America, Asia, Countries, Culture

Holidos and don’ts – suitcases

And I am indebted to my friend and Travel mover and shaker, French-based Irishman, Michael Collins for sparking me to revisit an old series, Holidos and don’ts.

Michael flagged up that at his local supermarché the aisles selling suitcases and headrests are interdit, or blocked.

Mad hatters: And when I used to take a full suitcase to America

Which beggars the question: how essential are suitcases?

And who doesn’t have one anyway?

Nothing to see here

As all Travel professionals do I like to take advice from seasoned pros, like doyen and Americanophile JP Thomson, erstwhile of the Sunday World.

JP always packs a half-full suitcase to leave space for what you take home.

Half full

Irish Travel professionals, nay all Irish people, love few things better than hitting the shops after they get off the plane.

Possibly the afternoon after they hit the bars.

Anyone got scissors?

And so when our Irelando party hit Aaawlando, and they set aside a couple of hours at a shopping mall, it was like the Olympics 100m final.

Needless to say they all returned with half the mall in their bags, while I bought a tee-shirt.

New suitcase

The fact is though that shopping in America is great value.

Irish and Scots on tour in Orlando

So why not take the opportunity to update your wardrobe and send the outdated clothes you’re standing up in to the charity shop.

The same applies, of course, if you go on a sun holiday.

Pack light

So that the members of my party who took full suitcases to the Maldives found they only needed their swimwear and summer clothes.

Who needs a suitcase? The Maldives

Some of us, of course, found that all you need on dry land is a sarong and flip-flops.

While we’ll not talk about those women who took heels.

And make it snazzy

And in the last instance why not just go out with hand luggage, or better still a rucksack that doubles as a wheelie?

Here’s to hitting the airport again

And buy a suitcase when you’re out in a country where, Zut Alors!, they don’t stop you buying suitcases from their supermarchés.

And for more Holidos and don’ts advice here’s a reminder of how we roll from where we last rocked up… Bergamo.

Africa, America, Asia, Countries, Culture

Happy World Kindness Day

And on this, World Kindness Day, a shout-out here to those who have shown me random acts of kindness on my travels… and sometimes me them.

And firstly a recommendation… if you ever leave your mobile phone back in your Mississippi hotel on my American Trilogy in the Deep South.

You only realise it when you’re 50 miles along the highway then here’s your go-to guy.

Hit the road Zach

Zach is back

Zach arranged to get a courier to bring it from Jackson to Cleveland and the Two Mississippi Museums.

The next year Zach sought me out at the American Travel Fair, IPW, in Denver when I left my mobile phone down as I went for a coffee and he tut-tutted. Legend!

Zuhair, a hero

Ramadan the Man….Zuhair

And a shout-out here to all who observe Ramadan which puts a Christian’s Lenten fast into sharp focus.

Zuhair, our G Adventures host on our trip to Jordan, was the ever-welcoming face for his country.

Despite not being able to let a drop of water or morsel to his lips despite the travel and 30+ temperatures and desert until early evening.

When even Petra camels could.

Rachel, a ray of sunshine

Sometimes when you travel the world for a living you forget how lucky you are.

And that’s when you need a star like Rachel to pick you up.

Often it’s wine and a prehistoric South African valley which will remind you that whatever’s happening at home can wait.

And which is why I’m delighted for her (and me in the future) that South Africa is opening up again for international travellers with a negative test.

Your honour, Onur

I’m going where Onur goes… in Istanbul

And I’ve reserved this place for my favourite Turk, Turkish Airlines’ Onur, and very nearly favourite person in our industry.

Which is why he, like me, is also a past recipient of Irish Travel Media’s Pleasure To Work With Award.

Now if there was an award too for Most Accidental Tourist I’d win that too… every year.

I’ve enjoyed Onur’s company on the little island of Kuramathi, too small even for me to get lost.

Though Istanbul is and when I did get waylaid somewhere around the Blue Mosque who cane to collect me?

And I’ll carry your cross

And Finisterre after the Camino

And sometimes I’ll be your hero on your travels.

Just as I was when I carried a tearful American’s backpack on her final steps of a stretch of the Camino with CaminoWays.

Only for her to have to remind me to give it back.

Adventure, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland, UK

The travel pack… we (you, me and the turtles) came from the sea

If I could talk to the animals, learn all their languages, maybe take an animal degree, I’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle, Alligator, guinea pig and flea – Bobby Davro

And this is one I’ve been thinking on, and I’m possibly spurred on my old pal, Ireland’s Travel Writer of the Year Isabel Conway of Travel Times.

She is walking in Kinsale, Co. Cork for endangered animals. Although while she’s doing something I’m more Mr Do Little than Dr Doolittle.

So to launch this series (and I’ll try and stick to this one this time) I’m starting at the beginning…

Where we came from, the sea, and celebrate all things who live there, big and small, colourful and grey, beautiful and those who only a mother could love. First off turtles…

Turtley Japanese

It’s easier when they come to the surface

Yakushima, Japan: Now my first issue in getting to know our old friends from the sea is that I’m not a great swimmer, and an even rubbisher snorkeller.

And more of that later but here’s how you can see a sea turtle without even getting your feet wet.

The rainforest island of Yakushima, off Kyushu‘s southern coast, is home to the largest spawning grounds for loggerhead turtles in the North Pacific.

Between May and August, more than 500 turtles take over the shores of Inakahama Beach and lay their eggs.

And here’s where it becomes a spectator sport.

Because later in the summer we get to see the newly-hatched infants scramble their way to the ocean.

Turtley Bajan

And we’re limin’ in Barbados

As magical as that sounds you really want to try and dip your toe in the ocean.

And strap on that big rubbery snorkel and mask to the face… and believe me if I can do it you can too.

The first encounter I had with turtles in their natural habitat should have been on my first trip to Barbados.

Only I’d overdone it on the rum, both that early morning at Foreday Morning.

That’s the booze, mud, paint and Soca festival for the locals.

And then on the boat which took us out to meet our heroes in a half-shell.

And so while I did see schools of beautiful fish I never did get to meet Mr Turtle.

Fast forward a year though and I was back and determined to catch me me turtle.

As fate would have it I didn’t just get to shake snorkel and shell with one turtle but two.

I was staying at Club Barbados couples hotel, alas alone…

I had invited the Scary One, perhaps not very clearly.

And maybe when one of her beloved gardening or interior decorating shows was on and she had distractedly said no.

Before coming back at me a few days before I travelled to ask me why she couldn’t come.

Anyhoos I went out solo and found that I was the only single in the hotel… and the ocean.

Like the Scottish buses you wait all day for one, and two come along the same time, Mr and Mrs Turtle.

And because this is a family blog I’m not going to tell you what they were up to.

Turtley Floridian

Paradise Coast

And you’d better bring your fins with you when you go to SeaWorld in Tampa Bay in Florida.

That is where I met me sea turtles that were recuperating (and few better places) before being returned to the sea.

Where they’ll swim for years in a loop from the Atlantic Ocean to North Africa.

Before using magnetic fields to find their way back to within 40 to 50 miles of the beaches where they had been hatched.

And to think that I can’t even get to the end of my road.

Without having to either ask someone for directions or call for a search party.

Hatch of the day

Now again because it’s all about us the turtles have been known to make their way to the nest beaches of Marco Island and Naples.

And those who make it their life’s mission to know and protect our turtle friends say.

That the Paradise Coast at the southernmost tip of Florida is where to go for your turtles.

Turtley Maldives

And here in Kuramathi and its wee sister island the 1.2km Kandolhu you get so close to the turtles they become your friends.

Which obviously means giving them names.

Selma was the superstar in Kuramathi in the Maldives when I visited, well the half-shell superstar.

Her keeper Vanessa, a German from the Black Forest, well away from any sea, is the human superstar as she runs the Island Eco Centre.

If you can snap a new turtle with your Go-Pro camera.

It is left out in your room for you on Kandolhu then you too can adopt a turtle.

Now since us humans are all making such a mess of it since we wriggled out of the seas and evolved.

Into the flawed form we now occupy, wouldn’t it be better if we slithered back into the seas.

Only, the turtles probably prefer us to keep our distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Flying, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy days and Songdays Alice and Maldives Wonderland

I can’t remember what I sang, it was probably Elvis’s Heartbreak Hotel, and I recollect going back up a couple of times.

