Countries, Culture, Europe

Give Greece her Marbles back

And as British leader Rishi Sunak has a huffy and snubs Kyriakos Mitsotakis why won’t Britain give Greece her Marbles back?

Probably because Britain likes to keep what it finds.

Even if that finding involves chiselling Classical friezes away from the original and shipping it away from its Athenian home.

Hills and thrills: The Acropolis

So that you can show it off in a museum along with all the other treasures you’ve purloined from around the world.

Of course Britain isn’t alone in this, it’s just that it’s done more of it than anybody else.

Mitsotakis’s moan

Mona Sassy: And the Greeks share the tude

Now Mitsotakis made a drama out of a crisis when he lyrically expressed what the separation of the Marbles, the other half is in Athens looks like to the world.

That it was akin to ‘cutting the Mona Lisa in two’ and giving one half to a foreign museum.

Now in what is tantamount to art treason and outing myself as a philistine I would tender that I’d rather have my own Tobago mill pic.

British Museum’s stance

One we stole earlier: The British Museum

The Marbles though are a different story in aesthetics, history and longevity.

Which is why the British Museum is so keen not to give them back.

Saying in its defence: ‘Around 50% of the original architectural decoration on the Parthenon is now lost.

‘Having been destroyed over many centuries in the ancient world and later.

‘It is therefore impossible to reconstruct the monument completely or reunite it with its sculptural decoration.’

Which, of course, comes as a great disappointment to our Greek friends.

As they have a spanking museum in their capital, the Acropolis Museum, to reunite the Elgin Marbles with its partner.

Destiny calling

Made in Scotland: Stone of Destiny

Elgin, embarrassingly, a Scot who probably learned his devious ways from his neighbours.

Of course, in this little northern part of this septic isle we call Britain we know all about the light-fingered English.

And how they stole the Stone of Destiny upon which Scottish kings were crowned in 1296 and brought it down to England.

And despite entreaties and a smash and grab by nationalistic students to get it back our English overlords decided to keep it.

Until it was finally handed back to be be houses in Edinburgh Castle in 1996, just a few years before we got her extant parliament back.

Work like a Trojan

Horsing around: To get Marbles back

Now we hope that common decency will prevail over the Elgin, or Parthenon Marbles.

And that it doesn’t take until 2512 for Britain to give back its loot.

But while Rishi Sunak plays Empire Games, backed by champion of anti-returnism Lord Cameron, a different tack is called for.

And as a kiss and make-up gift to sulky Sunak perhaps a Wooden Horse is the way.





Countries, Europe, Flying

Kos they love Heracles

If I’d only paid more attention in my Ancient Greek class I’d know the saga but Kos they love Heracles the Kosians are helping out.

Just like they did back in the hunky Hellenic hero’s day.

The Koans have opened up a new Irish route to their island for the first time from Tuesday, 2 May.

Where you can explore the Dodecanese (that’s 12, so I was listening Mr McCafferty) island’s Herculean history.

The story goes that Hercy and his buddies were driven ashore by a tempest after seizing the girdle of the Amazon Hippolyta.

Where he crossed swords with the renowned athlete Antagoras.

Heracles a her

Robes are us: Heracles


Now we’re familiar with Hera the macho man but it seems he was comfy too with his female side.

And dressed in women’s clothes to protect himself and see off Antagoras.

All of which drew the attention of Chalkiope who drew a veil over Hera donning a wedding dress too for their nuptials.

Chalkiope bore Hera a son, Thessalos, father of Antiphos and Pheidippos.

All for a Greek goddess: Heracles

Who I don’t have to tell you commanded the ten ships that Kos, Nisyros, the Calydnian islands and Kasos sent to the Trojan War.

All of which you can find out whichever Greek odyssey you take in your island hopping.

All of which may be worth reflecting on on your Aer Lingus flight to Kos.

Modern Kos 

Dodecaplease: Kos

And certainly as you curl your tootsies into Kos’s golden sand or tread the old countryside paths Hera once trod.

Heracles is still revered, and rightly so, around these parts.

Where he is a traditional patron-deity of marriage and where poor couples could celebrate their nuptials in his sanctuary.

Modern-day Kos caters too for young romantics.

And we’re advised that Zia is the go-to village for Greek fare restaurants.

The Labours: Of Bandanaman

Where you can enjoy a plate of Pitardia, similar to lasagne.

While Averof Street in Kos Town is known for its fish taverns.

Trad dishes include Pitardia, Lambropites, Posa cheese, Marmarites, Thyme honey.

And Kanelada, a liquor made with cinnamon and Alefaskia, an island herb.

Lingus and Hellas

Fare Lingus: 53 destinations 

While for beach lovers, Lambi is the most popular on the island and Paradise Beach is more remote, but worth exploring.

