Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Flying, Ireland, UK

Rihanna at the gate as Barbados Airport reopens

Rihanna was there to meet me but where was my party?

Ri-Ri is the first face you’ll see as you walk into Grantley Adams Airport, Bridgetown, Barbados, through its open-air entrance.

Follow the signs

She’s there draped on the wall in the arrivals area along with the world’s greatest-ever cricket all-rounder Sir Gary Sobers.

And, yes, I’m talking about you Laura

And from this past week she has smiling excited visitors to greet again as Grantley Adams reopens.

Sign here

We’ll be filling up soon

In the balmy heat of an early Bajan summer evening I found myself spending more time with the superstar than the party I was there to meet.

I hadn’t picked out Barbados tourism’s board or that the blonde Afro traveller a few groups ahead of me in the queue was heading that way.

Incoming flights from the UK and Ireland

And so I found myself on my own in the airport long after everyone else had left.

The friendly Bajan airport staff allowed me back through customs to double check if my party were there before connecting me with a taxi firm and my hotel.

That’s far

And a bottle of rum to go please

In said taxi I asked the handsome Twentysomething driver about his family and if he had a partner.

To which he said that the Bajan girls were all after the same thing.

I had heard from my West Indian pal that there were three women to every one man on the island.

Can we get off yet?

I asked him to turn the taxi around to remove me from such temptation.

But I then thought better of it, and besides what would the poor staff at the Grantley Adams Airport make of me showing up again so soon.

Barbados Aer

And, of course, my Rihanna

And for our Irish friends, Aer Lingus are now on board too with new flights through Manchester from October 20. With fares from £199.

And you can attach on the connecting flights from Dublin and Cork from €249 and from Belfast from £239.

MEET YOU AT THE AIRPORT

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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Cruiseday Tuesday – British isle be back

And a return of an old favourite feature here on the back of MSC’s announcement of summer cruises around Britain.

The cruises which will be for us British only will begin with a series of short cruises from May 20 followed by seven-night sailings.

Safe entry: With MSC

My old pal, the exquisitely named UK&I MD Antonio Paradiso assures us that vaccinated and non-vaccinated passengers will be allowed on board.

Just make sure you have a negative test within 72-hours of embarkation.

And MSC will even get you on shore for excursions though having enjoyed their on-board dining and entertainment….!

Barbados is plain sailing

Ruby do: With Ruby in Barbados

Barbados was my first jump-off point too… jumpin’ into the Caribbean to swim with turtles, and jumpin’ at the Crop Over carnival.

And it is the new jump-off too for Royal Caribbean for your island hopping.

Royal Caribbean is offering up to €350 off your stateroom.

They have a lead-in seven-night South Caribbean island hop holiday price.

On Grandeur of the Seas from €434 from Sunday, December 19.

We’re talking Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao (home of the blue liqueur), St Lucia and Dominica.

Greek island hopping

And we still have a few Greek islands to hop.

Travel Department is running a nine-night holiday staying in Athens and on board the medium-sized ship The Celestyal Experience.

The Greek Islands & Aegean Sea Cruise is all yours to book for September or October from €2,139pp.

Including everyone’s favourite cruise stop-off Santorini.

MEET YOU BACK ON THE SEAS

America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Watching the Detectives

Just like watching the detectives don’t get cute, just like watching the detectives, I get so angry when the teardrops start, But he can’t be wounded ’cause he got no heart. Elvis Costello, Watching the Detectives

And with apologies to the Poet Laureate of New Wave.

But it’s not the bespectacled one but the new run of Line of Duty, shot in Belfast, which has got me thinking.

About my favourite detectives in the cities they are associated with.

So here are seven deadly detective shows, their music and their cities.

Van’s the man

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Van der Valk, Amsterdam: So good they kept a sample of the Simon Park Orchestra’s original score ‘Eye Level’ for the reworking of the original series.

And even then purists lambasted the modern version and Marc Warren’s ‘Piet’ as opposed to Barry Foster’s.

And don’t you just love the cluttered narrow bars they all drink in.

Hutch more New York

My New York

Starsky & Hutch, New York: Starsky & Hutch was the breakthrough police show for young people more used to oldie cops.

Good, yes, like the lollipop-sucking Theo Kojak. And, yes, we loved you, baby, too!

But Starsk and Hutch and Huggy Bear brought a street vibe, slapstick and more New York life.

As did the Stiller and Wilson remake with Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear captured the excitement and warmth and music of the original.

Glasgow is No Mean City

Glasgow wit

Taggart, Glasgow: And who would have thought they could have made grey post-industrial Glasgow cool in the Eighties?

But they did and you knew you were in for something different when the credits rolled.

And Maggie Bell gave us a smoky, bluesy No Mean City, a homage to a gangster novel about Twenties Gorbals Glasgow.

London, you’re nicked

Two English and a Scotsman

The Sweeney: Regan and Carter were the Line of Duty of their day, the water-cooler show before water coolers.

Again another they made a remake of, with only Ray Winstone able to reprise John Thaw, while Plan B took on Dennis Waterman.

The Winstone opening scene had a car chase around Trafalgar Square while Thaw’s played out more on wasteland.

But London sizzled from the moment the Thames TV with its iconic St Paul’s graphic came up… and who can forget the theme tune?

Monsieur Bean?

Maigret, Paris: And it was always going to require us to make a shift to see Mr Bean as Monsieur Maigret.

Mais oui, Rowan Atkinson pulled it off, with that brooding sense of contemptuous arrogance we so love about Parisians.

And who doesn’t love an accordion?

Naturellement, you would want to show off the City of Lights if you set your show here.

Which is why it was shot in Budapest with Szentendre doubling for the Montmartre.

Across the Channel

Sunny Jersey

Bergerac, Jersey: And a little bit of sun came into our lives in the Eighties.

In the only part of the UK where they get sun… in Jersey, on the doorstep of France.

As none of us can identify a Jersey site from a Jersey cow then their first image was a map of the island.

Before we get action clips of dunes and John Nettles running after high-end crooks.

Old at the time, Johnnie then retired to Midsomer.

Deadly Caribbean

Nylon Pool, Tobago

Death in Paradise, Guadeloupe: No mon, it’s not Saint Marie, but Guadeloupe.

It lies halfway down the eastern Caribbean chain between Dominica and Antigua.

And it has some of the features you’d expect in a West Indian island, a volcano, sandy beaches obvs and a rainforest.

And you’ll get some of this and more of the other in Tobago and Barbados

All good and varied locales for misdemeanour and murder.

And all set against an uplifting score and, if you know your stuff, homages to the film The Harder They Come.

So to cheer your day up here’s some Jimmy Cliff ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want‘.

Adventure, Africa, America, Countries, Deals, Ireland, Sport, UK

Holidos and Don’ts – the alpha and the omega

So, the alpha and the omega of Holidos and Don’ts as there’s so much disinformation out there.

Greece lightening

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

No, you didn’t misread that…

I’m here to lighten the load for our Greek friends who have been painted as super spreaders.

We’ve got Public Health England to blame for the hue and cry.

They reported that the largest number of infections between June and September came from returning holidaymakers from Hellas.

They made up 21% of new cases, compared with 16% from Croatia and 14% from Spain.

The report which still needs to be peer reviewed, of course, doesn’t factor in that that was a pre-vaccine world so let’s not panic.

And book our Greek holidays with confidence.

Our old friends at Travel Department are offering a range of Greek breaks with Athens & The Island Short Break immediately catching the eye.

Amble along the Neighbourhood of Gods in the Plaka district and head up to the Acropolis.

Tip here: take an impossibility cheap taxi with your driver (who will look like Adonis) suggesting you pay what you like.

Travel Department will throw in a full-day cruise of the Saronic Gulf: Hydra, Poros and Aegina.

So that’s four days B&B from €749pp with departures in June and October.

And for a teaser on all things Greek… here’s my odyssey.

Digital Green Passports

Una ciocolatta di calda densa: In Bergamo

And it makes sense that the Irish Travel Agents Association should welcome the European Commission’s proposal for a Digital Green Passport.

The idea is that it will be proof that you’ve been vaccinated, received a negative test result or recovered from Covid.

Of course there’s no pain, no gain.

And I’d take the Scary One drilling that stick up my nose and down my throat.

Like I did to travel to Bergamo…

And thoughts to the Bergamaschi and all our Italian amichi as they tackle lockdown again… Molamia.

Olé for Spain

Hugs for Spain and Catalonia. https://www.google.com/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/24/messi-around-on-the-water/amp/

And Olé for Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto who is championing our return to Espana.

She told the TV station, Antenna 3: ‘We could be in a position to start implementing the digital passport when FITUR (Spain’s Travel Fair) in Madrid starts on May 19.’

The government over here in the UK has held out May 17 as the date when travel can resume from England.

Although that relies on the findings of the Global Travel Task Force report on April 12.

The Spanish jewel of the Med, The Balearic Islands have already stepped up.

And they have said they will be happy to trial it.

And as a signpost that the British are coming with Jet2 informing the Majorca press to expect a ‘massive’ arrival in June.

Watch this space for updates on Travel returning and…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Signdays

You might not expect to be moved at a Cliff Richard concert unless Old Maura lifts your wife’s hand in Dublin so she can sway too.

Thank you to all my friends: Cliff Richard

But the sight of a section of deaf fans signing at one of Cliff’s Christian concerts at Wembley had me transfixed.

You’ve got to own it: Eminem

As an Eminem signer goes viral for her animated renditions at his concerts a celebration and selection of other captivating signing songs.

Toast of the Grammies

Hello Halo: Beyoncé

Beyonce: Of course her position as Queen Bey is unchallenged.

Although I do think that OneRepublic’s Halo which they thrilled us with in Red Rocks tops her (I know treason).

And here’s someone who also tried to steal some limelight from Grammys multi-award winner Beyoncé at one of her gigs.

And I know how hard it is to get into Grammy folklore.

Take a bow the signer at Atlanta Pride who rocked it.

Where is the Love?

There is the love: The Peaa

Black Eyed Peas: And we have a visual signpost straight off with the question mark cards we all remember.

But this from the LA formed Black Eyed Peas classic, the best-selling single in the UK in 2003, is filled with imagery.

Now full disclosure here.

I have no sign language here other than knowing flapping your arm against your side means Scottish, as in bagpipes.

And just randomly recalling the lyrics I imagine that KKK is either a very rude sign or pulling a hood over your head.

Thrashing around

Rock gods: Slayer

Slayer: We probably know more sign language than we think.

And we are certainly all capable of describing a musical instrument.

For many a spotty teenage boy, and greasy-haired men too, being able to play the air guitar is vital at a heavy metal concert.

And this signer certainly knows her Slayer although I’d like to see her slide along the floor too.

Marlee’s movements

Deaf and loud: Sean Forbes www.deafandloud.com

Marlee Matlin is probably the best-known deaf performer in the world, recognised for her craft.

She famously won an Oscar for Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God in 1986.

But Sean has not come across my radar. He is for all you who don’t know which is probably very few a Detroit hip-hop artist.

And this is the magic that happens when Sean and Marlee get together.

Sean Forbes Ft Marlee Matlin

Katy’s Fireworks

Perry good: Katy Perry

Her detractors will say that Katy Perry is on point but then why is that a bad thing.

The green-eyed monster of jealousy is of course rearing its ugly head here while our heroine is rearing her gorgeous head.

No less a figure than Joe Biden had her perform at his inauguration party.

And she brought the house down with her rendition of Fireworks in Washington DC.

All of which was signed and which cut the night air.