Asia, Countries, Culture, UK

Me and Indian Murty money

Hi And why if I’m related to Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer have I not received the biggest bale-out?

Let me explain.

There’s the official family history we’re fed, the one we discover for ourselves and then perhaps the real one that is hidden.

And that’s why Who Do You Think You Are? is such a TV hit and genealogy and roots tourism is such big business.

Bear with me and I’ll tell you my family’s own chequered history, the one I know about.

But firstly a word on my kinswoman Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty.

The Murtys of India

Her name came on my radar when The Guardian did some digging into her business dealings to try to undermine Dishy Rishi.

The pair wed in 2009 and while businessman Rishi is a suitable boy Akshata is a more than suitable girl.

Her Dad co-founded the IT company Infosys so she is worth a rupee or two.

And with Akshata’s man in charge of Britain’s family silver then I ought never to have to worry again.

In some quarters they are said to be richer than the Queen.

Alas we’re of a different arm of the family, Armagh weavers in the 18th century who left for Glasgow.

Rather than the Indian arm of the family unless Mum’s Indian milkman was popping by with more than just bottles.

Happen I should get out there to India to find out if there is a fortune waiting for me.

Like I should have done when my altruism got the better of me back in the day, and I sent colleagues to India for yoga and culture instead of me.

Intrepid trips

Intrepid Travel offer eight days India’s Golden Triangle, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur with a rural heritage stay, from £516.

They are running a Cyber sale of up to 20% off 2021 trips. Book now and save on trips before December 15.

So you’ll get Friday, February 5-12 at £540, down from £675.

And book your own room from an extra £130.

But book now as offer ends today.
Which may seem tight but those two colleagues I sent to India, well I turned it around for them in a busy afternoon.

Asia, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying

Flyday Ferryday Friday

I’m channelling my inner Oleta Adams (the darling of the Gulf War soldiers) by saying I don’t care how I get there I’ll get there if I can.

And so I’m flagging up airplane, sailboat and maybe even camel too today although Oleta it’s not just an Arab man who uses the ‘ship of the desert’.

Canary Orange

The future is orange

And obviously this caught our attention. Prosaically because the latest map for the European Centre for Disease control has classified Ireland and the Canaries orange.

Which means that anyone returning from the Canaries doesn’t have to restrict their movements upon their return, having done a pre-departure test 72 hours before departure.

Unlike the canary Aer Lingus isn’t flying out there until December 27.

But from then you can be sure of availability out to Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and my old fave Tenerife.

A word on canaries and the Canaries and, no they’re not named after the birds but after the latin name for dogs because they had big mutts.

And as for orange canaries, well they’re really Red Canaries which can have an orange hue. Now you know.

French fancy

We are sailing

France, we’ve missed you. Like so much else this year I had my bag packed ready for an arts and culture trip to see you when this pesky bug got buggier.

But we and my ferry friends aren’t going to let this beat us and Irish Ferries are preparing for a better year next year.

Irish Ferries will operate daily overnight sailings from Dublin to Cherbourg with their new cruise ferry WB Yeats (or WB Yachts as I call it) throughout next summer.

I’ve met WB, the ship that is, but that was in Dublin Port… next stop Cherbourg 2021.

And it truly is a pleasure to sail around French shores

Cruise away to 2022

Enchanted Princess

And the thing about cruises is that you usually have to save up for them.

So Princess Cruises are giving us plenty of time to do just that with their 2022 brochure.

They will have five ships on the seas.

Pick of them (heck they’re all mouthwatering) is Enchanted Princess which will be sailing around Russia snd Scandinavia from Copenhagen.

While we’re intrigued about their festival packages.

So you can take the Crown Princess to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo,

And I promised you a camel

He’s got the hump

Now this is the one I rowed back on, the 15-day G Adventures Jordan and Israel Adventures trip.

Because I didn’t feel it was right to leave my work without me for that length of time!

It’ll take you from Amman whose charms and that of Jordan I did enjoy, to Jerusalem and every stop in between. From £1954 (was £2999). Valid from January 15.

And as I now know after making new Israeli friends at the World Travel Market you’re just as likely to need a camel here too.

Because the land of milk and honey is a half sand.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES, SEA AND SAND

Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – Wendy Wu Ar Ay!

And this torturous pun is to entice you into the latest from Wendy Wu for 2021 with, eh, Cornish scones, jam and clotted cream.

