Adventure, Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine

Oscar bravo to Korea

It’s the pinnacle of your Korea as an actor. OK that’s enough puns (he lied).

South Korea is on everyone’s lips after Parasite’s sensational Oscar triumph yesterday in Hollywood.

And it gave me a little thrill to see Hollywood in all its glamour after visiting last year… https://www.discoverlosangeles.com/things-to-do/the-beginners-guide-to-hollywood and www.visitcalifornia.com.

All the colours of Seoul

So Chughahabrida to Korea and it. may again hold the world’s attention…

If they are successful in their joint-bid with the North to hold the 2032 Olympic Games.

Seoul hosted a memorable 1988 Olympic Games which was attended by all after the boycotts of Moscow 1980 and LA 1984.

The South Koreans came a-visiting just last month at the Holiday World Show in Dublin.

And wowed us with their pitch.

You won’t need second helpings

For a country that boasts old Buddhist temples, hilly countryside, coastal fishing villages.

Traditional food (look out for the bibimbap with its distinctive raw egg and sliced beef on top).

Sub-tropical islands, the volcanic Jeju island, and high-tech cities such as Seoul, the world’s third largest island, of course.

While Busan City is the country’s second largest, with mountains, water, a super cool bridge, and the world-famous Jagalchi Fish market.

Neon glitz in Seoul

I’m reminded here of my two brushes, indirectly, with the two Koreas.

My old Northern Irish flatmate who taught English as a foreign language to the public back in the Eighties.

I fear the poor souls will be going around saying ‘howabite ye?’ ‘yer man’ and a ‘wee fry.’

While my Orlando www.visitorlando.com and Why I love The Donald host Cory relayed us with tales from her year there where she was warmly welcomed.

By a nation where more than 90% of the population is indigenous.

Blooming marvellous

The South Koreans http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto want us to come to learn more about their culture and we theirs.

G Adventures www.gadventures.com has eight days ‘the Best of South Korea’ from €1399, down from €1749.

This trip embraces, rather than skirts, Korea’s troubled history with an excursion to the Demilitaised Zone separating the two Koreas.

Temple culture

You’ll visit spectacular Seoul, folk villages, temples and the bustling markets of Busan.

G Adventures can help point you in the direction of flights…

This offer is for departure date on March 13, and also March 20.

While there are 15% reductions for April 17 and March 30-June 7.

I can recommend first hand how interactive and how immersed in the local culture G Holidays are.

Shopping heaven: Traditional markets

With the best hosts… take a bow Zuhair.

From my visit to Jordan… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time and www.visitjordan.com.

So maybe this year your G Adventures trip will be to Korea… better start practising your Gangnam Style.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago

You’d easily miss the ‘No Squatting’ sign on Englishman’s Beach on the Caribbean island of Tobago. Robinson Crusoe did.

Convenient that, a seafarer remaining abandoned on this idyll for 28 years!

Daniel Defoe’s castaway has become the source of enduring fascination these past 300 years.

A modern-day Robinson Crusoe

Defoe, who drew on many shipwreck tales of the time tells us that his vessel sank within ‘sight of the great island of Trinidad’.

Which can only be its sister island of Tobago.

Oh, that… and also because of the goats. More of which later.

Which their government opportunistically renamed Isla Robinson Crusoe in 1966.

So would Crusoe recognise Tobago now?

The Englishman’s first challenge, of course, after making shore in 1719, would have been to find food.

With Attenborough’s pal William Trim

And through good fortune, or good judgment, he managed to avoid the poisonous yellow berries on the beach which our hosts warn us about.

Instead he shook the trees for coconuts and bananas and picked the mango groves.

And gladly lived off the other fruits of the land and the sea.

Which we, a party of five, who are guests of the Tobago Tourism Agency enjoy at a range of restaurants.

The Argyle Falls: And I won’t let my dye wash

Where the fish are close enough to jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

And where owners are friendly enough for you to call them ‘Auntie’ Alison and ‘Uncle’ Kenneth.

Tobago has been settled 32 times including randomly by Latvians.

Me…. I belong to Glasgow as the old music hall song goes but I’ve never been to a Glasgow bar like this.

Glasgow boys: Karl and I

It overlooks Parlatuvier Bay, every bit as beautiful as it sounds, and run by local Karl Glasgow.

Who, alas, has never been to Scotland, although his bar is bedecked with Scotland flags.

In an island just 12km wide and our three authentic billets allowed us either breathtaking views or close access.

For golfers Mount Bay Resort has its own course, while for those whose favourite hole is the 19th, it has the best rum punches on the island.

With Jeanelle and Porridge at Castara

Castara Retreats is a hidden-away gem.

And with its hammock on the balcony, and kitchen, buzzing village and bonfire party on the beach, it’s an indulgence worth rewarding you with.

And for convenience Kariwak Holistic Haven is ‘just around the corner’ from the airport, the Strip (with its bars, restaurants and a casino.)

And Sunday worship where you can repent those sins and ‘praise the Lord’ with the locals.

In search of more locals we head for the rain forest and the bird and animal sanctuaries.

Where the colourful hummingbirds, mockingbirds, black hawks and woodpeckers are in good voice.

Today’s intrepid explorer has rainforest expert William Trim who counts David Attenborough as an admirer.

Bird expert Ean Mackay and animal conservationists Ian Wright and Roy Corbin all there to reveal to us more of Tobago’s natural secrets.

I bet you Crusoe did the same.

And a cure for flu.

Which Crusoe would have experienced.

The barebacked turtles crawling out of the sea to lay their eggs on the beaches.

You’ll go limin’ (pre-drinking), jumpin’ and chippin’ (dancing on the stone chips).

No trip to Tobago would be complete either without a trip to Sunday School in Buccoo on the south of the island.

No, not that type of Sunday School, but a steel pan and Soca (Soul of Calypso) celebration.

Where the whole of the island comes out to drink and dance to the wee small hours (rum punch is the libation du jour).

Although Christmas feels more measured than back home possibly because it’s too warm out here for Christmas jumpers.

Here in Tobago amid the 30C temperatures don’t be surprised if you find Santa in a Christmas T-shirt on the beach.

But they are in fact racing goats who are in training for the Buccoo Festival at Easter..

And I bent over backwards at yoga too

And jockey Levi who shows me the ropes and how to handle my giddy goat Bandanaman… who comes with loose-fitting chord around his neck.

Before the starter cuts to the quick and shouts ‘Ready, Steady, Goat’, or at least I do.

I’m a natural, letting Bandanaman lead me 100 metres up the grass track by the football pitch.

Bonfire party

Today though it is his former mentor Terry Williams holding fort, tiring his young son Elijah out by having him run up a wind to help fly his kite.

It looks hard work in this heat and after my own exertions with the goats I welcome the prospect of a cool down.

On another day it’s the Nylon Pool in the middle of the Caribbean on a boat and snorkelling trip.

Princess Margaret would be proud

It is here that Princess Margaret honeymooned and was so taken by the waters that she described them as being as clear as her stockings (nylon).

Nylon Pool also has the added advantage of being a raised sand bank amid deeper water.

So you can have a bit of fun by standing around in the sea for some afternoon drinks.

And I started a party at Nylon Pool

No Man’s  Land, a small sandy island, is where we drop anchor for our own bespoke Christmas party. 

And where I suspend belief and indulge in rum punch instead of sherry, and mahi-mahi (like swordfish) instead of turkey. 

Party boy Brendan brings a festive feel to proceedings in his Santa hat.

And he listens to my Christmas wish list although I’ve got everything I’ve ever wanted here anyway.

It’s my hammock

Between Lover’s Bay, Pirate’s Bay and Crown Point’s Store Bay Beach where the Trinis (Trinidadians) will pop over on a 20-minute flight for the afternoon.

All of which we try, for research purposes you understand, in case Crusoe had ventured this way.

It is on Pirate’s Bay Beach where we meet a German party who emerge almost Crusoe-like from the thickets.

What a picture: I captured the island on canvas

And a clearing having walked the width of the island from its biggest town Scarborough.

My last day I spend as Crusoe would have done, in reverence to the Divine Creator.

And the sun sets on our Tobago break

And while Crusoe’s most solemn wish would have been to be rescued..,

Mine’s is that my big bird never arrives to fly me off my fantasy island.

The lowdown

Tobago Airport: It’s tiny

British Airways (www.ba.com) flies from Gatwick from £475pp (€560) return; Virgin Atlantic flies from Gatwick from £496pp (€586) return. All major airlines fly into London from Ireland.

Drivers and guides can easily be arranged at hotels to get you around Tobago. Car rental starts at around £44 (€51) per day.

WHERE TO STAY

Mount Irvine Bay Resort (www.mtirvine.com), A week with BA Holidays in January 2020 from £965pp (€1135) for a week’s B&B and return flights from Gatwick. Based on two sharing.

Holistic Heaven: But still time to have a cocktail

Kariwak Holistic Haven (www.kariwak.com):  A week with BA Holidays in January 2020 is priced from £1,195 (€1,405) per person for a week’s accommodation on B&B basis including free daily yoga, and return flights from Gatwick.  Based on two people sharing.

WHAT TO DO

The boat that rocks

Waterholics: Take a boat ride out to Princess Margaret’s honeymoon swimming spot, Nylon Pool, a sand bank deep in the sea, where you can also stand up in the sea, She said the waters were as clear as her nylon stockings. Visit www.ilovetobagott.com for information and prices.

The boat ride Jim did was $120pp. Waterholics do exactly what they say on the tin… coastline tours, glass bottom boat tours, dolphin watching, fishing trips, booze cruise for small trips et al.

Their mantra is ‘just add water’.

WHERE TO EAT

Macaroni and cheese with everything

Jemma’s Tree House, Charlotteville-L’Anse, Fourmi Rd, Hermitage. https://m.facebook.com/pages/Jemmas-Tree-House-Restaurant-Speyside-Tobago/352296588174092

Jemma’s Treehouse: Naturally there are birds

You’ll need to get used to sharing your table space with the hummingbirds but I suppose that comes from eating in a treehouse.

How much fun is that?

The ice cream: Rum’n’raisin naturally

Order mahi-mahi, a type of swordfish, and so good they named it twice.

IMPORTANT WEBSITE

For more information: (https://www.visittobago.gov.tt).

Adenture Farm and Nature Reserve Adventure: For the best bird-watching (and a villa to stay over in and wake up to the sound of hummingbirds and mockingbirds) https://adventure-ecovillas.com

Cannon fodder: At Fort King George

Fort King George and Museum http://nationaltrust.tt/location/fort-king-george-tobago/

Tobago Cocoa Estate: https://www.tobagococoa.com

Corbin Local Wildlife: http://www.tobagowildlife.com

And if you want more Caribbean fun see Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Thirteen years an Irishman – My capital cities (and Istanbul)

I belong to Glasgow,

Dear Old Glasgow toon,

But there’s nothing the matter with Glasgow

Because It’s going round and round.

I’m only a common-or-garden chap,

As anyone here can see.

But when I have a couple of drinks on a Saturday,

Glasgow belongs to me

I’m a city boy, always have been, always will be, and am going back to one of my favourites.

Edinburgh, or Embra as we say in Scotland.

But what of the others, I’ve been keeping you going with my top cities so here we go again:

Capitol idea

Washington DC: Four score and seven years ago (well, three years in my case) I fulfilled a lifelong ambition by visiting the US capital.

It’s still to be beaten for me as an American city.

The Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Washington Monument.

All the Smithsonians, and particularly the National Museum of African American History and Culture https://nmaahc.si.edu/splashify-splash and the National Museum of the American Indian https://americanindian.si.edu.

Arlington https://www.arlington.ie, the Kennedy graves, Robert E. Lee’s house, Frederick Douglas’s house. Oh, and the Capitol https://www.visitthecapitol.gov and the White House https://www.whitehouse.gov too.

Visit https://washington.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIx66X0f2v5wIVh7HtCh1YpQ9FEAAYASAAEgL9uvD_BwE.

Roman holidays

I’ll be back… and I was

My former colleague and still my pal, the office PA, Rebecca, is in Rome and asked me for some pointers.

Well, she’ll know the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Spanish Steps.

St Paul’s Basilica, the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel.

But she should try out the Capuchin Crypt where the bones and skulls of dead monks were used to build the three altars. Now that’s eternal.

Visit http://www.cappucciniviaveneto.it and https://www.rome.info and Small roads lead to Rome.

And before Rome there was Athens

An old relic… and the Acropolis

Socrates was here and so was I and two very helpful taxi drivers who got me here after I was late the first time… a case of Acropolis Later.

Athens is beautifully chaotic which is why I feel I belong there, there where you can get stuck in a restaurant lift for half an hour.

And walk in on an elderly couple post-coitus because the rooms were mixed up and the manager sends you up a couple of bottles of wine as an apology.

Visit Athens www.athensattica.com/things-to-see/ and My Greek odyssey.

And the crossroads – Istanbul

With my good pal Onur from Turkish Airlines

The crossroads of Europe and Asia and where I’d planned to get engaged 25 years previously.

On the Bosphorus where I made up for last year.

On a boat cruise with me singing along to Abba’s Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy (A man after midnight) and my pal did his Dancing Ian.

And, of course, the Hagi Sofya, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, whirling dervishes and the hamam where Florence Nightingale and Kate Moss went (https://www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr.

Visit https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/index.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu9Tm8aSw5wIVhbTtCh3HQwB5EAAYAiAAEgIwDPD_BwE and https://visit.istanbul and of course Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Harbour of my dreams

Valletta, a safe betta

I’m going to have to put this in as it was Malta where I actually did get engaged. I’d bent down to tie my laces and she yelled ‘Yes’.

The harbour is the most beautiful in the world… my survey and you should sail between the islands.

And Valletta’s Fortifications and the Caravaggio in the St John Co-Cathedral.

Visit www.maltaireland.com and Malta easer.

And tomorrow, five more from Northern Europe.

Countries, Culture, Europe

Thirteen years an Irishman – five top cities

For fear of causing an international diplomatic incident, here’s five more of my favourite cities.

In Northern Europe although, in truth, they stand comparison with any in the world.

So let’s get started with some of that rock’n’roll music… and…

Hamburger city

Hamburg (https://www.hamburg.com/visitors/): The Rieperbahn obviously but also the Elbphilormonie, or Elbe https://www.elbphilharmonie.de/en/… it’s not just for the stuffed shirts.

Then there’s Stefanie Hempell’s Early Beatles-Tour, her infectious smile, Der Fab Four anecdotes and songs on her ukulele… http://www.hempels-musictour.de

And, of course, eating hamburgers like a local in Dulf’s Burger https://m.facebook.com/dulfsburger/. Hamburgers and ships.

And a model railway museum which could seriously turn me… Why German trains always run on time.

I Amsterdam

Pictures everywhere

Amsterdam: Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Breughel, the tulip museum and the story of the world’s best flower… and cheese, and a cheese not a cheesy museum.

The Ann Frank Museum and a stirring reminder of how we need to remain vigilant against racism.

Canals, narrow bars and Middle Eastern food… who even needs to visit the Red Light District.

Visit www.iamsterdam.com and read Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Prague springs

Give peace a chance

Prague: Lennon’s wall and the Astronomical Church, obviously, but also the Castle which is really a district.

The Charles Bridge with its sculptures and jazz musicians.

The world’s second ugliest attraction, from Communist days, and they’re very proud of it. And one of my favourite statues ‘Piss’.

Visit https://discover-prague.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuJH_8KCz5wIVRrTtCh0ofAEHEAAYAyAAEgKhOvD_BwE and https://www.czechtourism.com/home/. And read Holiday Snaps – Prague for under €100.

Bergen’s charms

A lager is how much?

Bergen: The old wharf and traditional Norwegian buildings of Bryggen where you can always find a wooden (or real) troll.

The Floyen mountain with funicular and breathtaking views of the fjord and your ship.

And the Kode museum http://www.kodebergen.no with its Munch and Dahl (the landscape artist whose paintings drew the first 19th century cruises) exhibitions.

Visit https://en.visitbergen.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiM-726Wz5wIVSrDtCh3vLQROEAAYASAAEgJIZvD_BwE and The call of the fjords.

Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – My cup of tea

What is it about tea that the Irish and British love so much that it’s become the national drink?

So much so though that here in Ireland there’s a schism over which brand you drink.

Barry’s in Cork and Lyons in Dublin.

While I’ve been here for 13 and a half years but don’t know which the rest of the country prefer.

My pal Ines who runs the Milena guest house in the Marian site of Medjugorje http://www.pansion-filipovic.com takes a diplomatic stance.

She stocks both…

Get the kettle on.

I always try to spread the message wherever I go around the world.

And I flagged it up to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse in Colorado… https://www.boulderteahouse.com.

Dushanbe’s story is unique and inspiring: it came about as the result of a friendship.

Between the Tajikistan town and its sister city Boulder.

The Tajiks built it out there, it was disassembled, crated up and transferred across the world during the Cold War… Go West.

Of course the way we drink our tea is different from many countries in the world.

And in Muslim countries and the Middle East they prefer it spiced, minted, and with any number of infusions.

I first fell in love with Turkish tea in, get this, Turkey where I also fell in love with the people.

That was on a much-storied family holiday but I have, of course, been back… Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

And this is the evidence where every visitor to the historic hamam of Cagaloglu gets a refreshing Turkish tea… or stronger wine https://www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr.

Going local in Istanbul

The wine doesn’t flow as freely in Jordan, a drier country, but their teas are a great substitute.

And the Kawon Once Upon A Time vegetarian restaurant in Madaba with its big library of books and games is to be recommended… https://kawon-once-upon-a-time.business.site/posts/979636663081914742?hl=en.

Which tea?

As obviously is Jordan with G Adventures http://www.gadventures.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

I’ll get back to you on more of my favourite cups of teas (and my frontrunner is rosehip).

While, of course, I’ll tell you where I love my traditional tea, the way we drink it.

MEET YOU IN THE TEAHOUSE

America, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Portland – Let er buck

Scholastica sounds a pretty severe name for a woman and, as it happened, she was an English teacher… from Portland, Oregon.

But Scholastica, my Dad’s Sixtysomething second cousin, and this 14-year-old Scot had something in common… Tolkein.

I don’t know for sure that JRR didn’t visit Oregon but he would surely have been impressed by their Giant Redwood Trees.

Cool: Portland

Tolkein, for all you who don’t know, had walking, talking trees.

Portland and Oregon is known also as where all the Hippies from Haight Ashbury left for.

And so, yes, they probably see marching trees too.

Me? I stick to their very good whiskey which I was introduced to at the American Travel Fair.

Whiskey pals

‘Here’s a stetson hat, a whiskey, now you clink glasses and say ‘let er buck.’

All which stuff and nonsense I took to the table at the Woollen Mills in Dublin when the good people of Portland popped into town.

Queen of Portland Laura and Portland Bandanaman

Now, you’ve probably latched onto the fact that this iteration of me is Bandanaman.

And God help you, those who knew me when I wore a raccoon hat in my head, called ‘Lola’.

The whiskey and bon homie was flowing again last night.

And, of course, all talk centred around the North-West Coast state.

Flying high

Now, this was always going to be Westward whiskey, the pride and joy of Portland.

Stick it on me ead

Portland is unique in many ways, not least for boasting the world’s first-ever distillery-focused tasting room at the airport.

Fly me there… and Icelandair www.icelandair.com will through Reykjavik where you can also have a stop-off.

While British Airways www.ba.com flies there from London and Delta from Dublin through Amsterdam www.delta.com.

And Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com flies to Seattle which is approximately three hours drive to Portland.

The Portland hat

Portland also boasts the world’s largest bookstore Powell’s www.powells.com

Which must have room for the blockbuster that is gathering dust in my drawer.

And you know what’s holding me back? Lazy nights drinking whiskey.

I’m made for Portland. Let er buck as they say over there.

I’m working my way up the west coast from LA California, the Golden Globes State and am hoping to see San Fransisco in May.

