Africa, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Oceania, Sport, UK

An Irish rugby conversion

As an Irish-Scot it’s when I’m at my most conflicted when it comes to international sports, but when it comes to egg-chasing mine’s is increasingly an Irish rugby conversion.

It wasn’t always so but then that’s 13 years in Ireland, and working in rugby heartland Ballsbridge in Dublin for you.

Scotland the grave

Scot the lot: Springjock Duhan van der Merwe

My own native land is Scotland of course, and let me remind you I followed them as a schoolboy through thin and thin in the late 70s and reported on them in even thinner times in the early 90s.

And now while the same can’t be said for Ireland in a football sense, in rugby the Boys in Green are actually for the most part Irish.

As opposed to a Scotland side which is filled with players who have been discarded by New Zealand, Australia and worst of all England.

In fact we’ve even coined a name for the legion of South Africans who have rebranded themselves as Scottish… Springjocks.

All of which running around aimlessly brings me to the imminent Rugby World Cup in France next year when I will more than likely be waving my Tricolour instead of my Saltire.

Now if you want to put yourself in the safest travel hands then get on board my old Irish pals Cassidy Travel‘s deals for France RWC 2023.

Deal us in

Vive La France: Les Bleus

Cassidy’s packages include return flights, return airport transfers, hotel accommodation (unless it’s a day trip) and t tickets,

So, whether you want a quick day trip, a longer 2-3-7 night option or a bespoke tailor-made sport holiday then Cassidy have you covered.

Game on

Drum up support: Romania

So without further ado here are the matches you can be at, starting with the Romania mania.

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Ireland v Romania

Day Trip Package to Bordeaux!

9th September 2023

Don’t have time to stay? No problem at all! Make it a day trip!

Ireland meet the European runners-up in Bordeaux.

Package Includes:

Return flights

Return Airport Transfers

Match tickets

All from €599pp!

Rand old team

Rainbow nation: South African support in the townships

Bok your team, if your team is Ireland, against South Africa.

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Ireland v South Africa

2 Night Package to Paris!

23rd September 2023

The perfect two-night deal for rugby fans!

Package Includes:

Return flights from Dublin or Shannon

Return Airport Transfers

2 Nights in a 3* Hotel

Match tickets

All from €1099pp!

From Bok to Jock

Split loyalties: Ireland v Scotland

And one where any Irish-Scot can’t lose.

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Ireland v Scotland

2 Night Package!

7th October 2023

Two-night deal for you to enjoy one of the best

Rugby World Cup France 2023 events.

Package Includes:

Return flights

Return Airport Transfers

2 Nights in a 3* Hotel

Match tickets

All from €899pp!

Pieces of eight

Hakademic: The All Blacks’ Haka

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Quarter Finals!

Tickets to both matches included!

14th & 15th October 2023

Should they progress, Ireland will then meet the winners or runners-up of Pool A,

which includes France and New Zealand, at the Stade de France.

Package Includes:

Return flights

Return Airport Transfers

2 Nights in a 3* Hotel

Match tickets for Both Games

All from €1599pp!

And, of course, if Ireland beat the All Blacks (and everyone defeats them these days) they get to keep them!

So get your green out and support the Boys in France next year.

And that even includes Irish-Scots looking for a proper team to support… it’s an Irish rugby conversion.

 

 

 

 

 

Africa, Countries, Deals

Thandie baby in South Africa

You know when you see the kids you last saw when they were babies… well, that’s my Thandie baby in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

Thandie is one cat but before you go squealing to My Scary One that I’m a cheater, Thandie is a cat, a cheetah.

I first laid my eyes on the beautiful Thandie in Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve in the Great Karoo in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

And when I say I first laid eyes on Thandie, our tracker Hewurt does that for a living and brought us to see Mother and Children.

They’ll be three now and I bet they’re a handful… ‘appen I should pop around and see for myself.

Cool for cats… in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

My old pals at Hayes & Jarvis are my go-to people for bespoke long-haul adventures.

