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

 

 

 

 

Countries, Cruising, Flying, Food & Wine

New Year Revolutions

And as the Alt-Right tries to wage a Second American Revolution in the US a look at the revolutions we do need.

The air

United we atand

And clearly the challenge is carbon emissions where EasyJet can take a bow.

The budget airline topped a London School of Economics report in a top five which also includes Alaska Air, Qantas, my old friends at United who flew me to the Deep South and JetBlue.

The seas

Norway wood: In the Norwegian fjords

And high up for the haters in this Covid and Climate crisis are our cruise ships.

Where my old faves MSC whom I sailed with around the Norwegian fjords, Royal Caribbean who showed off their wares in the English Channel and in Barcelona.

And Celebrity Cruises who treated us all like, well Celebrities, off the coast of Florida on their $1bn state-of-the-art Edge.

A nod here to Princess Cruises who had us on board when they stopped off in Dublin on their way round Britain and Ireland.

And Paul Gauguin Cruises who drew us a picture of tantalising Tahiti who have been keeping us going through lockdown with their images and news.

The food

Food for thought: A tajine

And now more than ever we have to watch what and where we eat.

So that means avoiding markets we know little about in countries we are visiting for the first time.

So for me that was Morocco and I should have gone with the professionals.

Northern Africa and the Middle Eastern food is bright, spicy and often new for Western palates so don’t be afraid to ask.

And if you can find Zuhair, G AdventuresJordanian host extraordinaire then all the better.

All our cultures and culinary ways should be celebrated around the world and animal welfare should be central to our approach.

A joint resolution

I’ve probably already broken my own personal resolutions already so it might be presumptuous to ask my Travel pals to take on these targets.

But, in truth, we’re all in it together…

This past year’s challenges have brought opprobrium upon Travel professionals but lockdown has only reaffirmed how vital it is to us all.

So let’s build it back even better this year.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

WTM Holiday Snaps – An ancient Greek modern tale

We’re going to have fun in 2021, and high up on the list is Greece’s bicentenary..

And a good day to talk about it though, in truth, every day is a good one to wax lyrical about Hellas.

As the Greeks today set up their committee for the year which marks 200 years since the end of the Greek War of Independence which saw the rebirth of the nation.

It turns out that I’m a Philhellene, which is a lover of Greece.

Which all of us know from our schooldays comes from the Greek word philos meaning love.

Corfu corker

I love Corfu obviously as the island where I honeymooned and made Herself the Happiest Woman Alive.

A Greek God: On Kythera

While I caught up with friends from the Attica region where this old relic had an odyssey of my own before eventually getting to the Parthenon.

Kythera idyll

And bagging an Attica island of my own in Kythera.

The good news is that there are plenty to go around, 6,000 (count them!)

Greece has been held up this year as an example to the rest of us about how to deal with Covid and hence were kept off the UK exempt list.

While other countries fell like dominoes.

Thessaloniki in the distance

And so many tourists discovered the joys of Greece for the first time after switching holidays at the last minute.

Thessaloniki OK

And to the mainland as well as the islands with Greece’s Second City, Thessaloniki, served by Ryanair, EasyJet and Jet2.

As a son of a second city myself, Glasgow, I know why citizens of Second Cities work harder and live harder.

And Thessaloniki is known for its friendliness, music festival scene and as the culinary capital of Greece.

Parthenon for the course

Greek cities and prefectures all will celebrate the Bicentenary next year though some like Thessaloniki arrived late to the party.

In their case 1912 as the Ottomans held onto them longer and that’s a recommendation in itself.

Greek uplift

And the world will be there to celebrate with them.

Though maybe at a more social distance than when an international group of us got stuck in an Athens restaurant lift for half an hour.

The philos was all around us.

Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

The beach to yourself in the Algarve

Beaches, like the skies and seas, are benefitting rom the lockdown and the Algarve has had the chance to breathe.

That’s because they are without the type of beachgoer who treat our beaches like a dumping ground… or worse.

The first beach holiday I had with the-then lovesick Miss F was in the Algarve https://www.visitalgarve.pt/en/Default.aspx where we met two brothers who are now our lifelong friends.

We played football on the courts, pool volleyball and even took to the stage to do our best theme from Raw Hide… complete with whip sounds.

In the interests of public disclosure that was me and Ray, not me and Miss F, although that doesn’t sound any better.

What a pane!

We thought about staying away from the Cabanas beach though as we had been warned that the approach was strewn with glass.

That didn’t stop us, though it took much of the enjoyment away from the experience, and I’m sure Ray lacerated his foot.

Now none of this is levelled at Cabanas , more those reckless visitors back in 1990.

Today’s Cabanas I imagine will be like a Caribbean beach because of a lack of litterbugs!

The beaches in the Algarve will reopen on Saturday.

There will be colour coded signage indicating the level of occupancy of the beach (low/medium/full).

And it will be updated in real time on the app ‘Info Praia’ (available in English) and APA website.

Just swimmingly

Visitors will be expected to keep 1.5m apart unless they are in the same household and parasols will be 3m apart.

And swimming, water sports and surfing will be permitted.

Of course, Portugal, and the Algarve, for many of us, holds many wonderful childhood and adult memories.

And check out www.visitportugal.comSecret Portugal and https://www.quintadolago.com/en/.

Now many of you reading this may be asking why we didn’t wear flip-flops when negotiating the Cabanas expert.

Well, the best I have us that that’s hard-earned booze money you’re talking about there.

Fly high

Now here’s what Ryanair www.ryanair.com is planning for us from June 21.

Ryanair – flights from Stansted, Dublin and Manchester.

EasyJet http://www.easyjet.com from June 16 from Belfast, four weekly frequencies from Luton from June 16.

British Airways http://www.ba.com – July.

MEET YOU ON THE BEACH

Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – Bridge to Greece

There’s a reason why idyll, a Greek word, is our go-to expression for something to which we aspire.

Because Greece has long been our idyll… from Homer to Lord Byron to Shirley Valentine to Mamma Mia!

And so we should be beyond excited at the proposal of an air bridge between the UK and Hellas.

And trust me, direct flights to Greece is how you want to go… My Greek odyssey and https://athensattica.com.

Nice and Easy does it

Bonjour Nice

It’s the airports we whizz through and never get to see the destination that most intrigue.

Nice is a hub en route to the French Riviera The Boat D’Azur and an onward cruise https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/01/21/smooth-sailing-around-the-western-med/amp/.

But Nice should also be explored in its own right.

And I was all set to do just that before a press mission to see how Nice had recovered from the Bastille Day bombing was cancelled.

Nice is the only route out of the UK, from Gatwick.

Now I know they have a Promenade des Anglais but I’m sure they won’t mind an Ecossais.

See https://en.nicetourisme.com and https://about-france.com/cities/nice-city-guide.htm.

For a full list of the routes and Belfast is on it (yeah!) see https://www.easyjet.com/en and a reminder of all that Belfast has to offer Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

How to fly again

Safe distancing

So what will our flying experience look like?

Our friends at Ryanair have laid out a plan.

And actually some of it will make the experience more pleasurable.

Because wearing masks will mean you won’t have to make small talk with strangers.

And that’ll be doubled down with social distancing.

You’ll be asked to take your temperature before you leave the house and may be required to have it taken again at the airport.

Smile behind the mask

Which is fine by me as my temperature just about returns to normal when I’m at the gate after all my zooming about.

For more information visit www.ryanair.com and remember from July 1 they will be flying 1,000 flights a day.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Uncategorized

Flyday Friday – Flying the flag

When an airline pulls out of a route it merely opens up the market for another, and who can blame Aer Lingus for putting their hands up?

While recognising the challenges for everyone in the aviation industry, our national airline carrier was quick to flag up its product in the wake of the Norwegian news.

Aer Lingus, as we all know, has 16 direct routes to North America.

With Mineapolis-St Paul the latest to arrive on the rank.

And while it is something of sport to diss them probably because they represent the institution.

Crackin’ city: Philadelphia

But I’ve been more than a happy flyer with them, particularly when they moved me when a poor lady was sick next to me half an hour into our flight to LAX.

And they arranged a wheelchair for her on her arrival in Los Angeles.

Aer Lingus flies Dublin to LA from €209, a one-way fare based on a return trip. Valid for travel between October and November.

And at the other end of the scale is Dublin to Philadelphia from €139 and Dublin and Shannon to New York from €149.

Book at http://www.aerlingus.com. And remember that you’ll get pre-clearance. Happy days!

I could choose from many of their great destinations and hope to see a few more.

But I’ll flag up Philadelphia here and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/philadelphia-freedom/.

An epic Saga

Photo by Kata Pal on Pexels.com

Saga conjures up a different image for me. Of a time when I worked looking after oldies (of whom I am now one).

But in connection with Iceland, of course, it is something epic.

What Icelandair refers to as business equivalent comes in at a competitive €250 one way to Reykjavik.

The economy class is €68 one way.

The Autumn and Winter Special Offers end on August 27 at 23.59.

It is for the travel period of October 1 to March 28.

And it is based on one-way fares on a return ticket. https://www.icelandair.com/en-ie/flights/special-offer/

Fly belong to Glasgow

Being one of God’s chosen people, a Glaswegian, I keep an eye on happenings in the Dear Green Place from across here in Ireland.

And by Dear Green Place I refer to the orgins of the name of the city, the Scottish Gaelic phrase for it..

Now you may be thinking that this is just an excuse to put one of my oul puns on the Glasgow Music Hall songs.

And you would be half right.

Prize guys: In Glasgow

But it is also worth flagging up that easyJet has a new route from Glasgow to Birmingham.

Not that I’ll be needing it any time soon but you might.

I’m told that easyJet http://www.easyjet.com is the largest airline in Glasgow and operates up to 294 flights a week across 19 routes.

And that it was also the first airline the carry one million passengers in a year from Glasgow.

It also has up to three flights a day to Belfast which means the Son and Heir can fly over to see his grannie.

Everyone’s a winner.

And to find out more about Glasgow see http://www.peoplemakeglasgow.com and http://www.visitscotland.com.

And if you want to see what carnage myself and my mum caused when I took her to the World Bagpipes Championships in Glasgow then read on… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES