy island so don’t wear stilettos. Flat shoes or flip-flops please.

But, of course, some just didn’t listen, putting fashion sense before common sense.

So buckle up, here’s your guide to what to wear, and where, around the world.

On the beaches

Sounds obvious doesn’t it?

It has to be flip-flops.

Yes, but what do you do when you want to go for a swim and have to step out on the warm sand.

I’m reminded of the day off we took after 30 days working in Boston to spend at the beach in Manchester, New Hampshire, only to then burn our feet.

Why not go for rubber beach shoes instead?

They’re actually quite stylish now, not just those opaque ones we remember from our childhood. Visit www.amazon.co.uk.

Walking around town

We all love to shop (or is that just The Scary One)?

But don’t fall for that old adage about breaking in a pair of shoes.

You might be dying to try on those killer heels, Mediterranean leather shoes or designer trainers, but you’ll end up dying with pain.

The Son and Heir has great memories from his first trip to New York but while he might have chosen to forget that he had to limp around Manhattan the rest of us get shivers thinking back on it.

Liking Hiking

My Donegal Uncle Danny, who emigrated to New York, always insisted that there were only two lessons in life.

Good shoes and a good bed… you’ll spend half your life on your feet and the other half in your bed!

The best boots I have on my shoe rack are my North Face hiking ones.

At not much more than €100 nearly four years ago they have walked me 100kms along the Camino, and the same along the Via Francigena into Rome.

Who am I kidding? It was more like 250kms… I kept getting lost!

But they will be on my feet when I set out on another trek, this time in Tenerife in September. Visit www.53degreesnorth.ie. Or www.thegreatoutdoors.ie.

Your shoe salesman

Travel writing’s gain is shoe salesmen’s loss.

My first job when I was at school was as a shoe salesman.

Where I learned among other things that customers don’t like getting two left shoes, two different style of shoes or two different-sized shoes.

You’ll know this anyway but a quick reminder:

Ireland and UK: 6,7,8,9,10 etc.

European; 38,39,40,41,42 etc.

American:

And I’ll leave you with one for the road from a sign outside a shoe shop:

Buy one, get one free.

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Holiday Snaps La Sagrada Familia

Some things were never meant to be finished… take The Scary One (please). She is always finding things that still need to be done to the house.

Word reaches me that Antoni Gaudi’s magnus opus, the Sagrada Família, first begun in 1882 but only a quarter completed by the time of his death in 1926, has hit another snag.

And just when they looked like getting over the line after Barcelona’s city authority granted La Sagrada Familia’s first building permit. I’m not even asking under what terms they built what’s already up.

Seventy per cent is done (so they had chipped away at it at some point since the Great Man died).

Eight of its proposed 18 spires have been completed and the plan is to have it all finished by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

But I guess nobody counted on the 3,000 residents living in the nearby apartments and their objections.

Watching the cranes above the psychedelic spires while draining a jug of sangria recently I couldn’t help wondering whether Antoni had been on something.

And whether they shouldn’t just tear it down and start all over again.

Make up your own mind. Barcelona is a great city for a ramble… or rambla. Visit www.barcelonatourisme.com. Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair www.ryanair.com both fly to Barcelona.

La Fete National

You dancer: Paris. Photo by Carolline De Souza

I hope you’re having a good one. I won’t wish you Joyeux Quatorze Juillet, or Bonne Bastille, as the French don’t really do that in the way the Americans wish you Happy Fourth of July.

If you want to find out more French nuances then pop by the French Corner in Dublin where Alliance Francaise Dublin and the French Library with the French Embassy will be putting on free workshops and games and face painting for l’enfants.

From 11-5pm today. City Spectacular, Merrion Square, Dublin.

If that gets you in the mood for a bon vacance… remember that Aer Lingus has a range of offers to French cities from €45.99. Visit www.aerlingus.com. www.atout.france.fr.

Wu Wu… savings

Cherry amour: The Cherry Blossom in Japan. Photo by Bagus Pangestu

My old friend Wendy Wu is tempting us with discounts on her 2019 and 2020 Asian tours.

She’s giving us an Early Bird saving of €200pp if booked before August 5.

So you love the Cherry Blossoms and the Autumn Leaves. As a sample of the many Asian offers, how about Discover Japan, 13 days from €7,090pp. Twin share.

Visit www.wendywutours.ie.

Every day is the 11th July

Wall, what is it good for? A gable end with King Billy

As I revealed in one of my random Did You Knows yesterday, the Battle of the Boyne was on July 1 and when converted to the Gregorian Calendar became the 12th of July when it should have been the 11th of July.

Of course we were more interested in commemorating another royal victory this week on the 11th.

The final piece of the Game of Thrones tapestry has been woven in at the Ulster Museum in Belfast to mark the end of the saga.

Before it gets taken to Bayeux where it will be exhibited from September to December.

The Ulster Museum is one of the best cultural and historical museums on this island. And it’s free. Visit it. www.nmni.com.

I’m heading up to Royal Portrush on Sunday for the final day of The Open Golf Championship.

I’m thinking they should start a tapestry to Northern Irish golf royalty… McDowell, Clarke, McIlroy. Visit www.nimadeforgolf.com, www.theopen.com.

Windsor Lego Castle

Queen lives here: Windsor Castle. Photo by Kris Schulze

Back in the day when I first started this scribbling lark, I found myself in the Royal County of Berkshire… where I found myself a wife.

Then where Legoland now is was Windsor Safari Park. Nothing to read into that, just saying.

Berkshire, to the west of London is a great location in its own right for its royal history and quaint villages and is also ideally situated for the Big Smoke.

And that makes it great for families. Cassidy Travel knows it and has put together a great Legoland and football package to keep everyone happy.

If Mum doesn’t fancy the footie, and these days it’s more likely it would be Dad, the shopping in London is unparalleled.

Stay in the 3* Travelodge Windsor Central and choose between Arsenal v Burnley or Chelsea v Leicester City. Package from €379pps based on four sharing. Includes a day pass to Windsor Legoland Resort.

Flight departs Friday, 16 August. Call Cassidy Travel (01) 8395000. Visit www.cassidytravel.ie.

For a few levs more

Greet value: Bulgaria. Photo by Pixabay

They were low-maintenance for two teenage girls.

All they wore for the whole fortnight we were in Bulgaria was their football tops and trackie bottoms.

I think they had a few changes of the same outfits. It was the wrong team they supported but they were sweet girls and their grandparents were nice too.

Bulgaria is still remarkably good value as evidenced by a Sunway survey in conjunction with the UK Post Office.

They compared the cost of holiday essentials including a bottle of beer, a coffee and a three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine in 20 European beach holiday resorts.

Sunny Beach on Bulgaria’s Black Sea comes in at €44.44 for nine items. The most expensive is Sorrento at €159.40.

Sunway offers seven nights B&B at the 3* Hotel Kudadasi for €399. Visit www.sunway.ie. for this and other great holiday offfers.

And Holiday Snaps is just about to get snappier with an extra day of the snappiest snaps in Snaptown, Snapetonia.

Watch this space… and…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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The real King Billy

The 12th of July… the day King William III’s triumphs are celebrated in Northern Ireland and among all peoples for whom his victory at the Battle of Boyne protected their values and traditions.

But how much do we really know about King Billy?

Well, Malahide Castle can reveal all.

Firstly that iconic image of King Billy on his white charger may be misleading.

He was really rather small, and asthmatic. Though probably not as small as this image is shown here… it’s bigger in the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

Our guide on our visit to the Castle pointed out that the painting in the dining room shows that the heroic figure on the horse is probably a general and not William as he is not wearing the royal garter.

