Countries, Europe, Flying, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – Pigeons and high-fliers

Not everything is grounded just now and the clearer skies have been a Godsend to pigeons and their fanciers.

Pigeon fancying sounds like it should be the preserve of old men in anoraks.

But try saying that to sporting hard men Mike Tyson and Duncan Ferguson.

Which one is yours?

Iron Mike, the self-styled ‘baddest man on the planet’ is even said to have thrown his first punch at 10 after a thug ripped the head off his pigeon.

Struggling for sports to report on during lockdown…

Britain’s award-winning radio station talkSPORT https://talksport.com has been turning its attention to the Sport of Wings.

And educating us in the ways of birds – it transpires that pigeon-fancying originated in the Lowlands of Belgium.

So that’s where they go

They came in useful during the First World War www.visitflanders.com and In Flanders fields to carry messages.

But had in truth been a sporting pursuit since the mid-19th century and was taken up and developed after the war.

And why do we think that these are perfect circumstances for new pigeon racing records.

Well, it’s said that pigeons find their way back the 100-1,000kms distances through sound.

Spread your wings

And there are fewer distractions in the skies right now.

For more on pigeon fancying (and they are the perfect social distancers) then visit https://www.rpra.org/about-rpra/getting-started/.

Now Venice’s St Mark’s Square, Dam Square, Amsterdam, New York’s Washington Square and London’s Trafalgar Square may be renowned for their pigeons.

And here are some thoughts that will make you coo with delight.

Fuel for the journey

In https://www.visit-venice-italy.com, www.nycvb.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/old-new-york-hamilton/amp/, www.iamsterdam.com, Pictures of Amsterdam and https://www.visitlondon.com and The London life.

But if you want to hear some other birdies twittering then try www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Give us this Day – charity begins abroad

The collection plate has for a long time been coming around twice.

While there’s always someone at the church door with another charity box.

You might recognise them from coming around your house.

We have, of course, been given a reprieve during lockdown.

Give a little bit

Doctor’s orders… my Dear Old Dad

Of course charities are having it tough right now with many of us left cash-strapped by the Covid crisis.

But while there’s less to go around just now we’ve been here before and found an enduring solution.

Tithes, integral in Islam, used to be a central plank in Christianity.

But they’ve not gone way.

Going through my Dad’s personal effects I came across documentation from his contributions to the Church.

A percentage of his income.

Middle Eastern culture

A design for life: In Jordan

One of the joys of visiting the Middle East is immersing yourself in Islamic culture.

And it is heartening to find holiday providers who feel the same.

Such as G Adventures https://www.gadventures.co.uk and http://gadventures.iewho through their Planeterra Foundation https://planeterra.org help build community projects in their destinations.

Which I found when I visited Jordan www.visitjordan.com.

We can often be suspicious when we hear of the biggest companies allying with charities.

And Celebrity Cruises https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/?ecid=ps_accord_google_brnd_bndpurebrand%5Bexact%5D_gbr&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu5TajbvM6QIVYIBQBh1PvARHEAAYASAAEgKjY_D_BwE and Malala Yousafzai didn’t initially seem to be ideal bedfellows.

A very young Godmother

But the Nobel Prize winner has lent great credibility and authenticity as Celebrity’s Godmother I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here to their involvement in the destinations they visit.

Now I’m as guilty as the next man of glossing over Liam Neeson et al’s message to give on airlines… and then failing to fill those little envelopes.

But once I get back on a plane (and I mean that to be soon) I will ensure I empty my pockets into the envelope.

There are some out there who need no pricking of their conscience.

The Scots who give 

And a square meal for all around the world

Such as Scots Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane who were so moved by an article in The Glasgow Herald on the Marian apparitions in a small Bosnian town that they went out there.

And then began a charity drive through the Balkans Wars which grew into the phenomenon that is Mary’s Meals https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/who-we-are/our-history/marys-meals-a-fruit-of-medjugorje/

Which helps give a square meal to those in less developed countries to provide a springboard and which you can see out in Medjugorje.

Where I visited with Marian Pilgrimages https://marian.ie and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

And Sarajevo’s rebuild

Christians and Muslims: In Sarajevo

You can also take a day out to Sarajevo where Muslim and Christian have come together over time.

