Adventure, Africa, Asia, Countries, Cruising, Flying, Food, Food & Wine

Under the Red Sea

We’ve all been let down by the promise of a panorama which turns out to be a speck in the distance… but get this, you can see four countries from the Red Sea.

The one I’m in in Aqaba, Jordan, The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time and three others Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Sail on: It’s actually blue

Which also means two continents – Asia and Africa.

Now having dipped my toe in the Jordan part of the Ref Sea, I’m ready to try Egypt, Israel and Saudi.

The only way to ride

Now let’s start with Egypt and our friends Travel Department www.traveldepartment.ie and let’s start in its capital, Cairo.

There you will absorb the ancient sites including a full-day guided city tour.

Taking in the Egyptian Museum and a visit to the Khan El Khalili bazaar.

Then head for the Pyramids of Giza and thr Great Sphinx on a half-day guided tour.

Fancy a relaxing river cruise on the 4* HS Radamis II down the Nile?

Sphinx can only get better

With a range of excursions along the way taking in the Temple of Horus, the Valleyof Kings, the High Dam and the Temples of Karnak and Luxor.

Finally, you’ll enjoy a three-night stay in Hurghada, the beautiful beach resort toen stretching 40km along Egypt’s Red Sea coast.

Egypt is over there somewhere

Prices start from €1,629pp for 12 nights including return flights, 7 night full-board 4* river cruise, 4* and 5* B&B/half-board hotel accommodation, transfers, and excursions with expert local guides, departing April – November 2020

For more information click here. And visit www.traveldepartment.ie

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Holiday Snaps – UNESCO sites and bike treks

Mariaclaudia kept us on a tight leash which is as it should be and is fiercely proud of her Padova.

Which is why her antennae pinged when I asked to be dropped off at the train station during free time.

Of course she drew out of me that I was going to spend the afternoon in Venice.

And that I would be taking two Venice tyros with me.

Against type I took a clean shirt and tie with me in my rucksack for the official function at the Padova Botanical Gardens, the world’s first, opened in 1545..

For emergencies… and yes, the train was late and so were we.

‘The Dragon’ wasn’t so preemptive and drew withering glances for wearing a t-shirt and boardies.

There are other ways to traverse the Veneto region that you’re more in control of such as on your bike.

Freedom Treks have the field covered and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of UNESCO they are flagging up Bolzano to Venice among others.

seven-night Bolzano to Venice Hotel & Bike self-guided tour, taking in Padova, departing this month, costs from £746 pp (two sharing) and includes B&B accommodation in four-and-three star hotels.

You’ll have luggage transportation, travel guide with maps and route notes and GPS tracks available on request.

Get on your bike in the Veneto region

There will be a welcome meeting, local contact number for assistance, four-hour ferry cruise on Lake Garda, entrance to Villa Valmarana ai Nani and ice cream in Vicenza.

Return flights, transfers, bike hire, cycle helmet and local taxes extra.
Freedom Treks (01273 224 066, www.freedomtreks.co.uk).

And for a reminder on all that Padua and the Veneto region has to offer https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/11/give-us-this-day-padova/

Travel in our footsteps

Typical street in Vejer de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain

The effervescent Eva (and you’ll be hearing a lot more about mine hostess) had put our CanariaWays.com http://www.canariaways.com group to bed in Tenerife.

And was already thinking of her next group in Tenerife.

I will come back to Tenerife, both in person and on this blog, but I don’t want to ignore the rest of Spain.

After all there are two million visits from Ireland every year.

Every year in Trinity College our travel circuit are treated to the company of the signors and ignores of Seville.

And some flamenco dancing which has me twirling and clicking and swirling all the way home. Filled with vino naturally.

The traffic lights stop on this street: In Andalusia

Travel Department’s trip to Costa de la Luz in Andalusia also includes Seville, the Moorish town of Niebla, a wine museum at Bodegas Andrade. And a walking tour in the vineyards.

Prices start from €659pp for seven nights including return flights, 4* half-board hotel accommodation, transfers, and excursions with an expert local guide, departing this month and next.

Plaza de Espana – Spanish Square in Seville, Andalusia, Spain

For more information or to book, CLICK HERE or call 01-6371600.

