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Cruiseday Tuesday: Rhine country

Cramped up in a booze bus to the Munich Beerfest in a tailback of traffic it certainly looked like those river cruise ships were certainly a more relaxed Germany holiday.

I’ve found as the years have glided by that Uniworld River Cruises are the way to amble along the river.

I was particularly taken on my teenage drinking trip when we stopped off at Nueschwanstein, the inspiration for the Disney Castle, with its swan theme. The Rhine really is fairytale stuff.

Serene: The SS Antoinette

Uniworld has a tempting range of discount offers on http://www.uniworld.com. The Castles Along The Rhine has a ring to it though doesn’t it? Eight days on the S.S. Antoinette from Amsterdam to Basel is under £3,000 (£2,999), down from £3,799. Depart September 22.

Flights are included for all 2019 departures. Included flights are from London Heathrow.

And here’s what you get…

Luxury living: On board the SS Antoinette

A Special allure

Royal Caribbean asks if we’re brave enough.

I am. I only did the Zipliner on Oasis of the Seas recently in Barcelona and FlowRider too, and again I’m a veteran of FlowRider having soared on it on Independence of the Seas.

The newly amplified Allure of the Seas is sailing from Barcelona next year.

So here’s what you can expect…

Royal Caribbean boasts that this is the tallest slide at sea… and I dare say the slidiest too.

The great thing about Royal Caribbean, apart from everything that is, is that they’re real party ships.

And the Music Hall is where to party on Allure with some great cover bands… and I’ve been known to sing along.. See my Royal Party on Independence….

Of course ships are known for their culinary excellence and Allure is no exception. I’d recommend Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar. It’s just how Mamma made it.

Now you want to see an offer. What about a seven-nighter Western Mediterannean with weekly departures from May 10 to October 25. You’ll take in Palma, Marseille, Florence/PIsa (La Spezia), Rome (Citavecchia) and Naples. From €1,079 per person based on two sharing., €2158 for two guests. €1pp flights, book by August 12. T&Cs apply. Visit http://www.royalcaribbean.ie.

A piece of cake… well, it had to be

Wow: Madeira. Photo by Valdemaras D.

Broomsticks airlines were running on time… and the mother-in-law had a smooth passage home.

She was asking for advice on where to go this autumn, and seeing as how I didn’t want to be turned into a frog (again) I suggested Madeira.

Madeira is unspoiled and not packed out with tourists. It’s also a great place to visit from a cruise ship.

Princess Cruises has an 11-day Canary Islands cruise, sailing from Southampton and taking in Vigo in Spain, Funchal in Madeira, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Las Palmas in Gran Canarai and Arrecife in Lanzarote.

From €999 per person based on two sharing an inside stateroom but not including flights. Mothers-in-law come with their own broomsticks, though. For more information visit http://www.princess.com.

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Moanday Morning: it’s just not cricket

The great thing about the England cricket team is that anyone can play for it.

Including… little old Scottish me. There have been a handful of Scottish players representing England and one, Mike Denness, even captained them in the Seventies.

My dear old Dad was no mean cricketer, playing at a high standard for his school St Mungo’s in Glasgow and had high hopes for me until I got bounced and collapsed to the ground in my first innings. After that I was just a fielder and last man in and didn’t bowl.

Jofra Archer’s home island: Yes, Barbados

I improved on that with a couple of runs (my personal best) when I played with the Sri Lankan staff in the Maldives a couple of years ago before skinning my knees on the astro-turf pitch when I tried to make a dodgy run.

In all 107 players born outside of England have represented England including of the recently crowned World champions the captain Eoin Morgan (Ireland), opener Jason Roy (South Africa), all-rounder Ben Stokes (New Zealand) and fast bowler Jofra Archer (Barbados). That’s almost a sixth of the total.

Now every country does it, it’s the rules, I hear you scream. But it’s just England seem to do it more than most.

It’s a vain hope but wouldn’t it be good to get back to the days when playing for your country was reserved for people actually from the country rather than mercenaries?

And the Jofra Archer case is particularly hard to swallow.

I don’t even think much of his books.

For a far better cricketing experience visit his home country of Barbados. Let me take you there http://www.visitbarbados.org. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/(opens in a new tab) and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/(opens in a new tab)

You want a Champagne super over. Then there’s a tease above on how I got on with the Sri Lankan cricketers in the Maldives. I’ll get my pads on and relive it yet… and transfer it on to the blog here.

MEET YOU AT THE WICKET

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More whiskey a go-go

It was 12noon, the mother-in-law had been here for a full day and a half so nobody could blame me for hitting the whiskey.

Thankfully I’ve got a brand new distillery down the road in one of my favourite spots here in Co. Wicklow, Powercourt Estate.

I’d heard all about what they were planning when I stayed over a year last Spring and am delighted to say that it is a fantastic addition to the hotel, the gardens, the centre… heck, everything,

There’s a tour for €20 which will let you in on the whole distilling process and I dare say that there will be whiskey at the end of it.

There’s also a fantastic and well-priced cafe too and a shop where you can buy the water of life and various whiskey-related products.

And the uisce bertha… well, I tried the Fercullen 14-year-old single malt (€92.95) which Niall told me was smoky. I’d say its not as peaty as Connemara or my own favourites the Islay whiskies and had a slight sweetness but it was certainly what the medical man ordered.

Before I developed my palate and got a few bob in my pocket I was wont to drink a Scotch blend Bell’s which was in every supermarket and off that you’d go into.

So I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to pull an imaginary rope on a very real 18th century outside the old Mill which is now the distillery.

Visit http://www.powerscourtdistillery.,com. And Powerscourt House & Gardens http://www.powerscourt.com. And Powerscourt Hotel. http://www.powerscourthotel.com.

And get out to the rest of the county. http://www.visitwicklow.ie.

And now that I’ve warmed myself up I’m digging out my review from Powerscourt from last year. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/flowerscourt/(opens in a new tab) And the gardens https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/how-the-seasons-pass/.

Now this might be a case of drinking down to the top of the label.

TOAST YOU ON THE ROAD

Featured

Holidos and don’ts: does the shoe fit?

No, it’s not an excuse to show off my sarong. Although!

No, the prep notes are clear to anyone who goes out to the Maldives… it’s a sandy island so don’t wear stilettos. Flat shoes or flip-flops please.

But, of course, some just didn’t listen, putting fashion sense before common sense.

So buckle up, here’s your guide to what to wear, and where, around the world.

On the beaches

Sounds obvious doesn’t it?

It has to be flip-flops.

Yes, but what do you do when you want to go for a swim and have to step out on the warm sand.

I’m reminded of the day off we took after 30 days working in Boston to spend at the beach in Manchester, New Hampshire, only to then burn our feet.

Why not go for rubber beach shoes instead?

They’re actually quite stylish now, not just those opaque ones we remember from our childhood. Visit http://www.amazon.co.uk.

Walking around town

We all love to shop (or is that just The Scary One)?

But don’t fall for that old adage about breaking in a pair of shoes.

You might be dying to try on those killer heels, Mediterranean leather shoes or designer trainers, but you’ll end up dying with pain.

The Son and Heir has great memories from his first trip to New York but while he might have chosen to forget that he had to limp around Manhattan the rest of us get shivers thinking back on it.

Liking Hiking

My Donegal Uncle Danny, who emigrated to New York, always insisted that there were only two lessons in life.

Good shoes and a good bed… you’ll spend half your life on your feet and the other half in your bed!

The best boots I have on my shoe rack are my North Face hiking ones.

At not much more than €100 nearly four years ago they have walked me 100kms along the Camino, and the same along the Via Francigena into Rome.

Who am I kidding? It was more like 250kms… I kept getting lost!

But they will be on my feet when I set out on another trek, this time in Tenerife in September. Visit http://www.53degreesnorth.ie. Or http://www.thegreatoutdoors.ie.

Your shoe salesman

Travel writing’s gain is shoe salesmen’s loss.

My first job when I was at school was as a shoe salesman.

Where I learned among other things that customers don’t like getting two left shoes, two different style of shoes or two different-sized shoes.

You’ll know this anyway but a quick reminder:

Ireland and UK: 6,7,8,9,10 etc.

European; 38,39,40,41,42 etc.

American:

And I’ll leave you with one for the road from a sign outside a shoe shop:

Buy one, get one free.

Featured

Holiday Snaps La Sagrada Familia

Some things were never meant to be finished… take The Scary One (please). She is always finding things that still need to be done to the house.

Word reaches me that Antoni Gaudi’s magnus opus, the Sagrada Família, first begun in 1882 but only a quarter completed by the time of his death in 1926, has hit another snag.

And just when they looked like getting over the line after Barcelona’s city authority granted La Sagrada Familia’s first building permit. I’m not even asking under what terms they built what’s already up.

Seventy per cent is done (so they had chipped away at it at some point since the Great Man died).

Eight of its proposed 18 spires have been completed and the plan is to have it all finished by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

But I guess nobody counted on the 3,000 residents living in the nearby apartments and their objections.

Watching the cranes above the psychedelic spires while draining a jug of sangria recently I couldn’t help wondering whether Antoni had been on something.

And whether they shouldn’t just tear it down and start all over again.

Make up your own mind. Barcelona is a great city for a ramble… or rambla. Visit http://www.barcelonatourisme.com. Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com both fly to Barcelona.

La Fete National

You dancer: Paris. Photo by Carolline De Souza

I hope you’re having a good one. I won’t wish you Joyeux Quatorze Juillet, or Bonne Bastille, as the French don’t really do that in the way the Americans wish you Happy Fourth of July.

If you want to find out more French nuances then pop by the French Corner in Dublin where Alliance Francaise Dublin and the French Library with the French Embassy will be putting on free workshops and games and face painting for l’enfants.

From 11-5pm today. City Spectacular, Merrion Square, Dublin.

If that gets you in the mood for a bon vacance… remember that Aer Lingus has a range of offers to French cities from €45.99. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com. http://www.atout.france.fr.

Wu Wu… savings

Cherry amour: The Cherry Blossom in Japan. Photo by Bagus Pangestu

My old friend Wendy Wu is tempting us with discounts on her 2019 and 2020 Asian tours.

She’s giving us an Early Bird saving of €200pp if booked before August 5.

So you love the Cherry Blossoms and the Autumn Leaves. As a sample of the many Asian offers, how about Discover Japan, 13 days from €7,090pp. Twin share.

Visit http://www.wendywutours.ie.

Every day is the 11th July

Wall, what is it good for? A gable end with King Billy

As I revealed in one of my random Did You Knows yesterday, the Battle of the Boyne was on July 1 and when converted to the Gregorian Calendar became the 12th of July when it should have been the 11th of July.

Of course we were more interested in commemorating another royal victory this week on the 11th.

The final piece of the Game of Thrones tapestry has been woven in at the Ulster Museum in Belfast to mark the end of the saga.

Before it gets taken to Bayeux where it will be exhibited from September to December.

The Ulster Museum is one of the best cultural and historical museums on this island. And it’s free. Visit it. http://www.nmni.com.

I’m heading up to Royal Portrush on Sunday for the final day of The Open Golf Championship.

I’m thinking they should start a tapestry to Northern Irish golf royalty… McDowell, Clarke, McIlroy. Visit http://www.nimadeforgolf.com, http://www.theopen.com.

Windsor Lego Castle

Queen lives here: Windsor Castle. Photo by Kris Schulze

Back in the day when I first started this scribbling lark, I found myself in the Royal County of Berkshire… where I found myself a wife.

Then where Legoland now is was Windsor Safari Park. Nothing to read into that, just saying.

Berkshire, to the west of London is a great location in its own right for its royal history and quaint villages and is also ideally situated for the Big Smoke.

And that makes it great for families. Cassidy Travel knows it and has put together a great Legoland and football package to keep everyone happy.

If Mum doesn’t fancy the footie, and these days it’s more likely it would be Dad, the shopping in London is unparalleled.

Stay in the 3* Travelodge Windsor Central and choose between Arsenal v Burnley or Chelsea v Leicester City. Package from €379pps based on four sharing. Includes a day pass to Windsor Legoland Resort.

Flight departs Friday, 16 August. Call Cassidy Travel (01) 8395000. Visit http://www.cassidytravel.ie.

For a few levs more

Greet value: Bulgaria. Photo by Pixabay

They were low-maintenance for two teenage girls.

All they wore for the whole fortnight we were in Bulgaria was their football tops and trackie bottoms.

I think they had a few changes of the same outfits. It was the wrong team they supported but they were sweet girls and their grandparents were nice too.

Bulgaria is still remarkably good value as evidenced by a Sunway survey in conjunction with the UK Post Office.

They compared the cost of holiday essentials including a bottle of beer, a coffee and a three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine in 20 European beach holiday resorts.

Sunny Beach on Bulgaria’s Black Sea comes in at €44.44 for nine items. The most expensive is Sorrento at €159.40.

Sunway offers seven nights B&B at the 3* Hotel Kudadasi for €399. Visit http://www.sunway.ie. for this and other great holiday offfers.

And Holiday Snaps is just about to get snappier with an extra day of the snappiest snaps in Snaptown, Snapetonia.

Watch this space… and…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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The real King Billy

The 12th of July… the day King William III’s triumphs are celebrated in Northern Ireland and among all peoples for whom his victory at the Battle of Boyne protected their values and traditions.

But how much do we really know about King Billy?

Well, Malahide Castle can reveal all.

Firstly that iconic image of King Billy on his white charger may be misleading.

He was really rather small, and asthmatic. Though probably not as small as this image is shown here… it’s bigger in the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

Our guide on our visit to the Castle pointed out that the painting in the dining room shows that the heroic figure on the horse is probably a general and not William as he is not wearing the royal garter.

Fourteen members of the Talbot family, who built the castle, died at the battle fighting for the Jacobites.

William would also have probably been further back from the battle.

And not on that horse. His was more likely to be brown as white would have made him more of an easy target. And he would more than likely have walked across the Boyne rather than ride across it.

And ouch, worst of all, we’ve missed the real date. That was July 1, 1690. Somebody made a mistake when they changed to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752 and with the new dates it is July 11.

Of course it’s best to do your own homework so visit Malahide Castle. http://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/castle.

Or learn more about the murals in Belfast with Paddy Campbell’s Black Cab Tours. http://www.belfastblackcabtours.co.uk.

And maybe also take in the Orange Museum in Belfast http://www.orangeheritage.co.uk which has a green frontage.

And also visit http://www.visitbelfast.com.

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Sweet Moon Alabama

No, you didn’t misread that!

In another one of Bandanaman’s revealing Did You Knows?… did you know that Alabama, not Florida nor Texas was where they built the rocket that took Neil, Buzz and Michael to the Moon.

And so Huntsville is justifiably known as ‘Rocket City’.

That’ll be the 363ft Saturn V rocket you’ll see in the city.

The big anniversary date is July 20, and Huntsville which has been in party mood all year is really ratcheting it up next week.

So what’s on the agenda?

A Guinness world record attempt at the most simultaneous rocket launches, An Apollo Homecoming Dinner and dancing in Courthouse Square.

And to tie it all up, a concert on Moon Landing Day.

I found a €1,174 return flight from Dublin with Delta to Huntsville via Dulles. Visit http://www.delta.com.

Visit http://www.alabama.travel, http://www.huntsville.org, http://www.rocketcenter.org.

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Flyday Friday… Norwegian would!

It’s a challenging market but it’s good to see that Norwegian is pushing forward and has posted strong Q2 results.

Despite the reduced production growth and grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the underlying operating result before ownership costs more than doubled from the same quarter in 2018.

Our friends at Norwegian have been inventive in the way it has pushed its Transatlantic route, partially because it has got to know us so well.

Take its 24-hour Christmas shopping trip in and out of Stewart, NY State. Stewart is about a 90-minute bus away from Port Authority in the city and costs $20 (€16).

I had a very grateful work colleague and more importantly his toddlers after I sent him on that trip.

Visit http://www.norwegian.com. From €334.09.

Je Suis Un Rock Star

Photo by Dominique Roellinger

Is it just me or do you see fewer selfie sticks now? People have become so adept at taking their photos around the world’s most iconic sites like this.

And just like this gent I do find gorgeous women photobombing me.

Get yourself some brownie points and take your loved one over to Paris.

Our national airline carrier has a number of magnifique French deals from €45.99. And naturellement France is more than just Paris. So check out Nice, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Perpignan, Marseille Rennes, Nantes, Montpellier.

And you know the rules. Let me know how you got on. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com. Fares are one way including taxes and charges. Valid for travel from 1 August until 30 September. Book by 15 July.

Ryan with a view

Ryanair is all about getting you there at a low fare. But it will also set you up with well-priced accommodation too.

What about this room from €29 at the 3* Be Smart Florida in Tenerife.

Ryanair is right across Spain and has many other great offers here.

Visit http://www.yanair.com.

Broomstick Airlines

The mother-in-law flew in… late.

I think there was a splinter on the stick or some moisture on the wood.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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A neat Segway

It’s 20 years old this year and it’s still making progress… albeit at 15kph.

One of the daftest (but enjoyable) forms of leisurely transport, it feels like the Segway has been with us way longer than that.

I first got on a Segway four years ago on the island of Gozo in the Med and was immediately hooked.

And I was surprised to find that despite standing still it is a good form of exercise as the leaning forward makes your calves work.

So here’s a Segway twirl around the world. Me, I’ll always LEAN towards my first: Gozo. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/malta-easer/(opens in a new tab)

Washington DC:

I had the chance to take a Segway tour of Washington when I visited a couple of years ago… but as you can see I was unfortunately too busy with matters of State such as by making Ireland the 51st State, by Presidential decree.

Washington is an absolute jewel with the White House and the Capitol building, obviously, and its Smithsonian but it can be tiring.

The three-hour On the Go Tours takes in those iconic buildings and the National Museum of National History, Ford’s Theatre (where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated), the National Air and Space Museum, the Washington Museum and much more.

From €68.07. Visit http://www.onthgotours.com.

Amsterdam:

Watch out: There’s something coming

Why should the angry cyclists have all the fun?

It was the one big difference I witnessed between my first time in Amsterdam in 1990 and when I returned last year… the bicycles didn’t have it all to themselves.

Segway City Tours Amsterdam offers an hour and a half ride for €59. You’ll whizz through Jordan, the Dam Square and by the Rijksmuseum and among others. Visit http://www.segwaycitytoursamsterdam.com.

Rome:

Now if you find yourself wandering aimlessly around Rome then you’re doing it right. When in Rome and all that. The Romans love to amble along.

I found myself doing just that spending a day and a night doubling back and retracing my steps around the city centre at the end of the Via Francigena and a 100km walk into the Eternal City. With CaminoWays.com http://www.caminoways.com.

Equally I could have taken any one of a number of themed Segway tours that day which would have saved on the shoe leather.

Bookmundi.com pitches among others Ancient Rome with Segway, a two-hour trip from €68 which will take you to Trajan’s Column and the Capitol Hill, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, Aventino Hill and the Garden of the Oranges. Visit http://www.bookmundi.com.

And watch out for my Rome on €50.

Hamburg:

The beauty of Segways is that they take the strain off your feet… as does lying back on a double bed in a beach bar (really) by the dock in Saint Pauli.

Mindways Segway Citytour Hamburg is a two-and-a-half hours saunter around this buzzing port city taking in, of course, the riveting Reeperbahn.

With typical German efficiency they will ask you for your driving licence. From €64.80. Visit http://www.segway-citytour.de.

BARCELONA

La Sangria Familia… as I like to call it.

Barcelona is a sprawling old city and exhausting in the sweltering heat we had earlier this month.

Best let the Segway take the strain.

Barcelona Sun Segway has a 150-minutes Gaudi’s Works Segway Tour (12kms) with a discount from €65 now down to €59. And you’ll get entrance to the monuments too.

These, of course, are just some of my favourite cities, and you’ll have your own favourites, so tell me about them. Visit http://www.barcelonasunsegway.com.

And here’s a nod to Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. Move slowly, my friend.

I’ll wait for you: Dean Kamen

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Your next UK Ambassador to Washington

You read it here first.

And you thought it was a coincidence that Britain’s Ambassador to the US resigned just at a time when I became available to the job market.

And, no, I didn’t need to leak Kim’s thoughts.

As you can see I know The Donald personally.

Look me up when you’re on holiday in Washington. Visit http://www.washington.org. And Aer Lingus flies to Washington with pre-clearance. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

And here’s one I baked earlier… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/obama-washington-dc/(opens in a new tab)

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Go East for Westlife

Are you having Westlife withdrawal symptoms?

Then fear not. There are still opportunities out there to see the Boys.

Of course they’ll be soft drinks out in Dubai

Cassidy Travel has five nights in Dubai with tickets from €649pps including flights from Dublin.

Stay in the 4-star Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road with a rooftop swimming pool with panoramic views of the city ad is close to Jumeirah Beach.

And he’s tried to creep back in again

The boys hit the stage in the Coca Cola Arena Dubai on 29 August. Flight departs on 27 August. Call Cassidy Travel on (01) 8901000 or visit http://www.cassidytravel.ie.

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Cruiseday Tuesday – My Princess

It’s a couples’ dream… cruising. The lingering glances over dinner, the dancing, the spectacular shows, the moonlight walk on the top deck.

Of course, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t occasionally disagree. I find the best advice is the one She gives: ‘When I want your opinion I’ll give it to you.’

So cruising has the advantage too of being big and varied and entertaining enough to give you both enough space to calm down if you get tetchy with each other. Best not have a quarrel on the top deck though, it can get slippy up there sometimes!

I owe Her a trip to the Bahamas after having had a spin around there last December and Sunway and Princess Cruises have the very thing.

They are offering a seven-night Bahamas & Virgin Islands Cruise on board the Regal Princess on February 29…. and you know what that means – Leap Year and all you loved-up ladies can propose to your gentlemen.

You’ll get all-inclusive drinks – Ocean Medallion (I’ll tell you more about that when I get on a Princess Cruises ship in Dublin later this month), wifi, gratuities and $200 onboard spend.

Price is €1599pp and includes return flights from Dublin, one night pre- cruise hotel stay, plus seven night cruise based on two sharing an interior stateroom, all taxes and fees. Transfers are extra. Visit http://www.sunway.ie/cruise-holidays or call (01) 231 1868. Visit http://www.princess.com.

Sand and sea

Dubai reaches for the skies: Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric.

Cruising always leaves you wanting more.

We had a choice last autumn of MSC cruises – the beautiful fjords or dazzling Dubai and the Emirates. We don’t regret catching the fjords, of course, but as the mist and rain drew in I did give a thought to how sunny Dubai would have been. And I settled on doing both.

Temperatures in Dubai hover between 23 and 33 degrees in December which is when you’ll go with Abbey Travel and MSC.

Leaving on Wednesday, December 11 and paying €589.00, you’ll get:

  • 11 nights cruise on board MSC Lirica in an interior cabin.
  • Free tea, water and coffee package and Wi-Fi Social Package.

Add on a Fantastica package from €30pp.

To book call 01 804715, visit http://www.abbeytravel.ie. Flights are extra but enquire at time of booking. Visit http://www.msccruises.ie.

Here’s a reminder of how good MSC cruises are from that fjords trip. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/(opens in a new tab)

Ich bin ein Hamburger

As I famously said when I visited Hamburg last year at the end of that fjords trip.

Hamburg is a city that was very much to my taste and I’m sure you’ll be the same.

Royal Caribbean International is offering a seven nights’ Dutch and French Adventure on Explorer of the Seas, departing October 18 from Southampton, taking in Hamburg, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Paris/Normandy and Le Havre.

From €649 per person based on two people sharing. €1,298 for two guests. Sailing on October 18. Flight required.

And, of course, you’ll get the chance to walk on water with FlowRider which I road tested (again) on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas recently in Barcelona and which I’ll tell you more about real soon. And much, much more. Visit http://www.royalcaribbean.ie.

And get your teeth into Hamburg… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/hamburgers-and-ships/(opens in a new tab)

Your cruise

So just tell them what you want. It should be easy, right?

Norwegian Cruiselines and American Holidays know it and are tailoring your trip to your needs with their Feel Free at Sea deals.

Design your own bespoke holiday adding your choice of valuable benefits and luxuries.

For example I’ll be catching up with my friends from the Deep South tonight and tomorrow here in Dublin and have a particular itch to scratch… New Orleans.

Among its packages, NCL and American Holidays offers New Orleans Stay and Western Caribbean Cruise from €1,869 per person for next February. From €1,869pp.

So you’ll get all flights including one checked bag per person round trip.

Three nights at Le Pavilion Hotel, New Orleans. Seven nights cruise on-board Norwegian Getaway (based on Guarantee Ocean View Stateroom – add on Free at Sea upgrade from €120pp). Based on two sharing.

Call (01) 673 3804. Visit http://www.americanholidays.com. Visit http://www.ncl.com.

And you will, I know, but New Orleans breakfasts are gumbo and Sazeracs. You’re on holiday and on a cruise so there’s no point in being dry.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Why I’m chocolate

I’ll need a bigger spoon: The Italian Hot Chocolate

Mardy Martina’s face broke out into a smile when I ordered Hot Chocolate on the hottest day of the year in Barcelona recently.

Not such a loco idea though as beer is dehydrating, water makes you go, and besides Hot Chocolate, when it’s done well, is a treat and one I usually reserve for when I’m away apart from Campo de Fiori Rosto Market which I sorely miss from my neighbouring town of Bray.

My follow up of ‘It’s too hot’ was met with a que? and a curled lip from Maria. And me. It was a bit calido.

The best ciocolatta di calda densa is on the Via Francigena pilgrims’ trail http://www.FrancigenaWays.com. Let me explain… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/

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Holidos and don’ts – packing tips

She’s the Wonder Woman who sews me up and sends me on my way… and very occasionally I come back with everything I left with.

And I’m getting better.

I’m also prompted by RTE reruns of the sumptuous Silk Road by the even silkier Joanna Lumley who agrees about the importance of multi-compartment purses and wallets.

They come in all shapes, sizes and styles (wives and wallets) and all make your life easier.

So what to remember

Your passport obviously. Now you may want to keep it in your inside jacket pocket or perhaps skin tight in your front trouser pocket.

And you will need to take it in and out at the airport but when you don’t need it, it’s best to put it away in the zipper compartment of your folder. If you’re travelling with your partner and your kids maybe put them all in together.

When you get to your hotel room put your valuables in the safe and only take it out if you need it for ID for bars, nightclubs or to get into some sports events.

Your tickets. Keep in another sleeve or compartment. It will be easier to differentiate. Some people (usually younger) are comfortable with having their tickets on their phones but what happens if you run out of battery (Ally?). Be safe do both.

Currency. Save yourself fiddling around in your wallet/purse between euro and a foreign currency and maybe even a third (sterling) if you’re passing through London. Use a third compartment for foreign dosh.

Now you’re on the plane

If you’re on a long-haul flight then you’ll want to keep your vanity case with you… save yourself from having to tap the person sleeping next to you so you can get up to the overhead cabin.

And if you’ve had the good fortune to go Business Class then remember the little overnight bags they give you the next time you travel.

And the earplugs will block out the noise of the snorer next to you.

Overnight bags tend to be the same but different and it’s always nice to find a little new treat.

A little bottle of Eau de Cologne was a particular treat in the Etihad bag I got this week even though I’m the last person who needs it.

Thank you http://www.etihad.com. And you too http://www.aerlingus.com, http://www.turkishairlines.com, http://www.virginatlantic.com, http://www.britishairways.com and everyone else who keeps us all refreshed in the air.

Luggage

Unless you’re just doing an overnighter you’ll probably be taking hand luggage and putting a suitcase in the hold.

Don’t do as I do, but as I say.

Avoid black or blue suitcases, they all look the same on the carousel. Put stickers on it to identify it as uniquely yours, maybe places you’ve been to cheer you up.

Padlock your case up and choose a lock number that’s not 1234 or your birthday or one you might forget.

And always fill out your luggage tag with your address for obvious reasons.

Don’t forget to remember

Make a list. Check it twice and give yourself enough time.

Better if you pack to go home the night before but if you are making the most if your last night on holiday then set your alarm early or get a room call.

Otherwise…

Next week: How I didn’t take any of this advice and some of the scrapes I got into (and out of) mostly because of the saints and saintesses who helped me out.

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Holiday Snaps

I have spent so much time in bunkers that I got rather good at making sandcastles.

But not quite as good as the craftsmen who created this work of art on Downpatrick beach just down the road from Royal Portrush where the Open Golf Championship will be played from July 18-21.

To help you out it depicts five Northern Ireland icons: Titanic Belfast, the City Walls and the Guildhall in Derry, the Dark Hedges, Rory McIlroy swinging a club and the direwolf sigil of House Stark from Game of Thrones.

Of course you couldn’t argue against any of these spots but there’s more than enough beach for the Carrick-a-Rede bridge, I’d hazard. You get a good oul’ swing there.

Hold on tight: The Carrick-a-Rede bridge

We will, of course, be hoping and expecting that Rory McIlroy will be keeping out of the sand at Royal Portrush on his way to lifting his second Claret Jug.

Of course the golfing world and his caddy will have booked up early but you may strike lucky and if you do it’s because of the good services of http://www.discovernorthernireland.com. And for all things Open-related it’s http://www.theopen.com.

A toast to the peaks

While the world’s best golfers will be aiming to hit the peaks in Royal Portrush you may prefer to get your highs on the mountains.

I’ve just returned from the Pic du Midi in the French Pyrenees where I was wined and dined at the highest restaurant in Europe, Le 2877. And I will be sharing that with you on this blog soon. Visit http://www.picdumidi.com.

There’s a certain satisfaction and reward after scaling the mountains (in a cable car of course).

Morzine offers two cracking micro-breweries Ibex which specialises in mountain ales including a 5% IPA Cabin Fever and which this year celebrates its fifth birthday and Bec Jane which is known for its wheaty beers and porters.

You’re in? A seven-night stay in the three-bedroom Apartment 101 in central Morzine, arriving August 17 is priced from £1,436 per apartment/£239pp based on six people sharing. Visit http://www.moremountain.com. And also see http://www.morzine-avoriaz.com.

And check out http://www.skyscanner.net for best flight deals.

A rare insight

Andy had spent a year abroad in of all places the frozen north-east of Scotland before going home to America and becoming a cowboy in the Wild West, and teaching Limeys how to ride horses.

We’d propped up the same bar and probably at the same time 30 years previously, but these two former Aberdeen University students only found each other in the Colorado plains.

If you want to channel your own Roy Rogers our friends at Insight Vacations will be only too happy to introduce you to the Wild West.

Insight Vacations threw a launch party for their North America brochure, appropriately on July 4, and among its other goodies is a Wild West trip.

Ten days Wonders of the American West for this summer from £2,850. Bookended by Las Vegas, you’ll feel right in the middle of a classic Western movie set. Overnight at rustic lodges inside the National Parks. Visit http://www.insightvacations.com.

And would Andy swop the bracing winds of Aberdeen for the clear blue skies and sun-baked Colorado plains? Go figure!

Get your baubles out

I’m beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And only 272 sleeps to go.

And TUI has only announced day trips to Lapland direct from Dublin. Departing on December 7 and 14.

Adults prices from €749 and child prices from €599. Use code WINTER for an extra €100 off your winter getaway.

And check out http://www.tuiholidays.ie for late sun deals because it’s still summer.

Let’s go fly a kite

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

No, I’m not going all Mary Poppins on you although I did get a prompt to watch the new one when I was on board the Etihad 787 Dreamliner http://www.etihad.com at Dublin Airport this week when I saw it featured on the screen and they told us about their flying nannies.

No, this is kite-flying over at the five-star Castlemartyr Resort where young guests (why only young?) will be given a free kite and you’ll get the run of many Blue Flag beaches.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite at Castlemartyr Resort costs from €249 per night for a deluxe room for two adults and a child up to 12, and is based on two nights B&B with one evening meal in the Italian restaurant Franchinis and that kite kit.

You’ll also get a family entrance ticket to Fota Wildlife park or Leahy’s Open Farm in Midleton. Visit http://www.castlemartyrresort.ie.

You’ll never beat the Irish

Wild and wonderful: Photo by Steven Hylands.

Congratulations to us!

Ireland has been voted Best European Destination for groups beating Prague, Germany, Belgium, Cyprus and Switzerland at the Group Travel Awards in London.

Visit http://www.tourismireland.com.

Minnie me

It’s always great to hear from old pals I’ve met on the road… yes, Minnie, but also Paula, although they’re both gorgeous.

Finn Paula who now lives and works in Glasgow and sounds more Glaswegian than me, told me that she did a stint in Disneyland Paris but was not allowed to be one of the characters (don’t tell the kids) because she didn’t have enough French.

Out of costume: Paula

Eh, aren’t they all non-speaking? But perhaps the French Minnie needs to have an insouciant shrug!

Abbey Travel is offering a Disneyland Paris deal from €1,699 for a family of four for next year.

You’ll get up to 25% off and free half-board meals.

Three nights in Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe which is themed around the Cars films. And you’re only a 20-minute walk walk or short shuttle bus from the parks.

Visit http://www.abbeytravel.ie or call (01) 804 7160.

Quake watch

Ross, our Starline Tour driver and guide, had told us that LA was due an earthquake.

There were tremors in Downtown LA from this week’s quake in SoCal, Southern Calufornia. I don’t know though if the Walk of Fame shook.

Still nothing major is affected Travel-wise. Aer Lingus flies Dublin to LAX. With pre-clearance. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

I’ll keep you posted on developments.

Featured

Flyday Friday

Hat’s the way to travel. Myself and Edwina exchanged compliments on our headgear on board Etihad as the airline showpieces its 787 Dreamliner at Dublin Airport yesterday.

Etihad flies to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, 11 times a week and is operating four additional Boeing 787s through the summer season. They even come with flying nannies!

Etihad features 28 Business Class flat-bed seats and as you can see I was the first in our party to try them out.

And a selection of salmon and spinach hors d’oeuvres and fancy cakes. Etihad serves 90,000 meals a day, and it’s all about the choice. You want steak for breakfast, no problem.

I need a lie down: This Champagne has gone straight to my head

And with Abu Dhabi a hub for flights on to Australia and your body clock being out of whack then that’s not such a big leap.

And the 271 Economy Class seats are not too shabby either, the most appealing feature for me the remote controls on the console and not in the armrest while it is on point with points for your mobile devices.

For the kids: As displayed by Etihad’s Sales Manager Ireland Karen Maloney

Abu Dhabi is the jewel of the UAE with its spectacular mosque, the second biggest tourist attraction in the world, and Yas Island.

Etihad Airways is offering a free two-night stopover in the Emirati capital to all travellers flying to international destinations via Abu Dhabi. The free Abu Dhabi stopover promotion is available for bookings online through etihad.com, or via a travel agent, made by 1 December, for travel until 31 December 2019.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Guests can choose from a range of 15 hotels located across the city and experience all that Abu Dhabi has to offer, from cultural masterpieces to architectural highlights and natural landscapes to theme park attractions and sports activities.

And we say Yes to Yas, the entertainment centre which boasts Ferrari World and Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest rollercoaster which hits a speed of 240kph.

And Warner Bros with its six themed lands, Gotham City, Metropolis, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch and Warner Bros Plaza. And next year SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, the first SeaWorld without orcas.

Etihad offers a range of prices and flight experiences. Visit http://www.etihad.com. http://www.visitabudhabi.ae.

For a few dollars less

Our national airline carrier is carrying on its American Independence celebrations with €50 off Aer Lingus flights to North America ending Monday.

And it has 15% car hire on a US road trip with Aer Lingus Cars. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com and http://www.cars.aerlingus.com.

Queue? What queue?

Photo by Pixabay

It wasn’t one of my proudest moments… or the Son and Heir’s. On our way to the Vatican Museums He decided he wanted to stop for refuelling… a three-course lunch.

I threatened to throw him in the Tiber so we might have been sans son if his mum hadn’t stepped in.

Ryanair is offering a Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica Tour from €55.27. Visit http://www.ryanair.com. Follow too for deals to Rome and all Ryanair destinations.

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Elvis and An American Trilogy

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton

Old times they are not forgotten….

Glory, glory, hallelujah

His truth goes marching on…

But all my trials, Lord, soon be over.

An American Trilogy by Mickey Newbury, but popularised by Elvis Presley

On this 4th of July I commemorate the King of Kings, Elvis Presley, the Southern Boy who grew up and took his influences from his black friends and neighbours and encompassed that in his powerful rendition of this belting anthem.

And I reprise the last of my own American Trilogy which started with Martin Luther King, paid tribute to BB King and ended with Elvis Presley, the King of Kings https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-king-of-kings/(opens in a new tab). I wrote it in the year of the 50th anniversary of his friend Martin Luther King’s assassination. See also https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/(opens in a new tab)

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Stair Wars

I wonder what Mickey thinks of this Science Fantasia. The Galaxy’s Edge is far, far away from Walt Disney’s vision.

And its centrepoint Millennium Falcon even further from my standpoint.

Which is at the back of a snaking queue in the bowels of the new 14-acre €1billion Star Wars section of Disneyland in Anaheim, California on the very weekend it opens. It has taken me half an hour to even get this far.

I have passed by the inviting diversions of Walt’s Main Street USA, a jazz band on an island next to the Mark Twain Riverboat and a host of our favourite, smiling, singing, hugging Disney characters before arriving in this dark place.

Chewbacca does envelope a middle-aged Asian woman in his arms but I am too slow off the mark to get my picture taken while the Storm Troopers brush me aside.

Personally, I’d have a welcoming party of Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, Princess Leia and R2-D2 instead.

Still, I persevere and hang on the words of those in the line, a grown man with a light saber among them who have been waiting light years for this moment.

They point out the fine details of the futuristic world we are passing through in hushed, reverential tones.

Apparently, we are in the middle of the Black Spire Outpost which is on the Outer Rim planet of Batuu. They could be speaking Yoda for all I know.

And on and on we go, scaling the ramps. Whole battles don’t last this long.

Star Wars? This is more like Stair Wars. And finally we are ushered through to a holding area, a hangar where a rasta dude intergalactic pirate, Hondo Ohnaka, clues us in our mission with a reprise from Chewbacca, and informs us that the more we succeed the more rewards he gets. I bet!

The idea is that Chewy needs some supplies for the Resistance but Ohnaka has borrowed the craft and is using the opportunity to get us to smuggle some coaxium from Corellia for him which is hyperfuel from Han’s homeland, obviously. Thanks Brad from Texas for that.

But still the anticipation and the exhaustion (it’s now been an hour and a half) builds as we have to trudge further before finally being given our briefs for the starship’s mission, Smugglers’ Run.

A little more about this 114ft hulk of flying saucer which has grown men and women clicking away – it was manned by Han Solo and Chewy and was the second fastest in the Star Wars pantheon at 1050kph and is a highly modified YT-1300. But then, you knew that yourself.

The action is set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker and played out on a video screen before us.

Myself and Hiro are gunners and Jill and Lesley are the pilots. I can’t remember the names of the two engineers at the back of the cockpit but one had to be Scotty. Or is that the other Star one?

And finally we are hurtling through space, dipping and swooping, dodging enemy battleships and giant asteroids.

Mine’s and Hiro’s job is simple, press square and round buttons to fire laser beams at the foe until the light goes out.

It is an interactive experience but I’d be surprised if my efforts are making a blind bit of difference. And this is what I spent five years at Space University for.

And then our ten minutes on the motion simulator are over.

I guess it’ll make more sense when I actually watch the movies – I was never going to admit that in the queue.

I know how privileged I am though and that there are millions who would gladly climb over me and queue a whole day to get to see Millennium Falcon and play Smugglers’ Run and The Rise of the Rise of the Resistance which will follow hard on its heels later this year.

And that it will be a huge success particularly when they space out the waiting times.

But it’s just that Star Wars I don’t it get.

I retreat instead to simpler pleasures and a star who never lets me down, the original, and still the best, The Donald.

I find him outside the Golden Horseshoe saloon with Jose and Panchito, the Three Caballeros, playing it for laughs.

And I’m sure he remembers me from Orlando a couple of years ago, he even wrote to me when I got back, and signed it too.

And when your friends ask… yes, he really does love Mexicans.

In this part of Disneyland there are only smiles. The jazz band are belting out Everybody Wants To Be A Cat. I am nibbling on my fried chicken, corn and rice. I’m truly at my happiest.

This is one place where a middle-aged, bandana-wearing hippy won’t be glowered at. Here, and on the Pirates of Caribbean water ride where I’m almost mistaken for Jack Sparrow.

The ride is gentle, more my style, but if you want seat-of-the-pants thrills, Disneyland has no shortage: Splash Mountain, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones, too many to mention.

But in your cart going through Jack’s world, you’ll get just gentle drops.

What really makes a ripple on the Pirates of Caribbean ride through caves and coves are the intricate fun sets which immerse you in Jack’s world.

Look out too for the old rogue popping up on the islands semi-hidden from view. Keen eyes will see him in a vat of rum though. I want to join him.

Harking back to the Star Wars section of Disneyland, that really is the best thing about it -Disneyland, which has rightly prided itself on its family-friendly image and kept alcohol outside its doors for 60 years for the general public is now allowing you to have a snifter in Oga’s Cantina.

I could have used my time more profitably.

This being a corporate launch, I took a rum punch earlier from the tray of a passing waitress to settle my nerves for the simulator and have been going back to stock up long after I got off the ride.

There is no shortage of choice of diners to line your stomach for those hairy rides if you don’t want a rumbly tummy, and alternative entertainment if you want to take a weight off.

Duelling pianos meld in well with the classical surroundings of Olde World buildings and the open spaces amplify the sound.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than the Disney Castle. We sit down in benches and grassy banks off Main Street to watch Mickey’s music extravaganza flash up on the castle.

Mickey introduces his pals, King Louie and Elsa from Frozen among them, and they take over.

You can’t take your eyes off this light show or your hands from clapping along.

It is a kaleidoscope of colour and crescendo of sound, a Mickey Mix of Magic.

All the standards are there but for a younger audience it has been sassed up with modern toons getting us all up on our feet.

Of course, it’s all about Da Mouse in Da House though and he brings the party to a spectacular climax.

The fireworks pop off into the night sky and all eyes shoot upwards while in a galaxy far, far away – or across the park at least – the lights have long gone out.

TRAVEL FACTS

How to get there: Dublin-Los Angeles LAX with Aer Lingus with pre-clearance. It operates a daily service from Dublin direct with fares starting from €259 each way when booked as a return trip. The year-round service reduces to five times weekly during the winter season. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

Where to stay: The Hilton Anaheim, a 15-minute walk from Disneyland Resort. King bed Disneyview for the sample dates of June 28-July 1 from $347 (€281). Visit http://www.hilton.com.

Where to go: Attraction Tickets Direct has a range of offers and discounts which will save precious time and money. Its two-day Disneyland California 1 Park Per Day Ticket is from €198 for an adult and €186 for a child including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is from €266 for an adult and €249 for a child. Visit http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com. http://www.starwars.com.

And for more duck-related fun… Why I love The Donald.

Featured

Cruiseday Tuesday

It costs less than the price of a biscuit on the aeroplane.

Royal Caribbean is offering €1pp with selected 2020 sailings to Europe. www.royalcaribbean.ie.

So what you have to do is:

  • Book an eligible stateroom on the selected 2020 sailings 
    (excluding GTY rooms)
  • Select your €1 flight
  • Book by 12th August 2019

And now I’m back from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, I’m dying to tell you all about boogie boarding, surfing/falling zip lining and stomach-filling. In the Irish Daily Star http://www.thestar.ie and on this blog.

Twenty million reasons to….

Cruise with MSC.

MSC Cruises has reached the 20 million passenger milestone.

Your favourite Travel journalist cruised with MSC and The Scary One last year in the fjords on Preziosa.

And believe me it’s invigorating to swim in the upper deck pool as you approach land (with your bandana on, of course).

MSC Cruises offer some great late deals. Seven nights on MSC Sinfonia. Leaving from Venice and taking in Ancona (Urbino), Split, Dubrovnik, Mykonos and Santorini. Depart July 13 or 20.

Visit http://www.msc.cruises.co.uk. You will need to book your own flights with this package.

Majorca corker

Photo by Kai Pilger.

Patrick and Maureen were heading off to Palma, Majorca when I met them at the bar (naturally) on board my day on my cruise ship in Barcelona at the weekend.

The Irish-Chicagoans are in for a treat as Palma retains its Old Worlde charms despite what the Love Islanders and the salmon-pink tourists are doing up in Magaluf to the image of this beautiful island.

TUI offers all-inclusive cruises Dublin to Majorca, Treasures of the Mediterranean. Inside Cabin, seven nights from €1,089pps. Depart on August 27. From €1,089pps. Or Inside Cabin, depart July 13 from €1,179pps. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

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Holidos and don’ts

Slap it on… the suntan lotions, creams and sun factors.

But which one to get?

And how to make the most of the sun without getting burnt and making sure we all get a good tan.

All of which is hopefully serving me well this weekend in Barcelona where temperatures have been hitting the late 30s.

Read the label

We can be bamboozled by acronyms. WTF!

SPF is sun protection factor and the categories fall into four bands – low (SPF 6 & 10), medium (SPF 15, 20 & 25), high (SPF 30 & 50) and very high (SPF 50+). The average Irish person is in the 15, 20 & 25) category but if in doubt ask at your pharmacist.

It’s all in the application – How much to put on?

Photo by Linda Prebreza

For most of us adults that’s at least six full teaspoons – and I know that you don’t have a teaspoon with you on the beach so practise before you go. Children are all different so again check with your pharmacists, use your common sense and don’t scrimp.

Sun cream should also be applied 20 minutes before exposure to the sun and be reapplied a minimum of every two hours.

And make sure that it is not past its sell-by date. There should be a number, say 24, on the bottle.

And where to apply it

Photo by Pixabay

All over. There are of course very delicate areas… steady, I mean the nose and lips. And also ears, neck, hands and feet. And if you’re a hirsutically challenged gentleman then the baldy bit on the top of your head, or all over the bonce if necessary.

What to wear

Photo by Moose Photos

Best put a T-shirt or better still a long-sleeved cotton shirt, oul’ fella. And long trousers too.

You may think that’s less chic but then a lobster-coloured back and legs and being confined to your hotel room or worse still a visit to the hospital may be the alternative.

Also be sure to wear sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection.

When to stay out of the sun

The hours of 11am-3pm is when the sun is hottest so perhaps stay in the shade then. And you probably only need about 15 minutes at any given time.

A good time to dine but without being a killjoy perhaps go easy on the vino collapse or beer. Plenty of water please. And be particularly careful with kiddie.s

Visit http://www.hse.ie.

Featured

Holiday Snaps

I love an oul’ festival…. they’re almost always not what you expect, and even better too.

Take for example the Festival of the Trays which too me conjures up an image of people banging beer trays over their heads.

It used to be popular in the Seventies and was featured in one of Esther Rantzen’s That’s Life shows I’m sure. I have vague recollections of doing the same one Hogmanay (or New Year’s Eve to those not of the Scottish persuasion).

This Festival of the Trays in Portugal though is far more serene. In commemoration of Queen Saint Isabel and the Holy Spirit, this is all about hundreds of young girls carrying trays of gifts on their heads.

The trays are blessed, there are street decorations and quilts in the windows. Flowers are thrown over the procession too, naturally!

The Procession of the Tabuleiros, heralded by pipers and fireworks is led by the Banner of the Holy Ghost and the three Crowns of the Emperors and Kings.