But where still the human instinct to give through charity has helped rebuild the central city of Sarajevo  Sarajevo revisited: Arnie’s story.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – Bridge to Greece

There’s a reason why idyll, a Greek word, is our go-to expression for something to which we aspire.

Because Greece has long been our idyll… from Homer to Lord Byron to Shirley Valentine to Mamma Mia!

And so we should be beyond excited at the proposal of an air bridge between the UK and Hellas.

And trust me, direct flights to Greece is how you want to go… My Greek odyssey and https://athensattica.com.

Nice and Easy does it

Bonjour Nice

It’s the airports we whizz through and never get to see the destination that most intrigue.

Nice is a hub en route to the French Riviera The Boat D’Azur and an onward cruise https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/01/21/smooth-sailing-around-the-western-med/amp/.

But Nice should also be explored in its own right.

And I was all set to do just that before a press mission to see how Nice had recovered from the Bastille Day bombing was cancelled.

Nice is the only route out of the UK, from Gatwick.

Now I know they have a Promenade des Anglais but I’m sure they won’t mind an Ecossais.

See https://en.nicetourisme.com and https://about-france.com/cities/nice-city-guide.htm.

For a full list of the routes and Belfast is on it (yeah!) see https://www.easyjet.com/en and a reminder of all that Belfast has to offer Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

How to fly again

Safe distancing

So what will our flying experience look like?

Our friends at Ryanair have laid out a plan.

And actually some of it will make the experience more pleasurable.

Because wearing masks will mean you won’t have to make small talk with strangers.

And that’ll be doubled down with social distancing.

You’ll be asked to take your temperature before you leave the house and may be required to have it taken again at the airport.

Smile behind the mask

Which is fine by me as my temperature just about returns to normal when I’m at the gate after all my zooming about.

For more information visit www.ryanair.com and remember from July 1 they will be flying 1,000 flights a day.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying

Rainy Days and Songdays – Dancing Ian in Istanbul

A boat, a boogie, the Bosphorus and Bloomfield all came together a year ago.

I was reminded of that outing on the Bosphorus with Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com, www.visitistanbul.com and a group of Irish Travel’s finest.

Our host ramped up ABBA on the sound system and the strains of Dancing Queen carried all the way from Europe to Asia.

It makes you wonder how often Dancing Queen gets played around the world in the way a Beatles song is (every 30 seconds).

But I’d say it’s a lot… and even more in Eurovision Weekend https://eurovision.tv.

The Biz

All of which brings me to my good friends at Travel Biz www.travelbiz.ie.

The Biz kicked it all off with a Zoom Trade danceathon on Friday.

Before they handed it all over to Graham Norton.

And, of course, Graham did his usual sterling job as the BBC presenter with the link to the Netherlands https://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm www.iamsterdam.com.

It’s a country I love Pictures of Amsterdam and where the Contest would have been held.

The only thing missing on a digital night of celebration of all things Eurovision was the scoring.

And to cap it all off Bjorn shared the love in a live link.

If only he had seen Ian Bloomfield of Irish Travel Trade News www.ittn.ie strut his stuff!

And, of course, your favourite Bandanaman doing his Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy (A Man After Mudnight).

Abba Days are here again

And for the ultimate Abba experience see https://abbasite.com and https://abbathemuseum.com/en/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-Nrf1vi66QIV24BQBh1-XAfIEAAYASAAEgJEBfD_BwE. With Scandinavian Airlines https://www.flysas.com/en/.

Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – booze brothers

The news that they will pour away 70m pints of spoiled beer down the drain would merely have been an invitation to The Sesh.

Our drinking fraternity at Aberdeen University have scattered to the four corners of the world – funny when many couldn’t be raised from their scratchers.

My Best Man Andy is in Singapore https://www.visitsingapore.com/en/, Jevan is back home in the West Indies https://www.visittrinidad.co.tt, https://www.visittobago.gov.tt. My kiss with Rihanna, Let’s rumba in Barbados and Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago/.

