Countries, Culture, Europe

Here’s to the next 1600 years, Venice

Up there with those to avoid in life, like taxmen and Ed Sheeran, are those who say Venice is dying… well, on this, their 1600th anniversary year, here’s to the next 1600.

Firstly, the world’s most famous city on a lagoon, has thrived for 1600 years already through plague, foe and the elements.

And despite the doom mongers’ prophecies Venice is actually better placed for the next 1600 years than any of the 1600 before.

No, not because of that picture of that dolphin returning to the Grand Canal which proved the effect of climate change.

No, that was a fake. But because, surprise, surprise, the Venetians know more about preserving their unique way of life than anybody else.

The celebrations have been in full flow since late last month and will run until March 25 next year.

So plenty of time to plan for Veniceophiles (OK I made that term up) to return to a city we have been away from too long.

We return too to the Chronican Altinate (no, me neither) and diarist Marin Sanudo for detail on Venice’s beginnings.

Sanudo referenced the San Giacomo di Rialto as being the first church, begun on March 24, 421.

These days, of course, we have the internet to go to.

And as mia moglie will tell you I’m always happy to let someone else to do the heavy lifting.

Just follow the Venezia calendar on their site for a host of cultural and historical events which you can follow.

And our breakaway party from our trip to Padova

And per tua informazione Venice I’m free pretty much the rest of the year.

Heck, it’s Venice, I’m free l’intero anno.

MEET YOU ON THE CANAL

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Growing your beardie for Obeardammergau

So I HAVE been using my time productively in the last year… growing my beardie for the rescheduled Oberammergau, or Obeardammergau, for next year!

In a world of imitations and accessories the ten-yearly Oberammergau Passion Play keeps it real.

The main man

And they require of their participants to grow their hair and beards from a year out of the Passion Play.

Our friends at Der Passionspiele have been updating us on their preparations for next year’s renewal of the world-famous spectacle.

The Spanish Flu

Giddy up: Always a showpiece in Oberammergau

And our Bavarian friends have experience and precedence in these matters having been down this route 100 years ago.

When the Spanish Flu ravaged the world in 1920 the organisers gave themselves another two years before putting on the Passion Play.

That should fir me

Such prescience should come as little surprise to us.

Because as we all know the Passion Play itself was born out of The Black Death.

The Lord is a listening Lord

Giddie up: Always an occasion in Oberammergau

The villagers had promised to put on a tribute to Our Lord in their village if they were rid of the plague.

And God being a listening God, it worked.

Fast forward to today and Passion Play Oberammergau 2020 was in full flight when an all too familiar intruder knocked.

And only eight weeks out of Jesus taking his first steps they had to rearrange their plans.

All of which means that Oberammergau 2022 will be even better for the organisers having had two more years to plan.

Der youth

Medieval man: When in Oberammergau

Oberammergau 2022 will be putting the emphasis on the youth of today and tomorrow.

And they have special offers for tickets for the spectacle.

Oberammergau truly is a spectacle, in and out of Passion Play.

I saw for myself on my Top Flight trip out there on how it wears its history on the side of its buildings.

While the locals like nothing better than dressing up.

Whether it be in the fashions of Palestine 2,000 years ago or in liederhosen.

Written on the walls: In Oberammergau

And, of course, it’ll put a smile on your face to be sat opposite historical figures and be able to clink steins and say Prost, at the end of the day.

We’ll be keeping you up to date on all that’s going on as the year progresses.

But now that I’ve no place to go thanks to our politicians…

I just think I’ll sit here and watch my hair grow and dream of Germany.

 

 

 

 

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Meet the World – all turned out wellness in the end

Travel is, of course, good for your health… and health is good for your Travel.

That is the recurring theme coming out of the Meet the Media international Travel fair.

That our industry’s health depends on acknowledging that holidaymakers will now put our wellbeing front and centre of every trip from hereon in.

Veloci for Victory: In Orlando

And so every destination will need to show that they are safe.

And that social distances are observed, and discreet, so that we all feel we are actually on holiday.

As ever, our American Travel friends are leading the way with their innovative organisation.

And so in our usual scattergun way let’s see how the world is opening up again.

Ride on

We’re waiting for you: Universal Hollywood

Universal: And our friends at Universal, and that includes you Veloci and your VelociCoaster, are waiting for us in Orlando.

