Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe

BlaQatar Friday

And with all roads (and flights) leading to the Gulf our Black Friday today comes as BlaQatar Friday with the world’s best airline.

Even as Qatar’s national team make a case for being the worst selection at their own World Cup.

Whatever has been said about Qatar the world is in love with their airline carrier with Skytrax naming QA the world’s best.

Hat’s off: To Qatar Airways

All of which has been good news for the army of fans who have been flying out to Qatar.

Not diverted by the fact that my own wee Scotland aren’t at the World Cup, we’re still promoting flights from here to Qatar.

With my local station, Edinburgh Airport flagging up their 12% off offers, all to be booked before November 30.

Final call

Whoaha Doha: In Corniche

So if you think your country will be in the final on December 18 you can fly out the day before and return the next day from £2176.65.

And if you look around you can bring your accommodation prices down.

We found the Tourist Hotel in Corniche, Doha on ebooking for two nights for under £400 ((£398).

If you’re not interested in the football (we accept all visitors here) then Jet2holidays are tempting us with their goodies.

With 5% to 50% off on selected hotels for a limited time.

Leaving on a Jet plane

Have skis, will travel: Val D’Isere

Now Jet2 might not be a high-end airways but they make no claims to be.

And they flew me seamlessly on my winter holiday this year to Val D’Isere in the French Alps.

They’re offering a range of winter holidays, last-minute getaways and summer holidays.

We zoomed in on their Jet2CityBreaks deal and happened first up on one of our favourite cities, Athens.

And the MET34 Athens where we’re told there’s 40% off the accommodation part of the holiday.

Situated in the Syntagma Square, you’re only 500m from the Metro Square.

Acropolis wow

Spoiled and ruined at the Acropolis in Athens

And just as importantly just a kilometre from the Acropolis.

And I know from my Greek odyssey that there are no more accommodating taxi drivers than the Athenians.

With the drivers (or maybe just the ones I had) giving me the option to pay whatever fare I thought the journey deserved.

Book by 23.59 on 29 November for travel dates up to 30 June.

And so you’ll get, say three nights for you and yours, for £1,178 in February.

Black is back

World in your hands: Qatar

There is no shortage of Black Friday deals out there so keep your eyes peeled and we will too.

So whether it’s BlaQatar Friday with the world’s best airline to see your team lift the cup.

Or you jet out with Jet2 on a cutprice deal for a budget break.

MEET YOU IN THE AIR

 

 

Deals

Trapp of a lifetime

Don’t you judge me for starting the festive season early, I’m bringing you a Christmas Trapp of a lifetime in Austria and Bavaria.

How better to spend Christmas than with the perfect family rather than the one we’re all stuck with.

When you can celebrate with your very own Alpine family with Platinum Travel.

Our pals at Platinum always go above and beyond and that means for Christmas they’re lending us an ideal family.

Be My Guest

Maria, you’ve got to see her: The Von Trapps

Platinum’s Connect With Locals lets you join up with a local family.

For an exclusive Be My Guest experience and Farewell Dinner in their home.

And we would of course insist at the end of the night that they bid us all…

So long, Farewell Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight, I hate to go and leave this pretty sight.

So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu, Adieu, Adieu to you and you and you.

The very beginning

Family values: The Von Trapps

But in the best traditions of The Sound of Music let’s start this package at the very beginning.

Their Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Leichtenstein is a very good place to start.

Their eight-day escorted tour with flights from Ireland into Vienna and out of Zurich covers seven cities.

Over eight days from €2,389pp November/December.

A local guide will whirl you around Vienna and Salzburg.

And for all the classical high culture of the Austrian capital and the Mozart of Salzburg it’s really Sound of Music you’re there for.

Christmas gifties

My female Dear: Following in the Von Trapps’ footsteps

But D’oh that’s not all.

On this escorted tour you’ll get to take in the charms of beery Munich, the Passion pilgrimage Oberammergau

The ski haven Innsbruck and Lucerne with its Lion Monument.

