Caribbean, Countries

TUI can play underwater in Cancun

I’m dangerous enough above ground so how I’d fare among the watery statues is a scary thought now TUI can play underwater in Cancun again.

I will go peaking into the ocean depths again… and maybe soon enough.

Water surprise: Under Cancun

And that would certainly give me the shot of confidence I’d need to explore Cancun’s underwater museum.

It’s hard to think my forebears emerged from the sea when you consider my attempts at snorkelling.

Snorkel shmorkel

Right behind you pal: Snorkelling

I hurt myself more than scared the heroes in a half-shell when I cut my feet on the coral in Kuramathi in the Maldives.

Then I went chasing them twice in Barbados off our catamaran.

Though to be fair the first time my rum breath probably put the turtles off.

Turtley awesome

Ruby do: With Ruby in Barbados

I did see me Mr and Mrs Turtle on my return a year later.

And I hope they’ll remember me when I roll into Bim in the next couple of days for their Barbados Celtic Festival.

More of which when I negotiate the myriad regs required to clear the gates.

Do the Cancun

Maraca catta: In Cancun

Cancun, where we started talking about snorkelling today is a favourite Caribbean destination for Americans and Europeans.

And as well as being a great party hotspot it boasts something rare in its Underwater Museum of Art.

Now, this does exactly what it says on the tin, though that would be like no tin you’ve ever seen before.

Under the sea

Full steam ahead: Driving the boat

Musamexico.org suggests a choice of scuba diving options.

A snorkel at the gallery of Punta Nizuc at $47 or a glass-bottom boat snorkel paradise adventure for the same price.

Well, you pays your money and takes your choice and my choice is the glass-bottomed boat.

It was a great view of shipwrecks off Barbados and Malta.

And I dare say it would have been the best compromise in Jordan where my bushy moustache clogged my nasal passages.

And The Scary One did badger me to tidy up my beardie before I left for Barbados this time.

TUI Mex my day

Get ahead: Wear a hat

If you do want to check out the underwater statues then TUI has non-stop flights from Dublin to Cancun from next June.

So pencil into your calendar… every Monday from June 5 for seven weeks.

That’s a fortnight at any one of their range of more than 70 hotels along the Caribbean Coast.

Adult prices at the Riu Lupita, Playacar on an All Inclusive basis for 14 nights from €1,799 per person. Booking deposit is from €150 per person.

So yes, TUI can play underwater in Cancun.

 

 

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe

Greek vaccine passports

The lyrically named Haris Theoharis brings good news to us lockdown travellers… the carrot of summer holidays to Greece.

The Greek Tourism minister spoke to our public rather than at them like our politicians do when he spoke on British radio this week.

And Haris echoed what I’ve been saying for weeks…

“We don’t want to limit travel to those who have been vaccinated of course, but since we are mandating that before travelling someone has to have a negative test result, this is a waste of resources if people are vaccinated, to be tested every time they travel, the need for this testing could be limited by the vaccination certificate,” he said.

All of which makes perfect sense.

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

All arrivals into Greece have to present a negative Covid test taken within a 72-hour window, while arrivals from the UK have to undergo a rapid test on arrival as well.

Having bought and then undergone a home test before travelling to the European Covid gateway of Bergamo in the Autumn I can verify that this is best practice.

And guess what, I wore my masks, cleaned my hands, kept my social distance just like all the other Bergamaschi and returned with barely a germ.

Greek leaders

Of course, I’m not holding my breath that we will be allowed what is our right, not a privilege, to be able to travel.

The cats don’t know about Covid

But when we do, and if initially it is only Greece, then I’m mighty glad it is as I could travel this ancient country all my days. Just like Odysseus.

The year 2021 is a very special one too for the Greeks as it is the bicentennial of the 1821 Revolution which saw them extricate themselves from the Ottoman Empire.

Out of their tree but I love them

It is just the Greeks’ bad luck, and they have had plenty of that in recent years, that the bicentennial should fall during a pandemic.

But these stoical (it is a Greek root and concept) people of ancient stock have been ploughing on regardless and will mark March 25 with pride and as much ceremony as they can.

Pick your venue

When we do get up and travelling again you’ll find me somewhere on Greece.

Be it Athens, one of its islands, Kythera, the second city Thessaloniki, or any of the other islands (Corfu was our honeymoon island).

I’ll keep the Greek flag flyng high

And when I do, of course, I will be contacting one my go-to providers, my old faithfuls TUI who are promoting holidays there from £188pp.

You  know the story by now of me starting off my scribblinh career with the old Thomson Regional Newspapers which was an arm of their travel business.

No training or skill goes to waste. But I still have to master my Zorba dancing and I know where to go to to practise.

 

 

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Feliz Navi(dancing)dad

Christmas parties this year are very different from what we’re used to… but Feliz Navi(dancing)dad all the same.

The Spanish Christmas party in Dublin is always the highlight of the festive season in Ireland.

But this year scenes like this are for our social media retros.

And like a good Christmas movie they fill us with warmth and love for old friends.

The Three Wise Women

Hat’s the way to do it: With the sainted Teresa, Travel doyen Eoghan Corrie and Travel Corporation’s Sharon Jordan

Teresa, Sara and Kathryn, from the Tourist Board, were always the Three Wise Women of any Dublin Yuletide when I lived there.

While they would send us back into the cold and wet Irish night, filled with Spanish festive food and drink.

The Reyes Magos

The tradition is that the Reyes Magos, the Three Wise Men, look after the bambinos.

And as you can see they were the back-up act for our Three Wise Women and always made sure we got a gift,

TUI for two

Stick your toe in: The TUI Suneo

Our friends at TUI also look after us, and they have these deals for us for the New Year.

In our beloved Canary Islands.

Seven nights self/catering, Dublin to Tenerife on February 2, staying at the 3* Suneo Tamaimo Tropical, Puerto De Santiago,

Harbouring dreams of Tenerife

From €459pps (Covid cover and free amendments included).

Or stay half/board seven nights at the 3*+ Hotel Catalonia Las Vegas, Puerto de la Cruz from €499pps and also with Covid cover.

And Lanzarote too

Child’s play: Lanzarote is ideal for families too

While Lanzarote on February 4 comes in at €409pps for seven nights self/catering at the 3*+ Cinco Plazas, Puerto del Carmen (Covid cover included).

It’s just what we all need for the New Year… I feel one of my oul’ walks coming along.

I’m a bit of a Portugeezer too

I’m beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Now there is a story behind this… when my old boss asked if I would get my beardie pimped up for a Christmas story.

And I had been invited to the Portugal Christmas lunch that day too,

Of course the greening of the beatdie and the red Santa hat meant I was showcasing the colours of the Portuguese flag.

Portugal has always held a special place in my heart since my first holiday there, a childhood one in 1973.

Centro beach: Portugal

That’s been followed by our first summer holiday together in the Algarve, the magical trip to Fatima and Portugal Centro nine months after that Christmas lunch.

And a sports trip two years ago when Jidy Murray taught me to play tennis… and dance!

America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Bring on the Nashville New Year

We Scots like to claim New Year’s Eve as our own but, in truth, it’s freezing and can be samey too which is why I’ll be seeing out 2020 with a Nashville New Year

Better Tennessee than Tillicoutry I say which sounds like a Country song, which I’ll give to my old pal Keith Urban.

Nashville’s finest came to town pre-Covid, Dublin town and treated us all like Country royalty as part of Country To Country.

Country roads: In Dublin

And Keith, who headlined the Nashville New Year big bash, was front and centre of ours, putting a Grafton Street busker on stage.

And giving a random fan one of his guitars.

Nashville meets Dublin

The good old boys in Nashville are not letting this pesky bug stop the music in Music City, or us hearing it.

Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight New Year’s Eve in Nashville from 4.30pm-5pm on WTVF-NewsChannel 5.

Country boy Jimmy

And see what I’m doing there getting a second shot at the Bells because they’re earlier.

Local favourites Moon Taxi, described as ‘a little indy, a little proggy, a little poppy, will play for 40 minutes just before midnight.

Jazz, soul and R&B combo The Shindelles will play a 20-minute set earlier.

Music to the ears and so will the green light, when it comes, to get back out to Nashville, Music City.

A better Canaries New Year

Saltire In Tenerife

And we’re not letting the latest UK block on the Canaries (they’re back off the exempt list)) spoil our hopes that we will be able to get out there again soon.

And as usual our friends at TUI are ahead of the curve.

With seven nights from December 28 at the 3* Rocamar Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria, self-catering from €579pps (Covid cover included).

While Dublin to Lanzarote from December 31 at the 3* Cincos Plazas, Puerto del Carmen, self-catering from €409pps (Covid Car included.)

MEET YOU IN THE NEW YEAR

Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Oh Diana! And she liked a Sunny Beach too

She was more Barbados than Bulgaria but Oh Diana, you did like a Sunny Beach.

And what does this possibly have to do with TUI?


And their Black Friday savings of €250 per booking, running from yesterday (my birthday, and thank you) with free amends on Black Friday bookings.

The BLK100 will save you €100 when you spend €1,000, BLK175 €175 when you fork out €2,500 and BLK259 for a spend of €3,500.

Great Aunt Bulgaria

Well, Bulgaria was where we, as a family, took refuge from the cloying, smothering public grief for Princess Diana back in 1997.

Little did we know when we booked our TUI holiday earlier in the summer, and every year then, we’d be leaving behind us a country in an emotional breakdown.

It could, of course, been any sunspot that gave us respite.

But this being Eastern Europe and only a few years after the Iron Curtain there was a sense that She wasn’t the saint here that she was in the West.

Socialistites

They had problems of their own trying to develop a more capitalist society out of state-controlled Socialism.

And it was all too evident on the Black Sea beaches where Russian writing was scrolled on the changing room doors.

And in the main square in Bulgaria’s second city, Varna,, where a customer in front of us in the bank handed over his gun on entry.

While outside old Eastern European women in shawls, baggy jumpers, grey skirts and brown shoes lined the square.

Scales of justice

All with weighing scales in front of them. All of which made me wonder how the old women in the middle ever made a living.

And why this was even a thing.

Happy as a sand boy

Money was tight, obviously, and the driver who took us to Sebastopol waited there all day to collect us.

And turned up at our hotel the next day early asking if he could take us back.

But while it was dear for the locals on Bulgarian wages it was great value for tourists.

Save for another day

And one British couple we met had saved so much on their previous Bulgarian holiday that year they had come back that September for more.

Water thrill: The Aquahotel

We returned, of course, to a Britain grieving vicariously for an idol most had never met.

Not Diana’s fault but an excess of self-indulgence all the same and one well captured in the latest Netflix series of The Crown.

Diana days

Diana’s death and funeral were times we, all of us who lived through them, can remember specifically where we were.

And should you feel the need to jump ship and get out from new madness in the UK then Bulgaria is still a haven and great value.

And particularly with TUI who are offering seven nights all-inclusive on July 5 at the 4* Aqua Hotel Nevis, Sunny Beach.

It’s a deal

Dublin to Bulgaria from 2+1 €2339, 2+2 €3199 (both prices include a free child place).

All part of my old friends‘ Black Friday package of deals for 2021 to signal next year’s bounce back.

Worth weighting for!

Countries, Europe, Ireland, Pilgrimage

Sono Spartacus and Failte Ireland

What a joyless and jealous species we can be.

A hard-working man takes his family on holiday abroad and breaks no laws.

And is shamed into giving up his job, his passion, his skill and his livelihood.

I am talking here about Failte Ireland Chairman Michael Cawley.

The Francigena Way

About whom Ireland’s Tourism Minister Catherine Martin (no, me neither) said…

She was ‘disappointed to learn that the chair of Failte Ireland was holidaying in Italy.’

Before going on: ‘While Italy is on the green list, meaning that people who return from there do not have to restrict their movements…

‘The government has called on people to avoid all non-essential travel.’