All the more reason to get on board Aer Lingus’s New route, one of 53 summer excursions.

Kos they love Heracles.


Countries, Europe, UK

Cor phew it’s King Charles

Keep your eyes peeled the next time you’re in Greece because you might just have cause to exhort… Cor phew it’s King Charles!

Because the Greek island of Corfu off the coast of Albania is only the new king and his queen consort Camilla’s favourite holiday bolthole.

And seeing that Charles has probably been around the globe more times than we’ve had hot dinners then it’s worth exploring.

And that is exactly what us honeymooners, the lovesick Mrs M and myself, did 28 years ago.

Little knowing its significance in royal circles.

But getting a glimpse of its idiosyncratic British leanings with its cricket pitch in the capital Corfu city.

Phil’s back yard

Do you want to go to Greece on holiday? Liz and Phil

Royal watchers, of course, know that the Greek island is the home island of Prince Philip.

And that the Duke of Edinburgh had a lifelong love of cricket.

His first born Charles veered more towards polo and skiing and would go off piste on the slopes.

With Verbier in Switzerland a favourite where he spent many of his happiest family times with his sons and Diana.

But it was to Corfu that he took his second wife.

Again those who have been following his life in photographs over these years will recognised his love for Greece.

You dancer

Strictly royal dancing: Chas and Cam


And here Mrs M has a claim to fame as a former Royal Photographer of the Year.

Charles can be seen in kodachrome doing his best Zorba with locals in Crete.

And again that’s obligatory from king to commoner when you holiday on any of the Greek islands.

And yes guilty to that too… I blame the Metaxa brandy.

I dare say that our new King would have handled any water sports rather better than yours truly.

As I ended up swallowing large gulpfuls of the Aegean.

Aberdeen love retreat

My Aberdeen castle: Well Huntly and it’s someone else’s

Now while the future King and his Queen Consort chose Corfu as their love getaway, it wasn’t where they honeymooned.

That was in Birkhall in Aberdeenshire.

And where did we return to from our honeymoon in Corfu… only Aberdeen where we lived and loved (too much information) for four years.

And where I had studied and started my first scribblings as editor of the student newspaper Gaudie.

Before going on to meet my beloved, a photographer on my first paid-for newspaper in Reading, Berkshire… just down the road from Charles’s childhood home.

I guess we’re due to meet then on holiday where yes, the corny side will get the better of me and I’ll exhort Cor phew, it’s Charles.





Countries, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Toasting Veganuary with a Vegan and Tonic.

A popular meme for a vegan’s favourite meal shows a tray of ice but that’s a cheap shot and I’m toasting Veganuary with a Vegan and Tonic.

The Vegan and Tonic is the creation of Fentimans… well, the Indian tonic anyway.

Tonic for the troops: Fentimans

Whether this was the oul Greek Pythagoras’s tipple of choice when he was working out his theorem this shows Veganism isn’t a modern fad.

Ancients’ way of life

Laying out your stall: Kythera

The ancient world is a good place to start.

It’s accepted that they would eat fish, eggs from quails and hens, and cheese but they hoovered up veg too.

Legumes, olives, figs arugula (no, me neither), asparagus, cabbage, carrots and cucumbers.

So it isn’t a big jump to think that Pythagoras who philosophised and expounded about human rights as well as hypotenuses was a vegan.

After all his followers weren’t allowed to wear wool either.

So long before Briton Donald Watson is said to have coined the word in 1944 the ancients were going vegan.

All around the world 

Veggies rule: Turkish Airlines Business Lounge, Istanbul Airport

The Indian Subcontinent has historically been the bedrock of vegetarianism.

With the likes of philosophers Parshavnatha and Mahavira preaching what we would consider to be the vegan life.

We know, of course, too that what the Greeks started the Romans took on and ran with.

And so for every Pythagoras and Plutarch there was an Ovid and Pliny the Younger.

All of which permeates the Med, Aegean, Middle Eastern (note the Arab poet al Ma’ari poet), North African and Subcontinent diets to this day.

Brand new

Veggie heaven: Jordan

Fentimans is the go-to provider and guide for eating, drinking and clothing yourself in Veganism.

And as we all know when you’re drinking you always get the nibbles.

And so you’ll want to try these snacks:

Co-op Bacon Rashers.
McCoy’s Ultimate Sizzling BBQ ChickenUltimate Chargrilled Steak and Peri Peri McCoy’s.
Walkers Prawn Cocktail.
Smokey Bacon Hula Hoops.

Student life

Dig in: Pot noodles

While for students everywhere…

Bombay Bad Boy

Brazilian BBQ Steak 

Chinese Chow Mein 

Piri Piri Chicken 
Beef and Tomato
BBQ Pulled Pork
Jerk Chicken
Sticky Rib
Sweet & Sour
Asian Street Style Japanese Miso Noodle Soup

Wear it well

Packet in: Crispaholic
And, yes, I promised you vegan fashion…
Well, what about the Dr Martens vegan collection they launched in 2011.
Now, I’m not one myself but I know more and more and it’s you I’m thinking of toasting Veganuary with a Vegan and Tonic.

Matthew’s Canaries

Canaries life: With Matthew in Tenerife
And while we’re here let’s give a shout-out here to my old mucker and vegan evangelist Matthew Hirtes from my Tenerife trip.
And Canaries-based Matthew has forgotten more about vegan life in those islands than we’ll ever know.
Thankfully he and the Dreams Abroad team where I was Editor continue to show us a world where veganism has an exalted place.


Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

Let there be light today Saturnalia and Apollo

On this day of days let there be light today Saturnalia and Apollo.

And as we share best wishes to all our friends and family around the world to Pope Gregory and my Greek buddy Evi from Athens and Kythera expeditions.

For it was Greg who set this date (kinda) as Christmas Day.

And Evi who reminded us, like everything in Western civilisation, that its roots are Greek.

All Greek to me

Greeks are the word: With Evi in Kythera

Dies Natalis Invicti Solis as astrophysicist Dionysis P. Simopoulou probably says today.

Dionysi who? Well, only that Dionysius, the honorary director of Evgenidius Planitarios, which is the Athens Planetarium.

Take it away Dionysius who tells us in The Sky of Greece…

The sky is the limit

High V: That’s V in Classic.

‘December as one may see it, is inseparable linked to celebrating Christmas on the 25th.

‘The gentleman, in fact, reason that made the Church to identify the celebration of Christmas on December 25 is the attempt of the Fathers, as Pope Gregory, states…

‘To gradually convert the festivities of Nationals into Christians.

‘Since December 25th was for Rome the central celebration of the Saturnalian and the birth of the “Sunlightless”, known as Dies Natalis Invicti Solis.

‘At the same time, the ancient Greeks celebrated the Chronos (dedicated to the Chronos) and the Dionysia.

‘As well as theophants or surface of the solar god Phoivos – Apollo.’

Now you don’t have to be a Latin and Ancient Greek scholar to follow where he’s going with theophants or Phoivos.

Heaven help us

Apollo was here: Probably

Only to say that just like the Maji 2,000 odd years ago we look to the heavens at this time of year.

Or for Santa and his sleigh.

OK, it’s not The Nativity Story or Elf but Dionysius is onto something here.

Whatever is up there has brought us here in the first place.

And isn’t it exciting and poignant that today is the day the James Webb telescope is launched from the European Space Centre?

In French Guiana (no, me neither!)

But we should look to the skies, as I did in Tenerife, and who needs a reason, but it’s calming and humbling.

Happy Evi after

Where the Greeks pray: Happy Christmas

And Evi’s words here… ‘In nature, these days, light always begins to record its first small victories, minute by minute, on the every power of the night..

‘I hope so true light enters our lives, expelling the darkness of the false.

‘Even when it is combined with the most loved sheep.

‘Let there be light! Many years to come, Health and Prosperity!’

And mine’s too… Let there be light today Saturnalia and Apollo.

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.









Countries, Europe, Music

Zorba the Greek (or Cretan)

And they’ll be kicking their legs up on Mount Olympus to greet the composer of Zorba the Greek (or Cretan) and doing a Syrtaki.

Mikis Theodarakis has joined the Gods after taking leave of this Earth at the grand old age of 96.

He leaves a lasting legacy and, of course, an enduring piece of Greek culture which has been played out to millions of tourists since the film was shown 57 years ago.

Magic wand: Mikis.

The first time I witnessed the Syrtaki was in romantic circumstances on honeymoon in Corfu.

And despite being an Ancient Greek scholar (no it wasn’t a State establishment!) I didn’t know its history.

Now I could dance around the subject and try and dupe you into believing I actually knew what I was talking about.

Or I could just point you in the direction of this Aussie website, Calopedos music.

Greek diaspora

Take a bow: Zorba the Greek

Now that Australia should be a reference point for all things Hellenic may be a surprise to some but the land Down Under became a magnet to Greeks.

And Melbourne is in fact the second most populous city in the world.

I have first-hand experience of the links from visiting the island of Kythera in Attica.

And the Aussie couple retracing their ancestors’ steps.

And I learned that half the island had headed to Australia.

Anyway back to Calopedos for the skinny on Syrtaki and Crete and Hellas.

And I quote..

Toga party: And now for the dance

The Zorba, is traditionally called the Syrtaki, and is danced to a style of song called the Hasapiko, or a faster version known as Hasaposerviko.

