America, Australasia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Football’s back – take your pick

Now it all depends on whether you’re American, English, Irish or Australian who all embrace their football game.

It’s in the human DNA you see since the day Cain decided to kick Abel’s skull into a ditch.

So here are some thoughts on some of the teams I’ve adopted from my travels.

Touchdown

Off Pat

New England Patriots: I don’t know if you’re allowed it but I adopt all the American sports teams wherever I go.

It does make it easier to pick a winner if you’ve got the New York Jets (my Long Island cousins’-team), the Washington Redskins who are now looking for a new team, and the Denver Broncos.

It’s just that you go with the team where you spend the most time… and that was my summer after university in Boston.

Hoop dreams

All’s Well: Celtic v Motherwell. www.celticfc.net

And I had little choice growing up in Glasgow in the Seventies where Catholics and Protestants didn’t mix to choose Celtic.

Particularly as my Great-Uncles had built Celtic Park.

But Scots kids were allowed too to have an English team and I chose Liverpool.

Forward fast to the Nineties, had a son on Merseyside and it came full circle with The Son and Heir becoming a fully-fledged Red.

GAA-GAA

Prize guys: Donegal

In Ireland, soccer (football) was known as a Garrison game, a preserve of the occupying British Army.

And Gaelic Football, Camogie (the female version) and the stick game hurling were the Irish sports.

I could pick any of Donegal, my Dear Old Mum’s county, Dublin where I worked for 13 years or Co. Wicklow, my adopted home.

But as my Mum drummed it into us as kids that Donegal was the best place on Earth.

And that the rest of Ireland hate serial winners Dublin, it has to be Donegal.

Perth, WA

What’s up your sleeve?

My bonds with Western Australia started when my parents took me back a jersey of the West Coast Eagles. Minus the sleeves of course.

And continued when I joined a Top Deck booze bus to the Oktoberfest in Munich and discovered they were all Aussies and Kiwis.

Fast forward six months and Brownie and Smutley had arrived on my Aberdeen doorstep and went on to set up a WA colony there with their friends.

My one and only Aussie Rules football game was with an English guy at Surrey’s cricket ground, The Oval.

I remember Collingwood were one of the teams but don’t recall the other.

Collingwood are the New England Patriots, Dublin or Manchester United of their country.

Everybody else dislikes them unless you’re one of them.

MEET YOU ON THE PITCH

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Green for go to these countries

And I’m already swotting up on New Zealand www.newzealand.com Thailand https://www.tourismthailand.org/landing and Vietnam https://vietnam.travel/home.

The UK is putting in a traffic light system for countries as we ease out of lockdown.

Greece is the answer to our prayers

And my favourites are all green-lighted for return:

Austria https://www.austria.info/en Barbados https://www.visitbarbados.org Croatia www.croatia.ie Germany https://www.germany.travel/en-mobile/index.html and Greece http://www.visitgreece.gr and https://athensattica.com are all go.

Out of quarantine

Translated that means returning travellers need not quarantine for 14 days.

I’m just glad Home Secretary Priti Patel finally listened to me.

Just swimmingly In Tenerife

You won’t have to be an amber gamblers either if you’re visiting a country on this list:

Australia, Belgium, Canada and Denmark France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Spain.

Or cycling in the French Pyrenees

The hit list

And there’s been more than a sprinkling of love from most of them… https://visitbelgium.com, https://visit-canada.ca, https://www.visitdenmark.com, https://about-france.com/visit-france.htm, http://www.italia.it/en/home.html, https://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm, www.visitportugal.com, www.myswitzerland.com and https://www.spain.info/en_GB/ https://www.spain.info/en/informacion-practica/oficinas-turismo-embajadas/turismo-exterior/oficina_de_turismo_en_dublin.html.

Bad luck though if you’re stopped at red:

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, India, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa and the US.

With the last two turning my clown into a frown.

Having set in train all my trips this year around these countries I’m having to make do with North Berwick beach these past couple of months.

Barbados hotpots

You see I don’t fancy much being one of half a million on Bournemouth beach.

Give me one of Barbados’s beaches, and I’m reminded now of a tub of chicken stew and bottles of Banks beers in Bathsheba, St Joseph East… Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Of course the beach is a Bajan’s dining room where the locals put up bars like we do brollies.

And where the flying fish jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

Fish of the day

There are many different varieties of cutters including liver, cheese, ham, egg and more.

Clubbing together: Club Barbados on the Platinum Coast

Or even easier are their fish cakes… do like a local and order a ‘bread and two’. On a bun.

The Bajans will be only too happy to show you how to cook up a treat…

And if you like it hot then here’s how they scare up a Pepper Pot… https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCUwplS8uhaieGiL_50XhJCg.

Australasia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Rugby’s back in New Zealand

It was a rite of passage at my rugby-playing school in Scotland…. going to watch the touring New Zealand All Blacks in Edinburgh.

And I was counting down from weeks out to see Graham Mourie’s all-conquering rugby team finish off their itinerary at Murrayfield.

And listening to Timmy Teague’s promises that he would go onto the pitch and do the pre-war Haka war dance with the players.

How I felt on a rugby field

I got a flashback of Timmy as I heard of the return of rugby to the Land of the Long White Cloud with the Highlanders beating the Chiefs 28-27.

Highlanders’ fling

A thrilling match with the Highlanders stealing it at the end.

And best of all it was played out in front of 20,000 rugby nuts, with no need for face masks or social distancing.

The Land of the Long White Cloud

Nirvana, and a country where we’ll all be flocking to www.newzealand.com when we get the chance.

I have a hankering to visit Mangaotaki and the other locations used by Peter Jackson for Middle-Earth in Lord of the Rings.

Where my old colleague and singing partner from Rising Star Karaoke Bar https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/entertainment/rising-star-karaoke and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital Eoin played rugby.

Lord of the throw-ins?

‘Mr Brightside’ loved it and also learned the Haka… every rugby team in New Zealand practises it in training.

Stick your tongue out

Timmy could have done with some practical too… he was hopefully out of sync.

But he did do it. And the police allowed him back in to watch the second half of the game.

Hakademic really

He’d have been as well missing it. Scotland were hammered.

The All Blues: Not quite the same and Scotland take a beating in Dublin

But there’s nothing new about that.

Now you want to explore how to get out there.

Jimbo and Tommy Bowe. www.emirates.com

Well, I’d always recommend G Adventures www.gadventures.co.uk while check major airlines for flights and conditions.

MEET YOU AT THE GAME

Africa, Australasia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

The Sunday Sermon – Covid covert love

Thou shalt not covert thy neighbour’s ass – The Ten Commandments

Aussie Di was on the next bus, Contiki https://www.contiki.com/six-two/bus-tour-seating-strategy/, and as everybody in coachworld knows Topdeck https://www.topdeck.travel and Contiki should never mix.

Only Di had golden shoulder-length hair and a smile as bright as the sun.

And I was the envy of all the bronzed Aussie dudes at the party because for the first time in my life I got the girl.

Longing for the Alps

All of which longings across a coachpark in Austria in the Eighties came flooding back to me.

As I digested the Covid times survey which said that four out of five of us are keeping our lovin’ to our own households just now.

I have oft times returned to those two carefree summer trips to the Oktoberfest and Austria.

And particularly when I have passed through Munich https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/01/hungry-and-thursday-the-munich-beerfest.

Sound of Music sites in Salzburg with my blonde for life, Sarah the Scary One

The magic bus

And in Austria with www.topflight.ie, Soll Mates and all across the Alps https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/04/27/rainy-days-and-songdays-yodeleeeee/amp/

Coach rides are still the best, and most economical, way for 18-35 year-olds to see the world.

I’d look back at other Topdeck routes between drinks on the coach which was reconditioned to include a kitchen, with the top deck bunks.

Got there: Port Elizabeth, South Africa

South African dreams

And I vowed that one day I would get down to South Africa, an ambition I realised last year when I visited Nelson Mandela’s state, the Eastern Cape https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and What’s new pussycat? and Day in the life of a township.

I’d go again in a heartbeat.

And, in truth, it’s that sweaty mass of humanity (rather than the sweaty mass of the Son and Heir’s dirty washing) I miss most in this lockdown.

For the record I tried to revive my holiday romance with Di when I returned home.