Fourteen members of the Talbot family, who built the castle, died at the battle fighting for the Jacobites.

William would also have probably been further back from the battle.

And not on that horse. His was more likely to be brown as white would have made him more of an easy target. And he would more than likely have walked across the Boyne rather than ride across it.

And ouch, worst of all, we’ve missed the real date. That was July 1, 1690. Somebody made a mistake when they changed to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752 and with the new dates it is July 11.

Of course it’s best to do your own homework so visit Malahide Castle. www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/castle.

Or learn more about the murals in Belfast with Paddy Campbell’s Black Cab Tours. www.belfastblackcabtours.co.uk.

And maybe also take in the Orange Museum in Belfast www.orangeheritage.co.uk which has a green frontage.

And also visit www.visitbelfast.com.

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Sweet Moon Alabama

No, you didn’t misread that!

In another one of Bandanaman’s revealing Did You Knows?… did you know that Alabama, not Florida nor Texas was where they built the rocket that took Neil, Buzz and Michael to the Moon.

And so Huntsville is justifiably known as ‘Rocket City’.

That’ll be the 363ft Saturn V rocket you’ll see in the city.

The big anniversary date is July 20, and Huntsville which has been in party mood all year is really ratcheting it up next week.

So what’s on the agenda?

A Guinness world record attempt at the most simultaneous rocket launches, An Apollo Homecoming Dinner and dancing in Courthouse Square.

And to tie it all up, a concert on Moon Landing Day.

I found a €1,174 return flight from Dublin with Delta to Huntsville via Dulles. Visit www.delta.com.

Visit www.alabama.travel, www.huntsville.org, www.rocketcenter.org.

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Flyday Friday… Norwegian would!

It’s a challenging market but it’s good to see that Norwegian is pushing forward and has posted strong Q2 results.

Despite the reduced production growth and grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the underlying operating result before ownership costs more than doubled from the same quarter in 2018.

Our friends at Norwegian have been inventive in the way it has pushed its Transatlantic route, partially because it has got to know us so well.

Take its 24-hour Christmas shopping trip in and out of Stewart, NY State. Stewart is about a 90-minute bus away from Port Authority in the city and costs $20 (€16).

I had a very grateful work colleague and more importantly his toddlers after I sent him on that trip.

Visit www.norwegian.com. From €334.09.

Je Suis Un Rock Star

Photo by Dominique Roellinger

Is it just me or do you see fewer selfie sticks now? People have become so adept at taking their photos around the world’s most iconic sites like this.

And just like this gent I do find gorgeous women photobombing me.

Get yourself some brownie points and take your loved one over to Paris.

Our national airline carrier has a number of magnifique French deals from €45.99. And naturellement France is more than just Paris. So check out Nice, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Perpignan, Marseille Rennes, Nantes, Montpellier.

And you know the rules. Let me know how you got on. Visit www.aerlingus.com. Fares are one way including taxes and charges. Valid for travel from 1 August until 30 September. Book by 15 July.

Ryan with a view

Ryanair is all about getting you there at a low fare. But it will also set you up with well-priced accommodation too.

What about this room from €29 at the 3* Be Smart Florida in Tenerife.

Ryanair is right across Spain and has many other great offers here.

Visit www.yanair.com.

Broomstick Airlines

The mother-in-law flew in… late.

I think there was a splinter on the stick or some moisture on the wood.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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A neat Segway

It’s 20 years old this year and it’s still making progress… albeit at 15kph.

One of the daftest (but enjoyable) forms of leisurely transport, it feels like the Segway has been with us way longer than that.

I first got on a Segway four years ago on the island of Gozo in the Med and was immediately hooked.

And I was surprised to find that despite standing still it is a good form of exercise as the leaning forward makes your calves work.

So here’s a Segway twirl around the world. Me, I’ll always LEAN towards my first: Gozo. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/malta-easer/(opens in a new tab)

Washington DC:

I had the chance to take a Segway tour of Washington when I visited a couple of years ago… but as you can see I was unfortunately too busy with matters of State such as by making Ireland the 51st State, by Presidential decree.

Washington is an absolute jewel with the White House and the Capitol building, obviously, and its Smithsonian but it can be tiring.

The three-hour On the Go Tours takes in those iconic buildings and the National Museum of National History, Ford’s Theatre (where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated), the National Air and Space Museum, the Washington Museum and much more.

From €68.07. Visit www.onthgotours.com.

Amsterdam:

Watch out: There’s something coming

Why should the angry cyclists have all the fun?

It was the one big difference I witnessed between my first time in Amsterdam in 1990 and when I returned last year… the bicycles didn’t have it all to themselves.

Segway City Tours Amsterdam offers an hour and a half ride for €59. You’ll whizz through Jordan, the Dam Square and by the Rijksmuseum and among others. Visit www.segwaycitytoursamsterdam.com.

Rome:

Now if you find yourself wandering aimlessly around Rome then you’re doing it right. When in Rome and all that. The Romans love to amble along.

I found myself doing just that spending a day and a night doubling back and retracing my steps around the city centre at the end of the Via Francigena and a 100km walk into the Eternal City. With CaminoWays.com www.caminoways.com.

Equally I could have taken any one of a number of themed Segway tours that day which would have saved on the shoe leather.

Bookmundi.com pitches among others Ancient Rome with Segway, a two-hour trip from €68 which will take you to Trajan’s Column and the Capitol Hill, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, Aventino Hill and the Garden of the Oranges. Visit www.bookmundi.com.

And watch out for my Rome on €50.

Hamburg:

The beauty of Segways is that they take the strain off your feet… as does lying back on a double bed in a beach bar (really) by the dock in Saint Pauli.

Mindways Segway Citytour Hamburg is a two-and-a-half hours saunter around this buzzing port city taking in, of course, the riveting Reeperbahn.

With typical German efficiency they will ask you for your driving licence. From €64.80. Visit www.segway-citytour.de.

BARCELONA

La Sangria Familia… as I like to call it.

Barcelona is a sprawling old city and exhausting in the sweltering heat we had earlier this month.

Best let the Segway take the strain.

Barcelona Sun Segway has a 150-minutes Gaudi’s Works Segway Tour (12kms) with a discount from €65 now down to €59. And you’ll get entrance to the monuments too.

These, of course, are just some of my favourite cities, and you’ll have your own favourites, so tell me about them. Visit www.barcelonasunsegway.com.

And here’s a nod to Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. Move slowly, my friend.

I’ll wait for you: Dean Kamen

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Your next UK Ambassador to Washington

You read it here first.

And you thought it was a coincidence that Britain’s Ambassador to the US resigned just at a time when I became available to the job market.

And, no, I didn’t need to leak Kim’s thoughts.

As you can see I know The Donald personally.

Look me up when you’re on holiday in Washington. Visit www.washington.org. And Aer Lingus flies to Washington with pre-clearance. Visit www.aerlingus.com.

And here’s one I baked earlier… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/obama-washington-dc/(opens in a new tab)

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Go East for Westlife

Are you having Westlife withdrawal symptoms?

Then fear not. There are still opportunities out there to see the Boys.

Of course they’ll be soft drinks out in Dubai

Cassidy Travel has five nights in Dubai with tickets from €649pps including flights from Dublin.

Stay in the 4-star Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road with a rooftop swimming pool with panoramic views of the city ad is close to Jumeirah Beach.

And he’s tried to creep back in again

The boys hit the stage in the Coca Cola Arena Dubai on 29 August. Flight departs on 27 August. Call Cassidy Travel on (01) 8901000 or visit www.cassidytravel.ie.

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Cruiseday Tuesday – My Princess

It’s a couples’ dream… cruising. The lingering glances over dinner, the dancing, the spectacular shows, the moonlight walk on the top deck.

Of course, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t occasionally disagree. I find the best advice is the one She gives: ‘When I want your opinion I’ll give it to you.’

So cruising has the advantage too of being big and varied and entertaining enough to give you both enough space to calm down if you get tetchy with each other. Best not have a quarrel on the top deck though, it can get slippy up there sometimes!

I owe Her a trip to the Bahamas after having had a spin around there last December and Sunway and Princess Cruises have the very thing.

They are offering a seven-night Bahamas & Virgin Islands Cruise on board the Regal Princess on February 29…. and you know what that means – Leap Year and all you loved-up ladies can propose to your gentlemen.

You’ll get all-inclusive drinks – Ocean Medallion (I’ll tell you more about that when I get on a Princess Cruises ship in Dublin later this month), wifi, gratuities and $200 onboard spend.

Price is €1599pp and includes return flights from Dublin, one night pre- cruise hotel stay, plus seven night cruise based on two sharing an interior stateroom, all taxes and fees. Transfers are extra. Visit www.sunway.ie/cruise-holidays or call (01) 231 1868. Visit www.princess.com.

Sand and sea

Dubai reaches for the skies: Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric.

Cruising always leaves you wanting more.

We had a choice last autumn of MSC cruises – the beautiful fjords or dazzling Dubai and the Emirates. We don’t regret catching the fjords, of course, but as the mist and rain drew in I did give a thought to how sunny Dubai would have been. And I settled on doing both.

Temperatures in Dubai hover between 23 and 33 degrees in December which is when you’ll go with Abbey Travel and MSC.

Leaving on Wednesday, December 11 and paying €589.00, you’ll get:

  • 11 nights cruise on board MSC Lirica in an interior cabin.
  • Free tea, water and coffee package and Wi-Fi Social Package.

Add on a Fantastica package from €30pp.

To book call 01 804715, visit www.abbeytravel.ie. Flights are extra but enquire at time of booking. Visit www.msccruises.ie.

Here’s a reminder of how good MSC cruises are from that fjords trip. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/(opens in a new tab)

Ich bin ein Hamburger

As I famously said when I visited Hamburg last year at the end of that fjords trip.

Hamburg is a city that was very much to my taste and I’m sure you’ll be the same.

Royal Caribbean International is offering a seven nights’ Dutch and French Adventure on Explorer of the Seas, departing October 18 from Southampton, taking in Hamburg, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Paris/Normandy and Le Havre.

From €649 per person based on two people sharing. €1,298 for two guests. Sailing on October 18. Flight required.

And, of course, you’ll get the chance to walk on water with FlowRider which I road tested (again) on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas recently in Barcelona and which I’ll tell you more about real soon. And much, much more. Visit www.royalcaribbean.ie.

And get your teeth into Hamburg… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/hamburgers-and-ships/(opens in a new tab)

Your cruise

So just tell them what you want. It should be easy, right?

Norwegian Cruiselines and American Holidays know it and are tailoring your trip to your needs with their Feel Free at Sea deals.

Design your own bespoke holiday adding your choice of valuable benefits and luxuries.

For example I’ll be catching up with my friends from the Deep South tonight and tomorrow here in Dublin and have a particular itch to scratch… New Orleans.

Among its packages, NCL and American Holidays offers New Orleans Stay and Western Caribbean Cruise from €1,869 per person for next February. From €1,869pp.

So you’ll get all flights including one checked bag per person round trip.

Three nights at Le Pavilion Hotel, New Orleans. Seven nights cruise on-board Norwegian Getaway (based on Guarantee Ocean View Stateroom – add on Free at Sea upgrade from €120pp). Based on two sharing.

Call (01) 673 3804. Visit www.americanholidays.com. Visit www.ncl.com.

And you will, I know, but New Orleans breakfasts are gumbo and Sazeracs. You’re on holiday and on a cruise so there’s no point in being dry.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Why I’m chocolate

I’ll need a bigger spoon: The Italian Hot Chocolate

Mardy Martina’s face broke out into a smile when I ordered Hot Chocolate on the hottest day of the year in Barcelona recently.

Not such a loco idea though as beer is dehydrating, water makes you go, and besides Hot Chocolate, when it’s done well, is a treat and one I usually reserve for when I’m away apart from Campo de Fiori Rosto Market which I sorely miss from my neighbouring town of Bray.

My follow up of ‘It’s too hot’ was met with a que? and a curled lip from Maria. And me. It was a bit calido.

The best ciocolatta di calda densa is on the Via Francigena pilgrims’ trail www.FrancigenaWays.com. Let me explain… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/

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Holidos and don’ts – packing tips

She’s the Wonder Woman who sews me up and sends me on my way… and very occasionally I come back with everything I left with.

And I’m getting better.

I’m also prompted by RTE reruns of the sumptuous Silk Road by the even silkier Joanna Lumley who agrees about the importance of multi-compartment purses and wallets.

They come in all shapes, sizes and styles (wives and wallets) and all make your life easier.

So what to remember

Your passport obviously. Now you may want to keep it in your inside jacket pocket or perhaps skin tight in your front trouser pocket.

And you will need to take it in and out at the airport but when you don’t need it, it’s best to put it away in the zipper compartment of your folder. If you’re travelling with your partner and your kids maybe put them all in together.

When you get to your hotel room put your valuables in the safe and only take it out if you need it for ID for bars, nightclubs or to get into some sports events.

Your tickets. Keep in another sleeve or compartment. It will be easier to differentiate. Some people (usually younger) are comfortable with having their tickets on their phones but what happens if you run out of battery (Ally?). Be safe do both.

Currency. Save yourself fiddling around in your wallet/purse between euro and a foreign currency and maybe even a third (sterling) if you’re passing through London. Use a third compartment for foreign dosh.

Now you’re on the plane

If you’re on a long-haul flight then you’ll want to keep your vanity case with you… save yourself from having to tap the person sleeping next to you so you can get up to the overhead cabin.

And if you’ve had the good fortune to go Business Class then remember the little overnight bags they give you the next time you travel.

And the earplugs will block out the noise of the snorer next to you.

Overnight bags tend to be the same but different and it’s always nice to find a little new treat.

A little bottle of Eau de Cologne was a particular treat in the Etihad bag I got this week even though I’m the last person who needs it.

Thank you www.etihad.com. And you too www.aerlingus.com, www.turkishairlines.com, www.virginatlantic.com, www.britishairways.com and everyone else who keeps us all refreshed in the air.

Luggage

Unless you’re just doing an overnighter you’ll probably be taking hand luggage and putting a suitcase in the hold.

Don’t do as I do, but as I say.

Avoid black or blue suitcases, they all look the same on the carousel. Put stickers on it to identify it as uniquely yours, maybe places you’ve been to cheer you up.

Padlock your case up and choose a lock number that’s not 1234 or your birthday or one you might forget.

And always fill out your luggage tag with your address for obvious reasons.

Don’t forget to remember

Make a list. Check it twice and give yourself enough time.

Better if you pack to go home the night before but if you are making the most if your last night on holiday then set your alarm early or get a room call.

Otherwise…

Next week: How I didn’t take any of this advice and some of the scrapes I got into (and out of) mostly because of the saints and saintesses who helped me out.

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Holiday Snaps

I have spent so much time in bunkers that I got rather good at making sandcastles.

But not quite as good as the craftsmen who created this work of art on Downpatrick beach just down the road from Royal Portrush where the Open Golf Championship will be played from July 18-21.

To help you out it depicts five Northern Ireland icons: Titanic Belfast, the City Walls and the Guildhall in Derry, the Dark Hedges, Rory McIlroy swinging a club and the direwolf sigil of House Stark from Game of Thrones.

Of course you couldn’t argue against any of these spots but there’s more than enough beach for the Carrick-a-Rede bridge, I’d hazard. You get a good oul’ swing there.

Hold on tight: The Carrick-a-Rede bridge

We will, of course, be hoping and expecting that Rory McIlroy will be keeping out of the sand at Royal Portrush on his way to lifting his second Claret Jug.

Of course the golfing world and his caddy will have booked up early but you may strike lucky and if you do it’s because of the good services of www.discovernorthernireland.com. And for all things Open-related it’s www.theopen.com.

A toast to the peaks

While the world’s best golfers will be aiming to hit the peaks in Royal Portrush you may prefer to get your highs on the mountains.

I’ve just returned from the Pic du Midi in the French Pyrenees where I was wined and dined at the highest restaurant in Europe, Le 2877. And I will be sharing that with you on this blog soon. Visit www.picdumidi.com.

There’s a certain satisfaction and reward after scaling the mountains (in a cable car of course).

Morzine offers two cracking micro-breweries Ibex which specialises in mountain ales including a 5% IPA Cabin Fever and which this year celebrates its fifth birthday and Bec Jane which is known for its wheaty beers and porters.

You’re in? A seven-night stay in the three-bedroom Apartment 101 in central Morzine, arriving August 17 is priced from £1,436 per apartment/£239pp based on six people sharing. Visit www.moremountain.com. And also see www.morzine-avoriaz.com.

And check out www.skyscanner.net for best flight deals.

A rare insight

Andy had spent a year abroad in of all places the frozen north-east of Scotland before going home to America and becoming a cowboy in the Wild West, and teaching Limeys how to ride horses.

We’d propped up the same bar and probably at the same time 30 years previously, but these two former Aberdeen University students only found each other in the Colorado plains.

If you want to channel your own Roy Rogers our friends at Insight Vacations will be only too happy to introduce you to the Wild West.

Insight Vacations threw a launch party for their North America brochure, appropriately on July 4, and among its other goodies is a Wild West trip.

Ten days Wonders of the American West for this summer from £2,850. Bookended by Las Vegas, you’ll feel right in the middle of a classic Western movie set. Overnight at rustic lodges inside the National Parks. Visit www.insightvacations.com.

And would Andy swop the bracing winds of Aberdeen for the clear blue skies and sun-baked Colorado plains? Go figure!

Get your baubles out

I’m beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And only 272 sleeps to go.

And TUI has only announced day trips to Lapland direct from Dublin. Departing on December 7 and 14.

Adults prices from €749 and child prices from €599. Use code WINTER for an extra €100 off your winter getaway.

And check out www.tuiholidays.ie for late sun deals because it’s still summer.

Let’s go fly a kite

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

No, I’m not going all Mary Poppins on you although I did get a prompt to watch the new one when I was on board the Etihad 787 Dreamliner www.etihad.com at Dublin Airport this week when I saw it featured on the screen and they told us about their flying nannies.

No, this is kite-flying over at the five-star Castlemartyr Resort where young guests (why only young?) will be given a free kite and you’ll get the run of many Blue Flag beaches.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite at Castlemartyr Resort costs from €249 per night for a deluxe room for two adults and a child up to 12, and is based on two nights B&B with one evening meal in the Italian restaurant Franchinis and that kite kit.

You’ll also get a family entrance ticket to Fota Wildlife park or Leahy’s Open Farm in Midleton. Visit www.castlemartyrresort.ie.

You’ll never beat the Irish

Wild and wonderful: Photo by Steven Hylands.

Congratulations to us!

Ireland has been voted Best European Destination for groups beating Prague, Germany, Belgium, Cyprus and Switzerland at the Group Travel Awards in London.

Visit www.tourismireland.com.

Minnie me

It’s always great to hear from old pals I’ve met on the road… yes, Minnie, but also Paula, although they’re both gorgeous.

Finn Paula who now lives and works in Glasgow and sounds more Glaswegian than me, told me that she did a stint in Disneyland Paris but was not allowed to be one of the characters (don’t tell the kids) because she didn’t have enough French.

Out of costume: Paula

Eh, aren’t they all non-speaking? But perhaps the French Minnie needs to have an insouciant shrug!

Abbey Travel is offering a Disneyland Paris deal from €1,699 for a family of four for next year.

You’ll get up to 25% off and free half-board meals.

Three nights in Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe which is themed around the Cars films. And you’re only a 20-minute walk walk or short shuttle bus from the parks.

Visit www.abbeytravel.ie or call (01) 804 7160.

Quake watch

Ross, our Starline Tour driver and guide, had told us that LA was due an earthquake.

There were tremors in Downtown LA from this week’s quake in SoCal, Southern Calufornia. I don’t know though if the Walk of Fame shook.

Still nothing major is affected Travel-wise. Aer Lingus flies Dublin to LAX. With pre-clearance. Visit www.aerlingus.com.

I’ll keep you posted on developments.

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Flyday Friday

Hat’s the way to travel. Myself and Edwina exchanged compliments on our headgear on board Etihad as the airline showpieces its 787 Dreamliner at Dublin Airport yesterday.

Etihad flies to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, 11 times a week and is operating four additional Boeing 787s through the summer season. They even come with flying nannies!

Etihad features 28 Business Class flat-bed seats and as you can see I was the first in our party to try them out.

And a selection of salmon and spinach hors d’oeuvres and fancy cakes. Etihad serves 90,000 meals a day, and it’s all about the choice. You want steak for breakfast, no problem.

I need a lie down: This Champagne has gone straight to my head

And with Abu Dhabi a hub for flights on to Australia and your body clock being out of whack then that’s not such a big leap.

And the 271 Economy Class seats are not too shabby either, the most appealing feature for me the remote controls on the console and not in the armrest while it is on point with points for your mobile devices.

For the kids: As displayed by Etihad’s Sales Manager Ireland Karen Maloney

Abu Dhabi is the jewel of the UAE with its spectacular mosque, the second biggest tourist attraction in the world, and Yas Island.

Etihad Airways is offering a free two-night stopover in the Emirati capital to all travellers flying to international destinations via Abu Dhabi. The free Abu Dhabi stopover promotion is available for bookings online through etihad.com, or via a travel agent, made by 1 December, for travel until 31 December 2019.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Guests can choose from a range of 15 hotels located across the city and experience all that Abu Dhabi has to offer, from cultural masterpieces to architectural highlights and natural landscapes to theme park attractions and sports activities.

And we say Yes to Yas, the entertainment centre which boasts Ferrari World and Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest rollercoaster which hits a speed of 240kph.

And Warner Bros with its six themed lands, Gotham City, Metropolis, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch and Warner Bros Plaza. And next year SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, the first SeaWorld without orcas.

Etihad offers a range of prices and flight experiences. Visit www.etihad.com. www.visitabudhabi.ae.

For a few dollars less

Our national airline carrier is carrying on its American Independence celebrations with €50 off Aer Lingus flights to North America ending Monday.

And it has 15% car hire on a US road trip with Aer Lingus Cars. Visit www.aerlingus.com and www.cars.aerlingus.com.

Queue? What queue?

Photo by Pixabay

It wasn’t one of my proudest moments… or the Son and Heir’s. On our way to the Vatican Museums He decided he wanted to stop for refuelling… a three-course lunch.

I threatened to throw him in the Tiber so we might have been sans son if his mum hadn’t stepped in.

Ryanair is offering a Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica Tour from €55.27. Visit www.ryanair.com. Follow too for deals to Rome and all Ryanair destinations.

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Elvis and An American Trilogy

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton

Old times they are not forgotten….

Glory, glory, hallelujah

His truth goes marching on…

But all my trials, Lord, soon be over.

An American Trilogy by Mickey Newbury, but popularised by Elvis Presley

On this 4th of July I commemorate the King of Kings, Elvis Presley, the Southern Boy who grew up and took his influences from his black friends and neighbours and encompassed that in his powerful rendition of this belting anthem.

And I reprise the last of my own American Trilogy which started with Martin Luther King, paid tribute to BB King and ended with Elvis Presley, the King of Kings https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-king-of-kings/(opens in a new tab). I wrote it in the year of the 50th anniversary of his friend Martin Luther King’s assassination. See also https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/(opens in a new tab)

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Stair Wars

I wonder what Mickey thinks of this Science Fantasia. The Galaxy’s Edge is far, far away from Walt Disney’s vision.

And its centrepoint Millennium Falcon even further from my standpoint.

Which is at the back of a snaking queue in the bowels of the new 14-acre €1billion Star Wars section of Disneyland in Anaheim, California on the very weekend it opens. It has taken me half an hour to even get this far.

I have passed by the inviting diversions of Walt’s Main Street USA, a jazz band on an island next to the Mark Twain Riverboat and a host of our favourite, smiling, singing, hugging Disney characters before arriving in this dark place.

Chewbacca does envelope a middle-aged Asian woman in his arms but I am too slow off the mark to get my picture taken while the Storm Troopers brush me aside.

Personally, I’d have a welcoming party of Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, Princess Leia and R2-D2 instead.

Still, I persevere and hang on the words of those in the line, a grown man with a light saber among them who have been waiting light years for this moment.

They point out the fine details of the futuristic world we are passing through in hushed, reverential tones.

Apparently, we are in the middle of the Black Spire Outpost which is on the Outer Rim planet of Batuu. They could be speaking Yoda for all I know.

And on and on we go, scaling the ramps. Whole battles don’t last this long.

Star Wars? This is more like Stair Wars. And finally we are ushered through to a holding area, a hangar where a rasta dude intergalactic pirate, Hondo Ohnaka, clues us in our mission with a reprise from Chewbacca, and informs us that the more we succeed the more rewards he gets. I bet!

The idea is that Chewy needs some supplies for the Resistance but Ohnaka has borrowed the craft and is using the opportunity to get us to smuggle some coaxium from Corellia for him which is hyperfuel from Han’s homeland, obviously. Thanks Brad from Texas for that.

But still the anticipation and the exhaustion (it’s now been an hour and a half) builds as we have to trudge further before finally being given our briefs for the starship’s mission, Smugglers’ Run.

A little more about this 114ft hulk of flying saucer which has grown men and women clicking away – it was manned by Han Solo and Chewy and was the second fastest in the Star Wars pantheon at 1050kph and is a highly modified YT-1300. But then, you knew that yourself.

The action is set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker and played out on a video screen before us.

Myself and Hiro are gunners and Jill and Lesley are the pilots. I can’t remember the names of the two engineers at the back of the cockpit but one had to be Scotty. Or is that the other Star one?

And finally we are hurtling through space, dipping and swooping, dodging enemy battleships and giant asteroids.

Mine’s and Hiro’s job is simple, press square and round buttons to fire laser beams at the foe until the light goes out.

It is an interactive experience but I’d be surprised if my efforts are making a blind bit of difference. And this is what I spent five years at Space University for.

And then our ten minutes on the motion simulator are over.

I guess it’ll make more sense when I actually watch the movies – I was never going to admit that in the queue.

I know how privileged I am though and that there are millions who would gladly climb over me and queue a whole day to get to see Millennium Falcon and play Smugglers’ Run and The Rise of the Rise of the Resistance which will follow hard on its heels later this year.

And that it will be a huge success particularly when they space out the waiting times.

But it’s just that Star Wars I don’t it get.

I retreat instead to simpler pleasures and a star who never lets me down, the original, and still the best, The Donald.

I find him outside the Golden Horseshoe saloon with Jose and Panchito, the Three Caballeros, playing it for laughs.

And I’m sure he remembers me from Orlando a couple of years ago, he even wrote to me when I got back, and signed it too.

And when your friends ask… yes, he really does love Mexicans.

In this part of Disneyland there are only smiles. The jazz band are belting out Everybody Wants To Be A Cat. I am nibbling on my fried chicken, corn and rice. I’m truly at my happiest.

This is one place where a middle-aged, bandana-wearing hippy won’t be glowered at. Here, and on the Pirates of Caribbean water ride where I’m almost mistaken for Jack Sparrow.

The ride is gentle, more my style, but if you want seat-of-the-pants thrills, Disneyland has no shortage: Splash Mountain, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones, too many to mention.

But in your cart going through Jack’s world, you’ll get just gentle drops.

What really makes a ripple on the Pirates of Caribbean ride through caves and coves are the intricate fun sets which immerse you in Jack’s world.

Look out too for the old rogue popping up on the islands semi-hidden from view. Keen eyes will see him in a vat of rum though. I want to join him.

Harking back to the Star Wars section of Disneyland, that really is the best thing about it -Disneyland, which has rightly prided itself on its family-friendly image and kept alcohol outside its doors for 60 years for the general public is now allowing you to have a snifter in Oga’s Cantina.

I could have used my time more profitably.

This being a corporate launch, I took a rum punch earlier from the tray of a passing waitress to settle my nerves for the simulator and have been going back to stock up long after I got off the ride.

There is no shortage of choice of diners to line your stomach for those hairy rides if you don’t want a rumbly tummy, and alternative entertainment if you want to take a weight off.

Duelling pianos meld in well with the classical surroundings of Olde World buildings and the open spaces amplify the sound.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than the Disney Castle. We sit down in benches and grassy banks off Main Street to watch Mickey’s music extravaganza flash up on the castle.

Mickey introduces his pals, King Louie and Elsa from Frozen among them, and they take over.

You can’t take your eyes off this light show or your hands from clapping along.

It is a kaleidoscope of colour and crescendo of sound, a Mickey Mix of Magic.

All the standards are there but for a younger audience it has been sassed up with modern toons getting us all up on our feet.

Of course, it’s all about Da Mouse in Da House though and he brings the party to a spectacular climax.

The fireworks pop off into the night sky and all eyes shoot upwards while in a galaxy far, far away – or across the park at least – the lights have long gone out.

TRAVEL FACTS

How to get there: Dublin-Los Angeles LAX with Aer Lingus with pre-clearance. It operates a daily service from Dublin direct with fares starting from €259 each way when booked as a return trip. The year-round service reduces to five times weekly during the winter season. Visit www.aerlingus.com.

Where to stay: The Hilton Anaheim, a 15-minute walk from Disneyland Resort. King bed Disneyview for the sample dates of June 28-July 1 from $347 (€281). Visit www.hilton.com.

Where to go: Attraction Tickets Direct has a range of offers and discounts which will save precious time and money. Its two-day Disneyland California 1 Park Per Day Ticket is from €198 for an adult and €186 for a child including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is from €266 for an adult and €249 for a child. Visit www.disneyland.disney.go.com. www.starwars.com.

And for more duck-related fun… Why I love The Donald.

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Cruiseday Tuesday

It costs less than the price of a biscuit on the aeroplane.

Royal Caribbean is offering €1pp with selected 2020 sailings to Europe. www.royalcaribbean.ie.

So what you have to do is:

  • Book an eligible stateroom on the selected 2020 sailings 
    (excluding GTY rooms)
  • Select your €1 flight
  • Book by 12th August 2019

And now I’m back from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, I’m dying to tell you all about boogie boarding, surfing/falling zip lining and stomach-filling. In the Irish Daily Star www.thestar.ie and on this blog.