So Portland is getting closer.

America, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe

Cruiseday Tuesday – Hawaii alive-o

It’s a useful tool when hello and goodbye are the same word in a language… it means that you can get rid of unwanted people without being rude.

Like with Ciao in Italian and Aloha in Hawaiian.

Of course rudeness doesn’t come into the Hawaiian vocabulary.

See Hawaii for yourself on Cassidy Travel’s 15-day cruise with flight to Los Angeles and an overnight stay in the city this November 5 from €1829pps.

This is the life

You’ll sail on the Star Princess full-board and visit Hilo, Honolulu, Maui and Kauai before returning to LA via Ensenada in Mexico.

Herself could dig out her Pacific shell necklace from when she sailed back from living in Australia as a child… she doesn’t mention it much!

Me? I’ve always got my sarong from my own exotic island holiday in the Maldives. Check out https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/. And visit www.cassidytravel.ie.

Majorca Jocka

My early Spring Clean dug up a copy of my first cruise, to Majorca, and I posted it up on the site.

But, of course, you keep something back just for yourself.

I had taken my full dress kiltie out on cruise… and yes, it took up a fair bit of my suitcase.

Jump in

My international colleagues were too polite to point out that I’d forgotten my sporran.

And of course a Scotty man never reveals what’s under the skirtie.

This is how it all worked out for me when I was but a cruising tyro…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/01/21/smooth-sailing-around-the-western-med/

My old friends at TUI have Mediterranean Medley, Dublin- Majorca on the Marella Dream for May 5.

For seven nights all-inclusive inside cabin. From €928pps.

Or Cork-Majorca for May 16. Marella Discovery – Cosmopolitan Classics. Inside Cabin, all-inclusive. From. €1159pps.

America, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe

Holiday World Snaps

I’ve been scooting around Holiday World in Dublin – quite literally.

And stopped off to see my friends from Topflight www.topflight.ie, the Italian specialists.

It is the quintessentially cool thing to do to ride a scooter in Italy… a la Roman Holiday.

As the organisers set up with this video.

And if you pop by the RDS today check it out and take part in the competition.

Driving a Classic Fiat 500 around the French Riviera is pretty cool too.

Only I got stopped from doing so on my trip to Cannes… find out why here The Boat D’Azur.

Does this car look big in me?

Now asking me to say which part of Italy I like best is like asking me to pick my favourite figlio.

But I’ll give you Puglia where Giotto painted his own ceiling which predates and tops the Sistine Chapel.

And Rome and the Lazio region with www.viafrancigena.com for Small roads lead to Rome.

Window to Sicily

Sicily was my first entry point into Italy on a day trip after I had got engaged in Malta.

And showing off, as I used to be prone to do, I ordered our meals in my schoolboy Italian from ten years before.

Only to get back a plate of cheese!

What about this Top Flight deal for Sicily which is on my radar this year?

Seven nights B&B at the 4* Hotel Ariston with return flights from Dublin for Saturday June 13.

With a saving of €100 which means the holiday is now €1,049.

Bella, bella!

Treated like a Celebrity

Even if you’re a Celebrity, or especially if you’re a Celebrity, you should treat everyone with class.

And that’s always the case with Celebrity Cruise with whom I sailed around the Bahamas.

On the inaugural voyage of the $1bn game-changing Celebrity Edge.

Social butterfly: On Edge

And here is Celebrity’s Head of Business Development Michael English who grabbed my hand warmly as I walked by.

Michael knows me of old and knows I love the Celebrity and cruise lifestyle.

So he was not in the least bit surprised to see me with cocktail in hand at 12noon.

Celebrity www.celebritycruise.com and www.celebritycruises.ie has its 2020 cruises on sale.

With up to 75% off and today’s special starts from $499pp, departing March 30.

And if you want a further recommendation then let’s relive life on the palatial Edge… I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here.

Go USA

Come with me, Sir

All hiking aside, and I know I’m tempting fate here, but I’ve yet to be arrested in America.

Not when my cousin gave me the wheel before climbing out of his car onto his roof and back in the passenger seat.

When we were 16 in New York!

And here I’m going to take to the American highway for the first time since then this Spring in the Florida Keys.

Philly charged: At Holiday World with Philly’s finest

Not even when I picked a fight with a Colombian in a Boston YMCA four years later.

Or when I stood in the kerb, drink in hand in West Hollywood, last year.

Among too many other indiscretions in between.

Give us a bell: Philly

These guys though at Visit USA www.visitusa.ie always look after me and they should be your first port of call.

And because my good pal Greg Evans who represents Philadelphia so finely for the British and Irish scribblers is here… for the beer.

American Holidays www.americanholidays.com has Philadelphia and Las Vegas from €979pps.

Two nights Philly and five nights Vegas, travel in November.

And I’m sure I’ve told you…

That I proposed to a transvestite in Vegas and fell out with a bus driver en route to Philly… Strip… the light fantastic and Philadelphia Freedom.

I’m heading back to Vegas in May… so is it the same again, Cami?

MEET YOU ON THE FLOOR

Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Happy Burns Day

If your love is like a red red rose.

Or if your best laid plans gang agley, even if you don’t agley much, then it’s because of Robert Burns.

Whose national day it is today.

The Scottish poet has been an inspiration.

From everyone from the Romantic Poets through JD Salinger to Bob Dylan and beyond.

Oh, there will be pipes

Burns is celebrated around the world, in equal measure in the USA and Russia as an everyman.

And all over the globe Burns fans will don kilts and tartan dresses.

It’s all theatre

Follow the ritual and theatre of the Address to the Haggis and sit back and enjoy the Toast to the Lassies and The Immortal Memory.

Hero: Robert Burns

Before dancing the night away with a ceilidh Scottish Country set dance.

All with whisky or uisce beatha (the water of life), of course.

Alloway is where it’s at

The best place to start with Burns is naturally his home village of Alloway, a National Heritage site.

Where you can see the grave of Burns’s father. Robert is buried in Dumfries.

The famous old cottage

The iconic Burns Cottage will pitch you back in time.

While learn more about the Great Man’s life at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/robert-burns-birthplace-museum.

On a pedestal

Of course you know I’m of the Scottish variety and love little better than bigging up old Caledonia.

And getting dressed up in ma kiltie.

As here…

So for example did you know that the one hero is commemorated in every town in Scotland is Burns?

And here’s my favourite… Aberdeen – a light in the north.

Wherever you’re toasting the bard today though you’ll want to cry ‘To the Immortal Memory.’

And slainté!

Bandanas obligatory: With my pals at Holiday World

For everything on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com.

And check out Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair www.ryanair.com for flights to Scotland.

And Stena www.stenaline.ie if you want to take the ferry.

Adventure, Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals

Hungry and Thursday – Chinese Wu Year

It’s the biggest feast of the year (forget Christmas). It’s the Chinese Wu Year.

A Chinese New Year

When I get together with my friends at Wendy Wu www.wendywutours.ie ahead of Chinese New Year which this year is the Year of the Rat.

The Rat Pack

Now I’m not going to rat on these guys… how could I?

When they invite us to the event of the year… the Wendy Wu Chinese New Year at Chai Yo Teppanyaki in Dublin.

So let’s talk about Asia and in the best Asian traditions let’s not beat about the Dragon’s tail.

The length and breadth of the Great Wall is the distance between London and Dubai.

So the virus won’t catch you.

How long?

Which made my pancakes, crispy duck, ribs, satay chicken, spring rolls (burp) go down a lot better.

And because Asian travel, China, Japan, Vietnam et al, is as mich about the cuisine as the culture…

Japanese girls

While she also likes a bit of South America.

Who says he’s not real?

I’ll keep you updated with more Wendy Wu news but for now I just need to sleep off my Chinese…

But before I go here’s In Pursuit of Pandas, nine days from £2,190. Flights inclusive from the UK. All meals.

Tour ticklist:

Walk on the Great Wall

•Feast on Peking Duck

•Explore the Summer Palace

•Face the Terracotta Army

•Travel on a bullet train

•Watch giant pandas play.

And you know I love playing with pandas.