And an unexpected giftie in Valduz, the capital of Leichtenstein.

So as stores begin already to dust down their Christmas stock, even before Halloween, why not plan for a Christmas away.

And have the Trapp of a lifetime with an Alpine family.

 

 

Deals

Make it snappy in Mauritius

IT’D be just the job for an award-winning photographer which is why she should make it snappy in Mauritius seeing that others are.

Travel snapper Richard James Taylor, for it is he, is only hosting a photo safari in Mauritius.

And that’ll mean plenty of white sandy beaches, stunning waterfalls, temples filled with history and luscious green landscapes.

Heritage Resorts, located in Bel Ombre in the preserved south of the island, is hosting the busman’s holiday from December 3-5.

Richard will be helping participants develop their photography skills.

Through guided sessions while exploring the beautiful landscapes of the area.

Throughout the three-day workshop he will share his top tips and advice.

On topics such as compositional technique, both on location and in workshops.

The group will be kept to 10 people to ensure everyone receives one-on-one advice.

And to give us a snapshot of what you can snap we’ve been sent these images of the island.

Park life

Trees company: Heritage Le Telfair Resort, Bel Ombre

Black River Gorges National Park: The largest national park in Mauritius covers 67.54 km² of land.

The park protects the island rainforest which is home to endangered bird species, boars, Macaque monkeys and deer.

And choose from any one of 60 kilometres of trails.

We love a rain forest from Tobago to Tenerife and we know a thing or two.

About cheeky monkeys too, so just watch they don’t whip your camera.

Splash hit

Water marvel: Heritage Le Telfair Resort, Bel Ombre

The Chamarel Waterfall: The Chamarel is set in the tropical forests of Black River Gorges National Park.

And is fed by two rivers, the St Denis and the Viande Salee.

The highest watefall in Mauritius at about 300ft it has a distinctive Jurassic feel to it.

The waterfall can be viewed at an upper and lower-level platform opposite.

Or you can take the hiking trail route to the top for the best views of this enchanting phenomenon.

Seven shades of sand

Life’s a beach Heritage Le Telfair Resort, Bel Ombre

Chamarel Seven Coloured Earth: Now we love a beach in all its shades and Mauritius has them all in the one place.

This nature reserve showcases stunning dunes made up of seven colours (red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow).

They were formed due to a rare confluence of volcanic activity.

And this brought several different elements together, each with their own distinct hue.

Mountain of Morne

Stunning: The Le Morne Brabant peninsula in the Black River Gorges National Park,

Le Morne: A peninsula situated at the extreme southwestern tip of Mauritius.

With an enormous monolith that reaches 1,824ft above sea level.

The peninsula is steeped in cultural myth and legend.

And in the early 19th century it served as a refuge for people who escaped slavery.

The mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular hiking trail,.

And trekkers will be rewarded at the top with panoramic views of the clear blue ocean and coral reef.

Everything in the garden

Lovely lilies: The Southern Hemisphere’s biggest botanical gardens

Pamplemousses Botanic Gardens: They’re only the oldest Botanic Gardens in the Southern Hemisphere.

And its pride and joy is its giant water lilies that have an average diameter of 2 to 3 metres which covers a long rectangular pond.

We’re advised to follow the laid-out paths which lead to deer and giant tortoise.

And 85 varieties of palms including the Talipot Palm which only blooms every forty years. And a spice garden.

In the frame

Oarsome: Watersports

And our Mauritian friends have the very place for us all to say, Heritage Awali, an all-inclusive, affordable luxury and unforgettable family adventure in Bel Ombre.

A week’s stay including the 3-day photography workshop and accommodation based in a Deluxe Garden View room.

With economy flights and return private car transfers from £2618pp on a double occupancy basis.

 

Countries, Deals, Europe

Winter abroad to save fuel

Turn off the heat, lock the door and winter abroad to save fuel this winter.

Well, we need no second invitation, Click and Go and what Ireland’s online Travel specialists are offering.

We’ll pass over, of course, that they have us down as pensioners as we’re sure this applies just as well for all ages.

