America, Countries

Snowbirds down to Florida

If little birds fly south for winter then why, oh, why can’t I…

With apologies to Judy Garland who I’m sure joined the snowbirds down to Florida.

In any normal year getting away from the dark and the cold of a Northern European winter to Florida is a no-brainer.

Which is why our Floridian friends would always make a point of getting me and my Travel professional friends out there then.

HINT, HINT, HINT?

American Holidays know me only too well… and you too.

And they are luring us (it doesn’t take much) back out to the Sunshine State with this goodie to sample.

Now President Biden is making positive noises.

He is vowing to have all American adults vaccinated in the next few months.

And vaccine passports on the way, with me with my ten-year American visa in place, then I’m all good to go.

Awelando

Love a duck: At Epcot Centre, Florida

And both these offers have Orlando at their heart.

They have a ten-night getaway to Orlando and Daytona Beach.

We know about magical Orlando but what about Daytona...? Well, for starters, it has 23 miles of sandy coastline.

And that means watersports… so a deep breath, hold your nose and jump in.

There’s paddle boarding, surfing, kayaking and parasailing.

With the last of those the only one I’ve not failed at, and only because I’ve not tried it.

Florida winter sun

I’m safer on a watching brief, checking out the dolphins and manatee on a tour.

They also recommend renting a bike (no guarantee of me not messing that up) and experiencing the thrills of the Boardwalk & Pier.

And tour Daytona International Speedway… and remember this is a state that loves its thrills.

While if you just want to take it all in from up above then climb to new heights at Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.

Tuck in: Biscayne in Miami

Check out the package Orlando & Daytona Beach,which comes in at, from €999pp

Areeba to Mexico

And don’t shoot me but I’ll be hoping to spend this December in Florida like I have before… and looking out over to the Gulf of Mexico.

Miami is always a must-see and you can spend three nights in the Art Deco city while also taking in South Beach, one of America’s best loved beaches!

Colourful Miami

Spend time exploring the sultry neighbourhood of Little Havana, home to a large Cuban community, and it’s not the one I thought it was, Biscayne.

If you’re not partied out (and even if you are) then take in seen nights all-inclusive in Mexico.

So you’ll be back in the water for those wet sports.

But if you prefer a shot of culture (and Tequila) then explore the Mayan archaeological sites, including the ruins at Tulum.

Then there’s tbe pyramids at Uxmal and the temple of Chichen Itza, one fo the New Seven Wonders of the World.

The package comes in at €12399pp.

 

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

It’s a crime… police dramas around the world

Excitement is building to fever pitch ahead of the resumption of police drama Line of Duty on March 21 which allows us to explore police dramas around the world.

Hastings’ landscape

Europa living In Belfast

Belfast: I can’t find evidence but it must be true that Superintendent Ted Hastings is named after Belfast’s faves Hastings Hotels.

The seahorse on the wall of the Great Central Hotel is your compass wherever you go in the Northern Irish capital.

That is if you can drag yourself out of the Observatory bar atop the hotel where you get the best views.

And where James Nesbitt opens his Bloodlands detective drama.

Adrian Dunbar on the Graham Norton Show watches Vicky McLure at his Line of Duty mural

Hastings, aka Adrian Dunbar in Line of Duty has been immortalised.

As are all they take to their heart and allow to film in their city.

By having their image set as a mural… and be sure to take a black taxi tour around Belfast.

Check in at the Europa Hotel, part of the story, and get ready for a potted history of The Troubles.

Mob rules

Vegas baby

Once upon a crime in America: And everywhere there is an American dream there is a big job to realise that dream.

You can see how Las Vegas was built by Bugsy Siege.

And The Mob in Chicago in the Mob Museum and channel your inner Al Capone.

Call him Fonz

Tom Hardy as Capone in the Netflix dramas

Fonz Capone is synonymous of course with Chicago.

Where he was invited from New York by Johnny Torrio, and ended up running the city.

The invitations have piled up over the years for me to visit Chicago but the big job has eluded me thus far.

Last year was to be me marking the centenary of the Volstead Act which beckoned in Prohibition.

And I was all set to join one of the retro tours

My cocktail will be all the sweeter when I do get there…

I’ll just have to watch at the speakeasy doors for the cops.’

Florida where he ditched the Al

Miami vices and Capone

We never did find out why Mae Capone insisted to the police watching the house: ‘We don’r call him that [Al] here.’

Here is Palm Beach, near Miami, where the syphilitic Capone spent his last days under house arrest deep in the doo-doo (literally).

You can see it all in graphic detail on Netflix’s Capone, starring Tom Hardy.

Italy, the Old Country

The Old Country, Sicily

Of course Fonz (or Al) and la famiglia are really all just displaced Sicilians.

Visitors to Sicily will always head for Mt Etna until it gets too hot to handle.

But for those who stay awhile and see Taormina then a Godfather tour is highly recommended.

This one I’ve stumbled across includes a Fiat 500 {Cinquecento)and me and the Cinquecento have history.

When I stalled in the car park in the French Riviera and the good monsieur took over.

I’m not sure whether Capone would be so understanding.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

I’m listening – Seattle and other sitcom worlds

Frasier’s returning which means more Seattle.

And New York‘s finest, Friends while Will & Grace are with us already.

All of which means we get to peer into their sitcom worlds.

It’s no exaggeration to say that I chose Boston as my destination for my post-university summer because of Cheers.

Here’s to Cheers

Cheers, Boston: As is the way of such things there was a little less Boston than I’d have hoped for.

The exterior and the stairs are what you see on the show.

And there was an actual pub in Beacon Hill, near Boston Common, which was serving Beantown beerflies since 1969.

When the telly people turned it into the phenomenon it now is after launching it onto our screens in 1982.

What Cheers did was use Boston as the conversation to draw me and my pals out with one even working on a merch cart.

Mork calling Boulder

Rev it up for Boulder

Boulder, Colorado: And it would be as easy to pick out Mork’s planet Ork back in the day than it would have been Boulder.

The Coloradan town though is a must-visit for Mork & Mindy fans.

Boulder is everything you would imagine an artsy, outdoorsy Colorado town to be.

And check out the bluegrass music and the food tours.

Golden Girls’ Miami

Mexing it up in Miami

Golden Girls, Miami: Florida is, of course, the state where America’s golden oldies go to live out their retirement.

In a case of life imitating art the girls‘ Miami house was put up for sale for $3m at the turn of the Millennium.

I might have missed the boat then but as we approach our retirement years Miami is on our list…

I suppose I better share with my Golden Girl!

The Liver Birds

The Liver Boys: With my Al

The Liver Birds, Liverpool: The opening credits when you see Beryl and Sandra skipping with the Royal Liver Building as the backdrop sets the scene.

And without a doubt Liverpool, Liverpudlians and their humour mark this show as the pioneer of a new genre…. the Scousecom.

We’ve had Bread, Watching, Boys from the Blackstuff and Jim Royle. A lorra, lorra laughs!

Derry life

Writing on the wall: In Derry

Derry Girls, Derry, Northern Ireland: And like The Liver Birds, Derry is very much a key cast member.

Set in Derry around The Troubles in the Eighties, this coming of age sitcom has been embraced beyond the city.

And isn’t it great to see Old Derry’s Walls boasting a mural of schoolgirls and not political symbols for a change.

America, Countries, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – slam dunk, the NBA

I was immediately marked out as a spectator and not a player.

When my cousin Maura threw me into a game of pick-up basketball with her boyfriend John in Queens, New York.

Basketball had always been a novelty game for milk bottle white Scotsmen whose only connection with the game was The Harlem Globetrotters.

A free throw anyone?

Until I got to America.

And saw the importance of the game on that visit to see my cousins in New York and then four years later in Boston.

Where I would pass by the statue of Boston Celtics’ legendary coach Red Auerbach.

Outside Quincy Market at Faneul Hall where I was a bus boy at GuadalaHarry’s and ice cream salesman at a parlour.

Anyhoos I had myself my basketball team.

And despite warming to all the teams in North American cities I’ve passed through in the years since.

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, LA Lakers and Clippers, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.

nba-orlando-magic-mickey-mouse-basketball.jpg

I was a Celtics fan. Which wasn’t a huge jump from my young days following a football team, Celtic in Glasgow.

This was my year for my long-awaited return to Boston 33 years but COVID has stalled that on the plate.

When I would also fulfil an ambition I didn’t even know I had.

The home of baseball: Fenway Park

To walk the Fenway Park Green Monster perimeter where I’d seen the Red Sox hit their home runs that 1987 season.

The NBA play-offs are playing out in a DisneyWorld bubble in Orlando.

And you should catch it on whichever channels you pick up.

MEET YOU ON THE COURT

Africa, America, Countries, Culture

#DontCancelPostpone

I was supposed to have been driving around the Florida Keys https://www.fla-keys.co.uk this weekend… #DontCancelPostpone.

And San Francisco https://www.sftravel.com and Las Vegas www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic in May/June #DontCancelPostpone.

Chicago some time in between. #DontCancelPostpone.

While there’s St Helena, Napoleon’s final refuge, squeezed between. #DontCancelPostpone.

And New England for this year’s Mayflower celebrations #DontCancelPostpone.

And a number of other planned adventures… #DontCancelPostpone.

#DontCancelPostpone is the Travel industry’s response to the worst possible thing that can happen to it… the suspension of Travel.

And it is a mantra that I and my fellow Travel scribes will be taking up.

Because for anybody who has stepped out their door (something we no longer take for granted) then there has been a Travel provider there to hold your hand.

So this is what we’ll do… our friends in the Travel industry will keep sending me their destinations and we’ll make a pinkie promise to advise people #DontCancelPostpone

I’ll satisfy myself with the memories of times spent in California last year… www.discoverlosangeles.com and www.visitcalifornia.com.

As a post-University bus boy in a Mexican restaurant in Boston https://www.bostonusa.com and visiting Manchester, New Hampshire https://www.visitnh.gov and New England https://www.discovernewengland.org

St Helena, for those who didn’t get their atlases out at school, is off the coast of South Africa and my trip to the second most inhabitable island in the world will involve…

A stop-off in South Africa where I dipped my toe in the Eastern Cape… https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en and

Chicago https://www.choosechicago.com/explore/chicago-style/first-time-visit/? Well, the lure of it has only grown as it is dangled in front of me and then draws further out of my grasp.

My second attempt at going out to Windy City has stalled because of that COVID-19.

After my first invitation had to be turned down because of the sheer selfishness of an oul’ woman who only went and turned 90 the day of the trip.

I checked in on her yesterday on a business (remember that) trip to Glasgow https://peoplemakeglasgow.com where there is restricted visiting.

It didn’t happen because I was too late but God help the nurses there… they’ll be praying that THEY could self-isolate.

The statues in Glasgow, my home city, were standing proud, the buskers singing their hearts out.

And the chippies who fed the populace during the War still dispensing fish and haggis suppers (that’s with chips).

More tales of that oul’ woman tomorrow with a Mother’s Day special.

Now back to home life and the Scary One wants me to do some chores… #PostponeDontCancel.

Uncategorized

Grazie to Aer Lingus – New Italy + more USA

I felt a heel when I had to let colleagues know that I was sending someone else to sunny shores.

Sometimes it might even have been me.

But my pal Mary Conroy always delivered.

And I always enjoyed presenting her stories and pictures and I’m sure you enjoyed them too.

Now Mary’s travels sprang to mind today when I heard of Aer Lingus’s latest plans.

With two new routes in Italy and increased flights to their North American destinations.

Pretty Puglia

I remember that Mary’s trip to the heel of Italy, Puglia, was ‘Trulli Magical’.

And that Seattle was ‘Nirvana’… an out’ new headline always kept me happy.

So, back to our busy national airline carrier http://www.aerlingus.ie

They are opening up Brindisi, Puglia and Alghero, Sardinia from next summer.

La bella vita: Sardinia

The Dublin-Brindisi service will run twice a week kicks off on May 23 with one-way fares from €79,99.

And here’s what you need to know about Puglia https://www.viaggiareinpuglia.it/spostarsiinpuglia.do?r002=spostarsiInPugliaMezziPubblici&r019=en

While the Dublin-Alghero service begins on May 24 (also twice a week) at €79.99 one-way. And this is Sardinia… https://www.sardegnaturismo.it/en

You know already how much I love Italy, Il Bel Paese, but here’s a reminder…

My Roman holidays https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/

And the frescoes up north… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/15/padova-city-of-frescoes/

Orlando, here we come

Orlando Minnie-break

They’re also all over Orlando, my American playground. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/aaawlando-orlando-the-rollercoaster-capital/

The Floridian fantasyland https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/ will now get two extra flights per week bringing it up to six flights per week.

We all think we know Orlando but there’s much more to find out… http://www.visitorlando.com.

Ole… in Miami

Miami http://www.miamiandbeaches.com I’m yet to get around properly.

After having had only six hours proper time in.

And going around in a circle, missing Little Havana altogether (yes it’s possible).

The route to Miami will grow from two to three flights per week.

Coming back to that mini-Miami stay I did meet a little Havanan and their restaurant in Biscayne and here’s the evidence in the picture above.

And then there’s Seattle http://www.visitseattle.org which is very much on my to-do list.

Aer Lingus is making it even easier too, with daily service in the summer.

I’m listening

Increasing from five flights per week to a daily service.

Now we’ll likely be seeing a lot more of Seattle next year too.

With Kelsey Grammer hinting that the greatest television programme ever made, Frasier, will be making a comeback.

See you in Cafe Nervosa, Frase.