Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Holiday Snaps – the Venice ghetto

Much has been made about how Venice has been allowed to breathe again.

As the crowds have eased with dolphins leaping in the Grand Canal and mermaids sitting by the Rialto Bridge.

Of course, in spite of what everyone says you can get away from the crowds in St Mark’s Square.

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Walking on water: From the annals

One obvious place to go is a church and don’t worry if you’re not religious you’ll be bowled over by the art.

While you can leave the young (and old) lovers on their gondolas while you retreat for a bit of history in the Jewish ghetto.

Although you won’t make the same mistake and turn up on their Sabbath, Saturday.

Anyhoos, while there is never a bad time to go to Venice, there are some great deals just now.

With Ireland’s national airline carrier Aer Lingus offering Dublin-Venice from €29.99 for travel until November 30. Book by September 14.

Hitting the slopes again

location-vacances-residence-le-sequoia-pyrenees-2000-PYL_62148_34
Snow business: In the Pyrenees

I can rarely be accused of not keeping my social distancing on the slopes… I’ve usually veered off piste, heading obviously for a fall.

But, of course, like everywhere and everything the ski industry has had to adapt to this virus, and they are.

And the good news for the punter is that they are bending over backwards (a bit like me in a heap on the snow) to lure us back on the slopes.

Pierre & Vacances have ‘a new flexible rate’ only requires a €1 deposit to book.

And you can cancel free of charge if you change your mind.

They also have an early booking offer with savings of up to 20% for all winter dates.

For bookings until September 23 while they pledge to refund the difference if you find it cheaper elsewhere.

You want a deal? Of course you do and this a Christmas one too.

You’ll get seven nights at the Residence Le Sequoia in Font-Romeu in the Pyrenees down from €609 to €488 from December 19-26.

That man Van again

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Put your hat on it: Van Morrison at the Europa

And this is tailor-made for social distancing, Van Morrison in a cabaret setting at the Europa Hotel, Belfast, which I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.

The concerts will take place over three nights on October 29, 30 and 31.

Tickets which you can get from Ticketmaster will be sold in pairs or by tables of eight and the maximum number at each show will be 184.

You’ll get a drinks reception beforehand (remember them!) and a two-course supper.

Prices for the first two rows are available at £250pp, or £2,000 for a table of eight.

And all other tickets are £150pp or £1,2000 per table of eight.

8And there are a host of attractions on the doorstep.

If you can pull yourself away from the nearby Crown Bar such as the excellent Ulster Museum, Grand Opera House and Titanic Belfast.

 

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying

Hanging on their Croattails

Are you British, Irish, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch… well, we’re hanging on their Croattails?

As we all mourn the heavy-handed shutdown of Spain and particularly its islands…

Isn’t it reassuring that Croatia is open to 30 European countries?

Sun-kissed

Maybe though not tell Boris Johnson that Forbes has flagged up Croatia (27.8 cases per 100,00) as one of the safest European destinations.

Your own Croat island

Or that Croatia has 617 islands, because he’d only pick them off as he has the Canaries and the Balearics.

I dipped my toe in Croatia although alas not its islands nor indeed Dubrovnik but that’s another story.

If you’re travelling from Ireland go with Croatia Tours through Split as I did on my way to Medjugorje with its sister firm Marian Pilgrimages

And here don’t we know that Ireland’s national airlines carrier Aer Lingus will save me from myself by flying me straight to Dubrovnik’s front door from €39.99.

What’s the Croat deal?

As luck would have it we have some Croatian deals here for you.

pexels-photo-2265878

British Airways has three routes to Croatia to Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, with flights from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Ryanair has also resumed flights from London Stansted to Pula twice a week, and to Rijeka once a week.

And because we love an island… Losinj, known as a healing resort, can be reached by private plane or luxury car transfer with Losinj Hotels & Villas.

pexels-photo-286758

From many European airports, with Pula, Rijeka and Zagreb the closest options.

You’ll want to check out the Boutique Hotel Alhambra, an Austro-Hungarian Art Nouveau villa built in 1912 in Art Nouveau style.

And which also boasts the world-class Alfred Keller Restaurant which specialises in seasonal and local produce.

Spend fur nights at the Boutique Hotel Alhambra and enjoy one complimentary night from €954 (£866) based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Park Side Room for B&B. Valid for stays until October 3, subject to availability,

 

Asia, Countries, Europe, Flying

Flyday Friday – Turkish d’flight out of Dublin

You know they’re smiling behind their masks… and why wouldn’t they? Because Turkish Airlines are back flying us out of Dublin.

And believe me they’re a delight.

I have fond memories of being met by Mr Turkish Airlines wwwa.turkishairlines.ie Onur Gul at their desk before being flown out to exotic destinations… https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/amp/ and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

They’ll be flying twice a week for the remainder of this month and four times weekly in July.

I do hope that we’ll not stop talking to our fellow passengers just because we’re wearing masks.

I’ve met some lovely and fascinating people on flights.

Sweet dreams

And the odd Manchester United fan in TA’s famed business class with whom I’ve slept tops and tails and who has snored their head off.

You know who you are, Brian http://www.kuramathi.ie.

Virgin territory

Passengers are a bit like needy lovestruck teenagers… stick with me here.

We need constant reassurance and validation.

And I’m happy to say that our airlines have been using this lockdown to tell us how much they love us.

I know, and love Virgin, from my fact-finding research trips to the Caribbean www.visitbarbados.org, www.visittobago.gov.tt and Let’s rumba in Barbados, My kiss with Rihanna and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

And I am delighted that they have been keeping us members of their Flying Club up to speed with how we’ll all be taking to the skies again soon.

Come August they’ll be planning to return to 17 destinations.

They’re all available to book now along with flights from New York JFK, Los Angeles and Hong Kong to London Heathrow, starting from July 20.

And here’s what to do when you get there, https://www.virginatlantic.com, www.visitlondon.com and The London life and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/29/carole-king-youre-beautiful-londonwestend-musical/amp/.

Departing Edinburgh

No, I haven’t persuaded The Scary One to leave the delights of North Berwick near Edinburgh, I’m merely flagging up Edinburgh Airport’s http://www.edinburghairport.com reopened destinations.

Edinburgh was the last airport I flew out of … to Prague www.czechtourism.com way back in February. Yes years ago Hope springs eternal.

And I’m glad to say they’re now flagging up other old favourites back on the schedule.

Budapest, Malaga, Alicante and Barcelona https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/ and Messi around on the water . And Smooth sailing around the Western Med.

And anybody who has flown out of Dublin Airport and then Edinburgh http://www.edinburgh.org  and Edinburgh – an old friend will be comforted by the comparative smallness of the Scottish version.

Taking to the Aer

And the last word is to back Aer Lingus’s www.aerlingus.com stance on the Irish Government’s latest direction of travel on quarantines.

While welcoming the lifting of the restrictions from July 9, they merely want clarity until then.

As one who would gladly queue overnight to get back, I echo their call. And all my airline friends who we appreciate even more, if that’s possible, now we’ve been seeing them less Flyday Friday – Airline angels with wings 

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland

Flyday Friday – Etihad and Emirates

Their colours are unmistakable – the superstars of the Etihad and Emirates.

Only I’m not talking about the footballers of Manchester City and Arsenal here but the staff.

And guess who only put the wrong picture on the wrong airline… I think I’d had too many shandies at a liquid lunch.

Of course plane spotters and frequent fliers know that it’s chocolate brown and purple for Etihad www.emirates.com.

And cream and red for Emirates www.etihad.com.

Emirates rates

Ready for take-off

But I’m not here to talk about airline uniforms, though there would be no harm in it, and I will get back to you on that.

More importantly these behemoths of the skies are only getting us flying again.

Emirates will begin flying to and from Dublin from June 15.

In the frame

Among 16 other cities to Dubai, the others being Bahrain, Manchester, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, New York JFK, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong, Perth and Brisbane.

Check Emirates’ website for conditions and prices and keep updated on Ireland’s travel rules.

All’s well that ends well

Welcome on board

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than aboard an Etihad airplane in Dublin Airport.

Getting the full VIP treatment and winning air miles. Only I haven’t cashed them in yet.

But I will when the Scary One lets me get travelling again… and, no it’s nothing to do with COVID.

I’m eating alone

There’s always a big welcome from our friends at Etihad and they have introduced Wellness Ambassadors to deal with your every flying need.

Aer Lingus, the model airline

I’m flying the flag

I’ve spent many a happy afternoon in the company of Ireland’s national airline carrier Aer Lingus https://www.aerlingus.com/html/home.html.

They showcased their own livery rebrand and new uniforms in the last couple of years.

And they continue to keep us occupied and enamoured with foreign destinations.

Virtually for now such as through Seattle and the Olympic National Park.

Green for go

And the brilliant blue water blue water at Lake Crescent and hiking routes through Hoh Rain Forest only make us more impatient to get on that flight out to Seattle.

See www.visitseattle.org and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/category/deals/.

Now back to my lockdown indulgence, my complete series of Frasier.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Countries, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Portuguese men (and women) of awe

I’ll let you into a little secret… and I know all the right people! Portugal will be the country we’ll all be visiting first when we come out of lockdown.

No, it wasn’t Maria dos Anjos, the niece of the last Little Shepherd of Fatima, who told me though she probably knew this already, and that COVID-19 was coming.

I consider myself partially responsible for not sharing the impending pandemic.

No, not Maria dos Anjos

Because Maria was trying to tell me something of import back in 2018. It’s just that my Portuguese stretches to Obrigado and Obrigada.

Which, going off on a tangent, my Dear Old Dad loved to screech out long after we’d returned from the Algarve.

