Caribbean, Countries, Deals

Caribbean cruising

You’ll get to see the Sandy Lane brigade if you sail by the secluded complex, lying on their loungers and ne’er getting out to see Barbados.

Barbados is rightly renowned around the world for these pink beaches but it also boasts a wonderful capital.

Howzat: At the Kensington Oval Barbados Bridgetown

The British settled around a primitive bridge in the Careenage region which would be how the town that later grew up came to be called Bridgetown.

The Fun Five: My Barbados party

Today’s Bridgetown where Royal Caribbean will be home porting for winter 2021/22 is a hive of activity, culture and colour.

Harbouring dreams

The harbour is adorned with Bajan clothes shops and bar/restaurants while out on the water stand catamaran party boats.

Taste of Barbados: Mount Gay

Ready to take you out on the water for a Soca sing-a-long and dip in the sea with the turtles and schools of multi-coloured fish.

While if you want to dive for other treasures then try the glass-bottomed boats on a trip out to see shipwrecks.

Hamper time: In Barbados

Talking of wrecks you will be after overindulging at Mas and no that’s not a typo, it’s what Bajans call a party.

While limin’ is their pre-drinking which starts when you get up, with the best spots advertised on the news reels in the bus station.

Soca star: Lewis Hamilton at Crop Over in Bridgetown

Cave Shepherd department store in Broad Street is a Bridgetown institution where you might even get a Kiss from Rihanna.

Carry on cruising

So I’ve gone a bit off message here aa I’m looking to promote RC’s home porting here but I’m just giving you a glimpse of Bridgetown life.

Cocktail o’clock in Barbados

Which you won’t get from inside your ivory tower at Sandy Lane.

And guess what, it only gets better with RC also announcing a home porting for Scarborough in Tobago.

The Tobagonians will be only too glad to see you as I witnessed when a couple weighed up at The Blue Crab

Soul food

When we were being hosted by Auntie All and Uncle Kenneth who treated us like family and threw their doors open to them too… on their day off.

RC are also home porting in Tobago’s big brother island Trinidad in Port of Spain and Kingstown, St Vincent.

Deal me in

RC are flagging up a special seven-nighter Southern Caribbean Explorer from Barbados from €394pp for December 5, and other offers.

Nylon Pool in Tobago

And this takes in seven (count them) islands.

And they are also offering up to €150 off your Stateroom.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

Countries, Culture, Europe

Kos I love you

With apologies to Seventies Glam Rock gods Slade but I’ve pinched one of your biggest hits to promote the Greek island of Kos. Why? Kos I love you!

OKU by you!

And us, because OKU Hotels have put their own individual footprint on Kos which soft-launched last year.

While it is, of course the sister of OKU Ibiza, opening on April 30 and which we have featured before on this site.

So let’s give some philia for our Greek friends.

And I ‘m being careful here to make sure I get the right expression as the Greeks have a range of words for love.

All Greek to me

I’d er, love, to say that I remember them all from my school Classical Greek but, in truth, I only recall the word eros… funny that.

Pictures of Kos

I guess I’ll always be that sniggering schoolboy.

But I’ll always love Greece and this life is an odyssey for me after all. To get around as many Greek islands as I can.

Kythera you weren’t the last.

The other Greek words for love are ‘philia’ meaning friendship and which Aristotle popularised, and the Americans were big into, particularly those in Philadelphia (brotherly love).

Before they started falling out.

What’s in a word?

‘Agape’ is more a word denoting charity and God’s love for us and ours for him, while ‘storge’ is the love of parents for their children.

‘Philautia’ (behave!) is self-love while ‘xenia’ is hospitality though unfortunately it has been attached to an opposite Greek word ‘phobia’ or fear to denote a fear of foreigners.

And that has no place on this site, or among Bandininis and Bandanettes.

You’ll have a smashing time in Kos

It’s the meetings with other peoples and learning about their cultures which we’re all missing so much just now.

So let’s hear if for the Japanese who are bringing their own Zen to us in Europe (and Buddha knows we need just now) with their OKU hotels.

The OKU Kos opens on April 5 with 100 spacious rooms including suites with private and semi-private pools and a handful of private two-bedroom villas.

Greek island: Kythera

There’s a spa, hammer, sauna and fitness studio with daily complimentary yoga classes at the beach pavilion or yoga terrace.

Adults only

An adult-only resort with a main pool and direct access to a private beach I’d say this is ‘storge’ because the kids will love having their parents away.

With the faint hope of ‘eros’ for the adults.

And having honeymooned in another Greek island, Corfu, then I can vouch for these Greek islands. Happy times before the ‘paidia’ or children came along!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure, Africa, Countries, Culture, Deals, Food

Holiday Snaps – Capes of good hope

And, yes, you read that right. I’m talking of the Eastern and Western Capes of South Africa and the Good Hope of returning ine day.

TV chef Gregg Wallace has been conjuring up memories of the Eastern Cape foe me in his ITV travelogue series, sponsored by Saga Holidays.

Where last week he went on safari at the Amakahla Game Reserve, just north-west of Port Elizabeth, and this week goes west to Table Mountain et al.

Chin chin: Gregg Wallace in South Africa

Of course Gregg got stuck into biltong, the dried cured meat they all eat out there.

The promo video shows Gregg toasting us with a South African white you can almost taste.

But a piece of advice, Gregg, if you really want to go native then you need to put ice in the wine.

Bergamo stands alone

Bergamo Molamia: Stay strong

Mola Mia… and I’m glad to see that Ryanair is giving Bergamo back its name in its latest tranche of offers and not just aa an appendage of Milan.

They flag up the medieval jewel of Lombardy at up to €30 off which takes you to their €23.99 one-way deal for Milan Bergamo.

Bur hey, Bergamo wasn’t built in a day… and I’ll share all its history and how it has rallied from being the doorway for Covid in Europe.

Una ciocolatta di calda densa: In Bergamo

Book foe Bergamo and a raft of destinations by January 13. Travel between April 1 and October 31.

Ryanair helpfully shares where you can get a Covid test near you.

Sandals in the sand

Blessed: Saint Lucia

Or more accurately on the runway. Actually the plane on the runway but then my hour in Saint Lucia just whetted my appetite.

My Saint Lucian pal Jerry, the Big Rapper, from my G Adventures tour of Jordan had given me the skinny on his island.

And how he had plans for writing a guide book.

Look out for that when you’re out in Saint Lucia at Sandals who have a January sale on.

They have seven nights at the Sandals Regency La Toc with travel dates in September and October.

Fly with British Airways and stay in a honeymoon luxury.

Now I’ve experience of a couples hotel in Barbados and a Sandals on the south of the island too,

While, if you want to island hop, Saint Lucia is the stop-off for another prize destination Tobago.

Countries, Food & Wine, UK

Islay – isle of whisky

If I have to be locked up for the next month then just give me the keys to a distillery in Scotland’s whisky isle.

Scotland’s islands are in a lower tier than the rest of us and all eight distilleries on the 25-mile long distillery are closed to us

But not I should imagine the janitor who has all that golden peaty whisky at his disposal.

For peat’s sake

You, of course, can have whisky on tap and a distillery at your disposal if you rent out a function room.

And that’s social distancing for you

For, say, a humanist/Buddhist!/Scottish wedding reception.

The kimonos and kilties were waving in the wind and the sake and whisky were flowing at Ardbeg’s for Stewart and Hisayo’s big day.

Cornering the market

Islay is a haven in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland.

Served by tbe Caley Mac ferry, Caledonian MacBrayne and Logan Air.

Not out of place in Islay

With only 3,228 guid folk inhabiting the island you’ll see more animals and sea life than human and ain’t that sweet?

Bowmore https://www.bowmore.com/

is the capital and, of course, it has a distillery too.

And that other staple of island life, the church.

Bowmore’s is distinctive because it is cylindrical with no corners for the de’il, or devil, to hide.

Capital stuff: Bowmore

While there is also one of the best public swimming pools anywhere with a window out onto the Atlantic Ocean.

Now that’s an infinity pool for you!

Wash all over you

Everyone will have their favourite distillery but for sheer location Laphroaig in the harbour is the one for me.

The barrels are kept in the cellar where the sea laps up and seeps through the walls.

To give the whisky its distinctive salty, smoky, seaweedy taste.

Do you want water with that? Laphroaig

For a comprehensive tour of the island’s distilleries until we can get back out there and do it yourself then here’s a Swedish videographer

Or dig into your favourite whiskoiseur’s ramble around the drinking tours of the world.

And back to Islay, just be careful when you’re in the whisky and you have to ride your bike back to your rented house.

I have the scars to prove that it’s best to walk home.

America, Countries, Culture

It’s another American conspiracy

We’re hard-wired to try to explain what we can’t accept by shouting CONSPIRACY!

And that is why Covid had to have been engineered by a Chinese lab.

And why the US Election was stolen by underground alien child snatchers.

They and the rest of the SH1T we’re seeing now will draw the Conspiracy Tourist for years to come.

Of course our curiosity for conspiracies is constantly fed by books and movies, the most recent of which is a new one on me…

Grab a Booth

Public enemy No.1 http://www.fords.org

John Wilkes Booth, Washington and Virginia: And it is timely to talk of Booth.

And we all saw the Confederate flag-wielding protestor breaking into the US Capitol Rotunda last week.

Channel surfing, I fell upon a PBS programme.

Somebody was positing whether it was indeed Booth who was shot dead in his hideout in Virginia.

It was though the actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC

Let your imagination run wild aa you walk through history itself.

The classy knoll

The Book Depository in Dallas where you found more than books

The Dallas Book Depository: And the segue here is the highest pub in Ireland, Johnnie Fox’s in the Dublin Mountains.

Where amongst all the Irish memorabilia there is a poster comparing the circumstances of Lincoln’s death and Son of Ireland John F Kennedy.

Both 43, both succeeded by a Johnson, Booth killing Lincoln in a theater, Oswald arrested in a cinema.

If it was in fact Oswald… all of which you can learn and more at the Sixth Floor Museum at the Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

The Lorraine Motel

King and Memphis: And the most recognisable bedroom balcony in history which with its bedroom is now the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Where you can witness where Dr Martin Luther King was shot down.

And you’ll learn, as I did the strange circumstances behind ‘assassin’ James Earl Ray’s flight.

And also how fingers are pointed at the FBI and the Mafia.

Ray was arrested weeks later in Heathrow Airport in London after suspicions were aroused because he was in possession of two passports.

All of which makes me edgy every time I visit the Deep South

And go through customs as I carry around my old passport with my ten-year American visa.

Goodbye Norma Jean

Lying with Marilyn

Marilyn and LA: And Marilyn Monroe fans will all pay a pilgrimage to her last resting place.

The Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary is a retreat of solace in La La Land.

Where Marilyn rests in peace for eternity.

Apart that is from the unwanted attention of her nemesis Hugh Heffner who bought his drawer next to her.

In life Marilyn too was hounded to her death. By suicide if you believe the official line.

Better celebrate her life instead around LA and in Hollywood and Venice Beach… forever the California Girl.

A concrete story

What’s behind the door? The Mob Museum in Las Vegas

The Mob in Vegas: And Las Vegas is built on conspiracy with every gambler who has ever lost his shirt able to blame the house.

Of course Las Vegas was built on Mob money and on top of crooks who have crossed then.

You can learn all about all the shady goings-on at the Mob Museum

It’s an offer you can’t refuse.

Countries, Cruising, Flying, Food & Wine

New Year Revolutions

And as the Alt-Right tries to wage a Second American Revolution in the US a look at the revolutions we do need.

The air

United we atand

And clearly the challenge is carbon emissions where EasyJet can take a bow.

The budget airline topped a London School of Economics report in a top five which also includes Alaska Air, Qantas, my old friends at United who flew me to the Deep South and JetBlue.

The seas

Norway wood: In the Norwegian fjords

And high up for the haters in this Covid and Climate crisis are our cruise ships.

Where my old faves MSC whom I sailed with around the Norwegian fjords, Royal Caribbean who showed off their wares in the English Channel and in Barcelona.

And Celebrity Cruises who treated us all like, well Celebrities, off the coast of Florida on their $1bn state-of-the-art Edge.

A nod here to Princess Cruises who had us on board when they stopped off in Dublin on their way round Britain and Ireland.

And Paul Gauguin Cruises who drew us a picture of tantalising Tahiti who have been keeping us going through lockdown with their images and news.

The food

Food for thought: A tajine

And now more than ever we have to watch what and where we eat.

So that means avoiding markets we know little about in countries we are visiting for the first time.

So for me that was Morocco and I should have gone with the professionals.

Northern Africa and the Middle Eastern food is bright, spicy and often new for Western palates so don’t be afraid to ask.

And if you can find Zuhair, G AdventuresJordanian host extraordinaire then all the better.

All our cultures and culinary ways should be celebrated around the world and animal welfare should be central to our approach.

A joint resolution

I’ve probably already broken my own personal resolutions already so it might be presumptuous to ask my Travel pals to take on these targets.

But, in truth, we’re all in it together…

This past year’s challenges have brought opprobrium upon Travel professionals but lockdown has only reaffirmed how vital it is to us all.

So let’s build it back even better this year.

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

Jimuary, Ginuary, Veganuary, Japanuary

And whatever you’re having yourself… January is after all what we make it.

Jimuary in Scotland

Jim O’ Shanter

And for me and all of us of a Scottish disposition then January is Robert Burns’ Month.

Burns is Scotland’s National Poet and January 25 is his birthday… he would be 252 this year.

Wherever they are in the world Scots put on kilts and start eulogising little mice and the like… ‘wee sleekit timrous beastie, oh what a panic’s in thy breastie.’

It’s all the whisky we drink you see!

Alloway Bridge

Burns’ Village is a magical place with Burns’ Cottage, Alloway Kirk and Brig o’ Doon.

Where you can let your imagination run wild.

Three Scots mice

January is also the month when Dr Martin Luther King’s birthday is commemorated.. he was born on January 15 but Martin Luther King Day is actually January 18..

I was fortunate enough to attend the 50th commemoration of his assassination and followed the MLK Trail from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi.

Ginuary in Ireland

G&T O’Clock

And you could do worse than Co. Monaghan, the border county where a ginoisseur will guide you through each gin and tonic.

The Scary One turned her nose up at the juniper when presented with a tray of samples only to then dig in and minesweep them all.

Veganuary

And if it’s good enough for Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Barry White (and he had a healthy appetite, and for food).

Veganuary has really taken off in recent years and I’ve visited the oul’ plant-based food before on this site.

But seeing that the calendar has come around again and that you’ll be performing a public service by not visiting the shops.

Here’s to all those things in your flower beds which also includes the majestic tulip.

And Japanuary

Thanks here to our friends in The Land of the Rising Sun for always keeping it fun and funky.

So Japanuary?

Well, we’re all being encouraged to get on our bikes and in Japan you can do worse than following the Tanesashi Coastline and bike hire is just £10 per day.

They advise stopping off at fish restaurants and temples while ensuring that through the cycling your body remains a temple.

If that’s too sedentary for you then why not canyon through the Sarugajo Gorge.

Talking of temples you shouldn’t go to Japan and not visit a Zen Buddhist temple.

Oh, and in the year when the Olympics are coming to Tokyo then they’re challenging us all to get our adrenaline vibe on.

And ski a volcanic crater in Niseko.

America, Countries

Washington Rotunda – out of the many one

E Pluribus Unum – ‘out of the many one’ is etched into the Rotunda frieze of the US Capitol.

Not that the Mob who stormed it would know nor care.

The motto was first voiced in American political circles in 1776 by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, but clearly originated from Classical times.

And it has endured as a mission statement since those days when out of the 13 colonies became one United States.

Higher things: The Rotunda

Land of the coup

The Revolution has been hijacked by the ‘Stop the Steal’ Lobby since Joe Biden’s November victory.

With the iconic painting of George Washington Crossing the Delaware and the election result used as a rallying poster.

Their argument is that Washington and the troops on his rafts that Christmas Day flouted authority.

They refused quarantine and took down the greatest army of its day.

No place like dome/ The US Capitol

Oh, yes, and they had God on their side too.

The Rotunda has become a sacred place for all Americans..

Lincoln and Kennedy’s bodies lay in state here so the public could pay tribute.

While just last year Civil Rights activist John Lewis and Women’s Rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg were each given the honour.

Pocahontas

The Rotunda clearly resonates with Americans and visitors to the US Capitol.

Washington legacy

The Apotheosis of Washington, finished at the end of the Civil War, places the first US President in a Classical frieze setting.

But while he is the centre-point in the Rotunda of the parliament.

In the city that bears his name it is significant to consider another who shares equal billing in the Rotunda.

That American is Pocahontas, a First Nation heroine of the peoples who inhabited this land first.

In the Frame: Part of the American Story

The Land of the Free has become The Land of the Flawed this past troubled year.

But at its heart and in the sentiments displayed around the Rotunda and who it memorialises from its history and its present lies hope.

Motto of hope

That E Pluribus Unum, out of the many one, and that ‘many’ is the majority which voted in the ‘one’, the President Elect Joe Biden.

The correct, proper and dignified way to visit the US Capitol is not by kicking down doors and parading Confederate flags but on the official tour.

While the beauty of Washington DC itself is that you can walk through American history on its streets and Smithsonian Museums.

E PLURIBUS UNUM

Africa, Countries, Culture, Food

Tagine genie and Morocco

It all looked so exotic under its earthenware cone… I only wish I’d known what to look out for in a Moroccan tagine.

I didn’t know then but do now about the Tagine Cookery Class With A Local in Marrakech class which you’ll need to check out when you visit Morocco.

Anyone who has been to the Pink City will learn quickly that you’re always best to have a local show you around.

A taste if Morocco

And not the False Guides who proliferate around Marrakech and in whose clasp I found myself when a chancer offered to take me to a Turkish barber.

But the credited guides, and ours was particularly knowledgeable and was also a sight better at bargaining on our behalves.

The class souk

They also obviously know their way through the souk which also helps, particularly when there’s a funeral procession running through it.

One we made earlier

And this is what your cookery course organisers will handle, taking you through the souk where you will get advice on what herbs and spices to buy.

Before they get you to cook the tagine for yourself and your party in a riad. And all for just £45.15pp.

The perfect course

Cookery courses are all the rage on holiday and I’ve learned how to make a Tobagonian chicken curry, and a Colorado apple pie

And yes, this would have headed off a battering at the pass that I took at the pass in the Atlas Mountains on a stormy day in Ramadan.

Our friends at the Moroccan tourist board are rightly flagging up the.charms of the Atlas Mountains and its environs.

The camel treks, the Berber song, drum and folk dance in the desert and the chance to sleep out under the stars.

Which for everyone else was in a tent but for me was in a toilet with no flush… lock on the door, or roof.

A trip to the Berber

If only I’d known about the Marrakech cookery class.

Still, you do get a better star show from an open-roofed shack in the Atlas Mountains.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Flying

Electric Qatar

They arrived from the East, the Three Wise Men, and as we mark the Coming of the Magi tomorrow, another favour… please send some more.

Because as we witness the Gulf celebrating New Year with real-live people, watching real-live performers, it’s clear they can teach us how to zap this Pandemic thing.

These are good times for the Gulf with a New Year bringing new hope too for solving some differences between neighbours.

Qatar star

Saudi Arabia has reopened its air space to Qatar ahead of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut ties with Qatar three and a half years ago over allegations that they supported terrorists.

For all of us who are climbing the walls looking to go somewhere exotic (and Celtic FC) then the Gulf is always enticing… and there’s actual life happening.

The Gulf, as we all know, is a favourite stop-off en route to other great locations although we’d recommend staying a while.

Qatar Airways has the magical Maldives from London, one stop, from £365.14pp.

While we found this London to Dubai offer on the Sky World Travel site flying Qatar Airlines from €290pp.

Tweet music

And Doha will keep you captivated with the golden opportunity to see city and sand.

With Doha: Private Combo City Tour & Desert Safari from £152.01.

Qatar has something for everyone: Angry Birds World Qatar anyone? Or Circus World.

And if you want something more cultural then there’s the Museum of Islamic Art and Katara.

Where you’ll find those staples of Qatari life, the Katara Mosque and Beach.

And as for Banana Island, well we’ll let you find out for yourself.