A winter’s tale

You’re on holiday: And a friendly smile

My old pal and C&G CEO Paul Hackett explains: ‘We have had many clients booking holidays for the winter.

‘Because it’ll be cheaper to be on holidays in Spain in a 4-star hotel than heating their homes in Ireland.

‘These offers are perfect for retirees or for people who are able to work remotely.’

Bully for us: With Sara and The Son and Heir

‘We have incredible deals from November to March in the Algarve, mainland Spain, and Malta.

‘The day to day cost of living in these destinations is much less than Ireland. It is amazing that you can discover a new place while saving.”

With dinner, bed and breakfast from just €40 it isn’t hard to see why.

So click and go…

Three and easy

Go native: In Fuengirola

3 weeks

*Fuengirola in a 4-star hotel, half board, for three weeks from €869pp. Find out more.

*Benalmadena in a 4-star hotel, half board, for three weeks from €949. Find out more.

*Torremolinos in a 4-star hotel, half board, for three weeks from €979pp. Find out more.

Extend your stay for another week from just €280!

Month of sun days

Do the Flamenco: Spanish culture

4 weeks

*Fuengirola in a 4-star hotel for four weeks from €1,099pp. Find out more.

*Benaladena in a 4-star hotel for four weeks from €1,229. Find out more.

*Torremolinos in a 4-star hotel for four weeks from €1,259. Find out more.

Prices are per person and include flights and accommodation.

The Click&Go website allows for stays up to 90 day.

So that’s us all sorted and where we want winter abroad to save fuel.

 

 

 

Countries, Deals, Sport

Rock up for Wrestlemania

He’s the lord of the ring, the hottest ticket in town, who you can see for yourself if you rock up for Wrestlemania.

And the best folk to tag along with to see The Rock come out of retirement at Wrestlemania 39 in Los Angeles next year are Cassidy Sports Travel.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson debuted at Wrestlemania 25 years ago and has competed at 11 events.

Counting such other luminaries as Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena as his opponents.

My eye on you: The Rock

And dropping jumping clotheslines, Samoan drops and running shoulderbreakers along the way.

Wrestlemania has been right up there with the NBA as the world’s biggest indoor entertainment sport.

And yes debates will rage over how scripted it is.

But nobody can deny that is pure entertainment.

And the SOFI stadium in La-La Land is just the venue for the antics as it hosted the latest Super Bowl.

The Fighting Irish

Swagger: WWE star Conor McGregor

The hybrid of Mixed Martial Arts has proved to be a gateway into Wrestling for many.

And Conor McGregor‘s successes in Las Vegas have prompted an Irish following for WWE too.

Ireland boasts a rich seam of wrestlers who will be represented across in LA at Wrestlemania.

And wherever the Fighting Irish go then their fans go with them… so look out for Finn Balor and Sheamus & Becky Lynch when you get over there.

So here’s what Cassidy are billing…

Wrestlemania Goes Hollywood

 

Wrestlemania 39 Package with return flights will see you stay for five nights at a 3* hotel in LAX area, travelling on March 30 with prices from €1,830pp.

And you will get the goldens tickets for Wrestlemania Nights 1 & 2 (Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April).

Making the grade

Sport mecca: The SOFI

Upgrades Available on Request for the Smackdown Event – 31st March – €550pp Supplement

Raw Event – 3rd April – €650pp Supplement

Wrestlemania will take place in SOFI Stadium – an incredible venue & host of the latest Super Bowl!

Drop into Cassidy Travel or contact them on 01 8779853.

 

 

Countries, Deals, Europe

Athens an epic city break

Any city where the cabbie asks you how much you want to pay has a jump start on others… yes, it’s Athens an epic city break.

But don’t just take my word for it (well do) but the Post Office’s annual City Costs Barometer makes Athens your alpha city.

The beta, gamma, delta and epsilon (I knew Greek would serve me well one day) are outliers Lisbon, Krakow, Riga and Budapest.

The Post Office took a dozen common holiday purchases.

