America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Touchdown LA

The eyes of the world will be on the Super Bowl tomorrow so let’s play a little game of stadium spotting… and Touchdown LA.

The magnificent SoFi Stadium is led-lighted up like a Christmas Tree so the world can see it from the air.

And while we, of course, always look out of our windows for iconic landmarks, us sporty types also target sports stadiums.

LA is my Playday

What an Angel: Jimmy in LA

Los Angeles: Now the first thing that we look out for when we fly into the City of Angels is the Hollywood sign.

Alas it is not so easily spotted up there in the hills meaning SoFi monopolises your view.

Cartoon fun: Simpsons

You can, of course, rectify that with a 8.8km walking trip up to the Griffith Observatory.

As long as you didn’t sit yourself down next to a passenger who was sick into her bag, gave it to you and passed on a 24-hour bug.

London calling

Wembley way: And Scotland are winning?

London: With 22 football grounds in the English capital you’d think you’d have a choice of viewing from the air.

You can see a good bunch of them, Wembley, the Emirates, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Stamford Bridge and the Thameside Craven Cottage.

More surprising is the ground outside of the capital in Watford.

And its red and yellow seats… very Harry Potter which is pertinent seeing you can visit Harry’s world there.

As the Hertfordshire town houses the Warner Bros. Studio London.

The other is in LA… and yes, I missed that too because of that passenger’s virus although I will be back, and obvs with Attraction Tickets Direct.

In Dublin’s air city

Green for go: At the Aviva

Dublin: And, of course, Irish sports fans will be converged in Paris today for le rugby et Les Bleus v Les Vertes.

For those of us who visit the Irish capital, or were lucky enough to live there for 13 years you’ll see their marvellous Aviva Stadium.

Which I will again tomorrow… and my heart is leaping.

The Cruyff turn Amsterdam

Bird’s eye view: How Cruyff changed football

Amsterdam: And this is really what they should call the pilot’s move as he flies into Schiphol Airport in Clog City.

The Ajax stadium is named after the Netherlands greatest-ever player after which this move was named.

The late Cruyff was iconic in his white and single red stripe Ajax top and Oranje national shirts.

And if you can board a bouncing train with the Oranje Army down to Rotterdam where Cruyff played latterly then all the better.

The Camp Flew

Bear hug: With Messi the bear

Barcelona: Cruyff is as big a hero in Barcelona as Amsterdam.

After reviving them as a player with his total football.

And as the architect of Barca’s Tiki-Taka football, taken to new heights in the Catalans Messi-inspired teams of the Noughties and Tweens.

I first saw Barcelona from the cabin of a cruise ship (as you do).

So I saw the city from the air in a helicopter.

I expressed my wonderment to the pilot about the stadium below.

Only for him to tell me that that was the Reserve Team’s ground and that the Camp Nou was coming up.

So if you’re flying into the City of Angels for the Super Bowl.

Or plan to visit in the future look out for the SoFi stadium… because it’s Touchdown LA.

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Skiing, Sport

A broom to sweep the Alpine bar

You trudge the peaks to the top of Europe only to be handed a broom to sweep the Alpine bar.

This broom though is a curling accessory, you have a stone in hand and a circle on the ice rink to target.

It’s not what you’d expect when you are escorted through the curtain of the Ice Bar.

At the top of the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland.

But you’ve got a Swiss dram (yes, really) at the bar.

To warm and energise you for your initiation in the ancient Scottish game.

Ice bowls

Sweep crack away: The Curling

Aye, ice bowls, as it is sometimes dismissively referred, was invented (as everything is) in Scotland.

When an ice skating religious minister glided across Duddingston Loch…

Well, that can’t be proved definitively.

Scottish style: The Skating Minister

But do check out the Henry Raeburn painting at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.

Curling has us in our grip every four years when Scots Olympians take over Britain and our curlers swap their Saltires for Union Jacks.

