Adventure, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, Sport, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Austria you to me are everything

I could move a mountain when my hand is in your hand – The Real Thing

Whether The Real Thing had the Alps in mind I don’t know but they know the band all right in Soll… and Austria you to me are everything.

Songs often jump up and hook us randomly in the places we hear them the most.

And You To Me Are Everything rocked out every night at the Whisky Muhle.

I skied some of those mountains… yeah, right!

Where Alex Johnson, the singer, belts out rock classics, while the locals pour Jagermeisters down his gullet.

And he announces every night that You To Me Are Everything is the best song of all time.

And Alex does the ‘best song of all time’ justice, and a bunch of others with his ‘Candy’ well worth a mention.

I even forgave him saying that Paolo Nutini had ripped it off REM.

I’ll be in one of those huts

All this, and did I say that they have a game where you hammer a nail into a block of plywood with the acute end?

Which funnily enough you won’t see in the pubs of Glasgow, Liverpool or Dublin.

We travelled to Soll with ski specialists Top Flight and I have hiked up the hills with them too since.

And that’ll be the beer then

Top Flight, who also with good reason call themselves the Italy specialists, are suffering like so many in Travel.

And they had to make the heartbreaking decision to let some staff go last week.

Which I know from dealing with them would have been the last thing they would have wanted.

It may seem like all uphill right now while downhill doesn’t seem too appealing either.

And the locals are real friendly

But skiing proves that we can ride the bumps and come out still standing at the end of it all.

And there’s a Jagermaester at the end of it all at the end of it all and a rocking music set. It’s apres-ski and it’s everything.

*Everything – The Real Life Story which chronicles the career of the first all-black British band to reach No.1 in the UK charts screens on BBC Four on Friday at 9pm.

Adventure, Africa, Countries, Culture, Deals, Ireland, UK

Give us this Day – Ramadan a ding-dong

Whatever you’re doing I hope you’re having a good Eid and a good feed Abdullah, after our Ramadan a ding-dong in the Atlas Mountains.

Because I know that Abdullah, just like all my Muslim friends, has earned it after all that fasting.

I don’t know how they do it, and I don’t know how Abdullah did it as he whizzed around the Atlas Mountains.

We still love Morocco… we think!

On not even a drop of water or a water biscuit.

Fast and furious

There was water though, and when it falls in Morocco, it does so in epic proportions.

And as quickly as Abdullah swept the rain off his minibus window than Allah chose to drop more rain on it.

What’s all the fuss?

And all this while negotiating his way around the narrowest and highest bends with cliffs eroding and crumbling on us.

Quite what he thought of us piling into a chicken tagine while he starved he was courteous enough to keep to himself.

A light show in the sky

But Abdullah would have the last laugh only he was spiritually cleansed.

I’m all right, Jock

Because your favourite Travel writer took sick in the Sahara Desert.

I did though get to ride my first camel (my second would come on my G Adventures trip to Jordan).

And see a light show in the sky, complete with shooting stars, as I spent the night on the toilet seat.

And the train moves on

Looking out above as there was no roof on the shack… and no flush either.

I’ll be coming round the mountains

And I was still paying for it the next day when my host Alice came looking for me in my tent.

It’s all well and fine the Berbers singing on

And as punishment I had to ride my camel back to the minibus and back around those winding mountain roads.

The rains had abated though… Praise be Allah!

I would, of course, now go with my friends at G Adventures, while equally Sunway in Ireland pride themselves in being all over Morocco.

Adventure, America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

On the Road again

Seeing we’re back on the road. and spurred by the excellent PBS series ’10 that changed America’ https://www.pbs.org/show/10-changed-america/which also includes monuments and bridges among others…

I give you my favourite streets I know from around the world…

The Beale Deal

That’s Handy…. Memphis

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee: And naturally I channeled my best Marc Cohen, took a selfie next to WC Handy, partied the night away at BB King’s Jazz club and scoured Elvis’s tailors Lansky Brothers.

Visit https://www.deep-south-usa.com/ and The Promised Land.

The road BC

man sitting beside building
And a desert runs through it. Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com

King’s Highway, Jordan: And the ancient traders of the Middle East, Asia and Asia Minor have been here before.

Carrying silk and gold, frankincense and myrrh and exchanging it for water in Petra. And you can still follow that route today. See www.visitjordan.com, http://www.gadventures.co.uk and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Royal march

red telephone booth
History under your feet. Photo by Anna Urlapova on Pexels.com

And a walk I would regularly and will yet do again. At the top of Edinburgh’s High Street is the Castle, in the middle St Giles kirk where Jenny Geddes threw a chair at the preacher.

Then there’s the spot where Deacon Brodie, the inspiration for Jekyll & Hyde was hanged on the gibbet he invented where locals spit on the ground in disdain. Before you get to the foot and see the new Scottish Parliament and the Queen’s residence, the historic Holyrood Palace.

And there’s also a Medieval street underneath the Royal Mile which was closed odd during the Black Death https://www.realmarykingsclose.com. See http://www.edinburgh.org, Edinburgh – an old friend and http://www.visitscotland.com.

Appian I know it, clap your hands

When in Rome. The Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl on the Appian Way

Appian Way. Rome: What did the Romans do for us? Well, they built roads to last.

We didn’t get to the Appian Way and the Catacombs when Mrs M treated me to a 40th Birthday treat but it was all the better for taking the kids half a dozen years later.

See https://www.rome.net/, Small roads lead to Rome.

She’ll crucify me if I go without her

Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem: And the one I have still to visit when I will walk in the footsteps of Our Lord. The winding route from the former Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is about 600m.

And particularly as I put work first and turned down and joint Jerusalem and Jordan trip because I didn’t want to leave my employer in the lurch for a fortnight. See https://www.itraveljerusalem.com.

So I’ve missed out your favourite. Let me know and we’ll share. And I won’t tease you. I’ve got another five More on the Road coming hot on the heels.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Countries, Culture, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Royal Portrush

The rain in Northern Ireland is horizontal and the bar was 20 deep, pushing me to the apron of the canopy. My Sporting Weekend this weekend last year was Royal Portrush.

As golf reflects on its missed Open this weekend we all hark back to that magical week last year.

When the game’s oldest and greatest competition returned to Northern Ireland after 67 years.

Come rain or Shane

And Ireland’s own Shane Lowry crowned it all by taking the iconic Claret Jug.

The good news for Shane is that he is still Champion Golfer and will hold onto the trophy for another year.

I just about handed it back after I got the obligatory picture at Portrush.

The Co. Antrim course is credited with putting on one of the best Open Golf Championships in many a year in spite of the pelting rain.

Fantastic

The hospitality and the interactive golfing activities in the tents were second to none while the banter of the locals was relentless.

The course was set up wonderfully well with the intersections across the holes allowing you to take in multiple games.

Of course to get the best view you want to either get your steps out to see over the tall American in front of you.

Or just hunker down by the apron of the green.

Those trousers will dry themselves out.

Northern exposure

Though if you want to you can take shelter in the grandstands.

All of this, of course, makes us hanker after the return of spectators to the Royal and Ancient Game.

While Shane rightfully took the plaudits he would be first to accept that Northern Ireland was as big a winner over the week.

Sometimes we take for granted what we are used to.

And Northern Ireland is an old friend (jeez it’s the Murtys homeland from before the 18th century when they decamped to Scotland).

Clayton comforts

But from the moment that we arrived at the Clayton Hotel in Belfast http://www.claytonhotelbelfast.com.

And ate one of their famous ‘wee’ Ulster Frys to set us up for the final day on the course we were treated like Kings.

By our friends in the North, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board http://www.discovernorthernireland.com.

With the air full of optimism (and water) last year the hope was that the Open http://www.theopen.com would be returning to the Antrim coastline soon.

Get the drinks in

The only thing I would change is that I get to the bar quicker.

And that Scotland produce a player in the next couple of years.

To bring the Claret Jock back to the Home of Golf.

And for more on Northern Ireland, check out Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry

America, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Boxing clever

And in the blue corner ‘Jugular Jim’ Murty and in the red corner ‘The Clones Cyclone’ Barry McGuigan.

We ought to start at the very beginning here when a sallow cub reporter was sent by his news editor to talk to the boxing champion.

Barry was appearing in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and I asked the former World Heavyweight champion which dwarf would he be playing.

Take that: Barry in action against Eusebio Pedroza

He bristled before regaining his composure.

On returning to the office my news editor fell upon the idea of us putting on a pretend sparring session.

All of which circling around the ring brings me onto the return of boxing in England this weekend.

There won’t, of course, be a crowd but one of the upsides is that we’ll be able to hear every thud and grimace more clearly.

Which you can only really do otherwise if you’re ringside.

Which I was lucky enough to be in my spell as a boxing writer in the Nineties covering the likes of Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn and Pat Clinton in Glasgow https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/.

A broad canvas: The Garden

Of course the Mecca for boxing is the US and it is every boxer’s dream to fight at Madison Square Garden and Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas.

Next year: In Vegas

And every fight fan (hands up) too… and while I love both cities https://www.google.com/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/old-new-york-hamilton/amp/ and Strip… the light fantastic I’ve yet to see ring action there.

See also www.lvcva.com and www.nycvb.com.

MEET YOU RINGSIDE

Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – Hamilton, Monaco and Barbados

You know when you think you’ve seen someone famous, like Lewis Hamilton or me. you convince yourself it’s just someone who looks like them.

And so I had a job in persuading my fellow revellers at Grand Kadooment, the closing parade of the Barbados Carnival, that it was actually Lewis on the float.

Lewis should be there right now… he is, every year in the land of his forefathers. As should I as was before Let’s rumba in Barbados My kiss with Rihanna

But www.visitbarbados.com instead he is in Austria whizzing around the track in that country’s Grand Prix.

Alas without the cheering petrolheads who go from circuit to circuit following their favourite boy racers.

One solution would be to have a series of purely road races so we could all see.

And nobody does that quite like the most famous race of them all… Monaco.

Me? I can’t even get out of the pit lane in my Fiat 500.

Don’t worry, Lewis, I’m no threat. And besides I’d rather be driven around the Cote D.Azur in a speed boat anyway… The Boat D’Azur and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/about-france.com/mobi/index-amp.htm.

Everyone should visit Lewis’s home, Monaco (it’s one of four globally actually) if they’re in the French Riviera on holiday.

It’s only one of those great French train journeys around stunning cliffs and we took it from our camp base in St Raphael.

Full reveal here… we pulled down the shutter when the ticket conductor came around.

Not the first, or last, time we tested the officials, or gendarmes’ patience on that post-school holiday.

Visit https://www.francethisway.com/places/saint-raphael.php and https://www.visitmonaco.com/en.

And back to Lewis’s beloved Barbados. We chased him down the street… he’s used to everybody being in his slipstream.

His float though was going a little slower but as you can see from the picture he ended up giving us the bum’s rush.

So until the next time it’s back to playing with my toy racing cars.

I only wish I had a track like this one in Istanbul Airport’s Turkish Airways www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Asia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Unless you’ve been living under a rock then you’ll know by now that Liverpool have won their first league title for 30 years… you’ll never walk alone.

Which is of course their salute to each other and when I say ‘their’ I do of course mean ‘our’.

Because we used to live in Liverpool www.visitliverpool.com and the Son and Heir was born there and took the team with the city’s name in it as his club.

Setting the pace

Little would Gerry & The Pacemakers know when they released their cover of the Rogers and Hammerstein song from the musical Carousel in 1964…

The Celtic Way. www.uefa.com

But this song would become the most famous ‘football’ song in history.

Interestingly too it is shared with the first British winners of the European Cup, Celtic.

Liverpool may be obvious because Marsden is a Liverpudlian.

Celtic tribe

And the-then manager Bill Shankly is said to have swooped on the song when he met the singer.

But Glaswegian giants Celtic https://peoplemakeglasgow.com is less obvious and in fact dates to 1966 when the two teams met in European competition.

Yellow wall: Borussia Dortmund. www.bvbbuzz.com

There has never though been any rivalry over the song between the two clubs whose fans have enjoyed a long bond with each other.

The anthem has been taken up by teams abroad with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund playing it.

Ja beauty

And as you know my mantra when going anywhere is to seek out where they play and pray… https://www.germany.travel/en-mobile/index.html.

And whisper it around the Westfalenstadion but my football education in Germany has been in Munich.

The Feyenoord Legion www.feyenoord.com

There are of course two teams in the city and 1860 also play at the Allianz Arena along with Bayern.

The Dutch too have embraced YNWA.

With the Liverpool stadium speaker George Sephton giving FC Twente the song when they moved stadiums.

Dutch of magic

While Feyenoord and SC Cambuur have also taken the song to their hearts.

I’ve been all over Dutch football since I adopted them as my ‘second team’ after watching Johan Cruyff’s side of the mid-Seventies.

In Bruges

And Dutchland since I became old enough to organise my own holidays Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel and www.iamsterdam.com.

In fact wander around Europe (as I do for you, dear reader) and you’ll find more nationalities walking on with hope in their hearts.

Belgian waffling

Brugge is a delightful Medieval city of canals, culture, chocolates and churches In Flanders fields and https://gtitravel.ie https://www.visitflanders.com/en/?country=en_GB.

But it also has a link to Liverpool as it was Brugge who lost to Liverpool in the English club’s first European Cup final in 1978.

But who came away with a song, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

The others are more random but the destinations are right up my street.

Walk this way

I guess it makes sense that CD Lugo, in Spain’s Second Division, should have taken it as their song.

As they hail from Galicia, Camino heartland www.CaminoWays.com and A pilgrim’s prayer.

Why it’s the song of PAOK in Thessaloniki, Indonesia’s Bali United and Japan’s FC Tokyo then that’s one more reason to check out…

Athens’ https://athensattica.com My Greek odyssey little brother https://thessaloniki.travel/en/, https://www.bali.com and https://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Sport, UK

Irish Parclife – Center Parcs reopens

There are green shoots of recovery for the Irish Travel market with Center Parcs in Longford set to reopen from Thursday, July 13.

Home Park holidays have a long tradition in the UK with Center Parcs http://www.centerparcs.ie a fixture on the domestic scene.

And there was great fanfare when they dipped their toe into one of those fancy forest pools they have last August.

By opening a showpiece, or Centerpiece if you will, Parc in the Irish midlands.

Of course Center Parks have been robbed of four months of our custom by COVID-19.

But they haven’t been idle (as if) and are itching to reopen on July 13.

There will be:

  • Reduced numbers of guests on each break.
  • Changes to some activities to maintain social distancing.
  • An enhanced cleaning regime.
  • Changeds to arrival and departure times.
  • Cashless payment.
  • Online-only bookings and payment.
  • New take-away service offering contactless delivery to lodges.

We’ll have to wait for the Subtropical Swimming Paradise or Aqua San Spa until Monday, July 27.

Center Parcs has also introduced a ‘book with confidence’ guarantee which allows guests to cancel their break up to six days prior to arrival and still receive a full refund.

And as well as the Irish knowing that they’re lucky of course that they’re Irish here is another reason.

Center Parcs’ five UK villages remain closed in line with the UK Government’s timeline for easing lockdown.

You may have to wait in the queue for your karaoke shout-out. The Son and Heir did a mean Shakira in England’s Lake District http://www.haven.comWhile his Dad rocks Patti LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade from his visit to Orlando http://www.attractiontickets.com Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and See off Voldemort, then for a beer at Moe’s.

Adventure, Countries, Cruising, Deals

Cruiseday Tuesday – polar bears and penguins

Why do polar bears not eat penguins? Because they can’t get the wrappers off?

The prosaic answer, of course, is that they live at opposite ends of the world, polar bears in the Arctic and penguins in the Antarctic.

Best check for yourself though…

We’ve not gone away

Yes, cruising is back, so book yourself a getaway for 2021.

Aaaaw!

Royal Caribbean https://www.royalcaribbean.com/?country=IRL is offering seven nights Alaska Glacier Cruise on The Serenade of the Seas.

With a one-night pre-stay Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport.

Get cruising

It includes indirect return flights from Dublin, one checked bag per person and transfers included throughout:

Interior (guarantee): €1242pp/€1388pp; Oceanview (guarantee) €1304pp/€1538pp.

Cruise only €559pp/€596po (inside guarantee).

Vancouver calling

So your itinerary will include:

Vancouver

Inside passage (cruising)

Ketchikan (Alaska)

Juneau (Alaska)

Skagway (Alaska)

Tracy Arms fjord and glacier (and you know I love a fjord The call of the fjords.

And back to Vancouver

I’m there already… back on my Royal Caribbean ship A Royal Party.

Ppppick up a penguin

Penguin suits on

If you want to see those penguins in their natural environment, and the nearest I’ve got is Busch Gardens https://buschgardens.com/tampa/ and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital with Attraction Tickets https://www.attractiontickets.com/en

Then John Galligan Cruises are the people to go with. See https://www.jgt.ie/cruises/.

And remember to ask for your bandage to help you negotiate the sea sickness around Drake’s Passage.

See, I was listening that night in Dublin, John.

And seeing that colony of penguins on the ice will be worth it.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

Adventure, America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport

My Sporting Weekend International Yoga Day

There’s no point trying to duck out and watch the yoga from the thicket outside… Derek!!!

And, of course, the women in our company, and the men to be fair, in Tobago https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/. were never going to allow him to be a bystander.

Tomorrow is International Yoga Day snd I’ll be doing a downward dog in Scotland.

When I could, of course, have been aoammmming in India.

It’s the kind of surprise and challenge I miss from my time in the office.

Bend over and stretch: In Tobago

When Incredible India called and invited me to send a member of staff to India for a few days…. only they needed a name by the next day.

And confirmation that they had an appropriate visa.

It would have been easier had I gone myself but big softie that I am I sent the ditziest, most entitled member of staff because she said she was a yoga nut.

A nut all right… she only threatened to report the PR I was dealing with to their superior while having me to sort out her mess.

And then dissing me further down the road.

All of which reminisces brings me around to what is being done around the world to tempt us for the future.

Red Rock Revellers

Yoga at altitude, Denver, Colorado: And where better to stretch your limbs than in the stunning backdrop of Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

We settled for watching down on high the early-morning exercisers while we did move our limbs later when OneRepublic entertained us.

Visit https://www.redrocksonline.com/yotr/, www.visitdenver.org, Go West and The New Frontiersmen.

Beach yoga, Huntington Beach, California: Zen out on the beach where Snoop Dogg plays sets.

And dogs go surfing.

Well it is the Californian life. See www.visitcalifornia.com, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/03/holiday-snaps-surf-dog-huntington-beach/.

Laid-back California

LA Rooftop Yoga, West Hollyeood, California: Try rooftop yoga in laid-back WH where one Sunday per month you can join in a class at the Andaz West Hollywood.

They’ll even throw in a complimentary Zico (I thought he was a footballer) coconut water drink.

While you’ll also get 20% off bottomless brunches at the Riot House restaurant on the first floor. See www.visitwesthollywood.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/.

It’s a stretch: Tobago

Tobago: And we’re back to the eccentric Derek who as well as trying to spy on us doing yoga also wore a suit on the hottest day of the year to one of Tobago’s most secluded beaches.

They also love to roll out the coconut water in the Caribbean. Stretch out and get yourself over next year. https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Quinto da Lago, Portugal: Have you ever noticed that yoga teachers are sweet assassins.

Ours in The Campus, Quinta do Lago on the Algarve couldn’t have been smilier as she got us to use muscles that hadn’t been exercised in tears.

See https://www.quintadolago.com/en/sports-wellness/the-campus/ and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/sportugal-2/amp/.

And I’ll be back tomorrow with some more yoga, this time from its spiritual home, Asia.

That’s unless I get a last-minute invitation to get out there myself. And guess what, I’m keeping it for myself this time.

Altogether now… aoam.

MEET YOU ON THE MAT