America, Countries, Europe, Ireland

It’s EaZzzzzy with Holidos and Don’ts

A redeye and no Aircoach… fear not it’s EaZzzzzy with Holidos and Don’ts.

Your globetrotting Bandanaman is hotfooting it over to his spiritual homeland of Ireland tomorrow morning.

But such are the vagaries of North Berwick, 15 miles east of Edinburgh, that there is no aircoach from outside my door.

As there was 24-7 in Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Hubba bubba: Dublin Airport

And so I have the options of a £75 taxi from Castle Murty, asking The Scary One to give me an early morning lift.

Or grabbing the last train (hopefully it’s on as the slightest puddle causes cancellations).

And bunking for the night at the airport… I’ve ruled out the £100 hotel rates.

So the Holidos and Donts.

A site for sore eyes

It helps if you’re in any of the airports flagged up by the excellent Sleeping in Airports site.

And you’ll notice that most of their followers’ recommendations are in stopover airports in Asia.

But there are some old faves too in Europe and America.

Best for a layover

On the right track: Turkish Airlines Business Class

In Istanbul’s award-winning Turkish Airlines Business Class lounge sure but also in their rest rooms with privacy walls while they also have shower rooms.

But also in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam where they have designated rest zones and plenty of amenities including a casino, fitness facilities, a library and a museum.

Denver too gets a shout-out probably because I spent longer there than anywhere… eight hours after being dropped off after my Wild West odyssey in Colorado.

And you’ll become an expert in putting with their 18-hole green on the balcony… and an arts aficionado with their excellent gallery.

Check it out: Munich check-in at Oktoberfest

Oh, and as for the rest the massages come highly recommended.

Munich Airport falls into the same category, and what it lacks for in ease for getting from one gate to the next when you misread your ticket it makes up for with helpful staff.

Arriving there just before the Oktoberfest you’ll find the staff dressed in Bavarian lederhosens.

And if you’re lucky then you’ll get the same Bertha who changed my ticket for a later one when I’d missed my original forwarding flight to Athens.

Dublin’s lair city

Dressed to thrill: At Dublin Airport

Now that I’ve had my accommodation taken care of by my friends in Ireland who are running the international travel network I won’t have to worry about kipping in Dublin Airport.

But there’s a sleeping pod with my name on it which I’ve bagsied in the past and no doubt will again.

And just to make sure your layover goes well a few tips.

*Lock your bags when you’re asleep and keep them wrapped around your shoulders.

*Put the alarm clock on your mobile to make sure you don’t miss the flight.

*And make sure you’re next to a plug socket just in case your mobile which has your boarding pass and Covid details and locator form on it is charged up.

See it’s EaZzzzzy with Holidos and Don’ts.

 

Countries, Europe, Flying

Turkish Airlines’ 12-hour flit

You pack the box in and pull down the car boot but the glass smashes… this house mover should have asked Ilker Ayci, mastermind of Turkish Airlines’ 12-hour flit.

If you’re in the middle of a house move and wondering how you’ll get it all done in time then check out National Geographic’s documentary which showed this week.

And see how TA moved 5,000 workers and 47,300 tons of materials (that’s 33 football pitches) from Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport in 2019 in half a day.

Mega relocation

In there somewhere: At Turkish Airlines H

The national flag carrier paused all flights for 12 hours for the ‘Mega Relocation’.

Throw in 12,000 parcel and some 1,000 vehicles and what you have amounts to a military exercise.

I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying TA’s hospitality both at Ataturk and Istanbul Airports.

And had the privilege of being invited behind the scenes at TA HQ and even got to fly a plane myself.

The pilot episode

The simulator gave me the chance to fly in over the Hudson at JFK Airport in New York.

And to witness the rescue operation complete with slide and ice pool where the staff learn the drills.

In truth, if you’d been on my plane and had me as your pilot you’d have needed to know how to slide and plunge.

As I overshot the runway and skidded off it.

It’s always best to leave it to the experts.

TA is the business

Boy Racer: In Turkish Airlines Business Class

And TA is the world’s fourth largest flight network and flies to 315 international destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

And that makes it the largest mainline carrier in the world by number of passenger destinations.

Anyone who has flown with TA will have enjoyed the experience thoroughly.

I’m driving this: In TA Business Class

And particularly if you’ve treated yourself to their world-beating Business Class with its Flying Chef and sleeping booths.

You’ll appreciate it if you happen to be en route to one of their long-haul dream destinations like Kuramathi in the Maldives.

The layovers of layovers

Playing my tune: TA Business Class

And the airport layovers to beat all layovers.

The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge where you can drive on the range (I’m safer there), the model fast cars, go the cinema, have a nap and massage.

And eat, drink and be merry.

And to think they did all this on Turkish Airlines’ 12-hour flit.

Asia, Countries, Deals

Stand up for the Stans

As the eyes of the world, the ones that aren’t on Novak Djokavic and Australia, are focused on Kazakhstan today we’d like to stand up for the Stans.

I don’t have to tell you that there are seven in Central Asia…

Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Some we know better than others.. I was schooled in a Pakistani area of Glasgow.

Afghanistan instantly conjures up war but boasts history and culture galore and Kazakhstan is more than the land of Borat.

And some know the Stans better than others.

Such as my cousin’s husband, a health administration professional who is only the Aga Khan’s go-to-man when it comes to managing hospitals in the Stans.

And so when the news feeds told us Kazakhstan was the size of Western Europe I was able to impress my circle.

Silky smooth

You dancer: And you can learn what it means too

It also helps to be on speaking terms with Wendy Wu and her team who know Asia like the back of their hands.

And maybe to have done your homework,. although Joanna Lumley’s The Silk Road is the sort of assignment I would have loved at school.

So if you’re a fan of turquoise domes, yurts and the Silk Road read on…

Wendy is offering a 12-day tour of Uzbekistan from £2,885pp Classic Group Tour which is a saving of £405pp going out on either Friday, April 5th.

Uzbeki the uzbest

It’s not all traditional: East meets West

Our old friends at Turkish Airlines fly to Tashkent from London (from £452), Birmingham (£496), Manchester (£524) and Edinburgh (£511).

So what makes Uzbeki the uzbest?

You’ll kick off in Tashkent, where you’ll remember from Joanna’s show the magnificent Metro station.

And, yes, it knocks the Tube and Glasgow’s Magic Roundabout into the ha’penny place.

Above ground you will marvel at the Khast Imam Complex, home to the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre.

With Turkish Airlines’ Onur in Istanbul

And the Chorsu Bazaar, a vast open-air market found in the heart of the old city.

Khiva is one of the country’s oldest cities so if you’re into old monuments (Mrs M clearly is) and historical Islamic universities you’ll get your money’s worth.

Joanna sought out a man who’s been making sheepskin chugirma hats for centuries, if you’re looking for a souvenir to go along with your fridge magnet.

Talking of which, you’ll want to earn your bread when you’re there…

So why not seek out a traditional Uzbek bread-making class.

Alexander… it’s great

Greek is the word: Alexander loved it here

Like Joanna, you’ll get to check out Samarkand.

It’s only one of the world’s oldest still-inhabited cities, and its centrepiece is Registan square.

And it has the recommendation of none less than Alexander the Great.

Samarkand’s architect Tamerlane is buried in the Gur Emir Mausoleum which you’ll tick off your list.

As well as the necropolis Shah-i-Zinda and the magnificent Bibi-Khanym Mosque, hailed as one of the most impressive in the Islamic world.

Any trip to a Muslim country wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a Bazaar.

And having taken in the Grand Bazaar with Turkish Airlines in Istanbul, I’d be onto you if you missed out.

Try the bustling Siyob Bazaar in Samarkand… a trip to a traditional factory to learn about silk paper making.

And the wines that have been enjoyed here for centuries.

All the more reason to Stand up for the Stans.

Although after all that shopping and drinking you’ll need to lie down.

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Europe

In Bodrum it’s the pipe of peace

The Son and Heir was more used to me ordering a coffee and a biscuit, but when in Bodrum it’s the pipe of peace.

Well they say that in life you should try everything (and that would include the shisha pipe) once.

By hookah, by crook


Smokin’: The hookah

You probably need to be from Turkey, the Middle East or North Africa, to pull off the kasbah chic look.

And so that when I joined the shisha gang next in Istanbul and Jordan I declined the pipe of peace.

My cuppa tea

A beautiful day: Bodrum

Instead I just sipped my mint tea and watched the regulars play chess.

In Bodrum. I dare say there were more than a few Bobby Fischers, but on our first days in the marketplace it was backgammon.

They played a different, more fast-paced game than the one me and my Mum would play back in the stuffy Glasgow suburbs.

It wouldn’t have gone down well to chain smoke in front of my Dear Old Mum, exhort Allah or slam my counters down.

Chairman of the board

Counter attack: Backgammon

The cry of Ally filled the air too in Bodrum when I would try to bring the Son and Heir back into line.

And would discover a market trader swirling the six-year-old in the air exclaiming Ally!

They would look out for the boy every day with the Arabic name every day when we would walk through the market.

We had made instant friends.

And we would enjoy a family holiday we still look back on with joy 20 years later.

A slice of Turkey

It’s all about the… tea

I would fall in love with Turkey, its Turkish barbers, mud baths and Turkish dancers.

Which is why my heart breaks to see the wildfires around Bodrum.

And holidaymakers evacuating for rescue boats.

The Turks have suffered particularly badly through the pandemic.

So the wildfires must feel like the last straw.

Flying Turkey

Flying high: Turkish Airlines, Istanbul

Inevitably, and not without some evidence, the climate change zealots are taking excessive joy out of the situation.

I, of course, do not have the answer. But I would say that we cannot glibly just say make it more difficult to fly.

As exploring foreign countries, meeting the locals and making their friendship is the best way of breaking down barriers.

Because when they do get back on their feet, remember in Bodrum it’s the pipe of peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Sport

Open again for golf

A lot has happened in the last two years since I sat drenched on the banks of the Royal Portrush greens but now we’re Open again for golf,

It is doubtful whether the demure folk of Royal St George’s in Sandwuch, Kent on the English south coast will holler their man home.

The way the Northern Irish did County Offaly’s Shane Lowry on that deluge of a day in County Antrim.

Champion Golfer

Open for glory in Belfast

Shane has been a unique Champion Golfer of the Year in that his reign has spanned two years.

After last year’s tournament was cancelled because of Covid.

A bit like your Travel Editor of the Year who was honoured by Irish Travel as their Travel Editor of the Year in 2019 before the world shut down.

And is yet to truly open again.

Ben Sayers outside my house in North Berwick

Golfers have, of course, been waiting excitedly to get their clubs packed again for foreign trips.

Shane knows he has little to worry from this direction as I usually stick to the driving range.

But here’s a mixed bag of my golfing misadventures abroad. Fore!

Quatre en France

Captain’s choice?

The Old Course, Cannes, France: And continental Europe’s oldest course is where to play with Cannes’ Fast Set.

You’ll even have la joie of traversing a small stream between holes on a boat.

But be sure to remember the international language of golf when slicing your shot.

As I was reminded by the match behind to shout Fore. Needless to say it wasn’t Bryson DeChambeau!

My Ryder

Are you watching Pádraig Harrington?

Quinta do Lago, Portugal: Word had obviously reached Paul McGinley and his Golf Academy in the Algarve.

That I was open for golf again.

My driving was better than my riding with me going off road on our cycle and almost ending up with the spoonbill birds.

Another round in Vegas

Hotshot: In Vegas

Topgolf, Las Vegas: And in Vegas the pitchers are the jugs of booze.

They come to your golf range table with chicken wings and dips. And it helps with your golf driving.

As I also found on a Liverpool course as a guest of Irish Ferries and Jameson Whiskey where a drinks trolley would come round every few holes.

What a Player

My pal Gary Player

Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, Wirral: The north-west of England rivals Scotland as Golfland and where I wrote a golf column.

And where I got the tip that a Japanese TV station were filming a round with Gary Player and would I like to join them.

While I channeled my inner Gary at the Press round before an Open and putted back off the clubhouse wall as Gary did in ‘74.

Turk that

Swing time in the TA lounge

Turkish Airlines Lounge, Istanbul Airport: And the dream of golf nuts who will find every opportunity to play…

An airport lounge driving range on the way back from Istanbul.

Just go easy on the cornucopia of food and drink at the TA lounge or you’ll follow through.

And fill up with Turkish treats

So we’re Open for golf again and there’s an Open invitation to you all to come and see us in North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland.

Although my cousin Greg is still avoiding me after he stood too close to me on the tee box at North Berwick Golf Club

When we were kids and I clunked him on the head. Fore!

 

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!

Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying

Holiday Snaps – Atoll order, your own private island

If you have to be stuck in lockdown it might seem like Atoll order, but I would recommend an island in the Maldives. Just saying.

And one, Kandolhu http://www.kandolhu.com, that is 200sqm is just the ticket and even better now that all its five bars will be reopening… Atoll tale – the Maldives, http://www.kuramathi.ie and http://www.turkishairlines.ie http://www.turkishairlines.com.

But in the words of the inestimable Chris Tarrant, I don’t want to give you that (well, I do but…) I want to give you this.

Joali, 45 minutes by seaplane from Male, which is welcoming back guests from August 1.

There’s everything you would expect in terms of luxury with your own swimming pool, yoga and wellness treatment, private dining options and the chance to go out to your own desert island!

But get this, you and your friends can buy out the island’s own 73 villas and residences and facilities.

Exclusive use buyout will start from $90,000 per night through to September 30 and $185,000 per night between October 1 and 30 November.

For guests 12 and above an all-inclusive full-board meal plan (including alcohol for adults) will cost an additional $450per night per guest. Visit http://www.inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk.

And whaddya mean you haven’t got that kind of moolah? You’ve been locked down for the last four months!

Insert smiley Ryanair emoji here

You know that we’re getting back to normal when Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com are getting funky with their slogans and emojis again and they’ve only taken to dressing oranges with sunglasses.

To flag up many of my favourites, among them Barcelona https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/, http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk and Messi around on the water and Smooth sailing around the Western Med from €24.99, Dubrovnik with Croatia Tours https://visitdubrovnik.hr, http://www.Croatia.ie and On the road to Dubrovnik from €24.99.

And my honeymoon island of Malta http://www.visitmalta.com and Malta pleaser also from €24.99.

Where myself and the world’s luckiest woman still have a complimentary bottle of champagne which we never finished 25 years ago still waiting for us.

Wearing my Sandals on my sleeve

A basket of devourables

Caribbeanophile that I am, I’ve been cheering on the Windies in their Test series with England (don’t tell the Scary One).

The Windies are of course promoting Sandals http://www.sandals.co.uk on the sleeves of their shirts and it is timely as their resorts are open for business with some great offers.

Jamaica has been the prize which has been slipping through my grasp these past couple of years through me being in another part of the world at the time when it was offered, or even worse WORKING!

The famous five with Laura and Hayley centre

But I will keep next January free (promise!) for your seven-night stay at the Sandals Ochi Beach, seven nights from £2,129pp including flights.

You can upgrade too to butler elite room for only €156 which tickled the fancy of my colleagues when I stayed there Let’s rumba in Barbados and http://www.visitbarbados.org who I’ll call Laura and Hayley so as NOT to protect their privacy!

And, of course, I’ve been promising you more Jocktails with a Caribbean twist. They’re coming. Don’t you know how difficult it is to get Falernum in Scotland.

Crazy cruisey government advice

And sporting my medallion on my lapel

So, who thinks it’s a good idea to give the green light to pack out pubs and beaches but thinks it unsafe to let cruise companies and grown-ups distance themselves on cruise ships?

Herself was only a little princess when she passed through the Panama Canal with her parents on her trip home on a working ship from Australia as a child.

Panama dancing

Princess Cruises had been traversing the canal for some half a dozen years by then and have continued to do so (lockdown excepted) and aim to do so again.

All of which will be sweet music to the Indomitable Mrs M who wants an upgrade from that working ship!

Fort Lauderdale R&R

For 2021-22 voyages wil range from 10-15 days visiting 17 destinations in eight countries.

Venice Beach is mine

On the 10-day option you’ll have the choice of leaving either from Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale and Miami – a tale of two sittings or Los Angeles My Weekend With Marilyn or San Francisco with stop-offs in, among others, Mexico, South and Central America.

Visit http://www.pirncess.com. I might even let Herself off from winding back the levers on those locks!