The four-hour flight

Moroccan culture. Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni on Pexels.com

A deal maker for many is flights under four hours and Sunway http://www.sunway.ie has them aplenty and is happy to share.

Morocco felt like the nearest furthest place I’d visited when I went there 15 years ago. And probably still is.

Marakech, the Pink City, is a hustle and bustle of souks and stall-holders, snakes and spices.

More of which another time but let’s flag up the charms of its little brother, Agadir.

The natives. Photo by Edwin Vossen on Pexels.com

Sunway has seven nights self-catering at the 2*+ Intouriste Apartments from  October 26.

From €399 price including flights/return airport transfers/ accommodation/20kg FREE baggage

Agadir offers several kilometres of beach, kayaking, surfing, hiking, nearby golf clubs, and road trips through Berber villages.

Ah yes, it’s all coming back to me.

Cultural Ireland

Reflections of Dublin. Photo by Mark Dalton on Pexels.com

There are some holiday providers who really get you under the skin of a country and G Adventures http://www.gadventures.co.uk are right up there.

As I found out when I took a group trip with them to Jordan https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/05/11/petra-carved-into-my-heart/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/

G Adventures and National Geographic Expeditions are into the fifth year of their joint partnership.

And they have added eight new trips to their National Geographic Journeys collection.

Blarney Castle. Photo by Chris Carter on Pexels.com

There are three new countries to the Journeys product line. As well as us here in Ireland there’s Singapore and Greece.

It doesn’t surprise me that Ireland is included. I remember well a story-telling afternoon in an authentic Irish cottage in Killiney, Co. Dublin when I stayed at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel http://www.fitzpatrickcastlehotel.com.

For those who don’t live in Ireland, why not?

And here’s their package: Iconic Ireland – 9 Days from €2,449. 

Uncover Celtic culture and admire medieval architecture across the stunning countryside, and delve into historic Dublin and the rebel city of Cork. Eat, dance, and sing with the locals.

Of course you’ll also kiss the Blarney Stone.

Croatian delights

The Plitvice Lakes in Croatia

Must split… the Scary One is calling.

But before I go (and I’ll sneak back for more updates) let me tempt you with Split and Croatia.

I’ll be stopping off on my way to Medjugorge where I’ll complete the set of Fatima, Lourdes and Medj next month and sharing.

Travel Department has an Undiscovered Croatia package highlighting the medieval town of Zagreb and a wildlife walk through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Plitvice Lakes National Park.

See, my ramblings all come around in the end.

You’ll also be charmed by Opatija, Rijeka and Pula.

Prices start from €859pp for 7 nights including return flights, B&B or half-board 4* hotel accommodation, transfers and guided excursions, departing this month and next.

For more info or to book, click here or call 01-6371600.

And if I’ve still got your attention I’m hearing that you want more Snaps. So I’ll snap to it.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Holiday Snaps – Save money on Italy

A man goes into the doctor: ‘Doctor, I feel like an Italian island,’ Doctor: ‘Don’t be Sicily.’

Dramatic: Sicily Photo by Mauro Reem-Itchy on Pexels.com

You obviously need more than a morning and afternoon to spend in Sicily but alas that is all we had on our day trip from Malta.

Of course we could easily put that right with award-winning Italian holiday specialIsts Topflight.

Their Italian sale is up and running from today with savings of up to 30%.

There are discounts for the remaining summer season (August – October) on every date across all their featured resorts including on a selection of family holiday options.

There is also a raft of Italian escorted tour experiences on sale.  

Topflight’s Italian Holiday Sale offers holidays from Dublin, Cork & Belfast. It ends at midnight on Thursday, 15th August. 

As a sample, Topflight offers seven days in Sicily on August 24, staying in the 3* Villa Linda (B&B), Giardini Naxos was €871 now €599pps.   

Or leaving on the same day, 4* plus RG Naxos (B&B), Giardini Naxos was €1255 now €869pps

And from Cork why not try out Lake Garda? Seven nights departing August 17 and staying at the 3* plus Hotel Garda Bellevue (H/B) was €1037 now €699pps.

Visit www.topflight.ie.

You want more Italy. Here’s how to make the best of Rome. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/

Dominican followers

Your own beach? Photo by Leonardo Rossatti on Pexels.com

My old work buddy Scott spent his honeymoon on a community centre floor in the Dominican Republic because of the hurricane.

Tropical Sky will ensure you spend your holiday in a 5* hotel at a great price.

They (tropicalsky.ie / 01 664 9999) have some of the best savings on the market.

With savings of up to €850 per person on seven night stays at Casa de Campo for travel completed by November 6, if booked by August 31.

The offer means that your holiday will cost from €1,509pp.

Among the features are 50% off access to three championship golf courses; 20% off Spa treatments pp.

You’ll have complimentary non-motorised water sports, tennis, horse riding, golf cart and teen-only activities, including billiards tournaments, air hockey and movie nights.

Based on two sharing on all-inclusive basis and including flights from Dublin and transfers.

Licence to chill

Toe the line: Hemingway’s six-toed cats

It’s obligatory as a Scot (and many others) to say that Sean Connery was the best James Bond but I’ve always been different and like my own childhood Bond, Roger Moore.

Pearse Brosnan is the best modern-day Bond while Timothy Dalton is the most underrated. Daniel Craig? Pat!

This year is the 30th anniversary of one of the best Bond films, Dalton’s Licence to Thrill when Bond went rogue.

The opening scene takes place on the Seven Mile Bridge with other segments filmed at Key West International Airport and on Whitehead Street at the Key West Lighthouse and Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum.

Pappa Hemingway is a template for journalists, and not just his adventurous life.

And he was also a cat man.

He had a penchant for polydactyl cats. That’s six-toed cats. Check out the 40-50 polydactyl cats who live on-site.

Tours are priced from $14 (approximately £11.50). visit: www.fla-keys.com/movies-tv and www.filmkeys.com/past-productions.cfm.

Aer Lingus flies to Miami. Visit www.aerlingus.com. We found a return trip Dublin to Miami from €457.63.

See you in Tenerife

Old fishing boat at the Mirador de El Archipenque. La Gomera island in the distance

I’m counting down the days to my trip to Tenerife in September.

Travel Department has a Tenerife Coast & Cuntry seven-night full-board guided holiday.

Excursions will include a full-day guided tour of the highlights of the island, a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage colonial city of La Laguna and a visit to Mount Teide National Park.

Prices start from €659pp for seven nights including return flights, full-board 4* hotel accommodation, all transfers and fully-guided excursions with an expert local guide, departing regularly from September – November 2019.

Visit http://www.traveldepartment.ie

The last days of summer

I always associate the Shelbourne Hotel with travel functions and balmy summer nights.

The iconic Dublin hotel are billing their latest package as The Shelbourne Swan Song.

It is a special occasion but you deserve it.

Running from August 18 until September 5 it’s an an overnight stay that includes breakfast and a Summer Spritz cocktail on their new Terrace for €299 for two people sharing.

Visit www.TheShelbourne.com.

Slieve Donard’s grand plan

Golden vision: Slieve Donard

You’d think it would be plenty plush enough – Hastings Hotels’ Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in Co. Down.

But they’re making it even better.

Their €1.2m renovation has included a refurb of its kitchen including all new equipment, as well as the redesign of the hotel’s drawing-room.

The final stage of the programme is due to be completed in September when 16 of the Slieve Donard’s luxury bedrooms will be upgraded.

Visit http://www.hastingshotels.com for Slieve Donard and Hastings’ other hotels. http://slievedonardhotel.guestreservations.com/

Christmas is coming

He’s getting ready: Santa in Lapland

It’s only 137 days until Christmas and Santa and TUI are getting ready.

TUI will fly you out and back to Lapland on the same day with departures from Dublin on December 7 and 14. 

All guides, visits to Santa and outdoor activities like sledging and snowmobiling are included.

All your thermal wear is included in our winter wonderland too; just bring your normal warm day clothes to wear underneath and you’ll be toasty and warm.

Adult price from €719 and child price from €599. Visit https://www.tuiholidays.ie. Call 1850 45 35 45 .

And I’m beginning to look a lot like Christmas too. Another opportunity to see what can be done with a green beard and some baubles.

Where are those baubles now?

And look out for a new feature https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/10/this-sporting-weekend-rugbys-big-in-japan/ today.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD