Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Car hire and higher

Off on a road trip, well it’ll cost you because it’s getting car hire and higher out there.

And nowhere more so than my spiritual home Ireland where in some counties they’re a must.

My old mum would oft refer to her homestead of Donegal in north-west Ireland as the ‘forgotten county’.

And it didn’t help when they ripped up the rail tracks in 1959.

Donegal driving

Donegal Mammy: And son at Doon Well

So now if you want to get about you need to either have a car, rent a car…

Or your hotel or B&B can get Eileen to ask Aoife who knows Niamh is passing and can get you halfway.

Where Bladhana can get you to Sorcha, but make sure you’re ready or they’ll leave without you.

By the end of it all, of course, you’ll feel one of the family.

Of course, many of us prefer our independence, but alas that comes at an increasingly greater price.

With revealing the average cost of hiring a car in 2022 rose by 267% on the previous year.

Site for sore eyes: Discover Cars

Their data highlights an average increase of 47% worldwide.

With the average cost of a one-day car hire rising from £43 to £67.

So to get on the road in Ireland you’ll shell out £155 (yes, we know they’re in the Euro), up from £42.

Now we would never let a small thing like expense put us off a destination… we’re just giving you the road manual.

On the road again

Obrigado: With the Scary One in Portugal Centro

The world’s second biggest country takes some getting around.

And that no doubt is the spiel for a spike of 264%.

Full reveal here on the third biggest mover here, Portugal-Azore Islands.

Because when we toured Hidden Portugal, Portugal Centro, we had the services of a driver/guide/historian and Coimbra’s most famous son.

Jose Madomis of Madomis Tours.

Now we’ve availed too of the services of our own fellow Britons, ninth with an 85% rise, but still cheaper than the trains.

With Katarina in Bohemian Switzerland in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic, fifth at 131% but again with a history lesson thrown in… and Becherovka and salty age-defying water.

While Greece is tenth at 81% which may persuade you to do a Pheidippides and run the 26 miles or so from Athens to Marathon.

There’s no rhyme nor reason why the other countries on the list should have seen such hikes.

But Israel, Iceland and Albania are countries where you need wheels because donkeys correctly have rights now.

Slowly does it

By hook or by crook in Tenerife

Of course with everything on the rise sometimes the best we can hope for are small increases.

And the Canary Islands at just 2% leads the way here.

Though if you do hire a car (at only £25 the cheapest on the list) then why not walk some of the way.

With CanariaWays where you’ll experience the many Tenerife eco-systems before refuelling at the Franco-theme Bar in Afur.

Fly drive

Love a duck: At Epcot Centre, Florida

Now for many of us getting behind the wheel of a car in a foreign country requires a deep breath.

And my only attempt, in a Fiat 500 in Cannes, and it’s dashboard gearstick, never got out of the car park.

Although I kept that quiet from the organisers of the Florida Keys road trip.

Alas, but fortunately for other road users, it got cancelled by Covid.

Cut-price cars

Rocky mountain high: Colorado Rockies baseball team

Unbowed, I’ll be back though to the Sunshine State and you will too particularly with a 23% decrease in the hire of a car.

Bookended in the top four is America’s Playground, Colorado.

That’s when you’re not roped into their abseiling, freestyle rock climbing, white water rafting or roadside skiing.

Who is squeezed in between the two, why Guadeloupe and Australia… let’s go Outback.

And let’s not be put off when we see the car hire and higher.




Countries, Europe, Sport

Let Israel’s Maccabiah Games begin

We all know the world’s biggest sporting events, the Olympics, the World Cup and no, not the one you’re thinking… let Israel’s Maccabiah Games begin.

And so we’re hailing the four-yearly Maccabiah which runs from July 14-28, a year later after the Covid hiatus.

With the Games including 10,000 athletes from about 60 countries.

And with five new sports for this year, including wave surfing, climbing, 3×3 basketball motocross and paddle.

Now there are those who will celebrate Britain never, ever, ever being slaves by throwing those who they did enslave a week of games in Birmingham from July 28-August 8.

Onto the Maccabiah Games now and it is an Olympics for Jewish athletes, has run from 1932.

And that’s just a couple of years after the first Empire Games, forerunner of the Commonwealth Games.

It is evident too that the Maccabiah still holds onto its original name.

The name Maccabiah is named for Judah Maccabee, a Jewish leader who defended his country from King Antiochus.

Modi’in, his birthplace, is also the starting location of the torch that lights the flames at the opening ceremony,

Teddy, steady go

History: The First Games

So let’s begin and the opening ceremony will take place at Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem.

We can look forward to a crowd of 30,000 with the torches being carried by five athletes.

And we have Tokyo Olympic medalist Avishag Semberg; swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko; Paralympic swimmers, Mark Maliar and Iyad Shalabi, and Jewish-American baseball player Ian Kinsler.

And I know the question you’re asking… yes, the Games’ ceremonial torch will be kindled by Israeli Olympic Medalists Linoy Ashram and Artem Dolgopyat.

Now if you haven’t seen it before then you’ll be glad to know that there’s a world first this year.

Because all the games will be broadcast live all over the world via Pixellot.

And the Maccabiah will also host Paralympic Games in a variety of sports.

And competitions in the ‘Special Needs’ category for athletes with special needs.