In my excuse I was on my umpteenth Strawberry Daiquiri.

I do remember though our host Brian McCarthy owning the small stage with a kickass version of My Own Personal Jesus.

Barry (left), an effing legend

But what I remember most about our karaoke night in the Maldives was the contribution of someone who didn’t even take the stage.

A round with Alice

Barry Coughlan (that’s pronounced like the punctuation mark he would remind us) always had something to say.

Usually with an ‘f’ in it.

Island of refuge: The Maldives

Thankfully for Barry there was a song made just for him… Smokie’s Living Next Door to Alice.

Or more precisely he preferred the version by Dutch novelty act Gonpie.

With the Scary One not there and me on my worst behaviour I didn’t hesitate joining in with Barry on the chorus.

Seaplanes over Asia

It is a bit of a hike to get there… three planes, two continents, but an adventure all the same.

Any excuse

That’ll be a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul and then onto Male, the main hub for the teardrop islands.

Before you take a seaplane with a barefoot pilot to Kuramathi where your Atoll adventure really begins.

And lots of bubbles too

I had to check a couple of times on the UK’ exempt list and Ireland’s green list to see that we’re not allowed to go there yet.

I’m sure Barry will have a thing or two to say about that!

Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe

Lay your hands on me… the best massages

I’m looking forward to having a beautiful young woman lay her hands all over me… and maybe later I’ll have a massage

Some people need a humour transplant.

Back in the day when I edited Ireland’s then award-winning Travel section I had some massage fun in a Barbados article.

Only by the time it got to the inhouse clickbait site it was edited out.

As it didn’t sit well with The Third Wave of Feminism overseers.

Who missed the point totally as Barbados is gloriously irreverent and saucy.

And which is why this Scot just clicked with the Bajans.

And I will have to work off this belly

Now you’re nice and relaxed

I’m floating on air as I write this post after being a guinea pig for my daughter as she keeps her skills up.

And I’m thinking of my five fave places where I’ve just laid back and thought of..

Acting all goofy in Orlando

Animated in Orlando

Orlando: Travel trips often throw the most unlikely people together but I found that I had a lot in common with Finnish Paula.

Not least when our hotel in Orlando mistook Mrs Murray for my wife (lucky her).

And to this day, and today is that day I greet her as Missus.

A massage is just the thing after cricking your neck and being twisted this way and that on a Disney World rollercoaster.

And this drink Becherovka is a healing potion

The Czech Republic: And it’ll come as little surprise that in this land of spas and wellness that you’ll get a great massage.

Especially in the Spa Triangle.

Watch though whose dressing gown you pick or you’ll have a small Japanese woman shrieking at you.

And a swim will relax the muscles

The Maldives: Because you’ll be stressed out on this island Kuramathi with no traffic bar the golf buggy buses.

Bur it’s hot, hot, hot. And so is the weather outside.

A floating massage parlour

The Western Med: It’s often been said that I need my head looked at.

And who better than a cruise and what better than an Indian head massage?

And for a minute I thought I was going to end up with a revolving head like Clunk from Stop the Pigeon.

Sweat off the rum and food

Barbados: I’m guided as always by my friends and Travel professionals Michael and Niamh and Bronagh.

Who helped to prompt this tour around massage destinations.

By flagging up the Irish-owned Sandy Lane on the island’s Platinum Coast.

But equally you can travel with Tropical Sky pop next door to Club Barbados for your massage.

Without having to sell off a vital organ to pay for it.

MEET YOU IN THE PARLOUR

Asia, Countries, Culture

And not a minute tattoo soon

Have you been needled by the tattoo shops being closed?

It was a treasured tradition long before the Millennials hijacked tattoos for themselves to get inked on holidays.

And you’ve got the permanent marker on your shoulder, forearm or ankle of your national flag or ‘Mum and Dad’.

Designer

To remind you of when you and your pal had them daubed in Majorca on your 18-30 holiday.

I’m all ears

For me and my much-storied Aberdeen Uni friend Toothy Aberdeen – a light in the north and www.visitabdn.com it was ear piercings.

As always I couldn’t hide it from my Dear Old Dad.

Show off your colours

I took out the sleeper and it bled when I put it back in which meant I had to ask Dad, a GP for surgical spirit.

Cultural trip

‘You homosexual you’ve had you’re ear pierced,’ he shot back. Different times and in truth he treated every patient in his surgery with care.

Enough nostalgia already here is a scroll through tattoo culture.

Maori old time

Tattoo originated, not as I’d always thought from the Maoris of New Zealand but the Tahitians.

Their word is ‘tattau’ meaning to strike or tap.

Tahiti treatie

Tahiti resonates with us through the story of Fletcher Christian and the Mutiny on the Bounty and Paul Gauguin.

The beach scene

Tattoos signify social distinctions on Tahiti but they differ through the archipelago. And gender.

For men and women

On Marquesas the women get the better of the deal with tattoos applied to their faces, arms, legs and fingers.

While men had their genitals drilled.

Wear your sleeve on your heart

Maybe go to the Society Islands where your privates remain private. Visit https://tahititourisme.uk/en-gb/.

And check out the waves

Tahiti is the exotic and cultural trip you’ve always dreamt of and during lockdown they’ve been tempting us.

Mountain, sea and the whole ten yards

With food, dance and language tutorials, while you can also adopt a coral.

Asian adventures

Now I’m virtually there, it’s just a matter of doing like Fletcher Christian and staging a mutiny here from the Scary One and getting myself out there.

Because I do love a scattering of Asian islands… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives and http://www.kuramathi.ie/.

MEET YOU AT THE PARLOUR

Asia, Countries, Europe, Flying

Flyday Friday – Turkish d’flight out of Dublin

You know they’re smiling behind their masks… and why wouldn’t they? Because Turkish Airlines are back flying us out of Dublin.

And believe me they’re a delight.

I have fond memories of being met by Mr Turkish Airlines wwwa.turkishairlines.ie Onur Gul at their desk before being flown out to exotic destinations… https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/amp/ and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

They’ll be flying twice a week for the remainder of this month and four times weekly in July.

I do hope that we’ll not stop talking to our fellow passengers just because we’re wearing masks.

I’ve met some lovely and fascinating people on flights.

Sweet dreams

And the odd Manchester United fan in TA’s famed business class with whom I’ve slept tops and tails and who has snored their head off.

You know who you are, Brian http://www.kuramathi.ie.

Virgin territory

Passengers are a bit like needy lovestruck teenagers… stick with me here.

We need constant reassurance and validation.

And I’m happy to say that our airlines have been using this lockdown to tell us how much they love us.

I know, and love Virgin, from my fact-finding research trips to the Caribbean www.visitbarbados.org, www.visittobago.gov.tt and Let’s rumba in Barbados, My kiss with Rihanna and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

And I am delighted that they have been keeping us members of their Flying Club up to speed with how we’ll all be taking to the skies again soon.

Come August they’ll be planning to return to 17 destinations.

They’re all available to book now along with flights from New York JFK, Los Angeles and Hong Kong to London Heathrow, starting from July 20.

And here’s what to do when you get there, https://www.virginatlantic.com, www.visitlondon.com and The London life and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/29/carole-king-youre-beautiful-londonwestend-musical/amp/.

Departing Edinburgh

No, I haven’t persuaded The Scary One to leave the delights of North Berwick near Edinburgh, I’m merely flagging up Edinburgh Airport’s http://www.edinburghairport.com reopened destinations.

Edinburgh was the last airport I flew out of … to Prague www.czechtourism.com way back in February. Yes years ago Hope springs eternal.

And I’m glad to say they’re now flagging up other old favourites back on the schedule.

Budapest, Malaga, Alicante and Barcelona https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/ and Messi around on the water . And Smooth sailing around the Western Med.

And anybody who has flown out of Dublin Airport and then Edinburgh http://www.edinburgh.org  and Edinburgh – an old friend will be comforted by the comparative smallness of the Scottish version.

Taking to the Aer

And the last word is to back Aer Lingus’s www.aerlingus.com stance on the Irish Government’s latest direction of travel on quarantines.

While welcoming the lifting of the restrictions from July 9, they merely want clarity until then.

As one who would gladly queue overnight to get back, I echo their call. And all my airline friends who we appreciate even more, if that’s possible, now we’ve been seeing them less Flyday Friday – Airline angels with wings 

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES