Europe, Flying

A toast to Aer Lingus’s new Brindisi route

It is one of those Irish idiosyncracies we all love when people clap when their flight lands… now add to that a toast to Aer Lingus’s new Brindisi route.

Brindisi, if you don’t know, is in Puglia, in the heel of Ireland’s boot.

The region best known for its distinctive conical shaped houses.

We love you Trulli

Ahead of the curve: Brindisi harbour

All of which are Trulli captivating (see what we did there).

So why are we toasting it today?

Well, our friends at Aer Lingus have alerted us to the (good) news.

That they have introduced Brindisi to their European roster for next year.

Along with Olbia in Sardinia and Greek island Kos, both of which have their many merits.

But because my largesse meant I commissioned one of our writers in my previous billet in Dublin.

To visit the trulli, my lead-in here is Puglia.


Cheers: La Traviata

Brindisi you might know too as a committed Italianophile is a drinking song.

The types you will hear should you have visited the institution that is La Parolaccia in Rome.

Where actor/waiters will insult you and pick on other Italians and their regional stereotypes.

Tis Grand: The Grand Opera

All of which is quite apt as the brindisi drinking song is a favourite for operas.

But, of course, being a cultivated audience you will recognise Brindisi from La Traviata.

Which, full disclosure, I didn’t but enjoyed to the full in Prague’s State Opera House.

Way to go Joe

No place like cone: A Puglia trullo

Giuseppe Verdi, or Joe Green as he would be in English, knew we’d imagine about Brindisi, both the drinking toasts and the town.

And that’s why he put a Brindisi in Act 1 Scene 1.

Where our heroine Violetta hosts a party, despite being very ill with tuberculosis, or consumption, its old term.

Violetta says: “I give myself to pleasure, since pleasure is the best medicine for my ills.” Fine girl you are.

Now with the perfect wine-growing climate.

And armed with this guide from Especially Puglia I can just see us channeling our inner Verdi.

And raising a toast to Aer Lingus’s new Brindisi route… before staggering back to our trullo.


America, Countries, Flying

Get Connecticut with Aer Lingus

There’s a very special dog in Yale University who I left mid-lick (him, not me) but I dare say we can resume where we left off now we can get Connecticut with Aer Lingus.

Yes, Ireland’s national airline carrier is expanding its transatlantic roster with its second new route in weeks.

Shine a light: On Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut, marks Aer Lingus’ 16th transatlantic route from Ireland.

This follows the recent announcement of Cleveland, Ohio in its summer 2023 schedule.

With daily flights resuming from 26 March next year to Bradley International Airport.

Connect the other way

Classy: New Haven, Comnecticut

And of course they are coming the other way to Dublin.

And onto 28 UK and European airports including London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Prague, plus many more.

Yes, and we’ll be only too happy to return the hospitality they showed us earlier this year.

So we’ve brought you the charms of Handsome Dan XIX, Yale, apizza et al in New Haven, Connecticut.

Book Hartford

Twain’s World: Mark Twain

But the state capital Hartford has much to keep you there before venturing further afield to New Haven.

The bookish among us, of course, know that Hartford boasted Mark Twain and his next-door neighbour Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Not surprising really when you consider the New England state’s academic pedigree.

And Yale, the alma mater of five Presidents.

Dan and the Man: At Yale

And count them nnnnineteen Handsome Dans, its early-18th century English bulldog mascot.

Fares from Dublin to Hartford start from €199 each way, including taxes and charges.

So get Connecticut with Aer Lingus.


America, Countries, Flying

Aer Lingus oh-high-oh to Cleveland

An old ‘un but a good ‘un, what’s hi in the middle and the same on either side, a riddle that came to mind as Ireland’s national airline announced Aer Lingus oh-high-oh to Cleveland.

Yes Cleveland on Lake Erie, and another word jumble here…

Rearrange the letters and you’ll get Eire.

It was meant to be then that Ireland and Cleveland should come together.

And Aer Lingus make the port its 13th direct American route and 15th North American stop.

So if you judge a city by its most famous citizens then Cleveland (population 383,331) punches way above its weight.

Cleveland roll call

Cleveland of the free: Ohio’s finest

Try this for a roll call of just some of its luminaries…

Paul Newman, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, LeBron James, Joel Grey (the MC in Cabaret), Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West), Debra Winger and Boz Scaggs among others.

Very rock’n’roll which is not surprising when you consider that Cleveland DJ Alan Freed popularised rock’n’roll in the early 50s which is why Ohio claims to be its birthplace.

King James: LeBron James

And, of course, you can’t visit without checking out their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which is 40 years old next year.

And you know that that’s when life begins…

So it will too for those that are added to the 351 inductees from A-Z (Abba to ZZ Top). The Killers anyone?

Hall of Fame

The King and I: In Sun Studio, Memphis

Cleveland was chosen as the permanent home for the Hall of Fame three years later.

Leaving that great music city of the South Memphis smarting.

Although as home to the King they soon got over it.

Generally, the number of inductees each year ranges from about a half-dozen to a dozen.

Aer guitars

Berry good: Initial inductee Chuck Berry

The first inductees were:

Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and the Everly Brothers.

While you’ll need to leave time too.

For the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Orchestra and Playhouse Square.

Of course doubling back on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame again.

It’s informative to see that Joan Jett and Jefferson Airplane are both in it.

Aer Lingus oh-high-oh to Cleveland… they’re right at home.





America, Countries, Flying

Aer Lingus in a golden state

Not that it’ll silence the flygskammers but airlines are addressing clean skies, and Ireland’s national carrier are leading the way with Aer Lingus in a golden state.

Renewables Aemetis, Inc and International Airlines Group are supplying sustainable aviation fuel.

To power Aer Lingus and British Airways flights from San Francisco Airport from 2025.

Over to Aer Lingus Chief Exec Lynne Embleton.

“As we work towards our commitment of powering 10% of flights using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030…

“This agreement with Aemetis will see aircraft on our San Francisco route using low carbon biofuels from sustainable wastes.”

Spelling it out: The graph

Now, I’ll leave the science to the engineers (best).

And Aer Lingus report that this summer they have signed two SAF deals.

And a lease agreement for two new Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Now for the science bit

Clear thinking: Lynne Embleton

And Lynne says: “These are all key steps in achieving our lower-carbon future and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

IAG, parent company of Aer Lingus and British Airways will purchase a total of 78,400 tonnes of SAF over seven years.

And that is enough to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 248,000 tonnes (the equivalent of taking over 16,000 cars off the road) across the same time period.

Aerial shot of paradise 50+ Mpix

While in July, Aer Lingus signed another SAF agreement with Gevo, Inc., a US-based renewable fuels producer.

The agreement will see the purchase of 19,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel per year for five years, powering flights from Los Angeles

Aer Lingus is also investing in new generation and more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Airbus A320neo and A32l neo LR.

In June, Aer Lingus signed a lease agreement for two new Airbus A320neo aircraft.

And that will see this new generation aircraft joining Aer Lingus’ fleet for the first time.

The Airbus A320neo delivers up to 20% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

Shamrocks in my hair

Wham bam: Thank you tram

And close to 50% reduction in noise footprint.

When compared to the previous generation aircraft, A320ceo.

Of course we don’t have to wait until 2025 to get to Frisco.

And it is an itch waiting to be scratched with Covid putting paid to my plans to get to Dublin in the Tri-Valley region.

When I was, of course, going to channel my inner hippy by going to San Francisco wearing shamrocks in my hair.

Fare play

Greetin’ Greta: Thumberg, queen of the flight shamers

Now with my Irish history, Aer Lingus was naturally my go-to airline.

When I returned Stateside this year for my rail trip around New England.

And when, not if, I go to San Francisco I’ll be hopping on their deals from Scotland.

So that’ll be either Glasgow through Dublin to San Fran from £249.25, each way fare as part of a return trip including taxes and charges.
Or £252.52 from Edinburgh.
So, yes, despite what Grouchy Greta and her flygskammers will have you believe the airlines are fighting back.
With Aer Lingus in a golden state.


Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying

We came, Warsaw, we concurred

It’s our own Bandanini and Bandanette Warsaw pact because of its value… we came, Warsaw, we concurred.

For those of you wanting to escape the British sun (the new normal) the Polish capital won’t have you sweating.

About the costs with a two-day getaway for a couple only setting you back £426.

Our friends at Viator do the heavy lifting for us with a priced guide to what’s best to do in Warsaw and its vicinity.

And, of course, we’ll always be drawn to the history and the hops which means, Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz and a pub crawl.

Chopin list

My old piano: Chopin


Viator’s guide leaves us free to break bread, or seeing it’s Poland dumplings, when they invite us out to their embassy, or events.

Eastern and Central Europe has long since topped our shopping list, or Chopin list if you’re Warsaw.

I remember well being seduced by the value of Bulgaria 25 years ago.

And then meeting a family who were back in the autumn for their second holiday after saving on their first earlier in the year.

Sofia so good, Prague’s brag

Feast in the East: Sofia

Sofia is second on the Forbes Advisor list at £432, Vilnius in Lithuania (£465), Skopje in North Macedonia (£511) and Belgrade in Serbia (£521).

Prague at £523 ticks most boxes for us (particularly the Strahov Monastery Brewery).

While Podgorica and Montenegro at £528 is one of those discovery destinations.

Must Sarajevo

Franz in high places: In Sarajevo

We know about a day in Sarajevo in Bosnia & Herzegovina on a coach trip from Medjugorje.

But two days in the Balkans crossroads city is 8th on the list at £538… and you won’t be disappointed!

We’ll pick out the Franz Ferdinand museum, the Atrocities Museum and the Winter Olympics vista as a starting point.

Riga in Latvia at £550 and Bucharest in Romania at £561 make up the top ten.

Figure it out

Pole star: Warsaw

So you want to know how they come up with the figures.

Well Forbes Advisor factors in the average price for return flights for two people…

With the help of, and

Two nights’ accommodation, two days’ worth of excursions, a taxi for the entire vacation, and meals out as well as alcohol.

Sounds like our kind of mini-break.

And seeing we like a challenge we might start at the very beginning… it’s a very good place to start.

So we can say, we came, Warsaw, we concurred.



America, Countries, Flying, UK

Fly me, I’m Norse, London to New York

And for those of us of a certain age they’ll remember Fly me, I’m Freddie, and Laker Airways… and fly me, I’m Norse, London to New York is the latest plane on the transatlantic runway.

It is no exaggeration to say that Freddie Laker’s Skytrain revolutionised the skies.

When he burst onto the scene 45 years ago, and brought the world to the common man and woman.

Norse power: Norse Atlantic Airways

Because we wouldn’t have seen low-budget carriers Ryanair and EasyJet unless Freddie had boldly gone before.

We’ll dip in and out of Freddie’s legacy here but the trigger for revisiting transatlantic travel is the launch of Norse’s £200return fares from London to New York, from August 12.

Bjorn again

Norse Atlantic Airways are going where Norwegian Airlines and others have gone before.

And they are being powered by former Norwegian Airlines boss Bjorn Tore Larsen.

Larsen said: “We are very pleased to now be able to welcome customers looking to book great value flights between London Gatwick and New York JFK.

“Customers now have an affordable option allowing them to book a last-minute trip or a holiday of a lifetime with an airline that offers choice and flexibility.”

Now I didn’t have first-hand experience of flying Norwegian Airlines.

Although I have flown a plane into JFK on Turkish Airlines’ flight simulator and very near landed on the runway?

I did send a colleague over for a Norwegian Airlines flight overnight and a Christmas shopping mall trip.

Overnighter to NY

Freddie, steady go: Freddie Laker

All of which the bould Eoin did manfully and returned bleary-eyed.

Although not I can recall with anything for the kind editor who had sent him.

That aside, and back to low-budget transatlantic flights.

And Freddie’s story is a familiar one across all businesses.

Where a new competitor brings the prices down and the more established operators follow suit.

And the consumer is a winner but the price war puts a strain on the bottom line and ultimately not everyone can survive.

