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Cruiseday Tuesday – pedalloes and fireworks

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

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

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

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

Majorca. Photo by Kai Pilger on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

A Grandiosa old ship to sail with

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

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

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

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

We’re on that ship: In the fjords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Holidos and Don’ts – the aisle seat

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

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

Well, the answer is an aisle seat.

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

So, you miss the view!

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

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

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

But ten minutes into the nine-hour flight.

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

My pal Paula on way back from Orlando

Now I’m not saying that that wouldn’t have happened if I’d been in an aisle seat.

Although she would have turned to the middle-seat passenger.

My usual seat please

But I would have been able to alert the steward earlier.

Fair play to the Aer Lingus crew though who granted my request to get moved to another seat.

And who looked after the poor woman royally and provided a wheelchair for her when we got to LAX Airport.

In a galaxy far, far away

The kicker was, I suppose, that I got food poisoning too in LA.

The old aisle seat will also allow you first access to the steward when they are serving up the food.

You won’t have your neighbour stretching over you, and you might be asleep.

Ditto when you, or they, want to get to the toilet.

Back to that California trip and I had a whole day wiped out, and the chance to go to Warner Bros Studios Hollywood https://www.wbstudiotour.com and sit in Sheldon’s seat.

Though thankfully they recreated the Big Bang Theory lounge set on the plaza in Anaheim at the American Travel Fair www.ipw.com.

For more California adventures visit www.visitcalifornia.com and here are my adventures in the Golden State…

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

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Moanday Morning – Self-service

And we’ve been had. I don’t know when and I don’t know where but it turns out that Modern Man has to serve ourselves.

But isn’t the whole point of serving that somebody else does it for you?

And that brings me to the other great con of our age, Do It Yourself.

You do it yourself, I want you to do it for me, that’s what I’m paying you for.

Photo by Naim Benjelloun on Pexels.com

I have absolutely no interest either in spending my free time following a diagram only a nuclear scientist can work out.

To inevitably find that there is a piece missing and that we have to shoot across town for a replacement.

It starts when you book your holiday…. on the net which inevitably has its own challenges.

You’re at your screen and the family is bending your ear all around you, so there’s the danger that you might book the wrong time or pay too much.

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

And then when you get to the airport and you have to go to one of those baggage scanning machines.

I don’t know about you but I just end up asking for help (from a human).

I mean, I’m always happier when I see somebody else puts hands on my luggage and sends it on its merry way.

You get to the ticket scanner and you’ve got to remember which way to place your ticket.

I would have heart palpitations if I trusted in the barcode on my phone particularly as the memory on my phone would be down to 1%.

Travel colleague Issy Conway, George Washington and his Vice-President

And there would be no plug sockets in the airport.

After all that you want to refuel and go to the shop where there is another scanner…

And you just end up asking an assistant who is too busy taking to her pal to help,

Now when it comes to service Americans do it better than anywhere… http://www.visitusa.ie.

Although it comes with a premium… and tipping. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away!

But while I’m in an American mood having got together with American Holidays last week http://www.americanholidays.com I’ll give you a few of my Stateside jaunts.

Minnie-break

A charming reception at Kimpton Hotels in Dupont Circle http://kimptonwashington.guestreservations.com/27185/booking?gclid=CjwKCAiAqqTuBRBAEiwA7B66hXNBLV3iZn4bCp-HGxyKpRmWYVppUlmlZbkva-XdL-bGPk5rEZMtgRoCeIgQAvD_BwE and my review http://Easy DC.

Through the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World in Florida… https://www.fourseasons.com.

They even bring Mickey, Minnie and Goofy out to join you for breakfast although The Donald is harder to get hold of… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/

My pal: The Donald

Now I think of it, it’s the service and help that I’ve had while I’ve been away which have stayed with me long after I’ve returned.

And looking forward to returning to the Caribbean, this time Tobabo, how can I forget the hospitality at the Club Barbados Resort & Spa https://www.theclubbarbados.com?

With Tropical Sky http://www.tropicalsky.ie… and check out their deals there and across the world. Their discounts will knock your sandals off.

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When the Berlin Wall came crashing down

Wall, huh, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.

With apologies to Edwin Starr but this piece of graffiti on the wall on the prom beach outside our family home in Portobello, Edinburgh comes back to me today.

On the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For FiftySomethings, and above, the Berlin Wall was the lasting symbol of Soviet Union and Iron Curtain oppression.

Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

And its fall, although seemingly inevitable with the perspective of history, was anything but.

True, Ronald Reagan’s invective and Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika relaxation of Soviet totalitarianism helped.

But it was the pressure of East Germans coming back on holiday from Hungary and amassing at the Austrian border.

And a bumbling DDR apparatchik which drew people out to bring down the wall.

And thank God that they did.

Photo by Palu Malerba on Pexels.com

With everything it is best to talk to and listen to those who were there.

And I was lucky enough to do just that when I attended the Germany Travel Fair, the Travel Mart in Dresden two years ago.

Saxon history

Where I heard from one Berliner about how a friend had been arrested in East Berlin because he had a rock’n’roll record.

And I also spent time with Saxon Ingrid who told me that it was important that they keep the wall mural of Communist rule in her native Dresden.

To remind us all of what Communist rule was like.

And that to airbrush history would be to repeat the mistakes that were made.

When they did the very same when they taught that Saxon history only started after the Russian Revolution.

I’ve dug out an Expedia break for you to go to Berlin… http://www.expedia.ie. Friday, November 30-Sunday, December 2,

Staying at the central NH Berlin Alexanderplatz, from €286pp including flight and hotel.

Here was my take on East Germany… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/.

And The Scary One is putting the foot down… she wants us to go to Berlin https://www.visitberlin.de/en next year. Ja, mein lieber Sohn

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Holiday snaps – TUI blue-sky thinking

I’ve always had a soft spot for TUI as they grew out of Thomson’s which had a newspaper arm, who gave me my first job and my first holiday discounts.

TUI http://www.tuiholidays.ie which gave us the dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and putting us in the middle and is now branding a range of holidays ‘Blue’.

Just a suggestion but you might want to talk about blue-sky thinking… my usual rate!

TUI Blue for Families

And here’s what they’re offering with their TUI Blue concept resorts.

Family fun

The 5T TUI BLUE for Families Atlantica Aegean in Rhodes sit on the edge of a sand and shingle beach.

With a jungle-themed waterpark bursting with tubes and slides.

And four restaurants with wellbeing at the core.

And it’s all just down the road with a regular bus service into Rhodes Town… http://www.visitrhodes.com.

Then there’s the 4TPlus TUI BLUE for All Grand Azur in Marmaris which comes with its own private Blue Flag beach.

Good clean fun: In the Istanbul hamam

Now as well as the best Turkish cuisine, I’m loving this…. Turkish language classes. Because I love Turkey http://www.goturkeytourism.com.

Guests can also visit a Hamam at the BLUE Spa.

And you won’t have to look at this motley crew from a trip to Istanbul either https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/.

TUI Blue for All

Now if you’re a fan of Portugal (of course you are) then try 4T TUI BLUE for TWO Falesia Atlantic.

When the boat comes in: The Algarve

Set on a clifftop location, there are two chic bars while you can reserve your table on the app.

The adults-only ‘instagrammable’ hotel is just a five-minute drive from the centre of Olhos D’Agua.

And if you want to explore lively Albufeira, it’s a 15-minute drive away, which lines up classy restaurants and late-night bars.

Water challenges: The Algarve

Portugal http://www.visitportugal.com is always high up my list of European destinations and recommendations.

Of course there’s the Algarve where for the sporty you can try the Campus in Quinta do Lago https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/.

And for a different Portugal try Portugal Centro… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Give us this Day – poppy collections

They collect for everything at my church in Co. Wicklow but not poppies.

Which is all part of the antipathy in some quarters in Ireland towards Remembrance Sunday.

Because while it was born out of the trenches and is predominantly associated with the First World War.

My Great-Uncle Willie

It also covers the of British and Commonwealth conflicts, and there it jars with Irish nationalist history.

Only the Irish, including my two Fallen Donegal Great-Uncles, died in their tens of thousands in the Great War, both Catholic and Protestant, North and South.

So no poppy collection then, but two, count them, offertory collections at Mass.

Which brings me to how they do offertories over there.

It was on my trip to Ieper on my World War I Battlefields with G Adventures www.gadventures.com.

To Flanders www.visitflanders.com and the Somme https://www.visit-somme.com/great-war that I saw how they did it.

And my Great-Uncle Willie

The Flems in Ieper, for example, send their wee old stooped women in to collect your money, in their white robes.

Where they carry small pots with felt at the bottom.

Why felt? Well, I’m thinking that it’s along the lines of the Rev. Ian Paisley’s Silent Collection.

Where coins would make a sound.

There’s another aspect to offertory plates (they’re reed baskets at our church) that bothers me.

The public shame, the sniffs and withering eyes when you make your contribution.

Prayer time: In Istanbul

And a word to the wise here, don’t sit by the aisle where you will be first to put in your donations.

Then there’s the question about what you should give.

Here I’m going to pass the buck, and that’s probably not even enough, and say that Islam does it better.

By requiring that you donate 2.5% of your income (Zakat) to alms-giving.

Which way’s Mecca? In Amann, Jordan

Which is probably what they’re saying here in their Call to Prayer which you get constant reminders of when you travel.

In Istanbul Wham bam, thank you Hamam with http://www.turkishairlines https://visit.istanbul.

And Jordan Petra and the sands of time and http://www.visitjordan.com.

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Holiday Snaps – Cruise extra

It’s in midwinter that we start looking to the new year and where we’ll go, and for many of us that’s a cruise.

And that’s what Celebrity Cruises http://www.celebritycruises.ie were thinking too when they invited us all out to the Ivy in Dublin https://theivydublin.com.

To talk about their 2020 vision, and the launch of Apex.

Apex will make her debut from Southampton in April.

There will be six diverse roundtrip sailings around Northern Europe before moving to the Mediterranean.

Apex is the second ship in Celebrity’s new Edge Class.

The Edge

And remember what we all thought of Edge with its Magic Carpet, Eden lounge, Kelly Hoppen finishes, all highlighted by her innovative Godmother Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

When we went out to Fort Lauderdale to join the €1bn game changer on the high seas… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-to-here/ 

Celebrity is also spending $500m bringing elements of Edge Class to more of its fleet, with many ships already updated. 

Godmother: Malala

Which they’re calling the Celebrity Revolution.

They’re also reminding us that they have this offer…

Of free drinks and $300 onboard credit.

Plus free flights to Europe from selected airports or gratuities included for guests 1 and 2 on sailings from Southampton when booking an eligible Ocean View stateroom or above.

Offer Ends 18 November 2019. T&Cs Apply.

Social butterfly

Does that work for you?

Now, onto the eight-night maiden voyage of Spain and Portugal on Apex from €1349pp, departing April 5.

Iberian campaign

You’ll take in Bilbao with its gastronomic delights and the Guggenheim and that Bilbao wow floral dog.

While Lisbon comes with its own Christ the Redeemer statue and there is no better place for a glass of port than in Porto and the Ribeira portside.

And if you like Portugal (and who doesn’t) then you might like https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/

So check out http://www.visitportugal.com

Off for a sail

Of course The Ivy was the perfect venue for our get-together.

And there was plenty of celebrity-spotting too… I try to make a point of agreeing to every selfie request.

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My Sporting Weekend – US YouTube boxing

You Tube used to be a schoolboy insult that often preceded an invitation to fisticuffs.

And a ‘square go’ down by Blythswood Street in Glasgow.

Now it’s the domain for everything.

Including an invitation to, yes, fisticuffs with YouTube stars Logan Paul and KSI fighting on paid television in Los Angeles tonight.

Of course, it has been derided by purists of the Sweet Science.

Who conveniently forget that the Greatest, Muhammad Ali was involved in a wrestling bout with Antonio Inoki.

In what has been seen as a precursor to Mixed Martial Arts. It finished a draw… surprise, surprise!

Oh, what a circus!

The fight will be a cruiserweight contest.

Which will take place over six rounds Downtown in the Los Angeles Staples Centre.

Downtown LA has been regenerated over recent years.

And it is well worth a visit not least because it is the home of the LA Lakers.

And a chance to people watch. As is West Hollywood and Hollywood of course as I did earlier this year…

When I dug up a legend and her final resting place… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/.

And had myself some sporting and Disney fan in Anaheim… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/

http://www.visitcalifornia.com

The puck stops here: With Wild Wing in Anaheim

While Las Vegas is seen as the boxing and MMA capital of the world.

And if The Noble Art is your thing hit the Strip for a big fight… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/vegas-strip-the-light-fantastic/.

Also visit https://www.lvcva.com.

Las Vegans are sports mad and their nascent Golden Knights are on the up.

They only got to the Stanley Cup ice hockey final last year.

I’m in the money: In Vegas

But I digress which is easy to do.

Because when you’re in California you think about maybe stretching it a bit and also taking in Vegas, and vice-versa.

Deal me in

Of course with American Holidays https://www.americanholidays.com/en-gb/easter-holiday-deals/?infinity=ict2~net~gaw~ar~394981718283~kw~american%20holidays~mt~e~cmp~WG%20-%20NI%20-%20TC%20-%20American%20Holidays%20Brand~ag~American%20Holiday&gclid=CjwKCAiA5JnuBRA-EiwA-0ggPXELrlIE1iI52DVIxkJSR8hdAMaPAqxlFRKVc2s6y2GS-8PCHV-ltBoCq8gQAvD_BwE you can.

I caught up with my American Holidays pals this week, a little later than I’d intended.

But that was because I was off praying in Medjugorje with Marian Pilgrimages… http://www.marian.ie https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/18/medgugorje-whats-your-story/.

Golden gate. Photo by Tae Fuller on Pexels.com

When AH were throwing a cocktails party and watching Thelma and Louise in Dublin.

Back to that Vegas and California break though.

American Holidays have San Fransisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

It includes return flights from Dublin to San Fransisco to Los Angeles to Las Vegas and return.

And three nights San Fran (Hotel Carlton or similar), three nights LA (Quality Inn Walk of Fame Hollywood or similar), four nights Las Vegas (Excalibur Hotel or similar).

From €1699pps/£1576. Travel May.

Everyone has their own Scary One. Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

I’ll return to my favourite foreign country, and American Holidays soon.

And just for you I’ll keep my eyes on the American sport, better still from the bleachers or a ringside seat.

MEET YOU AT THE STADIUM

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Flyday Friday – days at the airport

We’ve become so blasé about airports that it’s hard to imagine that back in the day folk would actually go there for a day out.

We did, when the Son and Heir was a toddler.

These days he has women, beer and football for fun.

Now, I’ve spent more time than the next man or woman at airports.

Probably because of the odd missed connection.

Or missing bags or waiting for connections, or rebooking tickets, or waiting for connections.

If you get stuck in an airport these are the ones you want to be stranded in:

GRANTLY ADAMS, BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS

Carnival time: With Dee-Dee at Crop Over

It’s baking hot, early evening in Barbados, and I’m in a snaking queue which isn’t snaking… https://www.gaia.bb

But we’re under an open canopy.

In the line are a motley assembly of all shapes, sizes and colours:

Returning Bajans, second generation Caribbean-English, white holidaymakers and Oompah-Loompahs.

One young woman stands out, a voluptuous mixed-race high-haired blonde-headed figure just in front.

Of course, me being me, unlike Laura, I didn’t see the board our host was holding up and so was last man left at the airport.

Early Angie, Laura Disorder, Hayley the Soca blogger, Ab Fab and Big Jim

Panic set in, as it often does, but through a combination of the friendly staff and my hosts I was soon in a car.

Hair-raising

Being driven to Turtle Beach By Elegant Hotels https://eleganthotels.com/turtle-beach?utm_source=local&utm_campaign=gmb&utm_medium=organic on Barbados’s south coast. Happy Days!

Where Laura (or Laura Disorder as I came to call her) was holding court.

Yorkshire’s finest, Laura, the CEO of House of Coco https://houseofcoco.net high-end lifestyle magazine, has just got engaged at the top of the Empire State Building, New York.

Irie, or well done Chuck!

And here’s that unforgettable Barbados adventure Let’s rumba in Barbados.

DENVER INTERNATIONAL

Rocky Mountain High

I didn’t think I’d be back spending so much time with Eats No Meat and Freckled Face when I climbed off my flight from Dublin.

But then I did have eight hours to kill at Denver International https://www.flydenver.com before my return flight to Dublin.

Miles better

Which gave me plenty of time to reacquaint myself with the Native Americans in the photographic exhibition.

Now if you’re going to be stuck in an airport anywhere this is one of the more scenic ones anywhere.

Where else can you play crazy golf on the roof in the apron of the Rocky Mountains?

Until it starts raining of course.

The only downside is the price of drinks at the bar but hey, ho, that’s airports everywhere.

Here’s more on that adventure in the Mile High City Go West and Colorado… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/29/the-new-pioneers/.

ISTANBUL AIRPORT

Drive-in: Istanbul Airport Turkish Airlines business lounge

Of course eight hours is no way enough time to enjoy Istanbul Airport’s Turkish Airlines’ Business Lounge… www.turkishairlines.com.

Because you have to eat and drink, have a massage, eat and drink, have a go on the golf driving range, eat and drink, go to the cinema, eat and drink.

And have a kip.

Although be careful not to miss your connection.

On second thoughts don’t rush! https://www.istairport.com. And here’s Istanbul for you… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/.

AMSTERDAM SCHIPHOL

Toast to Schiphol

It’s been my good fortune to have a connection through Amsterdam,

It’s been my even better fortune to get to stay in the Netherlands’ biggest city.

The first thing that strikes you about Schiphol is the shops, restaurants and bars.

A masterpiece

In many airports they are branded, serve insipid takeaway quality food and sell stuffed toys and trinkets.

In Schiphol you can get authentic Dutch and international food, real Dutch keepsakes.

While being Dutch they value their beer… the Cafe Rembrandt, or ‘Schiphol’s living room’ is designed to look like a canalside cafe.

This being Amsterdam it is infused with East Indian influences, so try the chicken satay.

The Heineken Bar is every rugby fan’s dream while there is, of course, an Irish bar, Murphy’s.

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s, nay the world’s great cities… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/george-and-amal-hotel/.

And this is one of the world’s great airports… https://www.schiphol.nl/en/

Slainté!

TARBES-LOURDES-PYRENEES AIRPORT

Oi, that’s my garden

There are some airports that have special considerations because of their very special destination.

Lourdes is one and the Tarbes-Lourdess-Pyrenees falls into that category.

Lourdes is second to none in caring for those who come here for Marian intervention and carry particular ailments and disabilities.

There are care rooms, specific medical facilities and bedrooms to cater for their every need.

This being France, of course, there is a proper restaurant with the best gastronomy. https://www.tlp.aeroport.fr/en.

And here’s my tribute to Lourdes and the Pyrenees… http://The Lourdes Prayer

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Germany leaves me gratified

One of the greatest national misstereotypes is that the Germans have no sense of humour.

When they have the funniest language in the 6,500 spoken around the world.

I dig it: The tunnel

English can be a hoot too, by the way.

And what is my yardstick?

Well, the rude words you find in the dictionary (schoolboys are the best judge of this I think you’ll find).

And I’m reminded here of when the Son and Heir asked me shortly after we had relocated to Ireland to tell him some dirty words.

I dare say because he didn’t want to be caught out st school.

Wank mountain

Which happens.

I recall being tricked on the bus home when I was asked if I was a homosapien…

To which the 10-year-old Jimmy obviously said ‘No’.

Different times.

Back to the Son and Heir and he could probably teach me some dirty words now.

Wankhuis

Now what were we talking about again?

Ah, yes, those funny Germans.

I have been onto them ever since my first trip to Germany, for the Oktoberfest when I was 19, and I returned when I was 20.

I noticed straight off (I have a radar for such things) that they put fahrt at the end of many of their words.

And my eagle eyes honed in on the sign in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria.

Peaking: At the German-Austrian border

Wanktunnel… I didn’t see that coming.

But there it was, a big sign for the erection (warning, there will be plenty of this) of the tunnel.

Which is due to be finished off next year.

Now I did a few mountains on my Topflight www.topflight.ie trip to Ehrwald, Tirol and Garmische-Partenkirchen.

With Daniela in Ehrwald

I had a Zugspitze, a Berwang… but I didn’t have a Wank.

I don’t know why, I imagine you feel breathless after it.

Its 1780m climb.

Still you can relax at the peak in the Wankhaus.

Now the website is all in German but there are pictures…

Of a beautiful mountain hut where I dare say they boast any number of different-sized, coloured and shaped sausages.

Lie back and think of Germany: In the Coburger Hutte

And serve some meaty treats in the restaurant too.

Now that I’ve got a warning sign for surfing the net for Wank and am anticipating some dodgy emails, I’ll just leave you with this challenge.

Can you find me the Selbstbefriedigung Mountain in Germany?

They find this a lot funnier in Germany than we do their name.

Flushed: Austrian humour

If you like your toilet humour I’ll get to work on loo signs around the world.

But for now here are some Austrian loo thoughts… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/01/austrian-toilet-humour/ And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/__trashed/

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Hungry and Thursday – the worst bar none

Chocolate is better than men because… we’ve all seen those posters and mugs.

But sometimes it goes wrong.

Such as with the branding you sometimes get with sweets and chocolate.

My trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina with Marian Pilgrimages http://www.marian.ie gave so much, an audience with Our Lady in Medjugorje, a history lesson in Sarajevo.

And an insight into the peoples of this region, the crossroads of East and West in the Balkans.

In Medge they are Croatians with the only thing vying for space with Our Lady in the shops Croatian flags and football tops. Medjugorje, what’s your story?

My old mucker from university, Davor, a Croatian-Scot was my first introduction to them.

But I have come to know them better through Croatia Tours http://www.croatia.ie on the River Liffey in Dublin…

And joining them before the World Cup final against France for wine and lunch (it was never a penalty!)

Thankfully there was none of the chocolate I found in a petrol station on the way to the airport in Split.

Name blame: Sweets in the Balkans

There’s just no amount of thumbs-up with Victorian dandy that makes this right.

I’m guessing they’re lozenges but I put them back on the shelf.

I can’t imagine for a minute that they meant any harm but…

Then there are those brand gaffes where there’s just been no quality control.

Not what you expect: ISIS chocolate

Such as this chocolate bar http://www.isischocolates.be in Brussels Airport on my way back from my tour of the World War I Battlefields… In Flanders fields.

With GTI The Group Travel Specialists www.gtitravel.ie.

Now the sentiment is right and before you think it’s cashing in on the War just remember that chocolate would have been a treat for the Tommies.

No, it’s just the acronym for the people who make it… ISIS!

It’s always an awkward one here, the quality control at TravelTravelTravel.

What to put in and what to leave out.

I think I’m on safe ground here though with this one which is a particular delicacy for Salzburgers.

And it was something that the indomitable Mrs M was particularly taken with…

Mozart’s Balls, or Mozartkugel http://www.mozartkugel.at on a Top Flight http://www.topflight.ie skiing trip to Austria… Soll Mates.

Send me the branding that goes wrong..

And in the Travel blog that brings you the best in toilet humour more to add to the annals of… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/01/austrian-toilet-humour/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/__trashed/. Look out for the name of the Bavarian tunnel I never saw coming… coming soon along the tracks.

It would make Our Lady blush!

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Every day’s a poppy day

Take up your quarrel with the foe.

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with those who die.

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant-Colonel John McRae, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Shadows of history

This week I will wear my red poppy cufflinks with pride, pride that my paternal grandfather fought and was gassed out of the front.

And returned to Scotland to marry an Irish nurse.

If he hadn’t my father wouldn’t have come along and wouldn’t have met his own Irish nurse.

Who herself hailed from a proud Irish Nationalist family who gave two sons, my Great-Uncles, to the cause.

My story will be a familiar one, a heroic one, of extraordinary, ordinary people, Irish, Scottish, English, Canadian, American, German… from all around the world.

In the trenches

I stood by my Great-Uncle Willie’s gravestone in Ypres, the first of my family to pray by his cross since he fell.

I found Great Uncle Patrick’s name too among those of the missing on the Thiepval arch.

And I also visited Canadian and German cemeteries, a lake made out of the crater from the bombs, and a trench.

All on my GTI The Group Travel Specialists https://gtitravel.ie trip to Flanders https:www.visitflanders.com/en/?country=en_GB and the Somme https://www.visit-somme.com/great-war.

GTI offers a four days WW1 Flanders & The Somme, price from €697pps. Dates available 07 Apr 2020 – 10 Apr 202024 May 2020 – 27 May 202025 Jul 2020 – 28 Jul 202010 Sep 2020 – 13 Sep 2020

Mu Great-Uncle Patrick

I have had to defend my wearing of the red poppy while living these past 13 years in Ireland, which I’m happy to do, for my Grandpa and my Great-Uncles.

A symbol of peace

The objection is that the red poppy is worn for the fallen of all British soldiers across all conflicts.

Which includes the Troubles and also raises the thorny subject of Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

I understand the difficulties for some over that, my Grandfather having lived a large part of his life there.

Many of my aunts, and an uncle, having been born there, and Grandpa having run pubs there over a period which also covered The Troubles.

The Canadian cemetery

I have also fielded criticisms from friends (they’re still friends) who say the red poppy has been appropriated by big commerce and narrow nationalism.

I can only say that I have had similar journeys of conscience regarding the red poppy.

But my visit to Flanders and the Somme have focused me on the universality of the human sacrifice there.

How all the crosses regardless of social status are the same size and pristine white.

I was touched by the respect shown by the youths of so many nations there.

Man-made crater

And was honoured to be picked with my good friend Dominic Burke, MD of Travel Centres, to present the wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ieper.

I will light my candle on Sunday and watch it flicker, blow it out and then reflect on the fragility of life and the permanence of death.

And the greatest sacrifice any human can make, to give up their life for their friends.

Here is my tribute… In Flanders fields.

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Fireworks

They hail from China, herald in the New Year, mark the burning of a Catholic traitor and are banned in southern Ireland.

And fireworks will be lit all over the UK tonight to commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

That was when a group of disenchanted Catholic noblemen attempted to blow up Parliament and the Protestant British monarch James I.

Swizzle: Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

Now a bit of back story here about Jazza (as he’s never been known, probably more of a Jacques which is why Scots are called Jocks).

James had reason to be more afraid of gunpowder than the next man (and who doesn’t jump when a cannon goes off?)

Because his mum Mary, Queen of Scots (the real one, not that awful Saoirse Ronan version) blew up her Dad Henry, Lord Darnley.

That would tend to do it.

Anyhoos, fireworks.

I’ve seen a few, though few compare to home when I don’t make the bed properly or plump up the cushions.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle: Get the fireworks going

Every Hogmanay (it’s Scottish for New Year’s Eve) there is a fireworks display and a series of concerts.

You can actually set your clock by it.

Which is why a fellow journalist wrote it up in advance of the event.

In the eye of the storm

The only thing is that this would be the one year when an electric storm would lead to it being cancelled.

Embra is one of the great cities, was my home for ten years, and may yet be again.

Ryanair www.ryanair.com and Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com both fly there. And Visit Scotland www.visitscotland.com will sort you out.

Disney

Light up, light up

The Happiest Place on Earth does fireworks spectacularly.

You’d be disappointed really if it was a damp squib, which incidentally is a firework.

Mickey’s mates

I looked out on the nightly pyrotechnics on the parks from my billet at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando www.fourseasons.com. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_GB/?CMP=OKC-wdw_themeparks_gmap_421

Here’s how it all went down with me and The Donald in Florida… Why I love The Donald.

I caught up again with the big-mouthed one in Anaheim this year…

Where I partied with Mickey and the gang.

Dresden

Ah, the Elbe

Fire is an elemental force that we must always handle with care

The fireworks over the River Elbe on our evening cruise were illuminating.

Dresden’s party

All the more so as this city has been burnt by fire, the Allied airmen’s firebombs in the Second World War razing the Saxon Venice to the ground.

That the Dresdeners rebuilt their city exactly how it used to be marks it down

As one of the most remarkable stories of modern urban planning… Dresden’s renaissance. And https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php.

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Cruiseday Tuesday – Birthday celebrations

Cruises are cruelly tagged as for the ‘overfed, newly wed and nearly dead.’

Which is an outdated view of life on the high seas, if ever it was really true in the first place.

Cruises are popular, of course, with our senior surfers who will gladly return time after time.

While they are great as Three Generation trips to celebrate special birthdays or anniversaries.

A 100th birthday is always cause for a huge marker and Travel Corporation, the parent company for Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and U River Cruises have not forgotten us in their celebrations.

The new Super Ship, the SS Bon Voyagein Bordeaux in 2020 with 30% savings

For new bookings made between today and 3 January, guests will save up to 30% off select sailings across most itineraries and room categories.

Such as these Uniworld itineraries: the new  Rhine, Moselle & Blissful Baden-Baden(starting at €2,799, savings of €1,200 per person).

Cruising down the river is part of German life… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/ 

Or Gems of Northern Italy (starting at €2,099, savings of over €900pp).

On one of Uniworld’s newest Super Ships for 2020, the S.S. La Venezia, for ten days overnight on the Venetian island Burano, a first for any cruise line.

Water is a way of life in Northern Italy

Cruising is the best way to see this part of the world…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/15/padova-city-of-frescoes/

The offer also applies to U River Cruises’ four new and updated itineraries for 2020. 

These seven-night itineraries visit hot European destinations like Amsterdam, Vienna, Brussels, Cologne and Belgrade.

Water babies: In Amsterdam

Amsterdam & Brussels Bound which is a great excuse for using this picture… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/

While they’re also flagging up Vienna Vibe , Rolling on the Rhine and Eastern Europe Esca.

Visit http://www.uniworld.com and http://www.ubyuniworld.com. And http://www.ttc.com.

Water oasis in the desert

Fun and game in Dubai

It’s blessed relief in the desert… water.

And listen up, cruiseheads here’s your favourite holiday with all kinds of attractions such as waterparks thrown in and a great deal.

Royal Caribbean International has a buy one cruise fare, get one 60% off and up to €150 off your stateroom which ends today. Visit http://www.royalcaribbean.ie.

And as you know I’m a big fan, let’s relive this… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/

Breakfast of champions

Me and Edge off Florida

And I’ll also be having my annual breakfast with the high heid yins from Celebrity Cruises http://www.celebritycruises.ie later this week.

And I will report back to you on all that’s happening…

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Holidos and don’ts – sat-nav and maps

My father-in-law is a topographer, he loves maps so much he takes them to the bathroom… even though he knows the way.

It was his great misfortune then to be dumped with the most directionless son-in-law on God’s Green Earth.

I blame me, my compass of a wife, me, other people, and, er, me.

And sat-nav.

Watch those corners. Photo by Анна Галашева on Pexels.com

My Scary One also takes after her father and one family holiday saw her arguing with Siri as we navigated ourselves around Bristol.

And, of course, Sarah won over Siri.

I thought was a Godsend at first when I first discovered it but it has turned out to be a temptress.

And like all sirens it stops you thinking for yourself and leads you into the rocks.

Now which side is the dark one? Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Whatever did the ancients do without sat-nav, what with that outdated path they call the stars and the sky?

Despite living in Ireland for 13 years I still get lost in Dublin and end up resorting to Google Maps.

Only I then have no internet and am loath to turn on Data Roaming.

While there’s also the risk of getting run over crossing the road while listening to Siri’s directions.

Modern gadgets. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

All of which can be fixed with a map.

Only I never know what’s north, what’s south, what’s left, what’s right… in fact being a rightie I always turn right.

And then the map also gets turned around in your hand by a gust of wind.

Anyone for Venice?

Or because of folding and refolding it gets torn and worn at the corners just at the point you want to go.

I dropped my beard in the lagoon

The best city map was our Venice guide http://www.venezia-tourism.com which came with a compass.

And if you’ve ever been to the lagoon city (and if you haven’t then why) you’ll know that its maze of lanes will soon see you lost.

Without help.

This is what happened when I took time out from my trip to Padova to show my friends the Great City… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/15/padova-city-of-frescoes/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/11/give-us-this-day-padova/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/15/give-us-this-day-st-anthonys-teeth/

All of which is a reminder, and The Scary One’s aunt is constantly telling me… I should always bring the wife with me.

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Holiday Snaps – Poetry at the Rose Hotel, Tralee

There was a young man from Glasgow…

Jim Murty, The Forth Stanza

Truth be told I’m really only doing this blog between Edinburgh Fringe poetry performances… the organisers have been onto me every year since 2002.

To return with my group The Forth Stanza.

Who back in the day were as big in the world of poesy as Take That were in pop music.

That’s how I always arrive

We were five former student pals who hooked up together over pints and poems and toured Scotland.

Honing our first show we decided to go away for a lads’ weekend in Dunblane, Perthshire where the juices positively flowed.

The Rose Hotel, Tralee has the same idea and has a series of literary evenings with special guests to while away the November nights.

Cosy evenings

Kicking it all off on Wednesday 6th November is Ireland’s foremost spoken word artist, Stephen James Smith.

Best-selling author Róisín Meaney will doff her floppy haat on Wednesday 13th November.

While the following Wednesday it’ll be the turn of award-winning writer Donal Ryan.

Writer, poet and broadcaster Michael Murphy will bring it all to a close on November 27 when he will be in conversation with former fellow broadcaster Ciana Campbell. 

Give us a poem

The writing nights will run from 8pm–9.30pm in the Kerry Suite of The Rose Hotel, with admission free with no reservation required. 

You can also make a night of it and enjoy an overnight stay from €75pps including dinner and breakfast.

For more information, call +353 (0)66 7199100 or email info@therosehotel.com

A welcome by the fireside

Fine dining

Some of the biggest welcomes you’ll get are from Irish hoteliers.

Like in Monaghan where I arrived a week early and they turned things around for me and the town juggled everything for us… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/monaghans-country-roads/.

Dublin and Co. Wicklow is where I’ve spent the last 13 years and this is where I’d stay when I’m away from Chez Murty… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-intercontinental-what-a-ledge/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/flowerscourt/.

Benchmark: With the Son and Heir in Belfast

I always love to get up north, not least to see The Son and Heir. His floor is an inviting prospect but I prefer Hastings Hotels… http://www.hastingshotels.com.

And, of course, the best country in the world is Scotland. And here are the two cities I love best… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/.

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/brexit-aberdeen-a-light-in-the-north/.

MEET YOU BY THE FIRESIDE

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Give us this Day – The Wee Chapel

Living in area known for its orchards we were drawn to our house by its apple trees.

One of the other attractions was its outhouse which is a popular feature of houses in Ireland.

I duly named it the Wee Apple and turned into a bar.

I promptly set up a grotto too which I christened The Wee Chapel.

Me and Martin: At the Frauenkirche

All of which is my roundabout way of saying that prayer houses don’t have to be as grand as St Paul’s Basilica.

Any church you go into in Italy of course will beckon you in to pray.

This is what it’s all about… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/.

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/.

And it’s not just us Catholics that have the best churches, as we’d like to think. Here’s the Frauenkirche in Dresden… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/,

And the Muslims have their Blue Mosque in Istanbul https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/.

Blue for you: The Blue Mosque in Istanbul

We really do find God in the smallest of things and the quietest of places, in nature and in us.

Catholic priests, who tried to say Mass during the days of Henry VIII and then again under Cromwell, would often find a hidden room in an estate.

While in Ireland it was a Mass rock.

For Muslims a makeshift prayer place can be set up anywhere.

Which way is Mecca? In Jordan

With a few stones placed in the right direction… towards Mecca.

As I found in Wabi Rum in Jordan this year https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/.

The Blue Cross

The reason why I’m talking about my Wee Chapel this week is because I have come back with more trinkets from my latest pilgrimage.

Of course I was falling over holy paraphernalia in Medjugorje https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/20/give-us-this-day-confessions-and-medjugorje/.

Now Our Lady and the Blue Cross will be taking up residence in my Wee Chapel.

Which means that when I’m out picking up the apples I will say a wee prayer as I pass.

Me picking up apples?

Now The Scary One really will consider that a miracle!

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Holiday Snaps… save on the slopes

The oul’ bobble hat has come out this week which means one of two things.

One, that I need to get out to the sun. Check… I’m off to Tobago next month.

Two, that I need to get back out on the slopes… put that on the to do list.

Particularly as there are some great offers out there.

Walking on snow

Such as savings of €100 per booking for the ski season with Crystal. €100* per booking on selected accommodations.

Having walked the mountains in Austria’s Tirol https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/01/austrian-toilet-humour/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/__trashed/ just last month I got a sense that the snows were falling gently heralding the ski season to come.

The life and the Soll of the party

Crystal offers a seven-night stay in the 3* Haus Edelweiss, Zell Am See on a B&B basis from €735pp. Depart December 21.

While seven nights B&B at the 2* Haus Prichmoos in Soll is from €615pp. And it’s a resort that I know well having fallen down its slopes… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/soll-mates/

While in Austria our guide Reini took us over the mountains and across to Germany and also pointed out Italy which was maybe a couple of days away.

They’ll be the Pyrenees then

Maybe ski it? Crystal has seven nights at the 3* Residence Planibel Apartments, La Thuile, self-catering from €365pp (four share). Depart January 17.

Or seven nights B&B at the 3* Hotel Clotes, Sauze D’oulx from €635pp.

Andorra’s box of tricks

Andorra is clearly an old favourite and Crystal are right on board with the tiny country in the Pyrenees.

Seven nights at the 3* Hotel Katmandou, Pas De La Case on a half-board basis for seven nights from €519pp. Depart December 22.

Again I’ve been walking in the Pyrenees… don’t judge me, there’s no snow to ski in the summer or the autumn but I love them and it was on a Lourdes and Pyrenees trip… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/.

And for more on this delightful region… https://www.lourdes-france.org/. And https://www.hautespyrenees.fr/.

All offers include flights from Dublin. Visit http://www.crystalski.ie.

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South Africa’s prize boy from the township

Iain Buchanan was uncharacteristically unSouth African when I asked him in February if the Springboks would win the Rugby World Cup.

No, man!

Well, Iain and the gang will be breaking out the Cape white wine.

With ice, like they do in South Africa, today in the Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve https://newmarkhotels.com/places/reserves/mount-camdeboo/.

The All Boks

Iain was more definite and enthused when asked about what Nelson Mandela had done for South Africa… What’s new pussycat?

‘A great man, a great man.’

You can’t separate the Rainbow Nation and the modern Springboks story. Nor should you.

And I somehow think that Mandela will be smiling broadly up there today for Siya Kolisi.

Braai high: In the Port Elizabeth township

The boy from the Port Elizabeth township.

Which I visited on that same trip to PE and the Eastern Cape… Day in the life of a township and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/.

And had a braai (a South African barbecue) in the type of shebeen Kolisi referenced in his victory speech.

We’re all Springboks here. In the township

Where I met a resistance fighter, Xhanti, who now spends his weekends on a golf course until recently a whites preserve.

A resistance fighter and a fine golfer, Xhanti

Growing up and watching from afar you couldn’t support South African sportsmen because of apartheid.

Now it’s hard not to.

And today as Kolisi testified they will be celebrating as much in the townships as on the farms.

MEET YOU AT THE BRAAI

And some important websites: www.southafrica.net/meetyoursouthafrica.

And www.southafrica.net.

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My Sporting Weekend – Washington Nationals

No, I’m not trying to avoid mentioning the Rugby World Cup Final… or the British Commonwealth Cup as I prefer to call it.

There aren’t many sports, to be fair, that are truly universal and can really claim to have a ‘world’ cup.

Baseball falls into that sphere with the World Series being an all-American affair (with Toronto Blue Jays).

These past couple of weeks all American, ex-pats and Americanophile eyes were on the World Series.

Jayson Werth shows the way

Between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros.

But for the rest it was only when The Donald popped up at the stadium of his local team and was booed that they took any interest.

Shame because baseball is at the heart of American culture.

And is the nearest to a blue-collar game comparable to my favourite sport football that there is.

Home run: The Nationals’ next big star

I first got interested in baseball when I spent a summer after university working in Boston.

And spending my spare time watching Roger Clemens’ Red Sox.

I also took in the World Series-winning new franchise Toronto Blue Jays where my brother was living.

Beautiful baseball fans

And I really got into them and their rituals such as ringing a bell when star player George Bell came out to bat.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago and I fulfilled a sporting ambition when I took my stance in a batting cage.

In the Washington Nationals’ ball park.

And knocked it out of the park.

I’ll support Colorado Rockies too

We were being hosted by the American travel fair www.ipw.com and were treated to a fireworks display to bring down the curtain on the convention.

Mr Murty goes to Washington

Washington www.washington.org is a political town (obvs) and Washingtonians are a discerning crowd.

It remains my fave American city Easy DC although I have far too many still to visit.

I also visited Denver’s team, the Colorado Rockies when in town www.denver.org last year… Go West.

That caps it: The Angels

And took in an Angels game in Anaheim www.visitanaheim.org earlier this year.

When despite the best efforts of star player Michael Trout it was clear that they wouldn’t be troubling the World Series.

A new baseball ritual

Now that we’ve established that baseball is more than a game and that we love their rituals what about adding this to the seventh-inning stretch…

That every attending US President should be booed (yet to decide on which inning)!

Get me out on the field: The Angels

Aer Lingus have what they are billing Wickedly Good Deals to North America, with pre-clearance, including the American capital.

From €159 each way as part of a return trip. Travel dates through to 31 March.

Book by November 4… www.aerlingus.com.

MEET YOU IN THE BLEACHERS

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Flyday Friday – Abu Dhabi do

Beep, beep! Fiftysomethings, like your impossibly youthful looking Travel blogger, spent half their childhoods watching Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner.

Stay there

And Bugs Bunny (a bit smart ass for me). I loved Sylvester, Tweety Pie, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn and Daffy Duck though.

I haven’t a Scooby why I haven’t got to Warner Bros World in Abu Dhabi before.

Although I do know why I missed out on Warner Bros. Studios Tour in Hollywood… I say, I say, I say I do know.

What’s up Doc?

I reckon it was the calamari in Venice Beach which turned me green. Almost put me off it, almost!

Warner Brothers World Abu Dhabi should be on your to do list if you stop off there on your long-haul.

I’m collecting mosques (Istanbul) Wham bam, thank you Hamam (and Sarajevo) Sarajevo – the Scot that was heard around the world.

Is it really winter there? Photo by Iva Prime on Pexels.com

And the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque looks like one I need to get down on my knees on their magic carpet to give thanks for.

Book a two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi and get your second night free. Visit www.etihad.com.

Now I’ve also found something else interesting in my inbox. Ten nights in Phuket’s 4* Baumanburi Resort & Spa with Escape2 http://www.escape2.ie two free nights in the 5* Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort.

Prices from €1149pp. Offers based on travel in February. Other dates available.

Sheikh it up TUI

The other side of Egypt. Photo by chepté cormani on Pexels.com

It’s often the trips that you pass up, or are passed up for you, that stick in the mind.

Such as the invitation to go out to Sharm El Sheikh which came around a few years ago.

And which I kindly gave to a colleague.

Such were the instabilities then that a couple of weeks later Sharm El Sheik was hit by a terrorist atrocity.

With all such things the people on the ground in the industry are also victims and it is good to see that TUI http://www.tui.co.uk and Red Sea Holidays http://www.redseaholidays.co.uk have reopened its market there from the UK.

Fire and ice in Iceland

Photo by Gabriel Kuettel on Pexels.com

It doesn’t look like it is good breeding ground for modern beat combo music but there are good vibes coming out of Iceland.

AWAL and Icelandair will include an ‘A World Artists Love’ showcase at Iono on November 7 at 8pm.

I’m told Millie Turner (UK), Joesef (UK), Yaeger (Sweden), Warmland (Iceland), Joipe x Kroli (Iceland).

Ice one: Of Monsters And Men

The festival’s big headliners are Of Monsters And Men who the Son And Heir only interviewed recently when they came to Dublin.

And the Irish are flying the flag too with Dundalk’s Just Mustard. Dublin’s Pillow Queens and AE Mak who are also from Dundalk.

Icelandair packages to Airwaves start from €293 including flights from Dublin to Reykjavik and a festival pass. https://www.icelandair.com/en-ie/vacations/city-breaks/iceland-airwaves/.

And also visit http://icelandairwaves.is for the full line-up and other news.

The fountain of youth

Part of the picture: In Rome

Pet hate… commentators who try to make a name for themselves by throwing out controversial opinions.

Such as The Leaning Tower of Pisa is not all that and that Big Ben is just a bell (it’s actually the Great Bell but I’ll let them off that) and that they were underwhelmed by the Trevi Fountain.

On my first trip to Rome, a surprise 40th birthday gift from La Scary Una, she was most excited to show me Trevi Fountain.

And so as we turned into piazza after piazza I gasped at the fountain before me which she was only too pleased to tell me was not the Trevi Fountain.

Aer Lingus who have launched a ‘November deals to gorgeous cities’ offer, among which is a five-star city break in Rome.

You’ll get return tickets Dublin to Rome with three nights at the 5-star Radisson Blue Es Hotel.

You’ll be paying a discount price of €2286.80pp. Visit http://www.holidayswithaerlingus.com. And here’s some Rome love for you… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/.

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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Hungry and Thursday – Sri Lankan curry

No, you’re not seeing things… that really is your Travel blogger (I get everybody, anybody else to cook for me) in an apron.

This week’s hosts on the oul’ Travel circuit, G Adventures, set us all a challenge… make our own lentil curry at home.

So they sent us of with this bag of lentils and spices and a recipe….

Something’s cookie’ in the kitchen

The enjoyment of which lasts longer than a selfie stick or battery pack which will give in on you by the time you get home.

This bag of goodies and the recipe enclosed is for a Sri Lankan Dhal Curry.

Community tourism

And it’s based on a spice mix developed by Sthree Cafe, a Planaterra project located in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

This collaboration with the communities they send us on holiday too is what G Adventures is all about.

Helping to give them a foot up… and I found this when I went to Jordan with them https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/.

Does mine look like this?

Now I know a thing or two about Sri Lankans too… unfortunately I haven’t been yet but I joined the staff on the Maldives to play cricket and football.

And became a bit of a hit, even if I did run out their opener. And they politely asked my group as they served them through the day if Mr Jim would be back.

This is a brief reminder of that Maldives adventure…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/

Stir it up

Now G Adventures are flagging up 12 destinations for 2020, among them Ireland.

They are particularly taken by our Leap Year tradition of reversing the traditional engagement proposal to women asking for a hand in marriage?

And are right on board with Galway as a European Capital of Culture for 2020.

G Adventures has a new National Geographic Journeys Iconic Ireland trip for those wanting to join the craic. Priced from €2,449pp for a nine-day trip from Dublin return. 

Now I’m looking through their list and I’m noticing that there’s only two destinations I’ve been to… Ireland, obvs, and South Africa… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/

Let’s hear it for Sri Lanka

The last word though I’ll give to Sri Lanka…

Particularly after the troubles they had with terrorism and how this welcoming people have got back on their feet since.

To help support this return, the government is offering a free visa for travellers from 48 countries, including the UK and Ireland.

A 14-day Sri Lanka Encompassed trip is priced from €1,639pp travelling from Colombo to Mirissa. 

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Toast Turkey

Cumhuriyet Bayrami.

Or Happy Turkish National Day.

OK, I’m a day late with Turkey turning 95 yesterday but what’s a day between friends?

I’m sure they’ll forgive me for my belated birthday wishes.

With my pal Onur from Turkish Airlines

I first fell in love with Turkey 16 years ago when our air hostess on our flight out to Bodrum mistook me for a Turk.

They took the Son and Heir for one of their own too on account of him being called Ally.

Istanbul in my heart

And every time we passed by the market the traders would call out his name with one even swinging him around.

I finally fulfilled a Travel dream this year when I got to Istanbul 26 years after I was supposed to.

Hamam slam

So a day’s late birthday wish is but a passing moment.

The big romantic gesture of a romantic proposal was meant to take place on the Bosphorus.

But we ended up in Malta instead… I told you I was hopeless with directions.

I guess the then Miss F must have been expecting something because when I bent down to tie my shoelace…

She screamed ‘Yes’.

My Bosphorus

Malta has remained in my affections ever since, as has Miss F.

And I had the good fortune to get back out there a few years ago Malta easer where I learned ‘our’ restaurant is still there http://www.visitmalta.com.

And enough time has probably passed that I can pull that trick again to get a free bottle of Champagne.

My next attempt at getting to Istanbul was in 1997 when we visited Bulgaria.

My TA Business Lounge

But the distance (there was an option) and the small matter of the Son and Heir who was in his Terrible Twos put the kibosh on that.

Now that I’ve finally got a taste for Istanbul Wham bam, thank you Hamam, one of the world’s great cities http://www.howtoistanbul.com I’ll not leave it so long in future.

And when I do go I’ll travel with Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com.

And I’ll dally in their award-winning Business Lounge and maybe pay a visit to their headquarters.

To catch up with old friends, play on the flight simulator, and this time ask if I can slide down the aeroplane chute.

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Cruiseday Tuesday – Scotland is Arctic

It can feel positively Arctic in Scotland so it should come as little surprise that Scotland is being billed as part of an Arctic cruise… with our old friends G Adventures.

G Adventures http://www.gadventures.com will be hosting us tonight in Dublin to reveal more of their wares as part of their G Stock Live road trip.

And I will be able to speak to them about their product with more authority (no comments, please) having been their guests in Jordan earlier this year…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/

Of course they cover the Seven Seas too and their Galapagos Islands and Cambodia packages from their current sale randomly jumped out at me.

My fjord escort: My own wee Troll

As did their 16-day Cruise the Norwegian Fjords with Scottish Highlands package for May 17.

Which is reduced from €4899 to €4164.

Starting in Tromso, the gateway to the Arctic you’ll travel as far north as Nordkopp where the Atlantic and the Arctic Seas meet before hopping your way down the fjords.

And believe me they are full of myth and majesty as we found out…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/

Light up, light up. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You’ll pop in Shetland Islands, the most northerly point in the UK, whose nearest train station is Bergen in Norway, before finishing off in Edinburgh.

Heck, the Shetland Islands used to be Norwegian before being given to Scotland in a dowry in 1472.

Every day’s a school day on Cruiseday Tuesday!

Tenerife… I’ll be back

The beautiful Garachico. On Tenerife

The sharp Norwegian winter air is bracing but if you prefer a winter warmer…

Then TUI has seven nights on January 17 in an inside cabin on the Marella Explorer from €879pps.

For more on the Canarian Flavours package visit https://www.tuiholidays.ie. Call 1850 45 35 45 or visit a TUI Store / travel agent.

A toast to the Canaries

Unless you’ve been hiding under a stone you’ll know that I’ve been in Tenerife this autumn.

Where I learned a whole lot of stuff… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/

Just promise me you’ll drink some of the Shakespearean wine, the Malvasia.

And a stroll on the island

And eat some of their wrinkled potatoes with mojo mojo sauce!

Now if you like your TUI cruise, and why wouldn’t you, why not try Canaria Ways’ http://www.CanariaWays.com and read all about https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/

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Holidos and don’ts – Passports

Why do we have to surrender our passports to hotels?

It’s not as if they’re national security and they can just as easily cover your expenses and the risk of flight with a credit card.

Because let me tell you you’re always safer when you’ve got your passport in your possession.

Preferably behind lock and key in the safe in your room.

Or if you need to take it out with you then you’ve only yourself to blame if you lose it.

Stamp it out

Yes, it can be pickpocketed but I always think that your front pocket is the best place to keep the passport and the wallet.

And just make sure that you never come close to brushing people in a busy market.

So, why am I hot under the collar over hotels or guest houses taking your passport.

Because there is always the danger that somebody may pick yours up by mistake.

Which is what happened in Tenerife last month when a fellow British traveller picked mine up by mistake and then went walkabout in town.

Tenerife for walkers

Nor did the girl at reception seem particularly bothered as she continued to try to sell hotel goodies to people as I slowly boiled with frustration.

You’ve got my passport

My fellow traveller was deeply apologetic when everything was resolved but I didn’t necessarily blame him as accidents happen.

The thing is that the situation should never exist in the first place.

Of course, every holiday has its hiccups and it in no way marred a wonderful visit to Tenerife which is officially my favourite Spanish island now…

Follow www.webtenerife.com, and read my thoughts on this magical island https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/

Our Lady’s town: Medjugorje

Yes magical, but La Gomera and its whistlers may run it close if someone would care to invite me out there.

The old passport tripped me up again on my recent trip, out to Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Daniella took everyone’s passport in the party for safe keeping I guess but also for her own security, but she did give me mine back when I went to Sarajevo for the day.

I would need it for currency exchange.

I miss Sarajevo

Where it went wrong though was because I have another passport too .

And when I got back, tired, I got in a muddle…. all of which I can explain here. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/23/on-the-road-to-dubrovnik/

Medjurgorje, Sarajevo and Bosnia & Herzegovina should be on your list and here are a few sites to help you out… https://www.medjugorje.org, https://sarajevo.travel/en and http://www.bhtourism.ba/eng/

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Moanday Morning – Bank Holidays

Yes, I grant you that it’s odd to rail against holidays in a Travel blog, but there you are, we lead rather than follow.

Bank holidays aren’t worth getting out of bed for which is why I’m not.

Besides, nothing is open. And why do bankers need extra days off anyway?

Do they not get enough already and did they not take enough off us anyway?

You might say that we all get the bank holidays off.

Well, no. When I was a wage slave I had to work them and I got them back in lieu but never when I wanted them.

Let’s blow our own trumpets: National Days

I’m not against holidays (as if) and national days are a focal point for people to reflect on their shared identity.

I’ve had the good fortune to be in many a country when they’ve been celebrating their national day and it is is a joy.

Last month it was German Unity Day when I was in Garmisch in Bavaria.

And, of course, the Bavarians need little excuse to slip on the lederhosen.

Either there or in Oberammergau where they are getting ready for the renewal of the Passion Play http://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/de/startseite next year.

Running up the flagpole: In Tenerife

Next month it’s St Andrew’s Day in Scotland and I know you’re all wanting to know why St Andrew is our patron saint.

Flying the flag

Well, we have to go back to 832 AD and a village in the east of the country which was still to be formed into Scotland.

King Angus of the Picts (basically the Highlanders) and a contingent of Scots (Lowlanders) was invading the Lothians.

They were run by the Northumbrians who were helped by Saxons, led by Athelstan.

Keeping up?

Angus, fearing he would be overrun said his prayers (you would, wouldn’t you) and it seems that St Andrew was the saint who was up.

Piping hot: At the Bagpipes Centre in Glasgow

A white diagonal cross, that being the shape St Andrew was crucified on, appeared against the blue sky.

Angus was suitably inspired to vanquish his enemy and repaid St Andrew by making him the patron saint of the soon forming Scotland.

There’s the quaintest St Andrew’s Flag centre in a doocot (where pigeons live) in Atheltstaneford which is 15km south-east of Edinburgh… http://www.scottishflagtrust.com. It is open from April to October.

Wrapping myself up in the flag

St Andrew’s Day is November 30.

I like to wrap myself up in the Saltire as much as the next Jock.

And next to the St Andrew’s flag there is probably nothing more Scottish than bagpipes.

Except they’re Persian but let’s gloss over that.

Here’s what happened when I went to the World Bagpipes Championships a few years ago… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/

Encore: At the French Embassy in Dublin

It is Europe’s oldest flag and has inspired even the Tinerfinos, the Tenerife natives, who have the very same flag as us.

You want to know why? Here’s a couple of explanations…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/02/tenerife-and-scotland-wave-the-same-flag/

There’s not much else that we share but we do love to visit… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/

And you know how the French love avoir le denier mot. Well, they did when they won the World Cup two years ago.

And I was there at the French Embassy in Dublin which is technically France, and it was Bastille Weekend. Bravo! http://www.france.fr/fr.

And as a French Travel Writer of the Year winner you know Je t’aims La France…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-dazur/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/

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Give us this Day – Candles

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine,

Oh Let it shine,

Let it shine

Gosepl Spiritual

Yes, I’ve taken this little light around the world and am just back from Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Where I lit a candle for friends and family and the world.

With Myrlie Evers at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Candles flicker across all the religions of the world.

And none.

It is a mark of hope, of permanence and memorial.

The gospel spiritual ‘This little light of mine’ is on a spool in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Cleveland.

Where I met Civil Rights legend Myrlie Evers who opened the museum.

And amid the boards with their personal testimonies of struggles, loss and redemption the song is a stirring backdrop.

The ultimate sacrifice: At Great Uncle Willie’s gravestone

Here’s where it stands among my memories… The Promised Land. And http://www.mcrm.mdah.ms.gov

In another land, amid the mud and blood of Passchendaele in Flanders,

I lit a candle to my Irish Great Uncles who had fallen there.

It sits on my desk and every Memorial Sunday in November I light it and sit in silent memorial for a minute.

And I thank them for their sacrifice… In Flanders fields and http://www.gti-ireland.com and http://www.visitflanders.com.

Pilgrims: With Maria dos Anjos in Fatima

We stand too in reverence at the Marian sites of Fatima, Lourdes and Medjugorje.

Secret Portugal The Lourdes prayer. And these websites http://www.centerofportugal.com and http://www.en.lourdes-infotourisme.com and http://www.lourdes-france-org.

And watch out too for my review of my Medjugorje pilgrimage with Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie soon in the Irish Sun.

Light of the world: In Medjugorje

Candles, of course, are not just a Western, a Christian, a modern phenomenon.

Light of our lives

Light and fire are primal forces which link us to the Earth and to the heavens.

And are common to other cultures, religions and countries around the world.

And those who claim spirituality but no religion.

Waxing lyrical. In Lourdes

To finish, a light-hearted story from my time in Medge.

From the beautifully beardied Franciscan monk Fr Columba.

Who told of us a candlelight procession in New York when his beard which stretches down to his navel caught fire.

Fr Columba is fireproof though, and can fix TV freezes too… Medjugorje story – a sporting passion.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

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Sporting Weekend – Rugby in the Welsh Valleys

They’ll be singing in the Valleys… and in the Scottish Highlands and the pubs of Ireland, for Wales today to beat South Africa in the second semi-final of the Rugby World Cup.

It’s a Celtic brotherhood thing.

Although even brothers can fall out.

On my first weekend in my new home in Cardiff where I had gone to learn this scribbling Journalism thing I went to the local boozer and had cause to use the rest rooms.

Where a local turned to me at the urinal and asked if I was an English bastard, to which I replied ‘no, a Scottish bastard actually.’

Welsh history. Photo by Krisztina Papp on Pexels.com

Without breaking a stride, he shot back: ‘Just as f******* bad, you cheated us out of two World Cup, you bastard.’

Which had some truth in it but I thought it best to leave it… I was a little exposed.

I had a great year though among the Welsh, although they did go onto win a Triple Crown when I was there and I watched at the Old Arms Park as Paul Thorburn kicked us to death.

Now, the Welsh aren’t the most magnanimous people in victory (I guess none of us are) and I took pelters.

The big cats: In South Africa

Nor are the South Africans usually when it comes to rugby.

Their passage to this stage will come as something of a surprise to Iain, Camdeboo Game Reserve’s owner in the Eastern Cape, who told us that the Boys had no chance in the World Cup.

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/

My enemy’s enemy

Whoever wins though you can be sure that my own native Scottish type people will be supporting the team that plays England.

It’s something that baffles my English wife (no, I don’t have wives from other countries too) and her family and our friends.

But it is a sporting thing with smaller nations which is shared by Canadians (USA), New Zealand (Australia) and Wales and Ireland (England).

All of which brings me onto Wales which is our nearest neighbour here in Ireland, we know so well but don’t talk about enough.

The Welsh have their own whiskey, but is it better? Photo by Terricks Noah on Pexels.com

So, what is it about The Welsh Valleys that has them all singing?

Well there’s Caerphilly Castle, Llancaiach Fawr Manor and Lido Ponty, the National Lido of Wales, Really!

The site Visit Wales http://www.visitwales.com is a great starting point and my eyes fell as they often do on the whiskey.

In Wales?

Reach for the skies. Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius on Pexels.com

Well, they’re pushing Penderyn Whiskey which they say draws 43,000 visitors a year. I do hope that they don’t make you listen to the whiskey-making process though.

And take you straight to the whiskey drinking.

The ghosties. Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

Which reminds me of a day we were given while at College in Cardiff at the Brain’s distillery where we were given an hour’s free drinking.

Which equalled about six pints then!

Scaring up a ghosty castle

And seeing that Halloween is hoving into view like a big Scary Thing then how about the most haunted house in the Principality?

Llancaiach Fawr Manor is the place to go where they promise you the rustle of petticoats, your hand being held or even the occasional smell of violets or roast beef!

And maybe even the spectre of rugby players past!

Flybe http://www.flybe.com has Dublin to Cardiff this month through Skyscanner http://www.skyscanner.ie from €95 and from €72 next month and through to March.

And with rooms from €63 a night hotel stays on the Skyscanner website.

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Holiday Snaps – Halloween in New York

Or in the Big Dunkin’ Apple… New York does Halloween big time.

I visited NY with The Scary One, back when she was a little less scary, and my two little devils back in Halloween 2007.

When they were getting ready for the Eve of All Souls Day.

Scary Bandana meets Scary Hair

It’s a busy old time in the States with Thanksgiving only a few weeks away and with this being a Presidential election year too there were plenty of carved Barack Obama pumpkins.

My little devils

Times have moved on and now we have Trumpkins instead of Obama faces.

We were fortunate enough to be staying near Greenwich Village where a million people gather to see the Halloween parade roll by.

It truly is a wonderful spectacle.

As was the gathering of Halloween dogs down at Battery Park.

All dressed up in their Halloween costumes and a couple of Supermen costumes too.

If you’re in NY for Halloween check it out.

Sky high; In NY

NY is great any time of the year though and our friends at the ITAA (Irish Travel Agents Association) http://www.itaa.ie and Click and Go http://www.clickandgo.com have a great deal for us right in the heart of Manhattan.

Three nights, two sharing, in the 4-star The Gallivant Times Square for February.

You’ll be staying in a twin/double room on a room only basis.

Aer Lingus flights http://www.aerlingus.com from Dublin to NY. Visit https://www.clickandgo.com/design-your-own-holiday/details/2020-02-08/3/2::0/RO/DUB/0/7392/2119/519?search=all/New_York/2020-02-08/3/2::0//DUB/0.

Laddie and Lady Liberty

And remember to bring your costume.

Here’s something to get you into the mood… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/

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Flyday Friday – El Al

Should you go to a country if you oppose their regime?

El Al’s entry into the Irish market with three flights a week from Dublin to Tel Aviv has unleashed a torrent of invective from the twiterrati.

I’ve heard similar moral standpoints from friends who refuse to visit Trump’s America.

And say that they won’t give ‘a dollar to that man.’

And, of course, standing on your principles is almost always something to be praised.

I try to take a view that I don’t define a people or a country by its leaders.

The rope that divides: The Israel side of the River Jordan

That it’s the people and the country I want to see and that when I get there I will make up my own mind from what they say to me.

And, of course, Israel being the one place in the world I definitely want to visit, I will reserve judgment until I go.

The flights which will begin on 26 May will operate on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and to Dusseldorf on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Israel’s history. Photo by Mauricio Artieda on Pexels.com

The Holy Land is never far from my Travel thoughts and that was ignited among my Marian Pilgrimages tour http://www.marian.ie to Medjugorje this week.

I found Dublin to Tel Aviv from €377.56, departing May 26 and returning on June 2. Visit https://fly.elal.co.il/plnext/ELALonlinebooking/Override.action.

Now I’ve seen Israel from 50 metres away from the Jordan side of the River Jordan… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/

And now I want to see it first hand.

Christmas Hamburgers

Bedding into Hamburg

It’s only 61 sleeps until Christmas and our airlines are already counting down… maybe their dedicated staff will get some much needed time off.

Lord knows, they have some difficult customers to deal with with difficult accents.

I’m thinking about the bearded Bandana-wearing Scot who asked for a tea and shortbread from his Aer Lingus air hostess.

Which came out to Irish ears as hot chocolate.

It was all resolved with a smile.

Hamburg’s canals

Aer Lingus have a range of destinations and deals for Christmas.

First up on their list which escalates in price is Hamburg from €35.99, a city myself and The Scary One love…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/29/ich-bin-ein-hamburger/.

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/09/the-beatles-in-hamburg-with-stefanie-hempel/.

Nice and easy does it

Nice one. Photo by Pierre Blaché on Pexels.com

It’s often the trips you’;re supposed to do but don’t for any number of reasons that get under your skin.

Dubrovnik where I had set out for but had to turn back on after just ten minutes on the coach for want of a passport is one of them.

Nice is another. Everything was in train for a visit there six months after the atrocity but it was cancelled.

I have been waiting for an opportunity since to right that.

And with Ryanair’s Warm Up Your Winter Flights from €17.99 for travel in November I have it.

Nice is from €18.99. Visit http://www.ryanair.com.

And if you like the French Riviera here is a little further taster… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-dazur/

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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Hungry and Thursday – sangria and La Sagrada

Wel, you’d expect there to be wine around a church, and this being Spain it’s not too big a jump to see sangria too.

In Barcelona the most famous church of all is La Sagrada.

And the best way to make sense of this Teletubby church is with a jug of after jug of Sangria.

Which you can pick up fairly cheaply outside the church which is refreshing.

To the palate and the pocket. They do some pretty good pizzas and hot dogs and the like, and of course paella at a good price too.

Sangrias are one of the easiest cocktails to mix and always scream summer.

Whether in their home of Spain or in your back garden.

Sometimes it can go amiss such as when we were students and a bunch of us were working for SAGA Holidays in Aberdeen University’s Halls of Residence.

My flat mate was down with the lurgie so we decided to put some cough medicine in with the wine, the fruit, the soda water, the fresh orange juice and the lemonade.

I’m mont sure if it really made him better.

And when my old mucker Jevan, of Barbados fame https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna turned up all hell was let loose.

Party time

He’d only brought some cream pies from the kitchens and a food fight broke out through my flatmate’s room.

And on into the garden which our botanist landlord had expressly told us to stay out of.

Miraculously we managed to survive getting chucked out and with some good carpet cleaner I was able to maintain my friendship with my flatmate.

Who was meticulously tidy.

The good news was that he was back on his feet and propping up the bar next to us by the weekend,

But don’t try this cough medicine in the sangria trick at home, kids.

For more Barcelona frolics http://www.barcelonatourisme.com where I have wandered on my way to the port and some cruise ship fun… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/23/surfing-the-seas-in-barcelona/

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V for Vegan

No cheap digs here about Vegans… just me flagging up World Vegan Day next month.

Vegans get a bad name when it should be the very opposite.

And like all things which we don’t know we tend to sneer.

Elaine ‘Black Magic’ as I nicknamed her (I gave everyone on our walking trip a mantle as is my way) has her own look.

She wears black, likes piercings and is a vegan.

But she doesn’t shove it down your throat.

In fact the exact opposite. To quote the quietly-spoken and truly warm Black Magic: ‘I’m entering your world.’

Which is why she never kicked up once on our Topflight trip www.topflight.ie to Ehrwald and Garmisch-Partenkirchen about the food.

And, to be fair, mine host Daniella, did cater admirably for her at the Hotel Sonneburg www.hotelsonneburg.com.

Which brings us back to World Vegan Day… which incidentally is on November 1.

With much else on lifestyle California leads the way.

West Hollywood www.visitwesthollywood.com is on point in so many ways so it comes as little surprise that it’s right up there for vegans.

Fine dining

Gracias Madre on Melrose Avenue http://Gracias Madre is the place to go.

It offers 100% organic plant-based Mexican cuisine.

And it’s chic too with hand-woven chairs, wrought-iron fixtures, embroidered fabrics and hanging fabrics.

I found WH one of the most embracing and chilled places I’ve been too.

I promised myself I’d return with our host Kate and my pals Jon, Helen and Heather.

To recreate the Beatles Abbey Road pic… on their rainbow zebra crossing.

Here’s what I thought of WH… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/01/california-screamin-my-weekend-with-marilyn/

If California is all about fitness and health then here’s another state which I’d pitch as even more Outdoorsy… Colorado.

Where man-banned, tattoo-sleeved men called Brad or Dexter make vegan food at their eateries in the morning, climb a mountain free-style in the afternoon and then white-water raft before it gets dark.

Casual dining

Santana’s Vegan Grill http://Santana’s Vegan Grill is proof that these aren’t people from another planet where things are logical and they have pointy ears.

So we’re looking at the only vegan drive-thru in Colorado Springs.

Which serves up plant-based alternatives for bacon cheeseburgers, hot dogs and buffalo chicken strips. Visit http://www.colorado.com.

And here’s how I got on with the hipsters in Colorado…

https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/go-west-denver-buffalo-bill/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/29/the-new-pioneers/

Sweet stuff

You want some sweet treats. Well Portland, Oregon where some of us Murty’s live is the place to go.

Doe Donuts Doe Donuts is the city’s first dedicated vegan donut (they spell it without the ‘gh’) shop.

Look out for the house-made strawberry soy milk and a signature chocolate raised doughnut topped with gold pearls, chocolate shavings and ganache.

Portland is also home to the world’s first vegan mini-mall where visitors can enjoy dining, shopping and even vegan tattoos.  travelportland.com

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Cruiseday Tuesday – Trolls and the fjords

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

Me, The Scary One and MSC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scary One wasn’t!

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

So, here’s the deal:

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

Balcony cabin upgrades from €200pps.

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

Price Includes:

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

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

Christmas on the river

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

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

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

Not to mention your own family!

Christmas Rhine River Cruise (Cologne-Cologne)

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

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

Beat the drum: Dresden and the Elbe

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

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

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

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Holidos and don’ts – late nights

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

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

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

And I was out of there by 11.30pm.

‘Too early,’ said my colleague.

‘So why not 5am?’

‘Oh, that’s just taking the piss.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which was after the planned itinerary.

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

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

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

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

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

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Moanday Morning – Carousels

And the seasons

They go round and round

And the painted ponies go up and down

We’re captive on a carousel of time

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

From where we came from

And go round and round and round

On the carousel of time.

The Circle Game – Joni Mitchell