From a travel card and entrance to a museum to a cup of coffee and two nights in a three-star hotel.

And Athens came out on top at £207.18.

Metaxi

Spoiled and ruined at the Acropolis in Athens

Now famously the Greeks bankrupt themselves partly because they supposedly saw underground fares as optional.

I don’t know about the veracity of that having enjoyed the services of my old Athenian pal George’s driving.

And Athens’ peculiar taxi service.

Where they’ll quote a fare of €15 or €10 or whatever you’ve got to get up from your downtown hotel to the Acropolis.

And then if you get the right return driver it could be €10 to get back to your hotel.

Or as my own chilled cabbie put it pay if you can.

Dublin’s fare city

The Travel pack in Dublin

T’wouldn’t catch on in Dublin though where the latest incomers bag a licence.

And then take you halfway around the city just to ramp up the fare.

That and the think of a number drink fares around Temple Bar put Dublin down at 17 on the list at £436.12.

Just behind Pricey Paris at £423.42.

And only ahead of Copenhagen (£455.75), Venice (£456.92) and Amsterdam (£592.79).

Some local knowledge is, of course, helpful which is what you get over 13 years living and working in the Irish capital.

Some personal favourites

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

We’re pleased to see, of course, that some personal favourites make the top ten.

With Prague at £248.50 which leaves plenty in your pocket for Pilsner.

And Rome at £347.17, although we can show you some short cuts around La Citta Eterna.

The top 20

I’ll be back: The Trevi Fountain in Rome
  1. Athens – £207.18
  2. Lisbon – £218.03
  3. Krakow – £218.55
  4. Riga – £220.32
  5. Budapest – £220.95
  6. Prague – £248.50
  7. Madrid – £298.81
  8. Berlin – £316.97
  9. Dubrovnik – £318.30
  10. Rome – £347.17
  11. Barcelona – £384.80
  12. Bruges – £389.05
  13. Florence – £397.87
  14. Vienna – £401.64
  15. Stockholm – £421.16
  16. Paris – £423.42
  17. Dublin – £436.12
  18. Copenhagen – £455.75
  19. Venice – £456.92
  20. Amsterdam – £592.79

So that’s the alpha to the omega from your local post office.

And if you didn’t know it before then here’s confirmation what we already know about Athens an epic city break.

 

Africa, Countries, Deals

Thandie baby in South Africa

You know when you see the kids you last saw when they were babies… well, that’s my Thandie baby in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

Thandie is one cat but before you go squealing to My Scary One that I’m a cheater, Thandie is a cat, a cheetah.

I first laid my eyes on the beautiful Thandie in Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve in the Great Karoo in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

And when I say I first laid eyes on Thandie, our tracker Hewurt does that for a living and brought us to see Mother and Children.

They’ll be three now and I bet they’re a handful… ‘appen I should pop around and see for myself.

Cool for cats… in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

My old pals at Hayes & Jarvis are my go-to people for bespoke long-haul adventures.

And they will be there from the very beginning with your personalised passport folder right through your vacation.

But don’t just take my word for it but I got my own video message from ‘African Queen’ Catherine after checking out their offer.

Two for the price of one

Stick your neck out: In Namibia

And because we’ll be in the vicinity anyway why not visit the neighbours?

And I had Namibia waved under my nose by my old pal Tony when he represented the south-west African country in Ireland.

H&J have a 16-day Namibia and South Africa holiday with a guide price of £5,199pp.

The highlights

Table’s set: Table Mountain

 

H&J have handily bullet pointed out some of the highlights for us.

*Look out for The Big Five on an exhilarating safari drive.

*Drive along the scenic Garden Route on your way to stunning Cape Town.

*Take a cable car up Table Mountain for views of Cape Town and Table Bay.

*Discover the tallest sand dunes in the world in the heart of the Namib Desert.

On the road

Hostess with mostest: With Rachel in SA

 

Right, it’s a self-drive holiday but firstly they advise you board an internal flight from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park.

Situated in Mpumalanga and covering 19,633 square kilometres, Kruger boasts over 100 mammals, over 500 bird species and more than 300 tree species.

It’s a spectacular spot for wildlife and nature lovers, with luxury lodges dotted throughout the park.

Travelling onwards to Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape via the Garden Route, you can uncover sandy beaches, great museums, galleries and excellent restaurants.

Before heading on to the iconic Cape Town.

H&J recommend the SA vineyards, the 600 million year old Table Mountain and Boulders Beach, home to the African penguins.

Wham bam Namibia

Stick it in the trunk: Self-drive

Right, what to do with the other 12 nights.

Take in ‘The Beauty Queen of South Africa’ at your ease.

Namibia’s capital Windhoek boasts a Zoo Park, castles and alluring restaurants, shopping and places to stay.

And for the adrenaline junkies, there’s exciting water sports and paragliding and kite surfing.

For a complete change of scene, strike out on a trek of the 1,600km Namib Desert and enjoy the red sand dunes of Sossuvlei.

The coastal town of Swakopmund is popular for walking tours, shopping and expanses of beach.

Lovely Cheetah: Thandie

And it’s an ideal stop-off before continuing on your way to Etosha National Park, close to the salt desert of Etosha Pan.

And we’re back to the wildlife and the elephants, rhinos, leopards and lions, prior to flying back home.

But all after I see my Thandie baby in South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countries, Deals, Europe

Bulgar me that’s a deal

Plus ca change as they say around the Black Sea… or roughly translated Bulgar me that’s a deal.

It was the same 25 years ago when a work colleague pointed us eastwards to Bulgaria where she guaranteed the best budget holiday ever.

And for value TUI and Sunny Beach can’t be beaten with a family we met there revealing that they were on their second holiday there of the year.

It was a good time too to get out of Dodge, or Breakdown Britain as it was known then.

Tiara Ta-ra Princess Di: And a poignant year

In the wake of Princess Diana’s death.

Spend seven nights at the 2* Jupiter hotel. Fly from Dublin on 1st September with 15kg luggage, transfers and breakfast included each day.

Book online or visit your local TUI store/Agent from just €369pps.

Medieval days

For the ages: Sozopol

Now the sell on Sunny Beach is in the title and no harm here…

You deserve your break on a hot stretch of sand on the Black Sea.

But if you’re like us you’ll want to get a flavour of who the Bulgarians are and what they’re all about.

Deal us in: Our Bulgaria party

For us it was the old town of Sozopol where our taxi driver was waiting at the hotel.

He let us have our day and dinner in the medieval town before picking us up.

Personal chauffeur more like it.

For you it’ll be Nessebar.

Classic holiday

Dip your toe in: With The Son and Heir in Bulgaria

Just a 15-minute drive away from your resort, Nessebar is a UNESCO-listed town which was founded by the Thracians.

The Greeks and Romans then put up temples for Apollo and chunky fortress walls.

There’s also an Ottoman-style Medieval Basilica to see.

And it’s all jockeying for position on a tiny, near-circular peninsula.  

They’ve all been here

One of their own: Bulgarian kids and The Son and Heir

Of course the Ancients aren’t the only empire which found Bulgaria too irresistible to leave.

And whether the Russian writing on the old swimming changing rooms on the beaches is still there is doubtful.

Twenty-five years from when we visited.

But now that they’re being harried out of Crimea.

Russian sunworshippers are probably getting their brochures out for what was their Costa Del Pravda.

Wherever you’re from though you’re probably desperate for a holiday.

After two years of Covid and Bulgar me that’s a deal which TUI are offering.

 

Countries, Deals, Europe

Thalassotherapy in Gran Canaria

Well, I haven’t been hosed down since, well Crop Over in Barbados. Now hose for thalassotherapy in Gran Canaria.

Water therapy (thalasso the Greek for getting soaked).

On that occasion the saintly Donna was hosing off mine and her husband Jevan’s mud and paint from Foreday Morning.

A wakener if ever there was one after a through the morning carnival of rum and rumba.

Me-me and Dee-Dee at Crop Over in Barbados

Quite what my old friend Alice Melotte would have made of me in this state after seeing a better side of me in Biarritz.

At the Sofitel where wheatgrass and berry smoothies were more the order of the day.

And seaweed wraps (no, over your body) and all manner of water therapies including getting hosed down.

Water way 

It’s got layers: And water everywhere

Truth is though I’d never felt so healthy… a bit like my Highlander pal Finlay who didn’t recognise the feeling.

When he came out of hospital and for the first time in years didn’t have a hangover.

Now thalassotherapy makes you feel you’re flying… with water wings if you will.

And do you know who else gives you the feeling of being a high-flier… Ireland’s national airline carrier.

Aer Lingus’s holidays website is offering seven nights in the 4* Gloria Palace San Agustin Thalasso & Hotel in San Agustin from €579pp B&B for travel in October.

Thalasso will do for us

An oasis: In Gran Canaria

The Thalasso centre  is considered one of the best on the island or any Canary Island.

With a range of treatments and facilities such as sea water circuit, fitness pool and more.

With the hotel featuring two adult pools and one kids splash park and a third pool (ages 16+) on the top floor.

And for those exhibitionists among you there’s a separate nudist area (sun loungers at nominal charge).

Thalasso rooms include one daily session at the Thalasso circuit in the ‘Get in Shape’ pool.

Jump right in: Pools for everyone

Although the Thalasso rooms are not bookable if you’re travelling with children under 15.

San Agustin is approximately 2 km from Playa del Ingles and a free shuttle bus operates to there and Maspalomas six times daily.

So hose for thalassotherapy in Gran Canaria? I know I am.

 

America, Canada, Countries, Cruising, Deals

New York Princess

They start out a wide-eyed wanderer but end up a New York Princess. And may it always be so.

And for every Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) there’s a Josephine from Monaghan, Kathleen from Donegal and Celia from Galway.

My Irish aunties could only have dreamt of beginning their new lives in America off a cruise.

And spend 11 nights in luxury accommodation with entertainment and the best food and drink.

All of which you’ll get aboard Princess Cruises on September 24.

Cassidy Travel will fly you out from Dublin and stay in an inside cabin in this majestic fleet with full board basis from €1,099pp.

And, of course, this isn’t just a one-stop to Ellis Island.

The itinerary

Ronan reigns: Saoirse Ronan

You’ll sail from Southampton and visit Corner Brook and Sydney in Canada (no, me neither).

And Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and then New York.

Southampton, we know, it being the cruise capital of England, and it is that tbf, a through town.

September is the best time we’re told to see Corner Brook in Newfoundland with the trees just starting to change colour.

Captain Cook it

It’s there: Captain James Cook

But did you know that Captain Cook (yes, him) was here?

He made his name, of course, discovering Australia, although to be fair the Aborigines knew about it for thousands of years already!

Sydney we all know is Thomas Townshend, Baron Sydney, the-then UK Home Secretary at the time of Sydney’s foundation.

One can only baulk at the thought of some poor immigrants shack town in Rwanda being built with the signpost Pateltown (or Palace).

Another Sydney

Another string to its bow: Sydney, Canada

Sydney found himself in the post at a special time of change with the American War of Independence raging at the time.

And the Canadians, or more specifically the Nova Scotians, found themselves on the wrong side and ended up with the Brits… and the Home Sec.

In keeping with its Scotianess you won’t be surprised to see the Cape Breton Highlanders Museum.

And I guess that’s what The Big Fiddle is all about, the largest in the world.

Mad George’s wife’s town

Skip to it: King George

 

Charlottetown, named for Mad King George’s wife, has echoes of an olde world, with what looks suspiciously like jarvie racing (they call it harness racing) at the Red Shores Horsetrack.

Don’t hang around though, get a gallop on, because you know the ship won’t wait for you.

And the Big Apple

Laddie and Lady: On the Hudson

Whether you’re a prince or a New York Princess.

The Big Apple is waiting and there’s no time to waste.