Asia, Countries, Culture, Flying

Electric Qatar

They arrived from the East, the Three Wise Men, and as we mark the Coming of the Magi tomorrow, another favour… please send some more.

Because as we witness the Gulf celebrating New Year with real-live people, watching real-live performers, it’s clear they can teach us how to zap this Pandemic thing.

These are good times for the Gulf with a New Year bringing new hope too for solving some differences between neighbours.

Qatar star

Saudi Arabia has reopened its air space to Qatar ahead of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut ties with Qatar three and a half years ago over allegations that they supported terrorists.

For all of us who are climbing the walls looking to go somewhere exotic (and Celtic FC) then the Gulf is always enticing… and there’s actual life happening.

The Gulf, as we all know, is a favourite stop-off en route to other great locations although we’d recommend staying a while.

Qatar Airways has the magical Maldives from London, one stop, from £365.14pp.

While we found this London to Dubai offer on the Sky World Travel site flying Qatar Airlines from €290pp.

Tweet music

And Doha will keep you captivated with the golden opportunity to see city and sand.

With Doha: Private Combo City Tour & Desert Safari from £152.01.

Qatar has something for everyone: Angry Birds World Qatar anyone? Or Circus World.

And if you want something more cultural then there’s the Museum of Islamic Art and Katara.

Where you’ll find those staples of Qatari life, the Katara Mosque and Beach.

And as for Banana Island, well we’ll let you find out for yourself.

Asia, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Sing for the Canaries

And at last they listened. To me, my English Canarian pal Mathew Hirtes and to the Tinerfinos and their cousins across the islands.

The Canaries are back on the UK exempt list, and I’m breaking out the Malmsey, the Canarian wine, much beloved by Shakespeare.

Part of the scenery: Jimmy, the Tinerfino

The Canaries, as I reported this week, have been returning rates of Covid infections way down on the UK.

And as Mathew has been telling us for months we’re safer over there than we would be here.

It’s also worth restating here how liberating this is for the Holiday Trinity that always infuses our sector… the holiday providers, the hosts and the holidaymaker.

And so without further ado…

Deal me in

My walking party

Jet2.com and Jet2Holidays, the UK’s largest operator to the Canaries, are recommencing flights.

To Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, from Friday from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Belfast and six other UK airports.

TUI holidaymakers haven’t seen the Canaries for 89 days but are already carrying their clients to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

There must be a plane waiting for me. And happen that my Tinerfino walking guide Eva is waiting for me to take me to Afur.

With Canaria Ways, of course.

A quick walk around the Maldives

And again…. sarong, but oh, so right

It’s more ambling than walking on Kuramathi.

The holiday notes advise you wear flip-flops and you can walk around the Maldives island in just half an hour.

While if you run out of puff in the all-year round 30C heat you can pull up a lounger or have a dip in your own villa infinity pool.

All with a regulatory Strawberry Daiquiri, of course.

And again I know a man who is in Kuramathi right now… and another man in Ireland from Turkish Airlines who will get you there and look after your every need.

While in the UK you want Kuoni.

A trip around the Greek islands

My waterfall: Kythera

And it’s a bit like the hokey-hokey with Greece.

Mykonos is in, but Crete, Lesbos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos is now out.

Which means you don’t have to self-isolate on your return from my own two faves, Corfu and Attica island Kythera.

And with Greece obviously, you never know where your odyssey will take you…

Wonderful Copenhagen

Bet you didn’t expect that: Copenhagen

And finally Denmark, the Little Mermaid et all.

I took my own Little Mermaid there on my cruise around the Norwegian fjords with MSC Cruises, and check out how their recovery is going.

As well as seeing the Little Mermaid, you need to get your photie taken with Hans Christian Andersen.

Not many people there: Leichtenstein

But sorry Leichtensteiners

No, me neither. I don’t know why tiny Leichtenstein has been removed from the exempt list.

Or if indeed it’s right to use the plural.

Well, this is what Leichtenstein has to offer. I’ll just have to get out there to find out for myself… when I’m allowed.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

America, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

The travel pack – the birds of the world

Does anyone else here feel like Burt Lancaster in the Birdman of Alcatraz? Oh, to be that little birdie with his freedom.

So let’s take wing and celebrate our feathered friends around the world.

The Spoonbill

Scoop of the day. www.algarve-birdwatching.com

Rio Formosa, Quinta do Lago, Algarve: And anyone who didn’t think that God has a sense of humour hasn’t paid attention to how he made us all.

For every pink flamingo there’s a Spoonbill.

I found these fancy snouted fellas in the Via Formosa in Quinta do Lago in the Algarve…

Their bills, of course, are purpose-built to scoop up all that pond life to give them fuel for the skies.

Yes, Pink Flamingoes

In the pink: In Busch Gardens

Pink Flamingoes, Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida: And for those Fiftysomethings among us the opening shots for the Florida soap Flamingo Road made us fall in love with these birds

Yes, and Morgan Fairchild, to be fair.

I got up close with a flamingo out in SeaWorld and again he is a reminder of God’s Grandeur.

Heron good things about you

You’ll have a long wingspan then

Herons, Kuramathi, The Maldives: And you know when a bird has her eye on you.

She even came into the pool with me every morning.

Kuramathi is a bird-watcher’s dream, big, small, skinny, plump, and every colour.

And as bird-watching is a stationary pastime isn’t it a relief that you don’t have to freeze your whatsits off either?

Caribbean wood doves and mockingbirds

The West Indies: Rihanna, my wood dove used to join me in my hot tub in Barbados of a morning… and leave a mess in the bedroom.

I would forgive Rihanna anything though.

The West Indians take their nature very seriously, just as seriously as their rum and their music.

And Ean The Birdman of Tobago will show you around his Adventure Eco Villas where the birdies will twirl and tweet around your head.

You can stay too and awake to birdsong.

And not forgetting the Duck

Ducks everywhere: Whether they’re the rubber ones in your bath at Hastings Hotels in Northern Ireland (or in mine).

Or with The Donald in Epcot in Florida or in Anaheim.

Following the Duckmaster and the quackers down to the fountain in the hotel lobby in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

MEET YOU WITH YOUR BINOS

America, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Europe, Ireland

Fiveday Friday – dip your toe back in outdoor swimming pools

I’m not sure what the rules are for outdoor swimming pools in Scotland (probably because in the Frozen North nobody ever considered it a thing) but the English are dipping their toes back in today.

Swimming is one of the staples of many people’s holiday although I confess that I spend less time in a pool now than when I was a kid, preferring instead to sip cocktails by the bar.

In some places you can do both. Here are my five top pools on my travels.

Bim-ming pool

Swim up

Sandals, Barbados: The ultimate in luxury where you can drink your Strawberry Daiquiri in the middle of the pool.

And then swim up to the island pool and have another. OK, waddle over.

A game of volleyball with the ultra-competitive Americans becomes even more fun after all that. You try spiking a ball with a cocktail in your hand.

Visit Barbados, or Bim as the locals call it https://www.sandals.co.uk/sandals-barbados  http://www.visitbarbados.org and Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

To infinity and beyond

Kuramathi, Maldives: And you can’t beat an Infinity Pool where you feel you are swimming right into the Indian Ocean only for the end of the pool to stop you.

You’ll have to get out of the pool to get your cocktail though.

On a one-mile island surrounded by the Indian Ocean you would think you’d be in the sea all the time but I leave that to the fishes.

And instead dip into my own private pool which comes with my cabin and check out the restaurant pools. Where you’ll have company with the island’s herons.

See http://www.kuramathi.ie, https://island-marketing.business.site and Atoll tale – the Maldives.

Dive into Las Vegas

All to yourself. http://www.hotels.com

Palazzo, Las Vegas: For many Vegas is all about staying in and making your fortune but then you’d be missing out big time.

Head for the top of the Palazzo hotel on the Strip https://www.venetian.com/towers/the-palazzo.html and swim your little heart out before .

And look down below on the crazy city waking up. See http://www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

And if you see a pair of red-rimmed sunglasses there would you let me know please?

Swimming in the fjords

Stormer: In the fjords

MSC Preziosa, Norwegian fjords: How’s this for a bracing swim? The Norwegian fjords.

You didn’t think I’d be dipping my toe in the isthmus did you?

But still I was fairly pleased with myself at taking to the pool in the Nordic drizzle while everyone (my professional photographer wife among them) hanging over the side taking piccies.

I never tire of swimming in a pool in the middle of the ocean… surrounded by a metal hulk of a floating hotel https://www.msccruises.co.uk, http://www.royalcaribbean.com, http://www.celebritycruises.com. And The call of the fjords, A Royal Party, Messi around on the water and I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here.

Tenerife trunk call

La Laguna Gran Hotel, Tenerife: And just what the oul’ limbs need after a hike through rainforests, volcanic parks, arid hills and church towers.

Word to the wise. Be sure that you have someone with you or leave a wedge in the door.

Otherwise you could find yourself not getting back out. On second thoughts you don’t have to be anywhere, so don’t bother.

See http://www.CanariaWays.com, http://www.visitingtenerife.com and A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

PS: The Irish Sssssea

And an honorary mention to the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin’s port https://www.dlrtourism.ie which is mentioned in Ulysses.

I’d always admired the locals swimming away in its ripples.

And I dipped in on the hottest day of the year a few years ago and jumped out just as quickly,

MEET YOU IN THE POOL