In Byzantine, and Ottoman-ruled Greece, the Hasapis was the butcher.

And if one was a member of the Butchers Guild, the dance would be performed to the tune of the Tamburas (the modern bouzouki’s grandfather).

The dance was originally performed by men.

They held onto each other with aprons, napkins, and one leader of the dance holding the Butcher’s knife.

The dance during became a war dance amongst partisans fighting Turkish oppression.

But eventually when Greece settled into Ottoman occupation the dance became somewhat of a cultural novelty across the empire.

Deal us in 

The Acropolis, Greece

Now, I’ve been perfecting my moves in the last year during lockdown.

While there has ben plenty of plate smashing from the Scary One.

I join in but only to cut down on the amount of dishes needing washing and putting away.

But I am ready to get back out to the wonderfully chaotic and enchanting Greece and its wonderful people.

And ready to enjoy its islands, each of which has a proud identity of its own.

With TUI offering holidays from £255pps. 

Live the music: And everyone can get involved

And a bit of advice here… they’re Cretans, and not Cretins.

Cretins, as an insult, has an involved history, and again I’m letting somebody else do the heavy lifting, my fellow blogger Masculine Christianity. 

While I sit back and give a passing reference to Mozart and Salzburg, no less, who brings it to our prominence. 

Do yourself a favour, rent out the film, leave yourself room for a dance.

And toast Mikos with an Ouzo and Zorba the Greek (or Cretan).



Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Cassidy’s Sundance Kids

My Dear Old Mum would visit the same Travel Agent every year to book our family holiday and I’m sure it’s the same for Cassidy’s Sundance Kids.

Cassidy, as all in Ireland know, is the country’s biggest independent Travel Agent.

And it has made generations of holidaymakers dreams come true.

Which is why families continue to go back to them again and again to book their holidays.

Now there have been many heroes over this Covid year and a half and our health workers, teachers…

And heck, all of us should take a bow.

But I’d like to give a shout-out to our Travel Providers who have often worked without pay and in their own time.

And all to make sure customers get away or are refunded or have their holidays rescheduled.

Now there are those who say that getting away is not a matter of life and death.

But if self-isolation (and the Son and Heir is facing that just now) has taught us anything it is that humans do not belong caged up.

And so we are delighted to report that Cassidy Travel’s doors are open and filling our inboxes with their offers.

And so without further ado…

On trend

Last year’s blond: ‘The Donald’ in New York

Here’s where they want to take us and I’m indebted to the awesome Aileen who has taken over babysitting us Travel professionals.

Here are the trends (as the kids say):

The late Autumn deals, New York and Las Vegas shopping breaks, Christmas markets, Lapland, Christmas and New Year Sun.

Take a breath…

New Year and January Ski, Cruising, Florida 2022 and Villa Holidays.

And, yes please to them all.

But we’ll pare some of them down to these Three Cheers.

Ola Barcelona

To the Lord: At Gaudi’s centrepiece La Sagrada

We all know Barcelona in the summer where it’s hot, hot, hot.

And I’m sure I’m still the subject of the proud, brusque Catalan waitress who I managed to draw a smile from when I asked for a hot chocolate on the hottest day of the hottest heatwave.

Thankfully we got to take to the water for a cruise stop.

flights and 3 nights accommodation at the 3*Hotel Leo for the incredible price of €149pp (based on two people sharing)!

Flight departs Dublin 13th and returning 16th October 2021.

Call Cassidy Travel on 01 8901000 or book in one of their 10 stores across Dublin.

You’re a Celebrity too

On Celebrity Cruises’ Edge

And Celebrity Edge is the ultimate in cruising with its floating tender… and yes, love me tender.

Cassidy will get you on board for a scoot around Italy and Greece aboard next summer 2022.

Get on this deal for seven nights in an interior cabin including full board.

Plus Always Included Promotion Classic Drinks package, internet package and tips for only €1929pp.

Setting sail from Rome and visiting Naples and the stunning Greek islands of Santorini, Rhodes & Mykonos,

And phinally Phuket

Phuket, we’ll finish with a land, Thailand, and resort, Phuket, where I sent many a young adventurer and page designer and scuba diver Podge in my time as a commissioning editor.

Cassidy has 50% savings included for a ten-night stay in the 4* Old Phuket Karon Beach Resort from only €998pp for next May.

Stay in a Deluxe Sino Wing room, beautiful period accommodation influenced by Sino-Portuguese architecture.

And enjoy the magnificent pool, mountain views and beach side bars.

Prices are based on two sharing and include flights, taxes, private transfers and hotel accommodation.

Book by September 30 to avail of this amazing deal!

And aren’t these all good reasons to pitch Cassidy’s Sundance Kids.