Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Liam Neeson will find you, and he WILL green you

What I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career – Bryan Mills (aka Liam Neeson), Taken.

And make no mistake Liam Neeson will look for you, will find you, and WILL green you.

Irish eyes are smiling: Liam Neeson

Yes, Big Liam is fronting a new online video for St Patrick’s Day with footage shot around Ireland.

A Giant was here: The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

At locations like Dingle, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Derryclare Lough, Newgrange and Titanic Belfast.

Taken with a green filter

The Greening Tower of Pisa

The footage will be interwoven with images from Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative.

That will see famous landmarks and iconic sites illuminated in green each year on St Paddy’s Day, Wednesday, March 17.

The Taken actor waxed lyrical about his native country.

London calling

He said: ‘This year, more than ever, seeing the world turn green for St Patick’s Day will help to bring positivity and hope to millions on 17 March.

‘This is a reminder of the beautiful island that awaits when it is safe to travel again.’

The man himself

The announcement of the new landmarks to be greened around the world has always been a highlight of the year and this year is no exception.

And may even be more dramatic with the absence of us to spoil the view.

An Irish Opera: Sydney Opera House

The Tourism Ireland initiative began on March 17, 2010, when the Sydney Opera House was bathed in shades of green.

And it quickly caught on with The London Eye, Niagara Falls, the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China...

Phew (pause for breath) Rio‘s Christ the Redeemer and the One World Trade Center in New York among the more than 300 around the world going green.

Viva Green Vegas

I’ll put it all on green: Vegas

While the Welcome sign in Las Vegas will be emerald too…

Hopefully in preparation for the delegation of Travel professionals from this island going out to their American Travel Fair in the Autumn.

Our friends at Tourism Ireland earlier this month announced details of those famous attractions and reminded us too of the debt we owe to Wales.

It is after all the birthplace of St Patrick, where the village of Portmeirion will green up.

The Mannekin Piss in Brussels

Over the coming week, Tourism Ireland will roll out its St Patrick’s film in 12 markets around the world.

Including Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, the Nordic countries, the GCC (Gulf Cooperaton Council), the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

Seth’s magnus opum

For a broader sense of Ireland’s Greening of the World, check out the beautiful book of that name by renowned Irish journalist Seth Linder.

And because every picture tells a story, here is a further selection from his book.

Rio de Greeneiro

Should it not be Moulin Verde?

I Greensterdam
Colossal: The Colosseum
Empire state of green mind

A little bit of Scotland

The Kelpies in Falkirk

Of course, there will be a corner of North Berwick, here in Scotland which will be Forever Green.

 

Asia, Australasia, Countries, Deals, Europe

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Day oi oi oi

G’day my Antipodean friends and good to see you’re able to celebrate it publicly.

Which no doubt Smutley, Brownie, PC, Roscoe, Brad et al will mean getting shitfaced.

I never got to Australia but Australia got to me in the Eighties when I did back-to-back Oktoberfests in Munich.

I had booked me a seat and a bed (which were pretty much the same thing) on a ten-day Topdeck bus trip to Bavaria.

But innocent abroad that I was I neither knew that Earl’s Court in London was an Aussie enclave nor that Top Deck was an Aussie firm.

Aussies in Aberdeen

Forward fast three months and the Hilton district of Aberdeen was also an Aussie enclave.

When Smutley and Brownie turned up and asked to stay for the weekend…. and stayed for a year.

And they brought their pals too much to the pleasure of the female student population of Scotland’s Granite City.

Aussies abroad

Now Aussies show us the way when it comes to travelling and Topdeck know what’s most important to them.

That it’s cheap and cheerful, and my two Oktoberfest trips at just £84 were the best value holidays I have ever purchased.

Now knowing that you’ll want to get back out on the road when all this virus eases up Topdeck have you covered.

Europen odyssey

Of course we can’t jump in a Topdeck machine to go back and get 1985 prices but they are offering 25% off.

Spirit of Europe is an 11-country, 24-day odyssey starting and ending in London coming in from £2,193 down from £2,924.

You’ll see England, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands.

Japanese promise

All roads lead to Japan this year with the Olympics, or at least this one road we hope.

Japan Highlights is a 12-day tour leaving and returning to Tokyo, down from £3,278 to £2,485.50.

Indian treasures

While if India is more your thang… Namaste India is a ten-day trip, starting and finishing in New Delhi, down from £1,429 to £1,071.75.

And if you should ask the whereabouts of the person you first meet on the bus and he says he’s from Perth…

Then it’s Perth, WA, not Perth, Scotland… ‘and we’re all from Australia or New Zealand, mate.’

Happy Australia Day, mates.

And while we’re here a rousing call to arms from the original Aussie singing superstars The Seekers and I Am Australian.

And tell me too your fave Aussie bands and singers.

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.

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

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

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