Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Uncategorized

Cruiseday Tuesday – a port in Porto

There are some destinations whose names tingle in your mouth every time you say them… Porto, Bordeaux, Pilsen, Buckfast.

Well, maybe not the last one but you can give the monks a pass on that one… it can be a solitary existence.

Broken only, I guess, if the bar/restaurant is pretty much on the premises as is the case with the Strahov Monastery Brewery in Prague

Uniworld is offering an eight-day Douro River Valley trip on July 19, Porto-Porto on board the new SS Sao Gabriel in a. Open Stateroom.

You’ll enjoy six days of excursions and a private tour and port tasting at the prestigious port wine estate Quinta do Seixo.

And I’ve saved the best for last… Uniworld has granted a final extension of jts 100th anniversary celebration offer.

So you’ll save 30% on select 2020 luxury river cruises now until March 30.

Sail on Tenerife

As I’ve flagged up on this site already, Tenerife has led the way in jumping on top of its Coronavirus challenge.

And it’s definitely open for business.

Why not do like Nelson and sail into Tenerife… and you’ll have a better result A walk through the ages… Tenerife?

TUI is offering an additional €300 per booking with code May300.

So try: Dublin to Tenerife. Canarian Flavours on the Marella Explorer. All-inclusive, seven nights inside cabin From €779pps.

Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe

Holidos and don’ts – keep it clean in Istanbul

No, I’m not talking about schoolboy humour, though I don’t blame you for assuming, but rather keeping it clean and germ-free on holiday.

And, of course, I must start with the Coronavirus.

Word reaches me from my friends at Turkish Airlines about the measures they take to disinfect your plane.

And let’s face it airplanes ate a magnet for germs.

Let it slide: At Turkish Airlines HQ

Well Turkish have sent us a video of their health guys in protective white suits spraying throughout the plane.

I’ve also seen first-hand from my visit to Turkish Airlines headquarters in Istanbul how far they go to protect our health and safety.

On my trip to the city Wham bam, thank you Hamam where their safety precautions are space age.

This is your captain speaking

There are pools with water the same temperature as the sea to replicate emergency conditions.

And slides, though these days you and me can’t whizz down them…

They’re right to worry that I’d get my stiletto heel stuck.

While, of course, in the event of the call going out for an emergency pilot I have had training on the simulator.

Turkish also put the fun into function with their multi-award winning Business Lounge at the swanky new Istanbul Airport.

Where you can eat and drink your heart out.

My cars faster than yours

And play golf, drive model cars, watch a movie or have a snooze…

A few more words on the Turks… they are one of the cleanest people I have ever met.

It’s their religion and culture and it is also true throughout the Middle East The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

And that’s probably why they make such good barbers – the good chat is free. Turkish barbers – and berbers

Now more information on the Coronavirus… I’m reliably informed that it doesn’t like the heat.

Turkey shoot at the TA Business Lounge

So guess where I want to go… well, you have to keep safe!

Our friends at TUI have the very thing…

Dublin to Turkey: Seven nights, staying at the 4* Club Candan, Marnaris on a self-catering basis (family 2+1) from €1439.

And family 2+2 from €2019. Both for August 16.

Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Coronavirus

If you’re like me, firstly, you have my sympathies, secondly flight changes will be nothing new to you… so you will be prepared for the Coronavirus.

Thankfully we also have the good services of our airline friends…

Among them these carriers who are offering free of charge changes:

Be patient

American Airlines, British Airways, KLM, Air France, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, AirCanada and WestJet.

Each airline has slightly different rules, but most offer changes valid for ticketed/issued bookings from the month of March.

Lie back and think of Barbados

Me-me and Dee-Dee

Not to diminish the health scare but while being vigilant and trusting the authorities (and now I’m just depressing myself) we can’t stop living.

Which seems to be TUI’s mantra too.

They are teasing us with the Caribbean. And I need little tickling.

Eleven nights self-catering (just buy a bottle of rum and pineapple juice) at the 3*+ Divi Southwards Beach Resort. Flights from Dublin, From €1599pps.

And you all know what I think of Barbados… Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Or try Mexico… I’ve been trying to get there for 30 years since immersing myself in Mexicana working as a bus boy in GuadalaHarry’s in Boston.

Go all-inclusive for for ten nights at the 3* Riu Lupita Playacar from €1599pps.

Canaries update

Just swimmingly: In Tenerife

Now perhaps it was because my Dear Old Dad was a doctor, and my Mum a sister – she still tells ‘the orderlies’ in her nursing home what to do…

But it’s given me utter faith in the medics to make sure everything goes OK.

The Canarians have been all over their coronavirus outbreak and are at pains to welcome us back over to their shores.

And I’d be there in a flash… to carry on the good work from A walk through the ages… Tenerife with Canaria Ways…

And you should also visit

Cape crusaders

The perfect host: Rachel, in South Africa

The twin challenges in Travel just now are facing down the Coronavirus and sustainability.

Who would bet against it being those clever South Africans at finding an antidote to the disease?

Particularly as they already have a handle on climate change with their magic plant, the spekboom, the answer to flight shame, flygskam, This plant can save the world.

Which is why I’m flagging up Cassidy Travel’s six-night Cape Town escape from €819pps including flights from Dublin.

Explore the Winelands, the Garden Route and take in a Big Five Safari Tour.

You’ll be staying at the 4* The Hyde Hotel in the cosmopolitan Sea Point area.


Adventure, Countries, Culture, Deals, Ireland, Pilgrimage

St Paddy’s Day crawls

You’ll see them, clad in their green cassocks enjoying the craic, with St Paddy’s vital accessories, his crook or crozier staff… and a pint of Guinness.

It’s the St Paddy’s Day procession only, in fairness, there is very little proceeding… unless it’s to the next pub.

St Paddy’s staff, or crook with cross on top, is a symbol of his high status but probably not the best walking aid.

It’ll turn your beer green

I’ll get onto walks around Ireland with IrelandWays but first a walk around the houses.

My Dear Old Dad, a doctor, and perhaps a sainted figure himself by now would always advise people use walking sticks.

I must say on my first Camino A pilgrim’s prayer and I thought differently of those clicking their sticks into the holds on the Ryanair flights.

My Way… the Camino

How wrong I was.

I could have done with a stick as I stumbled along the Via Francigena Small roads lead to Rome and

On top of the world… well, Germany at least

I had one, hewn from wood, on my historic walk through Austrian and German history with Topflight for Schools…

In fact two, three, four, five… they are left around the mountain by previous walkers.

Who, like me, forgetfully leave them behind as they take photos and selfies of the breathtaking scenery.

And I could have done with one on my toughest trek yet in the height and heat of a Tenerife autumn day…

I’ve got style and stile

On a storied climb up to Afur.., A walk through the ages… Tenerife and

While walking through the Bohemian Switzerland section of the Czech Republic Hungry and Thursday – Czech please and

Czech me out in Bohemia

And on the actual Switzerland… it’s definitely worth a walk too and Swhisskey on the rocks.

So take your stick with you on your IrelandWays trek.

With particular reference to my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow, the Garden County.

Hike the Wicklow Way

Follow peaceful paths through ancient forests and open mountain trails to Glenmalure, Ireland’s longest glacier valley… and finish in Dublin.

Duration: Up to eight nights. Price: From €900pps.

And my best walking companion

The Kerry Camino

In olden times, Dingle was one of the departure points for ports for the north-western port of A Coruna.

From here set on foot for Santiago de Compostella

Duration: Up to four nights. Price: From €410pps.

*Book before March 31 to get a 10% discount off your trip.


Culture, Deals, Europe, Food, UK

Desperate Dan and Murty the Minx in Dundee

And if you know your cartoon heroes and heroines, you’ll know I’m in Dundee.

Where I’ve been channeling my inner Desperate Dan, and even Minnie the Minx, during a few days working for DC Thomson Newspapers.

Minnie and Murty

Dundee is known in many quarters as the City of Jute, Jam and Journalism.

Jute, you say?

Well, it’s fibre for carpets and don’t you know the Dundonians were famous for producing it?

Spread it on

Jam now? Well, more accurately marmalade but then where’s the alliteration in that?

The story goes that a Spanish vessel carrying oranges washed up on the shores of the River Tay.

And a grocer bought the oranges, only that they were too bitter and he got his wife to boil them in sugar.

Hence the marmalade you’re spreading on your toast just now…. from Pittsburgh to Port Elizabeth.

I will get some work done

Journalism … and I guess that’s where this scribbler comes in.

DC Thomson’s is at the heart of Dundee life.

They’ve been here for well nigh 120 years and their redstone building in the city centre almost 100.

And they boast a stable which contains The Sunday Post, Dundee’s The Courier, Aberdeen’s Press & Journal and the Weekly News.

Something of the Grandpaw in me

A cast of heroes

And a host of cartoon characters we grew up with:

Desperate Dan, the strongman who eats cow pie.

Minnie the Minx: the tearaway with the catapult.

Oor Wullie: Scotland’s favourite wee laddie who sits on a bucket when he’s not trying to knock PC Murdoch’s hat off.

The Broons: Scotland’s answer to The Waltons with Grandpaw and the Bairn at opposite ends of the spectrum.

And Jackie, the Beano, the Dandy and the Commando war comic.

War effort

City of Discovery and more

Dundee has another name too, the City of Discovery. It was here they built Scott of the Antarctica’s ship.

And which you can see… on the river front.

Next to the spanking new design museum, the V&A Dundee named after Victoria and Albert.

And I’m sure the latter, a modernist would have approved.

And then, of course, there’s more jute…

Is this how you make a bed?

Now, I know you all want to know where I’m staying.

And yes, I normally wouldn’t get out of my bed (triple, of course) unless I had a Caribbean panorama.

But Scotland Beds hostels are comfortable and reasonable at £18 a night.

OK you have to make your own bed and may have to share a room although my four-bed room was vacant.

Design for life: The V&A

But it’s quiet, there’s a shared bathroom with shower and toiletries provided.

And cereal, tea and coffee and bread and marmalade, Dundee, of course.

While you can bring in your own food to cook.

Then there’s a TV and Netflix in the room.

Anyone for the South Pole?

And it seems Susie who was here before me had the same idea.

Crocodile Dundee, anyone?

And for more on Dundee see and

For more Scottish meanderings stay on the train for my old stomping ground, Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north.

And my new old one Edinburgh and North Berwick Edinburgh – an old friend.

And here are my favourite statues… before Dundee!… Putting these statues on a pedestal

Countries, Deals, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland

The Mother Land

Mother’s Day has got me thinking: When is your country a Motherland and when is it a Fatherland?

You see for me Ireland is my mother’s land… does that count?

We associate Mother and Mother Earth with Russia, Father with descendants and Germany, Wales, and I discovered: Greece My Greek odyssey and


And the Czech Republic share at least this with their former invaders, and perhaps a former composer or two – Hotel Beethoven – Fur Elise.

Now there are also mythical figures who come to represent countries: I’m one of Jock Tamson’s Bairns as a Scottish-type person

We love the Stars and Stripes

English people come under the aegis of John Bull The London life, Ireland are pulled by Kathleen Ni Houlihan.

And Wales, by, I don’t know: Tom Jones

The Grand Sam

Americans The New Frontiersmen and have Uncle Sam and a bunch of other heroes.

And the French The Boat D’Azur I guess that madamoiselle who bears her breast on the rampants.

And take in the rugby in Dublin

Now all of this has been sparked by some nudges towards offers for Mother’s Day.

The InterContinental in my own stomping ground of Dublin 4 have a Mother’s Day Sunday lunch for €50pp.

Their Classic Afternoon Tea is €40pp and Champagne Afternoon Tea is €55pp.

And for a reprise on why the InterCon in Dublin’s Rugbyland, and particularly in Six Nations season, is the place to go… The InterCon… what a Ledge!

And visit,%20Dublin,%20IE&dp=true&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIw8ja47P75wIVg7HtCh25zgfyEAAYASAAEgJd8vD_BwE&srb_u=1 for best rates.

Pack up your troubles… Tenerife

Or maybe Mum likes the sun… my Mum got as brown as a berry. And if so I’d always recommend the Canaries.

And you know how much I love the Canaries… A walk through the ages… Tenerife with CanariaWays

Canaries’ sound

Cassidy have a four-night break in Lanzarote from €275pps fot three sharing.

And that means getting on with a sibling… well, just today for your Mum!

Stay at the Apartamentos Plaza Azul in Tias. Fly from Dublin on March 22.


Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Hungary and Thursday – Goulash

Well, I had to do it eventually didn’t I? But my interest in Hungarian goulash is prompted by the Czech variety.

Goulash is popular throughout Central Europe… well, all these countries border each other so it probably shouldn’t be surprising.

But the Hungarians claim it as their own, their national dish.

No, that’ll be a srew

My question here though, and I grant you that I have an untrained palate, is not who ‘owns’ goulash.

But what is the difference between goulash and stew?

Right, so after some extensive research, and some sampling, let me lay down what I’ve discovered:

Stew is a main dish containing meat and vegetables and thick broth made from the stewing juices.

And the Strahov Monastery Brewery serves the best goulash

While goulash is also a stew (fancy?) but here’s the big difference… it has paprika.

Now you know I’ve been eating goulash in the Czech Republic last week (and drinking) and more inducements later…

And by the way the Strahov Monastery Brewery is where they serve the best goulash.

But for now Hungary and some goulash (what do you mean you can get paprika in the supermarket?)

Our friends at Click&Go are offering us a St Patrick’s Day three-night break for two in March in Budapest from €199.

Grand: Budapest

With return flights between Dublin and Budapest.

For the 4* Hotel Novam Golden Park Hotel.

And because I’m as good as my word then let me tell you about Cassidy Travel’s deal to Prague.

Clock this: In Prague

Two nights in Prague for €99 for March 9.

I’ll share more of my latest Czech adventures in Ireland’s The Herald newspaper with you and on this site.

But to whet your appetite… Hungry and Thursday – Czech please and a review I prepared earlier Hope springs eternal.

Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland

St Paddy’s Daze

St Patrick’s greatest gift to us? No, not driving the snakes out of Ireland, but giving us a boozy party in the middle of Lent.

So where are five great places for the craic;

Slope off for some fun

Cool running

And skiers and boarders clad in green novelty suits do light up the slopes.

As I found in Austria… Soll Mates.

Our friends at the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) have flagged up a seven-night stay from March 15… with Grogan Travel Worldchoice.

The Hotel Aronsal B&B costs €459pp and includes flights, bags, transfers and hotels. Ski passes extra.

Off the wall in Berlin

Grandeur: Berlin

If the Irish, or Scots, had been there during the Sixties, Seventies or Eighties, we’d have brought that Wall down with our partying.

Paint the Wall green (or blue) and boogey by the Brandenburg Gate with this ITAA with Click&Go.

Return flights from Dublin to Berlin, three nights in the 4* Berlin Mark Hotel.

One double/twin room (room only basis) and airport taxes and charges.

Taking the Mickey

My pal Donald

We all go slightly quackers for St Paddy’s Day.

Let’s do it all with Travel Escapes in Disneyland Paris.

Three nights, February-August, €1886 (two adults and two children under 12 sharing).

Explore the two theme parks and five theme lands.

Direct flight Dublin to Paris at the 3* Explorers Hotel, two days entrance to Disneyland Paris, breakfast each morning.

Free shuttle bus between hotel and Disneyland entrance (five-ten minutes), flight Paris-Dublin.

And remember I’ve got form with Disney… Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital.

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland

Bilbao wow with Brittany Ferries

The Basques are a proud, independent people with a unique and unfathomable language, but I do know it’s Bilbao as in Bilbao wow!

Which you can have lots of fun with as a headline writer, and I have.

Basque life

Our friends at Brittany Ferries love the Basques too and have just launched their first Rosslare in Ireland to Bilbao ferry, called Kerry.

Sailings will be twice-weekly and will incorporate a weekly Ireland/France rotation.

The new Rosslare to Bilbao route will open for passenger bookings online in early March.

But customers can now book through the Brittany Ferries reservations team by phone on 021 427 7801.  Our Freight Reservations team can be contacted on +44 (0)330 159 5000.

So what can we tell you about Bilbao?

Well, it’s obviously got the Jeff Koons’ giant topiary dog ‘Puppy’ at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao bow-wow anyone?

But it is also a great culinary city and you’ll obviously get stuck into the pintxos in the Plaza Neuvs. Pintxos is their version of tapas.

I’d recommend the fried fish on oily bread.

While Getxo, by the sea, is just a 25-minute Metro ride from the city and it prides itself on its calamari. I’m sold!


And because I like Basque life so much, here’s Water way to go in Biarritz and The Lourdes prayer.

Because remember they’re a little bit in France, a little bit in Spain… but it’s all Basque region.

America, Countries, Deals, Europe, UK, Uncategorized

Flyday Friday – Iceland rocks

The Daughters of Reykjavík will be waiting for you off your Icelandair flight.

And Andy Svarthol. And your Dry Cleaning.

If that sounds quite a party it’s because it is… these are just some of the bands who will be playing.

At the 22nd edition of Iceland Airwaves from November 4-7.

Turn the lights on: Iceland

Travel packages are available for 2020 and include festival pass. round-trip flights and hotel accommodation.

Packages with departures beginning November 2 are available, starting at €325pp for airfare from Dublin with festival pass.

Hotel inclusive packages are also available.

Icelandair also flies from Dublin via Iceland to 18 gateways in North America.

Including Anchorage, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Edmonton. Minneapolis. Montreal, New York (JFK & Newark), Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa. Toronto, Vancouver and Washington DC.

And here’s a reminder of a couple of them… Go West. Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and Easy DC.

Hamburgers and Londoners

Tuck in

Not that Londoners are any bigger fans of hamburgers than anywhere else… more that they are both great port cities.

And that our friends at Aer Lingus have up to 25% off deals.

So that’s Hamburg at €34.99 one-way from Dublin.

And London from Dublin at €25.99 one-way, from Cork at €34.99, Shannon €39.99 and Knock €25.99.

Book by March 2 and travel before April 20.

And here’s why I love these port cities so much… The London life and Hamburgers and ships.