Featured

Holiday Snaps – Black Effing Friday

Thirty years working to a deadline and Black Friday can feel like a pressure I don’t need. Which is why I’ve latched onto Click&Go… http://www.clickandgo.com.

Who see the day as a springboard for their offers.

I dipped my toe again in Barcelona’s waters this year, 17 years after my first foray there.

And I found Christopher Columbus, arms open, just as welcome as ever.

Click&Go has three nights in the 4* Onix Ceo Hotel with return flights from Dublin from €189pp. For Travel in January.

And when you go you must pop into this restaurant, just off La Rambla, http://www.myfuckingrestaurant.com . And find out more about Barcelona with http://www.barcelonatourisme.com.

As I did… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/23/surfing-the-seas-in-barcelona/ or https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/30/hes-from-barcelona/

Of course Chris has been America’s longest-running cheerleader and points out in that direction from his plinth in La Rambla.

Though like a certain Travel blogger we know and love his sense of direction wasn’t great.

Because he fell on America when he was trying to get to India while this statue doesn’t direct you there at all.

We know our way there and know to go with Click&Go.

Photo by TheUknownPhotographer on Pexels.com

They have three nights in a double room in the 4* Row NYC Hotel in New York. With return flights from Dublin to New York.

From €499pp based on two people sharing for Travel in January.

And if you’ve got tickets for Hamilton can you give me your contact? In return I give you http://www.nycvb.com.

If not you can still see Hamilton all round town… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/

We’ve got American friends of my favourite cousin who lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland which is really the outskirts of Washington DC in town so I’m off to talk America.

I will report back and until then enjoy your Black Friday deals and…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Featured

Jet Black Friday

See what we did there… the deals are flying in and we’re off and running with this Icelandair www.icelandair.com/en-ie/flights/special-offer/ cracker.

Now, having spent Thanksgiving Evening in the company of the Americans from Visit USA www.visitusa.ie.

Icelandair are a popular choice for fliers who savour going through Reykjavik.

Which one is Bandanaman? At the Trinity City Hotel, Dublin

Icelandair gives passengers 18 gateways in North America.

Including: Anchorage, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Edmonton, Minneapolis, Montreal, New York (JFK and Newark), Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, San Fransisco, Seattle, Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington DC.

And to celebrate Black Friday this is a sample of what they have:

Cash in on Boston deals

Dublin to Boston: From €285 Economy and from €1095 Saga, Icelandair’s Business Class. And Boston’s Bustin’… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/29/boston-is-bustin-for-paddys-day/

Dublin to Denver: From €305 Economy and from €1395 Saga. And here’s a glimpse… http://Go West.

I’m in charge: At the ‘White House’

Dublin to Washington: From €285 Economy and from €1095 Saga class. And it’s capital… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/obama-washington-dc/

For Travel period January 9-May 20.

You can obviously make Iceland your whole trip… from €135 Economy and €499 Class for the Travel period January 9-May 20.

Ryanair’s 1 million seats

Glasgow is piping hot

I’ve been looking to get back to my home city, the Dear Green Place, Glasgow all year but things have been getting in the way.

Ryanair give the best prices: Glasgow from €9.99. And I belong to Glasgow… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/

Now the River Clyde probably doesn’t have the same romanticism about it as say the Venice lagoon. Which they have from €14.99. And you can dip in and out if you want to save… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/15/padova-city-of-frescoes/

Old Amsterdam with a modern touch at the Dylan Hotel.

They have the City of Light Paris from €14.99 and Amsterdam https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/george-and-amal-hotel/.

For Travel December-March.

Take to the Aer

Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com were all over Visit USA’s Thanksgiving night at Trinity City Hotel http://www.trinitycityhotel.com last night.

And I never tire of flagging up their 11 American destinations and the most American of Canadian cities, Toronto.

By the wonder of modern technology myself and my American family are in constant touch through WhatsApp.

Proud New Yorkers, this is us. And this is my take on a different NY… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/

Aer Lingus has €100 off flights to North America for the Travel period of January 6-March 2020, each way as part of a return trip.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

And remember that Black Friday sales don’t finish when Friday finishes.

I’ll be back with Holiday Snaps and more great deals.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Featured

Black Friday feeling

Everyday I write the book. as Elvis Costello once wrote, but his was all about love, ours is about what we love… holidays.

Every day I bring you something special… Give us this Day on Sunday, Cruiseday Tuesday, Hungry and Thursday.

And usually Flyday Friday, but this week I can’t and wouldn’t want to ignore Black Friday.

So here are a few offers doing the rounds:

In the air

America is where it all started so this will probably put you in the mood to go Stateside.

And luckily for us Ireland’s national airline carrier Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com are offering €100 off return flights to North America.

To any of their 12 destinations. Offer ends midnight, December 3.

But it’s sun you’re after… and Emirates www.emirates.com has plenty of that to offer with return flights from Dublin.

With my old favourite the Maldives https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/ just one of the destinations with mouthwatering discounts.

They have seven nights all-inclusive at the 5* You & Me Cocoon Maldives from €2149pp.

You’ll get a saving of up to €875 on your stay.

And a complimentary room upgrade from Manta Villa to Dolphin Villa.

Valid for Travel on 2-4 and 9-11 June. Book by 4 December.

Hit the beaches

Photo by Suraphat Nuea-on on Pexels.com

Our friends at TUI www.tuihoilidays.ie have all our bases covered

They have a range of holidays from long to short and family.

Fancy Thailand? Seven nights B&B at the 3*+ Chanalai Garden Resort, Kata Beach from €1309pps for March 30.

Or our old faithful Lanzarote, seven nights S/C at the 3*+ Cinco Plaza, Puerto del Carmen, for a family 2+1 from €1469. For mid-term, February 17.

Photo by Emils Plinte on Pexels.com

For a taste of the Canaries visit https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/.

TUI also has savings with its Black Friday codes: €100 off when you spend €1000 code name BF100.

Or €125 off when you spend €2000 with code name BF125. And €150 when you spend €3000 with code name BF150.

Hit the seas

Look after your princess with Princess Cruises www.princess.com.

Which comes with the magic key, the OceanMedallion https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/30/cruiseday-tuesday-the-princesss-medallion-man/ on either Crown Princess or Regal Princess.

Try the bumper 17-night Mediterranean and Greek Isles cruise on Crown.

It calls at Seville (Cadiz), Valletta (and you know what I think about Malta…), Mykonos, Kusadasi, Santorini and Cartagena.

Photo by ines bahr on Pexels.com

Prices from €1399 for two sharing an inside stateroom and €219pp for third and fourth guests. Departs November 6.

Among nine round-trip voyages, out of Southampton, across Northern Europe and the Med.

There are six Regal cruises, 12-night round-Britain sailings, out of Southampton, Fares start at €1209pp.

Hit the slopes

From Austria to Andorra and other letters in the alphabet too with Crystal Ski www.crystalski.ie.

They are offering €50pp off if you book before December 3.

And seeing we mentioned Austria: a wee Christmas trip, seven nights in the 2* Manzano Apartments, Pas de la Casa s/c, €279pp (four sharing).

Austria is a treat… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/soll-mates/

And Andorra, January 26, B&B stay in the 3* Haus Edelweiss, Zell Am See for seven nights from €685pp.

The offer runs until Tuesday, December 3.

I’ll catch breath and bring you more offers but it’s Thanksgiving tonight with the Americans at www.visitusa.ie in Dublin.

BLACK IS BACK

Featured

It’s giants and gins – In the Fermanagh Lakelands

Everything’s giant in Northern Ireland which is why their wee breakfasts, the famous Ulster Frys, are huge.

Greeted with a hearty ‘there’s a wee bit of food’ by a genial Ulsterman this morning at the Fermanagh Lakelands Tourism http://www.fermanaghlakelands.com event at the Spencer Hotel https://www.thespencerhotel.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwPG5y7SK5gIVhrTtCh23uAn1EAAYASAAEgKtqPD_BwE in Dublin I tucked in.

I washed it down with copious cups of tea and Boatyard https://boatyarddistillery.com G&T chasers, of course.

Well, it was 11am after all.

Fermanagh friends

I guess this was the Northern Ireland Tourism board’s https://discovernorthernireland.com invitation to ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit.

The North of Ireland has always been close to my heart.

Even before I discovered, when researching my family tree, that the Murtys were Armagh weavers in the late 18th century.

My mum is proud Donegal and my Dad’s mum was a Tyrone lass which meant I was a regular visitor from Glasgow.

Photo by Michal Lizuch on Pexels.com

Our link is strong to this day with The Son and Heir now calling Belfast home.

So what of Fermanagh’s Lakelands… well they’re obviously a pleasure cruise for those who like to relax on Lough Erne which is all of us.

But most tantalising is that a boat runs to the front door of the Boatyard Distillery, Enniskillen.

Where you are treated to a 90-minute tour.

The best bit of which is that you get to drink three cocktails and three neat spirits.

Gin Joe

In fact owner Gin Joe promised that he would have a James Bond waiting for you at the pier on arrival.

And to send you on your way he has a miniature and a branded glass to take away.

Joe is offering tours for £45.

Northern Stars

I’ll be back with more… on the most prized pottery on the island, which is on every Irish grannie’s shelf.

And the one stretch of the island where there is no border, soft or hard.

Northern exposure

But before I pour The Scary One a Boatyard G&T for her birthday one of my famous Dad jokes:

‘I told my wife I had a crush on Beyoncé.’

”Whatever floats your boat,’ she replied nonchalantly,

‘No, that’s buoyancy,’ says I.

And here’s my homage to Belfast… Belfast Chilled.

And to juniper with the ginoisseur of Monaghan town… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/monaghans-country-roads/. The Scary One’s a convert!

MEET YOU ON THE FERMANAGH LAKELANDS

Featured

Two lips from Amsterdam

Mwaah! Some couples have Venice, some Rome, others Paris… we have Amsterdam.

Amsterdam was the first holiday myself and the Scary One went on.

And we managed to survive a row in a lift.

Me getting a whitey in a brown cafe and cramp after a 25-mile bicycle ride.

Which incidentally should have been only 15 miles.

If a certain someone hadn’t taken the wrong fork in the road. It also caused me to slip on the pathway.

To make matters worse when we did get to Cheesetown, or Edam as it’s known to the locals, it was their half-day and the town was shut.

We had the pleasure to return to Amsterdam last year where we stayed in the Dylan Hotel.

A bit more upmarket than our billet on our first trip, and took a romantic trip down the canal.

We’d recommend that, the art galleries, the restaurants and the quirky museums.

Not least the Tulip Museum… http://www.amsterdamtulipmuseum.com/nl/ While you should also make use of their city pass… http://www.amsterdamtulipmuseum.com/nl/.

With all this in mind let me recommend The Dylan’s Tulip Valentine package.

And a word to the wise, George Clooney and Amal stay here when they are in Amsterdam… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/george-and-amal-hotel/

You’ll spend two nights with B&B in a luxury double room (and unlike a lot of hotels you will want to spend time here).

You’ll have a chilled bottle of champagne and a bouquet of tulips in your room on arrival.

There will be a pre-dinner Valentine’s-themed cocktail in OCCO.

Followed by a set menu dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant Vinkeles.

And then also those tickets to the Tulip Museum… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/

The Dylan is all about personal service.

And you’ll also get a handwritten letter from the concierge.

With suggestions on how to make the most of your romantic getaway.

From intimate hidden away bars, and cosy restaurants.

To the best places to see the world’s best flowers (I have ice cream tulips just waiting to be planted in the Spring).

And the best boutiques (thanks for that… my credit card will take a hit!)

The Tulip Valentine’s package starts from €1695 and is based on two people sharing a room. Valid throughout February. Visit http://www.dylanamsterdam.com

Just promise me that you’ll check which is Edam’s half-day.

Featured

Cruiseday Tuesday – Disney on water

What’s the difference between Walt Disney and Bing Crosby? Bing sings but Walt Disney.

That’s just one of the jokes you’ll hopefully not hear on this Disney cruise.

Forgive me for trotting out a Dad Joke but it’s just that Daddy’s Little Girl gave me a box of them for my birthday… and some of them aren’t even mine.

Being the big kid I am I’m one of those who still believes that Disney is the Happiest Place on Earth…. http://www.disneyparks.disney.go.com, http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com, http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com.

Both when I visited Disneyworld and Disneyland https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/.

So what better match-up than my favourite holiday hosts and my favourite form of travel… a Disney cruise?

Cassidy Travel http://www.cassidytravel.ie is offering a seven-night cruise on Disney Fantasy from €7661 for a family of four of the Western Caribbean.

Visiting Mexico, Grand Cayman and Jamaica from Cape Canaveral.

There will be daily shows and activities, dress-up themed nights, fireworks display and kids’ clubs.

There is even a private island, Castaway Cay, with water sports and sandy beaches. 

And, of course, you’ll be sharing the ship with these guys…

Corphew

That water looks so still you could walk on it… the Aegean Sea that is.

So I tried, in Corfu, and ended up swallowing half of it, adding water skiing to a list of water sport calamities.

Which can only grow next week out in Tobago.

But I won’t have the Scary One to burp me like a new-born baby or like Jerry does to Tom.

Corfu is best admired from aboard a cruise ship with a stop-off.

And luckily enough TUI http://www.tuiie has just the thing.

They have a seven-night Marella all-inclusive cruise from €1339pps on June 26.

You’ll be staying in an inside cabin on the Marella Explorer as part of an Idyllic Italy tour. Buon Vacanza. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie

And for more couples’ frolics on the high seas here’s when I stopped the Scary One from ‘falling overboard!!! http://The Call of the fjords.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

Featured

Moanday Morning – Electioneering

Holidays are coming and so is electioneering. In fact where you are it may already be here.

All over Britain people are drawing curtains and turning down their televisions for fear of encouraging the doorsteppers.

Our time will come in Ireland in the New Year.

When election posters will go up on every available pole.

No electioneering here: In Tirol, Austria

It’s like being gatecrashed by the annoying people down the pub.

It’s not just that they have an opinion on everything and promise you the Earth with no intention of delivering.

Or eat into your time when you’re watching I’m A Celebrity.

But those damned posters are so distracting in your eyeline when you’re driving.

At Thiepval, Belgium where they honour my Great-Uncle

I’ve seen how they do it in other countries and although, of course, I’ve not been in the tinpot dictatorships of the world.

I’ve found other people do do it better.

For example in Ehrwald in Tirol in Austria https://www.tyrol.com.

Where they were holding a general election when we visited with https://topflightforschools.ie.

You wouldn’t have known it as nothing cluttered the pure white vista.

He’s out electioneering in New York

And Daniella, our Italian hotel host, seemed pretty non-plussed on Election Day when I’d asked who’d won.

In other European countries too they make sure politicians don’t become a blot on the landscape.

Like in Belgium where they make sure half of their government is French-Belgian and the other half Flemish.

They know from history that compromise is the only way to peace… A pilgrim’s prayer and https://www.visitflanders.com/en/?country=en_GB.

And the best vote is ME

You may have caught on that screen in the corner of your room that the Americans are ratcheting up their Presidential race.

But when we visited New York as a family back in November 2008 it was all low-key on the street.

Yes, you could get buttons (or pins as we like to call them).

And I recall wearing a We’re With The Duke button when I was working in Boston in 1988.

I can always be depended on to pick a loser.

Maybe not… In Jordan

Back to Obama and that election race and it being Halloween when we visited I was particularly taken by the Obama pumpkins.

While even better are the Trumpkins… New Yorkers https://www.nycvb.com can be guaranteed to give you your (not their) opinion too.

And have been since the days of Hamilton…

Vote this way

Of course for all our ennui with politicians and elections there are some countries for whim true democracy is still nascent.

Which our South African hosts shared tales of queueing from the early hours to vote Nelson Mandela in in the Nineties.

When I visited Port Elizabeth http://www.visiteasterncape.co.za and the Eastern Cape with https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/.

I’m putting my cross next to the Monster Raving Looney Party.

Featured

Spend a penny, drachma, dinar

There is a sign in an Irish bar to help the clientele find their way to the toilet… ‘men, left; women always right.’

And isn’t it just the case that whoever we are and wherever we are in the world that we all love toilet humour?

So then in the interests of research I have been gathering men’s and women’s toilet signs from around the world.

I’ll be scoring them… out of five.

I’ll show them this evidence too when I’m taken down to the police station and asked to explain my actions.

It’s all Greek to me

It’s a nod to the Ancient Greeks and might even be taken from doodles from early Homer.

You want to concentrate on these signs though with the ladies’ hair not coming all the way around the chin.

And here are some more thoughts on Greece http://www.athensattica.com/things-to-see/sightseeing/acropolishttps://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/21/holiday-snaps-postcard-from-kethyra-%f0%9f%87%ac%f0%9f%87%b7/

Or https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/21/sporting-weekend-fun-olympic-games/

🚽🚽🚽 🚽

German sense of humour

The Germans are unfairly stereotyped for not having a sense of humour. Scheisse!

But in a region, Bavaria https://www.germany.travel/en/travel-information/federal-states/federal-state-bavaria.html which boasts a Wanktunnel I’d say they can do better…

And some thoughts on Bavaria… Germany leaves me gratified.

🚽 🚽

Toilets from Amsterdam

When it’s Spring again, I’ll sing again Toilets from Amsterdam https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/see-and-do.

Hat’s how they do it in this Middle Eastern restaurant from a converted mosque in De Pijp… Pictures of Amsterdam.

🚽 🚽 🚽

Traditional Tirol

We’re jumping from foot to foot which means that we really want to go.

And that’s how the Austrians, and particularly the Tirolians https://www.tyrol.com, dress up their herrs and fraus.

For this and much more toilet humour try https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/01/austrian-toilet-humour/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/__trashed/

🚽 🚽 🚽 🚽

Let’s Split

Sometimes it just needs to be what it says on the tin.

And here in the airport in Split, Croatia http://www.croatia.ie, in the Balkans, the crossroads where South-East Europe meets the Old Ottoman Empire it’s best to have androgynous signs. This ticks the boxes.

And here are some Balkan memories from Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/18/medgugorje-whats-your-story/.

🚽 🚽

Mr and Miss Sarajevo

Or for political correctness you can always hedge your bets with a couple of symbols and the local language.

These guys and gals have smiles on their faces. I guess it translates to Thanks Armitage Shanks.

The historic capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina http://visit-bosniaherzegovina.com is fascinating and fabulous.

Go visit.., https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/21/sarajevo-the-scot-that-was-heard-around-the-world/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/24/sarajevo-revisited/

🚽 🚽 🚽

Featured

Give us this Day – Sunday School

Back in the day the kids of the parish would sit down cross-legged and listen to their Sunday School teacher – ME!

I’d surround myself with props related to the biblical story of the day.

And we’d sing from a playlist with set dances…

It’s Us Who Make Commuity, Ladybird, Do You Know Who Made You? and This Little Light of Mine come to mind.

I’m minded here to share with you that they play this song on a loop in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum http://www.mcrm.mdah.ms.gov.

Part of my American Trilogy which includes http://The Promised Land, http://The Story of the Blues and http://The King of Kings.

The reason why I’m raising Sunday Schools is twofold.

Firstly because the family behind me at Mass today (and many Sundays) spent the whole service running around after their hyperactive kids.

Harriet Tubman

And secondly because, God willing, I’ll be attending a Sunday Service with a difference next weekend.

Before I get on to that it’s worth saying that not all kids are menaces.

And I was hugely impressed by the wee one who sat right through a high-powered film.

The excellent Harriet, the story of Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman.

Photo by Pragyan Bezbaruah on Pexels.com

Sunday Schools were part and parcel of Sabbath worship back in Scotland but seems less of a thing here in Ireland.

But it makes sense, allowing parents to concentrate on the service.

And the kids are taken away and told biblical stories at their pace.

With all this in mind and with my experience at the sharp end I might just volunteer my services to Sunday School in Tobago http://www.visittobago.gov.tt.

Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Particularly as Tobago’s Sunday School has a twist.

Tobago’s Sunday School

It’s only a nightclub with a jumping steel band which gets the party started every Sunday night.

I’ll be returning to the Caribbean for the first time in a couple of years next weekend….

Here’s https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/.

Here’s what we know already about the island already. And I’m not kidding https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/11/tobago-ready-steady-goat/

Allellujah!

Featured

My Sporting Weekend – ice hockey

Every writer remembers their first paid commission – mine’s was for a piece for ice hockey magazine Powerplay.

For €30… which gives you some kind of idea how long ago that was.

I think it was an interview with a hockey player from the Balkans where it’s more popular than here in Ireland.

And the player had fled the war-torn region which I had the pleasure to visit this Autumn.

On a wing and a prayer: With Wild Wing

And saw that as it should be the passions were now being contained to the football pitch and the ice rink….

Ice hockey is the world’s fastest sport, and my reporting career in that sport was equally quick.

In fact you’ll find my part in the Bracknell Bees story merits but a footnote of a footnote.

Still I have kept up my interest in the sport of which renowned American scribe AJ Leibling wrote:

‘I went to a fight last night and an ice hockey match broke out.’

Scored again

But it took until this year for me to pick up a stick in anger in Anaheim under the nose of their mascot Wild Wing…

On my Californian adventure https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/.

Best check out Visit California www.visitcalifornia.com.

While ice hockey has struggled to get a skatehold in the south of Ireland our friends in the North are all over it.

Belfast’s SSE Arena will be host to the Friendship Four 2019 American College tournament on 29-30 November.

It will be the fifth consecutive iteration of the contest, the only collegiate tourney outside the US.

You don’t scare me

Now American collegiate sport is another ball (or puck) game and its adherents are fanatic.

Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com have held a biennial American Football match at the Aviva, home of Irish rugby.

Which I took the Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl to a few years back.

And where I got talking to some fanatical Gridiron fans.

All-action. Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

It wasn’t for the Scary One who asked me during the third quarter if it was in the rules to throw the ball forward!

Princeton, Colgate, Northeastern and the University of New Hampshire will compete for this year’s Belpot Trophy.

And you can be one of the 20,000 spectators… visit www.friendshipfour.com.

For the kids. Photo by Anton Belitskiy on Pexels.com

You might even see The Son and Heir there who has been at the heart of my Belfast jaunts… Belfast Chilled.

An everyday adventure at the Grand Central Hotel with its seahorse symbol which anchors Belfast.

See https://www.grandcentralhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvJWM5qiA5gIVR7TtCh2WZQTUEAAYASAAEgJ5CfD_BwE. And also https://visitbelfast.com.

SEE YOU ON THE RINK

Featured

Holiday Snaps – Malta pleaser!

It’s one of the highlights of the year, the Irish Travel Trade Awards… and not just because I get my kiltie out!

I don’t know if there was a drawing of lots when I first arrived as to who would end up with me at their table.

But it was my pleasure to spend the evening again this year with my Maltese pals.

With Malta chief Tolene van der Merwe

There’s a synergy about Malta for me, it being where I bent down to tie my shoelace only to then discover I’d got engaged.

And also it being my first Press trip after a 12-year hiatus when I swore off them when I got…

Mugged in Marrakech and food poisoning in the Sahara Desert.

Malta crossroads

Malta restored my faith in Press trips five years ago and the rest is history.

As I’ve very nearly been.

On almost every one of them.

Save for the unstinting and patient help of any number of hosts.

Now there are many similarities between our wee islands and we’re both steeped in Catholic tradition.

Get on your segway in Gozo

They have a cracking Christmas Village from December 1 and a 35ft Christmas Tree by the Valletta waterside.

And an Eco Christmas Market on December 21 and 22 at Magazzino Hall, Valletta Waterfront.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a dip in the sea.

But while we freeze our whatsits off at the Forty Foot they have…

The Thomas Smith Christmas Charity Swim off the pier by Independence Gardens, Sliema.

Swim time. Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

You’ll be wanting somewhere to stay?

Why not try the 5* Phoenicia Malta, just outside the City Gate of Valletta. From €116 per room per night.

Or the 5* Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay for €125 per night in a deluxe sea view room including breakfast.

Visit www.maltaireland.com. And here’s one I prepared earlier… Malta easer.

Of course back to the awards at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin.

Beautiful People. Photo. By Bruce Mars on Pexels.com

And for all the legendary ladies of Ireland’s Travel Trade on show, I still had the best legs.

Keep posted and I’ll be namechecking the Travel Trade partners from the night. Also visit https://www.ittn.ie.

History. Photo by Artur Roman on Pexels.com

For whom this is a well deserved chance to have a night off and a rare drinkie.

Featured

Black Flyday Friday coming with Emirates

Just mentioning, and no pressure here, but tomorrow’s my birthday. Well, a lot of pressure then!

But if you need some guidance then Emirates has seven nights all-inclusive from €2,1499pp 5* You & Me Cocoon Maldives.

Among Emirates Holidays’ Black Friday range of deals.

Heron good things about the Maldives

The package has complimentary room upgrade from Manta Villa to Dolphin Villa.

You’ll save up to €875 on your stay.

Return Emirates Economy Class flights from Dublin.

Sarong remains the same

Valid for travel on 2-4 and 9-11 June. Based on two adults sharing a room. Book by December 4. Visit http://www.emiratesholidays.com

Yup, have sarong, will travel… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/

Ryanair changing my world

Flyin’air: Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

It’s a national pastime, knocking Ryanair.

Save the world

But credit where credit is due and I’ve reason to thank the low-fares airline for getting me out of a jam this week.

When I again fell foul of the small print.

My gripe is that airlines don’t make out clearly on the forms that a flight is taking off on a particular day but returning the following day.

When you’re faced with booking online which we invariably are now just having a +1 next to the date will invariably catch you out.

Inevitably I got my return connection from London to Dublin wrong and panicked worrying that I would be out of pocket.

My benchmark: The boss

That though is when I steeled myself to fess up to The Scary One who internalised (a little) her anger and pointed me in the direction of the Ryanair Helpline.

Half-expecting that they would just palm me off I was delighted to find.

That they were agreeable to me switching my date to the next day.

Dig in: Michael O’Leary

Which just leaves me with fresh as yet unknown ways to screw it all up now.

I’m happy to repay the favour in the best way I can then.

Particularly as it involves being proactive about emissions.

Ryanair are pointing to their lowest CO2 per passenger/km in the EU airline industry.

How can you not help?

Which they’re happy to say is 23% lower than the average of Europe’s other big four airlines.

And they’ve not just been doing it by themselves. Those little envelopes we fill are working.

Ryanair have now offset a volume of 280,000 tonnes of CO2.

Thanks to the distribution of thousands of fuel-efficient cookstoves over a year.

They have also donated €250,000 to Renature Monchique as part of its Carbon Offset Initiative.

Portugal Cento

Which will pay for the planting of thousands of trees in the Monchique area of the Algarve.

And anything that helps Portugal as you know is good news as far as I’m concerned…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/.

Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com flies to Faro and to Lisbon from €16.99 and Porto from €21.99.

And just to say… there are a bunch of people who have put the oul’ embargo on us.

But when I can I’ll share.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Featured

Swing low, sweet Harriet

I doubt whether there will be too many England rugby supporters who will know the story behind their anthem.

But maybe they’ll get an idea after they watch the film I’ve been waiting all year for.

Harriet Tubman

I refer, of course, to Harriet which tells the story of one of the greatest Americans, nay a woman for the ages, hits cinemas today.

Harriet Tubman is as large a figure in American history as her more lauded peers Abraham Lincoln or Frederick Douglass.

And yet the ‘great’ Americans of our day have in their wisdom decided to hold off from giving her a worthy place on a banknote.

Myrlie Evers

An honour which had been reserved for American Presidents and a certain ‘bastard son of a whore and a Scotsman’.

I don’t know if the Scotsman bit was a bigger challenge and yet this son of the Caribbean rose to be George Washington’s trusty aide and moneyman.

And Broadway sensation. In fact if you look hard enough you can see Alexander Hamilton all over New York…

But much like the course of American history, the one I did, I’m off on a tangent.

Rosa Parks

So back to Harriet.

In the absence of her own bank note the best place to see Harriet is in the Deep South or on the big screen.

The backstory to ‘Swing Low’ was that Harriet was a slave who fled captivity.

The Underground Railroad

And yet was a key figure in the Underground Railroad to transport fellow slaves up north to Freedom.

At great personal cost and danger to herself with the equivalent of $1million bounty on her head.

The slaves kept their morale up by masking their trust in Harriet behind what their masters thought was a gospel spiritual.

Fannie Lou Hamer

You can learn more about Harriet and the history of slavery here on this site.

And meet another couple of iconic women, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer and the actual Myrlie Evers.

I’ll point you in the right direction and the hottest Smithsonian ticket in Washington DC, the African-American Museum.

And much, much more… Easy DC.

With the unfinished sculpture of MLK

My American Trilogy

And explore Tennessee and Mississippi in my American Trilogy series..

Which was part of the Martin Luther King 50th commemoration…

The Promised Land, The story of the Blues. And The King of Kings.

The story of slavery and the Road to Freedom is of course the whole of Ameria’s story.

Outside Ben’s Chili Bowl, central to the story, in DC

But here are some of the places and the websites I’ve been where you can feel truly part of it…

With special mention to the African-American Museum in DC, the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee and the Museum of Mississippi.

http://www.washington.org, https://nmaahc.si.edu, http://www.civilrightsmuseum, http://www.mmh.mdah.ms.gov.

Swing by your local cinema and see this film… I will. And I might even start singing.

Featured

Hungry and Thursday – Pasta con Fulvio

The Scary One’s been laid low so I had to make my own meal!

Thank goodness then I’ve got Catherine Fulvio to call on.

At her cookery school up the road in Ballyknocken in Co. Wicklow https://ballyknocken.ie/catherine-fulvios-cookery-school-ballyknocken-house-cookery-school-accommodation-wicklow-ireland/.

With Italian specialists Top Flight www.topflight.ie.

Woah there! David lends there

Food is integral to Italian life with Catherine sharing with us tales of her Sicilian mother-in-law rustling up beautiful dishes when she visited.

From what was lying around the kitchen.

There was a pasta-making machine lying around our table top… the only thing though was we’d have to make the pasta.

Or rather Laura, an Italian on our table, would.

Shredding it

She did, of course, put me to work on the sticky stuff which is kneeding the dough and the egg.

The expert gets it into a nice ball, the amateur (ie. me) wears it on their fingers like a glove.

And that’s even before you learn how to use the pasta-making machine.

Now this one’s really got my brain scrambled (or should that be mangled). And the cup after cup of Prosecco wasn’t helping.

Maggie comes to the rescue

You’ve got to thread the strips through the machine which is kind of difficult when you’re turning the handle in the wrong direction.

And then change the settings on the side to make it thinner.

I could just hear Bruce Forsyth or Larry Grayson guffawing at my efforts (ask your parents).

Maybe I’d be better at the oven-baked Pancella & red pepper Risotto… the only trouble was that I was chopping my celery stalks too thick.

The wooden spoon

And Laura had to take over the garlic cloves because I was going too slowly.

The open Ravioli with Chicken Mushroom Sauce would have been a mush without Kevin’s help.

But I did manage to mix the Amaretto Truffle Torte in its bowl and lick the spatula and the Amaretto.

Time then to make my excuses and leave…

But not before giving you a sample of what Top Flight has to offer in its Italy brochure.

Old Sicily. Photo by Chiara Caldarola on Pexels.com

And in a nod to Catherine and the Sicilians… why not from the Top Flight brochure Taormina.

They are billing Delicious Sicily & Cooking Class as an excursion.

You can stay at the Hotel Ariston. Seven nights B&B two pps, flying from Dublin. From €999 to €1299. Visit http://www.topflight.ie.

You’ll be near the centre of the old town, ten minutes’ walk to the cable car for the beach (an uphill walk from the resort centre) next to the bus terminal.

And here’s a Dad joke to lighten your day…

Patient, Doctor, I feel like an Italian island.

Doctor: ‘Don’t be Sicily.’

Featured

Poochie-poochie-coo… it’s Florida Keys

You had me at aoooow!

‘Smooch a pooch’ in the Florida Keys follows in the pawsteps.

Of Bono, the Brazilian Labrador dog surfer and the pupparazzi at Huntington Beach, Florida.

I first discovered just how bow-wow bonkers the American were about their pets on my first visit there.

As a 17-year-old.

And I saw a pet parlor on the block near my Auntie’s in Long Island, New York, with the offer of peticures.

Now I might have made that bit up but they definitely painted your doggie’s toenails.

I saw the evidence out on the street on a poodle… in candy-floss pink.

I didn’t get to see me the surfing dogs the Huntington Beach delegation had told me about when they visited Dublin this year

It was too early in the season.

But I did see me a special dog… Snoop Dogg on my trip to Hollywood, West Hollywood and Anaheim…

For the American Travel Fair, IPW… www.ipw.com.

Now the Florida Keys has long been on my radar after I got a big taste for the Sunshine State.

On two unforgettable trips to Orlando… Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and Why I love The Donald.

But while Orlando has a mouse, a duck and a dog as well as much, much more The Keys have a very special cat.

Hemingway’s six-toed cats…. https://www.hemingwayhome.com/cats/

But back to the dogs… and December 12 (10am-2pm) sees the sixth annual Parade of Paws and Holiday Bazaar… http://www.fkspca.org/events-and-news/upcomingevents.

At Higgs Beach Dog Park at Atlantic Boulevard and White Street.

In support of the Florida Keys SPCA animal care fund.

Sausage dogs

Which will include photos with Santa, a market of goods, and that chance to smooch a pooch.

And there’s more…

How about the Annual Key West Dachshund Walk, many of them costumed?

In a wiener wonderland on Fleming Street between Whitehead and Duval Streets. From 12noon on December 31.

Visit http://facebook.com/Key-West-Dachshund-Walk-161327957238019.

Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com flies to Miami with pre-clearance through your Irish airport.

And information to get to the Keys on www.fla-keys.co.uk.

GOODBOW FOR NOW

Featured

Holidos and don’ts – parking

It’s one of the prices you have to pay for marrying a Murty – there are many!

Being dragged out to look for the car which we’ve forgotten where we parked it.

Which happened to my Dear Old Dad on honeymoon in Paris.

Which is probably why he didn’t kick up too much of a fuss when I asked him to drive me around the east end of Glasgow.

Photo by David McBee on Pexels.com

Late at night to look for the car I had parked after a Celtic match.

To cut a long story short, the Scary One had to come back the next day by train from Edinburgh, to find the car which was on a wasteland.

But thankfully still in one piece. Miracle!

It wasn’t a one-off. I had a works car towed outside Dundee United’s ground, Tannadice.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And every time at the shopping mall I would forget where I’d parked the car.

Usually when I had The Son and Heir and Daddy’s Little Girl with me.

Thank goodness then that I now take a photograph of the parking space though I often get let down because my phone runs out of charge.

One of the reasons then why I have never driven outside Britain or Ireland.

Unless, of course, you mention my attempts at driving a Fiat 500 on the French Riviera.

Stalled again!

It was the stand-out on a terrific itinerary when I stayed at Mimosas Resort http://www.mmv.fr/provence-cote-dazur on the Cote D’Azur.

Alas, the gear stick was on the dashboard and after I’d stalled it in the car park for the third time the owner of the firm decided to take the wheel.

Some small talk later and stone-skimming on the shore to get rid of my huff and I was on a boat whizzing around the Millionaires’ shore.

Someone else was driving.

Which means they have to remember where they park the car, although an extra problem is that I have to remember if I go off-piste.

Boats on the Red Sea

I did get a shot at driving the boat on the Red Sea on my G Adventures trip http://www.gadventures.com to Jordan… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/

The pilot did take the wheel back when I got too close to Israel.

It wouldn’t have done to be towed away there!

Featured

Cruiseday Tuesday – Stena and Wales

And because one day is never enough I’m tempted to introduce a Thank God it’s Ferryday too.

To shoehorn in news from our friends from Stena www.stenaline.ie.

Who have taken possession of Stena Estrid from the yard in China.

Which is now on its way over to Ireland.

To sail the Dublin to Holyhead route next year.

It was poignant to see the Hong Kong-based Reverend Stephen Miller, of the Mission to Seafarers, bless the ship.

And here’s hoping that someone is listening to his prayers too for the plight of Hong Kong.

Black Friday

Black Friday is all about the sales (sorry, sails).

And Travel Department www.traveldepartment.ie is offering:

€75pp off River Cruises departing next year.

Use promo code VP-BLACKRIVER.

€50pp off any holiday of seven nights or more.

Use promo code VP-BLACK50.

€25pp off any holiday of six nights or less.

Use promo code VP-BLACK25.

The offers are available until December 2.

Liberty on the seas

Photo by TheUknownPhotographer on Pexels.com

It’s how my emigrating Donegal uncles first saw America… on a big ship.

You can upgrade, and deserve it, on the Cunard Queen Mary.

Click and Go www.clickandgo.com have a 14-night New York Fly/Cruise. Stay from €1599pp.

Two of my favourite places in the world… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/ and Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

And after pushing my blood pressure up booking return Ryanair flights Dublin-London I’m getting ready for Tobago next month.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

Featured

Moanday Morning – supermarkets

Or Supermarches as they like to call them in France, though, in truth, it’s not really the French grocery stores that I’m targeting today.

In general they’re pretty well marked and their booze is of course far more competitively priced.

Which is why there are so many booze cruises from England to Normandy to fill up cars with drink.

No, it’s the supermarkets here where I live in Ireland that have my head doing a Klunk (from Stop the Pigeon).

Photo by Ash Valiente on Pexels.com

They’re probably not much different in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland… all of which I’ve worked in.

It’s just that now I’ve taken time out from being a wage slave I’ve started to notice how confusing supermarkets can be.

And so I bring you my native Tesco.

Where I reckon I waste about half a day every week trying to find such awkward items as milk, bread, eggs and baked beans.

Photo by edwin josé vega ramos on Pexels.com

There are others too – I’m not on a Student’s Diet! Any more.

My dander was up when I went looking for milk and traversed aisle after aisle before realising it was in the Yogurt & Milk aisle.

Now since when did M come after Y in the alphabet or in importance. No wonder I got blindsided.

Perhaps if they spent less time putting Irish translations on stuff. Which they did on a train I was on recently without the English version.

Photo by Jeremias Oliveira on Pexels.com

I mean how many people even speak it as a first language here, and you’ll not meet anyone here who won’t moan about having to learn it in school.

Maybe try and get the baked beans then, I thought.

Who thinks up these things but by sheer accident I found them in the home baking section…

So, what are they saying. Do they expect me to make my own?

And then there is the traffic. Why can’t people take care of their kids and put them in the front of the shopping trolleys.

Photo by Nirmal Rajendharkumar on Pexels.com

I don’t care if they are teenagers… I’ll shoehorn them in.

And once you actually get to the till then there’s always someone ignoring the five items or less sign.

Supermarkets, of course, want us to do it ourselves.

Which is the modern way of it.

And they point us in the directions of scanners…

Again I refer you to an earlier Moanday Morning… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/11/11/moanday-morning-self-service/.

Photo by Sunbae Legacy on Pexels.com

So where does this leave us in how they do it elsewhere.

Well, nobody serves you better than the Americans and for all you need to know about the Oo Es of A then http://www.visitusa.ie.

I’m in the fortunate position of usually having a host when I’m abroad, or the hostess with the mostest, the one I report to.

But when I have had to make my own way with http://CaminoWays.com and http://Francigenaways.com.

On these journeys… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/ I have found it easy peasy.

While I’m a big fan of German shopping (maybe it’s the sausages, maybe it’s the big Berthas on the counter)…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/hamburgers-and-ships/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/01/hungry-and-thursday-the-munich-beerfest/

MEET YOU IN THE AISLES

Featured

The first Black Friday, and get your skis on

Black Friday is black, obvs, but also red, yellow, pink, green…

All the colours of shoes The Scary One has been known to buy on one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

But the first Black Friday was nothing to do with hitting the sales… more hitting the road.

For the people of Derby on December 3, 1745, the biggest fear wasn’t that somebody would get that new three-piece suite, or suit.

No, not that Black Friday. Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

But that some hairy-arsed, skirt-wearing Scotsman would pillage their house.

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Scottish Army were on the outskirts of Derby, just 125 miles from London, by Ikea.

And that prompted a retreat by the English Midlanders and a run on the bank in London.

While the Royal Family are said to have packed their bags.

We started it. Photo by Kevin Bidwell on Pexels.com

Ready to hit the coast and exile.

History tells us that, in typical Scottish style, they clutched defeat from the jaws of victory, and scarpered home.

And were routed on the Culloden Battlefield in the Highlands.

Today, we hit the coast too, but now it’s the coast of France, Spain and Italy.

And also the slopes.

Racing ahead. Photo by Paweu0142 Fijau0142kowski on Pexels.com

I’ll be bringing you Black Friday Sales this week and I’ll kick it off with this Directski offer.

Save an extra €100pp from Dublin or Cork, or £100 if you’re travelling from Belfast, when you book online.

Here’s what they’re tempting us:

They’ve got snow

France (from Dublin)

3* Lagrange Residence Cybele, Brides les Bains, January 18, €360 (eight share). Save €100pp. Self-catering.

Italy (from Dublin)

3* Livigno Ski Apartments, January 18, €399 (four share). Save €187pp. Self-catering.

Off and running. On a Black Run in Soll!

Austria (from Dublin)

3* Schindlhaus Apartments, Soll, January 4, €375 (four share). Save €240pp. Self-catering. And Soll’s a blast… http://Soll mates.

Italy (from Dublin)

3* Hotel Alaska, January 18, €739 (two share). Save €150pp. Half-board.

Austria (from Cork)

3* Landhaus Roscher, Mayrhofen Valley. December 21. Save €130pp. B&B.

Austria (from Belfast)

4* Hotel Eva Village, Saalbach, January 4, £1499 (two share). Save £230pp.

The perfect ski jacket

These offers are limited, so book early on http://www.directski.com.

Prices include return flights from Dublin, Cork or Belfast (depending on chosen resort).

Stay for seven nights, resort transfers, rep service in the resort and generous luggage allowance.

Offers are available until November 29, subject to availability.

Featured

Give us this Day – We are what we wear

It’s their stage when holy men get a chance to dress up and play the diva.

Still there’s probably some religious significance there too.

And fancy dress is clearly one of the upsides of the role.

It also includes a job for life and care right up to the end.

And you’ll get straight entry into heaven, and life everlasting.

These were many of the reasons why I flirted with becoming a Catholic priest when I was a boy.

OK, I didn’t make it to the seminary probably because I wanted to make it with girls.

That’s something which you can do if you want to go on to become a vicar or minister, rabbi or imman.

With Catholic priests, of course, you get to wear the dress too.

I was sorely tempted too to buy the vestments I saw for sale in the window of a shop in Medjugorje.

Where I’d gone on a Marian Pilgrimages http://www.marianpilgrimages.ie tour just last month…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/18/medgugorje-whats-your-story/

Clothes maketh the man, some might say, and I have been drawn to all kinds of cultures because of theirs.

Jesus in a skirt, yes. In a church in Tenerife https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/ with http://www.CanariaWays.com.

While I also witnessed a promised Land of Hasidic Jews (if that’s the collective noun) passing through the world’s biggest through hub for Jews and the world’s best airport, Istanbul. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/

With Turkish Airlines’ business lounge being the jewel in the crown… http://www.turkishairlines.com.

Crossroads of history

Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities for any number of reasons but definitely because it is a crossroads city where cultures and religions meet.

Like the beautiful Sarajevo https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/21/sarajevo-the-scot-that-was-heard-around-the-world/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/24/sarajevo-revisited/

Which the Bosnian city has had its Catholic and Orthodox visitors where you’ll see both religious and secular dress.

Jordan is another crossroads where you only have to stand by the river with Muslims on the side of Jordan country https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/.

While also seeing white robed Russian Orthodox Christians douse themselves in the river in deference to Jesus who they believe was baptised at that spot.

Which I witnessed on my G Adventures trip to the Middle East… http://www.gadventures.com.

Talking of Orthodox Christians then you an always turn up in Greece, while waiting for a lift.

In an InterContinental Hotel in Athens http://www.intercontinental.com on an Attica Region trip and http://www.athensattica.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/22/give-us-this-day-greek-orthodox/.

He was beautifully adorned in his black vestments and donned a beautifully coiffured white beard.

Now there’s a look I can definitely pull off.

Featured

Holiday Snaps – Going solo

When nobody else will go with you, or you don’t want to go with anyone, then you go solo.

It doesn’t make you Johnny No Mates, in fact you leave with more friends.

Our friends at Travel Department www.traveldepartment.ie like to do their homework before setting on programmes for us. Obvs!

And so they have conducted a survey into ours and our UK neighbours’ habits.

Pilgrims on the Camino

Irish people are three times more likely than the British to go solo.

And four out of five solo travellers are female.

Wendy, or Mrs Always Right, a nickname she revelled in and one I think she gave herself at the bank she managed, is one such solo traveller.

Who I, another solo traveller, met ten minutes into my Camino.

I always find a cat on my Caminos

When I asked if she wanted me to take a photograph of her at a bridge.

We went on to spend the next four days with each other and a range of international friends we picked up along the way.

And that despite me swatting a wasp she alerted me too onto her foot and stinging her.

Just 12kms into the 100km CaminoWays http://www.caminoways.com trek… A pilgrim’s prayer.

With Francesca on the Via Francigena

While I only spent a couple of days with Elke I almost hugged her when we first met.

A friend in need

I had been three days on the Via Francigena http://wwwviafrancigena.com, had got lost obviously and hadn’t come across a human being for three days.

Other than at my billets. Until I met Elke.

We broke bread together, washed our feet in the stream and arranged to meet one another above Rome.

Which inevitably I missed and found myself in another grove. Still I got there and this is how… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/

Splash hit: Thanks for the pic, Elke

Even when you are supposed to be on a couples holiday you can sometimes find yourself going solo.

I had been invited out to Barbados with Tropical Sky http://www.tropicalsky.ie to stay at Club Barbados http://www.theclubbarbados.com.

And while the invite was for me they had given me the option of a plus one at our own expense.

Which I had put to the Scary One at the time but which she returned to a week before I left… my mistake for not having it written down in triplicate.

Ruby’s rules: Her kitchen at the Club Barbados

Of course everywhere I looked there were couples. on the dance floor, in the swimming pool, on the terrace, at the bar, and the turtles in the sea.

Still, again, there is no such thing as a stranger in the Caribbean, only a friend you haven’t met yet.

And there was Andy, Ben, Jena, Patsy, Geraldine, Ruby, Bubba, Maradona (no, not that one), Lyndon and a host of others.

Here’s how a Scotsman in Barbados got on… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

Lean into it: Me and Andy in Barbados

Go solo with Travel Department. They have new 2020 Solo Traveller tours on offer.

These include a Danube River Cruise, a Bavarian Winter Break, a Milan City Break, a 12-night South Africa adventure, including a safari, and a Nile River Cruise.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Featured

My Sporting Weekend – Women’s football

Back when she was Michelle Akers-Stahl I interviewed the Golden Shoe winner in a windswept field in stormy Aberdeen in midwinter.

I’d never heard of her and my complete knowledge of women’s football was then the square root of nothing.

Michelle, though, had the legendary status in women’s football of a say, Sir Stanley Matthews, whom I also met.

And who told me that even at the age of 77 he would get up at 5.30am to do his exercises.

The Magnificent Seven: At Quinta do Lago

I do the same, at 25 years younger, but only to go to the toilet!

It has been a big week in English football, what with the record crowd for an England women’s football match.

The 77,000 that watched England play Germany.

Followed by the 1,000th England men’s international when a raft of former and current greats marked the occasion.

Curl power: Michelle Akers

Now these would be occasions I would normally try to avoid in the past as a proud Scotsman.

But as a sports writer and editor I would find myself drawn into.

While many footballers I met were one-dimensional and spoke in cliches, Sir Stanley, who played professional football at 52, lived up to his legend.

There is hope for me yet.

But I was also in the presence of greatness with Michelle, who has now dropped the Stahl after remarrying (Steve Eichenblatt).

King of the dribblers: Sir Stanley Matthews

Michelle Akers-Eichenblatt would be a bit of a mouthful, I guess.

Now this weekend the women have it all to themselves because there are internationals in the men’s game.

So today and tomorrow are billed Women’s Football Weekend… and as I need my football fix, and it’s pretty good, I’ll be looking in.

Sports camps of the type Michelle and Sir Stanley were there to promote have become increasingly popular around the world.

Who needs a racket? With Strictly legend Judy Murray

Awesome Algarve

I saw first hand what they do out in Quinta do Lago, Portugal, where Judy Murray coached us tennis (and dancing).

They have a Paul McGinley Golf Academy, padel classes (a cross between squash and tennis). gym, aquatics, cycling… and it goes on.

But don’t just take my word for it, the top professional rugby and football teams use its facilities.

In fact do take my word for it… www.quintadolago.com. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/.

Hopefully you’ll meet a legend or two, along with me.

MEET YOU AT THE CAMPUS

Featured

Flyday Friday – the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights of Aberdeen

Are home sweet home to me

The Northern lights of Aberdeen

Are where I long to be

I’ve been a wanderer all of my days

And many’s the sight I’ve seen

But hark the day I’ll be on my way

To my home in Aberdeen

Pick a colour, any colour. Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels.com

In nine years in the Granite City I saw bright lights (more nightclubs than libraries) but never the Northern Lights.

It wasn’t an Aberdonian at all who wrote the Northern Lights but Londoner Mary Webb who had never even been to Scotland’s third city.

She wrote the song with her husband Mel for a homesick friend Winnie, at the hospital where they worked.

While I’ve been a wanderer all of my days I did get to return to my home in Aberdeen A light in the north.

House about that?

But not to Iceland where the Heavenly Dancers have a shindig almost every weekend from the looks of it.

I’ve kept up close links with the Icelanders since I started this scribbling lark.

And sent many a scribe to the Land of Fire and Ice, and many then onto the Oo Es of A.

Our friends at Icelandair www.icelandair.com have given us the lowdown on all things aurora borealis.

The best time to see them is between October and March.

Green for go

But they have also been spotted as early as August and as late as April.

To save me more verbal diarrhoea let me just point you to these websites…

For the aurora forecast from the Veorstofa Islands, the Iceland Meteorological Office https://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/

Icelandair fly daily to Reykjavik. And it has 18 gateways to the US.

And looking at Icelandair’s list if what to bring I’ll have to leave a lot at home.

No, The Scary One’s coming with me… more baggage allowance, you see.

The bells, the bells

The wheel deal: Edinburgh

My first Hogmanay in Edinburgh I goosed a random lassie at the Mercat Cross at the Bells.

Which means at my first New Year in Edinburgh I kissed a random girl at the Market Cross when the clock turned midnight.

It was where people went then back in the early Eighties before it was turned into the big music party that it is now.

It’s still Hogmanay but it has lost a little bit of its identity, its old traditions of moving from house to house, flat to flat for a party.

And you would put yourself forward as the tall, dark man with the lump of coal and dram (short) of whisky which signifies health, wealth and happiness.

It has a castle too

Edinburgh is one-way from Ryanair from €14.99. I know it’s overdue but I will give you a city guide of the place I called home for ten years.

And here’s one I prepared earlier of the Dear Green Place, Edinburgh’s great rival, Glasgow, from €9.99 one way, where I spent the first 17… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel.

And Hogmanay? Well, maybe it’s not as Scottish as we think.

Glasgow for the World Bagpipes Championships

And that Mary, Queen of Scots, who was brought up in France introduced it.

The drinking she left to the locals which after much practice they perfected.

And while we’re at it just off the blocks… Ryanair have a saving of up to 25% off selected flights.

If you book before midnight on Sunday.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Featured

Holiday Snaps – Berlin Walls and Philly Bells

I’m indebted to reader Mark Konig @_markkoenig for his comments on my thoughts on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In my blog https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/11/10/when-the-berlin-wall-came-crashing-down/

Mark questioned ‘how could the Walll be a symbol of USSR?’

And, yes. it is important to say that this was the GDR and that the greater political bloc was the Soviet-driven Warsaw Pact.

Berlin fixture: The Brandenburg Gate Photo by Adrien Olichon on Pexels.com

Mark also rightly pointed out that I had focused merely on the exodus to the West through Hungary and that I had missed a lot of history/change before.

And he helpfully pointed me in the direction of http://www.the-berlin-wall.com for video clips and chronology on the key dates and events leading up to the Fall of the Wall.

Like I always say the best way to find out about a city, country, resort is to listen to the people on the ground… and to go there!

Dresden history: Ingrid and I

Like I did in Dresden where Ingrid led me by the nose… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/

If you want to know more about Berlin then put yourself in the hands of Click & Go http://www.clickandgo.com who are offering a City Break from €159pp in January.

Philly state of mind

What a cracker: Liberty Bell in Philly

I’m an impatient old sod.

Which is a bit off when I ask you to be so patient while I go off on all manner of tangents.

Which I did when I went to Washington DC for the American Travel Fair, IPW 2017 http://www.ipw.com,

And I also had a day out to hit Philadelphia.

Knowing I would only have half a dozen hours there I kept looking at my watch as I stood in the queue.

And I regaled the driver with my compelling need to make up time on the road when he eventually got going.

It wasn’t as if the Bell was going anywhere.

But I was as excited as an American Literature and History grad I was as excited as a kid at Christmas.

Rocky and Jocky: In Philly

It was crackin’…

And I also got bristly with the locals.

When I asked that they didn’t take the flag down at the Town Hall until I’d taken a selfie.

The answer is to spend longer there and Cassidy Travel http://www.cassidytravel.ie agree…

Flag happy: In Old Philly

They’ve got a three-night stopover in Philadephia in March from €825pp.

You’ll be staying in the 4* Home2 Suites by Hilton Convention Center.

Before jetting to the Big Apple for three nights in the 4* New Yorker Hotel.

Its Midtown West location puts you in the heart of Manhattan, just steps from Times Square.

There’s always something new in New York https://www.nycvb.com… and old https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/

New York, Old York

Flight from Dublin departs 6 March. Call Cassidy Travel on 01 8786888 or book in one of their nine stores across Dublin.

Card happy

Also check out the City pass in Philly and New York… https://www.citypass.com/philadelphia and https://www.citypass.com/new-york

Mark and the rest of you, who I value more than any other Blogger out there will have noticed that this Holiday Snaps is on a Thursday.

Rather than a weekend.

Well, there’s so much out there I thought I’d snap to it and bring you more snaps whenever and wherever.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Featured

Hungry and Thursday – Drink Canaria dry

It was a challenge, rescheduling our wine-tasting meeting in Tenerife from early evening to late morning.

But I’m always up for a challenge.

The problem was that we had a woman and a man down on our climb up to Aver the previous day.

And that meant postponing that night’s drinking.

But the Canarian wines dulled their senses and eased their pain (and mine).

Bentayga winery

I return to Canarian wine and that memorable CanariaWays.com http://www.canariaways.com trek https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/ and introduction to the magical multi-faceted North and West of Tenerife.

Because someone else has had the idea too… https://www.hellocanaryislands.com/ and they pinged me their latest news.

Ears to Tenerife

We’ve been drinking Canarian wine since the 15th Century while they’ve been drinking it since God put grapes in the ground.

And St Andrew stopped off on the island and got drunk, leaving a lasting legacy… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/02/tenerife-and-scotland-wave-the-same-flag/

There are 135 different varieties with the volcanic malvasía a particular favourite of William Shakespeare who references it in his plays.

El Grifo Winery

And which I tasted on that fact-finding mission.

You can find it in the off-sales Merchant of Vinos. OK, I made that last bit up.

There are many other native varieties such as the baboso, listán or vijariego, among others.

Vines at Camino La Faya

And needless to say I couldn’t pronounce any of them after drinking my fifth, sixth, seven, eighth… hic!

What distinguishes these wines is the salinity of the sea and volcanic minerals.  

And the islanders have been working hard to recover little-known native varieties that have gone on to prove very popular. 

Half a bottle to go… in Tenerife

The islands have 11 certificates of origin. Tenerife has five of these seals of quality:

Ycoden Daute Isora, Abona, Valle de Güímar, Tacoronte Acentejo and Valle de la Orotava. 

Islands’ vine lands

And the beauty is that each island is different:

Lanzarote is known for its volcanic malvasía and La Palma for the aromatic malvasía.

Is that all I’m getting?

There are also other peculiar wines such as wines from the whistling island La Gomera, made with the forastera variety.

The baboso reds hail from El Hierro, a variety recovered from the brink of extinction, as well as the more extended whites of Diego or Verijadiego.

It’s wine o’clock and guess what I have a bottle of malvasia in the rack and The Scary One’s off work tomorrow!

Featured

Grazie to Aer Lingus – New Italy + more USA

I felt a heel when I had to let colleagues know that I was sending someone else to sunny shores.

Sometimes it might even have been me.

But my pal Mary Conroy always delivered.

And I always enjoyed presenting her stories and pictures and I’m sure you enjoyed them too.

Now Mary’s travels sprang to mind today when I heard of Aer Lingus’s latest plans.

With two new routes in Italy and increased flights to their North American destinations.

Pretty Puglia. Photo by Michelangelo Iaia on Pexels.com

I remember that Mary’s trip to the heel of Italy, Puglia, was ‘Trulli Magical’.

And that Seattle was ‘Nirvana’… an out’ new headline always kept me happy.

So, back to our busy national airline carrier http://www.aerlingus.ie

They are opening up Brindisi, Puglia and Alghero, Sardinia from next summer.

Sardinia head over heels. Photo by Symeon Ekizoglou on Pexels.com

The Dublin-Brindisi service will run twice a week kicks off on May 23 with one-way fares from €79,99.

And here’s what you need to know about Puglia https://www.viaggiareinpuglia.it/spostarsiinpuglia.do?r002=spostarsiInPugliaMezziPubblici&r019=en

While the Dublin-Alghero service begins on May 24 (also twice a week) at €79.99 one-way. And this is Sardinia… https://www.sardegnaturismo.it/en

You know already how much I love Italy, Il Bel Paese, but here’s a reminder…

My Roman holidays https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/

And the frescoes up north… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/15/padova-city-of-frescoes/

Orlando, here we come

Orlando Minnie-break

They’re also all over Orlando, my American playground. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/aaawlando-orlando-the-rollercoaster-capital/

The Floridian fantasyland https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/ will now get two extra flights per week bringing it up to six flights per week.

We all think we know Orlando but there’s much more to find out… http://www.visitorlando.com.

Ole… in Miami

Miami http://www.miamiandbeaches.com I’m yet to get around properly.

After having had only six hours proper time in.

And going around in a circle, missing Little Havana altogether (yes it’s possible).

The route to Miami will grow from two to three flights per week.

Seattle… Frasier’s city

Coming back to that mini-Miami stay I did meet a little Havanan and their restaurant in Biscayne and here’s the evidence in the picture above.

And then there’s Seattle http://www.visitseattle.org which is very much on my to-do list.

Aer Lingus is making it even easier too, with daily service in the summer.

I’m listening

Increasing from five flights per week to a daily service.

Now we’ll likely be seeing a lot more of Seattle next year too.

With Kelsey Grammer hinting that the greatest television programme ever made, Frasier, will be making a comeback.

See you in Cafe Nervosa, Frase.

Featured

Thanksgiving – In America and Ireland

There’s a lot to give thanks for.

Celtic are top of the league, I’m off to Tobago next month, The Scary One, of course. And, best of all, did I mention that Celtic are top of the league?

Thanksgiving is one of the world’s great festivals, mainly because it’s completely inclusive.

There are no religious barriers with Thanksgiving being a celebration of family and friends. And we all have them, good or bad.

Dig in. Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

I got talking Thanksgiving with my friends from Massachusetts https://www.visit-massachusetts.com/state/, Bradley Airport, Connecticut https://bradleyairport.com and VisitUSA http://www.visitusa.ie this week in Dublin.

Where I was reminded that 2021 is the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving Harvest celebration.

Between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

I’ll carve then. Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Massachusetts has always been close to my heart from spending a summer working in Boston after University.

Although I didn’t venture further afield bar one day in Manchester, New Hampshire.

So this pilgrim is looking to Plymouth Ho. Get the turkey on.

Southern Hospitality

Around this time of year, I found myself in the Deep South where they were full of Christmas cheer and unseasonal snow.

I think that might have had something to do with our charming host who sang Let It Snow and other festive favourites…

Mr Happy

Here’s my American Trilogy… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/04/the-king-of-kings-jim-murtys-traveltraveltravel/

Of course Ireland and America being such good buddies we have embraced Thanksgiving too.

And I will be celebrating the last Thursday of this months with my American buddies.

Warm welcome at Ashford

You can get into the spirit of it all down at the Lodge at Ashford Castle.

Now earlier this year I won a prize draw for a night for two at Ashford and was told to get in touch when I was ready.

But life got in the way and I haven’t yet which poses the question is it too late? I’m almost too embarrassed to ask. ALMOST.

Let’s dance

Anyhoos. You’ll gather in the Harbour Room at The Lodge at Ashford Castle for a festive three-course meal.

Jonathan Keane will serve you up a warming pumpkin soup, roast turkey and sweet and sticky pecan pie.

And what’s a get-together without a jig? Carmel Dempsey, Brenda Curtin Diviney, lead fiddle player with Lord of the Dance, and Mike Stewart will get you in the mood. 

The welcome mat

The festivities begin at 6:30pm with a welcome reception and enjoy a festive ‘Fall Cider Cocktail’ or ‘Spiced Pumpkin Eggnog’ by the peat fires at The Lodge. Dinner at 7pm.

Thanksgiving Dinner at The Lodge at Ashford Castle costs €70pp.

An overnight stay at The Lodge including Thanksgiving Dinner and breakfast the following morning overlooking Lough Corrib from €259 based on two people sharing. Visit http://www.thelodgeac.com.

Featured

Cruiseday Tuesday – pedalloes and fireworks

Come what may, April would be late or go in the wrong direction – she was delightlfully ditzy and I felt I had found my kindred spirit.

April may have had an excuse on account of her diabetes which made her drowsy but she never used it as an excuse.

It all came to a head when we went out on the pedalloes in Majorca.

On my first cruise, from Nice to Palma, Majorca, via Barcelona.

Majorca. Photo by Kai Pilger on Pexels.com

When despite the huge expanse of the Mediterranean she almost bumped me (and others, mostly Scandinavian or German) in Soller in the north of the island.

We played it safe and gave her a story when we got invited to the bridge to see the captain and play with his wheel.

Majorca is much, much more than Magaluf and TUI know it.

They have Hidden Gems, seven nights all-inclusive Cork to Majorca on June 23 on Marella Dream from €11149pps.

To Book: Visit https://www.tuiholidays.ie. Call 1850 45 35 45 or visit a TUI Store / travel agent.

A Grandiosa old ship to sail with

River of lights: MSC Grandiosa. Photos : Vallbracht for MSC Cruises.

Hamburg is one of the world’s great port cities… it’s where the Beatles grew up after all, and don’t just take my word for it. John Lennon said that.

The German city on the Elbe was where it was at last weekend when Sophia Loren christened MSC Grandiosa to a lot of fanfare (it is Sophia after all).

I wasn’t on the 93m-long Mediterranean prom deck (the Scary One had chores for me at home) but many of my colleagues were.

We’re on that ship: In the fjords

This being MSC though they like to include everyone even if they aren’t there.

And this being Hamburg, the Hamburgers love a ship (and I know from having been on MSC that their ships love hamburgers and their passengers too).

So the locals 5,000 of them, celebrated too in the MSC Village on the banks off the river.

The main event was the special blue lightshow and fireworks as Grandiosa passed by the Elbphilharmonie.

It’s got me all nostalgic for our unforgettable trip up the fjords https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/

And our stop-off when we decided to take in Hamburg… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/hamburgers-and-ships/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/09/the-beatles-in-hamburg-with-stefanie-hempel/

The MSC Grandiosa starts her seven-night programme in the Western Mediterranean on November 26 with six embarkation ports.

Calling Genoa, Civitavecchia, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Valetta, Malta; Barcelona, Spain and Marseille, France. Visit http://www.msccruises.ie

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

Featured

Holidos and Don’ts – the aisle seat

You know that annoying dude who won’t shut up on your long-haul flight or falls asleep and their head flops near to your shoulder.

No, it’s not me, and by the way I’ve noticed you’ve been getting a wee bit bold.

Well, the answer is an aisle seat.

I won’t go into the tale of the Californian woman sat in the middle seat next to me from Dublin to LA.

So, you miss the view!

And who discovered while we were still on the runway that I too was a writer.

She hadn’t worked out though that it might not be a great idea to eat the eggs in the concourse.

And I’ll get onto that in another Holidos and Don’ts and why you’re better off with AerClub www.aerlingus.com.

But ten minutes into the nine-hour flight.

And while I was just getting into Laurel And Hardy on the infotainment than she was only passing me her bag of sick.