Who’s for a beer? Topdeck

Difficult though it was with me in Aberdeen in Scotland and Di 400 miles south in London.

The prospect of the Topdeck reunion on the horizon kept me going though through all those cold Scottish nights.

Plenty more fish

When the time came I made our appointment in Trafalgar Square near the South African Embassy where a protest was taking place to free Nelson Mandela.

But Di was nowhere to be seen.

She was though at the reunion later in Earl’s Court (where else?).

With her Scottish boyfriend!

America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland

Flyday Friday – Etihad and Emirates

Their colours are unmistakable – the superstars of the Etihad and Emirates.

Only I’m not talking about the footballers of Manchester City and Arsenal here but the staff.

And guess who only put the wrong picture on the wrong airline… I think I’d had too many shandies at a liquid lunch.

Of course plane spotters and frequent fliers know that it’s chocolate brown and purple for Etihad www.emirates.com.

And cream and red for Emirates www.etihad.com.

Emirates rates

Ready for take-off

But I’m not here to talk about airline uniforms, though there would be no harm in it, and I will get back to you on that.

More importantly these behemoths of the skies are only getting us flying again.

Emirates will begin flying to and from Dublin from June 15.

In the frame

Among 16 other cities to Dubai, the others being Bahrain, Manchester, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, New York JFK, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong, Perth and Brisbane.

Check Emirates’ website for conditions and prices and keep updated on Ireland’s travel rules.

All’s well that ends well

Welcome on board

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than aboard an Etihad airplane in Dublin Airport.

Getting the full VIP treatment and winning air miles. Only I haven’t cashed them in yet.

But I will when the Scary One lets me get travelling again… and, no it’s nothing to do with COVID.

I’m eating alone

There’s always a big welcome from our friends at Etihad and they have introduced Wellness Ambassadors to deal with your every flying need.

Aer Lingus, the model airline

I’m flying the flag

I’ve spent many a happy afternoon in the company of Ireland’s national airline carrier Aer Lingus https://www.aerlingus.com/html/home.html.

They showcased their own livery rebrand and new uniforms in the last couple of years.

And they continue to keep us occupied and enamoured with foreign destinations.

Virtually for now such as through Seattle and the Olympic National Park.

Green for go

And the brilliant blue water blue water at Lake Crescent and hiking routes through Hoh Rain Forest only make us more impatient to get on that flight out to Seattle.

See www.visitseattle.org and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/category/deals/.

Now back to my lockdown indulgence, my complete series of Frasier.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

America, Australasia, Countries, Culture, Ireland, UK

Mind the Gap Year in Australia

It’s the right of passage for English students which is denied their neighbouring Scots – the Gap Year.

Immortalised in The Inbetweeners 2, the Gap Year is when English school-leavers take a year out before starting University.

And it is expected that it will be even more popular next term instead of sitting at home and studying digitally.

Home and away

The other Perth… Western Australia

I spent a year of my own studies with the bold Australians, only these Aussies were refugees from Munich’s Oktoberfest.

Who turned up unannounced on my doorstep in Aberdeen www.abdn.com Aberdeen – a light in the north asking to stay for the weekend and leaving a year later.

They did, of course, give me an open invitation to go out and see them.

But I imagine looking for a Peter Smith or Steve Brown in Perth, Western Australia, might be difficult.

See you Down Under

Bridge not too far: The iconic Sydney Bridge

Recent changes to the Working Holiday Maker Visa means British and Irish travellers can stay for up to three years.

While you can get yourself lost deliberately in this huge country in your campervan.

You never stop learning so it might be time for that Gap Year I never got.

Smutley and Brownie… you have been warned. Visit www.australia.com.

Turn on, tune in, drop out

Oh I wish I was a Wild West hero

Of course those of us left disenfranchised by the lockdown can do what dreamers have been doing for decades, lose themselves in America’s Wild West.

And here’s me getting on ma hoss and riding away into the Plains www.colorado.com and The New Frontiersmen.

Colorado’s is Big Country and free and the best way to see it is at your own pace…

Spa partners

Everything in the Garden is rosy

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is gratis as are some of the natural spas.

Such as Conundrum Hot Springs. Which reminds me of a fall-out I had with an Aussie in our group.

You know the type who claim that people are trying to take their photo of the Rockies.

Seems you can’t escape them anywhere.

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

VE Day – The unknown soldiers

They make easy targets for class warriors but on days of military commemoration, like today VE Day, the British Royal Family are entitled to raise their heads high.

Prince Philip was first lieutenant (second-in-command) on board the HMS Wallace during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1942.

When the Luftwafffe began their bombardment of the waters.

 

Another war… but the same sacrifice

Yeoman Harry Hargreaves revealed back in 2003 how Philip duped the enemy and saved the ship and all on it.

By persuading his captain to drop a raft overboard, set it alight, and deceive them into bombing that instead.

And so as Prince Charles, whose own military career is distinguished, laid a wreath today at Balmoral to the Fallen, and the Queen spoke to the Nation…

It is well to remember that we wer all in the same fight in World War II. And now.

 

My Great-Uncle Willie

What we all do after we get out of this we’ll have to wait and see, and there will be a clamour for sun and sand.

My friends in the Caribbean take note.

While some will seek remote holidays, others adventure, while still others walking holidays.

And all are on my list.

But I will, as I’ve always done, continue to visit the places and commemorate those who fell in war around the world.

 

Cavernous destruction… in Flanders

Like I did when I was invited to lay the wreath at the daily Last Post commemoration at the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres).

Where my Great Uncle Willie lies in a graveyard of identically-sized crosses (no hierarchy in death).

And where I was the first of his relatives to see him, plant a wooden cross and say The Lord’s Prayer.

His brother Patrick has his name inscribed among the tens of thousands of missing on the arch at Thiepval.

 

Everyone a hero: Great-Uncle Pat and the Missing at Thiepval

I have been fortunate enough to trot the globe but I have never felt as moved.

Or deeply grateful than when I knelt before Great Uncle Willie’s grave.

And though I never knew him, or those he fought with or against, I commend them and those who care for their last resting places.

And not just today but every day of every year.

 

Trench warfare: At The Somme

I visited the World War I battlefields, Ieper and The Somme with GTI, the Group Travel Specialists https://gtitravel.ie and In Flanders fields.

And also visit www.visitflanders.com and https://www.visit-somme.com/great-war

Australasia, Cruising, Deals, Europe

Cruiseday Tuesday – Classic Amadeus

Continental Europe is the great treasure on our doorstep but it is caught in something of a musical time warp.

Walking the Camino I stopped off at a wayside inn where they were tapping their feet to the Falco (who?) song Rock Me Amadeus.

Which is my circuitous way of flagging up the building of river cruise ship Amadeus Cara for next year.

Blue for you: The Danube

The new cruise ship boasts 73 spacious luxury cabins (17.5m²) and 12 AMADEUS suites (26.4m²).

Yes, you’ll be rolling down the river but you’ll also have plenty to do including:

– Modern fitness area 
– Hair and massage salon 
– Panorama Restaurant
– The Panorama Bar which offers space for events and talks and where the AMADEUS musicians perform every evening  
– Lift between decks 

The maiden voyage of AMADEUS Cara will be the 8-day Danube Rhapsody cruise from/to Passau at the end of April 2021.

For the remaining season, the cruise ship will be travelling on the Danube to the Black Sea, as well as between Amsterdam and Basel on the Rhine.  

River of dreams: With Herself in Amsterdam

And you all know what I think of Amsterdam… Pictures of Amsterdam.

Prices start from £499.00 per person, cruise-only on a three-night ‘Interlude on the Danube’ itinerary, based on 16 August 2021 sailing.

This round-trip from Passau is the perfect taster for anyone new to river cruising.

Prices start from £1,699.00 per person on a Three Rivers Cruise, based on 2 September 2021 sailing.

Rhine for any season

Travel along the Rhine, Main and Danube on a sailing that includes a transit of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal and the chance to visit the fairytale streets of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

For more information or to make a booking, call on 0808 115 8312 or email sales@amadeus-rivercruises.co.uk

Princess diary

I’ll drink to that: Princess and Medallion

Princess Cruises is increasing by six months the Australia and New Zealand season of the 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess.

The ship will now arrive in Australia on May 1 and sail Down Under for 12 months. 

This adds a total of 47 new cruises from five major Australian cities to the season. 

The ship was previously scheduled to sail in Asia from May-October. 

Sapphire Princess will arrive into Perth (Fremantle) following a multi-million dollar refurbishment. The full season comprises 171 port calls including: 

Night at the opera: Sydney

· A 10-night Coral Coast voyage sailing from Perth (Fremantle), visiting West Australia’s coastal destinations such as Broome, Geraldton and Exmouth. Departing May 4, 2020.

· A 17-night Northern Explorer between Sydney and Perth (Fremantle) visiting destinations such as Geraldton and Cairns. Departing Perth (Fremantle) on June 8, 2020 

· Roundtrip voyages to Fiji from Brisbane and Sydney including a 12-night Fiji cruise sailing from Sydney visiting Dravuni Island and Lautoka. Departing June 25, 2020 

· Australia Circumnavigation voyages from Sydney, Adelaide and Perth (Fremantle) including an inaugural 28-night Round Australia cruise out of Adelaide.

Beach life: In Fiji

Visiting Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island, Port Arthur, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane, Yorkeys Knob, Alotau,  Darwin, Kimberley Coast (Scenic Cruising), Broome, Geraldton, Perth (Fremantle), Margaret River (Busselton) and Adelaide.

Departing from Perth (Fremantle) 10 August, 2020 

The new cruises are on sale from Thursday, February 27. 

Sapphire Princess will receive MedallionNet WiFi from June 4, offering guests the fastest Wi-Fi at sea. 

And I love my little Princess. Cruiseday Extra – Loyal to my Princess.

Visit www.princess.com.

Adventure, Africa, Asia, Australasia, Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – Holiday World

Must fly… I’m scooting around the 30th Holiday World.

The annual Travel Extra fair which has moved onto Dublin from Belfast and Limerick.

And I’m catching up with a fleet of Travel providers if that’s the right collective noun.

So that’s me with Colombia Charges D’Affaires Patricia Cortez Ortiz.

Colombia hat

In my Colombia hat. And you thought it was a Panama Hat.

Well Panama used to be a part of Colombia so it really should be called a Panama hat.

There are various ways to get to Colombia with a stop-off.

I’d recommend through Amsterdam with my old pals at KLM… www.klm.com,

And maybe stop the night… Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Free coffee: With Ethiopian’s charmingly named Free at Ethiopian Airlines’ stand

While, of course, here’s Free, my new Ethiopian pal.

Ethiopia and other destinations

And here’s some really good offers which are as good as free.

Ethiopian Airlines www.ethiopianairlines.com has a these destinations from Dublin…

Its capital Addis Ababa: From €501.

Victoria Falls: From €552.

Sao Paolo: From €804.

Kilimanjaro: From €519.

I got a headstart for this weekend of Travel networking at the Wendy Wu lunch Hungry and Thursday – Chinese Wu Year and www.wendywutours.ie yesterday.

Where I talked all things up in the sky and down on the ground.

All the world: Finnair & El Al, Wendy
Wu, Bandanaman. Emirates

With Wendy’s flight partners Emirates www.emirates.com and www.elal.com.

Emirates sale

Just a reminder that the Emirates sale ends January 26 which, through this funk of drink, I know is Sunday.

So Emirates has these round trip deals:

Bangkok from €519.

Dubai from €549.

Kuala Lumpur from €569.

Phuket from €679.

Perth from €1119.

Sydney from €1119.

The Promised Land

El Al of a country

The big news at El Al http://www.elal.com is the three non-stop flights from Dublin to Tel Aviv from May 26 from €326.

Now I’ve seen Israel from the Red Sea and the Dead Sea… and right up close with www.gadventures.com.

And personal, across the River Jordan The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time where the Israelis say John the Baptist baptised Jesus.

Although the Jordanians say it was further into their country.

And yes I’ve seen it too from atop Mount Nebo where Moses saw the Promised Land.

Next stop Israel

But couldn’t get in because he’d fallen out with God.

I’m making sure I’m staying on HIS right side as a Eucharistic Minister.

dQQQQÀ

So that I can fulfil a lifelong ambition to visit Israel https://www.touristisrael.com/visit-israel/.

Maybe this year, God willing, whoever He or She may be.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES