Adventure, America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Holiday Snaps – Hungarian heights

I christened her Funky Gold Edina which she happily went along with despite it probably going over her Hungarian head.

Edina was the ever-smiling Top Flight for Schools host on our walking trip up the Tyrolean Alps in Austria.

Which is no mean thing when everything over your head gives you vertigo.

It’s the people you meet from foreign countries when you’re abroad who inspire you to visit their homelands.

Hungary for cultureEdina’s beloved Hungary is also on Travel Department‘s radar.

Phew Danube

You’ll go right round the bend but you’ll love it on your Danube Bend Walking Holiday.

Spend five nights in the Medieval castle town of Visegard in Northern Hungary.

Enjoy five days of walking with packed lunches with moderate (7-11kms) and challenging (12-20kms) levels.

With Edina and Caroline in the Austrian Tyrol

Among the highlights are Nagymaros, Zebegeny, the Pilis Mountains and a half/day tour of Budapest.

From €1,199pp for seven nights including flights, transfers and 4* hotel accommodation, departing June and September.

Sit down next to me Rosa

Rosa and Thistle in Memphis

There is something iconic about the American bus.

Where else can you see a man in a gabardine suit who looks like a spy when you’ve gone to look for America (ask your folks)?

But not all buses are Greyhound or Peter Pan buses… in the Deep South they were awful segregated affairs.

Until a wee seamstress cast a huge Civil Rights legacy 65 years ago today by refusing to give up her seat.

Her arrest in Montgomery, Alabama, sparked the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Heroine: Rosa Parks

I had the honour of sitting beside Rosa (well kinda) in the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

The real bus is in the Henry Ford Museum in the Detroit area near where she moved, like so many African-Americans.

But the real story begins in Montgomery, Alabama.

Malta crosses

Art of Valletta: Caravaggio

Should you see a Catholic priest walking down the middle of a street in Malta or Gozo then you should veer into a ditch to miss him.

It used to be the case too in Ireland though these changed days they’d probably be stepping on the peddle.

The links to the two countries have always been strong and they’ve just been renewed.

Since the end of last month you can get back to Malta from Ireland with a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

And when you’re there you can enjoy, the sun, sea and swally, of course, but why not the saints too?

And as I often say the best way to check out a new place is to go where they play and pray.

Grand Gozo

The archipelago boasts more than 360 churches and chapels and having visited St John’s Co-Cathedral for the Caravaggio which means only another 359!

St Augustine Church and St Paul’s Shipwreck Church are on the Malta Pilgrimage Trail and the old convert must think I’lm stalking him.

In Malta yes, but also Rome while I’ve also been on the trail of St John too, on the island of Kythera in the Athens/Attica region of Greece.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Holiday Snaps – Remote Dubrovnik, sign me up

It used to take me an hour and a half from my home in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, to get me to work in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

But in these COVID days I’ve reduced the hike to my office to a second and a half which, of course, is sending me stir crazy.

The Pearl of the Adriatic

Thankfully the Digital Nomad Visa Scheme is at hand to offer us the chance to move our workplace to, say Dubrovnik.

Nor is it new… George Bernard Shaw did, calling Dubrovnik ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’.

And that ‘those who seek Paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik’.

So if you can swing it to take three weeks, say, then our friends at Adriatic Hotels will help out.

Sail of the century

Reckon it’ll be nicer than home… and warmer!

They recommend the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace and the https://www.adriaticluxuryhotels.com/hotel-excelsior-dubrovnik/.

Buffalo Bill, Denniston and us

Glasgow rides again

And Dennistoun in the East End of Glasgow, the birthplace of my Dear Old Dad and Buffalo Bill’s stomping ground, has won its rightful place in the world’s hearts.

Dennistoun is the unlikely inclusion in a top ten of a Time Out list of Coolest Neighbourhoods.

Eighth behind Esquerra De L’Eixanple, Barcelona Downtown LA and Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York.

Billtown, Glasgow… http://www.dennistounconservationsociety.org.uk/page.asp?Title=Buffalo+Bill&Section=11&Page=13

And ahead of Haut-Marais, Paris and Marickville, Sydney.

James Manning, Time Out’s International Editor congratulated Dennistoun on its response to the pandemic.

Murtytown, Glasgow

‘With independents pipping up and artists brightening the winding streets.’

But Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Riders, Chief Sitting Bull among them, knew that already, choosing Dennistoun as his sole Scottish venue on his first Euro tour.

Buffalo Bill’s Grave, Colorado

There’s a statue to Buffalo Bill on Whitehill Street and Dennistoun is written large in the scrolls of the Buffalo Bill Museum in Golden, Colorado, where he is laud to rest.

The mighty Aphrodite and Cyprus

And because I like to see a job through, I want to get to the beginning and end of the Aphrodite story.

Having checked in on Kythera where Aphrodite was born out of the swell of the waves I obviously have to see whete she passed onto the Great Beyond in Cyprus.

With Travel Department who are offering seven nights from €1039pp, including flights, transfers 4* half-board hotel

Plus excursions and tour guide. Depart April, September, October and November.

Not past her shell-life: Aphrodite and Cyprus

You’ll whizz around the Medieval town on a half-day tour, the capital city Nicosia.

And one I’ve been building up for years, one of the great joys of Travel, crossing the border of an island, into Northern Cyprus.

Of course back in the days of Aphrodite it wasn’t an issue.

Paphos is mighty for Aphrodite… and Omodos for the wine.

Party like a German

Good to see my old German friends from the German Travel Mart and hear that the Beethoven 250th celebrations are still on course.

With December seeing two major musical events from his birthtown Bonn.

Beethoven 2020 will now be Beethoven 2021 too.. a bit like an extra symphony.

So let us entertain you with this sample of how broad Beethoven can be.

While you’ll want to watch out for Robbie Williams’ take on Beethoven next year.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Forza Italia

Back in the day in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries, the poets and dreamers all took the Grand Tour… yes, all odes led to Rome.

Being a rhymer myself (Forth Stanza, Edinburgh Fringe/2002) it sure as heck is tempting to follow them to Italy just now.

Which it’s worth repeating we can do with Italy, the first visited by the virus in Europe, open again for business.

Rome, it has msn a lovely dome

With the world shrinking because of COVID Grazie Dio per Italia.

And so say our holiday providers, our dream-makers.

I can’t say if Byron, Keats and Shelley relaxed by the banks of Lake Garda but if they didn’t they ought to have.

A boat, a lake… ah, Italy

Our friends at Travel Department are offering a seven-night guided tour with extras under the label of Incredible India.

Explore the lago by water on a private boat trip and visit the region’s picturesque towns.

Before heading up into the Dolomite Mountains.

Churches and the rest: Padova

And special treat, you’ll be taken to the ild university town of Padua.

And see St Anthony’s tongue, Giotto’s fresco and a main piazza of imposing statues… well, it is Italy.

Then up to Bolzano, the Gateway of the Dolomites.

TD are offering flexible low deposits from €100pp on all new bookings until September 30.

And there’s them thar mountains too

And check out too their helpful cancellation policy.

Prices from €939pp for seven nights including 4* hotel accommodation with return flights, transfers, excursions and local guides. Depart September 22.

MEET YOI IN THE TRATTORIA

America, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Ireland

Holiday Snaps… why we don’t want 24/7 sunshine

Yes, you read that right, as 24/7 sunshine like we had been getting in the UK means the world is dying that little bit quicker.

While strewth, at the other end of the world, our Australian cousins have been shivering.

And that includes their kangaroos… and snowllabies.

Kangaroos in Australia www.bbc.co.uk

No, best keep the hot places where they’ve always been and the cold ones too.

Imagine Barbados, Tobago and the Caribbean and its people without their sunny disposition.

Thankfully we don’t have to…

Woooah, we’re going to Barbados

With Sandals offering seven nights from £2375pp with travel dates May 1-June 30 at the Sandals Royal Barbados.

You’ll be staying in a south sea crystal lagoon club level Barbados suite with Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub. With flights from Virgin Atlantic,

And I know a thing or two about Tranquillity Soaking Tubs.

A welcome from the Nations

And I’m channeling the good guys

We’re on the eve of the 400th anniversary of the First Thanksgiving Dinner in Plymouth, New England next year.

When the Pilgrims and the Natives shared harvest.

And that alas, if it happened like that at all, is when the sharing stopped and the newcomers took their land and sent them packing.

The pipes of peace

Which is probably where the Choctaw Indians and the Irish were sent to Hell or Connaught by the same British forged their links.

The Choctaw sent money to the starving Irish during the Famine and the Irish reciprocated during these COVID times.

And that’s the subject that remains hanging in the air from the last AIATA webinar.

I’ll return to it and my Native American friends whom I first met in Washington DC and then again in Denver and LA

Wigwam Jim

When I’ll get me the American Travel fair that COVID robbed me of in Vegas.

AIANTA’s will come from Albuquerque next month and will reach us all virtually with the organisers waiving the registration fees.

I’ll be there to bring you all the news.

And it’s gentle cruising

Aran Islands

The sea oh the sea is the gradh geal mo croide. Long may it stay between England and me. It’s a sure guarantee that some day we’ll be free. Oh thank God we’re surrounded by nothing. – The Dubliners

And for the uninitiated those strange Irish words mean ‘sweet love of my heart’.

The song is a celebration of Irish waters.

Including my favourite Meeting of the Waters in my erstwhile County Wicklow home which was immortalised by poet Thomas Moore.

My old friends at Travel Department are used to taking us to exotic places near and far.

Connemara’s old sod

And now in Ireland too.

Galway, Connemara and the Aran Islands is from €599pp for three nights including 3* B&B hotel, transfers, excursions and local guide.

Depart October. Ring (00353) 1 637 1600.

MEET YOU ON THE WATER (AND LAND)

 

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

Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

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