Even better than that, if that’s possible, is the reopening of Universal Studios Hollywood on Friday.

To Californians at first (drat!) but to us later (yeah!).

Hello Pet

Knight Rider at Universal Hollywood Studios

And a chance too to try out the all-new Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash and Jurassic World – The Ride.

As well as the famous Studio Tour.

Join the tour

Get your ticket to ride!

We’ll do a sweep of the States from Utah to Michigan to New York State as we go.

The morning after

But as is the way… the morning after the Meet the Media international Travel fair always comes with a monster hangover.

And this year’s digital get-together was no different.

All of which has me looking for some medical intervention!

Medical Czech

Ever since sipping from the magic sippy cup in the Czech Republic’s Spa Triangle I have been enlivened by this magical land.

You too can be born again by drinking from the magic waters from the ubiquitous fountains.

And the magic beer in Hoptown, Zatec,

Why not put the two together in the beer spas which are a thing around Central Europa.

Long Covid cure

Look at the head on that: Zatec, Czech Republuc

All of which shouldn’t come as a surprise because Beethoven among other luminaries of the day would come a-visiting.

You’ll not be surprised to see that the cutting-edge Czechs are leading the way too in pandemic treatment.

Such is their place as pioneers in medical tourism.

We’ll bring you more on how they’re addressing Long Covid and attracting inquiries from abroad from those of us who want a cure and the best beer.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

 

 

 

 

Countries, Deals, Europe, UK

Farewell Prince Philip, Corfu’s most famous son

He was Corfu’s most famous son but how will the Ionian island remember Prince Philip?

Hail Hellas

Well, probably not at all as ‘Phil the Greek’ as he was rather impertinently referred to by cheeky commoners lived all of 18 months in the island off Albania.

The Turks saw to that sentencing his Dad Andrew to death before he escaped with his son in an orange box.

Anyone for a Greek dance?

The Prince of Greece, unsurprisingly, had no longing to return particularly after finding a warmer welcome with the Windsors, of Windsor.

Wares of Greeks

And he was to say when asked: ‘I certainly never felt nostalgic about Greece. A grandfather assassinated and a father condemned to death does not endear me to the perpetrators.’

That was then and this is now and we’re all jolly good friends, ourselves and the Greeks.

Fly me. Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels.com

Right down to the fact that they have a cricket pitch, the very essence of English culture, in the centre of Corfu Town.

And we’re busy courting the Hellenes, and they us, particularly as a possible green light country under the outline of the Global Travel Task Force.

Global Task Force

On which topic how do we feel about said Global Task Force.

And again I find myself in tune with my friends at the Scottish Passenger Agents Association who are lobbying our politicians north of the border here to get on board.

Jump in. Photo by Tania Nov on Pexels.com

Joanne Dooey, President of the SPAA, speaks for all of us, travel professionals and travel providers alike when she says: ‘Currently, the advice being given today is for travellers to and from England, and in our meetings next week with the Scottish Aviation Working Group we will be urging that Scotland follows suit.’

While she also raises an issue we have long flagged up.

She said: ‘We have some initial reservations on cost and availability of testing, the traffic light system and how vaccination passes will work operationally.

‘Our chief concern is the requirement for a PCR test and the costs associated with this. PCR testing is currently an expensive option which will place financial strain on families who travel together.

‘We would like to see the cost of this driven down or alternative forms of acceptable testing such as antigen and lateral flow.

Your boat will come in

‘The traffic light system has to have clarity and we all need to know the data which will place each country in green, amber or red and importantly what will trigger the move from one category to another.

‘This should be an internationally agreed system as currently this is only one side of the equation and travellers also need to know all the regulations for entry to their destination country.

‘And we’re very keen to hear how the digital vaccination pass will work in practice.’

It’s a deal

All of which brings us back to what we should be looking out for if we do we want to get out to Corfu.

And blue and white naturally

It is an island we know well from spending our first married days there with highlights including a dab at water skiing (or drinking), doughnuts and a flirtation (on his part) with the hotel keyboardist.

Corfu is surprisingly green and has its quirks such as that cricket pitch and the ubiquitous scary-looking Greek monks, though with the types of beards I’ve been trying to grow for 30 years.

The Scary One is never far away though clicking her scissors just in case.

She’d not be out of place in Ancient Greece.

So mid-September is our anniversary month and Barrhead Travel has seven days B&B at the Morfeas Hotel, from £320pp, departing on September 15.

MEET YOU IN THE TAVERNA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countries, Europe, UK

Travel pursuits – UK and Scottish roadmap

How nearer are we to getting back on the road following the pronouncements from the British and Scottish governments.?

The answer is no nearer.

Let’s take what Airlines UK are saying.

They are calculating that with no significant 2021 summer Travel there will be a £55.7bn loss in trade and £3bn in tourism GDP.

While no link to the US until September will leave the UK £23m short a day.

All of which will put 574,000 jobs at risk.

The Alpha to Omega of Travel

So our message to the politicians is stop dithering, get the finger out, and put the technology in place to help us to travel.

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

Because we’re big on Covid passports here.

We will, of course, continue to flag up what other countries are doing… Greece and their policies and the pacesetters Israel.

We’ll continue to take soundings from our friends at the Scottish Passenger Agents Association and are happy to take up their cause.

Photo by Haley Black on Pexels.com

So it’s over to Joanne Dooey, SPAA President.

She said: ‘The concept of vaccine certificates as proof that you are protected against specific diseases is by no means new.

‘Some wishing to travel to a host of countries including parts of Africa and Central and South America and the Far East already have to do that.

‘And produce an International Certificate of Vaccination to gain entry.

‘As travel agents we’ve never experienced this system being described as divisive, authoritarian or a human rights issue.’

Test, test, test

And yes, like Joanne, we are all about the testing and I was happy to do just that to report on Bergamo last Autumn.

‘Testing will have a role to play in the restart of international travel for at least a 24-month period.

‘The current cost of PCR tests is too high to be affordable for the average family.

‘There is a need for quick, reliable and affordable testing at airports.

‘And we would welcome further research into the different forms of testing than PCR including antigen tests and lateral flow tests.”

Hear, hear.

The oldest and the best

And we here at jimmurty@traveltraveltravel.com will ALWAYS support our dream-makers, our Travel providers.

Wise words: Joanne Dooey

And a shout-out to the SPAA which was founded in 1921 is celebrating its centenary as the world’s oldest organisation representing travel agents.

It currently has 120 member companies.

All their associated agencies across Scotland including many home workers, and 92 associate members across the travel and transport industry.

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy days and Songdays – Holyday favourites

And because of the holyday season we’re in this week’s Rainy days and Songdays today celebrates Holyday favourites.

Happy clappy California

Whoopi

Oh Happy Day (Oakland/San Francisco)

Oh happy day, oh happy day, when Jesus washed, oh when He washed, When Jesus washed, He washed my sins away – The Edwin Hawkins Singers/Sister Act

They don’t need much invitation to unleash a Gospel Choir on you in California.

And Hallelujah there was one waiting for us on the first day in Anaheim for our American Travel Fair, IPW.

Elvis sings Gospel

Full of Graceland

How Great Thou Art (Memphis)

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation. And take me home what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow in humble adoration. And then proclaim, my God how great thou art – Elvis Presley

And it is worth remembering that Elvis first learned to sing in church.

And during his residencies in Las Vegas he would invite his friends up to his room for impromptu Gospel singalongs

It’s better to imagine Elvis’s heart being joyful at the moment God came to take him home that day in Graceland.

All God’s Children

Whenever God Shines His Light (Belfast)

Whenever God shines his light on me. Opens up my eyes so I can see. When I look up in the darkest night. And I know that everything is going to be all right – Van Morrison/Cliff Richard

And aren’t we all God’s children anyway even Van the Man, the grumpiest man in rock?

Religion is all around you in Belfast where Van is known to put on occasional jazz cabaret shows at the Europa Hotel.

It’s always best though with a Celtic soul twist.

Welsh worship

Bread of Heaven (Cardiff)

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer, Pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak but thou art mighty. Hold me with thy powerful hand. Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven. Feed me till I want no more. – Bryn Terfel, Cardiff

And Cwm Rhondda (The Rhondda) is the unofficial anthem of Wales.

And is a favourite of Welsh rugby fans.

It scores too as it celebrates God rather than the popular policy of God celebrating said country.

Mississippi music

Grammy loves you

This Little Light of Mine (Mississippi)

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, all the time, let it shine – Sister Rosetta Tharpe

And you’ll find a lot more about Sister Rosetta and all the wonderful Gospel and early Rock singers at the Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.