While some of my English pals, Wee Jon and Micky, and Gaelic emigrees Alan and Anna went to the bright lights of London https://www.visitlondon.com and The London life.

marischalcollege3

And those flatmates that were foisted on us such as Grumpy Vangelis (no, seriously) My Greek odyssey and the cheery Ibohal Singh (song) https://www.incredibleindia.org/content/incredible-india-v2/en.html are doubtless back where they belong.

It’ll be 40 years in a couple of years since we first bowled up in Aberdeen so I feel a reunion in the making.

And we’ll need more than 70m beers for that… https://www.visitabdn.com and Aberdeen – a light in the north.

Sláinte

pexels-photo-936571-1-150x150

Aberdeen University’s other great gift to the world, after me, is of course Blair Bowman.

Blair Whoman? Yes, Blair Bowman, who only gave us World Whisky Day.

Surprisingly this celebration of uisce beatha has only been running since 2012.

The organisers say that 250,000 people participated in registered events in 2014.

I don’t know the figures for the last few years – I guess they’d overdone the golden liquid!

IMG_2133

To the pantheon of greats who graduated from Aberdeen Uni, Alex Kapranos, Alistair Darling and Nicky Campbell add Jevan Jutagir.

A proud half-Scots, half-West Indian who is one-third of the Barbados Whisky Mafia.

And who if you’ve got an in will crack out the good stuff before Foreday Morning at Crop Over in Barbados https://www.visitbarbados.org, My kiss with Rihanna and Turtle recall.

Free Ireland

Kudos to Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar whose example some across on this side of the Irish Sea would do well to emulate.

You don’t have to be a doctor like Leo to have known that testing and tracing is key but it doesn’t do any harm.

Leo has been outlining how the nation will come out of lockdown.

Which means that the Office of Public Works has opened up certain outdoor sites within social distancing rules.

And that oft-forgotten section of our society, the Cocooners, are being prioritised;

10am to 1pm

Emo Court, Co. Laois

Grounds

Unknown-1

10am to 1pm

Fota Arboretum, Co. Cork

Pleasure Garden & Walled Garden

10am to 1pm

Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, Dublin

Rose Garden.

10am to 1pm

Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

Full Garden

images-1

10am to 1pm

Kilkenny Castle, Co. Kilkenny

Rose Garden

10am to 1pm

Nenagh Castle, Co. Tipperary

Grounds

10am to 1pm

Portumna Castle, Co. Galway

Walled Garden.

Unknown

10am to 1pm

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Visitor Centre Walled Garden

10am to 1pm

Roscrea Heritage, Co. Tipperary

Grounds & Walled garden

And Ryanair are flying high

Few things say summer quite like a fleet of blue and yellow Ryanair planes taking to the skies.

Which is why the news coming out from Michael O’Leary Towers that July 1 is the start-up date for us to get flying again.

With 1,000 flights across Europe from €23.99. And new health measures.

Faro, the gateway to the Algarve comes in at that starting price… https://www.visitalgarve.pt/en/Default.aspx and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/.

London https://www.visitlondon.com The London life and Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam comes in at the same price.

For the full range visit www.ryanair.com.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – Wunderbar Lufthansa

If you want a job done quickly (and well) then you’d best leave it to the Germans.

Twice in the last century they’ve rebuilt their shattered country from scratch and also reunified both halves.

And few places is that more evident than in Dresden Dresden’s renaissance which was firebombed to near extinction in 1945 before the Soviets moved in with their very distinctive rebuild…

A mural of Communist history and a planned statue of a tractor and the latter which luckily was put off and put off by the Saxons was never completed.

Dresden, just the way it was

The Saxons, of course, put their whole Renaissance city back together again the way it was in just 20 years.

So you get the picture, the Germans don’t hang around when it comes to a rebuild which is why their national airline carrier Lufthansa https://www.lufthansa.com/gb/en/homepage have been first back onto the runway with their planes.

And no jokes about towels by the pool although the Germans will laugh about that stereotype because contrary to popular misconception they are one of the most self-deprecating of nations.

Which is probably why I love them and their country so.

Anyhoos, this is what we’ve all been dying to hear…

Let’s get flying again

Book today, and from June 1, you could be hopping on a Lufthansa, Eurowings or SWISS flight.