No me either, but I’ll never turn my nose up at what Wendy and the gang send, with their Chinese New Year lunch in Dublin the stuff of legend.

So before we savour what Wendy Wu Tours have to offer in Asia, which will be the go-to destination in 2021, let’s try and explain Cornish scones.

Because this is a thing, with the English West Country counties of Cornwall and Devon taking very different stances on how they spread jam and cream on a scone.

The cats that got the cream

Jam today: The Cornish way. www.visitcornwall.com

Cornwall: Our friends in England’s most westerly county where they even boast their own Cornish Celtic language swear by jam first and then cream.

Wham jam: And the way the Devonians like it. www.visitdevon.co.uk

Devon: The Devonians, in contrast, go the other way, cream on the bottom with a topping of cream.

Me, I don’t take cream, which meant more for the Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl.

Twenty-Wendy One

A golden sun over Asia

But I digress, Wendy Wu Tours held a webinar today and showed again why they are the cream of the crop when it comes to Asian travel.

Wendy is all about the giving and to mark 26 years in business, which isn’t even a special milestone although still, kudos, she has this for us, her friends she invited here.

Free return flights on 26 of their best tours worldwide for 2021 and 2022 which will give you savings of £800.

And you must get one of those hats

Including Japan Uncovered, a 17-day Classic group tour, Angkpr to the Bay, a 17-day Vietnam tour from £2890pp, Wonders of China, a £2880pp 16-dayer.and Road to Samarkand, a 20 days Road to Samarkand tour of Central Asia which will cost you £4310pp.

Plenty to chew on with your Cornish scones and tea.

Africa, America, Asia, Countries, Culture

Happy World Kindness Day

And on this, World Kindness Day, a shout-out here to those who have shown me random acts of kindness on my travels… and sometimes me them.

And firstly a recommendation… if you ever leave your mobile phone back in your Mississippi hotel on my American Trilogy in the Deep South.

You only realise it when you’re 50 miles along the highway then here’s your go-to guy.

Hit the road Zach

Zach is back

Zach arranged to get a courier to bring it from Jackson to Cleveland and the Two Mississippi Museums.

The next year Zach sought me out at the American Travel Fair, IPW, in Denver when I left my mobile phone down as I went for a coffee and he tut-tutted. Legend!

Zuhair, a hero

Ramadan the Man….Zuhair

And a shout-out here to all who observe Ramadan which puts a Christian’s Lenten fast into sharp focus.

Zuhair, our G Adventures host on our trip to Jordan, was the ever-welcoming face for his country.

Despite not being able to let a drop of water or morsel to his lips despite the travel and 30+ temperatures and desert until early evening.

When even Petra camels could.

Rachel, a ray of sunshine

Sometimes when you travel the world for a living you forget how lucky you are.

And that’s when you need a star like Rachel to pick you up.

Often it’s wine and a prehistoric South African valley which will remind you that whatever’s happening at home can wait.

And which is why I’m delighted for her (and me in the future) that South Africa is opening up again for international travellers with a negative test.

Your honour, Onur

I’m going where Onur goes… in Istanbul

And I’ve reserved this place for my favourite Turk, Turkish Airlines’ Onur, and very nearly favourite person in our industry.

Which is why he, like me, is also a past recipient of Irish Travel Media’s Pleasure To Work With Award.

Now if there was an award too for Most Accidental Tourist I’d win that too… every year.

I’ve enjoyed Onur’s company on the little island of Kuramathi, too small even for me to get lost.

Though Istanbul is and when I did get waylaid somewhere around the Blue Mosque who cane to collect me?

And I’ll carry your cross

And Finisterre after the Camino

And sometimes I’ll be your hero on your travels.

Just as I was when I carried a tearful American’s backpack on her final steps of a stretch of the Camino with CaminoWays.

Only for her to have to remind me to give it back.

America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

WTM Holiday Snaps and a beautiful wrap Donald

And the last word is from Donald, a bit of a scoop from your favourite Travel blog.

While the rest of the world has been trying to talk to the Big Mouth we got him… well, we are old pals.

And Donald has a message for the world: ‘I love you all and I want you all to come and see me again soon in America.’

The Happiest Place on Earth is now also the Safest on Earth with reservations, social distancing, alternate rollercoast carts and new hospitality measures.

While Mickey, Minnie, Donald and the Gang aren’t about to let the virus turn their smile into a smell.

And are dancing, waving and welcoming us all in their own inimitable way.

Watch this space for new Disney features coming along soon.

While Visit Orlando also flagged up what’s happening up at Universal Orlando and particularly their Jurassic World feature.

All of which, and SeaWorld and Busch Gardens I’ll give you a taster of what’s in store… in my rollercoaster whizz around Florida.

Golden vision: Florida Kets

I had all planned to take a whizz around the Florida Keys before the other Donald closed America off in March but hope to put that right when I get the chance.

And it’s those areas with natural distancing like the Keys and island nations (and yes a lesson here to the UK and Ireland too) who have an advantage.

Sail away in Croatia

Water wonderland

And when you’ve got 1200 islands then there’s ‘one for everyone in the audience.’

As they like to say in the world’s longest-running TV chat show, Ireland’s The Late Late Show, or whatever the Croatian equivalent is.

But here is a country which, as a Balkans state, dealt better than the rest of Europe with the virus.

And which is perfectly placed to host the tourist’s new requirements during and post-Covid.

One area is in small boat holidays and yachting around the islands, another adventure in the Great Outdoors.

Kayak attack: In Croatia

My go-to people in Ireland for Croatia are Croatia Tours, and I went on pilgrimage with them to neighbouring Bosnia & Herzegovina where I started out on the road to Dubrovnik.

They have a seven-days Rivers by the Sea package, making the most of where the area where the Krka River enters the Adriatic, on June 26 £1255pp.

Where you’ll get to sea kayak, cycle, canoe, rock climb, hike and raft.

The Tuscan Islands

And Firenze too

We’ll also be spreading our wings more next year even when we do visit our favourite cities.

And that’ll help hotspots like Firenze breathe as we explore greater Tuscany, its adventure trails, cycling opportunities and thermal waters.

And its seven islands, chief among them Elba, the first island of exile for Napoleon, and Montecristo, it of Alexandre Dumas’ Count.

Able was I ere I saw Elba.

As every schoolchild, well, at least those of  certain age and lexical bent, will tell you.

And Tuscany was, and is, ere able to thrive in ‘il novo normal’.

And, of course, the Caribbean

Daddy’s Little Girl, as all our little girls do these days, is wont to show me amusing things she finds on the internetty thing.

And one we both find funny is a Jamaican tour guide who extols the benefits of inhaling the island’s plants.

I grab every chance to hook up with my Caribbean friends, Barbados, Tobago, Anguilla (heck, all of them) albeit these days over Zoom, if only to hope that I can draw some sun out from the screen.

And as usual their warmth came flowing us out as they reminded us that in their island their neighbourliness has helped them through this crisis and referred in passing to London where ‘people don’t know their neighbours but had been getting to know each other this year.’

Los Filipinos

For those of us too who in the second half of the century of years some of us are blessed to live, our cultural touchpoint for the Phillipines is the Thrilla in Manila, the nation’s capital which hosted Ali-Frazier III.

And of course the Philippines are knockout and our old friends at G Adventures are all over it.

Manila is on the island of Luzon, one of 7,641 in the archipelago.

And you’ll not be surprised to learn then that out of 7,641 islands that it should have boasted the world’s most beautiful island, courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler in 2016.

The exotically-named Atty. Maria Anthonette C.Velasco-Allones, the Tourism Promotions Board’s COO has an equally lyrical way about her.

As she described her islands and what they have to offer.

‘When the dark night is over and the sun rises, wake up in the Philippines.

 

 

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe

WTM Holiday Snaps Israel – The Promised Land in 2021

There was great excitement in 2020 with the new EL AL route from Dublin to Tel Aviv.

And it is a route we can all look forward to taking in 2021…

After all patience is a virtue as the Bible likes to remind us.

That’s those of us who have got to see Israel up close from Jordan with G Adventures but are yet to cross (me and Moses)…

It really does look a land of milk and honey.

My Israeli friends are forging ahead with their plans for 2021.

And they continue to promote their Two Cities One Break campaign.

While they are also encouraging us to explore their desert, which is two-thirds of the country (who knew?) and the Red Sea.

And for those who love a pilgrimage (guilty, but then aren’t we all, we are all sinners after all).

Then our experience in the Holy Sites will actually be enhanced.

Because we will be required to provide social distance and not jostle.

The Promised Land II

And when the ball drops on Times Square in New York at midnight on December 31.

America will herald in a new year with even more gusto.

Of course which of America’s great calendar events will go ahead, and in what format, is in the hands of the gods, the politicians and the scientists.

With us not even knowing what the Presidential inauguration will look like in Washington DC.

Or who will be sworn in… then it truly is a case of watch this space.

One thing I do know is that I’ll do my utmost to get there.

And with the Peabody Duckmaster in Memphis

And who knows it might be the Promised Land Martin Luther King well promised us.

Which I got a feel for in my American trilogy in the Deep South for MLK50 in 2018.

Our friends in Louisiana regaled us with the kind of news we love, a new Louisiana Civil Rights Trail across the greater state.

We talked, naturally, about Mardi Gras in February.

And the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in May with neither having made a decision.

In these different times when the Spring Masters up the road in Georgia is being held in November for the first time, here’s a thought.

Can you just hold off until I can get out there?

Asia, Countries, Europe, Flying

WTM Holiday Snaps – China in our hands

Now we have skin in this game with the Son and Heir planning to decamp to Chongqing next month for a year.

So I dragged myself out of my scratcher, and in the dark of a November Scottish morning, for the Chinese Tourism Market Recovery at World Travel Market Virtual.

Wall, what is it good for?

Now every country has its own different approach and the Chinese meeting was more like what I would imagine the National Congress might be.

In short, China leads the world in tourism recovery (I read that off a slide) but judging by the scenes of people enjoying themselves now.

And their projection that the back end of next year will be when we will see a bounce back for international travellers.

They were also optimistic for small group travel which our friend Wendy Wu knows already.

Everything makes sense in black and white

Wendy is running a Black November offer with free worldwide flights for travel through 2021 and 2022 saving £800pp.

Taking the Michael

Fun and air: Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary

The Chinese could certainly do with Michael O’Leary’s presentation skills.

The redoubtable Ryanair CEO waxed lyrical on the failings of politicians to deal with the pandemic.

And the wisdom of Ryanair keeping its planes up in the air throughout it all.

Michael also gave us hope by predicting that next year will see airline companies and hotels dangle discounts at us.

Best of all, of course, is Michael’s unparalleled Irish humour and he had me smiling from the off.

When he reflected on how he brought down the turnaround times on the runway.

And that prior to his intervention pilots needed ‘to have an hour and a half for a smoke and a shag’.

America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Sir Sean’s iconic sets (or should that be shets?)

Resht in peash, Shir Sean. And I hope Shaint Peter understandsh your acshent.

Living in Portobello, Edinburgh’s beach suburb for ten years I never heard anybody spik like Sir Sean.

But maybe thatsh moviesh!

Preparing for the role: In Portobello. www.twitter.com

First Porty of call

Portobello: And Porty is as good a place as any to talk about Sir Sean’s sets.

Because it was here in his hometown, and as a lifeguard at Porty’s outdoor swimming pool that he had his first stage.

The pool is now a five-a-side football complex, and we have both moved on.

Visitors to Edinburgh rarely go any further out of the city than Leith where the Royal Yacht Britannia is kept.

But they should. Porty is bohemian while still being grounded “, and if you can’t get to those beaches Bond did you can walk in Sean’s sandsteps here.

Bahama Mamma

Bahamas: And it’s fitting that Sir Sean saw out his days in the Bahamas.

He clearly enjoyed the island lifestyle as much as Ian Fleming who penned the spy which would propel Connery to fame just down the road in Jamaica.

We’ve all, of course, been reminiscing about who until today was the second Greatest Living Scot (it’s Billy Connolly now).

And my old pal, Rebecca Lee, who I sent out to the Bahamas reminds me of how she stayed at the hotel where he still played the tables.

And was beloved by the locals which is as it should be.

The daddy of them all: Indy’s Dad in Jordan. www.pinterest.com

Jordan and crusaders

Jordan: Sir Sean was always unmistakably Scottish… all Jocks look like movie stars after all.

And share his dry wit.

Sir Sean upstaged Harrison Ford in the Last Crusade, the climax of which is staged at The Treasury in Jordan.

Hardly surprising that proud nationalist Sir Sean should star in an Indy film!

For hire: With Kevin Costner

Untouchable in Chicago

Chicago: And the film for which he won his Oscar as Best Supporting Actor above the wooden acting of Kevin Costner.

You can truly believe Sir Sean as a gritty Chicago cop.

So we’ll pass over that he’s meant to be Irish.

Whodunit: In Orient Express. www.imdb.com

Murder on the Orient Express

Istanbul: The Albert Finney version of course where Sir Sean plays Colonel Arbuthnot.

And Istanbul is the terminus for the Orient-Express, although we all know that Poirot and his fellow passengers were on their way back to London.

And an example of how less is more… with Sir Sean, the upstanding stiff military man rather than than the dashing, reckless Bond.

Anyone for Venice? James and Tatiana. www.pinterest.com

From Russia (really Istanbul and Venice) With Love

Istanbul and Venice: And this being released in the mid-60s and in the middle of a real Cold War the filming was done in the West.

There are some iconic scene in this my favourite Bond.

I love Commie kicker Hleb’s kickathon with Bond and who can forget Bond and Tatiana sailing under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice.

There’s definitely something about James… or should that be something about Murty!

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Our New Common Market

Back in the days when Britons got on with Europeans (a lot of us still do) we called it the Common Market.

Alas, Cummings and Johnson have forced us all to pack up our stalls and leave the Common Market (or European Union)

But in a parallel universe, the one all of us Travel nuts inhabit, there is a much bigger market still, the World Travel Market.

The way it was: WTM in London

Which I’ve admired from afar for years but not been able to get to because of The Man who wouldn’t give me the time off.

This year though I’m my own Man and as for getting there all I’ve got to do is travel to the West Wing of New Murty Demesne.

This year’s Virtual World Travel Market won’t have the bright lights and entertainment of London.

And the Great Old City only grows in our affections because we can’t get there.

But I’ll thrust my London mementoes to the front of my desk, chief among them my Peter Pan piggy bank.

And only promote my international keepsakes when meeting up with the representatives from Jamaica to Japan.

Life as a Wanderer is a different normal to most at the best of times and while these are anything but we’ll make the best of it.

We’ll have the staple of travel fairs, the presentations, talks and stall visits.

And the meeting up between old friends who see each other every second week of November in London.

Now you know what they say, if we can’t get out to see the world let the world come to us.

Asia, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Sing for the Canaries

And at last they listened. To me, my English Canarian pal Mathew Hirtes and to the Tinerfinos and their cousins across the islands.

The Canaries are back on the UK exempt list, and I’m breaking out the Malmsey, the Canarian wine, much beloved by Shakespeare.

Part of the scenery: Jimmy, the Tinerfino

The Canaries, as I reported this week, have been returning rates of Covid infections way down on the UK.

And as Mathew has been telling us for months we’re safer over there than we would be here.

It’s also worth restating here how liberating this is for the Holiday Trinity that always infuses our sector… the holiday providers, the hosts and the holidaymaker.

And so without further ado…

Deal me in

My walking party

Jet2.com and Jet2Holidays, the UK’s largest operator to the Canaries, are recommencing flights.

To Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, from Friday from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Belfast and six other UK airports.

TUI holidaymakers haven’t seen the Canaries for 89 days but are already carrying their clients to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

There must be a plane waiting for me. And happen that my Tinerfino walking guide Eva is waiting for me to take me to Afur.

With Canaria Ways, of course.

A quick walk around the Maldives

And again…. sarong, but oh, so right

It’s more ambling than walking on Kuramathi.

The holiday notes advise you wear flip-flops and you can walk around the Maldives island in just half an hour.

While if you run out of puff in the all-year round 30C heat you can pull up a lounger or have a dip in your own villa infinity pool.

All with a regulatory Strawberry Daiquiri, of course.

And again I know a man who is in Kuramathi right now… and another man in Ireland from Turkish Airlines who will get you there and look after your every need.

While in the UK you want Kuoni.

A trip around the Greek islands

My waterfall: Kythera

And it’s a bit like the hokey-hokey with Greece.

Mykonos is in, but Crete, Lesbos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos is now out.

Which means you don’t have to self-isolate on your return from my own two faves, Corfu and Attica island Kythera.

And with Greece obviously, you never know where your odyssey will take you…

Wonderful Copenhagen

Bet you didn’t expect that: Copenhagen

And finally Denmark, the Little Mermaid et all.

I took my own Little Mermaid there on my cruise around the Norwegian fjords with MSC Cruises, and check out how their recovery is going.

As well as seeing the Little Mermaid, you need to get your photie taken with Hans Christian Andersen.

Not many people there: Leichtenstein

But sorry Leichtensteiners

No, me neither. I don’t know why tiny Leichtenstein has been removed from the exempt list.

Or if indeed it’s right to use the plural.

Well, this is what Leichtenstein has to offer. I’ll just have to get out there to find out for myself… when I’m allowed.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD