Countries, Culture, Europe

Alpha to Omega of variants and travel

Ever wondered why the latest viral threat is called Omicron… well here’s the Alpha to Omega of variants and travel.

We have the World Health Organisation to thank for improving our Greek… and Zeus knows I’ve forgotten almost all my Classical Greek from school.

And anything that shines a light on Heroic Hellas and its culture has my vote.

The WHO plumped for the naming system so as to remove stigma from countries after the media jumped on the first Covid variant.

And our news gatherers lazily called it the South African variant.

Now we here at TravelTravelTravel being internationalists fully support their motives, particularly because jingoism and racism can run as wild as pandemics.

And it is to the Greeks that we have turned for wisdom and philosophy.

Lay off the Spanish

With queen of Spain Teresa, Eoghan Corry and Sharon Jordan in Dublin

Back in 1918 when the last global pandemic broke out it was tagged the Spanish Flu, the name by which it is still referred.

And this wasn’t because it broke out in the Iberian Peninsula (we still don’t know its origins).

Rather it was because that was where the information first started emanating about the virus.

On account of Spain being neutral in the First World War and its media generously sharing the information.

While, of course, the virus was taking its toll across the world.

Going for a walk: In Tenerife

And war-concerned countries were killing information at home just as freely as they were needlessly destroying each other.

As it is the first reported death was in the USA but let’s not quibble.

I only say this to set the record straight and correct a historical wrong in favour of my Spanish friends.

And we well know that they have had their own troubles to seek either natural or political as is all too real in one of our favourite Spanish destinations, the Canaries.

And my last port of call in Spain, Tenerife.

Alphabetti spaghetti

Next year? When I’ll be back in Vegas

Now, Omicron as it’s coming back to me now is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet which means that w’ve had 13 variants.

Delta we all know, and this pesky letter put paid to my trip to Oregon at the last minute…

And led me to pull out of the earlier working assignment to Las Vegas.

But beta, gamma and epsilon thankfully passed us by.

As did their friends zeta, eta and theta… who sound like the intake of a modern-day creche.

The next one barely registered an iota (and yes Greek letters have entered our lexicon before all this pandemic nonsense).

Kappa (no, not an American college sorority), lam(b)da (not a Tex-Mex dance), mu, nu (the other discarded Teletubbies) and Xi (a Chinese dynasty) soon followed unheralded.

Until we got to our Omicron.

Omicron, not Armageddon

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

And although our leaders are scaring the bejaysus out of his by interchanging Omicron with Armageddon it’s not.

The narrative is that it’s more infectious but haven’t we been told that the vaccines and the boosters are there to protect us.

And is it just me who is cynical.

That at a time when our politicians want to distract us from restricting our liberties the seriousness of Omicron gets ramped up.

And so we in the UK are told that we must now get a PCR test on arrival back in the UK and self-isolate until we get the result.

Which again sounds scary until you realise that we’re all Working From Home now anyway.

Isn’t it about time that we challenged these assumptions.

Particularly as everything our politicians have told us since the pandemic was called has blown up in their faces?

Democracies on trial

Now we might not go as far as Socrates who attacked Greek democracy (roughly translated as power of the people) in favour of meritocracy or elite rule.

But it is well seen that democracies are on trial.

And while it was the legacy of the First World War which all begun with the assassination of a royal in Sarajevo in the Balkans which heralded in the Fascists of the Twenties.

And of course the Wall Street Crash.

But it was also the failure of democracies in a crisis. We have been warned.

The good news

The good news is that there are only another nine Greek letters to go so we should be through all of this soon.

That’s the Alpha to Omega of variants and travel then.

See you on a plane or ship soon.









Adventure, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, UK

Craig Sera Sera

Craig Sera Sera, that’s a wrap from the 12th Bond.. and he’ll sure miss those exotic missions.

So which countries has 007 visited most, other than England where he works?

Well of the 50 he’s been to, Italia would seem to have been his favourite with the spy having touched down in Il Bel Paese eight times. 

Pasta Master

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

Rome, Venice and Como have inevitably been stick-on locations for any filmmaker and international man of mystery.

And this time it’s the European City of Culture for 2019, Matera, which is getting its place in the sun this time. 

With its houses. built into caves, cobbled streets and high arches a dramatic backdrop for the opening scenes.

And Felice Giorni for Matera with the town’s mayor, Raffaello De Ruggieri, predicting its association with Bond will be worth $20 million to the local economy.

In truth this is probably the highpoint of the movie, and all before the credits and Billie Eilish’s disappointing dirge of a soundtrack.

As Daddy’s Little Girl rightly pointed out the best bits were the locales. 

Live and Let Spy

Love a duck: At Epcot Centre, Florida

With Britain and America enjoying that much feted special relationship it is unsurprising that The Oo Es of Eh is his next favourite stop-off.

And we particularly enjoy his forays into Florida and its keys… whose pleasures I had to put off on the outbreak of Covid but where I intend to fulfil just as soon as.

Ski another day

Like an Alpine skier: In the Austrian Tyrol

Next up might be less predictable, Austria, but then we have to remember its stunning snowscapes and Bond’s love of winter sports which of course we share.

Although we have never seen him on the slopes of Soll while we have enjoyed skiing alongside some dapper fancied-dressed folks.

And we look forward to seeing a penguin-suited Bond on the piste some time soon.

For Bond anoraks it’s an easy question but which is the only country in a film title?

The spy who came in from the Red

Dance away: Russia

Yes, the old Soviet Union, or Russia as we knew it in shorthand.

And as well as the titular film From Russia With Love, Bond turns up in Fabergeland another three times.

Turkish crossroads

Hamam bam: Istanbul

It has been the crossroads for espionage since first the first looked out over each other at either side of the Bosphorus.

And, of course, Istanbul, has been an ideal backdrop for Bond’s adventures… and yours, and mine with three films taking in Turkey’s biggest city.

Three’s a charm

Limber up: The next Bond?

And among those countries where Bond has a trio of visits is Hong Kong, Spain, the Bahamas, Scotland, his homeland and Jamaica where Ian Fleming penned the books.

And the West Indies’ biggest island is where we first fell in love with Bond on the Laughing Waters beach in Ocho Rios.

Or Sean Connery to be more precise, even if you were a red-blooded bloke, you actually wanted to be him.

Wear a swimsuit: Craig as Bond

And be with Ursula Andress.

There was much fuss too about Daniel Craig with his take on coming out of the water, ripped and in a pair of budgie smugglers.

Only thing is a budgie has more charisma.

Craig Sera Sera… whatever will be, will be.




Countries, Deals, Europe

Step into Seville

It’s an image we all hold dear of Spain, flamenco dancing, and I would get my fix every year when I would Step into Seville.

My friends Teresa, Maria and Kathryn from the Spanish Tourist Board are legendary in Irish circles for their hospitality.

I’ve ‘run with the bulls’, made pulpo and done the whole Feliz Navidad thing.

And every year the boys from Seville (and girls) would skip into Dublin to put on a very special dancing display.

Flamenco moves

But you try doing it

Of flamenco in the lofty surroundings of Trinity College Dublin.

With our favourite Balearics being messed about on the traffic light system our attentions have switched back to the big peninsula on the left.

Our old faithfuls, Travel Department, are all over Spain and are offering an awesome Andalucian adventure.

Columbus city

Anyone know where we’re going?

You’ll be based in Costa de la Luz which is tucked around the corner from the Straits of Gibraltar.

You’ll take a day trip to explore this old Moorish gem with its impressive cathedral, La Giralda tower and the Alcazar Palace.

Seville is from where Christopher Columbus set off for the New World.

And you thought it was Barcelona from the statue of Chris in Las Ramblas, only he is pointing towards Constantine, Algeria.

Drink it in

Reflections of Valencia

Well, Chris wasn’t the greatest navigator, he’d gone west to try to find the east and India.

To find out more about the famous Genovese take in the Muelle de las Carabelas

You’ll have earned your vino at the end of all that education and that’s just what you’ll get.

And I’m that my Tres Amigas had that on tap at those famous Seville nights.

Deal me in

And, of course there’s oranges

September and October will still be warm in the old city and Travel Department have dates for September 6, October 4 and 22. And next March.

And I’ve drunk too much orange juice

Prices from £799pp for seven nights half board.

So join me and step into Seville and Andalucia.


Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe

Phoenicia Malta

Peter, our guide, is a mongrel, a citizen of Phoenicia Malta…. with British, Italian, Greek and Arab and other blood mingled in.

Phoenicia, you say? Well, we know it from the Bible.

There’s a shipwreck out there: Gozo

Ezekial called these post-Canaanites from today’s Lebanon and Syria ‘the princes of the seas’

And they set foot on Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia, Malta, northern Africa (Morocco) and southern Spain.

Infinity and beyond: Valletta

We see evidence of their impact on the Med in a shipwreck off Gozo, Malta’s little brother.

And in names throughout the archipelago of Malta, Gozo and Comino.

And the Phoenicia Malta hotel which we’re glad to reveal has had a refurb.

The Phoenicia Malta is rightly proud of its 7 and a half acres of gardens which stretch to the walls of capital Valletta.

Phoenicia pleaser

All of which they transformed from an overgrown mini-golf course and which they will use to cultivate vegetables.

And bring them from garden to plate and treat you too to cookery demonstrations.


The emphasis is on peace and relaxation with stunning views of one of the world’s great harbours.

While you’ll be pampered too in the Deep Nature Spa.

Everything in the garden is rosy

And enjoy the infinity Bastion Pool, its poolside menu, chill-out music and waters warmed by the Maltese sun.

With Malta a flagship destination on the UK’s new green list.

In the pink: Elegant repose

Kirker Holidays are offering a three-night break in August from €799pps including flights, private transfers and accommodation with breakfast.

And Kirker Guide notes and the services of the Kirker concierge.

A week’s stay comes in at €1489pps.

With Malta green-lighted the jewel of the Med is the present, the future and the past all rolled into Phoenicia Malta.