Bringing up the rear are cartloads of bread, meat and wine, pulled by the symbolic sacrificial oxen with golden horns and sashes. Visit www,tabuleiros.org and http://www.visitportugal.com. The festival starts today and goes on until July 8.

And for two very different sides to Portugal, Secret Portugal and Portugal read my reviews https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal/(opens in a new tab) and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/(opens in a new tab)

Aer Lingus, Ryanair and TAP Portugal all fly to Portugal, http://www.aerlingus.com, http://www.ryanair,com, http://www.flytap,com.

Climb every mountain

Ah! But if Maria and the Von Trapps had climbed every mountain as The Sound of Music told us they did they would have ended up in Hitler’s back yard.

Sorry, I just tell it like it is and so do the Salzburgers who burst our bubble on a tour of the city…. they do take you to some great Sound of Music sites and it is seriously good fun.

Me telling it like it is, it’s important to flag up what a great summer destination Austria is and what great deals there are out there.

TUI has last-minute deals for July 3, seven nights B&B staying at the *3 Hotel Obermair, Mayrhofen, from €449pps or seven nights half-board at the *3 Pension Hannes, Neiderau from €469pps. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

An offer you can’t refuse

I went into the doctor and told him that I felt like a small Mediterranean island. He told me to stop being Sicily.

Like many who have visited Malta I spent way too short a time in Sicily on a day’s catamaran cruise. Of course, I will be back and when I do I will take it all in, The Godfather history, the beautiful coastline and vibrant villages.

You can get great value with a late deal to Sicily with Sunway. Seven nights for €499 on July 6. Visit http://www.sunway,ie,

The best China

You’re my rock: Tang and Zhang

Zhuhe, Tang Yixin and Zhang Ruoyun. Which, of course, is congratulations, but you knew that anyway.

And maybe that they are a Chinese celebrity couple who chose Adare Manor to marry.

Tang and Zhang are TV drama stars back home and have 33 million followers on Weibo, the social media platform in China. Now Bandanamann followers with a wee nudge we might make a dent in that!

Tang and Zhang’s combined showbiz name would be Tang, meaning she’s in charge which is a bit like most marriages really!

Tourism Ireland helped the happy couple with trips to Dunluce Castle and the Dark hedges. Visit http://www.tourismireland.com. http://www.adaremanor.com. http://www.visitnorthernireland.com.

The English Beach

Not what you expected: La Gomera

If that conjures up images of a packed Blackpool or Brighton or Magaluf then we wouldn’t blame you.

But this is The English Beach in Great King Valley in La Gomera.

La Go-where? Yes, this is the Canaries and it’s the more unspoiled, smallest and less visited of the seven islands which makes it all the more appealing.

Thing is though that they’re peeling off too. Billed as hippy and alternative there’s a clue there. Thing is though that the first post on Trip Advisor said that it’s half and half.

I can only imagine that it was a Swinging Sixties crowd of English that gave it its name.

I leave the choice to you but check out La Gomera anyway. Fly to Tenerife and then get a crossing is the best way to get there.

But if you do decide to go au natural, for goodness sake don’t leave your clothes on the beach. Visit http://www.lagomera.travel/en.

Let’s duck out of here

You’re quackers: With The Donald

Yes, I know any excuse. I’ll tell you what every time The Other Donald tweets something daft or puts us on the brink of war…. and I’m not forgiving him this week after his antics caused the rearrangement of my trip to Iran… then Ill put up a photo of The Real Donald.

And anyway American Sky has a great saving of up to €530 per family on a seven-night stay at the *4 The Grove Resort Hotel & Spa in Orlando, valid for travel before February 11 2021. This holiday now costs from €649.

This is a new resort, just a few minutes drive from Walt Disney World Resort and it includes a kids Surfer Water Park.

There are four on-site restaurants.

Based on two adults and two children sharing and return flights from Dublin with transfers and accommodation on a self-catering basis.

Visit http://www.americansky.ie or call (01) 664 9900.

Killer tunes

Drum roll: Ronnie Vannucci Jnr

For Reasons Unknown Ronnie Vannucci Jnr tried to bat off the well-wisher who approached him at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood, Co. Down, and said that he was a delegate at a science convention.

But we were onto him or at least The Son and Heir and The Scary One were… and she let him know that I was their biggest fan.

I know I’ve drip-fed you this story but it’s just that the world’s greatest rock band who were playing up North are headlining Glastonbury tonight.

I’ve got it taped of course while I’m away in Barcelona but I expect they’ll be Wonderful Wonderful.

I’m not surprised that The Killers were staying at the Culloden. It’s only had a £750,000 refurbishment. Visit http://www.hastingshotels.com.

Two for you

… A double helping of Bandanaman today. Lourdes and the Pyrenees in The Herald and Star Wars Millennium Falcon: Smugglers’ Run at Disneyland Anaheim in the Irish Daily Mail.

I’ll reprise them here when I return.

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New York, Gay York… and other LGBT cities

It’s the major societal transformation that EVERY Western Fiftysomething has witnessed in their lifetime.

Straight people’s changed perception and reception of gay people.

The catalyst for change happened this week in 1969 with the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village against police brutality of gay people.

It is fitting then that the Great Melting Pot has been the focus of commemorations this week.

New York has led the way for the rest of the Western World to be a more open and inclusive place for the LGBT community to travel.

This blog celebrates the best of those destinations:

New York

Time of your life: Photo by Mathieu Acker.

Greenwich Village is the historical gay heart of NY.

And the James New York in SoHo is within walking distance of the gay bars in Chelsea and Greenwich Village.

Take the glass elevator up to the rooftop bar for great views before heading to REBAR gay club or The Stonewall.

A standard queen room is from €409. Visit www.jameshotels.com.

London

Party on: Photo by Brett Sayles

It’s all about Pride and London is going rainbow-coloured.

Hazlitts Hotel is in the heart of Soho and the building was once a gentlemen’ s club back in the 18th Century.

A favourite with actors, artists and writers for decades many of the rooms have been named after celebrities. And should you want to you could even sleep in the same room Jonathan Swift did. Superior double from £290.00. Visit www.hazlittshotel.com.

Amsterdam

Loud and Pride: Photo by FransA

Amsterdam has long been lauded for being gay-friendly.

A cruise along one of its many canals or a romantic walk or crepes by the water are a great way to while away the hours.

And then there’s the nightlife.

There are some great deals out there. The Double Tree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station which is near the historic Cafe ‘t Mandje gay bar has a Queen Room for €227. Visit https://doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/netherlands/doubletree-by-hilton-amsterdam-centraal-station-AMSCSDI/index.html

Paris

City of Love: Photo by Jean-Baptiste Burbaud

It’s not called Gay Paree for nothing.

It’s iconic and worth spending a bob or two on. The gay-friendly boutique hotel Jules et Jim in Le Marais – 3e Arrondissement, a well-trodden paths for LGBT visitors. It is of course named after the Francois Ruffault cinema house favourite starring Jeanne Moreau.

Each room (there are just 23) has a backlit Hi-Mac shell around the bed creating a relaxing cocoon. It is arty but unpretentious. From £182 per night for the sample date of July 8.

The Pompidou is 10 minutes away by foot, the Louvre 20. 

Visit www.hoteljulesetjim.com/en.

Benidorm

Here comes the sun: Photo by Artem Beliaikin

But you want the beach. And who can blame you.

Benidorm has a great gay scene stretching out from the Old Town and the Gay Village.

The shows are legend. The best nightclub venues are located on the Avenida Beniarda. And the gogo dancers and drag queens are not to be missed.

There are two big music festivals in July while Benidorm Pride is in September. So that means two Prides, here and there. Can’t be bad.

The Hotel Centro Mar is just a minute walk from Levante Beach and just steps from Brief Encounter, El Papagayo and Company Gar gay bars. And there’s a rooftop swimming pool.

We found two guests with breakfast for £111. Visit http://www.hotelcentromar.com/en.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD FOR PRIDE

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Flyday Friday

He hasn’t got a Scoobie: Murty, that is

No, not that Great Dane… but it did draw you in, right?

Mind you, this Great Dane ain’t bad either. This is a new Great Dane Airline service from Aalborg to Dublin which will run twice weekly from June 21 to July 26 and weekly between July and October 15.

Wonderful as it is, Denmark is more than just Copenhagen. Aalborg is Denmark’s fourth biggest city. Its known for its revitalised waterfront on the Limfjord, the body of water that cuts through Jutland, also an outdoor pool and nearby is the half-timbered Aalborghus Castle.

Now I like an oul’ fjord, and The Son and Heir came back from Denmark’s second city Aarhuis shouting its merits from the rooftops. Visit http://www.greatdaneairlines.dk.

Aalborg, I’m Aal in.

RyanEur

Red, Amber, Go: Gdansk

My friends at Ryanair have been flying me (and I dare say you and a couple of others around) of late and I must say that I am becoming less of an oul’ grouch and am now beginning to take on their interactive approach.

They’re also as good as anybody at opening up our minds to new destinations.

Yes among their 6 great reasons to travel this summer they flag up London for Wimbledon, Paris for the Tour de France, Galway for the Arts Festival though that’s probably for an international audience, it might be a bit profligate to fly from Wicklow. And Copenhagen for the Jazz Festival and Heidelberg and Karlsruhe for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

But it also promotes Gdansk in Poland under the title Open’er Gdansk… it’s a music festival The Son and Heir tells me where Kylie, the Smashing Pumpkins, Lana Del Rey and the Strokes among others will be performing from July 3-6.

The good people of Poland charmed us with their country’s fares, not least their vodka, earlier in the year and as well as this big musical festival the city has a lot more to offer.

Do visit the European Solidarity Centre as it is a timely reminder of where we are with challenges to our democracy in Europe right now.

It is also a beautiful port city and because of that has a rich culinary heritage and trading story. I’m particularly taken, as is The Scary One, by the power of Amber.

Housed in the same building that once was home to the Prison Tower and Torture Chamber. The centre of the world’s amber trade ( who knew?), you’ll get brownie (or amber) points if you pick out some beautiful piece for Herself.

Flights from Gdansk from €16.80. Visit http://www.ryanair.com.

Finns are looking up

Get away from it all in Finland: Photo by Daria Shevtsova

I do love a sauna…. somewhere to let it all hang out.

I was sorely tempted in Soll in Austria to cause a scene in the breakfast room (and not for the first time).

I had just had a sauna and the Austrians, of course, like to have theirs in the nip.

When I got down the next morning I spotted a woman who had been in the sauna with me. I was all set to go over and say: ‘I didn’t recognise you with your clothes’ on until her burly German boyfriend walked in.

Saunas, of course, originate in Scandinavia. And how’s about this for an airport experience. Saunas in Helsinki Airport Finnair Platinum Wing.

Finnair is to increase the frequency of flights from Dublin and Edinburgh to its Helsinki hub this winter. There will be four extra services on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Visit http://www.finnair.com.

Just remember to leave yourself enough time to get to the departure gate!

Aer we go

The pool is the only place to be. Photo by Pixabay

Twenty quid will barely get you a drink and a a few chips here but your money stretches further on the continent so when Aer Lingus offers you €20 off your flight at a great price anyway it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.

Vienna, Lisbon, Faro, Malaga and Nice are all pegged at €44.99 from Dublin, it’s €51.99 from Cork to Alicante and €58.99, while Shannon is €49.99 to Malaga.

Travel between August 1 and October 31. Book by July 1. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com. Prices are one-way including taxes and charges.

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Blown away by Disney

Disney is good, clean fun, and how many things can you say that about?

And it’s got even cleaner and without me even noticing.

Disney has banned smoking (it’s been in place since May) which is probably why the air felt fresher when I visited Disneyland Resort in Anaheim recently.

Now if you like a puff then you can always go to the new designated smoking areas outside the entrances of the park.

The only smoke you’ll see inside is special effects and the light and magic show Mickey puts on at the end of the night up at the Castle.

Look out for my review of Star Wars and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in my old stomping ground of the Irish Daily Mail and reprised in this blog this Saturday. Visit /disneyland.disney.go.com/

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/

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Hot D’Azure

It’s Hot D’Azure down in the French Riviera right now. How hot? Well today it is set to break all records in France for June with temperatures of 41C.

France’s two highest temperatures were recorded in the South of France, 44C, on two separate occasions on August 12 in 2003 so it’s not quite that just yet.

But for those down there at the moment there is that consolation, and the fact that you might have a sea breeze… and well, it is Cannes.

I did what all self-respecting visitors do and took a gigantic boat out onto the C’ote D’Azur. Read all about it in https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-d’azur/(opens in a new tab)

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Brexit… where it all started

If you’re watching the news and slowly losing the will to live with all the shenanigans over Brexit here’s a little recap of when it all started a few years ago when Theresa May signed off on the whole thing.

On that fateful day I was in Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe, and the economic driver of Scotland and the UK for many a year.

And I found that the best way to deal with it then as now was this… the uisce beatha. Read my review of Aberdeen and a moment in time. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/brexit-aberdeen-a-light-in-the-north/

Looking for the Glen Garioch? I’ve got it. Photo by Chris F
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Radio days

Hear, hear… no, not some warbling politicians but just a couple of good friends talking Travel.

Aileen Eglington put this relative radio tyro at ease on her Travel show Destination Anywhere on 93.9 Dublin South FM yesterday.

The hour positively flew by as we talked Turkey (Istanbul), LA and Anaheim and Lourdes.

And we interspersed it with a few songs….

Natasha Bedingfield’s These Words, happy memories from when she loved me, she loved me, she loved me, picking me and my purple beard out of the crowd as she sang Purple Rain, the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B which they sang at our set lunch in Anaheim and On The Road Again by Willie Nelson which always reminds me of the Camino and the Via Francigena.

So, thanks Aileen and until the next time…. tune into http://www.dublinsouthfm.ie/events/travel-show every Monday from 1pm-2pm.

MEET YOU ON THE RADIO AGAIN

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Cruiseday Tuesday

I’ll never forget my first morning in a balcony cabin, waking up in Barcelona and seeing a 200ft Christopher Columbus point out to sea…

And America?

No. He’s really pointing towards a position somewhere near the city of Constanine in Algeria but who’s caring? Barcelona is a bit shambolic or Ramblaolic like that but that’s its essence.

Take for example Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia – the current builders have been granted an official building permit 137 years after construction started.

Mistake!

It ought to stay unfinished… after all The Scary One is always needing to do one more thing to our house.

One of the great statues is the Martin Luther King Jr 30ft Stone of Hope next to the National Mall in Washington DC is portrayed as unfinished because the Struggle is unfinished.

I’ll be on board Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas where I might even do a bit of surfing on FlowRider with Irish professional surfer Gearoid McDaid.

And the King and I: Washington DC

But I will be pointing to America when I do. Visit http://www.royalcaribbean.ie. And if you want to read more about how I fared the last time I tried surfing on the high seas visit https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/(opens in a new tab).

Cor-phew!

Idyllic: Corfu

Maybe our friends on the Continent could share some of their sun with us.

The sun is burning hot, hot, hot, just now and it is something that the Corfiots are all too familiar with as we found out when we honeymooned there all those years ago.

They recommended that you hit the hills or take to the seas… you’ll need no second invitation.

Our friends at TUI http://www.tuiholidays.ie have Dublin-Corfu and a seven-day all-inclusive cruise on the Adriatic Explorer from €1,189pps on July 12. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie

You snooze, you lose the cruise

Colossal: Photo by Davi Pimentel.

Here at Cruiseday Tuesday we like to keep you up to date with the great late deals because we know you’ve always got a bag packed ready!

MSC has this great offer for a seven-day spin on Divina around the Mediterranean from £999pp leaving from Cagliari in Sardinia and taking in Palma, Valencia and Marseille and also Genoa, Rome and Palermo. From July 2-9. Visit http://www.msccruises.ie.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Meet you on the radio

I’ll tell you what The Donald is thinking

If you haven’t heard me yet… then I’m talking too quietly.

I’ll be on the radio this morning on Dublin South FM, broadcasting on 93.9FM from 2pm-3pm with the awesome Aileen Eglington.