And the significance of This Little Light in a room of reflection on your Civil Rights visit to the Two Museums in Jackson.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

Easter in Israel

Easter in Jerusalem would normally be a throng of pilgrims.

But it has been reassuring, if a little surreal, to see masked worshippers following the Path of the Cross.

But it does give us a sense, both metaphorical, and real, of revival, of resurrection.

Israel, and Britain for that matter, have been the great success stories of the vaccine roll-out.

The Promised Land has vaccinated half of their population

While 1 in 12 Britons have had both jabs, although there  are more than six times as many of us.

Common cause

But let’s celebrate both our countries and talk up the preliminary discussions of the UK-Israel route opening up from August.

Yes, May 17, has been mooted for a Travel review but late summer remains more realistic.

A British Government source was quoted in the Sunday Times.

They said: ‘There will be a system of travel corridors to green-list countries with good vaccination rates. Israel, here we come!’

So where are we with our Israeli friends who we touched base with at the digital World Travel Market at the end of last year.

Well, several airlines have added limited routes and slowly increased flights in June and July.

Easy does it

That would then be in line with an August return for Britons so keep an eye on all our old favourites.

EasyJet offers two nights room only at the American Colony Jerusalem on July 2.

Leaving from Luton (hint to our Government to get a move on) £396pp, which means £792 for two.

While Virgin Holidays has tempted us of a Scottish persuasion, and now living up here in Braveheartland.

With seven nights at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem from £3381pp (well, you deserve it) for October 26.

Kayak is many a traveller’s second point of contact (after jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com obviously). And what about the Queen of Sheba for my Queen of Sheba?

The Dead Sea

Three nights and flight at the Hilton Eilat Queen of Sheba Hotel three nights and flight for £1,079

And, of course, our friends at G Adventures who have been trying to get me out to Israel these past few years (you have, you have, you have).

G whizz

They have 15 days from £999 Jordan and Israel Adventure from £1954, valid on December 10 (plenty of time to be super-vaccinated). And this was £2299!

Mt Nebo, Jordan

Now teasingly, as you’ll all know by now, I’ve been taken right to within 50 metres of Israel from the Jordan side at the site of John’s baptism of Jesus.

And so I’ve seen the Promised Land… only the Israeli soldiers on the banks were looking suspiciously at us from the other side.

I’ll just have to leave it to our holiday providers to look after us as always.

MEET YOU BY THE WAILING WALL

 

 

 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe

Spring forward, fall back – time zones around the world

I always keep my watch set at the time of the last country I’ve been to so today that’ll be the Czech Republic.

The idea is to keep something of that destination and wanderlust with me though it can cause problems in the morning.

Beer O’Clock in Zatec

My strange habit all chimes with the Czechs, of course, with their love of an astronomical clock.

Prague‘s biggest attraction, in the Old Town Square obvs but also the clock in Hoptown, Zatec, and its homage to beer.

Scot late the Great

You’re late… but that’s OK in Edinburgh

Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh: And, of course, today I’ve been all over the place, and logging on for work that was a full month ago.

Now the fastidious and ever-so-decent people of Edinburgh look after people like me.

By setting their clock three minutes fast to allow people rushing for their train at nearby Waverley Station enough time.

Set in the New Town, staring across Princes Street Gardens and up to Edinburgh Castle it also allows you more time to take it all in.

Philly’s hour of need

Billydelphia

Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia: And it will come as little surprise to you that I turned up for my Zoom meeting from Washington DC five hours early.

I make only a few apologies for resharing Philadelphia’s Curse of Billy Penn because clocks and times give me that opportunity today.

The 21-year curse on Philly‘s sports teams arose because of the construction of One Liberty Hall.

It exceeded the height of Billy’s statue atop City Hall… a real no, no.

It was all resolved when a statuette was affixed to the final beam topping off the Comcast Cener, now the city’s tallest building.

And the Phillies took baseball’s World Series

Tenerife timing

Give me a bell: Tenerife

Iglesia de la Concepcion, San Cristobal de La Laguna: You’ll be breathless after saying all this.

And breathless from the steps, particularly if you’ve been hiking through rain forests and hills on your CanariaWays trip.

But the views are spectacular. Just don’t ring it too early. Too late.

Ancient times

Time goes slowly: Im Petra

Petra, Jordan: And it may look like a temple to you and me but it’s actually a Treasury.

The same thing to the Nabateans.

It’s also though a timepiece with coded messages.

You won’t need Indiana Jones to decode them though.

Zuhair, G Adventures, expert man on the ground will give you the full lowdown… and Jordan Jimmy will do the rest.

Ben O’Clock

The Elizabeth Tower, Westminster, London: And, of course the tower with the most famous clockface in the world.

Only everyone thinks it’s called Big Ben.

But that is the name of the largest of its five bells.

So who was Ben? Well, either ‘Big’ Ben Hall, the first Commissioner of Works or the boxer Benjamin Caunt.

Ring-a-ding ding!

Countries, Culture, Europe

Montenegro… where it pays to be lazy

With apologies to my fellow Scot and New Wave pioneer David Byrne…

But I’m wicked and I’m lazy, oh, oh, don’t you wanna save me. And they will in Montenegro.

Montewherewoah?

No place like dome

Well, it’s in the Balkans on the southern border of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

And it was a favourite of Irish speculators who bought second homes there during the Celtic Tiger.

No better places to switch off and relax then with the Montenegrans among some of the most chilled people on Earth.

With the inland town of Brezna its sleepiest.

Sleeping giants

Tranquil blue seas

Brezna hosts the World Championships of laziness where the aim is to lie down for the longest time.

The Son and Heir has a few hours to go to break the record of 37 hours but he’s working on it.

Milonja Blagojecic is the inspiration behind it  and is referred to as an entrepreneur.

But in Lazy Town that probably only means that he is bothered getting out of bed.

The competition has been running since 2011 and this August will then be its tenth year.

Strawmen

Mountain high

So what do you have to do? Well, it started off with competitors told to just lie under a tree with a straw in your mouth for as long as they could.

But they soon tired of that idea (well, it’s in their genes).

And now you are given a mattress in a village house.

Sucking on a straw does sound like it would suck the life out of you to be fair.

And today’s competitors get to drink, sleep and surf the internet, though bizarrely you don’t get to go to the toilet.

Although it can be a bit of a chore dragging your weary behind off the mattress and into the loo at the best of times.

Easy riders

Bend it like Montenegro

In the outside world they move at a slightly quicker pace… slightly!

And the good burghers of Brezna hold a slow bike race where the last one back wins.

After which, of course, they lay into the rakija (fruit-fermented brandy).

All of which conjures up memories of Hoptown in the Czech Republic.

And yes, I am training hard for this year’s Festival and the biggest beer belly competition.

Lying back in my bed and drinking copious amounts of beer (with a potty) is the perfect training.

 

 

 

Adventure, Countries, Europe, UK

How I met my princess in England’s royal county

Only the best people get to marry a Newbury girl… and Prince William.

I met my life’s partner on the road from Scotland when I rolled up in Reading in the Royal County of Berkshire

So why have I taken a detour down Memory Lane.

Well, because I have been guided there by my friends in the Great West Way?

The Great West Way, you say? Well, it’s the pathway, cycleway, canalway, railway from London to Bristol, or Bristol to London.

Now you know the way from London to Bristol, don’t you?

Along the canal

Where you’ll be able to visit such architectural gems as Henry VIII’s pleasure dome Hampton House.

And his great-great-grand whatever Betty’s Windsor with its castle, and Kintbury royalty in Her Sadieness, the wife.

They’ve been here for some time

The Kennet & Avon Canal runs through the bottom of her old family home’s garden where they had a little rowing boat moored there.

Where we took many a gentle journey during our courtship (very English Victorian, eh) along.

Who wants a modern car?

When we weren’t in her local boozer, the Dundas Arms.

Which was where my parents stayed on the eve of our wedding up at the local church.

A permanent union

I had a specially-commissioned painting made up for Herself when we relocated to Ireland as a thank you for the work she had done on our new home.

And it is with me now in my lounge in North Berwick, south of Edinburgh.

Tick off the landmarks

So that a little corner of Her England is always with us.

For verdant Kintbury in West Berkshire which has a towpath to Hungerford Common and the town.

Water way to travel

And for much else including Avebury and Stonehenge, Jane Austen’s Bath and Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Bristol then check out the Great West Way site.

Let the train take the strain

Now for an afternoon snooze under our painting… I can almost hear David ask if I want my usual, a pint of Courage Bitter.