And they will be there from the very beginning with your personalised passport folder right through your vacation.

But don’t just take my word for it but I got my own video message from ‘African Queen’ Catherine after checking out their offer.

Two for the price of one

Stick your neck out: In Namibia

And because we’ll be in the vicinity anyway why not visit the neighbours?

And I had Namibia waved under my nose by my old pal Tony when he represented the south-west African country in Ireland.

H&J have a 16-day Namibia and South Africa holiday with a guide price of £5,199pp.

The highlights

Table’s set: Table Mountain

 

H&J have handily bullet pointed out some of the highlights for us.

*Look out for The Big Five on an exhilarating safari drive.

*Drive along the scenic Garden Route on your way to stunning Cape Town.

*Take a cable car up Table Mountain for views of Cape Town and Table Bay.

*Discover the tallest sand dunes in the world in the heart of the Namib Desert.

On the road

Hostess with mostest: With Rachel in SA

 

Right, it’s a self-drive holiday but firstly they advise you board an internal flight from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park.

Situated in Mpumalanga and covering 19,633 square kilometres, Kruger boasts over 100 mammals, over 500 bird species and more than 300 tree species.

It’s a spectacular spot for wildlife and nature lovers, with luxury lodges dotted throughout the park.

Travelling onwards to Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape via the Garden Route, you can uncover sandy beaches, great museums, galleries and excellent restaurants.

Before heading on to the iconic Cape Town.

H&J recommend the SA vineyards, the 600 million year old Table Mountain and Boulders Beach, home to the African penguins.

Wham bam Namibia

Stick it in the trunk: Self-drive

Right, what to do with the other 12 nights.

Take in ‘The Beauty Queen of South Africa’ at your ease.

Namibia’s capital Windhoek boasts a Zoo Park, castles and alluring restaurants, shopping and places to stay.

And for the adrenaline junkies, there’s exciting water sports and paragliding and kite surfing.

For a complete change of scene, strike out on a trek of the 1,600km Namib Desert and enjoy the red sand dunes of Sossuvlei.

The coastal town of Swakopmund is popular for walking tours, shopping and expanses of beach.

Lovely Cheetah: Thandie

And it’s an ideal stop-off before continuing on your way to Etosha National Park, close to the salt desert of Etosha Pan.

And we’re back to the wildlife and the elephants, rhinos, leopards and lions, prior to flying back home.

But all after I see my Thandie baby in South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa, Countries, Europe

Olof Palme the Swedish moral pioneer

What Olof Palme the Swedish moral pioneer would think of Russia threatening his country over their choice of friends isn’t hard to work out.

It’s easy to think that neutrality amounts to diffidence and non-commitment.

When it allows a people to retain their independence from power blocs.

And question any and every human right violation wherever in the world they see it.

That independence of spirit and voice doesn’t comes though without sacrifice.

Citizen of the world

Table mountain of beer: The Red Location

And for former Prime Minister of Sweden, Olof Palme, that came at the ultimate personal cost with the Swede losing his life because of his opposition to Apartheid.

Thirty-six years ago today.

But apart from eliciting our admiration for his strong moral compass and bravery why does Palme matter to us globetrotters?

Because it’s in our DNA to care about what happens to our global fellow travellers on the journey of life.

And the gift of our giving we get back a hundred fold such as in Gqberha (and here’s how to pronounce it) in the Eastern Cape of South Africa .

You might know it from your old maps as Port Elizabeth.

Where in the Red Location in the New Brighton township they named the street of their heritage museum after the Swede.

Road to redemption

Siseko, Nelson and Bandanaman: The Voting Line in South Africa

Olof Palme has been rightly honoured across the world for his sacrifice with 20 countries naming thoroughfares after him.

We see it too on a bigger scale with Nelson Mandela remembered too across the globe.

Who will come out of the Ukraine crisis as the figures we will give street, square and building names to remains to be seen.

But South Africa has proved that every country and its people are redeemable.

And that moral pressure, economic sanctions and sporting boycotts can isolate bully boy regimes.

Be assured though we will all return to Russia and Ukraine.

Olof Palme the Swedish moral pioneer would want us to.

 

 

Countries, Culture

Vive La Republic of Barbados

I must have been one of the very few kids in Glasgow to be lullabied to sleep with old Republican songs… and because of that and my own journey I’m an avowed internationalist republican which is why today I say Vive La Republic of Barbados.

Now you’ve heard me wax lyrical already many times about the magical island of Barbados and my Kiss With Rihanna  and Rumba  there.

And Bim, as it is affectionately known (hence me being known on the island as Bim Jim) is the talk of the Scottish and British Travel scene with the Bridgetown route rolling out from Edinburgh next month.

Now to celebrate Barbados becoming the latest country to throw off the shackles of monarchy and go out on their own, here’s to all those nations who have taken their destiny in their own hands.

And decided to be governed by one of their own.

Now a true republic, just like a true democracy or a true anything these days in double speak, is a moveable object.

But you’ve got to start somewhere which is why we’re going with 160 (now Barbados have signed up).

All republics lead from Rome

And if you know you’re Classic History, and my Latin is better than my Ancient Greek then you’ll know that republic derives from the two Latin words res and publica (public thing).

So that’s one of the famous things that ‘the Romans did for us’ although, of course, if you’re British then it’s an experiment from which we’ve run far away.

Apart, of course, from a brief period from 1649-1660 when these islands of Britain and Ireland entered into a Commonwealth which was really a theocracy.

But while Westminster claims to be the mother of all parliaments (doubtful, and Europe’s oldest in Iceland might have something to say about that).

It’s Rome which is the mothership of all republics, and we have the good fortune that the Forum, the hub of Roman public life is still there.

No fools those Ancient Romans though with their togas as I found out when I almost fainted in the Eternal City heat in my modern clothes.

An Italian fixture

Venice: And let’s catch a gondola back to Padova

Now where Rome led the rest of Italy followed.

And chief among them was the 1100-year Venetian Republic which still styles itself thus and is hewn into every gondola and the very bricks of the Campanile.

Florence, Siena, Amalfi, Pisa and Genoa all saw what the Doges were doing and how fetching their hats were and followed suit.

But the republicaniest of all the republics and the longest-standing is San Marino.

And so what they lack in football skills (0-10 v England) they more than make up for in their political skills.

La Republique, mais oui

Je suis L’Empereur: Napoleon

Ah, yes, the French. like so much, would have us believe that they are the shining light of Republics.

So much so that they have had five of them ever since Corsican Napoleon got le ball rolling.

Notre ami soon decided though that L’empereur sounded so much better…

And he did that with one arm behind his back (or affectedly tucked in his jacket then).

It must be a poncey royal thing because the UK’s Prince Charles who very graciously decided to attend the signing-over papers to the Bajans (and bag himself some sun at the time) does pretty much the same thing.

And on a tangent we’ll not say anything about the carbon footprint, Prince Save The World.

None of us are perfect, of course, it’s just the rest of us don’t bleat on about it and preach to the rest of us who do hop on planes.

Middle Ages and Middle Europe

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

The breeding ground for republics in the Middle Ages was what we now know as Germany.

And a quick count chronicles 62 in the northern European powerhouse.

All of which would be a good exercise and excuse to traverse modern-day Germany with a Michael Portillo type notebook.

I’d have to start in my favourite German city Hamburg first of course.

There are some who have gone the opposite way to the Bajans and jumped from republic to monarchy like the Dutch.

Others who have had a brief dalliance with republicanism, Catalonia, and still have hopes of a return to those halcyon days.

Battle hymn of the Republic

Southern men: At the statue of Stonewall Jackson at Manassas

Yes, their eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

And while the North eulogised its Republic, the South too held its close to its bosom, albeit for just five years.

That said the Confederate States of America still exist in the hearts and minds of many in the Deep South.

As I found at the Manassas memorial to Stonewall Jackson in Virginia.

And you don’t need me to tell you that that was the first battle of the US Civil War.

Post-colonial

Cool for cats… in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

There were, of course, a rash of republics in the post-colonial world which is where Barbados join us now.

While in Africa and Asia the cry went up for the ‘public thing’ which alas all too quickly became the ‘dictator thing.’

And because of these precedents it ratchets up our hope that the South African Rainbow Nation experiment proves successful despite its challenges.

And the USSR and its satellites

The voice of Dresden: With Ingrid in Dresden

Dogmatic ideologists, of course, think nothing of hijacking the word republic for something that looks nothing like it.

And hovering up previously self-governing nations, which is where Russia came in and formed the bloated Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic.

Unless I find me a time machine a trip back to those days will inevitably elude me, although that’s where museums and heritage come in.

And you can still immerse yourself into the spirit of those days on any trip out there.

Which is exactly what you get when you visit the old DDR.

Now we all know of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie but more of us should visit the mural to communism which stands as a reminder of Russian misrule and occupation in Dresden.

Irie, Barbados

It’s a republic, now: With Ruby in Barbados

And so good luck to the incumbent President of Barbados. Sandra Mason, incidentally also the last governor-general.

Vive La Republic of Barbados.

I’ll raise a glass of rum punch to you on the official date of handover tomorrow.

Which is a shared holiday, Barbados’s National Day, and Scotland’s too.

In Scotland, Barbados: Honest

And until my own native land becomes a republic (I’m not holding my breath) I’ll. mark yours, and America’s and France’s.

And the whole lot of you, 160 or so, who have taken the revolutionary step of deciding that you wanted to be ruled by someone of the people.

 

 

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Music, South America, UK

Paul Simon, 80 years young today

I often think I was born out of my time… not ahead of it, more behind it, which is why when my peers were expressing their angst through Joy Division I was finding meaning through Paul Simon, 80 years young today.

As the youngest of three boys with a five and eight year gap between us my early influences were The Beatles, The Stones, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Pink Floyd, Heavy Metal… and Simon & Garfunkel.

And as a gangly shy adolescent I find solace in the longing, introverted, wanderer music of Paul Simon… I still do.

The man: Paul Simon

Now there have been rockier, wilder concerts (The Killers, The Proclaimers), equally as iconic singers (David Bowie). and more celebrated venues (OneRepublic in Red Rocks, Colorado) but there have been no more rewarding gigs than Paul Simon on his farewell tour which touched down in Dublin.

So how does your favourite Travel blog mark the 80th birthday of the Poet Laureate of Pop?

Well, by shining a light on the places Rhymin’ Simon loved the most and whose musical influences burst out in his timeless songs.

Apple of his eye

Remember him: ‘The Donald’ in New York

New York: A proud son of Queen’s borough, Simon’s songs about New York are some of the most recognisable about the Big Apple.

The Boxer is a plaintive exploration of down on your luck New York life which includes a reference to the ‘whores on 7th Avenue’.

Simon told the story at a concert of a fan who told him she would sing the song to her child only she changed the words to ‘toy stores’.

There’s something quite playful too about the 59th Street Bridge Song and I referenced it too on my route to the RDS for that 2019 concert.

You’ll find, in truth. New York references in numerous Simon and Simon & Garfunkel songs, some with NY in the title as in The Only Living Boy In New York and the Statue of Liberty in my own favourite, American Tune.

Rainbow Simon

Cool for cats… in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

South Africa: Now, how many of us, hand on heart can say that they knew much South African music before Paul Simon introduced it to a Western audience with his seminal album Graceland.

And, before we get to that, let’s just reference the titular song Graceland, a tribute to Elvis, which Simon revealed was his favourite piece of song-writing (few arguments here).

Of course none of us outside of South Africa knew of Ladysmith Black Mombasa either… but once heard never forgotten.

Simon also opened up the joy of South Africa at a time when understandably we associated the country with injustice, bigotry and hopelessness.

But which lit a fire for many of us to go visit the Rainbow Nation. We give you Simon and the band’s Under African Skies.

Samba music

Get into the beat: In Brazil

Brazil: And once Simon had got on a roll (or a rock’n’roll if you like) he was off to South America.

Who can forget those huge drums on The Obvious Child. Nothing obvious though about the drummers’ talent or Simon’s songwriting.

And finally in an English train station

He was here: Widnes Railway Station plaque

Widnes, England: And, of course, unless you’re a Rugby League fan, you’ll never have been to Widnes in Merseyside.

Unless you’re a budding New York musician (Paul Simon) who was feeling homesick here and penned the classic Homeward Bound. There is a plaque there now.

Or if you’re another budding wordsmith, en route to Liverpool from Scotland (you have to wait here for the next connection) to take the next rung in his celebrated writing career.

But that’s another story.

Happy Birthday Paul Simon, 80 years young today.

 

Africa, Countries, Culture

Our return to Africa and the Middle East

They’re the cradles of civilisations our modern metropolises still aspire to… and we’re planning our return to Africa and the Middle East.

The grand old cities of Jerusalem and Petra.

Spanning across the ages, one a living museum, the other a Modern Wonder of the World, they have rightly been honoured.

Ten out of ten

Camel ye: To Petra

In Travel + Leisure’s 10 Best Cities in Africa and the Middle East.

Jerusalem I have seen longingly, like Moses, from atop Mount Nebo on my G Adventures odyssey.

Petra, I have stood up close to, by a camel, whose ancestor would have carried a Nabataean in days of yore.

With divining rods for water to trade for the jewels of the desert… the Nalbataean that is.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tel Aviv shows Israel’s modern face.

Now being of the male variety, and so a listaholic, most rolls of honour fall into my remit.

Heroes in Capes

I’d have to see more of Cape Town than just the airport as I did on the way to the Eastern Cape

And would have had Covid not popped its head up as we were puttImg the final touches  to our trip to Napoleon’s island, St Helena.

The old perennials naturally pop up on the list.

Marrakech, the Pink City, was my first port of entry into Africa. 

And, of course, you can’t hold a whole continent against one country for an experience.

Of getting mugged in the souks and food poisoning in the Sahara.

So that the best experience of Morocco was in the airport back in Fez.

Although the good readers of Travel +
Leisure also have a penchant for the Moroccan port of Essaouira.

I’ll take your word for it.

Gulf in class

Where as a memento I brought back a camel scene handbag for my Dear Old Mum which she flashed around her Bridge club.

The Gulf has also been on the radar with visits from Dubair and Muscat delegations during my time in Dublin.

And after they got in touch and we explored opportunities in Abu Dhabi

Of course, it is pure indulgence to sit around and grade a continent and a region’s cities.

But it does serve another, healthy purpose… to travel in our imagination.

To share experiences and knowledge and plan our return to Africa and the Middle East.

Now which are your favourite cities?

 

Africa, Countries, Ireland, Sport, UK

Lions in Siya Africa

Now I know a thing or two about  Lions in Siya Africa.

The Lions are on the Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve in the Great Karoo in the Eastern Cape.

Which is just around the corner from where the British and Irish Lions are playing their Test series with the South African Springboks.

Well, a rather big corner, the Cape of Good Hope.

Heroes in Capes

OK, it’s a cheetah but the Lions were hiding

Cape Town‘s beauty and its Table Mountain are legendary.

Less well known, at least outside of South Africa, are the charms of the Eastern Cape. 

From where Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, Pride of Port Elizabeth, hails.

You’ll see his influence in the oldest township in South Africa from where he set out on his heroic journey to become Springboks skipper.

South Africa needs leadership

The pack: With SpringJock Iain and pals

And to place that in sense of importance within the Rainbow Nation…

Didn’t the Eastern Cape’s own, Nelson Mandela don a Springboks jersey to greet Francois Pienaar at the 1995 World Cup final against New Zealand?

South Africa could do with Madiba now as it wrestles with social unrest in the wake of Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment, and its Covid crisis.

But in Kolisi it has a champion.

A different Test

Panorama: With South Africanophile Rachel

It is of course a matter of regret that the Lions aren’t touring South Africa.

And an even greater one that Port Elizabeth, where the Lions have a decent record, hasn’t hosted a Test match against the Lions since 1980.

The Eastern Cape is solid rugby territory and a visit to the township reveals that the Boks are now embraced by all its peoples.

A Scot in exile

Rugby fans: Siseko, Nelson Mandela and your Bandanaman

Now mine host Iain is a proud Springboks fan and thinks nothing of taking his Jeep out to travel across country to watch his rugby.

But as his name reveals despite living in solid eastern Southern Africa his roots lie up here in Scottishland.

However the series evolves he will take take great joy from a healthier than usual representation from North Britain.

And we are not immune either from adopting Afrikaners either with Dusan Van der Merwe.

We call them SpringJocks.

It should be a great old journey with the Lions in Siya Africa.

 

 

 

Countries

Sláinte World Whisky Day

Scotland has cornered the market so much we even claim the name ‘whisky’ or ‘scotch’ but let’s share the love. Sláinte World Whisky Day everyone.

So onto a history story here.

Our preeminence in the biggest selling place in the world, America, is down to Prohibition days.

The ultimate in cool

Yes, the Far East is a much sought-after market too where this northern bit of Britain is also widely acknowledged.

But while we all know, and laud, the major whisky (or whiskey if you like) countries what of the others who love the golden nectar?

Boks on the rocks

Bain’s: The only commercial whisky distillery in Africa

South Africa: For those who know, and love, the country they might be surprised to hear that SA has a global award-winning distillery.

But then Andy Watts, the Master Distiller at Bain’s Cape Mountain whisky, knows his uisge beatha.

I’d wager that a people who put ice in their wine have their whisky on the rocks.

Belgian blend

Het Anker Brewery: They do whisky too

Belgium: Yes, you’ll not be surprised to see that the Belgians have only made their dab at whisky, Gouden Carolus, beer infused.

My old friend Tom, of the Hopperie in Ieper who proudly declared that he sold only beer, hundreds of labels, and could give you tasting notes, would not be amused.

Mind you he’d probably have a whisky-infused beer.

Probably the best

The Danish finish: Stauning

Denmark: It’s probably the best-preserved secret in the world.

We are reliably told that Stauning Whisky combines malted barley and malted rye.

And that fans of American whiskey will go for this. Probably!

Dams and drams

Dutch double: And a fancy label

Netherlands: Back to the Low Countries for this one, That Boutique-y Whisky Company Millstone.

And the Zuidam distillery produces a six-year-old single malt which if you like your dram with a cinnamon tang will be right up your street.

Dutch barmen who instinctively use their wee plastic knives to scoop off frothy heads would need retraining.

Swigging in the valleys

Boridar, is this the bar?

Wales: It’s one of life’s mysteries (or whisky’s) that Wales is the odd man out of Celtic countries with no ‘water of life’ heritage.

Their water is surely just as God-given as the Scottish and Irish wet stuff.

And having spent a year in Cardiff I can vouch that Our Lord’s tears fall more plentifully there than anywhere else on Earth.

Brecon Beacons drop, Penderyn Welsh Gold, has vanilla infusions.

Sláinte World Whisky Day

And a whisky cocktail you say…. try this whisky sour.

Africa, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

World Book Day – a leaf through the world

Happy World Book Day… I’ve been turning over a new leaf by re-reading some old favourites from around the world.

Some will be yours, others I’d recommend as they namecheck places you’ll want to visit, and the people too.

Czech’s in post for this classic

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis: Or you can have The Trial.

OK, I’ve not read either, but I have checked out Kafkaesque Prague, his home city.

And he’ll be glad to know that the Czechs still retain his take on the world around him and its leaders…

Bureaucracies overpowering people often in a surreal, nightmarish way.

Anne’sterdam

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl: It’s chilling to listen to the audio of Anne‘s words in the diary she wrote in her family’s hideout in Amsterdam.

And I make no apologies in saying that I choked up.

When I heard that the vibrant young girl destined for Auschwitz had wanted to become a journalist.

Anne, of course, made a lasting impression, and has gone on to inspire generations of chlldren and adults alike.

Eastern Eden

Cool for cats… in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Olive Schreiner’s The Story of An African Farm: Olive may not be on every, or any, schoolchildren’s radar in the Northern Hemisphere.

And athough its style is of its time, the 19th century, this chronicle of South African life in the Eastern Cape, is required reading.

A feminist and ahead of her time Olive railed against the prejudices around her .

And she also moved in some pretty famous circles. Required reading.

Crusoe in Tobago

Give ‘em rope: With Levi and Bandanaman the goat in Tobago

Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Tobago: And if you’re lucky enough you can even reprise the actions of some of your favourite literary characters.

Like in Tobago where Robinson Crusoe swept ashore and took years to get off.

For all his protestations I think he probably enjoyed it. And we know that he made some friends of the local goats.

The Odyssey

Spoiled and ruined at the Acropolis in Athens

Homer’s Odyssey: And this one I did read, or at least study, and then parts of it.

As a Classics scholar (or messer) at school.

I had my own odyssey trying to make my way through Munich Airport and on way to Greece and over to its islands.

There’s nothing like walking in the footsteps of your legend’s… so there’s an invitation to you.

And it’s been flagged up that I’ve been down this road before with this book collection. See if my choices have changed and tell me your faves. 

 

 

 

Africa, Countries, Culture, Deals, Food

Holiday Snaps – Capes of good hope

And, yes, you read that right. I’m talking of the Eastern and Western Capes of South Africa and the Good Hope of returning ine day.

TV chef Gregg Wallace has been conjuring up memories of the Eastern Cape foe me in his ITV travelogue series, sponsored by Saga Holidays.

Where last week he went on safari at the Amakahla Game Reserve, just north-west of Port Elizabeth, and this week goes west to Table Mountain et al.

Chin chin: Gregg Wallace in South Africa

Of course Gregg got stuck into biltong, the dried cured meat they all eat out there.

The promo video shows Gregg toasting us with a South African white you can almost taste.

But a piece of advice, Gregg, if you really want to go native then you need to put ice in the wine.

Bergamo stands alone

Bergamo Molamia: Stay strong

Mola Mia… and I’m glad to see that Ryanair is giving Bergamo back its name in its latest tranche of offers and not just aa an appendage of Milan.

They flag up the medieval jewel of Lombardy at up to €30 off which takes you to their €23.99 one-way deal for Milan Bergamo.

Bur hey, Bergamo wasn’t built in a day… and I’ll share all its history and how it has rallied from being the doorway for Covid in Europe.

Una ciocolatta di calda densa: In Bergamo

Book foe Bergamo and a raft of destinations by January 13. Travel between April 1 and October 31.

Ryanair helpfully shares where you can get a Covid test near you.

Sandals in the sand

Blessed: Saint Lucia

Or more accurately on the runway. Actually the plane on the runway but then my hour in Saint Lucia just whetted my appetite.

My Saint Lucian pal Jerry, the Big Rapper, from my G Adventures tour of Jordan had given me the skinny on his island.

And how he had plans for writing a guide book.

Look out for that when you’re out in Saint Lucia at Sandals who have a January sale on.

They have seven nights at the Sandals Regency La Toc with travel dates in September and October.

Fly with British Airways and stay in a honeymoon luxury.

Now I’ve experience of a couples hotel in Barbados and a Sandals on the south of the island too,

While, if you want to island hop, Saint Lucia is the stop-off for another prize destination Tobago.