Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Pilgrimage

Hungry and Thursday – Pickle your Croatian walnuts

It was a family tradition to bring home a bottle of liqueur from foreign shores.

But my parents” drinks trolly seriously lacked a bottle of Croatian Orahovaca.

Sure we had Dubonnet from thr Riviera The Boat D’Azur and made for a competition in 1846.

Here’s to Our Lady

To provide the French Foreign Legion to take quinine to combat malaria.

And ouzo from Greece My Greek odyssey and Aperol in Padova to name just a few.

But while we’ve all ventured through the Balkans on the other side of the Adriatic nobody dipped a toe in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Would I look big in this?

Until I visited Our Lady and Medjugorje where they’re all Croatians, with Marian Pilgrimages and

Now Medjugorje is many things other than a site to Mary… who am I kidding, it’s all about Our Lady.

But trawl the stalls and you’ll find some treasures other than the holy water and Virgin Mary that will get you into Heaven.

A cross around every corner

Such as Orahovaca which a Balkan trader up by the bus station in Medjugorje was showcasing.

I’ve been to a few wine-tastings in function rooms of hotels, so testing Maria’s samples from plastic cups was a different experience altogether.

But it was worth it and got the thumbs-up from the Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl when I finally broke open the bottle yesterday.

We adapted the sweet walnut drink by having it on the rocks which meant we drank more.

And you’ll get a statue in the village

But at about a fiver I can always stock up the next time I’m out there.

And at the end of it all we all felt filled with wholly spirit.

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

Give us this day – Hermits

Hermits have been one of the most pilloried sections of society, though really their very raison d’etre was to be outside of society.

Which is where you want to be just now.

Now hermits fall into three categories: The Lost, The Saintly and The Imprisoned.

The first of which I definitely am, the second I strive to be and the latter which miraculously I’ve been evading all these years.

Where is everybody? On the Via Francigena

The lost: Which is where I normally find myself on my travels.

Particularly if they put 100kms between me and my destination.

Which is the case on the last leg of the Camino in Galicia in north-west Spain and A pilgrim’s prayer.

Ciao, Roma

And on the Italian Camino from Viterbo into Rome

Probably more so the Via Francigena, to be fair, where the irregular arrows can leave you abandoned, alone, in an olive grove.

Still, more time to talk to the Lord while you can squeeze the olives onto those rolls you bought that morning…

A perfect accompaniment for that half bottle of wine.

And here’s a celebration of being alone on the road… Small roads lead to Rome.

I’ve made land… in Tobago

For those who prefer the sea there are opportunities aplenty to get lost too.

Like Robinson Crusoe. Still there are worse places to get washed up on than Tobago.

He wasn’t totally alone though. Man Friday? No, the goats he trained.

And yes I got to race them… and

Halo there!

The Saintly: You can live like the Fast Set in Cannes and Mandelieu-la-Napoule.

Or like the Fasting Set on the hermit’s island of Ile Saint-Honorat where Saint Honoratus went for a little solitude and a natter with his boss.

Word got out and more of his monk pals came out…

He founded a monastery which drew the attentions of no less a luminary than St Patrick.

Today’s traveller skirts the island on a speed boat… well, you have to, don’t you?

The Fast Set in Cannes

Visit and and

And come join me as I make a splash on the Riviera The Boat D’Azur.

You’ve found us: Napoleon’s island Saint Helena.

Boney’s bones

The imprisoned: The best-laid plans des souris et Frenchmen gang aft a-gley.

And the most famous Frenchman of them all, Napoleon Bonaparte ended up here.

On Saint Helena, the second-most remote inhabitable island in the world.

Where I have been destined for this year.

No, not because after spending three weeks locked up with me she wants to send me 5,000 miles away.

But because I’d been planning a trip out there this year. See



Holiday Snaps – the WB Yachts

In one of my more inspired moments I christened the new Irish Ferries ship WB Yachts, a twist on the Irish Nobel-winning poet WB Yeats.

They had invited us to give their new ship a name and were offering free travel for life to the winner.

And it had to be on an Irish theme, with their other ships already boasting literary names.

What’s in a name?

And so I lodged the name in my old newspaper column Holiday Snaps from where your even snappier Blog-ready Holiday Snaps derives.

Imagine then my incredulity when the less snappier WB Yeats won the competition.

Which was something I cheekily brought to their attention when they invited me on earlier this year.

WB Yachts, WB Yeats? It’s still an incredible boaty.

And you can get 10% off bookings next summer to France if booked before December 3.

Available on return bookings from March 28 until September 30. 

The WB which carries 1,800 passengers from Dublin to Cherbourg in Normandy has as you would expect a Yeats theme running through it.

There’s the high-end Lady Gregory Restaurant, above.

The less formal but tasteful Maud Gonne Bar & Lounge, below.

And The Abbey & The Peacock Cinema and Lounge.

And here’s a couple of things that will really float your boat… unlimited luggage and free wi-fi.

Now Yeats is the only poet who I can recite a whole poem from which I can only verify by videoing myself and sharing.

But you’ll be happy to know that I won’t be inflicting my rendition of An Irish Airman Foresees His Death here.

I am reminded now of my old University lecturer George Watson.

A proud native of the North, he kept us enthralled with his witty takes on the great Irish writers.

And he cheekily ended his précis on WB Yeats’ love life by saying: ‘He never did get over Maud Gonne.’

For more information and to book visit

And for more cruise and ferry news remember Tuesday is Cruiseday..


As a winner of our French Travel Awards it is a country I know well and am getting to know even better…

French treats



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