IMG_0841.jpeg
Ah Venice

And still more: ‘Many of our citizens and residents have followed the guidelines at some personal and financial cost to themselves.’

Before sticking the knife right in: ‘I rang Mr Cawley this morning and he has offered his resignation which I have accepted.

‘I wish to thank Mr Cawley for his service as chair of Failte Ireland.

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I’ll be back: The Trevi Fountain

So Michael Cawley broke no laws nor in fact did anything unethical or any harm to anybody.

Other than those naysayers who do not like the idea of somebody else having what they don’t.

While a Government purporting to represent its people leaves its own Travel industry up the creek without a paddle and facing a complete collapse.

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Sono Romano

So the message here is support your local travel agent.

Your Top Flight, your TUI, your Sunway, your Francigena Ways and go to Italy I have, and did again, and will do in the future.

And if anyone wants to shame you Michael about going on holiday to Italy, do what I’d do and tell them Vaffanculo.

 

 

 

Asia, Cruising, Deals

Cruiseday Tuesday – Transatlantic

I think I’ve mentioned before that in the Fifties my three uncles swapped the metropolis of Glasgow for that little town on the Hudson, New York.

Their ship though wouldn’t have been the type of floating pleasure palace we have now.

Take Celebrity Summit and Click&Go’s www.clickandgo.com 15-night Transatlantic cruise from €2199pp.

Magical island: Iceland

Departing on August 16 from Dublin, Summit will visit Cork Akuyeyri and Reykjavik (overnight).

Before heading up to Prins Christian Sund and Qawortoq, Greenland and Sydney (I never knew) Nova Scotia and then Boston.

With an overnight stay in Beantown where I spent a summer living in the Combat Zone… you’ll be in the comfort zone.

Before being flown home.

All on board

Now I’ve been here before only Majorca was the destination rather than the starting point Smooth sailing around the Western Med.

TUI though are starting you off in Palma and zipping you around Piombino (for Siena and Pisa).

Temples everywhere: Bangkok

Back in Bangkok, you’ll jump onto a flight to Phuket and check into Paradise Resort on Koh Yao Island for the remainder of the trip.

The locals ought to know the way

You’ll have the services of a local English-speaking guide.

Air-conditioned support vehicle, bike hire, flight from Bangkok to Phuket, all entry costs and attractions listed on the itinerary.

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe

Cruiseday Tuesday – Beethoven cruise

It was the classical music of my childhood days – the Beethoven tune that played out from my Mum’s jewellery box.

Beethoven’s Fur Therese. Come again… should that not be Fur Elise?

Well, no, if you plump for Therese Mulfati as the most likely candidate for Elise ahead of Elisabeth Rockel and Elise Barensfeld.

Light up: Strasbourg

Which I am with my Mum a Teresa who in her poetic youth styled herself Therese.

All of which stuff and nonsense brings me around to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

Amsterdam tales

Take a river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel.

Taking in Ludwig’s house in Bonn, a live concert in Amsterdam’s Dominicus church.

Call (0808) 115 832 or email sales@amadeus-riveramadeuscruises.co.uk.

Majorca corker

There’s a ship out there

Where was your first cruise and did it live up to expectations?

Mine’s was Majorca. It’s in the mists of history now but warm in my memory.

And soon to be part of your cruising experience too after I found some old cuttings in my early Spring clean…. Smooth sailing around the Western Med

Which I’ll write up for you once The Scary One gives me a coffee break.

But back to Majorca and my old friends TUI have savings of €200 per booking on sailings from May-October.

Highlights of the Mediterranean: Dublin to Majorca. Board the Marella Discovery for seven nights all-inclusive and enjoy an inside cabin from €1029. For May 2.

Harbour your dreams

Colourful Coasts: Dublin to Tenerife. On the Marella Explorer in an inside cabin. All-inclusive. Seven nights from €992pps.

Visit www.tuiholidays.ie.

And here’s a reminder of what a wonderful island Tenerife is A walk through the ages… Tenerife: you’ll really want to stay longer.

So, where was your first cruise and was it your best? Let me know and we’ll share the love.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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