Twenty million reasons to….

Cruise with MSC.

MSC Cruises has reached the 20 million passenger milestone.

Your favourite Travel journalist cruised with MSC and The Scary One last year in the fjords on Preziosa.

And believe me it’s invigorating to swim in the upper deck pool as you approach land (with your bandana on, of course).

MSC Cruises offer some great late deals. Seven nights on MSC Sinfonia. Leaving from Venice and taking in Ancona (Urbino), Split, Dubrovnik, Mykonos and Santorini. Depart July 13 or 20.

Visit www.msc.cruises.co.uk. You will need to book your own flights with this package.

Majorca corker

Photo by Kai Pilger.

Patrick and Maureen were heading off to Palma, Majorca when I met them at the bar (naturally) on board my day on my cruise ship in Barcelona at the weekend.

The Irish-Chicagoans are in for a treat as Palma retains its Old Worlde charms despite what the Love Islanders and the salmon-pink tourists are doing up in Magaluf to the image of this beautiful island.

TUI offers all-inclusive cruises Dublin to Majorca, Treasures of the Mediterranean. Inside Cabin, seven nights from €1,089pps. Depart on August 27. From €1,089pps. Or Inside Cabin, depart July 13 from €1,179pps. Visit www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

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Holidos and don’ts

Slap it on… the suntan lotions, creams and sun factors.

But which one to get?

And how to make the most of the sun without getting burnt and making sure we all get a good tan.

All of which is hopefully serving me well this weekend in Barcelona where temperatures have been hitting the late 30s.

Read the label

We can be bamboozled by acronyms. WTF!

SPF is sun protection factor and the categories fall into four bands – low (SPF 6 & 10), medium (SPF 15, 20 & 25), high (SPF 30 & 50) and very high (SPF 50+). The average Irish person is in the 15, 20 & 25) category but if in doubt ask at your pharmacist.

It’s all in the application – How much to put on?

Photo by Linda Prebreza

For most of us adults that’s at least six full teaspoons – and I know that you don’t have a teaspoon with you on the beach so practise before you go. Children are all different so again check with your pharmacists, use your common sense and don’t scrimp.

Sun cream should also be applied 20 minutes before exposure to the sun and be reapplied a minimum of every two hours.

And make sure that it is not past its sell-by date. There should be a number, say 24, on the bottle.

And where to apply it

Photo by Pixabay

All over. There are of course very delicate areas… steady, I mean the nose and lips. And also ears, neck, hands and feet. And if you’re a hirsutically challenged gentleman then the baldy bit on the top of your head, or all over the bonce if necessary.

What to wear

Photo by Moose Photos

Best put a T-shirt or better still a long-sleeved cotton shirt, oul’ fella. And long trousers too.

You may think that’s less chic but then a lobster-coloured back and legs and being confined to your hotel room or worse still a visit to the hospital may be the alternative.

Also be sure to wear sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection.

When to stay out of the sun

The hours of 11am-3pm is when the sun is hottest so perhaps stay in the shade then. And you probably only need about 15 minutes at any given time.

A good time to dine but without being a killjoy perhaps go easy on the vino collapse or beer. Plenty of water please. And be particularly careful with kiddie.s

Visit www.hse.ie.

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Holiday Snaps

I love an oul’ festival…. they’re almost always not what you expect, and even better too.

Take for example the Festival of the Trays which too me conjures up an image of people banging beer trays over their heads.

It used to be popular in the Seventies and was featured in one of Esther Rantzen’s That’s Life shows I’m sure. I have vague recollections of doing the same one Hogmanay (or New Year’s Eve to those not of the Scottish persuasion).

This Festival of the Trays in Portugal though is far more serene. In commemoration of Queen Saint Isabel and the Holy Spirit, this is all about hundreds of young girls carrying trays of gifts on their heads.

The trays are blessed, there are street decorations and quilts in the windows. Flowers are thrown over the procession too, naturally!

The Procession of the Tabuleiros, heralded by pipers and fireworks is led by the Banner of the Holy Ghost and the three Crowns of the Emperors and Kings.

Bringing up the rear are cartloads of bread, meat and wine, pulled by the symbolic sacrificial oxen with golden horns and sashes. Visit www,tabuleiros.org and www.visitportugal.com. The festival starts today and goes on until July 8.

And for two very different sides to Portugal, Secret Portugal and Portugal read my reviews https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal/(opens in a new tab) and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/(opens in a new tab)

Aer Lingus, Ryanair and TAP Portugal all fly to Portugal, www.aerlingus.com, www.ryanair,com, www.flytap,com.

Climb every mountain

Ah! But if Maria and the Von Trapps had climbed every mountain as The Sound of Music told us they did they would have ended up in Hitler’s back yard.

Sorry, I just tell it like it is and so do the Salzburgers who burst our bubble on a tour of the city…. they do take you to some great Sound of Music sites and it is seriously good fun.

Me telling it like it is, it’s important to flag up what a great summer destination Austria is and what great deals there are out there.

TUI has last-minute deals for July 3, seven nights B&B staying at the *3 Hotel Obermair, Mayrhofen, from €449pps or seven nights half-board at the *3 Pension Hannes, Neiderau from €469pps. Visit www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

An offer you can’t refuse

I went into the doctor and told him that I felt like a small Mediterranean island. He told me to stop being Sicily.

Like many who have visited Malta I spent way too short a time in Sicily on a day’s catamaran cruise. Of course, I will be back and when I do I will take it all in, The Godfather history, the beautiful coastline and vibrant villages.

You can get great value with a late deal to Sicily with Sunway. Seven nights for €499 on July 6. Visit www.sunway,ie,

The best China

You’re my rock: Tang and Zhang

Zhuhe, Tang Yixin and Zhang Ruoyun. Which, of course, is congratulations, but you knew that anyway.

And maybe that they are a Chinese celebrity couple who chose Adare Manor to marry.

Tang and Zhang are TV drama stars back home and have 33 million followers on Weibo, the social media platform in China. Now Bandanamann followers with a wee nudge we might make a dent in that!

Tang and Zhang’s combined showbiz name would be Tang, meaning she’s in charge which is a bit like most marriages really!

Tourism Ireland helped the happy couple with trips to Dunluce Castle and the Dark hedges. Visit www.tourismireland.com. www.adaremanor.com. www.visitnorthernireland.com.

The English Beach

Not what you expected: La Gomera

If that conjures up images of a packed Blackpool or Brighton or Magaluf then we wouldn’t blame you.

But this is The English Beach in Great King Valley in La Gomera.

La Go-where? Yes, this is the Canaries and it’s the more unspoiled, smallest and less visited of the seven islands which makes it all the more appealing.

Thing is though that they’re peeling off too. Billed as hippy and alternative there’s a clue there. Thing is though that the first post on Trip Advisor said that it’s half and half.

I can only imagine that it was a Swinging Sixties crowd of English that gave it its name.

I leave the choice to you but check out La Gomera anyway. Fly to Tenerife and then get a crossing is the best way to get there.

But if you do decide to go au natural, for goodness sake don’t leave your clothes on the beach. Visit www.lagomera.travel/en.

Let’s duck out of here

You’re quackers: With The Donald

Yes, I know any excuse. I’ll tell you what every time The Other Donald tweets something daft or puts us on the brink of war…. and I’m not forgiving him this week after his antics caused the rearrangement of my trip to Iran… then Ill put up a photo of The Real Donald.

And anyway American Sky has a great saving of up to €530 per family on a seven-night stay at the *4 The Grove Resort Hotel & Spa in Orlando, valid for travel before February 11 2021. This holiday now costs from €649.

This is a new resort, just a few minutes drive from Walt Disney World Resort and it includes a kids Surfer Water Park.

There are four on-site restaurants.

Based on two adults and two children sharing and return flights from Dublin with transfers and accommodation on a self-catering basis.

Visit www.americansky.ie or call (01) 664 9900.

Killer tunes

Drum roll: Ronnie Vannucci Jnr

For Reasons Unknown Ronnie Vannucci Jnr tried to bat off the well-wisher who approached him at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood, Co. Down, and said that he was a delegate at a science convention.

But we were onto him or at least The Son and Heir and The Scary One were… and she let him know that I was their biggest fan.

I know I’ve drip-fed you this story but it’s just that the world’s greatest rock band who were playing up North are headlining Glastonbury tonight.

I’ve got it taped of course while I’m away in Barcelona but I expect they’ll be Wonderful Wonderful.

I’m not surprised that The Killers were staying at the Culloden. It’s only had a £750,000 refurbishment. Visit www.hastingshotels.com.

Two for you

… A double helping of Bandanaman today. Lourdes and the Pyrenees in The Herald and Star Wars Millennium Falcon: Smugglers’ Run at Disneyland Anaheim in the Irish Daily Mail.

I’ll reprise them here when I return.

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New York, Gay York… and other LGBT cities

It’s the major societal transformation that EVERY Western Fiftysomething has witnessed in their lifetime.

Straight people’s changed perception and reception of gay people.

The catalyst for change happened this week in 1969 with the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village against police brutality of gay people.

It is fitting then that the Great Melting Pot has been the focus of commemorations this week.

New York has led the way for the rest of the Western World to be a more open and inclusive place for the LGBT community to travel.

This blog celebrates the best of those destinations:

New York

Time of your life: Photo by Mathieu Acker.

Greenwich Village is the historical gay heart of NY.

And the James New York in SoHo is within walking distance of the gay bars in Chelsea and Greenwich Village.

Take the glass elevator up to the rooftop bar for great views before heading to REBAR gay club or The Stonewall.

A standard queen room is from €409. Visit www.jameshotels.com.

London

Party on: Photo by Brett Sayles

It’s all about Pride and London is going rainbow-coloured.

Hazlitts Hotel is in the heart of Soho and the building was once a gentlemen’ s club back in the 18th Century.

A favourite with actors, artists and writers for decades many of the rooms have been named after celebrities. And should you want to you could even sleep in the same room Jonathan Swift did. Superior double from £290.00. Visit www.hazlittshotel.com.

Amsterdam

Loud and Pride: Photo by FransA

Amsterdam has long been lauded for being gay-friendly.

A cruise along one of its many canals or a romantic walk or crepes by the water are a great way to while away the hours.

And then there’s the nightlife.

There are some great deals out there. The Double Tree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station which is near the historic Cafe ‘t Mandje gay bar has a Queen Room for €227. Visit https://doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/netherlands/doubletree-by-hilton-amsterdam-centraal-station-AMSCSDI/index.html

Paris

City of Love: Photo by Jean-Baptiste Burbaud

It’s not called Gay Paree for nothing.

It’s iconic and worth spending a bob or two on. The gay-friendly boutique hotel Jules et Jim in Le Marais – 3e Arrondissement, a well-trodden paths for LGBT visitors. It is of course named after the Francois Ruffault cinema house favourite starring Jeanne Moreau.

Each room (there are just 23) has a backlit Hi-Mac shell around the bed creating a relaxing cocoon. It is arty but unpretentious. From £182 per night for the sample date of July 8.

The Pompidou is 10 minutes away by foot, the Louvre 20. 

Visit www.hoteljulesetjim.com/en.

Benidorm

Here comes the sun: Photo by Artem Beliaikin

But you want the beach. And who can blame you.

Benidorm has a great gay scene stretching out from the Old Town and the Gay Village.

The shows are legend. The best nightclub venues are located on the Avenida Beniarda. And the gogo dancers and drag queens are not to be missed.

There are two big music festivals in July while Benidorm Pride is in September. So that means two Prides, here and there. Can’t be bad.

The Hotel Centro Mar is just a minute walk from Levante Beach and just steps from Brief Encounter, El Papagayo and Company Gar gay bars. And there’s a rooftop swimming pool.

We found two guests with breakfast for £111. Visit www.hotelcentromar.com/en.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD FOR PRIDE

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Flyday Friday

He hasn’t got a Scoobie: Murty, that is

No, not that Great Dane… but it did draw you in, right?

Mind you, this Great Dane ain’t bad either. This is a new Great Dane Airline service from Aalborg to Dublin which will run twice weekly from June 21 to July 26 and weekly between July and October 15.

Wonderful as it is, Denmark is more than just Copenhagen. Aalborg is Denmark’s fourth biggest city. Its known for its revitalised waterfront on the Limfjord, the body of water that cuts through Jutland, also an outdoor pool and nearby is the half-timbered Aalborghus Castle.

Now I like an oul’ fjord, and The Son and Heir came back from Denmark’s second city Aarhuis shouting its merits from the rooftops. Visit www.greatdaneairlines.dk.

Aalborg, I’m Aal in.

RyanEur

Red, Amber, Go: Gdansk

My friends at Ryanair have been flying me (and I dare say you and a couple of others around) of late and I must say that I am becoming less of an oul’ grouch and am now beginning to take on their interactive approach.

They’re also as good as anybody at opening up our minds to new destinations.

Yes among their 6 great reasons to travel this summer they flag up London for Wimbledon, Paris for the Tour de France, Galway for the Arts Festival though that’s probably for an international audience, it might be a bit profligate to fly from Wicklow. And Copenhagen for the Jazz Festival and Heidelberg and Karlsruhe for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

But it also promotes Gdansk in Poland under the title Open’er Gdansk… it’s a music festival The Son and Heir tells me where Kylie, the Smashing Pumpkins, Lana Del Rey and the Strokes among others will be performing from July 3-6.

The good people of Poland charmed us with their country’s fares, not least their vodka, earlier in the year and as well as this big musical festival the city has a lot more to offer.

Do visit the European Solidarity Centre as it is a timely reminder of where we are with challenges to our democracy in Europe right now.

It is also a beautiful port city and because of that has a rich culinary heritage and trading story. I’m particularly taken, as is The Scary One, by the power of Amber.

Housed in the same building that once was home to the Prison Tower and Torture Chamber. The centre of the world’s amber trade ( who knew?), you’ll get brownie (or amber) points if you pick out some beautiful piece for Herself.

Flights from Gdansk from €16.80. Visit www.ryanair.com.

Finns are looking up

Get away from it all in Finland: Photo by Daria Shevtsova

I do love a sauna…. somewhere to let it all hang out.

I was sorely tempted in Soll in Austria to cause a scene in the breakfast room (and not for the first time).

I had just had a sauna and the Austrians, of course, like to have theirs in the nip.

When I got down the next morning I spotted a woman who had been in the sauna with me. I was all set to go over and say: ‘I didn’t recognise you with your clothes’ on until her burly German boyfriend walked in.

Saunas, of course, originate in Scandinavia. And how’s about this for an airport experience. Saunas in Helsinki Airport Finnair Platinum Wing.

Finnair is to increase the frequency of flights from Dublin and Edinburgh to its Helsinki hub this winter. There will be four extra services on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Visit www.finnair.com.

Just remember to leave yourself enough time to get to the departure gate!

Aer we go

The pool is the only place to be. Photo by Pixabay

Twenty quid will barely get you a drink and a a few chips here but your money stretches further on the continent so when Aer Lingus offers you €20 off your flight at a great price anyway it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.

Vienna, Lisbon, Faro, Malaga and Nice are all pegged at €44.99 from Dublin, it’s €51.99 from Cork to Alicante and €58.99, while Shannon is €49.99 to Malaga.

Travel between August 1 and October 31. Book by July 1. Visit www.aerlingus.com. Prices are one-way including taxes and charges.

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Blown away by Disney

Disney is good, clean fun, and how many things can you say that about?

And it’s got even cleaner and without me even noticing.

Disney has banned smoking (it’s been in place since May) which is probably why the air felt fresher when I visited Disneyland Resort in Anaheim recently.

Now if you like a puff then you can always go to the new designated smoking areas outside the entrances of the park.

The only smoke you’ll see inside is special effects and the light and magic show Mickey puts on at the end of the night up at the Castle.

Look out for my review of Star Wars and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in my old stomping ground of the Irish Daily Mail and reprised in this blog this Saturday. Visit /disneyland.disney.go.com/

http://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/

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Hot D’Azure

It’s Hot D’Azure down in the French Riviera right now. How hot? Well today it is set to break all records in France for June with temperatures of 41C.

France’s two highest temperatures were recorded in the South of France, 44C, on two separate occasions on August 12 in 2003 so it’s not quite that just yet.

But for those down there at the moment there is that consolation, and the fact that you might have a sea breeze… and well, it is Cannes.

I did what all self-respecting visitors do and took a gigantic boat out onto the C’ote D’Azur. Read all about it in https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-d’azur/(opens in a new tab)

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Brexit… where it all started

If you’re watching the news and slowly losing the will to live with all the shenanigans over Brexit here’s a little recap of when it all started a few years ago when Theresa May signed off on the whole thing.

On that fateful day I was in Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe, and the economic driver of Scotland and the UK for many a year.

And I found that the best way to deal with it then as now was this… the uisce beatha. Read my review of Aberdeen and a moment in time. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/brexit-aberdeen-a-light-in-the-north/

Looking for the Glen Garioch? I’ve got it. Photo by Chris F
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Radio days

Hear, hear… no, not some warbling politicians but just a couple of good friends talking Travel.

Aileen Eglington put this relative radio tyro at ease on her Travel show Destination Anywhere on 93.9 Dublin South FM yesterday.

The hour positively flew by as we talked Turkey (Istanbul), LA and Anaheim and Lourdes.

And we interspersed it with a few songs….

Natasha Bedingfield’s These Words, happy memories from when she loved me, she loved me, she loved me, picking me and my purple beard out of the crowd as she sang Purple Rain, the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B which they sang at our set lunch in Anaheim and On The Road Again by Willie Nelson which always reminds me of the Camino and the Via Francigena.

So, thanks Aileen and until the next time…. tune into www.dublinsouthfm.ie/events/travel-show every Monday from 1pm-2pm.

MEET YOU ON THE RADIO AGAIN

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Cruiseday Tuesday

I’ll never forget my first morning in a balcony cabin, waking up in Barcelona and seeing a 200ft Christopher Columbus point out to sea…

And America?

No. He’s really pointing towards a position somewhere near the city of Constanine in Algeria but who’s caring? Barcelona is a bit shambolic or Ramblaolic like that but that’s its essence.

Take for example Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia – the current builders have been granted an official building permit 137 years after construction started.

Mistake!

It ought to stay unfinished… after all The Scary One is always needing to do one more thing to our house.

One of the great statues is the Martin Luther King Jr 30ft Stone of Hope next to the National Mall in Washington DC is portrayed as unfinished because the Struggle is unfinished.

I’ll be on board Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas where I might even do a bit of surfing on FlowRider with Irish professional surfer Gearoid McDaid.

And the King and I: Washington DC

But I will be pointing to America when I do. Visit www.royalcaribbean.ie. And if you want to read more about how I fared the last time I tried surfing on the high seas visit https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/(opens in a new tab).

Cor-phew!

Idyllic: Corfu

Maybe our friends on the Continent could share some of their sun with us.

The sun is burning hot, hot, hot, just now and it is something that the Corfiots are all too familiar with as we found out when we honeymooned there all those years ago.

They recommended that you hit the hills or take to the seas… you’ll need no second invitation.

Our friends at TUI www.tuiholidays.ie have Dublin-Corfu and a seven-day all-inclusive cruise on the Adriatic Explorer from €1,189pps on July 12. Visit www.tuiholidays.ie

You snooze, you lose the cruise

Colossal: Photo by Davi Pimentel.

Here at Cruiseday Tuesday we like to keep you up to date with the great late deals because we know you’ve always got a bag packed ready!

MSC has this great offer for a seven-day spin on Divina around the Mediterranean from £999pp leaving from Cagliari in Sardinia and taking in Palma, Valencia and Marseille and also Genoa, Rome and Palermo. From July 2-9. Visit www.msccruises.ie.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Meet you on the radio

I’ll tell you what The Donald is thinking

If you haven’t heard me yet… then I’m talking too quietly.

I’ll be on the radio this morning on Dublin South FM, broadcasting on 93.9FM from 2pm-3pm with the awesome Aileen Eglington.

I’ll be California Dreamin’ about my recent trip to Hollywood, West Hollywood and Anaheim and also all things Istanbul (they have a new mayor there, don’t you know and did you see all those people out celebrating in the streets). And then let’s finish it all with a prayer… the Lourdes Prayer.

And relive some of that with My Weekend With Marilyn, part one of my LA Story, the second part of which is in this Saturday’s Irish Daily Mail, while The Lourdes Prayer is also coming soon. My Weekend with Marilyn https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/. Wham Bam Thank You Hamam is https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam,-thank-you-hamam/(opens in a new tab)

Listen in to find out what three songs I choose too. And visit www.dublinsouthfm.ie to find out how you can hear it back. I can’t think what else you might be doing around 2pm-3pm though.

This Sporting Weekend – Gaelic

‘Come on and I’ll take you to the football’ always got the Son and Heir out of bed.

Nothing will probably compare to the time we were in Edinburgh and I told him to get his coat as we were off to see his beloved Liverpool.

Understandably he thought we were off to the pub until we got on the road to Sunderland.

I teased him too when we relocated to Co. Wicklow in Ireland and I tempted him again with football.

Despite Ireland being without a professional football league such is his love for the game that he would have gladly gone down to see Bray.

But we headed the other way to see Wicklow play Gaelic Football against I can’t remember who in Aughrim.

There had been a lot of noise around their new coach, Kerry and the game’s legend Micko O’Dwyer.

The whole community atmosphere of the day caught our imagination.

Parking on a muddy verge, creature comfort food and us standing up with the crowd for the national anthem Amrhán na bhFiann.

Or Soldier’s Song, an anthem I’d learned at my Donegal mum’s knee and on the terraces of Celtic Park in Glasgow.

Kerry http://www.gaa.ie

And I loved too that fans of both Gaelic football teams milled around together where football teams don’t.

And against his better judgment the Son and Heir enjoyed himself.

Although I don’t think either of us remember who the opposition were.

Or whether we won.

The national games

The All-Ireland Gaelic football competition and Ireland’s other indigenous sport hurling are nearing their climax in September.

And whoever wins, and it’s usually Dublin and Kerry at Gaelic football, and Kilkenny at hurling, the cups will do a tour of the counties.

And the other game of hurling. http://www.gaa.ie

And I got a taste of it when I was told of the lengths that neighbouring town lands, or village outposts, in Monaghan would go to to gain an advantage.

Read my misadventures in Monaghan’s country roads.

And for all you want to know about Co. Monaghan see http://www.visitmonaghantourism.com and Co. Wicklow http://www.visitwicklow.ie

For everything you want to know about Ireland’s home sports visit http://www.gaa.ie and Ireland http://www.failteireland.ie.