Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe, Sustainable Tourism

Wish you were hair in Istanbul

Stitched up and ready to go they looked like Frankenstein’s monster to me but hey, no pain, no gain… and I imagined they were sending back postcards with Wish you were hair in Istanbul.

Yes, Istanbul as well as being ahead of the curve in much else is also the epicentre for hair restoration.

And so armed with that information you won’t be staring, like someone I could mention.

Hair isn’t the only thing that they’re restoring in Istanbul though with the Stay Hotel chain leading the way in recycling.

Gone today, hair tomorrow: A full head again

Stay’s new hotel, Nisantasi, is now open for bookings in the heart of the city’s refined fashion and cultural district.

The 82-room property is housed in the heart of Nisantasi, a fashion hub in the old town.

So while the men are looking after the threads on their heads your womenfolk can hit the designer boutiques.

From Louis Vuitton to Chanel and Hermes, as well as local designers such as Begum Khan.

And true to The Stay Hotels’ sustainability pledge, they recently launched an eco-friendly fashion label, The Stay Line.

And guests can buy at the hotel’s dedicated retail space, the Stay Line Corner.

A stitch in time

Head start: For your new scalp

The Stay have clearly factored in the hirsuitically challenged tourists as they map out their specs.

The hotel boasts a vegan leather headboards graced with European Down and Feather Association-certified pillows, which will soothe the back of the head.

The recycling extends to room key cards and menus.

And they are brimming with local produce including vegan and vegetarian dishes accompanied by Turkish wines.

They’re really on this… evidenced by being awarded carbon-neutral status by sustainability specialist Bureau Veritas.

And they plan to be zero waste by the end of the year.

When in Istanbul

Art for arts sake: At The Stay Hotel

And when in Istanbul you’ll walk your curvy slipper shoes off (you know the ones you buy at the Grand Bazaar).

If only the Turks specialised in massage… wham, bam thank you hamam.

Stay have a spa and wellness floor opening in the autumn.

There’s a dip in the indoor pool, a Pilates session or an authentic Turkish hamam.

While If the gym is your thang, you can work out in the sleek fitness suite or book a personal trainer.

Wellness experiences include indulgent couples’ massages in a dedicated treatment room.

While here’s something which will be well up the Scary One’s street and take the edge off… a zen garden.

Mezze around by the Bosphorus

With Onur in Istanbul

And Istanbul, the crossroads of East and West clearly has more Turkish delights than the sticky square sweets with icing sugar.

And so the ground-floor Saint Pâtissier patisserie will offer guests French fancies, freshly baked bread, and Turkish treats.

From the autumn, foodies will flock to the entertaining Italian rooftop restaurant, Marcello E Matteo.

You’ll dine on the signature focaccia di recco al formaggio or sip well-crafted cocktails as the chefs break into an operetta.

The Stay Hotels will also reveal a curated art collection hung in rooms and public spaces.

And that includes an AI video-mapping installation by the world-renowned duo OUCHHH. Mmmmm!

The icing on the cake for lovers of culture, will be a bookshop while fresh flowers will be on sale at Misk flower shop.

And lots there then for all tourists to put on their postcards… Wish you were hair in Istanbul with double rooms coming in from £200 per night B&B, with flexible booking terms.







Asia, Countries, Europe

The Nifty Fifties, Davina McCall and me

Welcome to the Nifty Fifties, Davina McCall and me and TUI too.

You’ll know by now that TUI’s newspaper arm gave me my first break which came with a deal on their holidays.

And that included such first-time joys as Bulgaria and Turkey.

And as wonderful as our guide and party were then, they didn’t include Davina McCall!

The Divine Davina

At a stretch: Davina shows us how it’s done

Back then, Davina, of course, had her music fest gig on, as we all did.

And while I’m sure she can still rip it up with the best of them, as we all can, she only has that figure because she looks after herself.

And so she happily limbered up, stretched those limbs and headed out to the Grand Azur in Marmaris in Turkey.

Where she flicked through TUI’s Wellness Menu and shared…

All on the back of findings from TUI Blue, its hotel brand, which tells us that two out of three of us have actually felt worse after trying a wellness trend.

Davina is clearly the one as she testified after road-testing the Menu in Turkey.

On the Menu

Candle in the swim: Ultimate relaxation

The Wellness Menu offers authentic cooking classes to yoga, exploring local culture to aqua-fun.

Spoilt for choice? Don’t know what to do?

BLUE Guides will be on hand to help curate ideal itineraries.

And they will give expert insights and tips from the most indulgent foods to the best sunbathing spots.

Before taking to the Med for paddle boarding, the fitness enthusiast took part in TUI BLUE’s power yoga, beat-driven fitness class, FlowTheBeat.

And don’t you just feel for her classmates, matching the Divine Davina?

Make a Mezze

Turk that: Davina cooks up a storm

Getting to grips with local flavours, Davina satisfied her inner foodie with a TUI Blue cooking class and prepared Turkish mezze.

Over to Davina now: What works best for me might not work for everyone else, and it’s also something extremely personal that will change as you get older.

‘Finding what works for your own wellbeing shouldn’t be dictated by the latest trends on social media or stereotypical wellness tropes.’

Stroll on: And a walk on the beach

All of which should me music to the ears of women, and young girls, who are bombarded with messages about what’s wrong with their bodies.

And how to fix it at a cost… when you look just fine, and it should be fun.

TUI Blue’s message is pitched in its ‘Find Your Happy’ microsite.

We’re glad to see here too that Davina loves a hammam… who doesn’t?

Hamam Ma’am

And you can relax too: Easy living

And just a tip if you’re reading Davina, and we know you do, you should join the cast of the Great and Good and Great Unwashed.

Such as Florence Nightingale, John Travolta, Rudolf Nureyev, Kate Moss and East 17.

At the Cagaloglu Hamam in Istanbul.

Hamam bam: Our hamam

Now I’d struggle to touch my knees, never mind my toes, and God knows I’ve tried.

But the hamam we all can enjoy and that’s my secret.

Hope you can enjoy us… welcome to the Nifty Fifties, Davina McCall and me and TUI too.




America, Asia, Canada, Central America, Culture, Sport, UK

Queer how offside Qatar is to the world

It’s become a fixture on the party and social calendar in the West but, of course, Pride is a revulsion elsewhere in the world, and in this World Cup year isn’t it queer how offside Qatar is to the world?

Now the football world (a different universe, of course) turned a blind eye to the Emirate’s discrimination and criminalisation of the LGBTQIA community when awarding Qatar the hosting of this winter’s World Cup.

Flagging up an issue: With Qatar

And quite what that’ll mean to LGBTQIA football fans who are wanting to follow their countries’ fortunes then we’ll try here to decipher.

While we all know too that of the hundreds of footballers, coaching staff and officials taking part not one will be LGBTQIA.

And that will get FIFA off the hook… and there won’t be anybody queer in that organisation either.

A word from the sponsors

Take that: The Qataris

Football’s World Cup is, of course, more than a sporting event.

It is a cultural, educational example and the tourist trip football fans have been planning for years.

So make of these welcoming words if you will from Qatari official Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Ansari

‘If he (a fan) raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really want to really take it to really insult him.

‘But to protect him. Because if it’s not me, somebody else around him might attack (him).

‘Watch the game. That’s good. But don’t really come in and insult the whole society because of this.

‘Reserve the room together, sleep together – this is something that’s not in our concern. We are here to manage the tournament.

‘Let’s not go beyond the individual personal things which might be happening between these people… this is actually the concept.’

Right, where do we start? The Major General’s assertion that he really wants to protect ‘them’?

Qatari protection

Sheikh it off: The Qataris

So, protecting them then would be not exposing them to a punishment of up to seven years in prison and a fine.

And the possibility of death penalty if you are indigenous.

Of course this is for men because just like in Victorian Britain lesbianism wasn’t even considered thing despite upper-class society’s obsession with all things Classical where the Sapphists were chronicled.

Maybe here too Major General you might think.

About criminalising the people who would attack an innocent person simply because which sex they love.

And then what about their concession to gay visitors that they can ‘reserve the room together, sleep together’?

Well evidence this very year has shown that FIFA recommended hotels in Qatar are actively refusing to accommodate same-sex couples.

Or ‘these people’ as the Major General calls them.

Of course it’s not as if we hadn’t been warned.

Bla, bla Blatter

Out of touch: Sepp Blatter

That bastion of integrity, former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter had thought it all a big joke.

When he was asked about a lack of gay rights in Qatar shortly after they were selected in 2010… ‘They should refrain from any sexual activities.’

And the Qataris, naturally, must have seen this as a green light.

Because three years later the head of Qatar’s World Cup bid team, Hassan al-Thawadi, said that everybody was welcome at the event, so long as they refrained from public display of affection.

‘Public display of affection is not part of our culture and tradition’.

To which you can justifiably add… and particularly not when you’re holding hands with, or kissing, a member of the same sex.

American continental LGBTI army

The right path: Pride in West Hollywood

We can console ourselves somewhat that the next World Cup will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Where people are allowed to express themselves and love each other how they want.

Let’s hope too that by then there will be more than one openly gay professional footballer in the English league structure.

And that this is replicated throughout the country.

And that the sports whitewashing by Middle Eastern and Gulf countries who are buying up, or have bought up Europe’s biggest clibs, does not deter LGBTQIA players from coming out.

Now we’ll leave this heavy but necessary subject.

To get back to checking out where I can get my best Pride experience around here in sleepy North Berwick, near Edinburgh.

A Dutch of class

The future is Oranje: The Oranje Army

But before we go, big hats with feathers off.

To the Dutch politician who suggested that the Netherlands national team play in pink rather than their traditional orange, in solidarity with the LGBTI community.

We’ve not heard whether that this is being taken up by the Dutch football federation.

But having partied with the inclusive Oranje Army on the way to Rotterdam to see them play Greece a number of years ago…

We know the supporters’ only rule is that you love Total Football.


America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Win win on Ginoisseur Day

Now, just to prove there’s no such thing as a new idea I can’t claim to have coined this… but it’s still win, win on Ginoisseur Day.

I came to gin late in life, piqued by the mid-2020s craze for the juniper.

And the row of gins and their fancy tonics laid out in front of me at Teach Aindi in Monaghan in the Irish Midlands.

They have 101 although time constraints limited us to six.

Not the Grapey One’s drink of choice you understand, though for research purposes, she mineswept the bar.

Unbeknownst to me, but logical as we invented everything else, it was a Scot behind the G&T.

Gee, G&T

Shake it up: Gin cocktails

Gin & Tonic: Doctor George Cleghorn explored in the 19th century if quinine could cure malaria.

The quinine was drunk in tonic water but proved too bitter and so army officers added water, sugar, lime and gin.

Now as my own paper the Daily Record is my go-to for reference I checked out what they recommended.

Although they could have asked me to roadtest them!

But the top three are Arbikie Nadar Gin in Arbroath, Tayside, the Isle of Harris and Kintyre Gin.

Dry and high

Czech me out: At the Bond hotel

Dry Martini: And James Bond’s classic drink of choice before Daniel Craig rebranded him.

We first meet Bond at Casino Royale, or more accurately at the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, Czechia.

Of course the Dry Martini is gin, vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist… and shaken not stirred.

The Tom Tom Club

Supersize it: Tom Collins

Tom Collins: And an example of transatlantic co-operation between the UK and USA.

With Jerry Thomas, ‘the father of American mixology’, chronicled the gin, lime juice, sugar and carbonated water drink.

Of course with every British convention that crosses the Atlantic it has lost something in location and John became Jim became Tom.

The Italian Twist

Mine’s a gin: In Bergamo


Negroni: And few things disappoint when given the Italian twist.

And grazie to our amici for their one part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel.

Now it’s been a year and a half since I was last in il bel paese and every drink tastes of a memory.

And mine is Bergamo Citta Alta, the high town in the Lombard city.

Taking the Rickey

The 47th President of America: In Washington DC

Gin Rickey: And being Washington DC this is obviously a capitol drink.

But did you know that it originated in Shoomaker’s Bar in the 1880s by bartender George A. Williamson?

Purportedly in collaboration with Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey.

The bartender is said to have added a lime to the Civil War veteran’s ‘mornin’s morning.’

It is a daily dose of Bourbon with lump ice and Apollinaris sparkling mineral water.

The gin twist? Well, that came from the popularity of the Chicago Exposition of 1893.

And in particular the Japanese rickshaw… and then the gin rickey with gin growing in popularity.

And that means it’s a win win on Ginoisseur Day.




Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe

Turkiye yeah

And because I’ve been teased all my life about my name and because I love Turks today I’m saying Turkiye yeah.

The Turks have applied to the UN to have the name of their country accepted as Turkiye, pronounced Turkee yeah.

With Onur in Istanbul

And not Turkey as in the name of our favourite Christmas bird.

Or in its modern parlance, meaning a flop.

And I stand guilty of benefiting through riffing any number of headlines as a Travel editor.

The name change sounds reasonable.

And a regular request to the UN from countries, according to Stephane Dujarric.

What’s in a name?

Look at the head on that: Zatec, Czechia

The Czech Republic was born and Czechoslovakia laid to rest when Slovakia went their own way.

Though what happened to the O’s in the divide we never did learn.

The Czechs found too that it soon became long-winded for branding and asked the UN for the change to Czechia (hard k for ch).

And in doing so they are following the precedent of the French who use France instead of their official Samedi name ‘The French Republic’.

Dutch of class

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Now lazy titling becomes wearisome to those of us who have become victims of the bigger country syndrome.

And for those of a Scots, and Welsh, variety it is an occupational hazard to put up with being called English the further we travel.

Similarly in the Netherlands where the short hand of Holland had been used when that should only apply to the north and south of the country.

In 2020 while the rest of us were preoccupied by Covid the Dutch ditched the nickname Holland.

Whatever you call it, and since being alerted to the sensitivities while there for the first time 30 years ago, it’s still Edam good country.

North stars

Fly the flag: North Macedonia football fans

Now putting your place on the compass at the top of your name is always a good idea to differentiate yourself.

And we see it in South Sudan and also in North Macedonia, the latter to placate the Greeks where there is a region, Macedonia.

Throughout the post-imperialist world countries have reclaimed their countries and changed their names to their native tongue.

Shout of Africa

March to Freedom: Siseko and Mandela in SA

And so Swaziland became Eswatini, meaning ‘land of the Swazis’ in their language in 2018, the 50th anniversary of independence from the British throne.

Yes, blink and you can miss the changes and the Port Elizabeth I knew in South Africa’s Eastern Cape has become the Xhosa-clicking Gqeberha… as it should.

In these Celtic countries in which we live (Scotland, Wales, Ireland) there has been a move too to Gaelicise our towns and villages.

Gael force

Piping hot: Scots culture

And during Scotland’s march to freedom, the Gaelic name for Scotland, Alba has raised to prominence.

So here’s to all countries who reclaim their birthright, to Turkiye yeah… and Alba.

Or the Republic of Scotland as we’ll get back to striving for.

Just as soon as this forelock-tugging and curtsying deception, the Platinum Jubilee, is out of the way.


Asia, Countries, Sport

Football roads lead to Qatar

Football roads lead to Qatar this winter for my wee Scotland although the rest of the world wants Ukraine to win the play-off.

So there might be something about the old Jim Bowen Bullseye line ‘come and have a look at what you could have won’ about Qatar’s latest literature.

Sheikh on it: The Qatar World Cup

Only the Emirates state isn’t just for the World Cup… it can be enjoyed all year around.

Particularly with the sun-splitting temperatures.

Qatar kick-off

Football crazy: Qatar

The Al Bayt Stadium in the north of the country is where the action will kick off in December.

An oil city, but much more… the Ain Hleetan Well and the Al Khor Towers, the Thakira Mangroves, Purple Island and Al Farkiah Beach.

And last, but not least, the Al Khor Park and Zoo.

We’re going to Qatar: Scotland

Talking about all God’s creatures then you probably associate Qatar more with sand dwellers.

But Qatar is home to one of the largest whale sharks aggregations in the entire world.

White sharks

Spot the whale shark: Around Qatar

Now God may have had made us all but he left us to name them… hence the at first confusing whale sharks.

Our Qatari friends helpfully show us how to identify them.

They display distinctly dotted patterns.

Every day’s a school day

Fly high: Qatar’s locals

And the migratory phenomenon is a must-witness marine activity when in Qatar.

And even better news, although they have 300 tiny teeth they don’t eat us.

They prefer fish eggs and tiny plankton.

Whale sharks appear in schools of over 100-150 fishes at a time.

And the Tartan Army, Scotland’s football supporters, come in their hundreds of thousands.

So hopefully we’ll be there because football roads lead to Qatar.


Asia, Countries, Sustainable Tourism

Turtles within touching distance

They’ve been flirting with me the heroes in the half shell but here’s a tail (sorry) of turtles within touching distance from my old Maldives stomping ground.

And when I say stomping I mean when I got pooped off the shore of Kandolhu and had to stand for a breather.
Noooooo! It’ll cut your feet but worse than that, it’ll kill the coral.
My snorkelling skills have improved since then until I got within touching distance of the turtles off Bridgetown, Barbados, last week.

Turtle fans: In the Maldives

They’d surely be proud of me out in the Maldives.

And perhaps with a little work off my homestead in North Berwick, Scotland, I could get on a very important expedition.

What the doctor ordered.

Dr Stephanie Kohnk is the lead scientist for the Olive Ridley Project and author of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Maldives National Red List Assessment on the Hawksbill Sea Turtle,

And she is heading up a pioneering genetic research expedition to study the local Maldivian hawksbill sea turtle population.

Shadow snorkelling

Jump on board: Close and personal

Guests at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands, can shadow the Doc on a unique snorkelling expedition.

They will be given a morning guided tour of the research vessel.

And they will reveal the painstaking planning and specialist equipment involved in frontline marine biological research.

Guests will get in on the first stage of the expedition on a turtle snorkelling trip led by Dr Köhnk.

Adopt a turtle

Goggles on: And hit the sea

And to further support this pioneering research and conservation initiative they can adopt turtles included in the study.

Adoptees will be able to name their turtle.

And they will receive future re-sighting alerts.

And enjoy priority access to updates and insights from the project.

As part of the joint venture ‘Oceans First’ ethos from 1 June, a sea turtle biologist will be stationed on-island at Patina Maldives.

They will act as a guest educator; overseeing rescue efforts for any sea turtles that become entangled in so-called ghost gear in the area.

And they will support ongoing photo identification and population monitoring in North Male Atoll.

It is only home to the second largest turtle database in the country.

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts

I recognise them: Patina

The Patina Maldives team, along with its Fari Islands neighbours, also contributes to the ongoing removal of ghost gear from the ocean.

And that provides Olive Ridley Project with valuable data.

That can be used to trace the origins of discarded or abandoned fishing equipment.

And also help tackle the problem at source.

Because we all need our heroes in a half shell under the sea, our turtles within touching distance.

America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

The ten homes of whisky

It’s the golden seal every country strives for, to be the home of something… so where are the ten homes of whisky?

You’d probably not to be surprised at the top five.

And so it’s more of a case of shuffling that pack to see who is tops.

The next five though is a bit more surprising.

So on this World Whisky Day join me for a distillery tour.

But do me a favour please, don’t ask about distilling or the mashing process.

It just holds us up on our way to the sampling.

Scotch Wahey

Fergie’s dram: Sir Alex’s bottle in his cabinet near Aberdeen

Scotland: And the reach of Scotch (just whisky in Scotland) became clear when the distillers held a whisky-tasting in Barbados.

Now we can blind you with science and stats… 44 bottles of whisky are exported from Scotland every year.

There are five designated whisky regions… Cambeltown, Highland, Lowland, Speyside and my own fave Islay.

They’re all heavenly and 

But my No.1 is Laphroaig. It’s so peaty, just like a bowl of water in an ashtray but stick with me here.

After all you have tried haggis.

United Nips of America

Mark of a whiskey drinker: Kentuckian Mark, Cath and Mum

USA: And, of course, when the Scots left home they took their whisky and its secrets with them.

And adapted it to the new world of America and went on to produce nectar such as Kentucky’s Woodford Reserve bourbon.

But US whiskey isn’t restricted to the Deep South… branch out to Oregon.

Where Westward Whiskey have released a reimagined single malt for World Whisky Day.

Green, malt and gold

The oul’ sod: The oldest distillery in the world

Ireland: And Teeling only made it into our Barbados tastings.

While Bushmills lays claim to being the oldest distillery in the world, established in 1608.

They were also responsible for the extra ‘e’, well the Irish are the masters of using two words when one will do, and more letters too.

Land of the Rising Suntory

Made in Japan: Suntory

Japan: Now this is a love story that drams are made of.

And is the result of a relationship between a Japanese chemistry student at Glasgow University Masataka Takaretsu and Jessie Roberta Cowan.

Masataka had been dispatched by the Settsu Shuzi liquor company.

A love Suntory if you will.

Maple leaf

We’re in the Club: Canadian Club

Canada: Right, we’re told that Canadian whisky has its origins not in its big Scottish diaspora.

But because the natives, the First Nations, got a taste for what they called the traders’ firewater.

It was a meld of rum and ‘high wine’ which developed into Canadian whisky, of which Canadian Club is the most recognised.

Sikh beatha

Basket of goods: Indians love their whisky

India: Or Sikh of life, my twist on the uisce beatha which is Gaelic for water of life and is what Scots call their favourite drink.

And long may the Indians keep up their love affair with whisky which they have been producing since 1948 since Amrut entered the market.

More than half of all whisky drinkers in the world come from India. 

Wizards of booze

Bonzer: Aussie whiskey

Australia: And we should have come to expect this with our ne’er-do-wells sent over there as convicts.

Specifically Tasmania is whisky haven with the best Aussie whiskies Sullivans Cove, the best Single Malt at the world awards, and Lark based there. 

A Swede whisky

That way, Sweden

Sweden: Now here’s something you don’t get at your local Ikea with your meatballs but should.

Mackmyra was Sweden‘s first distillery and the Swedes got it right first time, winning the First Edition Gold Award in 2013.

The Isle of Tai

Gold standard: Taiwanese whiskey

Taiwan: You see what we’ve done there. Yes, Taiwan‘s connections with the West probably plays its part here.

Kavalan whiskey won the World’s Best Single Malt at the awards in 2015 and the island’s distillery produces 9 million bottles a year. 

Ja beauty

Dram busters: Germans on the whisky

Germany: Now some of us have ripped it up in Germany at the Oktoberfest where it’s lager obviously but also schnapps chasers.

The Germans though are open to everything and they have around 250 distilleries and around 130 of them are focused just on whisky production.

So, on this World Whisky Day a big Slainte to the ten homes of whisky.





America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries

Another episode when me out on de road

It’s another episode when me out on de road, we don’t come out to pose, as Bajan Soca legend would say.

Yes, this is our destiny, yes, it belongs to we. And no, I’ve not forgotten all my English grammar.

This is Bajan patois and it is what I hope to be hearing for the next week.

Think too the rum-infused pitch of a smiling Barbadian (or Bajan) and you have it… Sweeet!

Cultural appropriation 

Me-me and Dee-Dee at Crop Over in Barbados

All of which brings us to the thorny subject of cultural appropriation.

Knowing how irked I’ve been in the past when English people have cried Hoots…

Or Begorrah when I was in Ireland.

And I confess I’ve grimaced myself when I’ve said Irie to the Bajans when I’ve been out in Barbados before.

Only to be met with mile-wide smiles and hearty hugs.

Now offence is naturally taken differently depending on where you go.

Read the room

Tea for me: At the Boston Tea Party

And the trick is to be able to read the room.

We don’t always get it right… I again made something of a social faux-pas recently in New England.

When I followed up my handshake with my host Ginny by extending my hand again to her colleague, a young Muslim lady.

The White Knight

The Mad Hatter: Greg in Colorado

Thoughts immediately returned to Aussie Greg, Great Protector of Muslim Women, and great White Knight.

I imagined his head would have exploded with rage as he’d shouted along the coach at me in Colorado.

When I put my hand on the side of a Jordanian woman’s shoulder in the narrow aisle to ask if I could please pass by.

‘You never touch the Muslim woman,’ he screamed, in full earshot of her husband.

All of which only served to embarrass the poor couple when a discreet word would have been better.

Ms Carter

Bajan queen: With Ms Carter

And so when we go jumpin’ this week at the Barbados Celtic Festival I will again be indebted to Ms Carter, our awesome host Cheryl.

Cheryl, of course, knows me of old and has taken the edges of my worst excesses when jumping at Mas (Bajan open-air music events).

It’s just another episode when me out on de road.




Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe, UK

Israeli clear of Covid regs

And it’s what they promised in the Promised Land – yes Israeli clear of Covid regs now.

Our friends in the Land of Milk and Honey will be removing on-arrival PCR tests from May 20 and letting people fly with an antigen test from May 10.

Right, we know that it hasn’t been a biblical 40 years since Israel was this open rather than just these last two years.

But it’s just made us more impatient, and that goes too for our dream makers too, our travel providers, who are lining up all manner of packages for us.

Lots of fun at the YMCA

Garden of plenty: The YMCA 3 Arches

Now our eye fell on the YMCA 3 Arches particularly when we saw that it had been designed by the architect of the Empire State Building in New York.

And that means tall with the 3 Arches a 152ft tower with views of the YMCA gardens below and historic Jerusalem vistas, many with views of the King David Street.

Not forgetting of course those modern day facilities we all expect… sports center with fitness room, pool, sauna, jacuzzi and group exercise studio.

The tour providers

Cradle of Christianity: Jesus and Bethlehem

Travel Israel helpfully do all the work for us offering flights from Edinburgh to Tel Aviv (you can also go from Glasgow and London Heathrow) and accommodation for £1,255.

With the excellent SWISS International Airlines.

And they list out a number of excursions you can add on.

Like Christmas (well, this is the Holy Land) you can go mad ticking off the trips you want.

And the excursions

Snap to it: And photograph the Old City

The Jerusalem Day Tour we imagine does what it says on the tin, and at a competitive £63 for two.

You will drive to the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of the city.

And stop at Mount Zion to visit King David’s Tomb,Room of Last Supper and the Dormition Abbey.

No visit to Jerusalem would be complete without a visit to the Jewish Wailing Wall.

And channel your inner Jesus at the Via Dolorosa and visit the Church of Holy Sepulchre.

Before you’ll then proceed to the New City and a visit to Yad Vashem, the Memorial to the Holocaust.

But seeing you’re here you really should tick off as much as you can.

Two unforgettable days

Super Supper: And a bespoke Last Supper

And the 2 Day Tour of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Masada & the Dead Sea Small Group Tour does just that.

You’ll depart on  Day 1 and take in Jerusalem (obvs) and the Old City; Western Wall; church of Holy Sepulcher and Bethlehem. And overnight in Jerusalem.

Float on: The Dead Sea

Day 2 will take in Massada, a swim in the Dead Sea (been there, but would always go again).

Of course as comprehensive as this is there’s always more. 

So check out their Galilee offers and in Jesus’ Steps packages.

And so let’s celebrate Israeli clear of Covid regs.