Alas, just like golf which we also gave to the world, the world learned to do it better.

As evidenced in Beijing just now.

A Scottish gift to America

Stone me: And a bullseye

And we’ve struggled recently to replicate the success of Golden Girl Rhona Martin from the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.

Unsurprisingly as the Scottish footprint is all over the States the Americans are among the world’s leading curling nations.

And news comes to us from winter sports centre Lake Tahoe of how much more they put into the game and all winter sports.

With 17 of the US team calling the base in the Nevada/California border calling Lake Tahoe its home.

Learn to curl

Dark Destroyer: Curltime Jimmy in Switzerland

Helpfully the good folk of Lake Tahoe are offering help to curl and saying you’ll be able to show off on the next Zoom meet.

The rest (to get out there) you’ll have to ask your friendly neighbouring travel agents about.

Drams are made of this: Whisky in the Alps

Now, if you’re lucky enough to live in Scotland then you will be able to take your first baby steps in winter sports.

I’ve done it myself and yes with my old friends in Ireland Topflight for Schools, it has led me to the Winter Olympics.

Bavarian Games

Get your skis on: Channeling the 1936 Games

Albeit Hitler’s 1936 Games at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria.

Where pictures of the winners adorn the walls of the showpiece restaurant in the town.

A page in history: German Olympic winner

And the centrepiece is the ski jump.

Maybe better sticking on firm ground (or ice).

Hand me a broom to sweep the Alpine bar.

 

 

Adventure, Countries, Ireland, UK

The Guernsey Coup

It may not have had the dynamism of the French Resistance but the WWII Guernsey Coup was built on a Potato Peel Society.

It’s the Channel Islands so don’t expect TV’s Secret Army or its parody ‘Allo ‘Allo here, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.

The Guernsey Coup you ask?

The Guernsey Coo

Coo’s the biggest? The Guernsey and the Jersey

And this is not be confused with the Guernsey Coo (or cow), a larger version of neighbouring Jersey’s.

The Guernsey Coup was the secret Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, the cover story to break the occupying Nazi curfew.

You might have seen the 2008 film probably drawn in by the title.

Only bettered on that score by Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.

The Guernsey Occupation

The Germans are coming: Guernsey

You can fill in the rest of the German Occupation Story at the island’s museum.

And you can of course enjoy it all, all of you Irish that is (the Brits and French have it already), now a route has opened up from Dublin.

The Guernsey Route

Fly high: The Aurigny flight

Guernsey airline Aurigny will fly you on their direct twice weekly direct service on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. 

The airline will begin flying on 29 March and with a journey time of just over 1 hour 35 minutes. 

The Guernsey Trek

Get the boots on: Guernsey

Guernsey is a walker’s delight and at only 65sqkm you can cover the lot.

Not even the parameters of an island will guarantee that this off-piste trekker wouldn’t get lost.

As I found out on my Camino to Santiago in Spain and Francigena to Rome.

So I’m happy to report that VisitGuernsey have launched a walking app to help you.

With themed, self-guided walking routes and interactive maps.

The Guernsey App

Hark Sark: And no cars

Available for download on Android and IOS devices, it has ten routes initially with more to follow.

Guernsey, though being small, boasts a contrast of topography, from rugged south coast cliff paths to long sweeping bays in the west.

And you’ll be able to explore the neighbouring car-free islands of Herm and Sark and saunter on horse and cart.

So take a walk or horse and cart back into history and bring your peeler… 

And well done again to Aurigny… the Irish will love it. It truly is A Guernsey Coup.

 

 

 
 
Adventure, Deals, Europe, Skiing

Enfin la fin de ban

Enfin la fin de ban but there’s nothing fun or sing-song about the announcement of the reopening of French borders (when/if it comes) I should have been skiing en France but won’t be.

Thankfully due to travel providers par excellence Ski France it’s been rescheduled for March and I may still get on the white powder (steady) then.

Never one to look un cheval cadeau in the mouth but is there not a whiff of opportunism about the timing with the February mid-term holiday market there to be milked.

Follow our lead

Sign of the times: En route to Val d’Isere

The current regulations are for those enter France from the UK required to show evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours before departure.

They must also self-isolate for 48 hours after they arrive and then take another test.

With the UK easing its own travel restrictions last week it doesn’t just mean easier access but also saves families money.

People who are fully vaccinated no longer need to take a coronavirus test before they arrive in the UK.

And they can take a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test rather than a PCR after they arrive.

The changes save a family of four around £300.

Off-piste? On an adventure

We will, of course, wait to see what the French have up leurs manches…

Saturday is the projected day for the doors to reopen.

But in the meantime we share the sentiments of Kuoni CEO Derek Jones who tweeted…

‘Holidays saved as France set to reopen borders for British visitors. Finally its time to dig out your ski gear ⛷.’

Crystal clear

Bobbling along: And I’ll stick to the blue runs

With all things skiing the tried and trusted Travel provider is the one we tend to go back to.

As it’s Val d’Isere that’s on my ticket I checked it out with Crystal Holidays

Now we all draw the conclusions we want so I skimmed over the boast of challenging slopes (they all are to me).

And I zeroed in on their claim of the best apres (I’m better at that).

For the uninitiated, Val d’Isere is a 300km area, shared with neighbouring Tignes.

It is well served for long blues (mais oui) and reds.

And not-so-confident skiers can stick to the greens (phew).

Or head over to Tignes to find some easier blues to practise on.

Apres ever after

Apres days: I can rock them with the rest

I need few lessons in the post-ski party, having learned my trade at the Whisky Muhle in Soll with Topflight.

And I’m glad to see that in Val d’Isere it’s recommended to hit up La Folie Douce in your ski boots to apres-midi live entertainment.

So we’re advised to follow the après vibes to Cocorico at the bottom of the lifts.

And end the night with DJs and dancing in Dick’s Tea Bar.

Deal us in

Have skis will travel: I’ll be back

Crystal have seven nights from Saturday 29 January self-catering at the Residence La Daille, departing from London Stansted and going to Chambéry.

It comes in at £494pp which comes in at £988 which is a discount of £302pp.

You’ll be two minutes’ walk to the lift, have a mini-market and bakery nearby.

And you can treat yourself to some spa time at the neighbouring Hotel Samovar.

Now I’m all about the indulgence and when I do get out there in March, it’ll be the high-end chalet life for me.

So bravo as we say enfin la fin de ban.

But as I’ve been here before from Africa, to Europe, to America all in the last 18 months.

I’m fervently praying to Le Dieu.

Adventure, Asia, Countries, Cruising, Europe

To have and to have yacht

To have and have yacht… that is a question because the most expensive don’t look like yachts at all I know them, you know the ones with floaty sails.

So I’m admitting that that’s the first thing which came into mind when I was sent a list of the world’s most expensive yachts.

Now if only it came earlier… I’ve already bought the Scary One’s Christmas present.

And so I have been doing my homework has left me little clearer other than to discover that they are originally Dutch and need to be fun and racy.

I also discovered King Charles II returned back to England on a jaght.

And that he loved to compete with his brother James along the Thames.

The haves and the have yachts

It seems then that yachts are fast fun boats for filthy rich people.

And that’s just what PayDayLoansNet have given us.

Supreme yacht

Plain sailing: History Supreme

The most expensive yacht in the world is History Supreme costing $4.8 billion.

And it belongs to Malaysian Robert Kuok, who we guess must live on it as he is domiciled in Deep Water Bay in Hong Kong.

At 100ft long, and weighing in at 220,462 pounds the yacht is covered in 100,000kg of gold, platinum and jewels.

It took over three years to produce, the yacht includes:

A deck, dining area, rails, anchor, all crafted from precious metals.

The vessel’s base is wrapped in a thin layer of gold.

With the master bedroom featuring a statue made from genuine Tyrannosaurus Rex bones.

Almost as old as Bob, who has young bones and is still going strong at 98.

Well, you would with all that luxury around you.

Roman’s empire  

Roman luxury: Mr Abramovich’s pad

Chelsea FC owner doesn’t normally settle for second as his multitude of managers will testify.

But History Supreme eclipses Roman’s Eclipse.

It costs an eye-watering $1.5 billion.

The luxe yacht is spread across nine decks, featuring two helipads, two swimming pools, 24 guest bedrooms, a disco hall and a mini-submarine.

The facilities aboard Eclipse include a gym, dance floor, underwater lights, beach club, wifi connection, beauty salon, tender garage and deck jacuzzi etc.

Monaco mariners

See you on the yacht: Roman

Now if you want to be part of the Monaco fast set you want to take to the waters which I did on our speedboat on the Cote d’Azure.

And we passed by the mansions of the Great and the Good and their harbours.

Roman, who it’s fair to say likes a yacht, is said to be the billionaire backer of this super yacht.

The Streets of Monaco is said to have cost $1.1 billion.

And it is designed to encapsulate the beautiful streets of the French Riviera onboard.

The 508-foot-long superyacht includes an onboard casino, racetrack, three swimming pools and a mini-submarine helipad.

There are seven guest suites, a mini waterfall and a restaurant with an underwater view.

All of which have stylised interiors that mimic the city’s iconic surroundings.

Azzam bam

That’s Azzam craft: The yacht

The ‘Azzam’ is a deluxe yacht that flaunts incredible complexity in its detail and design costing $600 million.

The superyacht can accommodate up to 36 guests with a crew of 60 people is required onboard to maintain the yacht.

At 180 metres in length, it is the longest private motor yacht in the world.

So in a world where the divisions are growing wider it is worth reflecting.

On how the rich live and where you’re only worry is… to have and to have yacht.

Adventure, Countries, Europe

Climb every Pyrenees mountain

Whether it was James Coburn, improbably playing an Aussie POW, Sedgwick, in The Great Escape, the Catalans fleeing Franco, or the Jewish WWII refugees from France, on this International Mountains Day we toast those who would climb every Pyrenees mountain.

Sedgwick’s cycle was, in truth, a little more leisurely than that of those who scale the Col du Tourmalet these days.

The Col du Tourmalet is the highest road pass in the Hautes-Pyrénées standing 2,115m high.

Phew: Only I borrowed the bike

And coach drivers for Travel groups know their biggest challenge is trying to avoid those coming back down around the windy roads.

Some have been known to blag it and ask riders for their bikes for obligatory pics at the peak!

These days, there is little to no jeopardy in climbing the Pyrenees and particularly when you have a favourite holiday provider to help you.

Step up our pals at Travel Department.

Step across the border

Dancing on Le Pic Du Midi

You’ll see the Spanish and French sides of The Pyrenees on this seven-night guided train holiday.

Each of the journeys we’re told will offer a different experience of The Pyrenees.

Yellow hello

Best bar none: In the Pyrenees

And you’ll stand out all right in the bright Little Yellow Train.

Travel from the historical town of Villefranche to Mont Louis.

On the Núria Valley Rack Railway, you will climb 1000m and be rewarded with stunning views of the mountains.

Take it as red

Taking Le Break: In the peaks

On the Red Train of the Pyrenees, you’ll pass through vineyards and castles on a 100-year-old railway line.

And you’ll enjoy a day trip to Figueres, the birthplace of the surrealist artist Salvador Dali and home to the Dali Museum.

Now if you’ve got the type of imagination that Dali had.

Then perhaps you can picture your diarist from his youthful days, sans beard and looking a little like the famous Spaniard.

A little tweak: And an inspiration

Which, of course, didn’t go unnoticed by pals at the time.

In addition to sightseeing through this historic region, this holiday also includes plenty of leisure time.

So you’ll be able to relax in the stunning seaside town of Roses on the Costa Brava.

Deal us in

Three of a kind: With travelling pal Brieda

Priced from €999pp the TD deal includes flights, transfers, seven-night accommodation on a B&B basis and expert guides.

Departures from 20th April  with a selection of dates up to 3rd October 2022.

Right, we’re off to climb every Pyrenees mountain.

 

 

America, Countries, Sport, UK

Women football ban

In a previous life I scribbled about saaacer but the women football ban never came up then.

Nor years earlier when I dated Bostonian Carol at university in Aberdeen who left the foot in with all the men she tackled.

On the football pitch you mucky devils!

While any adolescent Scot from the early 80s will identify with the rite of passage film Gregory’s Girl.

Although we in our all-boys school could only have dreamt of a keeper like Dorothy.

If we’d been allowed to play football competitively rather than on the playground. 

Michelle and Matthews magic

Prize girl: Michelle Akers

I confess too that I wasn’t as star-struck as I should have been when I met American soccer legend Michelle Akers, also in the Granite City.

Because England great Sir Stanley Matthews was there with her.

All of which reminiscences have been sparked by today’s woman’s FA Cup final.

When they will reflect on the first showpiece, between Southampton and Scots Stewarton Thistle, (more a back pitch) 50 years ago.

Male chauvinists

Team of all talents: The Dick, Kerr Ladies

Still it must have felt like Wembley where Arsenal and Chelsea will compete today for the players in 1971.

The women’s game in the UK quite amazingly and disgracefully had been in abeyance for the previous 50 years.

And not because it wasn’t popular, though that shouldn’t matter either.

Tens of thousands turning out to see the lassies play.

No, because the chauvinistic chiefs of the FA banned women’s football in 1921 stating that it was ‘quite unsuitable for females’.

Despite the legendary Dick, Kerr Ladies and St Helens Ladies playing before 52,000 the previous Boxing Day.

Female pioneers

Equal pay: How the times have changed

The FA were perhaps worried that their women would swap their pinnies for boots.

But the Dick, Kerr Ladies were not to be put off.

And they took on a US tour and played men’s teams over there.

Whether that inspired the grandmothers of Carol Terry or Michelle Akers.

They did start an American revolution in women’s saaacer.

And that has made them the force in the game though the English are now catching up.

Football family

Yanks very much: US superstar Megan Rapinoe

I’ll maybe give Carol some thought if I do return to Beantown next year after 34 years away.

When I hope to revisit Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, and the Celtics, their basketball team.

In the absence of a Boston team, I’ll adopt NWSL champions Washington Spirit from DC out of east coast solidarity.

Out of respect for Carol.

As no self-respecting Bostonian, or friend, would plump for a New York side (in this case Gotham).

So on My Sporting Weekend as I watch the Women’s FA Cup final I will reflect on the women football ban.

And did I say that I have the pinnie on today while The Worker, she’s out in the field?

 

 

Adventure, America, Countries

Say hi to Donald from me

Are you in America now it’s open again to UK and Irish visitors… if so, say hi to Donald from me if you’re in Orlando.

Orlando will be the first stop for visitors from these, and Irish shores, as our favourite US holiday destination.

We hooked up with our friends from Roller Coaster City.

And they took just enough time off the rides to update us on the thrilliest, spilliest place on Earth.

Stars in my eyes

Now in a Galaxy’s Edge far, far, away in Disney’s twin centre in Anaheim… well, two years ago I got a glimpse into the future in the first party to try out Star Wars world. 

And the future is here now in the present and ready for y’all to see it both in California and here in Orlando.

Of course Mickey, Donald and their pals have been celebrating since last month their 50th birthday (well, not theirs, they’re much older but Disney World’s).

On a theme

Rat-a-tat-tat: Food for thought

And the four theme parks and beyond have been in fine song.

Among the most anticipated attractions, and the ones we’ve zeroed in on are:

Disney Enchantment, a new all-new nighttime extravaganza at Magic Kingdom Park, featuring captivating Disney music, enhanced lighting, stunning fireworks and immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A.

And we’ve danced along to Mickey’s In Da House party on that very street and can advise that you lose all inhibitions (or was that just me, Mickey and Donald?)

Then there’s Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot, where guests shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure.

You like your French gastronomeee, oui? 

Then La Crêperie de Paris is a new restaurant located in the France pavilion at Epcot which offers both table and quick-service options and features a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse.

The Showbiz Lion and I

Scots wahey: With Bev in Orlando

Now as a veteran of the Orlando theme parks I know how nothing sits still (well, it wouldn’t with you twirled this way and that).

Personally, I prefer a wet one, as my old sparring partner, Lady Lyons, Bev, of Showbiz Lion fame, would say.

And so we both loved Aquatica Orlando. AO can now boast Florida’s first-ever duelling waterslide, Riptide Race, which opened in the spring.

You’ll start atop a 68-foot tower and race side-by-side at top speeds, navigating tight loops and accelerations through indoor and outdoor sections.

While Florida also loves its natural as well as animated animals. And it has those in abundance, particularly flamingos.

In the Pink

Pickin’ ma pocket: Flamingo time

The Flamingo Mingle at Discovery Cove is a new, exclusive animal experience where guests can feed and learn about our pink friends in an outdoor setting. 

Another old pal I met back then in Anaheim is The Jurassic Park VelociCoaster which opened in June at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

The ride sends you catapulting up to 70mph and over 150ft in the air with the swiftest of prehistoric predators.

If you like your fun irreverent and green and ogre-like then you’ll love Shrek (guilty).

And his DreamWorks friends. So you’ll be excited about DreamWorks Destination, an all-new, interactive character experience, opened in the KidZone area of Universal Studios Florida.

Guests can interact, dance and be photographed with multiple beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation’s hit film franchises, including Trolls, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda – all in one location.

And seeing it’s all about you in ’22 then here’s what’s still to come. 

Wet, wet, wet

Twirl power: SeaWorld Orlando

Ice Breaker, SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster, will open in February and riders will shiver through family-friendly adventures featuring four launches, both backwards and forwards.

It all culminates in a reverse launch with a 93ft tall spike with 100-degree angle, the steepest vertical drop in Florida.

Aquatica Orlando’s newest water slide, Reef Plunge, will launch in spring with guests sliding through translucent cutouts and rings.

You’ll get to twist and turn though 330ft of fiberglass; and zoom past a vibrant array of marine life.

Commerson’s dolphins, leopard sharks, sardines, and a variety of other cold-water fish will be part of the new dynamic habitat.   

Peppa party

Hamming it up: Peppa and pals

Again, they like it pink in Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida Resort will open the world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park  on February 24.

The standalone theme park will feature multiple rides, interactive attractions, fun live shows, themed playscapes and water play areas.

Phew, and you’ll be looking for somewhere to stay, but not just somewhere but the best Star Warsy place of them all.

Starry hotel

In control: Star Wars time in Anaheim

Walt Disney World has unveiled plans for its immersive Star Wars-themed hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, opening March 1.

Guests will “board” the starship Halcyon for an all-inclusive experience that puts them into the immersive world of Star Wars.

The hotel will debut as part of the new Disney 360 vacation concept that gives each guest a storyline upon arrival. 

So, plenty of stories of your own to tell, like mines the week I met His Royal Quackness.

So, say hi to Donald from me if you’re in Orlando.

And remember all our favourite airlines, Virgin, British Airways and TUI . And, of course. Ireland’s national airline carrier, Aer Lingus.

And Attraction Tickets who will look after your every care when you book with them. 

 

 

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe

Thrillsrael

There’s little record what they did for kicks in the Old Testament but it’s always been right there for them in Thrillsrael.

Our time-out from travelling because of the pandemic has only increased our appetite for foreign shores.

And allowed us to expand our horizons or dip our toe in a different part of the sea.

Best foot forward: In outdoor activities

And so while most of us in Western Europe know the Med from its northern shores there is a beautiful south too.

With Israel leading the way in vaccinations and being at the head of the queue in opening up our attentions switched there.

And the news keeps getting better with Israel announcing today that from Monday it will be accepting individually vaccinated visitors.

Shalom Sharon

The Southern Med: From Israel

Sharon Bershadsky, Director of the UK & Ireland Tourist Office said “I’m very excited to be able to share the news.

‘the Ministry of Tourism along with our colleagues in the industry have been working tirelessly over this difficult period and we are thrilled to be able to welcome visitors back to Israel”.

Now Israel is obviously about the Holy Sights and there will be plenty of us giving thanks for emerging safely from this crisis.

But we’re due some rewards too.

And it’s worth remembering that for all its antiquities Israel is a relatively young country at a sprightly 73 years old.

And an outdoorsy people with plenty of opportunities to indulge in general sportiness.

Float On

Dead handsome: Jerry and Jimmy

The Dead Sea: Now they’ve kicked us off with the floatathon which is the Red Sea.

Which we enjoyed from the other side in Jordan with G Adventures when we got all muddied up.

And a shout-out here to St Lucia’s finest, Jerry, the Big Rapper who said he was plenty black enough.

Madder for Masada

If the rocks could talk: Massada

Masada: And yes, we promised you Biblical history and Masada is, of course, where 960 Sicari rebels committed mass suicide.

All rather than surrender, in the First Jewish-Roman War.

Abseil away

Give me enough rope: Abseiling

Rappelling in the Nachal Tamarim Canyon: And full disclosure here I had to check that abseiling and rappelling were the same.

Which they are.

Now having wimped out in the Rockies in Colorado I couldn’t back out of this canyon.

You’ll encounter amazing scenery and panoramic views of the Dead Sea and the Moav and Adom mountains.

Zig zag through waterfalls and trek past fig trees for a day’s hike with a difference.

For a new twist try the night hike, which is particularly atmospheric with a full-moon!

Mammy Dolphin

Smile: You’re on camera

Dolphin Reef: When it comes to swimming with dolphins you’re probably thinking more SeaWorld in Orlando but did you know you can find the finned ones swimming away in the Red Sea.

I didn’t get far enough down in my snorkel in the Red Sea (my guide told me my moustache got in the way) to see them.

But you can. Get down to Eilat and get up close and personal with these remarkable creatures.

Up, up and away

Watch out for the hang gliders: When you’re ballooning

Ballooning in Israel: Now just like the kiddies’ balloon that gets let loose… hot air ballooning has always floated out of reach.

In England, in Orlando, in South Africa.

Of course all of the above look beautiful from the air. And it is worth reflecting that our forebears weren’t able to see their world from the skies (unless they were birds). 

If you like exploring places you haven’t been before, try 500 metres up in the air! See Israel from a whole new vantage point from 500m up in the air.

With breath-taking views of the country’s rolling green hills and valleys, famous historical sights and the hustle and bustle of the cities.

For a truly unforgettable ride, book a sunrise tour to see the stunning landscape coated in the morning sun’s pink and orange hues.

Whichever activity you choose make sure it’s in the Promised Land.

And particularly now with the new more tourist-friendly regulations. Enjoy your Thrillsrael.

 

Adventure, Countries, Europe, Sport

Tirol-blazing

Ja, it’s the Austrian region that lends itself to trend-setting, or Tirol-blazing if you please.

Little did I know when I waved Auf Wiederseshen to Tirol a couple of years ago that they (and the rest of the world) would be thrown off course.

And that a full, proper ski season would have to wait until 2021. But there it is.

Now we all know that the Austrians love a rule or two and so without further ado over to them to set out the regulations.

Der rules

Like an Alpine skier: In the Austrian Tyrol

*No general restrictions on opening times for bars and restaurants, no general restrictions on ski lift capacity, no general social distancing.

*Ski resorts must apply the 3G Rule (ie all visitors must prove they have been tested, vaccinated or have had and are recovered from Coronavirus.

•Apres-ski locations will be subject to the same rules as nightclubs. From Level 2 these venues will impose the 2G Rule (access only for people who are vaccinated or have had and are recovered from Coronavirus).

*Christmas markets where food and drink are served will be subject to the 3G Rule (does not apply to Christmas markets without food and drink).

*Further measures above and beyond Level 3 will be targeted mainly at unvaccinated people.

*Everyone who gets vaccinated now can be sure of having access to all areas this winter (ski lifts, restaurants, concerts, cinemas, etc).

Now without any more shilly-shallying, some hotels and chalets.

Alpine hand

Exclusive Chalets at St. Anton am Arlberg. © Arlberg Photography, Privat Chalet St. Anton

Golden Marmot and Silver Fox: Exclusive chalets at St. Anton am Arlberg
Two new, exclusive luxury chalets are opening in St. Anton am Arlberg.

The Chalet Golden Marmot – with three apartments for eight to ten guests each and a small spa area – is located just a few metres from the bottom station of the Nasserein cable car and the entrance to the Arlberg ski area.

The sister chalet, Silver Fox, will also open its doors in December:

The three apartments – each with a spacious living and dining area – are perfect for a cosy get-together around the fireplace with your family or group of friends.

You can also relax in the sauna of the in-house spa area.
www.chalet-stanton.com

Solden this too

The Skybar THE VUE in the new Hotel “The Secret Sölden”. © Zuchna Visualisierung

It’s time to reveal some secrets: The Secret Sölden
An opulent golden entrance, copper-coloured metal panels: “The Secret Sölden” attracts all eyes even from the outside.

From December 2021, the exclusive apartment resort with 44 residential units will reveal its secrets.

The Secret Sölden is not a classic hotel but instead it aims to impress with an innovative overall concept.

And an open-house approach. LA‘ LIV – the living room of the house – will be the heart and central meeting point.

Breakfast buffet in LA‘ LIV or undisturbed breakfast in your apartment? You choose!

Guests can also help themselves to a fine selection of snacks as well as drinks throughout the day.

In the evening, LA‘ LIV transforms into a chic restaurant.

But that’s not all.

The absolute highlight during your stay at The Secret Sölden will be the spectacular sky bar THE VUE with a glass ceiling.
www.the-secret-soelden.com

Zillertal have that

Hotel Berghof in Mayrhofen © Ing. Thomas Buchberger

Beautiful new spa area at Hotel Berghof in Mayrhofen
This season, winter sports enthusiasts can also look forward to two further, freshly renovated hotels in the Zillertal valley.

The first one is Hotel Berghof in Mayrhofen:

Since the summer, the new garden SPA has a rooftop sunbathing lawn (adults only and suck it up kids).

And a spacious wellness landscape with an indoor and outdoor pool, children’s pool and family saunas await guests. www.berghof.cc

Kristall clear

Hotel Kristall in Leutasch. © Barbist Architecture

The classic one with a new look: Hotel Kristall in Leutasch
Hotel Kristall is a traditional establishment which has been in this beautiful spot in Leutasch on the Seefeld Plateau since 1973.

And it has been run by the Pfeffel family since 2004.

In 2021, the hotel is being fully renovated with these new features.

The hotel lobby and bar are being redesigned and expanded, the restaurant will shine anew.

And an additional floor with rooms and suites is being created.

“But our highlight is the new Sky-SPA with a heated outdoor pool, panorama sauna, indoor and outdoor lounging areas and panoramic view of the Wetterstein mountains and Hohe Munde,” says hotelier Bernhard Pfeffel.
www.hotel-kristall.at