The Land of Milk and Honey is also inviting us all to follow the Maccabiah and various events on Facebook,Instagram and TikTok.

How’s that for an opening?

Five alive: Maroon Five

There are some, of course (deluded, I’d say) who can take or leave sports and tune in only for opening ceremonies.

And you won’t be disappointed with this year’s Maccabiah showpiece.

Because the sponsors are telling us that it will be spectacular and exciting.

And we can look forward to it combining a rich artistic performance with hundreds of dancers and pyrotechnics. 

Take singer-songwriter Hanan Ben-Ari who will perform the official Maccabiah song, Carnival by Jordan (Jordi) Peleg and Ron Biton.

And the singer of the decade, Eden Ben Zaken, who will be singing an adaptation of Jehoram Gaon’s song, You Will Not Beat Me.

While The Next Star winner Tamir Greenberg will perform the song he wrote and composed to win the competition.

That’s Tell Me Where the Light Goes’, and as well as Maroon 5’s Memories as a salute to the historical sports heroes of the People of Israel.

Now this is all new to us but isn’t that the point of expanding our horizons and one of the great take-aways from any travel.

Tickets can be booked on the Maccabiah website.

Beach games

Yes, we heart you too: Netanya

Of course, the athletes’ competitions will be the main draw but beyond the events, Israel will go full party for the spectators too.

Because the Maccabiah, in cooperation with the Netanya Municipality will offer for the first time a huge sports complex for the whole family.

It’s all taking place at Poleg Beach from July 12-14 that includes an area for sports competitions.

And there will be activities for children, performances and food trucks with dishes from all over the world.

Night race

Israel beautiful: Jerusalem

And, of course, the Maccabiah want to create the next generation of champions so encourage everybody to get involved.

And hence the Maccabiah in Jerusalem night race will be held on July 18.

There will be thousands of runners taking part from all over Israel and the world.

And the race will pass the Science Museum, the Knesset, Hebrew University, the Rose Garden, the Cross Monastery and the Givat Ram Stadium.

With it all accompanied by lighting, music and a very special atmosphere.

And so participation in the race is paid and pre-registration is on the Maccabiah website .

Celebrate the diaspora

Hands across the oceans: The Games’ athletes

Now Israelis, much like Scots and Irish have a diaspora around the world.

And all have enriched the globe with our traditions and added to the general lexicon.

And with the Maccabiah Games at last getting the broader recognition it deserves through this inaugural global broadcast.

We can immerse ourselves in yet more Jewish culture, spectacle and the achievements of Jewish athletes.

Let Israel’s Maccabiah Games begin…

And I suspect as well that they will have a more lyrical way of saying that too.





Crosses we bear around the world

It’s a truism to help us on life’s journey and never more so than today when we consider the crosses we bear around the world.

Now we’re not going to get all heavy on you… we hope to lighten your load in this space.

But it is intriguing to see how the rest of the world marks Jesus of Nazareth’s death in Jerusalem 2,000 or so years ago.

On a hill in Jerusalem

This is my son, my beloved: Jesus on the cross

And that hill which we might remember from the Bible is Golgotha in Aramaic, or the place of the skulls, or Calvary in Latin.

Eerily the Jerusalem mound where Jesus and the two robbers were crucified is shaped like a skull.

Join the pilgrims in the Holy Land (get there early) on the walk up the Via Dolorosa and go through the Stations of the Cross.

I’ve been practising all my life (Lourdes, Fatima, the Camino, the Via Francigena, Medjugorje and all stops in between) and God willing, will get there.

When in Rome

This way, that way: The Pope

And, of course, when in Rome and on Good Friday, the Pope takes centre stage.

Francis leads a torch-lit procession, the Via Crucis from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill.

And yes, it wouldn’t be worth a denarii without stops for prayers at the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross.

Francis also likes to carry a cross at least part of the way. Of course he does.

Good Eggday Jamaica 

Good fortune: For Jamaicans

Yes, it would probably work better as Good Fryday but I won’t let the facts get in the way of a good Easter story.

No, our Jamaican friends bring a new spin on the Easter Egg story with this Good Friday tradition.

You add an egg white to a glass of water before sunrise on Good Friday.

And then look at it as the sun goes up to see if the white settles into an image that may hint at the future.

Now, if only they’d tried this at the Last Supper.

And Judas is carried out in Trinidad & Tobago

Take that you Judas: In T&T

Further down the Caribbean and Trinidad & Tobago zoom in on the treacherous Judas Iscariot.

With their stuffed clothes effigies, the Bobolees.

And that’s when the Trinidandian and Tobagonians go to town on them with sticks.

It’s not just Judas though with other hate figures getting stick too.

Carrying it too far in the Philippines

Too realistic: In the Philippines

And isn’t it always the case that someone takes it too far.

We’ve all seen them, at this time of the year, on our TVs…

Those have-a-go-heroes who literally get themselves nailed to the cross to show their devotion.

The Catholic Church discourages this practice but still the zealots of Pampanga persist.


Do you need any extras? Oberammergau

And not forgetting too God’s own children of Oberammergau in Bavaria in Germany.

With this year being particularly special as the ten-year iteration of the Passionspiele will go ahead.

After it took an abeyance two years ago because of Covid.

Yes, they are all crosses we bear around the world.