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Cruiseday Tuesday – Trolls and the fjords

You never forget your first love which is why I make no apologies in revisiting our unforgettable trip to the Norwegian fjords last year.

Me, The Scary One and MSC.

It was our first dip into cruising as a couple (no, not that and again why has that word been hijacked?)

I swam in the fjords… well, not exactly the deep blue sea but in a swimming pool on board.

As the mists enveloped the mountains and inlets and hid the trolls from view.

Of course there’s plenty to do inside should you want to stay out of the soft drizzle.

And it doesn’t always rain, it was just that we went in September which made it all the more dramatic.

There are a host of spa, gym, food and drink and restaurant options and great bars.

And if you want to unleash your inner karaoke singer you can do that too, although you’d have to be really lucky to be there when Bandanaman is singing Chuck Berry’s Memphis, Tennessee.

The Scary One wasn’t!

Now, of course there are wonderful on-shore excursions in Norway and a day in Copenhagen too. Wonderful!

So, here’s the deal:

7 Night Norwegian Fjords Fly + Cruise on MSC Meraviglia from €899pp, departing May-August 2020.

Balcony cabin upgrades from €200pps.

Itinerary: Copenhagen, Denmark – Hellesylt/Geiranger, Norway – Alesund, Norway – Flaam, Norway – Kiel, Germany – Copenhagen, Denmark.

Price Includes:

Return flights from Dublin, seven-night cruise, all meals and snacks, entertainment, service charge,

Visit Click & Go www.clickandgo.com/holidays/cruise/cruise-deals.

Christmas on the river

Christmas Market Dusseldorf Marktplatz – with a Christmas tree as a backdrop.

Just 71 sleeps until Christmas so plenty of time to escape…

Our friends at Travel Department will help you get away from Auntie Mary and Uncle Joe and all those annoying little nephews and nieces.

Not to mention your own family!

Christmas Rhine River Cruise (Cologne-Cologne)

Hop on-board the 4 star MS Amadeus Silver II and sail through Germany.

Visit Cologne, Dusseldorf, Koblenz, Strasbourg and Mainz along your cruise.

Beat the drum: Dresden and the Elbe

Stop in Speyer where you will have free timBe to explore the former imperial town or attend Christmas Mass before a Christmas party on-board the ship with dinner and entertainment. 

Departing December 22. Visit http://www.traveldepartment.ie

Cruising in Germany is a delight which I should have done more of, but here is Dresden, a boat trip and much, much more… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/

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Holidos and don’ts – late nights

One of the best things about a holiday has always been later bedtimes and not having to get up for work or school.

Unless, of course, you’re Irish where 4.30am is the time to leave a party.

As it was explained to me after one Christmas party when I asked the next day why it was 4.30am?

And I was out of there by 11.30pm.

‘Too early,’ said my colleague.

‘So why not 5am?’

‘Oh, that’s just taking the piss.’

Late nights and through-the-morning benders raised their head when a reporter I sent away pulled such a stunt.

And let down the holiday providers by falling out with the hotel in the early hours and then going AWOL.

Now I’ll get back to you in a future post on my favourite people in the Travel business – holiday providers.

And my least favourite, entitled journalists who call Travel assignments ‘junkets’ and treat the holiday providers with disdain.

Now that’s not to say you can’t have fun.

On my first trip to Barbados my old University pal and proud West Indian Jevan took me out on Foreday Morning.

Which was after the planned itinerary.

It got messy, yes, a mud and paint Soca and rum party through the streets of Bridgetown.

And I got no sleep but I did meet up with my group the next day to go catamaranning. Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

And visit http://www.visitbarbados.org and https://www.visitbarbados.org/crop-over-festival.

Treat your reps and hosts well, no treat them better – after all they’re babysitting you.

And they will allow you up late after your bedtime… if you behave yourself and are there the next day.

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Moanday Morning – Carousels

And the seasons

They go round and round

And the painted ponies go up and down

We’re captive on a carousel of time

We can’t go on, we can only look behind

From where we came from

And go round and round and round

On the carousel of time.

The Circle Game – Joni Mitchell

No, not that carousel, but the ones at the airport.

I got in late earlier this month to Dublin Airport from Munich.

And spent a good half an hour watching the painted suitcases go round and round.

Mine’s unhelpfully is charcoal grey.

Now for whatever reason mine always comes out last.

Which means that if I’m on an organised trip I might hold my party up as happened in Los Angeles. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/ And http://www.visitcalifornia.com.

Or have to get a taxi and join up with them later which very neatly happened.

This time on the way back from Munich my luggage didn’t arrive at all. Hungry and Thursday: The Munich Beerfest. Visit https://www.muenchen.de/int/en/tourism.html

And I got the call over the Tannoy to report to the desk.

Where I was told that my luggage had been held back.

Either because they had to look through it or that there wasn’t space on the plane.

Extra baggage

Now, I don’t have a problem with them scanning my clothes and possessions.

But why can they not guarantee that the luggage which you have given them gets on the plane?

The charming young man at Dublin Airport was patience personified though.

As he assured me that I just needed to fill out my form and that it would be delivered to my house the next day.

And that if I needed to buy emergency clothes I could apply for compensation.

I can’t complain about this process but I would again suggest that every piece of luggage should arrive at its destination.

As for the carousel, can they not just line up the luggage in a row inside the airport?

That would be easier.

Usual consultancy fee.

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Holiday Snaps – Paddington and Peru

They’re part of our family… Paddy, Barney, Maura, Stevie G (although we don’t like him anymore for obvious reasons), Scruffy, my first and best… and a pack of others.

And we’ve even got a spectacled bear from Berlin who I think we called unoriginally Berliner.

We don’t though have a Paddington Bear which is OK because the real one lives in Darkest Peru as we all know.

Permit me to say

It was his creator Michael Bond’s idea to have Paddington come from Darkest Africa.

But he was dissuaded as they don’t have bears and instead chose Peru, home of the Spectacled Bear.

Too many people probably visit Peru and forget all about our favourite marmalade-munching bespectacled bears on their way to Machu Pichu.

But the Peruvians don’t and have their own statue to the famous furry fella… http://www.atlasobscura.com.

OK, Machu Picchu is well worth seeing and is one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.

The city which means ‘old mountain’ in Quechua, is a city of stone, was built by the Incas around the 15th century and discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911.

All of which makes me think what a golden age for exploration the 19th and early 20th century were.

And wouldn’t it be good if we could unearth a new civilisation now, one that had never heard of Brexit.

Now Michu Picchu is one of the Seven Modern Wonder of the World and is therefore pretty popular.

With Gap Year students alas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to see it.

Particularly as USIT  https://www.usit.ie/tours/25295-trekking-the-inca-trail-4d-3n will help you get one of the permits which are like gold dust.

Permit me to say

Only 500 permits per day are allocated for the year by the Peruvian Government and this number includes porters and guides too. 

Permits are sold on a first come first serve basis, so you need to book well in advance.

USIT will also give you lots of advice for the Inca Trail…

Such as what you’ll have to carry, how many people to a tent, how many porters for the group and if there are arrangements for special diets.

Last year only 427 people from Ireland were lucky enough to get their hands on a permit and each of them applied on average is months before their departure.

Now that I’ve found myself an ancient civilisation, Petra in Jordan https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/ I’m after me a Machu Picchu.

And a Great Wall of China, Christ the Redeemer in Rio, Chichen Itza in Mexico and Taj Mahal… I’ve already got me a Colosseum. It was colossal.

I can’t say that they don’t all deserve their place but I’m just saying… no Acropolis? https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/21/acropolis-later/

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Give us this Day – hotel churches

Every hotel should have them… comfy beds, good showers, quiet, great vistas, and often, but not always, a TV. And obviously a church.

Which is where Francesca and her hotel in Sutri in the Lazio region of Italy, 70km outside of Rome, comes in.

Francesca is my babysitter on that leg of the 100km pilgrimage from Viterbo into Rome.

Which means that she has to show me the directions out of the village.

And onto the Via Francigena which means tutto diretto, always straight.

But, of course, she has to tell me twice… and inevitably I get lost and almost shot by a farmer shooting pheasants.

It happens.

And before she sent me on my way, she had to go into town early to get me plasters for my feet.

Charity begins at Rome

From my walk which was by then 5km longer than it should have been.

On account of me getting lost.

I would put on maybe 20 extra kilometres.

This being Italy and on the Via Francigena route charity is at the forefront.

And so back to the church.

It is a quirk, or an age-old custom, perhaps both, to have a church attached to their hotel.

And this is a working one, not like the church besides the Paradores hotel I stayed in recently.

Next to thE El Teide National Park in Tenerife.

Which for reasons unbeknown to me was locked.

Now there are few better ways to start a day than a quick quiet reflection.

On our place in the world among the hustle and bustle.

Now that can be a prayer in a church, or wherever your God lives, and a look outside and what He made.

OK, he seems to have given preferential treatment to the Italians, Il Bel Paese (the beautiful country).

But wherever you are in the world there are signs of his handiwork.

More hotels should have churches. After all who needs a gym?

Anyhow, to the important links… http://www.FrancigenaWays.com and http://www.CanariaWays.com.

And here are a couple of reminders of why walking the good walk is good for you and gets you closer to God.

And I don’t mean by almost bringing you nearer to death! https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/ And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

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Holiday Snaps – Step this way to Tenerife

I’ve had more than my fair share of stick… and sticks.

And stick about sticks.

But I’ve become dependant on them, and not just because there are more rings on my trunk now.

I do feel fitter now than I have done for some time and that is in large part down to the trekking trips I have been fortunate enough to go on in recent years.

I have to confess that on the first of those I sneered somewhat when I saw the oldies with their walking poles on their way to the Camino in Galicia in Spain.

But it was me who was left with egg on my face and pains in my calves.

My Dear Old Dad, a doctor by trade, was right when he would say that we all need a stick.

And there was a collection of them in our porch back in Chez Murty when I was growing up.

I added to that too when I transported an adorned and steel-tipped stick back from my fabled Oktoberfest trip. Along with a Stein and a medical bill!

Which my Dear Old Dad, James G as opposed to my James J, discovered when he ‘accidentally’ opened my mail some weeks later.

Walk in my footsteps

I make a point of grinning and bearing any pain abroad rather than going to the hospital now.

Not that any of that will befall you on your CanariaWays.com http://www.canariaways.com trip as you will have the best prep and back-up from your holiday provider.

All of which brings me to a trailer for my Tenerife trek which was published in The Herald newspaper this weekend an in case you missed it….

Here it is here… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/

And also to flag up these other Tenerife holidays… courtesy of TUI http://www.tuiholidays.ie.

Try seven nights over the Festive Season, and there are lots of quirky customs on the island.

From December 20, flying from Dublin to Tenerife and staying S/C in the 3* Globales Tamaimo Tropical from €719pps.

Or if those dates don’t suit, try January 3, from €409pps or January 17, from €419pps.

SNAP TO IT

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My Sporting Weekend – Marathons

What can you get done in under two hours? I’m struggling to even clean the house never mind run a marathon.

Eliud Kipchogi is top of the world today after becoming the first man to run the marathon in under two hours.

I do hope that the Kenyan has a big plate of apple strudel in front of him and a creamy hot chocolate… he deserves it.

It is clearly a victory for Eliud and his compatriots but it is also a victory for athletics after the Project Oregon and Alberto Salazar scandal.

That’s all music to my ears as athletics was my sport of choice and endeavour as a kid.

Great days with Ovett and Coe’s rivalry and when I Scottish Schools cross-country champion and Scottish Road Relay gold medalist.

The Scottish rebel Ovett.

The home of Marathon

I never got up to Marathon level… I’m sure Eliud is quaking in his trainers.

But I have visited the home of the Marathon,.

Or at least the finish point of those first Modern Olympics in 1896 when I visited Athens.

I thought about taking a detour from my organised trip to follow any of the signposts to the ancient town.

Not that the Greek soldier Pheidippides had any such help.

But he did know the terrain when he ran the 26 miles 385 yards to Athens to report the victory of the Battle of Marathon.

It took him about three hours we are told although he may have stopped for a kebab.

Marathon city breaks are increasingly popular with social runners.

Combining their 26 miles and 385kms around the world’s great cities with a couple of days to enjoy their success.

Athens, of course, is the jewel.

Yes, we hear of the London, New York and Chicago Marathons.

But the Athens Classic Marathon https://www.athensauthenticmarathon.gr/site/index.php/en/ is closest to the original.

It will be held on November 10.

So check out direct routes with major airline carriers.

Rather than the circuitous one I took last month through Munich.

But hey, ho, it gave me a story… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/24/holidos-and-donts-my-airport-manifesto/

And Athens gave me many more… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/21/sporting-weekend-fun-olympic-games/.

A little local knowledge

And when you’re there you might think about staying at the central InterContinental Athenaeum Athens, Syngrou Avenue.

I found rates of €123.84 for a superior room for the night for early November. http://www.intercontiental.com

Now these are the websites to follow… http://www.aia.gr, http://www.athensattica.com/things-to-see/museum/acropolis-museum,

And http://www.athensattica.com/things-to-see/sightseeing/acropolis, http://www.athensattica.com/things-to-see/sightseeing/lycabettus.

For some Athens Riviera action and you will want to wine and dine after the Marathon… http://www.discovergreece.com/en/mainland/attica/athens/athens-riviera.

There’s also a bit of a Greek tale around that stay in the InterContinental which all worked out well in the end and showed me how hospitable Greek people are.

But that can wait, I’m off to train for a marathon.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Rock and Soll

Alex Thomas belts out a mean tune in the Whiskymuhle in Soll, Austria…

As après ski punters throw shorts of Jagermeister down his throat to lubricate him.

He claims ‘You to me are everything’ as the greatest song of all time, accuses Paolo Nutini of cribbing ‘Losing My Religion’ for ‘Candy’ and refuses to sing Neil Diamond.

B know what ut nhe’s a diamond himself.

And you can give him a cheer on the slopes the next day… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/soll-mates/

I don’t know what rock groups Bressie’s The Blizzards and The Academic, who supported the Rolling Stones at Croke Park, are like and the first of those bands certainly have the name for it.

These two Irish favourites will headline the Soll Ski and Rock festival from January 15-18.

Braveheart spirit

Gordon and the Bravehearts (Scottish perhaps?) will play on the Wednesday, The Academic on the Thursday and The Blizzards on the Friday.

The festival will be run in conjunction with Ireland’s 2FM station http://www.rte.2fm.ie.

We all love a gig but of course you won’t be able to resist the lure of the skiing…

Soll will have a Ski Safari on the Wednesday, back to ski classes on the Thursday and a Hexen Challenge on the Friday.

Now I know Hexen from our Soll adventure but also from a previous drinking expedition, an adjunct to my much storied Oktoberfests in Munich in the Eighties…

Burning it up

It means witch and Hexengeist is something like witch ghost which sounds better in German.

You burn off the top of the schnapps and then drink it, a bit like Sambucca. It has some kick on it.

And I’m rather more adept at that than flying down the slopes, although in both cases I end up on my arse.

Fly to Munich, Salzburg or Innsbruck, all with easy access to Soll.

Book with http://www.wilderkaiser.info and http://wwwskiandrock.tirol.

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Whose cruise? Francis gets on board

Francis Brennan knows a thing or two about plush surroundings, and here’s a manor with a difference….

Ireland’s favourite hotelier has hit the high seas for a three-part series on a Baltic cruise with Princess Cruises http://www.princess.com.

Francis will board Regal Princess.

Where we will get an insight into what life is like for the ship’s 1400 crew members.

Francis will step into the shoes of three of the most senior onboard roles:

Entertainment Director, Hotel General Manager and Maitre’ D.

Seems like a lot of hard work to me and I’ve seen first hand on ship visits just how much these guys have to do…

All we have to worry about is keeping hold of our OceanMedallion key… I clip mine onto my beardie.

The staff (or new friends as I call them) ensure we get to relax by the pool..

Look out in the morning onto beautiful views from exotic balcony suites, and enjoy the entertainment on these hotels on the sea.

Francis gives us a teaser as to what’s in store for the series, the first episode of which airs on Sunday, October 20 at 9.30pm on RTE One.

”Of course I had a few obstacles to overcome and at one point, for the first time in my life, I was actually speechless.”

Francis will host a number of guided shore excursions.

Exploring all that the Baltics have to offer.

The ship will sail from Copenhagen… and here’s a glimpse of that wonderful city and Scandinavia. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/

Guests will take in Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Berlin and Oslo.

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Flyday Friday – Berlin

Christmas 1989 was a special festive season as Berliners celebrated the Fall of the Wall.

And relatives, east and west got together at last to celebrate something the rest of us take for granted.

Turkey and all the trimmings and to pull a cracker.

Of course Germany is the home of the Christmas Market and many of our Festive traditions come from Germany.

Such as Christmas Trees which we have Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert to thank for.

All across Germany there will be Christmas markets which put our own to shame.

Which is why many of us go out there to drink their hot wine, eat their apple strudel and munch on their Christmas sweet treats and cakes.

Aer Lingus, of course, is making life easier for us with special offers.

As part of their Christmas Markets promotion.

They are offering up to 30% off their wide range of cities.

Including the German capital from €45.99. Also see http://www.visitberlin.de.

Travel October 22-December 18. Book by October 14. www.aerlingus.com.

And if you’re as big a fan of Germany as I am then check out my thoughts on these cities (€35.99) Hamburgers and ships… and Dresden’s renaissance (fly to Berlin with BA) and arrange transport from there.

And some recent thoughts on Munich which is €39.99… Hungry and Thursday: The Munich Beerfest.

Played in Japan

Photo by Satoshi Hirayama on Pexels.com

The Rugby World Cup that is… at least when they’ve not angered the Gods and they send typhoons.

All of which is bad news for Scotland who are set to be kicked out of the tournament because their group decider against Japan is set to be cancelled because of the weather.

And that means the match is deemed a 0-0 draw and they will go out with Ireland and the hosts progressing.

My not so bonnie wee Scotland could have done with such an eventuality in Russia in the football.

But back to Japan. I can’t for the life of me see why they held the tourney there in Typhoon season.

It is though a country and culture well worth visiting.

And KLM are the carrier to take you. Try next month or December at €601 return http://www.klm.com. And here are some other things made in Japan https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/24/turning-japanese-2/

Must fly… but there will be another air deal taking off soon.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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Hungry and Thursday – Biscuits

They are one of life’s little treats – the moreish morsel that’s not just for Elevenses… the humble biscuit.

Or, maybe not so humble.

Take the Garibaldi which has a heroic place in history.

It’s no exaggeration to say that without the currant baked sandwich there would be no Modern Italian state.

The great Italian Nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi marched his revolutionaries south to Rome on the stomachs of his men.

In the Risorgimento in the 19th century.

Garibaldi’s soldiers were poor peasants and refuelled on sandwiches with currants.

The legend travelled with Garibaldi when he visited the north-east of England.

Walk this way

It’s a different package holiday, I grant you, but gorgeous landscape. And there they marketed the biscuit and it took off.

I was energised with Garibaldi biscuits on my heroic march into Rome on my Via Francigena, my 100km pilgrimage from Viterbo… Small roads lead to Rome.

Of course I didn’t know the country as well as Garibaldi.

And while I had planned to mark my entry into Rome with a paper cup of Chianti and a couple of Garibaldi buscuits atop one of the Seven Hills…

It didn’t go to plan as I hit a small wood and by the time I clambered my way out I was in the old Olympic Stadium.

But I did get to sit on the plinth of a Roman God… well, it’s the kind of company I deserve to keep.

FrancigenaWays http://www.francigenaways.com offers six nights’ 112km self-guided trip April to October, from €570.

Biscuits are my cup of tea, or coffee, but mostly tea. Or best of all una ciocolatta di calda densa, a thick hot chocolate.

I’ve shared with you this week the tale of the Stramberk Ears from Moravia in the Czech Republic… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/09/the-czech-republic-wish-you-were-ear/

And how the Moravians took to baking their honey-flavoured biscuits.

After finding bagfuls of Christian ears at the bottom of invading Mongolians’ stash. Visit http://www.czechtourism.com.

And now that I’ve let the biscuit out of the tin… I’ll dig out other timeless biscuit tales, of Anzac biscuits, Scottish shortbread, jammie dodgers….

Off to do some digging. And dunking.

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Get your skis on – on the slopes

It’s all downhill from here… and tobogganing and snowboarding and ski-jumping.

The snows were gathering on the peaks in Ehrwald in the Austrian Tirol on the last day of my Topflight www.topflight.ie walking trip last week.

Heralding the changeover when we start planning for the winter.

At the same time Topflight were dropping their winter brochure on my doormat.

Now while the holiday providers obviously go across the board with group ski and family ski as well I’m going to focus for now on first-time skiers.

I’ll zero in on the others in the coming weeks, it’s just that despite first strapping on the skis more than 30 years ago I must confess…

I haven’t come very far from being a first-time skier.

Now the best bit about Topflight is that they’re there to help and cut your costs.

And they don’t want you throwing money at a whole wardrobe of clothes and ski equipment.

Instead they advise you borrow clothes at the start until you know that you’ve got the bug.

I’m with them on that and also on the need for layers, good ski gloves and sunglasses and sunscreen.

Topflight offers a range of resorts for beginners including my old fave Soll where myself and the Scary One fell for each other…

Or was that fell out with each other?

You can read all about it here… Soll Mates.

Knowing that Andorra remains many people’s first ski experience let me look at Arinsal & Pal.

It has 63kms of piste and you’ll be wanting to get a Vallnord_Pal Arinsal pass.

This resort has built a strong reputation for getting newbies on their feet into their bindings and down the slopes.

I’ve picked out the Hotel Sant Gothard with half-board, massage facilities and a lively apres-ski bar and live music.

It’s just 800m from the resort with all its food, drink and entertainment options and 800m from the nearest lift.

The guide price is €729-€1329, based on two sharing and flying from Dublin.

The all-inclusive ski bundles are a good way to go with the first-time skier bundle from €339 for an adult and €160 for a child.

The bundles include six-days standard ski/board and boot hire, five days tuition (three hours a day) and a six-day lift pass.

So get your Topflight Ski & Snowboard brochure.

Try it, you’ll have bundles of fun.

MEET YOU ON THE SLOPES

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It’s The Czech Republic… wish you were ear

Most people bring back a mug, a bottle opener or a fridge magnet from their travels… the Mongolians, well they had a penchant for ears.

Yes, you read that right. And, no, they were not ornamental ears, if such a thing even exists, but actual ears.

And they were pretty precise about which ears too… they liked Christian ones.

Which went down like earache to the God-fearing Moravians in what is today the eastern Czech Republic.

And so, a tip to what to do when confronted with a Mongolian tourist.

Dig a pond and flood him out… well it worked for the Moravians at Kotouc Hill in 1241.

And when the waters abated the Moravians found that beside the Mongols were bags of Christian ears which they had been stashing like scalps.

To mark that victory the Moravians have been baking Stramberk honey-flavoured ears ever since.

Stramberk, or Little Bethlehem, has continued to keep God on side since with the Feast of the Ascension the highpoint of the biccy-making…

I nibbled on an ear or two when my Czech friends came a-calling to the Royal Hibernian Club on St Stephen’s Green this week… http://www.czechtourism.com.

They’re tasty… and even tastier with Czech beer, Moravian wine or Becherovka, the Czech tipple which was first dispensed by the chemist.

The Czechs have many myths, mores and customs which I discovered ahead of my trip to Prague and the Spa Triangle a couple of years back… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/24/czech-it-out-2/

The Triangle consists of the wonderful, wacky and life-affirming towns of Karlovy Vary, Marianske Lazne, below, Frantiskovy Lazne and Jachymov.

Where visitors and locals fill their sippy cup beakers with lukewarm and salty spring water which i turn cures a whole range of ailments.

The story goes that King Charles IV, the then Holy Roman Emperor had a hunting accident in Karlovy Vary.

But found a spring which magically cured his wounds.

I’d have diagnosed Czech beer myself which I swear could cure anything.

I find out something new every time I catch up with my Czech pals.

And it helps me set a new challenge for the next time I visit.

Such as bathing in beer while drinking more beer through a hose.

Now how many cans will I need. I’m off to draw a bath.

Nostravia!

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Cruiseday Tuesday – It’s a Boston Sea Party

Boston Harbor (without the u) was my backyard for a summer.

And I’d look longingly out to sea as I cleaned out the ice cream vats in Quincy Market in the humid heat.

I’d be daydreaming of those revolutionaries chucking tea into the water and blaming the Red Indians.

Back then I took one day off in 40 days and headed to Manchester, New Hampshire.

Instead of Cape Cod… I’d put it on the long finger and, like all things on that digit, I never got round to it.

So let me flag up American Holidays www.americanholidays.com to get you there.

And I reckon that if Cape Cod was good enough for the Kennedys!

AH’s Boston Cape Cod Stay and Bermuda Cruise is from €2,085pps.

You’ll spend three nights at the Midtown Hotel, Boston, with a seven-night cruise on Norwegian Gem.

Three nights Cape Codder Resort & Spa Hyannis with three days car hire.

Travelling April 2020.

Like Cape Cod I was on my way to the Bahamas but we didn’t get there… you will though.

Still it did give me more time on board Celebrity Cruises’ Edge, above… I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here. www.celebritycruises.ie.

My little Princess

It’s an occasion, the naming of a new ship.

And you have my permission to name the latest Leviathan Bandanaman after my ashes are one day scattered on the Seven Seas.

Princess has named its new ship Discovery which being of the Scottish variety gets the thumbs-up from me.

Discovery was the ship Captain Scott took to the Antarctic and can now be found in Dundee which titles itself City of Discovery.

Princess Discovery’s inaugural voyage is a seven-day Mediterranean and Aegean cruise from Rome to Athens next November 3.

It can be combined with the subsequent seven-day Athens to Barcelona voyage to form a 14-day Adriatic & Aegean Medley sailing.

Of course Rome, Athens and Barcelona are among the world’s great cities.

Here are some thoughts… Small roads lead to Rome, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/10/cruiseday-tuesday-11/.

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/23/surfing-the-seas-in-barcelona/.

And here’s a video on the naming of Discovery…. https://we.tl/t-iwpoCxuCYU. Also visit http://www.princess.com.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Holidos and don’ts – saunas and hammams

Reini thought nothing of seeing his parents in the nude when he was a kid… after all he was starkers too.

Sorry, before you have to gouge out your eyes and rinse your brain, let me explain.

We were walking the hills and the mountains of Austria and Germany on our Topflight http://www.topflight.ie trip to Ehrwald, Tirol and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

When the conversation got round to the sauna at our hotel http://www.sonnenburghotel.com.

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Where I had spent 20 minutes the previous evening in the company of Cork Sean and Cork Mick.

Who had kept their swimming shorts on, as did I.

We’re Scottish and Irish after all.

Put a Cork in it

Reini couldn’t understand though. After all don’t we all come into the world in the nude, he enquired, with his Austrian vertical smile.

Not, British or Irish people I argued.

Still, I am making progress and the following evening I went into the sauna again in the nude and if Cork Sean and Cork Mick had come in and seen me with my Mickey out then so be it.

I had overcome some of my reservations on a previous trip to Soll.

When I went to the sauna and saw everyone else was in the nude so I dispensed with said shorts.

I was blindsided a bit when a bulky Austrian Thirtysomething came in and sat down between me and his girlfriend.

Eyes forward and behave down there.

But at least it did give me the opportunity for a breakfast set-up the following morning.

When the Austrian couple sat down at the table next to us.

Did I have the nerve to say to her within earshot of the Scary One?: ‘Sorry, I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on?’

Go figure.

I love saunas and hammams, one of the best of the latter is in Istanbul http://www.cagalogluhami.com.tr where Florence Nightingale, Rudolf Nureyev, John Travolta, Kate Moss and East 17 go when they are in town.

This is what I thought of it all… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/

And you’ll get a nice cup of sweet, sweet Turkish tea after or if you’re so inclined a glass of Marmaris wine.

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Moanday Morning – cars and petrolheads

The Scary One hasn’t let me behind the wheel for more than a dozen years… and counting.

She’s as nervous as a kitten in the passenger’s seat and has been known to grasp the handle tightly.

Before we’ve even left the driveway.

And so too did the owner of the classic Fiat 500 on the French Riviera.

Drive on…. on the course in France

I had been excited to see that we were being given the opportunity to drive around the Cote D’Azur when our Cannes itinerary came in.

Alas, the gears were hands controlled and I stalled not une, deux, mais trois fois que temps.

So Pierre took the wheel. And drove us safely around the cliffs.

The conversation was clipped with your Bandanaman in le huff.

Not my car! On Wicklow Mountains

And yes, typical male, my pride was dented and I did not take in the scenery the way I should have.

Even when we got to the beach for our picnic.

Where I sulked and skimmed stones. I’d recommend it but it may very well already be your stress-reliever.

And I was back to myself when we got in a big boat later for the drive back to Cannes.

And no I didn’t get to drive that but none of us did so that was OK.

This is what happened when I joined the Fast Set in Cannes… The Boat D’Azur.

Not even in a golf buggy… in Portugal

And guess what? My erratic driving (see, The Scary One even has me believing it) isn’t confined to the roads.

My fellow golfers on The Old Course, Cannes, were left ducking at my driving.

And I failed to follow golf etiquette by shouting ‘Quatre’!

And in Quinto da Lago I almost drove the Ryder Cup buggy into the lake! http://www.quintodalago.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/

If you’re abroad and want your independence, and aren’t fazed by driving on the wrong side of the road, then go for Hertz… http://www.hertz.ie.

And maybe bring your Scary One with you.

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Holiday Snaps – Snappy dressing in New York

Now Macy’s is many people’s shopping dream and indeed for many women fashion is a key part of their New York trip…

Heck in this, the last rock in the Atlantic before Ireland which we like to call Ireland, weekend shopping breaks across to the Big Apple are a must-do.

For those who can afford it…

And for those who can’t.

I wouldn’t put my own Dear Old Mum in that category though very fashionable she is, even at 91.

Which reminds me of the last time we were in New York together, for my cousin’s wedding… here’s our extended clan above.

We had been assigned a very specific task by my brother to get chinos.

And having lived in North America he knew the exact American sizes.

When I asked my cousin where the nearest mall to him on Long Island was he said the black mall was nearer than the white mall.

I was aghast but he wasn’t being racist it’s just the way it is.

And another thing: the shoppers were super-super-sized.

Probably because they were tanking into the fast food.

It’s an economic thing where the poorer you are the more fast food you eat.

I’d had this reaffirmed to me in Mississippi, one of America’s poorest estate and home to the most popular drive-through burger joint. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/

But back to the other end of the spectrum to Macy’s and the woman I call Mum because that’s her name.

Browsing through the Guess coats in Macy’s http://www.macys.com for my Scary One Mum scoffed at my choice of a green coat.

And that she wanted me to tell her she had no part in its selection…

And Guess what, she’s still wearing it ten years later!

All of which nonsense is s roundabout way of flagging up Cassidy Travel’s Shop till you drop offer from €579pps.

That’ll be a three-night break with flights from Dublin.

Stay at the 3* the Manhattan at Times Square Hotel.

Flight departs December 9. http://www.cassidytravel.ie.

Start spreading the news

And here’s a different twist on NY… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/

And while you’re there, or before you go, check out https://www.nycvb.com and the excellent New York City Pass http://www.citypass.com.

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Holiday Snaps – Yoga around the world

I’ve just returned from Austria and Germany, as you know, after a Topflight http://www.topflight.ie hike around the Tirolian hills, with a 20-strong walking party which included some yogi.

No, not the smarter than the average bear type, but yoga teachers.

And take a bow Red Flash, below, Black Magic and Hot Yoga Hilary. Which, of course, is something that they can do better than the average Me who can’t even touch his toes.

Here were my thoughts on some Austrian food at the time… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/hungry-and-thursday-barbecues/

I’ll tell you more about this intrepid trio when I share with you my full grown-up review but for now let’s have a look at a yoga retreat in Croatia.

Courtesy of my friends at Travel Department http://www.traveldepartment.ie.

All you aspiring yogi will be spending your first night in Split on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast where I’ll be landing into God, and your accidental traveller willing, later this month. On my way to Medjugorje.

The remaining four nights of your TD holiday will be at Senses Resort on the relaxing, remote island of Hvar.

Aerial view at Hvar town in Southern Croatia, famous luxury travel destination in Europe, Mediterranean.

You will be based in a secluded resort in the charming village of Vrboska, close to pine forests, pebble beaches and the crystal blue Adriatic Sea.

There will be a total of seven yoga sessions, three every morning and three every evening, as well as a welcome Slow Flow and Guided Meditation.

It’s a stretch

I’m already feeling relaxed.

You will start each day by opening up the body/mind and getting energy flowing from tip to toe.

The morning classes will build to a relatively strong flow class, incorporating breath work and mindfulness throughout.

Evening sessions will focus on a particular section of the body, moving more deeply into it through specifically targeted postures.

And we are assured that all yoga sessions will be led by a yoga teacher from MOONSyoga.

And what’s more a yoga mat will be provided for all yoga sessions. 

Prices are from €829pp including return flights from Dublin, with five nights’ 4* B&B or half-board hotel accommodation.

You will get all your transfers, seven yoga sessions with an expert yoga instructor, daily breakfast and four evening meals. Departing May and October 2020.

For more information or to book, click here or call 01-6371633.

Yoga in Quinta

And I’ll maybe also tell you about the time I passed up World International Yoga Day in India to send a former yoga fan colleague of mine.

But in the meantime here’s a random pic of a couple of colleagues of mine in Quinta da Lago sports complex, The Campus, being stretched by a beautiful yoga teacher.

She got onto me too as you can see in the main pic. http://www.quintadolago.com. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/

It’s a hard life!

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Give us this Day – Oberammergau

God, the all-powerfuly deity, is a vengeful God, a loving God, and what I’m learning with every passing year, a needy God.

He likes, or needs, constant reassurance, acknowledgement and, in olden days, sacrifice.

Which is what Oberammergau is made for… the acknowledgement bit although their meat dishes are also delicious.

The good burghers of the Bavarian town have been running a Passion Play since 1634 when they made God a bribe.

To hold a Passionsspiele https://www.ammergauer-alpen.de/oberammergau in his name if only God would just stop smiting them down with the Black Plague.

Good as his word then the Great long-bearded, white-robed, sitting-on-a-cloud One then spared them the Plague.

Oberammergau is on the eve of its latest iteration of Passionsspiele http://passionsspiele-oberammergau.de which is held every ten years.

And its shops are pedalling religious memorabilia, walking sticks and crosses that the world’s most famous carpenter, sorry Gepetto, would have been proud of.

Oberammergau is a constant reminder, whether you’re in Passionsspiele or not, of the Plague.

They are beautifully displayed on the intricate murals of its walls and its fountains.

Which is why it’s surprising that the church I pop into, the Lutheran one, is so minimalist.

Half a million people will attend Oberammergau which has become even more inclusive in modern times.

With input even from Muslim artistic creators.

You’ll need to get a shoogle on to get tickets.

Pilgrims book well in advance for the Play and accommodation is limited.

The Play’s the thing

If you can make it, and My Dear Old Mum and my Godmother did, then it will be memorable.

But if you can’t then Oberammergau is still a captivating visit any time.

I took it all in on my trip last week with Topflight http://www.topflight.ie to Garmisch-Partenkirchen https://www.gapa.de/en in Southern Bavaria and Austrian Tyrol www.tyrol.com.

And if it’s on the 150th anniversary of its fire service then you’ll know it will go with a bang.

If you love Germany as much as I do then here are a couple of love letters… Dresden’s renaissance and Hamburgers and ships.

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This Sporting Weekend – Club shops

With apologies to Tottenham Hotspur fans everywhere this Saturday’s This Sporting Weekend comes to you by way of Bayern Munich bratwurst sausages.

Bayern, of course, are the pride and joy of Munich. And this being Bavaria they like to push their lederhosens.

Which is why their salt and pepper cellars are of a man and a woman in der lederhosen.

And why they have tins of white and brown sausages. Of course I dare say you can get steins too.

Which brings me in the kind of long-winded fashion of my fellow Scotsman Ronnie Corbett to tonight’s story.

I took a break from the drinking at the Oktoberfest to attend a Bayern Munich v Nuremburg match back in the mid-Eighties.,

It was a rather dull match which ended 1-0 to the home side.

But it was what happened afterwards that left a lasting mark.

Two Bayern women fans were giving each other pelters back at the Hofbrauhuis when gallantly I stepped in, only to cop a whack to the nose.

And my arse flying through the air and onto the ground outside courtesy of Helga the barmaid. For the second year running.

The next thing I knew I was getting my nose reset in the hospital before being sent out to get a taxi home. Only I didn’t know where.

Taxi fair

It was by sheer good luck that the cabbie figured that it must be where all the other saddos were camping and I was reacquainted with the Aussies and Kiwis who had become my bus mates.

Otherwise I might have had to stay in Munich.

I’ve been keeping you updated with my adventures through Munich airport but here’s a recap of the most recent… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/04/flyday-friday-das-airport-toilets-herren-und-damen/

I’ve found this wunderbar deal via http://www.lastminute.com for three nights for October 14 at the Novum Hotel Munchen Am Hauptbanhof including Ryanair flight http://www.ryanair.com from £218pp.

And look out for me at the airport… I’ll probably still be there, gasping my way up to the gate from the men’s loo three flights down.

Football crazy

Of course club shops, many of which are at airports, tap into the local culture.

And so in Scotland you will be able to buy Scotch whisky with the crests of their two biggest clubs Celtic and Rangers.

While across England you can choose from Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City, Arsenal, Spurs or Chelsea paraphernalia.

While in Amsterdam you’ll get all kinds of sundries with clogs and cheese https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/.

Barcelona has Lionel Messi on everything https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/23/surfing-the-seas-in-barcelona/ and Roma https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/ has gladiators.

It’s all great fun.

Americans do things differently and love a good foam finger (steady!) but also baseball players with noddy heads.

Meet my Washington Nationals’ batter Jayson Werth who has obviously been taking lessons from yours truly… http://Easy DC.

Now, if only they could guarantee the team would win too.

MEET YOU ON THE PITCH

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Holiday Snaps… It’s Georgia, the love getaway

I’m headin’ down the Atlanta Highway

Lookin’ for the love getaway

Headed for the love getaway, love getaway

I got me a car, it’s as big as a whale

And we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack

The B-52s

Where you might just find your favourite Travel buddy.

I caught one of Georgia’s finest, The B-52s, last year at the American Travel Fair http://www.ipw.com.

Now they are more like The B-152s by now but they still had us rocking in the aisles.

Georgia, being in the Deep South, is infused with music and heritage.

Athens is home to angst kings REM, while James Brown, the Godfather of Soul is from Augusta.

Which just goes to prove that it’s there are some natty dressers there and it’s not all just v-necked golf jerseys.

Otis Redding also famously left his home in Georgia headings for the Frisco Bay only to sit on its deck.

Otis, methinks, was wasting’ time though. He’d have been better off staying put in Georgia though.

So why am I telling you all this? Because of the launch of the Macon Music Trail.

Now I like an oul’ Deep South Music Trail and the Blues Trail in Mississippi is one you shouldn’t miss http://msbluestrail.org.

And its accompanying review from a certain someone https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/.

Photo by Diane Webb on Pexels.com

Macon lies in the centre of Georgia which is why I guess it is called ‘the heart of Georgia.’

It is 85kms from Atlanta which is a hub airport and hence well served from these islands. Visit http://www.google.com/flights.

To learn more about the Macon Music Trail and explore, visit www.maconmusictrail.com

For more information the latest news, developments and events in Georgia, visit www.exploregeorgia.org.

And for all things America visit http://www.visitusa..ie.

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Holiday Snaps – the WB Yachts

In one of my more inspired moments I christened the new Irish Ferries ship WB Yachts, a twist on the Irish Nobel-winning poet WB Yeats.

They had invited us to give their new ship a name and were offering free travel for life to the winner.

And it had to be on an Irish theme, with their other ships already boasting literary names.

What’s in a name?

And so I lodged the name in my old newspaper column Holiday Snaps from where your even snappier Blog-ready Holiday Snaps derives.

Imagine then my incredulity when the less snappier WB Yeats won the competition.

Which was something I cheekily brought to their attention when they invited me on earlier this year.

WB Yachts, WB Yeats? It’s still an incredible boaty.

And you can get 10% off bookings next summer to France if booked before December 3.

Available on return bookings from March 28 until September 30. 

The WB which carries 1,800 passengers from Dublin to Cherbourg in Normandy has as you would expect a Yeats theme running through it.

There’s the high-end Lady Gregory Restaurant, above.

The less formal but tasteful Maud Gonne Bar & Lounge, below.

And The Abbey & The Peacock Cinema and Lounge.

And here’s a couple of things that will really float your boat… unlimited luggage and free wi-fi.

Now Yeats is the only poet who I can recite a whole poem from which I can only verify by videoing myself and sharing.

But you’ll be happy to know that I won’t be inflicting my rendition of An Irish Airman Foresees His Death here.

I am reminded now of my old University lecturer George Watson.

A proud native of the North, he kept us enthralled with his witty takes on the great Irish writers.

And he cheekily ended his précis on WB Yeats’ love life by saying: ‘He never did get over Maud Gonne.’

For more information and to book visit www.irishferries.com.

And for more cruise and ferry news remember Tuesday is Cruiseday..

See https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/01/cruiseday-tuesday-hiya-hawaii/

As a winner of our French Travel Awards it is a country I know well and am getting to know even better…

French treats

See https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-dazur/,

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/

As well as https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/06/the-other-lourdes-a-castle-eagle-and-fish/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/28/lourdes-pyrenees-give-us-this-day/

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Flyday Friday – Das airport toilets Herren und Damen

I feel I know Franz J Strauss better now than my own wife.

Having spent a good bit of time with him on four visits to his airport in the last couple of weeks.

Franz J is not from the illustrious musical Strausses, the elder of whom gave his name to Vienna Airport.

He was in fact a former President of Bavaria.

And were he alive today I’d want to ask him why men have to walk down three flights of stairs beside Gate B15 to get to the loo.

Hopping on one leg

While the women’s lav is on the same level.

You see it’s just that I don’t want to be caught with my pants down running up the steps.

To try to catch my connecting flight…

Again.

I’ve flown Lufthansa http://www.lufthansa.com out from Dublin and then Lufthansa operating with Aegean.

Or I should have done had I not missed that connection and, luckily thanks to Dani, was given a later connection when I missed that.

Then Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com out now and Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com back.

Choose from these or any other major airline. I’m trying to complete the set. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/01/hungry-and-thursday-the-munich-beerfest/

Dublin or Dubai?

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

Talking of our national airline carrier… they want to fly out for less.

Pitching their latest offer as ‘From Madrid to Munich, Malaga to Manchester, you can save up to 30% on winter flights’ got me thinking about being in two places at once.

Apart from the fact that I struggle to be in one place at once.

But while I was away in Austria I could have been in Dubai where I was invited to or Madrid which also cam my way.

Neither of which I have visited but hope to for different reasons.

In fact I very nearly did find myself in the queue for Dubai… those pesky abbreviations.

Qatar’s the star… and Sydney too

Opera in the buff. Photo by Mudassir Ali on Pexels.com

All the Middle Eastern airways will fly you out there to that metropolis and further afield such as Australasia.

Now you won’t see it in this picture but my mate Fugee lives next door to the Sydney Opera House.

Fugee, or Ian as he was my Sports Editor (no, it was actually pretty much always Fufee) was the best manager I’ve ever had.

On account of him pushing me to get on the slippery career ladder. Before the bloody thing was pulled away from me a couple of months ago.

Heck, every cloud and all that and that’s why you’re reading these tales now.

Anyhoos, Qatar Airways http://www.qatarairways.com will fly you to Sydney for £733pp.

Now Qatar has been on our radar because Scotland are going to be there for the World Cup in three years time!

Remember Saturdays are This Sporting Weekend in your all-action Travel blog so make sure you’re there when the whistle blows….

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/28/sporting-weekend-helping-you-over-the-line/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/07/this-sporting-weekend-internationals/

Ryanair flyin’ there

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Of course it’s not just Ryanair who do red eyes but you’ll find the best fares bang in the middle of the morning so if you can handle not having any sleep.

Ryanair has up to €30 off return flights on a half a million sets to a bunch of destinations.

Including Athens from €14.99.

I’d have fancied that a couple of weeks ago instead of being stuck in Munich airport!

The offer is for travel, October to May 2020. The offer ends Midnight on Sunday.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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More Austrian toilet humour – flushing

They came from far and wide to the cable car station above Ehrwald to see this feat of lavatorial science.

The Austrians are like that, they like a loo joke and this revolving toilet seat is right up there.

On inspection the other loos didn’t have the blue button that activates it so I’d recommend arriving early so as not to be disappointed.

I’m afraid to say that I had nothing to deposit… I had still to line my tummy with Tirolean sausages.

And anyway I’d only gone in for a No.1.

Who am I kidding? I’d been tipped off about the local lav by a member of our party on our Topflight trip to Ehrwald www.topflight.ie.

Not that you’d be left short had you just gone in for a pee.

The Tiroleans http://ehrwald.tirol.gv.at line the walls of the gents above the cubicles with wholesome and pigtailed young women.

In traditional and tight-fitting costumes.

One is holding a pretzel, another is holding four or five steins of lager.

I held my nerve.

And caught up with my party to climb some mountains.

What surprises could they have in store for me up there?

And here are some more musings about Ehrwald and neighbouring Bavaria.

Austrian toilet humour. And Water rip-off – a German pit stop. And Soll Mates.

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Give us this Day – The Vatican, a confession

In a side chapel in the Vatican you would expect the All-Seeing One to be keeping tabs on you.

And when she texts me to give out about how much I’ve been spending on roaming charges on my Via Francigena… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/. http://www.viafrancigena.com.

Well, the silent worshippers turn round and give me the evils.

The Vatican may be the smallest state in the world but it is the richest both in denarii, art and spirit.

Where Rome meets the Vatican. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We all know the statues of the Apostles, St Paul’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

Even if we have never made the pilgrimage to the Vatican.

But that is just scratching the surface of the Vatican.

In the vaults there is even more art, wealth and history.

Although I won’t be allowed to visit on this occasion regardless of how lost I get.

I will though get to confess both the sins I have committed and those that I am about to transgress.

Confession boxes are positioned around the Vatican with flags on top denoting which language you can say sorry in.

The Castello Sant’Angelo which has a secret passageway from the Vatican

I receive a good hearing and I think a rather less lenient penance than the ones I’m used to in Scotland and Ireland.

No sooner had I completed the second of my Hail Marys, got up from my kneeler and genuflected than I was off.

Holy Water of life

And sinning again.

Scooping holy water from the fount and into my plastic bottle.

And, yes, if I’m going to sin I shouldn’t use plastic.

And so begins a devilish obsession that has taken hold of me: going to confession abroad and then going off to take some holy water.

Visit https://www.vaticancityguide.org. And http://www.vaticantickets.org

We all have a cross to bear. In La Laguna, Tenerife

Here’s another confessional in the Cathedral in La Laguna in Tenerife… but this pastor didn’t have English. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/04/a-walk-in-the-park-tenerife/.

And I had to ask what the Spanish for adultery, murder and fraud was.

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Sporting weekend – helping you over the line

New world champions will be crowned this week and new records broken but there will be nobody more heroic than Aruba 5,000m runner Jonathan Busby.

Or more sporting than Guinea-Bissau’s Braima Suncar Dabo.

Now stop for a minute, as Dabo did, and think about the sporting sacrifice that he made in interrupting his own race to help his staggering fellow athlete get over the line.

In the searing heat of Doha, Qatar.

High temperatures. Doha, Qatar. Photo by Dipin Das on Pexels.com

Athletics was my first, and still my best, sporting endeavour and it became my manual for life.

Give your all, never give up no matter how hard the road gets, and always champion your fellow runners.

If you break your personal best then that’s your victory.

If you finish second last when you’re used to being last then that’s a triumph.

Fun run: And no wilting heat. Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

And if you are last but beat your best then hat’s off to you.

On the occasions my Dear Old Dad, a sporting nut, did see me compete in anything I overcompensated big time.

I was a Scottish Schools athletics winner but it didn’t stop me tearing off like a bat out of hell at the start of the 3,000m Steeplechase only to run out of steam and inevitably get past by everyone.

Flying high: Qatar Photo by Carlos Pernalete Tua on Pexels.com

I was devastated but looking back now, I finished.

Of course your health always comes first and there are athletes dropping like flies in the Qatar heat and humidity.

This is the wrong time to hold such feats of sporting endurance. I only hope that the World Cup there in the winter of 2022 will be less taxing.

Flying high

All of which should not take away from Qatar as a destination.

Qatar Airways are the people to go with http://www.qatarairways.com, fly from London Heathrow. Both here and to the Far East and Australia.

As a sample of the Maldives which I know and love… from £684pp https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/

The eyes of the sporting world are on Japan at the moment with the Rugby World Cup. And Qatar have Tokyo premium ticket from £2388pp.

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Holiday Snaps – Croat of arms

I’m checking out Croatia for the first time next month, a land of natural beauty, a museum of Broken Relationships, and a funky flag.

I’ll get back to the Museum of Broken Relationships in a minute, but first the drapery.

Three horizontal bands of colour, red, white and royal blue looks like the Netherlands flag.

Keepsakes: Museum

Until…

You see that distinctive red and white checked coat of arms with a crown on top in the middle.

The checks have given life to one of the most distinctive international football tops out there.

But where did it come from?

Well legend has it that it derives from a chess game between King Drzislav and the Doge of Venice for the lands that are now Croatia.

Very Chris de Burgh and Spanish Train, and the Lord and the Devil!

Bright and beautiful: Zagreb

The good news is that Drzislav won best of three.

The good people of Croatia came to see us last year, including the Deputy Prime Minister.

And they told us about the Museum of Broken Relationships and the cannon which fires paper every day.

The MoBR was the brainchild of Olinka and Drazan who came up with an ingenious solution to how to divvy up their stuff after they broke up.

Fabulous forests: Zagreb

They formed a museum www.brokenships.com which has proved so successful that the Yanks got on board opening their own in Los Angeles.

Of course, LA is a Pandora’s box of delights as I discovered earlier this year…

So have I sold Croatia to you?

Flag happy: Croatia fans

Croatia Tours has a three-night Zagreb city break, departing November 28, €499. https://croatia.ie/croatiaspecials.asp?emailID=0AA258B7-E0F9-4674-9BF7-125799552D97.

And if you can’t wait until then it is also offering seven nights B&B in Sibenik and the Dalmatian Coast, staying in the 4* Bellevue Superior City Hotel with a View Room.

From October 10-17, €950pps.

And visit http://www.croatia.ie for all the best offers.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD.

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Holiday Snaps – Leo’s LA story

Have we had our fill of our leader, Leo Varadkar, our Taoiseach, here in Ireland?

Here he is in Los Angeles with Tourism Ireland obscuring the word ‘fill’ in the slogan ‘fill your heart with Ireland.’

Like Leo, I’m an LA fan, and a Tourism Ireland one too.

So, of course, I was there at the launch of ‘fill your heart’ where they showcased a Dutch guy in their video with a heart monitor going around Ireland.

And I happily tell the Americans when I visit their Travel fair www.ipw.com every year.

Leo Varadkar with Michael Kennedy, Aer Lingus; Shane Clarke, Tourism Ireland; and Mike Hawe, Isle Inn Tours,

This year, of course, the fair was in Anaheim and I brought you all that was happening… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/. And http://Stair Wars.

LA and a cruise

Now you might think looking from afar that America and Mexico were squabbling neighbours.

But not all traffic between the two countries is of the illegal sort. In fact it is a well-trodden route for tourists going both ways.

You want to get on the road too. And American Holidays will help http://www.americanholidays.com.

Star of Hollywood: With Donald Duck

They have a Los Angeles Stay and 5-nights Mexican Riviera Cruise from €1,119pp.

All flights are included from Dublin to Los Angeles. You’ll get two nights say in the Garland, Los Angeles, and five nights on Royal Princess cruse ship… http://www.princess.com.

You’ll be travelling in February of next year.

And here’s what I think of Princess from their recent stop-off in port… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/30/cruiseday-tuesday-the-princesss-medallion-man/.

Now back to ‘Fill Your Heart with Ireland’.

I’m an Angel: In LA

It was rolled out on major American television networks – including NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC – in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Hartford, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Seattle, during the summer.

The campaign was specially timed to better align with when American travellers start searching for fall and winter vacation ideas.

Keep up the good work Tourism Ireland.

And with Holiday Snaps getting even snappier, watch out for more Holiday Snaps through the weekend.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Hello Halloween!

Tried to get hold of the mother-in-law the other day but she was busy.

On a totally related issue… Halloween is the next big festival on the radar.

And I’ve scared up these offers…

We’ll get to the new world of Halloween, America, later but first let’s drop in on Dracula… if he’s up.

Kane’s Travel has five nights Halloween in Transylvania on October 29 from €649pps.

A Mackin Travel tour leader will accompany you on sightseeing walking tours and day trips around.

And take you to more macabre sights at Castle Dracula and the Tomb of Dracula. 

Spooky… Photo by Ashutosh Sonwani on Pexels.com

You’ll stay in a 4-star hotel in Sinaia, visit Castle Pelisor in Sinaia, enjoy a day trip and short walking tour in to the medieval city of Brasov.

And, of course, spend time in Dracula’s Castle and sample a day trip to Targoviste, and the Tomb of Dracula.

And intriguingly they’re offering you a clove of garlic.

I keep some here.

For more information visit http://www.itaa.ie/2019/09/24/halloween-in-transylvania-from-e649. And visit http://www.itaa.ie.

Now kids and big kids love getting scared, but not all of us.

So for something a little less spooky SeaWorld Parks in Tampa Bay has Sesame Street Safari of Fun Kids’ Weekends throughout October.

And, of course, you know how much I like a good oul’ pun so I jumped on the Not-Too-Spooky Howl-O-Ween Radio Show which features Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Zoe, Grover, Oscar and Elmo.

There is a scavenger hunt and a chance to meet Bert and Ernie on the Spooky Safari on October 12 and 13.

And make safari-inspired Halloween crafts.

For this and much more, SeaWorld has this offer:

Its ticket is the Discovery Cove Ultimate Package which includes a one-day reservation at Discovery Cove.

SeaWorld isn’t all scary

What’s the spook offer?

With 30-minute dolphin swim experience, meals and snacks included.

Plus 14 days unlimited entry to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica Orlando.

With free parking included at all the parks.

Prices start from €223pp. For more visit http://www.seaworldparks.co.uk. And here’s a taster of what it’s like to play your heart out… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/aaawlando-orlando-the-rollercoaster-capital/.

Aer Lingus flies to Orlando. Check out best prices…. http://www.aerlingus.com.

And for more Halloween goodies, here’s a reminder of where Halloween is really from and what we have planned. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/30/happy-halloween/.

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Flyday Friday – Ryanair flyin’ where?

One of my favourite things around the house (The Scary One, of course) is my globe.

Particularly when one of those destinations crop up on the Ryanair roster for summer 2020 which I’ve never heard of.

Palanga is one, Podgorica another. I was concentrating in Geography class when Verona and Marseille came up.

Palanga, I learn, is a resort dunes resort with an L-shaped pier, restaurants and bars and a neo-Renaissance palace.

It houses the Palanga Amber Museum, and we all know its healing qualities.

Beach life. Lithuania

The Baltic states have come more onto the agenda in recent years, not least because of Ryanair.

And yet some people still get confused, or infused by booze, such as the journo who went to Lithuania and wrote a great article on Latvia.

Palanga is from €60.99 flying out of Dublin, €64.99 from Pogdorica (it’s in Montenegro), Marseille, €35.99, Verona €64.99.

Visit www.ryanair.com.

Big in Japan

Phew, no baby. www.pixels.com

Rugby fans have been flying around Japan.

And we’ve given them the airplane etiquette guide courtesy of Emirates www.emirates.com and Nigel Owens Emirates and ref Nigel on airplane etiquette.

As if they’ll pay any heed of that.

It makes all the difference if you have the right person next to you on your flight.

Which is why Japan Airlines www.jal.com have nailed it with their booking plan where you can see a child icon on the seating.

And so can then avoid being next to those seats when you come to book.

One suggestion… a rugby ball on your seat plan to flag up rugby louts on the plane!

Touchdown New York

And he’ll be there. Donald’s home city

My cousin Eddie the Fireman reluctantly showed our aunts the calendar with a picture of his bare torso, on a visit to Ireland.

Eddie has always been that shy, retiring sort.

I stayed with him and his family on my first visit to New York and watched him play quarterback for his school.

Touchdown! The NFL season is back. Eddie’s team are the Giants, our other cousins are NY Mets fans.

Aer Lingus is offering a 4* NY getaway from €602pp.

Return flights from Dublin to NY, three nights in the 4* Row NYC Hotel.

It is also offering up to €100 saving on North American return flights. www.aerlingus.com. Ends Monday.

And there’s my take on NY on this site… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/

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Emirates and ref Nigel on airplane etiquette

An old schoolmate was giving out about rugby referee Wayne Barnes and his handling of the Scotland v Ireland World Cup rugby match.

His contention was that we (Scotland) never get anything from Wayne.

Now far from me ever wanting to defend referees but I think Scotland can succeed in losing to anyone all on their own.

In an effort to make referees appear more human World Cup sponsors Emirates http://www.emirates.ie have this natty and amusing video.

With refereeing legend Nigel Owens at its heart reminding passengers of airplane etiquette.

Listen to the ref: Nigel Owens and Tommy Bowe in Dublin

The first of the videos with an Irish fan is on https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cm4dvKiKNNM&feature=youtu.be

And the second Is here… https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=JLpGV-ytNtY

Coming back to my pal Mark’s nemesis, Wayne Barnes.

And I had the pleasure of listening to Ireland rugby hero Tommy Bowe interview him back in Dublin.

And he told us that back in 2007 after he had refereed the New Zealand v France match, the last time the All Blacks were beaten in the WC, he was voted the second most hated man in NZ.

High and mighty. Is that hold legal? Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius on Pexels.com

After Osama Bin Laden.

Now there is a belief, mostly perpetrated by the egg-chasers, that rugby players don’t pull the same strokes as footballers.

However, I’m reminded of a particularly tight Calcutta Cup game at Murrayfield which I was reporting on.

It’s fine when there’s no-one next to you. Air travel. Photo by Sourav Mishra on Pexels.com

When an Englishman put his hand in the ruck and then called foul.

And the ref fell for it.

Remembering the rugby code of mild acquiescence Scotland captain Gavin Hastings told us later.

‘It’s all part of life’s great tapestry.’

Up, up and away

When you’re 15,000ft up in the air then it’s difficult to keep tabs on what’s happening on the field of play down below.

And so it was a Godsend to the Gaelic football fans of Dublin and Kerry when the steward told them at the end of our flight to Tenerife that the All-Ireland final had been a draw.

It was the perfect result and probably averted an all-out riot between the Dublin and Kerry fans on board.

But you needn’t have to wait until the plane lands before you find out the result.

Yes, everyone wants a passenger’s seat. Photo by edwin josé vega ramos on Pexels.com

Emirates is screening matches live on its sports channel Sport 24.

So not even 15,000ft up in the air will I be spared the inevitable drubbing for the Scots.

Emirates has two flights daily from Dublin to Dubai.

The airline also offers a daily A380 flight to Osaka, a daily A380 flight to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

And a Boeing 777 flight to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, providing easy connectivity via the airline’s Dubai hub.

Now, remember for all other flight entertainment, then this is the blog to be on and Flyday Friday is the day God (or me) made for it.

Geisha look at this: Japan. Photo by Satoshi Hirayama on Pexels.com

See https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/20/flyday-friday-averting-a-greek-disaster/,

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/13/flyday-friday-virgin-vs-.

And back to Emirates… plastic/https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/06/flyday-friday-emirates-and-the-rugby-world-cup/

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Hungry & Thursday – Dishy Rihanna

I was happier behind the video camera which is unusual, I grant you.

After getting my hand smacked the last time there was a Bajan cookery lesson.

My Bajan friends were back in town, cooking, mixing cocktails and dancing.

So it would have been rude not to join in when the music started.

Particularly as I’d some spicy Bajan food and rum punch to burn off.

Now the thing I found out in Barbados is that rum can be a vital ingredient in the food. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

Breakfast of champions

I even found it in the sweet treats at the breakfast buffet on my first trip to Barbados (and the bread) for Crop Over, their carnival.

The best breakfast I had was made by my friend Donna who hosed myself and her husband Jevan down, washing off the paint and mud, after Foreday Morning. Before filling us with carbs.

And I then went down to Sandals for my second breakfast http://www.sandals.co.uk/barbados.

Now over to Ruby, and a cookery lesson at Club Barbados http://www.clubbarbados.com on the Platinum West.Coast on my Tropical Sky http://www.tropicalsky.ie trip to the Caribbean.

Cou-cou is on the menu. It is Barbados’s national dish.

The thing is that you stir the cou-cou, okra or cornmeal, with a 1ft cricket bat-style (it’s their national sport) cou-cou stick.

Which is what Ruby is wielding here.

Eat your cou-cou as an accompaniment to flying fish.

And here’s some rum punch which will be thrust into your hand the moment you land on the island.

As made by our cool as ice mixologist on the night in Dublin this week.

It’s about three minutes so you might want to get your Mount Gay, which means rum, out and pour yourself a rum and coke while you watch.

Now there’s a lot going on in Barbados, culinary, slow tourism, adventure tourism (scuba, snorkel, in fact any kind of water sports).

It is 10 years of Barbados Food & Rum from October 24-27 http://www.foodandrum.com. Also visit http://www.visitbarbados.org.

And check out the road tennis!

As they say on Barbados…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Cruiseday Tuesday – the naked truth

I was a more attractive proposition than the previous candidate for the spare room in the girls’ Belfast home – I promised to keep my clothes on.

The guy before me was a naturist.

The thing is that naturism depends on everybody being in on it,

Now there is every type of cruise on the planet so you won’t be surprised to hear that there is one as well for naturists… https://cruisebare.com.

I‘m breathing in: On board Oasis of the Seas

Though I was and am indebted to my friends at Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com for putting me onto this.

Not that I’m going to suggest it to The Scary One.

Although it does look as if it has a plus side in that you never have to worry about getting into your penguin suit or cocktail dress to sit at the captain’s table.

I’m not even going to ask if that’s a thing on this cruise ship.

I usually like to keep my clothes on when I go cruising.

Although I was almost caught with my pants down from the surf simulator FlowRider on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas in Barcelona. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/23/surfing-the-seas-in-barcelona/

Drink Canaria dry

As you’ll all know by now I spent a thoroughly enjoyable few days walking, talking, swallowing and swallying in Tenerife with www.CanariaWays.com.

And I will be compiling it all in a grown-up article.

Tenerife calling

However you get there, get to Tenerife.

TUI is offering Marella Cruises on the Explorer, inside cabin, all-inclusive seven nights from €995pps. http://www.tui.ie.

It just clicks

Now Click&Go http://www.clickandgo.com are a mighty fine holiday provider and will feel genuinely proud of picking up their Best Cruise performance for Rest of the World from Royal Caribbean at an awards ceremony in Waterford.

But there’s no point in me being modest. I’m thinking that my performance at a particular Karaoke bar of Chuck Berry’s Memphis, Tennessee would surely deserve at least joint billing.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Holidos and don’ts – my airport manifesto

I’m back in Munich Airport on Sunday… I feel I never left.

My luggage didn’t.

Well, maybe not didn’t, but certainly a good day after I got back to Ireland.

Hey ho, that I can handle, there were after all seven of us in the same boat if I can mix my metaphors.

I feel my misadventures in Munich Airport have prepared me for whatever pitfalls may yet befall me on Sunday.

Boy in the bubble: At Dublin Airport

But there will always be some I’ll repeat or have yet to encounter.

And so I have prepared a manifesto for airports and airlines everywhere.

But remember we can be proud of our big four on this island of Ireland www.dublinairport.com, www.shannonairport.ie, www.corkairport.com and www.belfastairport.com.

While Donegal Airport http://www.donegalairport.ie was voted the most scenic airport in the world for the second year running by PrivateFly, a private jet booking service…

See www.privatefly.com.

But here’s where we can get better,

Subsidiaries of airlines

Check, check and check again. Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

1: Don’t be shy. Shout your name on the booking and not just on the small print.

It will save confusion when you ask at the airport and you get directed to the headline airline.

And you find that the two airlines go to the same destination 15 minutes apart.

And the only way to make your destination is if you are Usain Bolt and the train connection to the other gate is on time.

Because I can’t always depend on Dani being on the customers service desk to get me on the next flight www.lufthansa.com. www.aegeanair.com.

Open up more check-in desks

That’s right… every desk filled. Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

2: Why is there always one unmanned (or unwomanned)?

And one clueless, selfish bloke is shoring up one of the two desks when you’ve only got 15 minutes.

To find your gate, in a foreign airport, with primarily Greek lettering signage.

Airport taxis

Phew, made it. Photo by JÉSHOOTS on Pexels.com

3. Make sure your taxi doesn’t turn up late.

To your hotel when you’ve only got 45 minutes to get to the airport.

OK, that’s not the airport’s fault.

Provide segways

Good for an airport: In Malta

4. Or at least fast and slow walking lanes.

I swear the walkway when you land in Dublin to customs gets longer every time I come through.

See Nos 1 and 3.

Provide some phone points

I’ve found one: An airport plug-in.

5. So that when it all goes Pete Tong you can charge your phone to get on the app…

To rearrange your flight, or, yes it’s old-fashioned but… phone your wife for a confidence booster.

In fact this is Nos 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

12: Leave a book of Greek poetry

It’s all Greek to me

For those of us who took Ancient Greek at school!

Like they did at Kythera airport in the Attica region from where we visited Aphrodite’s birthplace www.kythera.gr/en.

Turk that

13: Turkish Airlines Business Lounge

On the right track: Istanbul Airport

You can improve on perfection.

Turkish Airlines’ http://www.turkishairlnes.com business lounge in the new Istanbul airport, an ideal hub, though I’d say you’d be tempted to stay in Turkey’s biggest city.

That is if you ever leave the airport with its golf simulator, grand prix games track, banquets of food and drink and cinema.

And much, much more.

I also had the privilege of being shown around TA’s headquarters.

And shown all that goes on behind the scenes… Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

And remember every Friday is Flyday Friday… avert a Greek tragedy.

The best of course: Turkish Airlines Business :Lounge in Istanbul

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Thomas Cook… an update

As 150,000 holidaymakers wait to go home to the UK and around 600,000 are affected worldwide, it is worth championing and defending the lifeblood of our industry…

The Travel Agent.

We owe a huge debt to Thomas Cook who 178 years ago launched the package holiday.

His company though has been liquidated because it cannot fill the £200m gap in its finances.

Which means that 20,000 jobs are at risk and your holiday may have been cancelled.

And so then, some help from one of our holiday providers.

You’re on holiday

Meet the locals: Barbados

If you are in a resort and your booking was made with Thomas Cook through American Holidays, your booking will continue as planned.

AH’s local office in North America will get in contact with you directly (local time).

Or if you want to contact them you can call +1 888 345 5252.

You have a booking

A Minnie-break: In Florida

You may be able to continue as planned with little or no additional cost.

So you should call the Belfast office on 028 90 511871 or Dublin on 1 433 1060.

Give the name in which the booking has been made in and your departure date handy. 

Do I have a booking?

Sarong, but so right: The Maldives

But you’re not sure if you are booked with American Holidays for Thomas Cook holidays?

So you should check your invoice or documentation from Thomas Cook and see if you are listed.

If you are still not sure, call the Belfast office on 028 90 511871 or Dublin on 1 433 1060.

Thomas Cook Flights

A South African township

If your booking has Thomas Cook Flights on it, it was not booked through American Holidays.  

For all other queries ring the main reservation numbers:  Belfast: 028 90 511800. Dublin: 01 433 1060. 

AH says that If your Thomas Cook Flights or Package Holiday has been cancelled, American Holidays can help re-book your packages.

To the USA, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Indian Ocean destinations (Maldives, Mauritius, etc), Africa, Asia, and all cruise destinations.

And here are a few samples of what some of these great destinations have to offer across the board and which AH also serve…

Dream destinations

Florida… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/aaawlando-orlando-the-rollercoaster-capital/,

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/.

Vegas is a rush too… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/vegas-strip-the-light-fantastic/

While this will give you the rundown on the Maldives. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/

And Africa can look something like this… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/

Our agents

What happens in Vegas…

For American Holidays, you can call 028 90 511800 with your Thomas Cook documentation handy.

Including passenger names and dates of travel.

For more information visit https://www.americanholidays.com/en-gb/faq/

And to our Irish Travel Agents Association who do so much for our industry…

Keep up the good work. Visit http://www.itaa.ie.

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Moanday Morning – Travel snobs

Standing on top of the ancient world, the Acropolis, I reflected that somewhere, somehow, someone will be turning up their nose.

A relative of mine walked the Via Delarosa and said they felt no passion.

While a former Travel colleague thought the Trevi Fountain a wet blanket and the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the decline.

An old relic… and the Acropolis. Visit https://athensattica.com

And Big Ben just a clock… it is, in fact, the bell not the clock, but we won’t quibble. See http://www.visitlondon.com.

I’ve yet to walk the Via Delarosa. I have an idea that it will be moving but have an open mind. https://info.goisrael.com/en/the-via-dolorosa.

I love the Trevi Fountain https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/. Also see http://www.romeinformation.it.

And Big Ben and London. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/23/carole-king-youre-beautiful/.

Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

And to share it.

Although in today’s world too many people are only too willing to thrust their own negative judgments on you.

Whether you want to hear them or not.

You need to have something to say and you feel you have more kudos if it involves giving someone or something a kicking.

Lean of me. Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com

It is a growing Travel snobbery that I feel has crept in from the world of food snobbery.

Travel snobbery gives you ownership of a destination or an out-of-the-way natural beauty spot.

You know the type… ‘oh, I went there before the tourists swarmed all over it.’

Clock this: And listen to the Big Ben bell. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

And ‘shouldn’t tourists with selfie sticks be banned?’

Or ‘oh, I hate people who just want to tick destinations off their bucket list, they’re not proper Travellers.’

Now let’s deal with some of those complaints individually:

Not everyone’s cup of tea

The Louvre which houses the Mona Lisa. Photo by Timea Kadar on Pexels.com

I get it. If you don’t feel it, you don’t feel it and it doesn’t mean you don’t have a soul.

But is it just attention-grabbing to suggest the Trevi Fountain is well meh?

Really, you won’t be diminished if you just say that you can understand how other people are enchanted by it.

But that you just don’t get that same feeling.

Some philosophical thinking about New York? Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

I mean I was underwhelmed when I first set eyes on the Mona Lisa.

I’ve been thinking, when I’ve been drinking, is it because there is so much pressure to be impressed?

You can go one of two ways.

Either be bowled over by it because subconsciously you feel you should.

Or rally against it because you don’t want anyone to tell you what to think.

Are we really taking control of our own thought processes?

OMG… I’m turning into Carrie Bradshaw.

Those selfish selfies

Peak enjoyment: Get me up the Jungfraujoch

A favourite post-holiday grumble is that you can’t get anywhere near the site because of selfie-stick holders.

And let’s call it like it is, or point the finger at the naysayers to call it as they see it…

They’re usually Asians.

Now one of the stranger things I’ve seen on my travels is a group of Chinese visitors at the Tiso shop on top of the Jungfraujoch railway https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/

I was told by my Swiss guests that they were buying their watches and taking selfie pics there so that they could show them off to their friends and family back home.

Closer to the sun: And the Tiso watches in Jungfraujoch

Which was worth shelling out the extra cash.

Now I’ve been lucky enough to be given a number of selfie sticks on my travels.

But they’re all sitting broken in a drawer now, more plastic!

Nor do I really know how to use them. I’ve backtracked and stopped using them.

And there’s a great by-product you get to talk to real live people when you ask them to take your pic.

Buck it list?

Closer to God: The Vatican. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We all of us have limited time on this planet.

And we all want to see the world’s great landmarks.

At the same time.

In the same place… the Sistine Chapel.

Yes, people shouldn’t take photos with flash. But what to do… confiscate phones?

It’s all a bit of fun until someone gets blocked. Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It does detract from your enjoyment when the stewards whistle snd holler when yet another person flashes (the camera on their mobile).

It’s overtourism, and while it’s unrealistic that we can cut the numbers visiting the chapel, and I wouldn’t want to…

We can let in fewer people at any given time, reduce the time you’re there and create more slots.

Simples.

MEET YOU ON THE ACROPOLIS

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Holiday Snaps – Kerridge in Colorado

Celebrity chef tourism is like pushing an open pantry door for destinations in a competitive market.

Now I wouldn’t be a big foodie as The Scary One will tell you.

But I do like to see the countries and cities that provide the blank canvas for the chefs we have all come to know.

With the daddy of them all, Keith Floyd, an infectious, larger-than-life character back in the day.

Who made the template for cookery on the road TV shows.

While Rick Stein’s Long Weekend always showcases a destination for me even if I’ll never come close to making any of his dishes.

My America: Tom in Colorado

Unless they’re scrambled eggs.

Tom Kerridge is the latest chef to pack the kitchen into his suitcase and take to the road for Food Network (9.30pm).

So this Thursday it’s Pittsburgh meatball sub.

Colorado Juniper Venison is next Thursday and Gold Country, California walnut and orange cake concludes the series on Thursday, October 3

I’ll be watching because Tom and I have a connection.

Meet the locals: Coloradans are real foodies

Tom ‘Caridge’ is English West Country to his bootstraps and while The Scary One is more refined I recognise the accent.

Our connection – no, not The Scary One and I, but Tom and I is American food and Tom’s doing the good ol’ Oo Es of A.

So we’ll see him in Pittsburgh whose culinary expertise has long been recognised by the award-givers.

And where I was invited out to and would have gone if I could have been in two places at the one time.

Now that’s a chip butty

I know Primanti Bros too from a morning spent in Fort Lauderdale ahead of my cruise to the Bahamas on Celebrity Edge.

Comfort food: And the staff always put you first

Check my Florida meanderings here… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-to-here/

And let’s hear it for California where I need no second invitation… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/

So to Colorado and Ginger and Baker in Fort Collins where I not only ate and drank for Scotland and Ireland but also attended a cookery class.

Held by the inimitable Debs… http://www.gingerandbaker.com

And baked me an apple pie… or my instructor showed me how.

Now let’s help you recreate Tom’s journey and exclusive recipes.

Colorado cooking

Now all this is my own work! With Debs in Fort Collins

12-night itinerary:

Two nights Denver – 1 night Gunnison – 2 nights Dunton Hot Springs – 2 nights Telluride – 2 nights Durango – 2 nights Grand Junction – 1 night Denver

The offer includes return flights to Denver (Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow) car hire, 12 nights’ accommodation (in 4-star hotels).

And based on room only (including two nights in the all-inclusive Dunton Hotel Springs Resort). 

For more information, contact Bon Voyage Travel on 0800 316 0194 (www.bon-voyage.co.uk) 

And here’s what Denver and Colorado have to offer Go West. and http://Pioneers.

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Winter’s tale… Topflight and Dempsey in Austria

The sun is shining here outside my front window and it’s a bright Autumn day, so it must be time to get the skis on.

Or your skates, or whatever indicates urgency that winter is just around the corner.

The first sign of winter approaching, of course, is not the nights pulling in, the cold, or a flake or two of snow,

It’s that the Topflight Today FM Ski Trip with Ian Dempsey is now open for bookings.

Time to hit the slopes

The 21st Topflight Today FM Ski Trip will be held in Bad Hofgastein, part of the Gastein area which boasts 220kms of skiing., from 25 January. And Ian will go live from the slopes each morning.

Right I could snow blind you with skiing science but I know you want to know more about the apes-ski.

Bands on the (ski) run

And there is plenty. From party nights, quiz nights, themed fancy dress to the gig of the week.

And the Top Flight Today FM Ski Trip doesn’t disappoint there.

The Saw Doctors and the Coronas have each got the skiers rocking, in 2011 and 2015 and the act lined up for next year who have yet to be unveiled will be right up there too,

Looking up: We’ve just been up there

Music sessions will be in abundance on the slopes including live sets from the trip’s resident band The Harleys,

The Top Flight Today FM trip is a staple in the winter calendar. Because of its great skiing, willing participants and mighty craic.

For example where else would you see the official GAA Puc Fada high in the Austrian Alps.

It’s an Irish takeover

The Irish are Coming.

The trip can be booked on www.todayfmskitrip.ie or by calling 01 240 1700 / 028 9752 1168 Options available from Dublin, Cork & Belfast.

And here’s what happened with a couple of Soll Mates out in Austria on the slopes… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/soll-mates/

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Snoop Dogg and me acting the goat in California

I don’t think Snoop Dogg was talking to me but the ladies were.

Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr, as his Mammy christened him, was entertaining us in the way only he could.

Standing on the pristine Huntington Beach in Southern California playing us a set of his tunes and standard party hits.

While smoking a funny cigarette.

Snoop was always going to be an ambitious choice for a corporate event, the American Travel Fair www.ipw.com, but the Big Fella is a likeable rogue and delivered.

And nobody baulked when Mr and Mrs America, the Mayor and his wife, and their two perfectly presented kids walked on stage.

To greet the Long Beach native through a plume of smoke.

California is the hippy state where anything goes and where an old man can get a high five for purpling up his beard.

Of course it doesn’t get much better than Natasha Bedingfield picking you out in the crowd the next day in Anaheim.

But she deserves her own slot so I’ll reshare that story with you another time.

Huntington Beach, Anaheim, West Hollywood, Hollywood et al is SoCal, Southern California which we all know about and keep coming back to… www.visitcalifornia.com.

SloCal is the area between Los Angeles and San Fransisco and prides itself on being even more laid-back.

So that’s almost horizontal then.

And all right by me and Snoop.

Now I’ve been flagging up the fun that’s been had in the surfing war between Surf City USA Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz.

www.surfcityusa.com and www.cityofsantacruz.com

Huntington won in the courts but whisper that around Santa Cruz, and its delegates when they make their annual pilgrimage to Ireland.

Although I must say that Huntington did tempt me with their hospitality when I visited and their surfing dogs competition every autumn.

Everybody’s gone surfin’

But I learn now that Huntington is not the only beach for surfing animals in California.

They like to act the goat in Pismo Beach.

Acting the goat

Dana McGregor has built up quite a following on the back of goatie Pismo and his two pals who he has taught to surf https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article39452574.html and http://surfinggoats.com.

He offers surfboard lessons, stand-up paddle board lessons and SUP/Surf camps on Pismo Beach.

You want to see a Dancing Dad dance the waves again…

On board Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Oasis of the Seas’ FlowRider simulator in Barcelona www.royalcaribbean.ie.

Thought you might.

For more information on SloCal, keep posted here and also visit www.slocal.com.

And remember Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com flies direct to LAX from Dublin.

LA is from €204 each way as part of a return trip. Book by September 23. And you’ll get pre-clearance.

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Cruiseday Tuesday – Nile’s better

Ancient conquerors and empire builders get a bad press – they were really just adventurers who wanted to see your land.

Now if only they had put away the slaughter they’d have been very welcome.

Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte were among the most successful and like most emperors they cut a dash.

Jools and Bony would have sailed into Egypt back in the day in a very different vessel than the one you’ll be going on.

Sphinx I know this. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But Luxury Gold want you to use your imagination as they flag up walking in the footsteps of the two military geniuses.

On a seven days visit January to March of next year which they are pitching at €2,345pps, down from €2595pps.

You’ll float down the Nile on board the River Tosca and visit the Temple of Luxor, the necropolis of ancient Thebes and the temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

Oh, and the Sphinx and the Pyramids. No wonder Jools and Bony went sight-seeing. http://WWW.LUXURYGOLDVACATIONS.COM.

Alluring Sunway

Now that’s an entrance

There are few things more opulent than arriving into port on your grand cruise ship.

It’s just that my Royal Caribbean cruise experiences have never actually seen me decamp at port…

I guess they never trusted me to get back on board.

A jaunt around the English Channel and a trip from Florida to the Bahamas that were truly memorable but without the stop-offs.

Still relive them with me here… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-to-here/.

Barcelona is the answer to your prayers

Well, something to look forward to, and you will be full of anticipation too for the Sunway Classic Med Fly Cruise on board Allure of the Seas http://www.sunway.ie.

Departing from Barcelona on September 6 next year you will call at Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles (for Provence), La Spezia (for Florence and Pisa) and Civitavecchia for Rome and Naples. From €1145pp.

Down by the riverside

Passau skyline during sunset, Bavaria, Germany.

Sailing down the river in Germany is one of the great pleasures afforded to our Teuton friends.

Which I had the pleasure to enjoy with them on my trip to the German Travel Mart in Dresden where I enjoyed a jaunt down the Elbe https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/.

So I’d say you’ll enjoy taking in the old town of Passau with its historic 17th century towers and St Stephen’s Cathedral.

Which is just one of the highlights that Travel Department is offering as part of its five-day Discover the Delights of the Danube taster cruise package.

Next you will sail to Vienna, where a guided walk will show you the sights of the city.

Vienna for a whirl. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Following this you will dock in Budapest where you will be escorted on a guided tour of the historic centre.

The next stop is the Slovakian Republic capital of Bratislava.

For your last full day on board you will visit the Austrian city of Milk. Before heading back home you till revisit Germany and join a morning tour of Munich.

Prices from €1099pp including return flights, transfers, five night full-board river cruise, and guided excursions, departing on September 25.

Book before September 20 and receive €25 off per person with the code VP-SEP25. For more information or to book, click HERE or call 01-6371600.

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It’s our 25th Wedding Anniversary!

The world has changed a lot in the last 25 years but we’ve not… unless it is to get even more handsome and pretty.

Twenty-five years ago today Sarah and I (yes, that’s her name, the Scary came later) formed a modern-day Scotland and England union.

Match of the day

And as the fractures in the older United Kingdom have threatened to pull that union asunder, ours has survived and thrived.

And begotten two heirs… and lost a whole lot more hairs.

We’re hitched

Which brings us to the holiday bit… we honeymooned in Corfu and it will be poignant that I will be returning to Greece this week.

Alas without my goddess… but I did try, honest!

The Greeks, or Hellenes as they liked to call themselves, are of course an ancient people.

So the economic (a Greek word) problems they’ve suffered are just a blip in their history (another Greek word).

I’ll visit the Acropolis and of course get a selfie with the obligatory caption ‘An Old Relic and the Acropolis’.

It must have worked: A lucky charm

But I’ll also be taking in the greater Attica region and visiting the beaches.

Before rounding it all off with a visit to Aphrodite’s island, the one she was born on, Kephyra.

And I’ll bring back a souvenir of my trip, the thing I know my Sarah loves better than anything else.

ME.

In the meantime here are a couple of unforgettable trips we’ve been on which coincided with past anniversaries.

Beach boy and girl: In Aveiro in Portugal

Central Portugal above… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/ Visit http://www.visitportugal.com

And the Norwegian fjords below… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/ See http://www.msccruises.ie and http://www.msccruises.co.uk.

The fountain of youth: In Bergen

And Hamburg… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/hamburgers-and-ships/ Visit http://www.visithamburg.com.

And why not?
Featured

Monday Saver – €1500pp Maldives

Vanessa is one of those contagious spirits who convert you to their cause through their enthusiasm and dedication.

Of course, I ought to have been doing more then without anybody having to tell me.

But German Vanessa awoke me to the perils of plastic pollution in the ocean when I visited the Maldives.

I swear she talks to the turtles, hence me Christening her Mother Turtle. And I dare say they talk to her too.

Tropical Sky (tropicalsky.ie / 01 664 9999) is offering savings of up to €1,500 per person on seven-night stays at the five star LUX* South Ari Atoll for travel completed before January 5, if booked by Septermber 30.

The holiday now costs from €2,599 per person.

Lovely bubbly!

So what will you get:

Villa-only resort offers an off-grid island experience on the shores of Dhidhoofinolhu, bordered by turquoise lagoons.

The villas are spread along the palm-fringed beach and feature lofty thatched roofs with luxurious bathrooms and a private garden with an outdoor shower.

Guests can sail out on a traditional dhoni and swim up close to whale sharks, turtles, dolphins and manta rays, with tailored programmes led by experienced instructors.

Based on two sharing on half-board basis including flights from Dublin and transfers.

You want to learn more about the Maldives… here’s my review https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/

And a touch of Barbados, obviously

Here’s to Barbados

I like to keep up with events in Barbados… I have an insider there, my old pal Jevan.

Tropical Sky are also on the case for me.

They (tropicalsky.ie / 01 664 9999) is offering savings of up to €690 per person on seven-night stays at the 4* The Sands Barbados for travel completed before 20 December, if booked by 30 September.

The holiday now costs from €1,429 per person.

Meet the locals

So what do you get?

Brand-new all-inclusive beachfront resort situated across two and a half acres of white sand on the south coast. 

Ideal for families and groups, with suites sleeping up to six and oceanfront penthouses, as well as tranquil rooms overlooking the landscaped gardens for couples.

Highlights include palm-fringed freshwater swimming pool, spa and free scuba lessons.

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

Some local knowledge

Remember this is the first place to go to get a feel for Barbados https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/.

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/.

Now if you bump into Vanessa or Jevan then tell them I’ll be back over real soon.

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Holidos and don’ts – time flies in the US

One of the great joys of going on holiday is never having to worry about what time it is.

Until you do.

After all they’re on a different clock.

Which means you have to factor that in to your new daily routine.

The first thing to do is change the time on your watch.

Reset the watch. Photo by Malcolm Garret on Pexels.com

Don’t try to do the math in your head – that’s too much of a rush when you’re trying to catch the plane.

Remember too to triple, quadruple, quintuple check your flight time.

And if you’ve booked independently from your trip make sure that your times match.

You don’t want to be that clod who books his flights back from Denver, Colorado… Go West. http://www.visitdenver.org

Worse places to get stranded

Only to check the times the night before and find that the connecting flight is too early.

Too late is too bad to.

Now you’ve probably got time converters on your phone but if not check out https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html.

You’ve probably got the transatlantic flight time sorted out but the connecting flight can catch you out.

The date on your flight schedule will be clearly written on your documents only among a plethora of other information.

And while in your head you’re on the same day as back home remember that there’s a chance that you have to jump a day.

Yeah, I might have been messing around being a cowboy

So the flight that you’re expecting to take eight hours is really taking 16 hours.

And the date on your schedule could be a date later than you think.

Eight hours in Denver Airport

Just saying, and you can thank me later.

The upside, and there are precious few, is that if you have to spend eight hours in Denver airport then there are worse airports.

There are great food fares and shopping outlets, a putting green and an art gallery.

They had a fantastic exhibition of a photojournalist’s pictures and a video of his work in the wilds.

It’s not a dirty word. Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

And I should know. Because I circumnavigated the airport a dozen times.

And I eventually did make a score in the putting that I could tell people about.

Can you not make up time?

With every oversight your mistake is multiplied by the first error.

Remember America is a continent and is subject to weather fluctuations and flight delays.

If you’re the type to just accept what life or your mistakes strews in your path, good luck.

If you’re like ‘my friend’ though you will probably spend your flight looking at your expected time of arrival.

Willing it to arrive earlier. And miss the movies.

It’s a minefield. Photo by Oscar Chan on Pexels.com

You’ll be damn sure that you’ve got the time right for the new connecting flight you had to book in the States.

Just be sure that you’ve not got your headphones on listening to your playlist when your name gets called at the departure gate.

Not on the same trip I promise you, but not good either.

Featured

Holiday Snaps – Florida for family fun

There’s nothing quite like a kid squealing ‘again, again’ as you turn a whiter shader of pale after coming off a rollercoaster.

And how is that they can hover up the Big Florida Breakfasts too and still not have it rumbly in their tumblies on the rides?

I was that soldier on the Orlando rides on more than one occasion but those excitable urchins pulled me through.

Florida is the ideal family fun destination and great for the winter, but our friends in the rollercoaster state are already planning for 2020.

Ice one: The Ice Breaker

Orlando has a real icebreaker for you with a ride called just that Ice Breaker in the spring.

Ice Breaker will feature four launches, backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida — a 93ft tall spike with 100-degree angle.

Located near the Wild Arctic Attraction, the ride’s theme is a nod to Ice Breaker’s conservation partner, Alaska SeaLife Center.

It matches closely to SeaWorld Orlando’s mission.

Ice Breaker will add to a ride portfolio which includes the thrills of Mako, Manta and Kraken. And the water rapids of Infinity Falls and the flume fun of Journey to Atlantis.

While over at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay they’re getting ready for North America’s tallest, fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world.

Iron Gwazi will be 206ft tall with a 91-degree drop with top speeds of 76mph.

It includes three inversions and 12 airtime hills along more than 4,075ft of purple steel track.

With a 48” height requirement, Iron Gwazi will be an exciting thrill attraction that families can take on together.

Gwazi, you ask? Well, the crocodile is the largest living reptile and the animal inspiration for Iron Gwazi.

The ups and downs

Find out more information on www.seaworldparks.co.uk. All major airlines fly to Orlando. Check out http://www.aerlingus.com

And you want to hear about how a grown man conquered his rollercoaster demons… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/02/tenerife-and-scotland-wave-the-same-flag/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/

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Give us this day… it’s St Anthony’s teeth

There are more than a few old relics in my church (and yours)!

Steady! I mean holy relics.

Our own church has a new old altar which has come to us via the local monastery.

Please don’t tell my parish priest that I lost concentration when he was telling us the history but it’s very old, and holy.

Is that a confessional box?

Holy relics are the currency of the Catholic Church.

Symbolically and literally.

The various body parts of Our Lord and the Saints were sold on pilgrimages in the Middle Ages to pay for fancy churches.

It’s all about the pilgrimage, to Canterbury say or to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain to atone for sins.

On the road to St James: On the Camino

Santiago is of course where the bones of St James the Greater (I always felt sorry for the Lesser as the son of a James) are kept.

And you could buy these relics of the saints or Our Lord along the way thus feeding the greater Church.

That also fired outrage among protestants who found common cause and went onto found their own church.

All of which brings me to St Anthony’s gnashers.

The legend goes that St Anthony’s gift of oratory was such that when he was exhumed his tongue was still moist.

And on the Via Francigena

And so in his native city of Padova (or Padua in English) pilgrims can venerate his tongue and a couple of teeth.

Which are kept in a reliquary.

Skin and teeth

You’ll find pieces of the Lord and the Saints all over the world so much so that you’d almost suspect some artistic licence.

That maybe they were multi-multi-limbed and had a set of teeth akin to a shark.

But maybe I’m splitting hairs – and they were for sale too.

So you want to read more… there is a review of Padova and how Giotto inspired Michelangelo on this site https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/15/padova-city-of-frescoes/.

And in Rome where all my sins were forgiven

Some more holy relics in Brugges https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/firstworldwar-in-flanders-fields/.

And why the Camino is one of the most inspiring things you’ll ever do https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/.

For the Via Francigena into Rome check out https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/.

Here’s an important website for Padova… http://www.turismopadova.it/en/ context/423.

While for Caminos visit http://www.caminoways.com

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

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Holiday Snaps – Winter sun

I know I’m wishing the seasons away but it’s time to plan for winter sun.

Yes, we know that the sun comes out 360 days a year (sorry 350 days a year).

So that’s a virtual guarantee of good weather. Although it would be just my luck to be there when it does rain.

That’s what we’re after: Photo by Ignacio Palés on Pexels.com

Let’s tempt you then with the Costa del Sol, 7 nights, 25th October, €1788 (€447pp)

You’ll be well set with the Timor Sol Apartments which are on the beachfront next to the Paseo Marítimo promenade.

And there’s a waterpark nearby too.

Visit Travalue.iehttps://itaa.ie/2019/09/10/costa-del-sol-offer/!

Let’s take time here too to share some of sunny thoughts from Spain… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/03/vegging-out-in-tenerife/

OK, here are some more. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/05/jocktails-tenerife-coffee-liqueurs/

And also visit our friends at http://www.spain.info

Portugal is an answer to your prayers

Photo by Helena Ije on Pexels.com

I love a Portuguese village.

And the best thing is the welcome from the locals..

A favourite destination for Irish visitors this is Albufeira, 7 nights, 7th November, €389pps.

From https://itaa.ie/2019/09/10/portugal-winter-sun-all-inclusive/ the price includes Flight from Dublin to Faro with Aer Lingus, http://www.aerlingus.com.

Yum, yum. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

See Travel Escapes and Cruisescapes: https://itaa.ie/2019/09/10/portugal-winter-sun-all-inclusive/

Portugal? We love it.

And as our wedding anniversary comes into let’s take a look back at this romantic break… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/

And a shout-out to the ever-helpful Portuguese Tourist board http://www.visitportugal.com

Featured

Holiday Snaps – Cruise extra

Because Cruiseday can’t always wait until Tuesday.

Princess Cruises www.princess.com has announced its Canada and USA packages for next summer and autumn.

Which gives holidaymakers a choice of 17 cruises, visiting 18 destinations on seven itineraries.

Princess will have three ships in the region with voyages from seven to 24 days.

We are sailing… with Princess

The 3,660-guest Sky Princess and 3,140-guest Caribbean Princess will sail from August to October on a series of departures from New York, Quebec and Fort Lauderdale.

And September will see the 2,600-guest Grand Princess sail roundtrip from Southampton on a 24-night voyage, calling at Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax, Sydney (Nova Scotia), Quebec (overnight call), Saguenay, Charlottetown and St. Johns (Newfoundland).

There will be a maiden call into Sept-Îles, Quebec.

Which will give guests more time to explore ashore with a series of late night departures in Boston and Charleston, as well as overnight calls in Quebec on select sailings.

Old-style Quebec. Photo by O-seop Sim on Pexels.com

And maybe best of all the chance to visit Greenland, the world’s largest island. Before it disappears.

Princess Cruises is offering 24-day Canada & New England voyage, departing September 18, 2021 on Grand Princess.

And there’s tea. Boston: Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Sailing roundtrip from Southampton, calling at Boston, Bar Harbour, Halifax, Sydney (Nova Scotia), Quebec (overnight call), Saguenay, Charlottetown and St. Johns (Newfoundland). Prices from €2,639 per person.

Greenland… still there Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

Special offer currently available with prices from €3,849 per person for a free upgrade from an oceanview stateroom to a balcony.

Visit www.princess.com. Or call (0344) 338 8663.

You Corker

It’s a famous old port with a certain stop-off of a ship called the Titanic.

And it’s where the big cruise companies will be tomorrow, Sunday, September 15.

The Cruise Lines International Association will be held in the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs.

Let’s get on board: Photo Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

It will bring together seven of the world’s biggest lines including river cruises.

So take your pick from Fly/Cruises, Honeymoon Cruises, Over-50s Specialities, Adventure Cruises, River Cruises and Solo Cruises.

Cruise offers for the next two years will be on sale.

And admission and parking will be free.

Visit www.thecruisecentre.ie.

And you know what’s coming next… some cruise reviews.

The call of the fjords, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here, A Royal Party.

Featured

Holiday Snaps – Carnegie’s Pittsburgh

The next time you visit your library you might bump into Andrew Carnegie.

Andrew Carnegie? Doesn’t he have something to do with music and the Carnegie Hall in New York.?

Yes, but the great industrialist and entrepreneur helped fund more than 2,500 libraries in his time too.

And his name may well be inscribed on the outside of your library.

Easy living: Pittsburgh

Carnegie was though more associated with Pittsburgh than New York.

Just call me Mr Carnegie

Carnegie centenary

If we’re quibbling (and I love an our’ quibble) then he’s really a son of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland who emigrated to the US.

Carnegie died 100 years ago so it’s timely to flag up Pittsburgh…

After all his Carnegie Institute, or Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, are one of the big reasons to visit Steel City.

The Carnegie Museum of Art… you make up your own mind

The Carnegie Museum of Art puts an emphasis on contemporary art. Carnegie instructing them to collect the ‘old masters of tomorrorow’. http://www.cmoa.org.

Admission is £16.50 for an adult and £10 for a child.

Enraptured: At the Museum of Natural History

The most famous inhabitant of Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one Dippy the Dinosaur. http://www.carnegiemnh.org

Dippy is the nearly complete fossil skeleton of the Diplodocus carnegii dinosaur.

He was discovered in 1899 by a team of scientists, an excavation funded by Carnegie. 

General admission is £16.50 for an adult and £10 for a child.

The Carnegie Science Centre is true to the Scot’s vision for future generations, dedicated to nurturing innovators and leaders like himself http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org.

General admission is £16.50 for an adult and £10 for a child.

Wow Mao: Andy Warhol Mao

The Andy Warhol Museum will celebrate its official 25th anniversary 19-20 October 2019, coinciding with the launch of the Andy Warhol: Revelation exhibition. http://www.warhol25.org.

And if you’re in the vicinity of Dunfermline, Fife in Scotland I’m sure he’ll look down on you kindly if you visit his birthplace http://www.carnegiebirthplace.com.

How to get there

I found a round trip Dublin-Pittsburgh through Boston from£301 (€340) with Delta Airlines http://www.delta.com.

And Pittsburgh is also served by British Airways through London http://www.britishairways.com.

BA has a sale on that ends on September 24. I found return flights from £348 for any month between October-March.

Also check out http://www.visitpittsburgh.com,

And Philly too

Whisper it but here’s an oul’ review from the city up the road Philadelphia https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/philadelphia-freedom/

And from now on your Holiday Snaps will get even snappier with regular snap dates through the weekend.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Featured

This Sporting Weekend – Solheim Cup

Golfing widows were a staple of Ronnie Corbett and Tom O’Connor stories.

Female drivers too – in fact it was probably the same lame joke.

Of course women are just as able to hit a wee white ball into a wee hole, sometimes even more able.

Sizing it up: Europe and the US

Wednesday afternoons for my Dear Old Dad and Mum were spent on the golf course.

Where my Dad would try to hit the skin off the ball… and end up in the thistle and the gorse.

And my Mum would drive straight down the middle.

It’s a long way up: For the US

Though she did confirm to Ronnie Corbett’s stereotype on the road by swaying everywhere.

The eyes of the golfing world are on its finest women players this week.

As Europe and the USA battle it out for the Solheim Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland.

We’re on ur way: Europe

Captaining Europe is North Berwick’s Catriona Matthew.

And she is as strong a buttress as the Law, or rock, that stands proudly in the Firth of Forth.

And which I know only too well with the Outlaws living on its doorstep.

Scotland’s ‘Golf Coast’ covers 21 golf courses along 30 miles of coastline in the hinterland of Edinburgh.

But the Americans are glum

While, of course Gleneagles in Perthshire further north is something of a lucky charm for Europe’s golfers.

With Paul McGinley’s men’s team winning there in 2014.

Where to find your golf

Catch these websites for more information www.golfeastlothian.com, www.gleneagles.com and www.scotlandgolf.com, http://www.northberwick.org.uk.

And www.visitscotland.com.

And if you want to see how it should be done, er, here’s me at the Paul McGinley school in Quinto da Lago in Portugal https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/.

I’ll be looking out for you and your cup Catriona when I’m over in North Berwick seeing the Outlaws.

Featured

Happy Newer Year – from Ethiopia

Happy Enkutatash. You’ll notice here that I look a year or two younger.

That’s Enkutatash for you, the Ethiopian New Year, when the years just roll off you.

In fact seven of them.

The thing is that the Ethiopians are on a different calendar from the rest of us.

These are popular all over the world

Theirs is fixed to the Julian Calendar from the Roman Emperor Augustus in 25 BC with a start date of 29 August J.C.

Which I guess must be September 12 in our money.

And this establishes the New Year on this day.

It is also associated with the return of the Queen of Sheba (I’ve one of them at home)  to Ethiopia.

Following her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem in 980BC.

The coffee ceremony

It is also a permanent fixture on our calendar in Dublin.

When Ethiopian Airlines, Meseret Tekalign, the Country Manager for Ethiopian Ireland and our friends from the Airlines http://www.ethiopianairlines.com invite us to share in their New Year feast.

So if you like your injera (flat bread) and wat (stew) which we do in Ireland and Britain. And wine (guilty again) then this is the New Year for you. 

And you’ll also get to watch their traditional coffee-making ritual. Beats my spoonful of instant, hands down.

We’re hungry

Every New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay as us Scottishy type people like to call it, is a time of reflection.

And Ethiopian rightly reflected on this year’s plane tragedy while emphasising their commitment to passenger safety.

Smiles better: Our Meseret

It is also a time for Enkutatash resolutions I’m imagining, and I’m resolving to get out to this intriguing and glorious ancient country.

Where they have nine UNESCO World Heritage sites.

I love Lucy

And a certain little lady, Lucy, the first human, thus called because the excavators were singing Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds at the time.

Like your Beatles? Here’s a treat https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/09/the-beatles-in-hamburg-with-stefanie-hempel/.

Like your Africa? Then here’s another https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/

And, of course, because Lucy is on the Coptic calendar she’s probably only about 40… and looking just as good too!

Featured

Flyday Friday – Virgin vs plastic

Are you a hoarder? It sounds like one of those American TV ads… call this number for a money back guarantee if you’re not truly satisfied.

I have more toothbrushes, combs, earplugs, eye masks and pens than I know what to do with.

And bags in which to hold them.

And it’s rightly getting up The Scary One’s nose.

Which is handy because I reckon I’ve got some kind of stick for that too.

What’s not handy though is the amount of plastic I’ve accumulated.

They’ve got a wardrobe for you

So I’m delighted to see that Virgin Atlantic are leading the way in new biodegradable airplane sundries.

What do we get then?

Toothbrushes made out of bamboo which sounds gentle in my toothies which are particularly brittle.

And even the pen is made of recycled kraft paper.

Virgin is hoping to save 945 tonnes of plastic waste each year, the equivalent of six airbus 350 wide body jets.

I’m lucky enough to be a member of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club who will keep you up to date with all the great deals and more www.virginatlantic.com.

Try out their Caribbean routes and my reviews Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

The airline are also branching out into Virgin territory as it were with a first foray into South America.

Brazilliant: Sao Paulo

And Sao Paulo in Brazil from Heathrow.

They will begin the route from March 29.

Virgin has also agreed a codeshare with GOL that will serve 37 destinations across Brazil and expand reach across South America.

Berlin y’all

Fly the flag. Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

Berlin is high up on The Scary One’s wish list… she has a great affinity with the land of her birth.

Any year is good to visit the German capital but this year is best with the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall upon us.

Aer Lingus is offering Berlin from Dublin among its range of destinations in its September sale from €34.99.

Which has a touch of October about it. See www.aerlingus.com for terms and conditions.

And also try the jewel of east Germany which you can reach from Berlin https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/

Agadir, do, do

A touch of Morocco. Photo Nicolas Postiglioni on Pexels.com

I’ll admit it. I have my demons.

Morocco is one.

I might just have got unlucky in Marrakech and the Sahara, almost being mugged, getting ripped off in the souk and getting food poisoning in the Sahara after a tajine.

Or maybe I was in the wrong city.

Air Arabia www.airarabia.com has a special promotional fare of from €135 return Dublin to Agadir.

And they’re pitching (sorry) golf, beach, sun, culture, food and more.

And they’ll give you a 15kg free golf kit allowance.

G’Day Melbourne

Melbourne. Photo by Tiff Ng on Pexels.com

I’ve been spending the summer as I do every fourth summer watching the Ashes and the dulcet, or ear-piercing, tones of Shane ‘Warney’ Warne.

Now I heard the former spin king and England legend Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham eulogise about Melbourne (and London).

I know about London https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-london-life/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/23/carole-king-youre-beautiful/.

But I could if I jumped on Etihad’s http://www.etihad.com Melbourne’s Global sale which is headlining with Business Melbourne from €3,3367.

Now while the old refrain from his team-mates when he was playing was ‘Well bowled, Warnie’, may I offer ‘Well sold, Etihad.’

Featured

Jocktails – whisky

The IrishWhiskey360° initiative which aims to make this country the world’s No.1 tourist destination for our favourite drink has got me thinking…

And drinking.

Now there are those for whom putting anything in their whisky is anathema (and that’s not a brand).

My esteemed Travel colleague and fellow Scottishy fellow Tom Sweeney www.tomsweeneytrabels.blogspot.com said he was apoplectic at a particular cultural difference when he lived in Spain.

Jack attack. Photo by Maria Pop on Pexels.com

That they took coke in their J&B. Which they still do, particularly as a gateway drink for youngsters.

As they reminded us in Tenerife last week while introducing us to something new Jocktails – Tenerife coffee liqueurs.

Whisky purists will say only take a drop of water in your whisky to release the whisky.

Which I do. But I’ve grown fond too of making, shaking and partaking of whisky cocktails too.

And when it comes to whisky I’m an internationalist.

Don’t overdo it. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve seen English whisky sold at the top of The Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and Japanese whisky,

I’ve drunk Swiss whisky at the top of the Alps.

And developed a taste for Bourbon thanks to my cousin’s Kentucky husband Mark.

A story here about how whisky is for us all… and we should never assume. It makes an ass of U and ME.

Or him.

Here’s Johnny: Photo by Maatla Kebs on Pexels.com

I got into conversation with a charming Thirty Something single lady at a wedding.

Don’t worry, the Scary One was at the same table.

Whisky woman

I asked her where she had been on holiday and when she told me ‘Islay’ it transpired she was a whisky taster.

The narrow-minded barman had suggested that whisky was rather strong for a lassie and asked if she might want something a little sweeter,

We get few open goals in life.

Here’s Jimmy

But my new friend relayed how she went across the whole top row of whiskies and gave him tasting notes for each of them.

I guess you could have caught flies in his open mouth.

And check out this website for all things Irish whiskey… www.IrishWhiskey360.ie.

And now for a Whiskey Sour

I prefer mine with cherries
  • You’ll need two parts of bourbon
  • 1 part of lemon juice
  • ½ part of sugar syrup
  • ½ part of egg white
  • Cubed ice
  • Garnish with a cherry and orange slice

Preparation

  1. Put ice and the ingredients into a shaker and shake for 20 seconds to chill.
  2. Strain into a glass of ice and garnish with the cherry and orange.

Further reading

And for some whisky-related trips here’s the home of whisky… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/brexit-aberdeen-a-light-in-the-north/

And drinking some whisky on the rocks… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/

Featured

Whiskey – it’s Irish for whisky

It’s a Scottish thing… to say ‘without the e’. Why? Because the Scots are too tight to give you the extra ‘e’.

No, that’s just my little joke, to get my retaliation in first.

We are of course nothing like this stereotype and are in fact very charitable.

And liable to go off on a tangent. So back to whiskey… and the launch of IrishWhiskey360°.

Me as a younger man.. I wish. Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi

It’s the new brand and home of Irish whiskey tourism although of course Irish whiskey has been around for ever.

It’s the water of life, uisce beatha, after all while Bushmills Distilleryhttp://www.bushmills.com in Antrim is the oldest in the world.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD (centre), with PaulKelly (left), CEO of Fáilte Ireland, and David Stapleton, Chairman of Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey

There are 17 Irish whiskey distillery visitors centres or brand homes operated by Drinks Ireland/Irish Whiskey Association.

Ireland is aiming to become the number one destination in the world for whiskey tourism.

You can have that… and Scotland will be the top whisky destination.

A milllion welcomes

Last year there were 923,000 visitors to this island of Ireland.

And with the figures for this year set to go through the million mark that seems a very good reason to have a festival.

If any is needed.

Some take it with ice. Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The Festival of Irish Whiskey, supported by Failte Ireland as part of Taste the Island, will take place between Thursday, October 10 and Sunday, 13.

There will be 30 events and promotions in distilleries, brand homes and visitor centres across thew country.

The events will range across free and discounted tours, open days, whiskey tastings and food pairings to meet the distillers and more.

Roll out the barrel

Now I’ve been on more distillery tours than I’ve had orange malted drinks (well, not really, but I’ve been to a lot).

And the best bit of them is not how it’s mashed but how we get smashed.

Of course I don’t mean that (drink responsibly everyone) but it’s the sample we get at the end of the tour that makes all the learning more palatable.

Plenty of ice here: In an Ice Bar

Visit http://www.IrishWhiskey360.ie. http://www.failteireland.ie,

Now all the distilleries are worthy of a mention and I’m ticking them off as I go.

But for here I’ll just flag up my local distillery, Powerscourt, and Slane. http://www.powerscourtdistillery.com http://www.slaneirishwhiskey.com.

No, I don’t miss much about my old work but one guy who was a diamond is Stephen.

Now Stephen is a whizz on IT and I was his best customer.

Now this is Swhisskey

But he is even better on whiskey. And I was delighted to be able to invite him down to Slane as my Plus One.

Now that I think about it, Stephen, my screen is doing funny things here…

Drams are made of this

Here’s some whisk(e)y adventures… at least the ones I remember. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/brexit-aberdeen-a-light-in-the-north/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/

And look out every Thursday for my food and drinks column. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/05/hungry-and-thursday-wrinkly-potatoes/.

Also my cocktail column https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/05/jocktails-tenerife-coffee-liqueurs/

Slainté