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

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.

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

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

New Year’s Holiday Snaps – Happy New Aer

And because America is at a turning point don’t we all want to get on board.

Especially when on board is with our friends at Aer Lingus who early last year had me all booked up for the Florida Keys when…!

Ireland’s national airline carrier has a January €148 sale for this summer to North America which is Toronto.

Waving the flag for DC and Aer Lingus

While my old favourites Boston, New York and Washington is pitched at €164.

And you know the deal it’s each way as part of a return trip.

Cruise into ’21

Yea, they’ve got forks too!

Or a Happy Blue Year, the kind of blue you only find on the sea

Or the blue of Greece. So let’s put them together.

Royal Caribbean have on the Eastern Mediterranean sailings we’ve zeroed in on in 2021.

Oh, how I would have loved to have spent the last year on a wee Greek island.

My pals at Royal Caribbean only have a range of Eastern Med packages as we plan to cruise again in 2021.

An old relic and the Acropolis

A six-night Greece and Croatia cruise, leaving from Venice (Ravenna) on Rhapsody of the Seas from €569pp taking in Split, Olympia and Athens.

And you know what I always say… there’s no party like a Royal party.

United in tribute to The Doc

Me and ‘Baby Doc’ Peter

And it might be apt that former Scotland manager Tommy Docherty, an old friend of the Murtys, should die on Hogmanay.

The Doc’s son Peter was one of my earliest pals in Glasgow before his Dad took the family off to Manchester.

Of course being a football man and someone who joked that he’d had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus there’s no single destination to point you too.

But perhaps Manchester United is the club he’s most associated with.

So let’s point you in the direction of a football match day package.

If you’re an Irish United fan, and there are many, you’ll no doubt know about Celtic Horizons and Abbey Travel.

And the important thing is that we will all be together again soon in a football ground.

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

America, Countries, Culture, Deals

Mucky Mouse jokes and a Disney New Year

And what’s the difference between Walt Disney and Bing Crosby?

Bing Sings but Walt Disney.

My Dancing Dad jokes didn’t land with my party, probably my Scottish accent, nor my cruder set of Disney gags.

Minnie and Me

But then I did make Mickey, Donald and the gang smile on that Visit Orlando trip to Disney World and also out in Disneyland in Anaheim in California.

I know what you’ll say, it’s painted on, but Mickey and his pals have been working hard throughout Covid to ensure Disney remains The Happiest Place on Earth.

I’ll tell you what else will make you smile. This Walt Disney World deal.

Gooding about

Four nights free and 14 for seven tickets for Spring and Summer.

Stay at Disney’s Coronado’s Springs on selected dates for four nights free worth £872 on your two-week holiday.

Then there’s the 14-day Ticket for the price of a seven-day for most arrival dates in 2021 including Memory Maker worth $199.

And you can also boost your budget with a free Disney Gift Card per booking, loaded with $200 spending money.

The Don and Me

And here’s the indicative price offer…

That’s £974pp, and savings (£872) for a two-week stay arriving between July 14 and September 12.

That’s for two adults and two children (aged 3-9) sharing a Standard View Room at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

And Disney’s 14-Day Ultimate Ticket for the price of a seven-day ticket.

Now something else to make you smile… the roll-out of the vaccine.

MEET YOU ON THE ROLLERCOASTER

Countries, Culture, Deals, Music, Sport

Maradona, you’ve been Tangoed

And to the million reasons I’m proud of the Son and Heir this year I’m adding a radio show, Radio Buena Vida, on Argentinian music with donations to Homeless charity the Simon Community.

To mark the passing this year (although the World Cup Final winning goal aside, he rarely passed) of Diego Maradona.

The Wee Man, as we all know, loved a party, and we loved The Wee Man.

And being Argentinian he had natural rhythm which he brought to the dancing floor.

El Glitterball

Taking in the Christmas Strictly show yesterday, and having listened to my son Ally’s radio show, got me thinking how good it would have been to see him Tango.

I’d put him with somebody similarly small, probably the gorgeous 4ft 11in Cuban-Floridian Janette Manrara.

Diego also had a strong voice and to tempt you into Ally’s prog, here’s a taster of Maradona’s singing.

There are a million reasons too to visit Maradona’s beloved Argentina

My two favourites would be football and football and a match and tour at Diego’s beloved Boca Juniors would be high up on my list.

Pampas and polo

But obviously the music, and I know a man who knows his Argentinian music,

While there’s also the pampas and the polo, which I know they, and an old schoolmate of mine, play on the fields of England.

The former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said of The Iguazu Falls which spills a quarter of a million gallons of water a day: ‘poor old Niagara.’

And while the bustling cities of Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Mendoza are a must, the southernmost city on Earth, Ushuaia is too.

Water, water everywhere

We’d suggest the 12-day Wendy Wu Essence of Argentina & Brazil tour from €4390pp with flights.

While G Adventures pairs Argentina and Chile, ten days Santiago to Buenos Aires from €1317 which is down from €1549.

MEET YOU ON THE FLOOR

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Feliz Navi(dancing)dad

Christmas parties this year are very different from what we’re used to… but Feliz Navi(dancing)dad all the same.

The Spanish Christmas party in Dublin is always the highlight of the festive season in Ireland.

But this year scenes like this are for our social media retros.

And like a good Christmas movie they fill us with warmth and love for old friends.

The Three Wise Women

Hat’s the way to do it: With the sainted Teresa, Travel doyen Eoghan Corrie and Travel Corporation’s Sharon Jordan

Teresa, Sara and Kathryn, from the Tourist Board, were always the Three Wise Women of any Dublin Yuletide when I lived there.

While they would send us back into the cold and wet Irish night, filled with Spanish festive food and drink.

The Reyes Magos

The tradition is that the Reyes Magos, the Three Wise Men, look after the bambinos.

And as you can see they were the back-up act for our Three Wise Women and always made sure we got a gift,

TUI for two

Stick your toe in: The TUI Suneo

Our friends at TUI also look after us, and they have these deals for us for the New Year.

In our beloved Canary Islands.

Seven nights self/catering, Dublin to Tenerife on February 2, staying at the 3* Suneo Tamaimo Tropical, Puerto De Santiago,

Harbouring dreams of Tenerife

From €459pps (Covid cover and free amendments included).

Or stay half/board seven nights at the 3*+ Hotel Catalonia Las Vegas, Puerto de la Cruz from €499pps and also with Covid cover.

And Lanzarote too

Child’s play: Lanzarote is ideal for families too

While Lanzarote on February 4 comes in at €409pps for seven nights self/catering at the 3*+ Cinco Plazas, Puerto del Carmen (Covid cover included).

It’s just what we all need for the New Year… I feel one of my oul’ walks coming along.

I’m a bit of a Portugeezer too

I’m beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Now there is a story behind this… when my old boss asked if I would get my beardie pimped up for a Christmas story.

And I had been invited to the Portugal Christmas lunch that day too,

Of course the greening of the beatdie and the red Santa hat meant I was showcasing the colours of the Portuguese flag.

Portugal has always held a special place in my heart since my first holiday there, a childhood one in 1973.

Centro beach: Portugal

That’s been followed by our first summer holiday together in the Algarve, the magical trip to Fatima and Portugal Centro nine months after that Christmas lunch.

And a sports trip two years ago when Jidy Murray taught me to play tennis… and dance!

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe

Just swimmingly in Ibiza

We were the 18-30 generation in the Balearics, those of us born in 1830!

It was, of course, a rite of passage which my schoolpals had lined up for summer after school.

Only I was a few months shy. Oh well!

The White Island

Of course the White Island is more than just raves and waves although a good swimming pool never hurts.

Which is exactly what OKU Hotels have at their new flagship 5* hotel OKU Ibiza which opens next April.

OKU Ibiza boasts the largest swimming pool on the island (one of four), an intimate spa, a private 4-bedroom villa with pool and the OKU restaurant.

Pictures of Iniza

Okey-dokey

OKU you say… well it’s the principles of meaningful use of space, natural light and shadows.

The team drew inspiration from the Wabi Sabi philosophy which champions the connection to earth and using natural materials.

Stay active

Ibiza is, contrary to popular thinking, a classic old island and you’ll want to get out to explore it for yourself.

There are beautiful cliffside coastal walks with stunning views right on your doorstep.

And your hosts cam also organise an array of activities.

Such as private boat trips to Formentera and nearby islands, kayaking by sunset and guided walks through breathtaking terrain.

In the frame

Rates at OKU Ibiza are from €360 (£323) pee night, based on two sharing a Superior room.

America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Ireland

Empire Skate of Mind

I got a pocketful of dreams, and memories, an Empire Skate of Mind ,… with Daddy’s Little Girl.

I wonder if Jay-Z and Alicia Keys could do anything with it.

The Rockefeller is an institution in the city that never sleeps with many a movie set here.

Me and Daddy’s Little Girl are in there somewhere

And I do think Tom and Meg, who had their lovey/-dovey scene here, should reprise Sleepless in Seattle with Sleepless in the Big Apple.

For all the movie gen you need get on the full tour.

The Rockefeller is where New York is at its most festive with the best fir in the city, and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is where you’ll want to look for your present.

The tree dates back to 1931 when all the workers pooled their money to buy a 20fr tree while their families garlanded it.

And yes you would think someone as rich as Rockefeller would have put one up out of his own pocket!

The old tree in the Thirties

The joys of a Christmas New York City will be confined to all you New Yorkers this year.

In previous years it has been something of a tradition to go Christmas shopping in Manhattan… from Ireland.

And with optimism over the roll-out of a vaccine.

And our hard-working dream-makers (our travel companies) putting trips together for 2021, it’s time to plan.

The United Skates

American Holidays have a four-night trip to NY in November from €799pp.

Staying in the Doubletree Metropolitan by Hilton, based on two sharing.

Shop til you drop

And with return flights from Dublin to New York.

When all those mad shoppers will be back from Ireland and the island next to it.

And yes The Scary One has forewarned me!

GET YOUR SKATES ON