Amid the fall-out new entrepreneurs come on stream, low-budget airlines return and find their place in the market.

The legacy

Hands up, baby hands up: For Ryanair

And that is why we have Ryanair and EasyJet today.

There are challenges, of course, fuel increasingly burns more and more money.

For those who want to make a living flying us long distances.

So yes, we’d support more choice and competition in the air and say Fly me, I’m Norse, London to New York.

And we are looking forward too to them opening up other transatlantic destinations.


America, Countries, Flying

Neon Night Flight Tonight to Vegas

And the best way to see Sin City lit up is from above, on a Neon Night Flight Tonight to Vegas.

Which beggars the question why then have we not hovered over the city at its twinkling night-time best?

Simply because helicopter hosts in Vegas, Papillon, hadn’t got around to it.

Tis Grand: The Grand Canyon

Papillon has been flying Vegas tourists over the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon since 1965.

And I daresay most passengers who take a chopper were like our Irish loquacious party who stayed breathless throughout at the majesty of it all.

Bar for the class clown who went onto photobomb our private moments.

Papillon trumps ’em all

Take it as red: Papillon

Vegas, of course, shines day and night with the names of the headliners shouting out at you from eye level.

Which is why Donald Trump ensured you could see his livery even from the skies.

Luxury transport is at hand from most Las Vegas hotels to Papillon’s VIP terminal.

Where you’ll board an EcoStar helicopter for a memorable flight high above the sparkling lights of the Strip and Downtown.

You’ll finish up with a 45-minute guided tour at The Neon Museum.

Queen of Neon

Twinkling star: With Beverley

You’ll hopefully meet Queen of the Neon Museum Beverley, a former Nevada Senior Citizen of the Year.

And friend of Liberace which she wears as she should as a badge of honour.

The museum’s Neon Boneyard showcases more than 250 vintage Vegas signs.

With nearly two dozen reilluminated and the others dramatically lit from the ground on evening guided tours.


Your pilot speaking: On Papillon

The night concludes with a tour of the museum’s North Gallery and its immersive 360-degree audiovisual spectacular, Brilliant! Jackpot.

It’s an augmented reality experience that reilluminates unrestored signs.

And it incorporates archival video and an iconic soundtrack to transport guests directly into Las Vegas’ history.

Like the tables in the casinos Vegas is al about, eh, timing.

Date with Vegas

Top Trump: Vegas from the sky

This comes months after Covid put paid to me attending the American Travel Fair, IPW, in Vegas.

And thank you Papillon for waiting for me.

So that I can be on a Neon Night Flight Tonight to Vegas.

Up, up and away

City of bright lights: Vegas

The Neon Night Flight Spectacular is offered for $179pp every night, seven days a week, with times varying throughout the year.

The experience lasts approximately 3.5 hours.

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters will provide transportation to the helicopter terminal and transfer to the Neon Museum.

Guests will be responsible for their return transport following the Neon Museum experience.


Flying, Ireland, UK

Aerland’s Call

Jock Tamson’s Bairns (that’s Scots) come in all shapes and sizes and some with tartain troos (not guilty) and Irish rugby fans too who come from far and wide to answer Aerland’s Call.

Firstly, the Jock Tamson bit… well, the Rev. John Thomson was the minister of Duddingston Kirk in Edinburgh at the turn of the 19th century and referred to his congregation as ‘ma bairns’.

And even my former editor and rugby nut and those fellow Scotland rugby fans who take it that bit further by dressing up like extras from The White Heather Club (ask your grandpa).

It was, in truth, hard to watch the rugby at the Aviva through the glare of his garish garb.

But, of course, he was hard to miss and we did bond over our disappointment at Scotland captain Stuart Hogg dropping the ball in sight of the line and gifting the hosts victory.

Something which he reprised against France in this Six Nations campaign too.

Aer Club competition

Fly high with Aer Lingus

Hey ho, the Ireland v Scotland rugby contest has a special place in my heart as it was my last outing in Dublin, courtesy of my friends at Tourism Ireland at the end of my thirteen years working there.

Before the Scary One dragged me back to Jock Tamson’s land.

Now the Irish and Scots rugby fraternity pride themselves in their Gaelic commonality.

And that, of course, extends to their support of a second team… anyone who plays England.

Aer to help: Aer Lingus

All of which throwing the ball around at the back leads me somewhat and characteristically and circuitously to an Aer Lingus Aer Club competition.

The national airline has a pair of tickets to give away for Saturday’s final round of Six Nations matches.

With the Boys in Green still in with a shout of winning the championship.

And whisper it here but they need England to win on this occasion, against leaders France.

You know the answer

Bandanaman on the run: At the Aviva

As is the way of such competitions the question is as easy as what is your own name.

Where is Ireland’s last match of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations with the options being the Aviva, Twickenham and Murrayfield.

Aer Club members have until midnight tonight, March 15, to enter.

And the good news is that the second prize is 20,000 Avios points which is enough for two return flights to Scotland, equally as good a prize.

Now Aer Lingus remain a favourite airline and friends from those 13 years in Ireland and pals still.


Get the point: Avios

And I can’t leave today without mentioning their generosity in giving me comp tickets for their biennial Aer Lingus College Football match at the Aviva.

All of it was going swimmingly, apt really as the rain was falling, until The Scary One pipes up in the third quarter:

‘Are you allowed to throw the ball forward?’

Maybe stick to the rugby.

The next time we’re back to answer Aerland’s Call.

Breaking news

And right off the oul’ teleprinter.

Aer Lingus is offering €20 off return flights to Europe and the UK.

Book now and have the craic in London, paint the town green in Bordeaux or shamrock and roll in Barcelona! 


Caribbean, Countries, Flying

They think it’s Barbados Crop Over it is now

They think it’s Barbados Crop Over it is now the Caribbean island is getting back to normal.

All of which means you won’t have to row across the Atlantic!

No, of course, the Covid regulations never got to that stage.

And we do, of course, have the gift now of the Virgin Atlantic route from Edinburgh.

Can you hear me row?

Irie Barbados: With Jevan and Donna

It’s just I mention the rowing because Irish record breaker Dr Karen Weekes has just arrived in Bim.

After more than 80 days rowing the 3.000 nautical miles from Gran Canaria.

And there to greet her was my old sparring partner and Ireland’s Travel Journalist of the Year and Travel Times blogger Isabel Conway.

She had, of course, taken a different route, by air, and business class too.

Which is how we have often rolled together in our shared travels.

2022 will be the bounce back year for so many of us and for countries who depend so heavily on tourism that’s multiplied.

And for islands in the sun (not the UK and Ireland’s USP) that means being able to put their carnivals on again.

Carnival time

Larger than life: With Rihanna in Barbados


Barbados’s Crop Over is one of the most celebrated in the Caribbean.

And it doesn’t hurt it any to have Rihanna promoting it.

Who knows too her Big Reveal may even coincide with Crop Over season?

Ri-Ri, as you’d expect, is all over the island.

And her oversized image greets you from the wall as soon as you walk through the open-fronted Grantley Adams International Airport.

You’ll also get a cheery Irie from the customs officers who are only too happy to help even the most accidental tourist.

Sign of the times

Colour of Barbados: Bright, Mon!

Yes, that’ll be me. And that was me when I asked to double back to see if the party I was meeting was there.

I’d arrived in the balmy terminal on my first visit to Barbados, tired, hot and excited but confused when I couldn’t see any sign of my hosts.

The only sign was for a holiday prize winner.

The line was long and snakey and as I scanned it for evidence of a placard I fixed my eyes on a mop of sky high blonde hair.

The Fab Five: Early Angie, Laura Disorder, Hayley the Soca Blogger, Ab Fab and Bim Jim

A long story short (always a first time) the mop of blonde hair belonged to Laura Bartlett and the holiday prize guide was radio DJ Angie Greaves.

And both of them unbeknown to me were on our party.

You might know Angie too from Magic Radio and now Smooth Radio.

Or Pointless Celebrities, and yes I paid extra notice on that otherwise uneventful winter evening.

And you might have seen House of Coco on the shelves, the travel and fashion bible of founder Laura Bartlett.

Cast of Crop Over

Cream of the Crop: With the best Soca singers

Laura, Angie, Rihanna, Lewis Hamilton, Brian Lara, Bim Jim (that’ll be me) have all made up the cast of Crop Overs.

And we will again… Barbados is reopening and they’ll make you really welcome.

Just look out for the placard, the mop of big hair (Laura Disorder has gone back to black) and the Bandana.

They think it’s Barbados Crop Over it is now.

Virgin Atlantic, TUI, British Airways and Aer Lingus all fly from the UK.

Barbados has, of course, like all islands a North, South, West and East and a middle (called Scotland).

And you should check it all out.

The South, around St Lawrence Gap, and the West, the plush Platinum Coast is where most visitors gather.

And so, of course, I’ve road tested some of the best Sandals, Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels (in the south) and Club Barbados (in the west).



Countries, Flying

Holidanxieties and Don’ts

Even for the most experienced traveller these past two years have compounded our Holidanxieties and Don’ts.

But fear not help is at hand.

Both here in your series at Holidos and Don’ts and through the experts at ParkSleepFly.

And they have only enlisted the help of psychologist Lee Chambers to help relieve your stress with these five tips.

All of which I’ll put my own spin on and lessons, all at my own expense.

Prepare a distraction

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

Lee recommends mindfulness and breathing exercises.

And he adds: ‘It can be useful to utilise healthy distractions.

‘Especially things that help you get into the flow, whether it be games, music or creative activities.’

And, of course, your mobile phone playlist can be your friend.

Although you’ll need to ensure that you’re plugged in so as not to wear out your charge which may have your ticket on.

Seek out too chill rooms, sleep pods and chapels.

And if you’re in Kythera airport, off the coast of Athens, then read the poetry from the books on the hooks by the seats.

Fly safe

Fly the flag: With Aer Lingus

Now everyone’s flight experiences are different.

And there’s no doubt a difficult trip can make anyone become a nervous flier.

Lee again: ‘Positive, realistic thoughts can also help, perhaps think of the hundreds of safe flights that take off and land every minute, and believe in the fact that you can handle your nerves with techniques and support.’

Sometimes even airplane fans can be brought down by nervous flyers.

And the Californian who was sick in, and passed me her sick bag, and bug was a case in point.

Not that that put me off my own flight as the queasiness didn’t kick in until later.

And that was in large part because of the services of the…

Flight attendants

Angels: Aer Lingus crew

The steward on that Aer Lingus flight to Los Angeles mopped up that particular messy moment.

A true angel in the clouds generously relocated me to another seat on my suggestion to give the lady more room.

And attending to her throughout the flight and giving her a wheelchair and first aid on arrival in LA.

‘Sharing your feelings with those you are sitting near or staff can feel a little scary, but it ensures you have support on hand.’ says Lee.

Go with the flow

Add a little colour: And destress

Expect the unexpected and be prepared to respond and you will surprise yourself.

And allay your Holidanxieties and Don’ts.

Over to Lee: ‘We all know the feeling of the stress when going on holiday, before finally arriving and just letting it flow away.

‘It is often a disruption to our routine, and knowing this can help us to feel less stressed about the unknown.’

And remember worse things happen at sea!

Keep your eye on the goal

I’m going on an adventure: Bilbo

Be guided by those who have an adventure in them.

Like Bilbo Baggins… ‘Not all those who wander are lost’.

And our friends at ParkSleepFly advise that we keep our eye on the goal.

Not everything works out the way we envisage but often it does in the end.

And if you have missed your through flight in Munich for Athens.

And you fear you’ve lost the opportunity to see the Acropolis take counsel.

Chances are you’ll find time on your way back from Kythera to see Acropolis Later.

So the last words to Lee: ‘If you do start to get anxious about your holiday going ahead, seek calming activities, and visualise yourself enjoying your break.

‘And finally, have some compassion for yourself, it’s been a very challenging two years and the reward of travelling is something we should cherish.’

Hope then that allays your Holidanxieties and Don’ts.