Resumed/Resumed/
Continued
Manchester (6) Dublin (5)
London-Heathrow (14)
to Frankfurt (Lufthansa)
Resumed/
Additional 
Dublin (2)
London-Heathrow (11)
to Zurich/Geneva (SWISS)
Resumed/Resumed/
Continued/Continued
Birmingham (3) Dublin (2)Manchester (3)
London – Heathrow (7)
to Dusseldorf (Eurowings)
ResumedEdinburgh (2)to Cologne (Eurowings)
ResumedLondon-Heathrow (4)to Hamburg (Eurowings)
ResumedLondon-Heathrow (4)to Stuttgart (Eurowings)

These connections are available to book via lufthansa.comeurowings.com and swiss.com and those lovely Swiss know how to spoil you too Swhisskey on the rocks.

With more than 106 destinations in Germany and Europe and over 20 intercontinental destinations, the range of flights on offer by the end of June will expand noticeably for all travellers.

By the end of June, the Lufthansa Group airlines plan to offer around 1,800 weekly roundtrips to more than 130 destinations worldwide.

Music to the ears

‘People want to and can travel again, whether on holiday or for business reasons.

‘That’s why we will continue to expand our offer step by step in the coming months and connect Europe with each other and Europe with the world,” says Harry Hohmeister, of the Executive Board of German Lufthansa AG.

Additional resumed Lufthansa flights in the first half of June in Germany and Europe from Frankfurt include: Hanover, Majorca, Sofia, Prague, Manchester, Billund, Nice, Budapest, Riga, Dublin, Krakow, Bucharest and Kiev. And from Munich: Münster/Osnabrück, Sylt, Rostock, Vienna, Zurich, Brussels and Palme de Mallorca. 

The flight schedule also includes 19 long-haul destinations, 14 more than in May.

In total, Lufthansa, SWISS and Eurowings will be offering more than 70 weekly frequencies overseas until mid-June, almost four times as many as in May. Further resumption of Lufthansa long-haul flights is planned for the second half of June.

Did you say long-haul?

Lufthansa’s long-haul resumption of flights from Frankfurt (subject to possible travel restrictions) include: Toronto, Mexico City, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, Bahrain, Johannesburg, Dubai and Mumbai. The destinations Newark/New York, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Bangkok will continue to be offered. 

Lufthansa’s long-haul return flights from Munich (subject to possible travel restrictions) include: Chicago, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.

And the Austrians and Swiss too

Austrian Airlines has decided to extend the suspension of regular flight operations for a further week, from 31 May – 7 June 2020. A resumption of service in June is also being considered.

SWISS is planning to resume services to various Med destinations and other major European centres such as Paris, Brussels and Moscow will also be added to the programme.

In its long-haul operations, SWISS will again offer its passengers new intercontinental direct services in June in addition to its three weekly services to New York / Newark (USA).

The Swiss carrier also plans to offer flights from Zurich to New York JFK, Chicago, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Johannesburg.

Eurowings previously announced that it would be expanding its basic programme at Düsseldorf, Cologne/Bonn, Hamburg and Stuttgart ports and gradually adding 15 further destinations within Europe from May onwards.

With Spain, Greece, Portugal and Croatia, the focus is on destinations in the Mediterranean region. For the first time, the island of Mallorca will again be offered from several German Eurowings gateways.

Brussels you say…

Brussels Airlines plans to resume its flight operations with a reduced network offer as from 15 June.

Passengers should consider the current entry and quarantine regulations of the respective destinations.

And we will be expected to heed stricter hygiene and security regulations and longer waiting times at airport security checkpoints.

The catering services on board will also remain restricted until further notice. 

In addition, passengers will continue to be asked to wear a nose-and-mouth cover on board during the entire journey following compulsory new procedures implemented on 29 April.

Masks can be funky too

One thing will remain unchanged though… you’ll need to get to the check-out gate on time.

Unless, of course, you have a friendly Fraulein at the desk who can get you on the next plane… Holidos and don’ts – know your airport and My Greek odyssey and http://www.athensattica.com.

By the end of June, they are planning to offer around 1800 weekly round trips to more than 130 destinations worldwide.

Which is more than half of the Group’s airline network as it was planned before this crisis.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Countries, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Portuguese men (and women) of awe

I’ll let you into a little secret… and I know all the right people! Portugal will be the country we’ll all be visiting first when we come out of lockdown.

No, it wasn’t Maria dos Anjos, the niece of the last Little Shepherd of Fatima, who told me though she probably knew this already, and that COVID-19 was coming.

I consider myself partially responsible for not sharing the impending pandemic.

No, not Maria dos Anjos

Because Maria was trying to tell me something of import back in 2018. It’s just that my Portuguese stretches to Obrigado and Obrigada.

Which, going off on a tangent, my Dear Old Dad loved to screech out long after we’d returned from the Algarve.

Susana mirabilis

We all have Susana Cardoso, the Director of Portuguese Tourism in Ireland http://www.visitportugal.com to thank for giving us a preview of what Portugal will look like in the coming months.

Venice of Portugal: Aveiro

And the good news is that we will all hopefully be able to see first hand with September slated as the month…

When Irish visitors will all be reacquainting themselves with an old and trusted friend.

Yes Portugal, and for me also the best guide a man or woman could have, and that man and woman is me and the Scary One.

Splendid self-isolation in a castle

The one and only Jose Madomis https://www.madomistours.pt, the Special One, who showed off his beloved Coimbra and Portugal Centro.

When September comes

The end of the year is a great time to go.

Autumn/Winter is still warm as I discovered on my most recent visits to Portugal Centro and The Campus https://www.thecampusqdl.com/en/about/ https://www.quintadolago.com/en/ at Quinta do Lago , Secret Portugal and SPORTUGAL.

My boat comes in… in Quinta do Lago

The Portuguese are showing the way as the gold standard on safety and accountability with their Clean and Safe stamps which almost 3000 tourism companies have signed up for.

Beach life

And for those of you who are sick and tired of being palmed off with promises that amount to very little.

Under the guise of ‘The New Normal’ or ‘O Novo Normal’ as they never say out there.

Let me now tell you that there will be sand.

All this space

Not for sunbathing yet, but then what a waste of time that is, but you will be able to book your own space on the beach and also go into the water…

And that means you mad surfers too with Portugal a Nirvana for those who walk on water.

All the old favourites

Social distancing is key to us all enjoying all the things we always love in Portugal.

Hotels, restaurants, cafes, golf, museums, castles and parks and it is a price well worth paying.

Of course, all of this is marivilohso, but are we going to be able to get out there.

Well, Susana informs us that Portugal is continually monitoring the situation with the airlines Aer Lingus, Ryanair and TAP Air Portugal…. http://www.aerlingus.com, http://www.ryanair.com and http://www.flytap.com.

Obrigada Susana

And, of course, I’ll keep you up to speed with what changes there but again September may be the month.

A new golf… in Quinta

So Obrigada Susana and Ola Portugal.

And see you later this year.

Countries, Deals, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – who’s going to fly our planes?

Well the quick answer is me…

That’s because of my sterling efforts at mastering the simulator at Turkish Airlines http://www.turkishairlines.com in Istanbul.

I went out for the opening of the biggest airport in the world, the Istanbul Airport, last year.

You get an immediate sense of Istanbul being at the crossroads of the East and the West when you travel through Istanbul Airport.

That’s before you even get out onto the Bosphorus.

Or visit the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar or the hamam where Florence Nightingale, Rudolf Nureyev and John Travolta all visited… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/ .

Hub of the world

And you see a troupe (I don’t know what the collective noun is) of Hasidic Jews travel through the terminals. Istanbul,

I discovered it is the biggest hub for Jews returning to Israel.

You could fly an airplane through our airports now (they’re so quiet).

Big enough to drive an F1 car in: The TA Business Lounge

Which I very nearly did after scraping the Statue of Liberty and coming down nose first at JFK in that simulator flight at Turkish Airlines HQ.

The crisis facing our airline industry has been somewhat subsumed.

By the bigger challenges of health and the economy facing the whole world right now.

Tourism driver

But the immediacy of the threat to the sector has to be addressed. Alas,

Travel has forever been treated as frippery and indulgent by politicians and Big Business compared with other industries.

And tuck into BA’s Business Class food

Only tourism is at the heart of every country’s economy, before we even get onto its importance to business.

And while it is obvious that virtual tourism cannot replicate the joy of seeing a county or its people first hand.

And our providers have done a stand-up job in recreating their destinations this way during this crisis.

The same applies to business.

What will social distancing look like?

Dealing with real 3D people first hand over a beer or bottle of wine while sampling local cuisine is the best way to forge relationships.

Faceless bureaucrats

Oh, yes, there’s the conference meetings too.

But don’t we all just look at our watches or the time on our phones when we’re stuck in one of them?

We must fight against the high heed yins, or suits, who will want to stick with Zoom and other digital platforms.

In an effort to cut costs rather than fly their executives out to each others’ countries.

I can just see those faceless, soulless, personality vacuums, the numbercrunchers pushing for a retention of this contactless-free zone we all live in now.

Filling the air: Ryanair

And where do we stand today… with a third of British Airways http://www.britishairways.com staff worried for their jobs, their operation at Gatwick at risk.

Our crew and pilot friends

Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com planning to cut 3,000 jobs and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth?

And Virgin Atlantic www.virginatlantic.com furloughing its staff and raising the alert as to its futurez

And airlines around the world facing similar heart-wrenching decisions.

Every one of those employees is valuable and their struggles are ours.

I have come to know some of them professionally and personally and my heart goes out to them all as they too foresee an uncertain future.

Pointing to the future: In an airport in February

We are continuously having it drilled into us that ‘we will all get through this together’.

But let’s just think about the sectors and real people who are falling through the cracks.

Save our sector

We must have a Travel industry and an air sector to return to for the good of us all.

It cannot all be left to the Trade and the Public.

It is time for those politicians in their private planes to remember the rest of us.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine

Flyday Friday – your lockdown Captain speaking

And when he can’t tell you you’re cruising at 15,000ft with the skies clear what does he do?

Our friends at Etihad https://www.etihad.com/en-gb/ have taken an alternate course for us while we are confined to barracks.

And the captain has got the cabin crew to do what they always do, excel at keeping the restless passengers occupied.

And so the purple-suited ones are encouraging us to learn a new language. Arabic anyone?

Etihad style: And plenty of room

It’s the first language in 25 countries around the world.

See https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KHl80riQ65s&feature=youtu.be

It’s just a taster but a great idea nonetheless and it might just give me precious time when I am put on the spot.

One of our own

Like when I was off to the Black Sea and the crew member started talking Bulgarian to me because they thought I was a local.

With time hanging heavy on us all Daddy’s Little Girl has been badgering me to teach her Italian.

It is la bella lingua and one that I have dipped in and out of but I have little excuse now to get the tapes oit again.

Andiamo.

And particularly if my Laurie helps me with my Italian cooking.

Rusotto… in all its forms

I had already been given a crash course in making pasta from scratch by Italian specialist Catherine Fulvio.

At her Ballyknocken Cookery School https://ballyknocken.ie in my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow https://visitwicklow.ie in Ireland.

In the company of Italian tour specialists Topflight www.topflight.ie.

The joy of ceps

Etihad also offer cooking tips with their in-flight chef rustling up a quick mushroom risotto… https://m.youtube.com/watch?segmentCode=&utm_campaign=version4_row_ramadan_230420_apr20&utm_source=guestsenen&utm_content=etihadguestoffer&bid=686619102&gsn=311934473&cid=ema%3Agst%3Aversion4_row_ramadan_230420_apr20%3Aguestsenen%3Aetihadguestoffer%3Aallsegments&v=-mcgkEULFx8&utm_medium=email

Fun guy him… and I do love an oul’ risotto Rome on €50.

I’ve seen first-hand on an inspection tour of their fleet at Dublin Airport just how they look after the little ones.

And you can download a number of family activities from their site.

Jet-propellled: In Jordan

Which is all good to know as we’ll want to occupy ourselves in our own seats as much as we can.

When we take to the skies again.

Are we there yet? Well, I’m in no hurry… I’m on an Etihad airplane.

Shukran Etihad.

Jaunty Jordan

And shukran too to my Jordanian host Zuhair, G Adventures www.gadventures.co.uk and Visit Jordan www.visitjordan.com who took me a whip-crackin’ away to Petra,.

And also the desert and the Dead and Red Sea last year The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Give a little bit

Keep flying high: Virgin Atlantic

Now there’s always a bit of resentment that creeps in when we see someone as visible as Richard Branson asking for a dig-out.

But before we jump on the bandwagon it’s worth remembering the work that he and other airlines have been doing for years for charity.

In the Third World.

We may all be strapped for cash just now but when, and if, we can we should remember that when we next board a flight.

To fill the envelope.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying, UK

Sweden, mooses and no lockdown

There’s a moose loose aboot this hoose – Lord Rockingham’s XI

Now what has ‘Hoots Mon’, a UK No.1 from 1958 to do with the price of Irn-Bru?

Only that the moose is considered a measure of distance in northern Sweden.

Which we’re all looking at enviously because there’s no lockdown there.

In the region of Norbotten locals are warned to stay ‘one moose length’ away from each other.

Check out the lights. Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

While in the rest of the country they’re still eating meatballs, smorgasbords and pickled herrings and highly-priced beer in bars and restaurants.

All the time following Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s guidance to keep social distance.

The Swedish hinterland

So what is it that Sweden is doing right?

Well, in a nutshell, they believe it is not sustainable to keep its people in open-ended lockdown.

A night out in Sweden

And that they are prepared to accept certain restrictions on movement and interaction over a prolonged period.

Rather than to take the pain today for jam tomorrow.

She and her fellow Swedish politicians recommended this on internal travel at Easter.

The government exhorted Swedes not to travel to their summer cottages or relatives but did not ban them from doing so.

Which was 90 per cent lower than in previous years.

The Abba Museum

All of which progress and good husbandry focuses our attentions rightly on Sweden…

And talking about husbandry I’m reminded of what a good husband I would have been to Agnetha Faltstog, my first love.

Alas her husband Bjorn Ulvaeus was on the scene… and I was only 11.

ABBA’s Greatest Hits was the first album I ever bought.

And it was my love of Abba that got me innocently into trouble in my Jesuit Catholic all-boys school when I brought copies in of The Sun newspaper.

The ABBA Story

All because they were serialising The ABBA Story… I even used my lunch money to pay for the newspapers.

Easy ahopping

However my teacher suspected that I was ogling the bare-breasted Page 3 girls instead. All of which landed me with a belting.

I will continue to make it one of my life’s missions to track down Agnetha in her retreat.

And the best starting point is to actually get out to Sweden.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines http://www.flysas.com is your best bet, and they fly out of Dublin, and in the UK from London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.

A tour around Scandinavia

Now I dipped my toe into Scandinavia when I cruised with MSC http://www.msccruises.co.uk and http://www.msccruises.ie around Denmark http://www.visitdenmark.com.

And Norway http://www.visitnorway.com, getting within touching distance of Agnethaland http://www.visitsweden.com and http://www.visitstockholm.com.

Finnish forest huts

While I’m continuously being tempted by my old Finnish http://www.visitfinland.com and adopted Glaswegian Paula from our Disneyworld http://www.disneyworld.co.uk

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/culture/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/ to go our to her home country, which is more culturally Scandinavian than geographically.

But the UN named it the happiest place on earth so the Scandinavians will claim it gladly.

Iceland for geezers

Ah, those Northern Lights

Heck, so that I’m not accused of not including the other Scandinavian countries, I’ll flag up Iceland here.

With Iceland Airlines http://www.icelandair.com and http://www.inspiredbyiceland.com.

Although again it is probably more culturally Scandinavian than geographically traditionally so.

Greenland in demand

Shifting plates

The Faroe Islands http://www.visitfaroeislands.com is a self-governing Danish territory and Greenland which is a Danish territory will also qualify.

Mind you Donald Trump has had his eyes on buying the world’s biggest island https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/22/greenland-americas-51st-state/.

In what he would probably tag a beautiful, beautiful deal.

So we’ll just have to watch this space.