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.

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.

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.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals

The Land of Milk and Honey and Vaccines

They know all about plague and pestilence in Israel and how to address it which is why they will vaccinate ALL their citizens by the end of next month.

Israel has pledged to do what every country’s leaders are required to do, and that is, look after all its near 10 million citizens.

Which beggars the question why can a nation of that size offer security from the virus this quickly when the countries closest to my heart can’t?

That’s Ireland and Scotland – combined population 11 million.

The good news then is that Israel is living up to its own billing as The Promised Land.

Or if you like The Land of Milk and Honey and Vaccines.

Wall to wall coverage

And you can visit The Holy Land safely when of course you provide your negative test,

The Holy Land

Which we’ve been dragging our feet on, or just plainly getting wrong, despite what our leaders have been claiming.

Western perceptions about other countries have often been misleading throughout the Pandemic, fed often by digital fake news.

And I recall the feeding frenzy last year over a fake news picture of thousands of pilgrims worshipping at the Waiting Wall in Jerusalem.

For my authority on such matters I check with my old pal Arthur who runs a news fact-checking agency.

And I push out the facts and info on Travel, and for Israel.

Over there

The land which I yearned for from the banks of the Jordan at the site of the Baptism of Jesus.

And Mt Nebo where Moses looked out on the Promised Land but could not visit on account of him falling out with Yahweh, or the Big G.

Dead cool

Another G here, and heaven-sent too, are my friends at G Adventures

They have the Middle East covered and are offering Israel Explorer, Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an eight-day tour from £1274, valid on August 13. Was £1499.

The best of both

Or if you want to tie it with Jordan, and you will, then the 15-day Explore Israel & Jordan is from £3049, depart March 21.

Israel that-a-way

And G Adventures will find you the best option for flights when you call.

G Adventures remain close to my heart… and my health with my G Adventures snood my go-to mask this past year.

MEET YOU BY THE WALL

Countries, Culture, Food & Wine, UK

Brew’s up – the perfect Covid beer cure

The Blood Service give you a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive but maybe they’ll now follow Brewdog’s lead of giving beer after a Covid vaccine shot.

The Aberdeenshire beer chain have come up with an inventive and public-spirited way of getting us all to get our shots.

I’ll take all four

They plan to throw open their closed bars as vaccination centres.

And they have asked the public for help in naming the new vaccine-themed beer.

Only here for the beer

As a steer they have mocked up a Vaccine Canteen, Little Prick, Community Immunity and Jab Lab.

All good, but why in the 13 years I was away from Scotland did we start saying jab instead of jag?

Breweries are a staple on tour itineraries and it is always welcome to sample a region’s or a brand’s beer.

I’ve sent many a Wish You Were Beer message from my travels around the world.

Interior decorations

And listened through the spiel from the Master Brewer about the mashing process and the like.

And prayed silently that nobody would ask a question which would require an answer that would eat into the drinking time.

The same goes for any vaccinations.

I mean, do you really want to be left waiting for your complimentary beer because somebody is firing off questions.

That would be a little prick.

Serve it uo

BrewDog Dog Tap in Ellon, near Aberdeenis one if your more accessible brewery tours.

And you get an insight into what must be one of the better places to work.

You can bring your per to work… and, oh, all that beer!

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Happier New Year

As the Scary One never tires of reminding me I went away a dozen times last year which I, of course, didn’t have the courage to correct her on…

It was nearer 14! 2020 though was a quieter affair for some reason.

Voyage of the Jim Treadee

That said, it’s always about the quality, not the quantity. Hell, who am I kidding? It’s always about the quality and the quantity!

I made some new friends and hooked up with some old ones…

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

And that’s before I made the biggest journey and commitment of them all by returning (for good, I’ve been told!) to my homeland, Scotland.

I make sure that I contact all those dream-makers at the end of every year who have hosted me over the course of the previous 12 months.

Fur Elise: My Travel partner Elise

And this year has been no exception.

And this year I add those who have tried to get me away but something has got in the way.

While my heart, and any help I can ever give, I give to those for whom 2020 saw them lose their jobs or business.

Bohemia. Beer and Beethoven

Na Zdravi: In Prague

This time I was let off the leash in one of my favourite cities and given a monastic brewery to sup in and a Hoptown.

But heck, my pal Katarína knows how I roll.

And she’d arranged a walk through Bohemian Switzerland which is the Czech Republic which is Narnia.

In the frame: In Zatec

Confused? Well this is the centre of Europe, battleground and playground for the continent’s great powers.

And where the Great and Good came to compose and repose.

Czech mate: Well, she is Slovakian but Katarina is my Czech Tourism pal

We stayed in the Beethoven Spa, where Beethoven himself had a room, and where they have his hearing horns and his death mask.

There was a nuclear bunker, an opera and much else.

This one is Fur Elise (no really, that is her name), my travel partner… I do hope you got to Russia.

Stastnejsi novy rok.

Bergamo Stay Strong

Bergamo life: Una ciocolatta di calda dens in Bergamo

And because I’m a journalist, and a contrarian, I rush for trouble where others run away from it.

So that when images of Bergamo in lockdown, here in Western Europe, shot onto our screens I vowed I would get out there.

Which I did in the Autumn when I saw a city, and its citizens, blending in with the changing of the seasons and nature’s ways.

Bergamo stay steong

Nature had not been kind to the Berganaschi with the Northern European city Covid’s European epicentre in March.

But here they were back out in the piazzas, looking beautiful and cool, even behind their masks.

Fun of the Funiculare

Well they all speak with their hands anyway (parlano con le mani).

And they have much to tell us about their city.

About their favourite sons Papa Giovanni XXIII who gave his name to the hospital we were all transported to in March.

And composer Gaetano Donizetti who is ubiquitous in the city which throws an annual operatic festival to him.

A poplar choice

As ubiquitous as Italian hero and freedom fighter Guiseppe Garibaldi who on his Expedition of the 1,000, his march on Rome, drew heavily from Bergamo.

Which has given the city the moniker, La Citta dei Mille (the city of the thousand). My kinda people.

 Anno nuovo piu felice.

 

 

Countries, Culture, UK

Oxford is always the cure

The City of Dreaming Spires has granted our wishes again with a game-changing vaccine and in truth Oxford always delivers.

The ancient university city on the Thames was a favourite destination of mine.

In my years living in the Thames Valley.

A well-worn day trip for foreign visitors from London here’s why…

Give it a punt

We’ll try them all

Punting: It’s an enduring image of Oxford, to stand up on a boat and steer your way with an oar.

Which is how they came up with the term ‘punter’ probably… or probably not.

Order your Champagne and smoked salmon.

And get down to the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse on the River Cherwell, another of Oxford’s waterways.

Potter about

Hall of fame: Oxford University

Harry Potter: Yes, the world’s most famous university inspired the world’s most famous school, Hogwarts.

Right, so you’ll be wanting to go to the Bodleian Library.

And you’ll feel right back in Philosopher’s Stone where Harry is hospitalised after confronting Voldemort.

Or the New College Cloisters where Malfoy was sitting in a tree in Goblet of Fire.

And where you can see the very same gigantic oak.

To get the full experience and to enjoy another icon in Alice in Wonderland then get on the Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland Official Walking Tour.

And don’t be late for this very important date.

While if you can’t get enough of Harry…

Then you’ll want to visit The Making of Harry Potter in Watford and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando,

Seat of learning

Give us a clue: Morse and Lewis in Oxford

Oxford University: The UK’s oldest and most famous uni is really 38 different colleges.

And for the dreamiest view from the dreamiest spire.

Then you’ll want to climb the University’s tallest tower, the University Church of St Mary the Virgin.

We’re sure Oxford’s most famous Inspector, Morse was here. And you can retrace his footsteps on the Morse, Lewis and Endeavour Tour.

 

America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Repose en paix Pierre Cardin

French Riviera: The invitation to Pierre Cardin’s Bubble house must have got lost in the post.

Seeing it from the outside would have to suffice.

But seeing it from a speed boat on the French Riviera is a pretty good vantage point.

The Palais Bullas,, or Bubbles Palace, was put back on the market a few years ago – well, fashion god Pierre was well into his 90s by then.

For £300m the specs for the 12,000sqm complex, the haunt of many a celeb, included.

Ten space-aged rooms, three swimming pools, a 500-seater amphitheatre and lush gardens.

Chic: On the French Riviera

Now Cannes is not cheap but Mimoza’s in neighbouring Mandelieiu-La-Napouke is within your budget.

And it has A golf course nearby, Continental Europe’s first, The Old Course, which Pierre’s gaffe doesn’t.

Still, repose en paix, Pierre.

Our thoughts with Croatia

Check out Croatia

Croatia: And our prayers go out to our friends in Zagreb and Croatia where they are recovering from the effects of a second earthquake in two days.

I am always drawn to a city which boasts a daily ritual…

View of Washington from Arlington

I’m thinking a Changing of the Guard, in Arlington the Beefeaters in London or the One O’Clock Gun in Edinburgh.

And Zagreb has a cannon which fires out paper.

My old friends Croatia Tours are the people to go with from Ireland.

From the UK…? I’m open to offers.

And a Happy New Air

Ryanair, flyin’ air

Flying: And we will be which is what Ireland’s national airline carrier Aer Lingus and Ryanair

Low-fare Ryanair are offering sizzling summer deals from €19.99.

And they’ve dropped their flight change fees for all new bookings made for travel before January 31.

And I’m noticing my faves Amsterdam, Hamburg and Lourdes in among the €19.99 tranche.

Lady Liberty is calling

Just because the shops are closed won’t stop us checking out the January Sales… and Aer Lingus.

They’ve got 30% off flights and checked bags to Europe, and Barcelona catches the eye.

While they’re all over North America with €149 sale deals which means I can swop Zoom for my cousins’ front rooms in New York and Washington DC