I’ll be California Dreamin’ about my recent trip to Hollywood, West Hollywood and Anaheim and also all things Istanbul (they have a new mayor there, don’t you know and did you see all those people out celebrating in the streets). And then let’s finish it all with a prayer… the Lourdes Prayer.

And relive some of that with My Weekend With Marilyn, part one of my LA Story, the second part of which is in this Saturday’s Irish Daily Mail, while The Lourdes Prayer is also coming soon. My Weekend with Marilyn https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/. Wham Bam Thank You Hamam is https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam,-thank-you-hamam/(opens in a new tab)

Listen in to find out what three songs I choose too. And visit http://www.dublinsouthfm.ie to find out how you can hear it back. I can’t think what else you might be doing around 2pm-3pm though.

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Drum roll….

I officially hate my wife.

Not because she left me for a whole day – and I had to make my own meal – while she went up to see George Ezra (meh) in Belfast.

But she only met Ronnie Vannucci Jnr, the drummer with the greatest rock band in the world The Killers.

Ronnie Vannucci Jnr

Of course if it had been me I’d have taken a selfie and posted it every day….

So gratuitously here’s a hall of fame (and I’m still working on it) of people who were lucky enough to meet me.

And remembering that this too is a Travel blog let’s mention the Culloden Hotel where the Great Men were staying, even though they didn’t give me the nod nor lock all at the doors until I’d got up there.

The sumptuous Culloden Hotel which is part of the Hastings group offers room only from £85pps or Your Luxury Bed And Breakfast From £100pps. Visit http://www.hastingshotels.com.

MEET YOUR HEROES… WHO I MET ON THE ROAD, SO FAR

Anyone for Jimmy: Judy Murray is
He’s a bit one-dimensional though: Cliff Richard
Love you, love you, love you,: Natasha Bedingfield
Trumped you all: With ‘The Donald’
With The Real Donald
The Mart and The Murt: Sign me up
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My regards to Broadway

Oh Carole: Beautiful in Washington DC

Apropos nothing really, but here’s a selection of piccies from the Broadway stars whom Universal Studios brought to the American Travel fair just for our lunch entertainment over the last couple of years.

In a really tangential way I got thinking musicals when flagging up Aer Lingus’s offers http://www.aerlingus.com… see Flyday Friday.

And then I got ahead of myself and promised you my review from a couple of years back of London’s Theatreland, the West End, which also kinda grew legs and got into English history and Brexit.

Thank goodness they sorted Brexit out, eh?

Visit https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/23/carole-king-youre-beautiful-londonwestend-musical/(opens in a new tab)

And because I’m a big luvvie… that selection of musical delights from past American Travel fairs.

Pure opera: The Phantom in Denver
Magic: It’s Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway in Anaheim
Therein lies a tail: The Lion King in Anaheim
And a little bit of everything: With Frozen thrown in too in Anaheim
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Carole King… you’re Beautiful

Kings and queens: Dramatic London

There are some mornings I wake up without a smile on my face to show the world all the love in my heart.

Today though is not one of them.

Today, I have the widest smile on my face because today I am going to see the Carole King Story in London’s West End with my wife courtesy of SuperBreak.

She’s Beautiful (as is my wife).

Carole King and her seminal 1971 solo album Tapestry has been something of a soundtrack to my adult life since I first heard it in a record store as an 18-year-old and asked them to play it again… before buying it there and then before going on to wear out the needle.

Will You Love Me Tomorrow? summed up my feeble attempts at wooing… of course, they didn’t even love me that night,

Then it was You’ve Got a Friend when She came along,

So Far Away was when she was pregnant with the Son and Heir in Aberdeen and trying to sell the house and me starting a new job in Liverpool.

Trying to shut her up? No, she’s just selfie-conscious

And since then Home Again as we have taken an Oydyssean journey around these islands.

It is the beauty of this timeless album that I won’t be the only one for whom it tells a personal story.

Of course, it’s Carole King’s story that Beautiful tells, a story that begins with her selling her first song while still at school through the ups and downs of her marriage to songwriting partner Gerry Goffin to her grand redemptive performance at Carnegie Hall in her native New York.

Hands on decks: Some ambient music at the Radisson Blu

Along the way we thrill to the Sound of the Sixties which she and Goffin and their friends Cynthia Wiel and Barry Mann shaped with such classics as On The Roof, Locamotion, One Fine Day, Pleasant Valley Sunday and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, On Broadway and a bunch of others.

At the end of a fast-paced joyful paean to Carole who has inspired generations of singer-songwriters and still performs to this day, she had performed Tapestry in full with her daughter Louiseup the road at Hyde Park in the summer, I’m up dancing and clapping wildly to I Feel The Earth Move.

While I’m here at the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End to pay homage to Carole King there’s time enough for some other kings and some queens and princes too at the Tower of London.

Pasta master: At the Radisson Blu, Seven Dials

William the Conqueror built it nearly 1,000 years ago to fortify the capital of his new kingdom, King Henry VIII had tow wives beheaded here, near to where I’m standing by the Bloody Tower where King Richard III had his two nephews suffocated in their sleep,

Another queen, Lady Jane Grey, was also executed here… she spent only five days as monarch before she had to make way fro Queen Mary, or Bloody Mary if you will who then made way for Queen Elizabeth.

Beefeater anyone? With the Scary One, left.

It’s another Queen Elizabeth we’re chiefly here to see, the current queen, Britain’s longest serving monarch at 64 years and counting.

Or more accurately we’re here to see her bling, the Crown Jewels.

Talking of counting, try counting the number of gems in her crown on your walk around or the number of salt bowls or how many drinks you could get out of that punch bowl.

All of which can make you quite thirsty.

I feast like a king at my palace for the weekend, the Radisson Blu Edwardian in Mercer Street, Seven Dials, near Covent Garden.

Our breakfasts are king-sized, instead of choosing buffet or continental they do both while evening meal is a Peruvian/Italian tapas fusion.

It works and the DJ with his decks and his ambient music add to the vibe.

A watery grave: Olde London

Fat as a king, I need to work off the half a dozen meat, fish and pasta tasting dishes and rich Peruvian chocolate dessert which means a stroll around the city of Westminster.

It is a ten-minute walk from Seven Dials across Waterloo Bridge and along the South Bank.

I try to ignore the garish and overpriced Dungeon and Shrek tourist traps and opt instead two read William Wordsworth’s thoughts inscribed on the walkway.

The great Romantic poet loved London and waxed lyrical about the Thames gentled gliding by.

I despair then at what today’s town planners are doing to this great old city with their London Eyesore and Gherkin (and who builds something in the shape of the bit of the burger nobody wants?)

The West End: And that boy Potter

I avert my eyes and, of course, am drawn instead to the Mother of all Parliaments. I cross Westminster Bridge and think on Wordsworth’s Upon Westminster Bridge.

I consider knocking on Downing Street to give Theresa May a piece of my mind but Big Ben’s chimes tell me it’s too late, baby, it’s too late. I have an urgent appointment with another wordsmith.

HOW TO GET THERE

We travelled with Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com to Gatwick Airport.

WHO TO GO WITH

We had two nights on a SuperBreak package in 2016 and took in the Beautiful: The Carole King Story at the Aldwych Theatre in the West End of London. Don’t despair though there are one or two other offerings still running!!!

Save 30% on theatre tickets with a hotel and ticket package from SuperBreak. http://www.superbreak.com. Also visit www.radissonblu-edwardian.com/MercerStreet‎.

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Holidos and don’ts

Plugged in: Photo by rawpixel.com

If I had a euro for every charger I’d left behind… I’d have enough to buy a new charger.

On the off chance that you’re in La Grange in Loudenvielle in the French Pyrenees and you see a Turkish Airlines charger http://www.turkishairlines.com with two entry points (if that’s the technical expression)…

Perhaps it would have been better had I just headed back to Lourdes and bought some St Anthony trinket and paid him to return it to me safely.

Irish and British chargers

Simple. It’s the one you have already… the one you’re always looking for around the house or the office.

Of course you’re Irish one doesn’t have to have a green lead. Some come with a detachable lead that you can take out of the plug which increases your options. Get one of those as it’ll make your life easier.

It’s a Type G and it is a three-bit though maybe that’s just my word for it, but you know what I mean.

Those Europeans

Two prongs make a right: In Europe

They’ve got two prongs… I’m beginning to get a little nostalgic now about that Turkish Airlines charger.

You can do one of two things. If your charger comes away from your Irish plug well done and you can go for the likes of a PICILOO USB Plug Adaptor, 2-Pack USB Charger 2.1A/5V Dual USB Wall Charger Power Travel Adapter for Phone XS XR X 8/7/6/6S Plus 5S, iPad, Samsung Galaxy S8/S7/S6 Edge, HTC, LG, Moto.

Come again. I found more info than I needed but go to http://www.amazon.co.uk and you can pick this up for under a tenner sterling.

But if you come attached to a plug… the phone, not you, although sometimes The Scary One thinks I should be… then http://www.lovehoney.co.uk is selling UK to Europe adaptors for £5.99.

They’re Type C, E and F and they also apply to European Turkey and Asian Turkey (Antalya), Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and a lot of Northern Africa… though check before you go for regional differences as with chargers just like their politics they don’t always agree.

Make America charge again

Right, this is as easy as A, B (no, not C).

Our good friends at Amazon have again come to our aid here.

You should buy a multiple USB port charger which includes swappable plugs like a 4-port USB travel charger.

Amateurs, like me come with a bag and a couple of those above.

The professionals go for this one below from http://www.amazon.co.uk at £11.99.

And good news, it is recommended for numerous different countries around the world on a daily basis.

Thank goodness for that… I was beginning to think this was a science test.

And remember look out for my charger if you’re in the French Pyrenees. St Anthony could build a shrine with the amount of cash I’ve put in his charity box over the years.

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My weekend with Marilyn

You’ll live for ever: Marilyn’s bench

Goodbye Norma Jean! So, this is where Marilyn finally found her rest from the lascivious attentions of the manipulative men who hounded her to her death.

Unisignposted and in an unassuming square at the back a Los Angeles office block lies the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery,

But who’s this lying next to her? Only Playboy owner Hugh Hefner who bought the drawer next door for $75,000… he was surely the last man she would have wanted to spend eternity with.

Marilyn and Hefner had history. It was Hefner who bought the nude pictures that she had posed for in her sallow youth before she became famous for just $500 and put them on his first cover of Playboy. She never got a dime.

Marilyn doesn’t deserve this company. She should be shining brightest in a galaxy of stars. And on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, she is.

The actress is one of 2,600 famous characters – human, animal and animated – immortalised on a mile and a half of sidewalk along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.

Rest in peace: Her last resting place

Her hands and feet are outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with the imprints of a century of Hollywood celebrities. Hers are worn out from the millions who have wanted to touch a bit of her.

If you feel her presence on the stairs of the Dolby There where the Oscars are held then her spirit is playing on you as her only appearance was at the nearby Pantages Theatre. Still, we all pose for a diva’s shot in homage to her anyway.

Oscar time: At the Dolby Theatre

Marilyn seems to be everywhere I turn. I see her looking down, smiling from out of a window on Venice Beach, brightly dressed and warm as the sun. We lit our heads from our catch of the day in Larry’s diner off the boardwalk – in my case the lightest calamari – and smile back.

Jim Morrison is all swagger on the other wall.

Today’s Venice Beach has its own characters too: a rasta artist on rollerblades playing guitar, an old man who wheels his grand piano up the strand to tinkle the ivories and a randomLatino Conor McGregor who is punching and kicking the hell out of a punchbag in the square.

In Southern California, or SoCal, it’s all about the image, the ‘body beautiful’, and this is where Californian body builders come to work out, at the outdoor Muscle Beach Gym, once the home of Arnold Schwarzenegger and ‘The Hulk’ Lou Ferrigno.

There’s always a show on, even if it is only the tourists posing by a muscleman mannequin on the boardwalk. Guilty!

Who’s older: Jim and Dino

Up the road in Santa Monica the busy pier gives little clue that this is the beach used for Baywatch.

All these nuggets and more are at the fingertips of our driver Ross from Starline Tours, provided by our host Attraction Tickets Direct who tells us of a loose association with David Hasselhoff and a girl who was the Hoff’s prom date.

I would be more impressed if Ross had dated Sandy… well we do pass Rydell High.

And he shows u too the site of the party hotel, the Garden of Allah, where Joni Mitchell hung out and they ‘paved Paradise and put up a parking lot’.

A big greenie: With Shrek

You’ll find today’s Hollywood celebrities hanging out in West Hollywood celebrities hanging out in West Holywood, so where better to bunk down?

The La Peer Hotel, just a couple of blocks down from Beverly Hills, its cop shop and Rodeo Drive, is a Kimpton, a boutique hotel which is much more than that as befits West Hollywood, with its heated outdoor swimming pool as an extension of the bar.

And the comfiest suites which were welcome after our 11-hour flight, although it literally flew by on our pleasant Aer Lingus journey here.

The hotel’s restaurant Viale dei Romani serves up the best Italian food if you want to stay in-house, and I’d also recommend the wood-grilled octopus and its garden of warm potato salad, oil cured olives, preserved lemon and saffron aioli.

But there are not shortage of great restaurants to sample in West Hollywood where, best of all, you can also indulge in the favourite pastime of celeb -spotting.

And so we also visited Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump’s eponymous lounge and restaurant, Pump, where Lady Gaga made the news a few years back after falling outside on the sidewalk.

Lisa is there the night we dine on truffle mushroom chicken (well, you would wouldn’t you?) though there’s no sign of Gaga.

Perhaps the gay icon will be back the following week for Pride.

West Hollywood is already putting out the bunting for Pride when up to 200,000 will take to the streets, although in truth it is always in a state of readiness with its rainbow zebra crossings.

I’d recommend a night in one of the many friendly gay clubs, I even managed to walk rather than fall out, although a bulky cop reminded me that I couldn’t drink on the sidewalk.

There’s a shark out there: You’ll never get in the water again!

If you want to get closer to the stars, get on to the right tours and get on the sets of the TV shows and movies we all watch, our host Attraction Tickets Direct will help with pre-booking which will save precious time and money.

They will take you to Warner Studios where you can sit in the very same couch used in Central Perk in Friends or visit the Ellen set.

A day in Universal Studios Hollywood will immerse you in both movie history and the future.

Who’s king of the Castle: The Potter show

We take a coach through the sets of Pycho, Jaws, a Mexican town and through a tunnel where a scene from The Fast and the Furious is simulated all around us.

Great fun too at the Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest cinema show with vibrating seats and water mist effects, while fans of rollercoaster rides will love The Simpsons and Harry Potter rollercoasters.

I prefer to sit back and watch other take the heat, although I don’t expect to see a stuntwoman set on fire in the Special Effects Show.

All your favourite animated and sci-fi characters are here, all in great form and happy to pose up: Shrek, Scooby-Doo, the Transformers and a dinosaur, no, not me, but a ‘real’ T-Re which is trailing Jurassic World: The Ride.

Angelic: Amn’t I?

We all have our favourites but it is the Boy Wizard who always cast a spell on me.

Muggles, myself included, are beside themselves at the prospect of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure story coaster in the sister resort of Orlando.

Universal Hollywood’s Potter experience feels smaller than its Orlando World counterpart but it is still intimate and enchanting.

And its Dark Arts light how is a thundering good hope with a cascade of creepy crawlies climbing up to attack a crumbling Hogwarts Castle only for the forces of good to prevail, all against a heart-pounding musical score and moral message.

And that, it seems, is Hollywood and the LA story in a nutshell: an aspirational, illusory dream sequence where you can stand in the Hollywood Hills, hike up to the Griffiths Observatory and view the iconic letters, or take a watering job and hope to serve Steven Spielberg.

Or get your star on the Walk of Fame. It’s a a rollercoaster journey all right and you can’t ice how you’re next to, but I did spot four stars unfilled. and I’d reckon myself and my family would be deserving candidates.

Peerless: La Peer Hotel

*Jim Murty is Ireland’s Travel Editor of the Year and a multi award-winning Travel writer. See next week for part tow when he takes us to Disneyland and a galaxy far, far away.

HOW TO GET THERE

Aer Lings, Ireland’s only four-star airline operates a daily service from Dublin direct to Los Angeles with fares starting from €259 each-way including taxes and charges when booked as a return trip. The service reduces to five times weekly during winter. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

WHERE TO STAY

La Peer Hotel is quintessentially West Hollywood with bright, funky finishings, spacious, comfortable bedrooms and fine food, a heated swimming pool and fitness centre. Doubles from about €315 per night. Visit http://www.lapeerhotel.com.

ACTIVITIES

Deluxe Grand City Tour with Starline from €73pp. Hollywood Hills guided hike, a 2.5 hour gentle hike, offering mountain and city views and photo opps of the Hollywood signs. The tour ends at the Griffith Park Observatory (admission included). From €46pp. Starlight Dinner Cruise from Marina Del Rey’s. From €107pp (not including drinks). Universal Studios Hollywood one-day admission ticket form €96pp/Express Pass from €305pp. Visit http://www.attractionticketsdirect.ie or call (01) 649 8558; visit west hollywood.com. Visit http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com. Visit http://www.california.com, http://www.westhollywood.com.

A version of this article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in June 2019.

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California yoga… it’s a stretch

California is all about good livin’ but it’s hard when you’re being wined, dined and partied as I was at the recent American Travel Fair, IPW. Our hosts knew it and put on yoga classes in the afternoon which none of our Irish party that I know of managed to attend.

Pity because they have a lot to offer so on this, International Yoga Day, I give you the definitive Califorian experience.

Kitten yoga in Santa Barbara

You want me to do what? Photo by Tranmautritam

Cat Therapy is Santa Barbara’s only cat cafe… but they want you pussies to work hard for your snacks.

There is a 60-minute gentle yoga and deep stretching class followed by a 30-minute cat cuddle session where participants can play and cuddle any remaining worries away.

The cost of the classes go towards helping rescued cats. Minimum contribution $10. Visit http://www.santabarbarbaraca.com and http://www.cattherapsb.com.

Who said Downward Dog? Scarper!

Paddleboard Yoga in Newport Beach

Come in, the water’s fresh: Photo by Elise Bunting

Why do I never look this cool when I hit the water?

This is paddleboard yoga and a Bliss Paddle Yoga session is what you need. http://www.blisspaddleyoga.com. Balance away and breathe in the California vibe. From $39. http://www.visitnewportbeach.com.

Aerial yoga in SLO CAL

That’s one way to save a penalty: Photo by Loe Moshkovska

For the rest of us our bellies would just droop down.

But this is aerial yoga and you can try it out at SLO Yoga Center http://www.sloyogacenter.com in San Luis Obispo County, whose representatives regaled us with their charms on a visit to Dublin a couple of years ago.

You’ll want to hang from the ceiling in individual hammocks and build up your srength and flexibility. Somehow though I don’t think I could ever look this, even in California.

From approximately $18. See http://www.slocal.com.

Vineyard yoga near Santa Barbara

Vintage. Photo by Rui Dias

This is more like it… and a perfect way to wined down.

Against the backdrop of rolling hills and miles of grapevine, apparently this opens up the senses and lets you experience the post-workout tipple more easily. Never did find that a problem though.

Visit http://www.santabarbara.com.

Beer yoga in Redding

Cheers. Photo by Tembela Bohle

Now you’ve found my speciality.

Pints & Poses at Redding’s Wildcard ‘s Brewing House lets visitors enjoy stretching while sipping on a pint.

I’m good at that I stretch one arm forward bring it back, raise it to the lips and then repeat four or five times.

I’m signing up as a yogi teacher!

Plenty of juicy IPAs and coffee brown ales to chose from. And to think when I first went over to the States in the early 80s all my cousins liked to drink was Bud.

From approximately $15. Visit http://www.visitredding.com.

Happy International Yoga Day everybody. And don’t overdo it.

And for all things Californian, visit http://www.visitcalifornia.co.uk.

*Fly Dublin to Los Angeles LAX with Aer Lingus, Ireland’s only 4-star airline. With pre-clearance. It operates a daily service with fares starting from €259 each way including taxes and charges when booked as a return trip. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

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Sign me up for the end of the world

And if you look closely I’ve started growing the beard

A Galician piper belts out a Celtic tune by the lighthouse of Finisterre, the westernmost point of their world.

A sign with the Camino shell marks 0.00km.

Many pilgrims continue by foot from Santiago to Finisterre.

Wendy and I, or Waspwoman as you will know her from our Camino adventures when I accidentally swotted a wasp in her direction and it stung her foot, take a three-hour coach ride from Santiago (€26 return) on our last day, Wednesday.

Any trip to the Edge of the World should not be rushed, there is much to see, from quiet cove to golden beaches and coastal villages with azure and terracotta-washed cottages.

As I look out on the horizon from atop the cliff on this clearest of clear days I can see why my Celtic predecessors refused to countenance that there would be anything beyond or above this.

Visit CaminoWays.com http://www.caminoways.com. And Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com.

And before I got there there was only 111kms from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. Relive it with me in my review A pilgrim’s prayer… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/(opens in a new tab)

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Stumbling on another Camino

I did it my way… which was tailgating an American friar and his group from Sarria to Santiago de Compostella, the last 100km of the French Way which begins in St Jean Pied de Port.

But there is no one definitive way of doing the Camino, thank Heavens. You may prefer to follow the route from Lourdes.

I did the first stretch the easy way this time, by coach, with Lourdes rugby player Andre who is 56 but looks 36 doing the heavy lifting of the bus up the Pyrenees, and miraculously avoiding cyclists coming the other way down the middle of the road.

We visited the beguiling Cirque de Gavarnie with its crashing 434m waterfalls and 16 summits and scaled the Col du Tourmalet, the most climbed route for Tour de France cyclists where I took a breather…. sitting in the back of a coach sure takes it out of you!

And we let the cable car take the strain guiding us up the Pic du Midi to Le 2877 restaurant, the highest in Europe, where we looked out (or down) onto the peaks.

Je digresse! And you can too, off your Camino route, to take all this in before you get back on the road, over the Pyrenees and into Spain and onto Santiago.

Caminoways.com will map it all out for you. It’s basically a case of criss-crossing ways from your starting point at Lourdes, 40kms from the international airport served in the summer season by Ryanair. http://www.ryanair.com. And you’ll see the de rigeuer bar stops that so mark the Camino.

Follow http://www.caminoways.com/travel-the-camino-from-lourdes-to-santiago.

Look out for my Lourdes Prayer and Pyrenees peregrinations in future blogs.

I have recapped my Camino from a couple of years ago here… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/(opens in a new tab). And look out too for what happened to me when I got to the end of the world. Coming soon.

MEET YOU ON THE WAY

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Cruiseday Tuesday

Beyond the sea: Photo by Mariia Kamenska

Love this island

But not Love Island or the sex-craved canoodling of the wannabes who occupy too much airtime on our televisions.

No, it’s the Majorca beyond Magaluf that you want to visit. I like it up north in Soller, but equally we had a lovely holiday in Cala D’Or which is 30 minutes from the quaint village of Sea Salines near which lies the Love Island village. God, I hope those poor villagers don’t have to bump into these bottomed bums.

Equally Majorca and its proud capital Palma are great places to cruise into as I did 15 odd years ago.

TUI offers a couple of options for you, knowing that we live in different parts of Ireland.

Its Hidden Gems all-inclusive cruise is seven days in an inside cabin from €1,139pps, departing Cork on July 16. Or try the seven-night Treasures of the Mediterranean, all-inclusive, staying in an inside cabin. Dublin to Majorca departing on August 27.

Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie, call 1850 45 35 45 or visit a TUI store.

And that’s a rap

They both have sand… and Jerry. Or Big Rapper as I called him.

Asked to rap for us in the Wahdi Rum desert in Jordan, St Lucian Jerry belted out a song of which Kanye West would have been proud.

Jerry and his charming girlfriend Hannah, front of pic, have been talking of putting a guide book together of his native St Lucia, and I’m sure that they will and it will tell us all we need to more and give us the best authentic take on the Caribbean island.

For the rest ask Royal Caribbean which has a seven-night Southern Caribbean Cruise on Freedom of the Seas, featuring the island which is famed for its peaks. Also taking in Phillipsburg, St Maarten, Basseterre St Kitts & Nevis, St John’s Antigua and my favourite, Bridgetown Barbados, departing from San Juan Puerto Rico on April 20.

And you can save up to €1000 when you book by July 1. From €749pp based on two people sharing, €1498 for two guests. The promotion is applicable to new bookings made between Monday, June 3 and Monday, July 1. Visit http://www.royalcaribbean.ie.

PS: post (or) pre sailing

And follow http://www.thecruiseroomireland.ie.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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HOLIDOS + DON’TS

Your health is your wealth

Doesn’t it make you sick?

Being sick that is.

It’s happened to me three times on trips… well, a few times more but they were all self-inflicted.

They’ve all been different, so let’s look at them.

THE IRISH SEASICK

Spare a thought for the poor PR who was taking her maiden journey on the inaugural Swansea-Cork Ferries route.

Little did she know, or us to be fair, but that stretch of the Irish Sea is particularly choppy.

Like the Agatha Christie book And Then There Were None all of us fell one by one, having to leave the table for our cabins.

We got back on our feet and the trip around the Ring of Kerry in a fleet of Citroens was fun-filled until we returned for Wales.

Anchored off the shore for four hours because of storms I didn’t eat a blessed thing. I filed the story but never did hear from the PR again.

Morrocan’roll

Despite our best efforts Abdullah would not stop for water, good Muslim that he is. It was Ramadan.

We’d suggested we put our trip to the Sahara off until the next day such were the storms battering the Atlas Mountains that day.

Abdullah kept us going with Eminem tapes of all things, and his windscreen wipers went ten to a dozen wiping the mud off the window as we clung onto the side of the mountain.

We stopped off for a tajine in a cliff side restaurant before heading off to our camels.

My night in the desert though was disrupted by a disruption in my tummy that night.

The upside though (not what came up by my side) was that I saw a light show in the sky, shooting stars and the sun coming up!

Shooting stars rather than sh… let’s keep it clean, now!

California hurls

I’d be hearing stories all the previous day about Jim Morrison’s excesses and how he bunked up near the studio because he’d be so wrecked from partying through the night.

I should have pushed the boat out the night before if I’d known I would be confined to barracks the next day.

But obviously something was wrong when I left my bottle of Bud in the gay club in West Hollywood and only picked at my food in the fancy diner.

I reckon it was something I drank in Venice Beach… Jim Morrison would be proud. Maybe not though that it was an ice cream float!

Prevention is the best cure but you can’t always avoid getting ill on holiday. Pack a pharmaceutical bag with Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. Make sure you have plenty of water.

Stay insured.., I’ve always gone for InsureandGo http://www.insureandgo.com.

And if you’re going far afield visit Tropical Medical Bureau http://www.tmb.ie.

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HOLIDAY SNAPS

Glass half full: Simon and I in Ieper

Sante… say it before you take the glass to your lips and afterwards and raise a fat wallet to the host who has bought you the drinks. It’s Beer Day today.

What do you mean that’s just another name for Saturday?

Now that’s the way the Flemish toast. And in Ieper they go to Tom’s Bierhaus. Simon here has been there before and I dare say has drunk every one of Tom’s 120 or so beers at least once.

While you and I might have our own glass behind the bar, Simon, who is a guide with GTI The Group Travel Specialists whom I visited the World War I battlefields in Flanders and The Somme with a couple of years ago, has this wonderfully shaped drinking vessel. Visit http://www.gti-ireland.com.

And if you want to know more about how the soldiers relaxed away from the front, check out my review https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/firstworldwar-in-flanders-fields/(opens in a new tab)

Other great beerologists I know… the dude in Boulder, Colorado, who persuaded the University to employ him to go to the Middle East, Italy and Greece to research booze and the different recipes from the ancient tomes and then recreate them. Visit http://www.colorado.com.

Dragon’s Den, anybody? I’m in.

He’ll definitely be at the Great American Beer Festival, the largest in the USA, in Denver from October 4-6.

You can sample over 4,000 different beers.

Don’t tell Flemish Tom, or maybe do!

Find the lady

Galway always at the races

When my Dear Old Mum and Dad got to me, their youngest, they decided that the best way to ensure that they had holidays to themselves was to pack me over to my cousins in Dublin.

From where we would then head off to a mobile home in Salthill for our holidays.

Among the treats in store were a trip to Knock, swimming in Spiddal, and one of my faves, a trip to the Galway Races where I would watch in awe and lose a punt or two on the card hucksters who would lure you in with their Find the Lady scam.

If Galway Races are one of your must-do events of the summer then you’ll want a tip as to where to stay.

The plush Hotel Meyrick is in an ideal location on Eyre Square ad has fantastic packages during the week of July 29 to the last day of the races on Saturday, August 3.

For the full schedule of events, live music, dining options, information on this year’s Most Stylish Ladies Day event and the travel packages available at the hotel, visit http://www.hotelmeyrick.ie or call (01) 91564041.

I should be so lucky

As a bonzer Sheila, Kylie Minogue loves her sport so it should come as little surprise that she will be headlining the entertainment at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens in December.

For AED400 (€96) for Friday or AED500 (€120) for the entire weekend fans at the 50th anniversary of the Dubai Sevens can enjoy a feast of music and sport.

Emirates Holidays is offering return flights from Dublin with Emirates, three nights at the four-star Zabeel House Al See with breakfast and entry tickets to the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens for Friday and Saturday which includes that unmissable Kylie concert.

The Sevens will take place from December 5-7 and the Irish team will be expected to be among the favourites.

For flights to Dubai direct from Dublin visit http://www.emirates.ie, for Emirates Holidays bookings including event tickets visit http://www.emiratesholidays.ie or call the Emirates Holidays call centre on (01) 800 800 740. Tickets for the events and more information, visit http://www.dubairugby7sc.om.

Shout of Africa

A lioness… you’re a cool cat too, Michelle

Congratulations to my friend, oft-time contributor to my Irish Daily Mail section when I was there and general Jacko of all trades, Michelle Jackson, on being shortlisted for the blogger’s award at the coming Experience Africa convention in London.

Jacko Kerouac, another name I have bequeathed her, is a great lover of South Africa, and I fell head over heels for the country too on my recent visit to the Eastern Cape.

I’d been told about the great rate of exchange and fantastic cost of living before I went and can now vouch too that the landscapes, history, culture and food and drink are only matched by the wonderful, open and smiling people.

Escape2.ie and Air France are offering a seven-night city break from €1,189pp staying at the 5* Taj Cape Town with luxurious spa and top-class dining. Depart September, prices from €1189pp.

Or spend ten nights combining Cape Town with a safari.

The Aquila Private Game Reserve offers a range of game drives, giving you the chance to spot lions, elephants, leopards and much more. Depart between September 2019 and April 2020, excluding December, price from €2059pp.

Visit http://www.Escape2.ie or call (01) 435 0096. And visit http://www.thenoveltraveller.com.

Spanish stroll

Sara, Jaime and the Son and Heir

Ola Sara, mia amiga!

You’ll be glad to know that I’m off to Spain at the end of the month. Sara, the media darling of the Spanish Tourism Office in Dublin has long been chiding me that I am wont to send writers rather than go myself to Espana.

Mea culpa!

But I do love Spain, it’s just that when I do go there there’s a danger that I won’t come back.

All of which makes this Sunway offer all the more alluring as you do the major mainland attractions in just eight days.

Take in Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Granada and Valencia

Departure dates – June 29, August 10, 24, September 7, 14 and 21, October 12. Prices from €939pp, single supplement €375pp. Book (01) 231 1800 or check http://www.sunway.ie.

Say a little prayer

Water of life: To send me on my way

I need a miracle(s). And the best place for that is Lourdes.

I’m also reliably informed that there are a bevvy (if that’s the right collective noun) of Irish bars there… a lot of thirsty pilgrims I guess. All of which chimes in nicely with Beer Day.

So I’m going to fill myself with wholly spirit. See you next week. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of the Scary One.

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FLYDAY FRIDAY

Purple reigns, purple reigns… in Minneapolis, Barbados, LA. Everywhere.

You heard it here first… the twin cities are THE American cities to go to this year.

You can rock to Prince at his Paisley Park home just as I did with Di-Di, above, at Barbados Crop Over, visit great shopping malls, eat at top restaurants with delicious craft beer and go out into the Great Outdoors and enjoy more wonderful Park life.

I also partied with Natasha Bedingfield who gave a stirring version of Purple Rain to us in LA at the American Travel fair IPW. She picked me out in the crowd and stroked her chin in reference to my purple beard and we wound down afterwards at the after-party.

Icelandair flies to Minneapolis for €185, one-way based on a return fare and travel 26 August 2019 – 24 March 2020. And that includes a stopover in Reykjavik. Visit http://www.icelandair.com. http://www.minneapolisnorthwest.com.

Icelandair also has:

New York                €158*

Boston                      €193*

Chicago                    €198*

Seattle                      €210*

Vancouver               €210*

Book by midnight, Sunday 16th June 2019 23:59pm.

The Wonder of You…

… And you

She is my wonder of the world… and her above too. In fact The Wonder of You was our First Dance music at our wedding reception 25 years ago.

Petra, of course, is another wonder of the world, one of the Modern Wonders of the World and it is everything that they say as I found out on my recent G Adventures trip http://www.gadventures.com. And http://www.visitjordan.com.

Our friends at Ryanair have compiled a Seven Wonders of the World guide for us. I’d recommend my Jordan musings which I will compile for multiple media outlets soon and also in this blog over the coming weeks.

The other Wonders you’ll be wanting to tick off on your way… you can go by camel if you want too… are the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens, the Colosseum, Rome (tick), the Dead Sea (tick, tick), La Sagrada Familia Barcelona (tick, tick, tick), Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia (they’ve been onto me) and Lagoa do Fogo, the Azores (big fan of Portugal).

And yes, they all give me ‘strength to carry on.’

See http://www.ryanair.com for its guide, and also for other top deals.

A million love songs

Wheely great: Laura and Graham

Congratulations Laura McGrory and Graham Woods who won an upgrade to Business Class and two complimentary Aer Lingus flights from North America to a European City of their choice with Aer Lingus.

And what did they have to do? Only be the 1 millionth transatlantic guest to fly with the national airline carrier this year. The recently married couple from Dunleer in Co. Louth made the milestone trip travelling from Dublin to Seattle.

All of which begs the question. 1 millionth means one person. Ah, true love when two becomes one.

Enough song titles already?

Iamsterdam

Daddy’s Little Girl is just back from Amsterdam and absolutely loved it… it is one of my favourite short-hop city breaks too.

Sassy and classy, it has the perfect mix of high and low culture.

The food and drink are also great and I’m always won over by idiosyncratic ways of serving booze, with the Dutch custom of skimming the heads of beer with plastic knives always a winner. And mayo on chips? You should try it.

Aer Lingus likes a list too… as do I, unless of course it’s a shopping list.

Its top ten picks starts with Amsterdam, I guess it always will, and also picks out Barcelona, Birmingham, Berlin, Dusseldorf, London, Milan, Madrid, Manchester and Vienna.

See for yourself on http://www.aerlingus.com but it’s billing its autumn getaway as ‘fly from €25.99’. And here’s my recommendation https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/(opens in a new tab). https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-dylan-by-george/(opens in a new tab)

Fares are one-way including taxes and charges. Valid for travel from August 1 until September 30. Book by June 17.

Must fly, I’ve got to book.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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SPORTUGAL

It’s the footwork dahling… turn your toes in.

And keep the hands open, and dahling, trust your partner.

I half expect to see Craig Revel Horwood, sitting opposite and holding up a 2.

Thankfully I’m being judged on my tennis and not my dancing by my Mixed Doubles partner Judy Murray.

Yes, that Judy Murray, tennis supercoach, mum of two Wimbledon champions, and just as importantly in our house a Strictly Come Dancing champion.

If you can’t see my ball… it’s in the hole

Judy has had half an eye on Ashley, Faye, Lauren, Stacey, Joe, Charles, et al this series, only half an eye though as her main focus is making tennis players out of the flotsam collection of wannabe racquet tyros I’m assembled here with in the new Campus development in Quinta do Lago in the Algarve.

Judy is running a series of coaching classes for young and old, good and bad, studious and messers, which, er, would be me.

In my defence her starter hooter was too inviting not to play keepie up with.

Judy, though, as well as being very good at sport, is also a very good sport.

And even allowed me to give her a waltz at the end.

Another good sport and one you won’t have heard much about is padel which is more popular in the Iberian Peninsula than tennis.

And look what other tennis star I met at the airport

Former rugby international Max Evans who with soccer great John Terry took to the game on a trip to the Algarve describes it as the child that tennis and squash would have spawned.

Played to the same scoring system as tennis, the big difference is the non-string bats, the underhand serve, the fact that you can play off the glass walls, and dare I say it that it is more fun.

Judy’s work done, she gets a deserved breather. Me, I’m off to bother some golf pros.

For four days I will have a team of experts tasked with trying to make an athlete of me, just as they can too.

The professional at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy shows off the latest golf technology, tracking machines, sensory guides et al, which can turn the most ordinary club member into a Rory or a Tiger, or on the odd shot at least. If you concentrate that is.

But there’s always one messer who gets distracted, in this case drawn to Paul McGinley’s buggy from when he captained Europe to victory at Gleneagles.

There’s a good reason why the big boys and girls get to play the South Course, one of three Championship courses here at Quinta while yours truly is kept to the driving range.

I do get to drive me a buggy, though not Paul McGinley’s golf cart which sensibly is kept where it is.

And I get to see the course, safely for me and the golfers, or at least that’s the plan until the boy racer in me kicks in and I cut up a buggy in front and almost drive into the lake that skirts one of the greens.

I dare say I would have come up with dozens of stray golf balls in my pockets.

Maybe I’ll fare better on two wheels.

Quinta do Lago means Farm by the Lake and Quinta is at great pains to keep human athletic exertions and the natural world in perfect harmony.

The Rio Formosa Reserve which runs parallel to the course is more geared to Shiny Ibises and Spoonbill birdies, and yes, get off your bikes and get your binos out and you really will see these fascinating birds scoop up their prey with spoonlike beaks.

I’d like to say I planned my disembarkation but the truth is I took one sandy corner too many and too sharply in my obsession to lead the party.

Eyebrows may be raised as my suitability to go back with the sensible ones on the roads, but hunger called.

That hunger was sated as it invariably is in these parts by the harvest of the seas.

The world literally is your piscine pleasure in these parts no fish is safe, so I felt not a pang of guilt in devouring Dory’s pals, the lobster, clams, prawns, seabass here at the island restaurant Casa do Lago, and more of that later.

There is a green in the water for diner/golfers to shoot at but it was wisely out of bounds for us on the day.

The appeal of The Campus is its infrastructure and expertise.

Why else would Premier League side Burnley, former Champions League winners Olympique Marseille and Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand who runs a soccer camp come here. Or Irish Paralympian road race great Brian Rohan who runs The Bike Shed which is more, much more, than that.

Ask him politely and he might just allow you to hold one of his Olympic gold medals.

Of course, when it comes to sport we’re all of us experts and so I spend my last night at a sports bar, Dano’s, where I watch three matches simultaneously on the big screen (and who said that men could not multi-task?)

I’d like to say that all the games were thrillers but I was in my element all the same.

I was tackling, cleanly, a chicken casserole, to soak up the beer you understand while exchanging sporting trivia with my Portuguese hosts.

I was less good at the Halloween quiz but back myself against any Dancing Dad when the House band appears.

There’s always a price to pay though for revelry and that is invariably a sore head in the morning.

Yes, the art deco style Magnolia where we are staying specialises in fixing that too…

The Mag Burger, beef, bacon, cheese and lettuce burger and fries with a special peppery sauce the Chef, naturally, wasn’t sharing, and a pineapple, OJ, coconut and spinach smoothie!

I was feeling invincible and dived straight for the pool (yes, strictly against the rules).

And there by the poolside who was watching but Judy Murray.

Keeeep praaaaactising!

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail.

TRAVEL FACTS

How to get there: Ryanair (€70 return) and Aer Lingus (€78 return) fly to Faro. Visit http://www.ryanair.com and http://www.aerlingus.com.

Where to stay: Hotel Magnolia. Quinta do Lago, Portugal. Visit http://www.thehotelmagnoliaqdl.com. Book early to get 15% off on its Hot Summer Offer. A standard room €168 per night.

Important website: www.quintadolago.com

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Let’s dance

Put on your red shoes (or blue suede) and dance the blues.

Thrust onto the dance floor at the http://www.travel media.ie Tourism Fiji evening http://www.fiji.travel at the Morrison Hotel in Dublin the other night got me thinking of how many times I have been put in that situation (shrinking violet that I am).

So to put a spring back in my step until my next adventure (two whole sleeps away) and to block out the dreary weather I give you a random round-up of dancing all over the world.

ORLANDO

Do’h dance: With Bart and Homer in Orlando

OK, it’s Bart doing er, well The Bart, but a much younger man, minus bandana and beard, got in on the fun at Universal Orlando http://www.universalorlando.com.

The best way to do it is through Attraction Tickets Direct http://www.attractionticketsdirect.ie.

And I guarantee too that your feet won’t stop tapping when you visit Pat O’Brien’s bar on CityWalk and listen to their duelling piano players. And then there’s the karaoke venue CityWalk’s Rising Star when I was lauded for my rendition of a girls’ anthem, although these two will fall into a singing category which I will bring to you too. Again visit http://www.universalorlando.com.

BARBADOS

Yer bum!

No, not me, but the basic rule of dance as taught to me by the wonderful Bajan aerobics instructor Sue who set me up for the Barbados carnival Crop Over.

A little bit of rum helps too as taught to me by my half-Scottish half-West Indian pal Jevan who took me liming and jumpin’ and to Foreday Morning.,

Relive it with me on https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/(opens in a new tab) and how I went back for more https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/(opens in a new tab).

And visit http://www.visitbarbados.org.

LAS VEGAS

Bright light city: Vegas with Cami

Again one that probably belongs in another section… let’s call that Babes On The Road which I’m still compiling for you.

But I danced with Cami from Utah and this being Vegas I might even have proposed and be still legally married.

The full gory details are on https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/vegas-strip-the-light-fantastic/(opens in a new tab) And visit http://www.lvcva.com.

PORTUGAL

Smashed it: With Judy Murray in Portugal

Cha-cha charmed! Judy Murray gave me a tennis lesson in Quinto do Lago.

But I was just as eager to brush up on my steps with the Strictly legend.

Visit http://www.quintadolago.com.

I’ll dig out our old routine and brush it up with the review of Sportugal I did. In the meantime keep dancing.

And how about me and Rosie for Strictly Come Dancing in the new season.

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Cruiseday Tuesday

It’s all coming up Rosie: Fijian dancing

It’s an oasis when you’re dehydrated from hitting the wall of humidity after a long-haul flight… that bottle of Fiji water in your hotel bedroom.

But it comes at a price… around $10 if memory serves me right. And like all things tempting, to touch is to claim ownership and you will be billed because American hotel owners will deem that you have taken the water and replaced it with an inferior product.

Just saying.

Not that you’ll need to worry about such matters with Captain Cook Cruises where we were reliably informed at last night’s Tourism Fiji presentation at the Morrison Hotel in Dublin that water, tea and coffee are free… you will though need to pay for your booze. Visit http://www.fijitravel.

Captain Cook Cruises has a special offer running right now – book early and save 20% with the early booking saver fare (for sale and travel to 31 March 2020). Visit http://www.captaincookcruisesfiji.com. (061) 2 9126 8160.

So that’s three nights from AUD$1516pp twin share on a C Ocean Stateroom (approximately €946).

How to get there… well as the good people from Cathay Pacific reminded us it’s just a couple of sleeps and four movies or 32h 10mins (my idea of a good night in) and you’ll be there. Cathay flies via Hong Kong. Visit http://www.cathaypacific.com.

Bula… as they say in Fiji, and it’s definitely cool. With Mr T and his good lady.

You’ll be glad you did. Fijians have been voted the happiest people on earth.

And judging by the welcome they gave us last night …

Here I am with High Commissioner Mr T (they have unpronouncable names) and his good lady, and Rosie (a little easier there) and her group of musicians and dancers who are attached to the British Army up north. Happiest people on Earth… it’s no idle boast.

State of Independence

You’ve caught up with me: Looking out to Indy from Edge in Fort Lauderdale

Round and round we go, not getting anywhere… it’s how I live my life and I guess I won’t change now. Spare a thought then for The Scary One.

I joined the party ship Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas for a saunter around the English Channel and cared not a jot for anything going on between Britain and Europe…. I believe they’ve fallen out.

If you want to break up your trip though with some great on-shore itineraries then I’d recommend Indy’s 11-nights Canaries Adventure, departing October 8 from Southampton and taking in La Coruna, Madeira, Tenerife,, Gran Canaria, Lisbon and Vigo. From €1109pp (interior) based on two sharing. €2218 for two guests. Ocean view +€120pp, Balcony +€390pp, Suite €1310pp. Visit http://www.royalcaribbean.ie.

And if you want to know what a real party ship is like… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/(opens in a new tab)

Miami twice, thrice…

Frice! It’s four times and I’ve just invented the word, but that was about the number of times I did the loop of Biscayne Bay when I stopped off in Miami after attending the launch of Celebrity Edge.

I went in search of South Beach only to be told it was across a never-ending bridge, miles and miles away. I doubled back and focused on finding Little Havana. After passing my hotel, the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay, and many other by now all too familiar buildings I reckoned I’d found my destination.

Only to be told that Little Havana was more than just one Mexican shack!

You’ll get more time to investigate Miami with a ten-night Miami Stay & Eastern Caribbean cruise from American Holidays from €2,058pp including flights from Dublin. So that’s three nights at the National Hotel South Beach and seven nights cruise on-board Adventure of the Seas. Travelling April 2020. Based on two adults sharing. Call American Holidays on (01) 673 3804 or visit http://www.americanholidays.com.

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What a Portugeezer!

Parabens Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo has only done it again, led his country to major international honours, this time the inaugural European Nations League.

Portugal is known for its 3 Fs, Fado, Futbol and Fatima, and a sub-section of the second of those should be Funchal’s Favourite Fella.

Thing of beauty: Madeira. Photo by Valdemaras D. on Pexels.com

A Portuguese gem… and Funchal and Madeira is beautiful as well.

Tap AirPortugal flies Dublin to Funchal. I found a sample price of €397,81 with TAP Air Portugal, departing on June 14 and returning June 21. Visit http://www.book.flytap.com.

Cristiano is the closest thing to God in Portugal quite literally. Find out how in my review of Portugal Centro and how The Scary One almost got us deported!!!! Visit https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal/(opens in a new tab)

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What’s the Deal with The Donald?

Miss ya!

While The Donald… ‘the other one’ was over here I was over there.

So I hope you all looked after him and made sure there was plenty of Diet Coke and burgers laid on for him. It keeps him happy and his mouth occupied.

I feel that The Jimmy and The Donald’s journeys have been intertwined. I travelled out to Florida, always the touchstone State in US elections, through the night and arriving on the very morning that he was elected and he has been popping up on my travels ever since.

Bad light stops play: But not before The Donald caught me

He was obviously too busy to see me that day and sent his pal Goofy instead.

I was more surprised though to see him at the cricket in Barbados the following year. I would have thought that baseball would be more his style. And we do know that his preferred old bat of choice (and no, I don’t mean Melania) is a golf club.

No, he was there watching the West Indies face Pakistan and in a particularly slow day out in the field he joined us in our corporate box.

Making New York great again: Me and The Donald

He was back in more familiar surroundings, in his Native New York, the following year when I attended the annual American Travel Fair IPW http://www.ipw.com.

I had hotfooted it up from Washington DC and found him hustling for money for selfies in Times Square. It’s all about the Deal..

And then the last time our paths crossed was when he made an impromptu visit to the opening of the new Mississippi Museum and Museum of Civil Rights in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Donald was given a mixed greeting that day with some refusing to meet him as they believed his political views were marring the imminent commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s death. while others, and not perhaps the demographic you might think decked themselves out in Trump regalia.

Of course whatever you think about The Donald there is one thing that makes him half-decent – he is half-Scottish.

And now that I’ve piqued your interest, here’s that little piece I did on Dr King from Memphis and Mississippi. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/

And the second part of the series on Bluesman B.B. King. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/(opens in a new tab)

And remember the best way to travel to Memphis and onward is with United Airlines http://www.united.com.

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HOLIDAY SNAPS

While I was off Surfin’ USA it is worth remembering that back home many watersports fans were Surfin’ Andalucia.

The Andalucians were back in Ireland to remind us, as if we needed any reminding, what a great region it is.

California guy: I forgot the board. Huntington Beach.

Of course the first thing that we associate with Andalucia is the flamenco dancing and of course it is the best place to go to both watch and learn this passionate dance.

It is also known for its opera and attendees at the event held in the sumptuous surroundings of Trinity College were treated to the FlamencOpera and the internationally renowned tenor and base player Miguel Sanchez, the flute player and the acoustic guitarist Adriano Lozano.

Andalucia is served with direct flights from Ireland to Malaga, Aleria and Seville.

Fancy a trip to Marbella? Thought you might. TUI has three nights from Dublin, November 6, to the Vincci Seleccion Estrella del Mar from €516pp, based on two adults sharing. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie.

And if you see a bandana-wearing old beard guy out on the water, give him a wave.

The sea is free

Drastic plastic: More needs to be done

Still on matters maritime.

Ireland’s largest free family-friendly maritime festival SeaFest is in full swing at the Port of Cork and lasts through the weekend with a bunch of stuff going on today and tomorrow.

There are more than 100 free events and more than 100,000 of us are expected to attend.

Sustainability which is very close to this writer’s heart is everywhere at the SeaFest. Dirty oceans kills sealife and puts our planet at risk.

Visit http://www.seafest.ie.

The Dallas story

Wear it with pride: Fort Worth

I’m back from the American Travel Fair with a new bandana courtesy of my friends at the Fort Worth stand.

They were giving them away and well we were just kinda made for each other.

Which just goes to show you that it’s not all cowboy hats in Dallas-Fort Worth.

This week saw the arrival of the inaugural American Airlines Dreamliner flight from Dallas to Dublin which will run through to September 28. Visit http://www.americanairlines.ie. http://www.visitdfw.com.

Ferrari bumpety

Take it as red: Ferarri photo Jamil Rostum

Neeow!

If you’re a petrolhead, I’m not, but there are plenty who are, then this deal to Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix will be just for you.

Cassidy Travel has a three-day trip in September to the big race. From €559pps, it includes three days’ general admission to the event with accommodation in the 4-star Best Western Hotel Blaise & Francis in Milan.

Flights from Dublin depart September 6. Call Cassidy Travel on (01) 8786888, visit any of their nine stores across Dublin or the website http://www.cassidytravel.ie. http://www.monzanet.it,

And for those of you who like a bit of Lewis Hamilton, here’s an old photo of me partying with him at his favourite annual hang-out, the Crop Over in Barbados.

I’m shy, so I stayed out of the picture

Canada, Hey!

Towering: Toronto. Photo by Skitterphoto

It may look peaceful here but Toronto is a madhouse just now with sporting fever with the Toronto Raptors leading the legendary Golden State Warriors 3-1 in the NBA finals with thousands taking to the streets to celebrate after each of their wins. They need one more to take the trophy against all odds.

I have a vested interest in all things Canadian as my grandfather lived much of his adult life there, my uncle went there too and my brother married a Torontonian, spent eight years there and my god-daughter was born there.

When I visited him in the Eighties the Raptors were about to be thrust onto the sporting map though few outside Toronto were paying much attention. Now look at them!

Just another great reason to visit this fabulous city.

Budget Travel USA is offering six nights at the 4* Chelsea Hotel, departing in September with prices from €739pp. Visit https:/usa.budgettravel.ie or call (01) 435 0056. http://www.seetorontonow.com.

Roysh, it’s the InterCon

VIPs: Ballsbridge’s power couple

All the Movers and Shakers can be found at The InterContinental Dublin – see above and their summer cocktail parties are legendary, hic!

The InterCon is offering 10% off its Summer Story Package including Complimentary Breakfast, free cancellation 24 hours prior to arrival, 10% off all spa treatments, access to The Spa, heated in-door pool, thermal suite and gym and complimentary wi-fi.

But get moving, you’ll need to book by June 10. Valid for stays until August 31. Visit www.intercontinental.com/IC/Dublin‎

And a reminder of what a great hotel it is… my review https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-intercontinental-what-a-ledge/(opens in a new tab)

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Uncle Sam-a-Man

Donald, I’m on my way! Tell the gang.

I’m off to Disneyland in Anaheim to meet my old pals who I last saw in Walt Disney World a couple of years ago. Donald still keeps in touch, sending me a thank-you card after I got back from Orlando.

First up though is Hollywood,

I’ll be road testing the new Star Wars theme park attraction at Disney as well as all that Universal Studios has to offer. And I’ll be finding out all the news from all Fifty states at the American travel fair IPW. Visit http://www.disneyland.disney.com, http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com, http://www.ipw.com, http://www.visitcalifornia.com, http://www.visitwesthollywood.com, http://www.discoverlosangeles.com, www,visitanaheim.org.

And of course our national airline carrier Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com. Now will my Donald Duck costume fit in the overhead cabin?

I’ll be back though before you know it, so I’ll leave you in the capable hands of my Minnie-me, the one, the only, the indomitable Mrs M.

And here’s a wee reminder of what happened the last time I met The Donald. Visit https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/(opens in a new tab).

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD… AND THE ROLLERCOASTERS

Featured

All gone to look for America

It’s that time of the year again… when I head off to America’s Travel fair http://www.ipw.com to meet my friends from the Fifty States and report back to you on all that’s on offer. This year it’s Disneyland in Anaheim.

Americans come in all shapes and sizes, and isn’t that wonderful?

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Chewbacca and even more unreal, Hollywood’s fantastical creatures who all hang out in West Hollywood where I’ll be visiting, staying and partying in.

Just to whet your appetite here’s my tales of past American Travel fairs from the past two years…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/go-west-denver-buffalo-bill/(opens in a new tab) https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/onerepublicatredrocks/(opens in a new tab) https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/obama-washington-dc/(opens in a new tab)

Oh, and I’ll be donning some new costumes and headgear. By way of a preview this year Mickey Mouse will be wearing a Jim Murty outfit.

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HOLIDAY SNAPS

You can leave your sombrero on

Brad and Rita asked us how we were awwwl enjoying The Strip (no, calm down, though it was Harrah’s Carnival Court Bar in Vegas).

No, Brad and Rita (not their real names, apart from the fact that it might be and I have no desire to protect their anonymity) were regulars at the party joint where the barman Duke lined up shots when the bell and whistles sounded, and the Whip Its lead singer wielded a paddle stick.

Brad and Duke looked unthreatening, Brad in his baseball cap, polo shirt and Chinos and Rita who looked like a dowdy Mid-west housewife.

But here’s the stinger, and my colleague Martin was busy nudging me as he cottoned on a lot quicker than me, their recommendation of a hotel they frequented in Mexico was, well let’s say a little too inclusive.

Better being safe than sorry, I say, and that’s why I’m pushing Escape2’s offer of all-inclusive Mexico holidays from €1,219

The 4-star Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa has swim-up pools, my favourite, and a range of top-quality restaurants and bars. Depart September, from €1,219pp.

Visit http://www.escape2.ie or call (01) 435 0096. Arriba, arriba!

Our father

Dads have changed… I blame David Beckham, but my own dear father would have had to have been taken kicking and screaming in for a pampering and a pedicure.

Me? I think my Old Man gave up years ago, in fact the day I got an earring as a student.

Father’s Day gifts then were jocks and socks, now spas are on the menu.

The Time for Him package at the Spa at The Kingsley, Cork, includes a thermal suite, heated pool, treatment rooms and an outdoor hydro pool.

They use a herbal blend of chamomile, marjoram and juniper to loosen up the knots don’t you know and ease tense shoulders and relieve those aches and pains.

And there’s more… luxury scalp massages or a lime body scrub.

The package costs €140pp. Make a night of its and book an overnight stay from €180 B&B. Call (021) 4800500 or email thespa@thekingsley.ie or visit http://www.thekingsley.ie.

I love you

No man is an island, opined John Donne (this blog really is an education). But a family can be.

The Isle of Ewe is inhabited by a single family, the Grants, but where it gets even more interesting is that it has become a favourite place for men to propose… I Love You (gerrit?)

I did the deed in Malta when I bent down to tie up my shoelace and the besotted Miss F yelled ‘Yes.’

The Maltese too have been having fun with the I Love concept and have billed their very popular musical festival Isle of MTV Malta. This year the festival at the Il-Fosos Square on Tuesday, July 9, will feature Martin Garrix and Bebe Rehxa, among others (I’ll ask the kids).

Budget Travel offers a week’s room at the 3-star Mavina Hotel & Apartments in Bugibba (where our pact was forged) for €479, flying from Dublin. Visit http://www.budgettravel.ie and http://www.maltaireland.com.

Forza Italia

I don’t like Lunedis… as Bob Geldof might sing if he was in Italia.

Lunedis was the giorno when I would spend time talking Italian with two brainiacs and our lovely tutor Donata, although in truth I did more listening. I hit a wall. No, not metaphorically, literally, in frustration at my lack of progress.

But it hasn’t dimmed my love for Il Bel Paese which Topflight, the Italian specialists share.

Topflight’s Italian Holiday Sale with flights from Dublin and Cork starts today with savings of up to 30%. It ends at midnight on Thursday.

A week’s half-board at the 4-star plus Hotel Bristol, Sorrento, flying from Dublin (June 9) and Cork (June 2) is under a grand (€999).

For an Escorted Tour, Lake Garda, Venice & Verona, staying at the 4-star park Hotel Casamiro, San Felice dei Benaco, Lake Garda, departing on June 8, the sale price is €849pps. Was €1299, save €450.

Call (01) 240 1700 or see http://www.topflight.ie.

Budget Bulgaria

The grandparents and their two granddaughters who we met in Bulgaria 22 years ago had come back for the second time in that year because they had saved so much money, and they could get two holidays for the price of one elsewhere.

We were lured too by that promise and you should be too.

We’d also got a discount because we worked for Thomson Newspapers, the media arm of the travel company who have gone on to become TUI, and because of that I have always kept a close interest in them.

TUI offers Dublin-Bulgaria on June 10, all-inclusive seven nights at the three-star Zornica Residence, Sunny Beach from €339pps. Or seven nights self-catering at the 3-star Silver Springs, Sunny Beach from €449pps. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie. Call 1850 45 35 45.

Why did California?

She phoned to say Hawaii.

Thanks Perry Como.

I’m off to California on Wednesday for the American Travel Fair IPW http://www.ipw.com. And I’ll bring you back the best coverage of what’s happening all across America with all the states being there.

There’s also the launch of Galaxy’s Edge, Disney’s new Star Wars extravaganza, all things Universal, Hollywood, oh, and did I say the Beach Boys are playing just for us.

Everybody’s gone surfin’… but you’ll just have to hold on (as I will) to see if I hop the board.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Surf City U(Who)SA?

Surf City U(Who)SA?

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/16/surf-city-uwhosa/
— Read on jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/16/surf-city-uwhosa/

The Travel blog that makes waves. Which American city is Surf City USA? From your Travel Editor of the Year.

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Surf City U(Who)SA?

This is right up there with Dublin and Cork, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Madrid and Barcelona, Melbourne and Sydney. It’s the battle of the Surf Cities USA, Santa Cruz and Huntington Beach in Southern California.

And it was reignited this week when I met the delegates for Santa Cruz at the Visit California Roadshow at The Alex hotel in Dublin. Visit http://www.thealexhotel.ie. And http://www.visitcalifornia.com.

Catch a wave: Santa Cruz. Photo by Daniel on Pexels.com

They are very protective about Santa Cruz being the birthplace of surfing… it’s probably still raw that the courts ruled that Huntington Beach was granted the title of Surf City USA.

Santa Cruz though point to the history books and three Hawaiian princes washing up on their shores in 1885. The trio persuaded a local lumber mill to make surfboards from redwood logs and then proceeded to teach the locals how to surf in Monterey Bay.

It was to Santa Cruz too that surf legend Jack O’Neill (we’re claiming surf royalty here in Ireland then) made Santa Cruz his home and introduced the wetsuit which makes surfing a year-long activity.

Me surfing: On the FlowRider on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is where you can find out all about the history of surfing. Visit http://www.cityofsantacruz.com.

It may not have done Santa Cruz any favours when Hillary Clinton endorsed it as ‘the real Surf City’ and went on to say that ‘only real surfers surf in Santa Cruz.’

Time for a paddle: Dog surfing in Huntington Beach. Photo by gdtography

Huntington Beach though has the mantle by jurisdiction of the American courts and that is in part down to the efforts of Dean Torrence, one half of the Jan and Dean singing duo who recorded the co-written Brian Wilson song Surf City. Dean moved to HB and campaigned for HB to be known as Surf City.

HB has its own surf museum and I’m a little anxious about mentioning that their website is http://www.surfcityusa.com or that I’ve been to HB and bogeyed with Snoop Dog.

Huntington Beach fan: Snoop Dogg

They also have a dog surfing competition which drums up a lot of interest from the pupperazzi.

I’m not making this up, the good burghers of HB told me this when they came to town and that the star dog is a German labrador called Bono although they wouldn’t confirm that he wore sunglasses all the time.

Just to funk it all up should I mention too that North Carolina and New Jersey both claim a Surf City? Visit http://www.surfcitync.gov and http://www.welcometolbi.com.

Cruiseday Tuesday: Rhine country

Cruiseday Tuesday: Rhine country

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/16/cruiseday-tuesday-its-rhine-country/
— Read on jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/16/cruiseday-tuesday-its-rhine-country/

River of dreams… sail away with your Travel Editor of the Year and Cruiseday Tuesday. Uniworld River Cruises in Rhineland, Royal Caribbean’s special allure and Princess Cruises and the Canaries.

California drivin’

It’s been at least a month since I’ve been in California.

But California came to us at the Alex Hotel, Dublin, when the Visit California Roadshow rolled into town. http://www.visit.california.com.

Step on the gas: With Claire Doherty, Visit USA Chairperson

I’ll clue you in on all that’s coming up in the Republic of California.

And a simmering surf rivalry that puts Dublin v Cork into the ha’penny place.

And remember http://www.visitusa.ie for all the latest on the OoEsOfA.

I’m in safe hands with Emma Westman, PR Director for Visit California

And read my LA story on these pages.

Moanday Morning: it’s just not cricket

Moanday Morning: it’s just not cricket

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/15/moanday-morning-its-just-not-cricket-2/
— Read on jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/15/moanday-morning-its-just-not-cricket-2/

Howzat? A Barbados bowler wins the World Cup

For England and they’re led by an Irishman and have a South African and New Zealander too. That Moanday Morning feeling from your Travel Editor of the Year.

Moanday Morning: it’s just not cricket

Moanday Morning: it’s just not cricket

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/?p=2593
— Read on jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/

Howzat? A Barbados bowler wins the World Cup

For England and they’re led by an Irishman and have a South African and New Zealander too. That Moanday Morning feeling from your Travel Editor of the Year.