Susana mirabilis

We all have Susana Cardoso, the Director of Portuguese Tourism in Ireland http://www.visitportugal.com to thank for giving us a preview of what Portugal will look like in the coming months.

Venice of Portugal: Aveiro

And the good news is that we will all hopefully be able to see first hand with September slated as the month…

When Irish visitors will all be reacquainting themselves with an old and trusted friend.

Yes Portugal, and for me also the best guide a man or woman could have, and that man and woman is me and the Scary One.

Splendid self-isolation in a castle

The one and only Jose Madomis https://www.madomistours.pt, the Special One, who showed off his beloved Coimbra and Portugal Centro.

When September comes

The end of the year is a great time to go.

Autumn/Winter is still warm as I discovered on my most recent visits to Portugal Centro and The Campus https://www.thecampusqdl.com/en/about/ https://www.quintadolago.com/en/ at Quinta do Lago , Secret Portugal and SPORTUGAL.

My boat comes in… in Quinta do Lago

The Portuguese are showing the way as the gold standard on safety and accountability with their Clean and Safe stamps which almost 3000 tourism companies have signed up for.

Beach life

And for those of you who are sick and tired of being palmed off with promises that amount to very little.

Under the guise of ‘The New Normal’ or ‘O Novo Normal’ as they never say out there.

Let me now tell you that there will be sand.

All this space

Not for sunbathing yet, but then what a waste of time that is, but you will be able to book your own space on the beach and also go into the water…

And that means you mad surfers too with Portugal a Nirvana for those who walk on water.

All the old favourites

Social distancing is key to us all enjoying all the things we always love in Portugal.

Hotels, restaurants, cafes, golf, museums, castles and parks and it is a price well worth paying.

Of course, all of this is marivilohso, but are we going to be able to get out there.

Well, Susana informs us that Portugal is continually monitoring the situation with the airlines Aer Lingus, Ryanair and TAP Air Portugal…. http://www.aerlingus.com, http://www.ryanair.com and http://www.flytap.com.

Obrigada Susana

And, of course, I’ll keep you up to speed with what changes there but again September may be the month.

A new golf… in Quinta

So Obrigada Susana and Ola Portugal.

And see you later this year.

Countries, Deals, Flying, Ireland

Flyday Friday – what’s the deal?

Now I’m told that there are, and I hope I’ve got this right, ‘middle seats’, in an area of the plane called ‘Economy Class’?

You see I’ve been socially conscious way before this crisis.

Always trying to keep my distance by going to the area of the plane where I’m 2m from my neighbour.

But ‘we’re all in this together’, to reprise a crisis cri de couer.

My social distancing

Empty space

And EasyJet www.EasyJet.com are talking about making Economy a bit more like Business…

By initially emptying the middle seats when we get back on planes.

Our old friend Michael O’Leary at Ryanair www.ryanair.com jumps in here to pooh-pooh such a notion.

Deals, deals, deals: With Ryanair

He calls it ‘hopelessly ineffective’ on safety and price.

The challenges

Which brings us to how airline carriers will draw us back into the skies.

When more and more of us will have been let go from work, have less money.

Fun for all the family: At Turkish Airlines HQ

And airplanes and airports will impose even tighter restrictions on us.

While we’ll all be more fearful of being around each other at all and particularly in the close proximity of an airplane.

A true partner

Well, our airlines have been quick to send out circulars reminding us of how valued our custom is.

Now for those of us Travel professionals who have benefited from a partnership with them.

Open door policy www.united.com

And seen first hand how they work… Turkish delight: Airline that has it all and www.turkishairlines.com.

This is the time that we stand by them… In defence of… air travel.

A prophet from the past

And while we try to find precedents on every level for how our predecessors dealt with crises there is good news.

Eating by myself: In Business Class

Airlines have in the past reacted to a plummeting demand by rolling out bumper offers.

And here I take solace from a Business Traveller interview with former BA executive Richard Tams, of Tailwind Advisory…

Ireland’s call: Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com

He takes us back to the aftermath of the Gulf War when confidence in air travel was low because of fear of terrorism.

Read his thoughts here and… https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=y7PLXuFAFLE

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Rome on €50

Rome wasn’t built in a day… if it was there wouldn’t be so much to enjoy.

But if you’ve only got one day (and maybe the next morning)…

Then what to see and what to miss out?And how to do it for less than €50 spending money.

Fun and games at the Circo Maximo

Bohemian Trastevere next door past the Circo Maximo is a better bet.And I recommend the welcoming and economical Hotel Trastevere although remember there’s a €4 a night city tax.

Walk the walk

A family thing happened on the way to the Forum

It’s free and it’s fun… to people watch, window shop and you can take pictures at your leisure.

L’Amore: With La Scary One

You’ll pay for the privilege of eating and drinking near St Peter’s Square and the Trevi Fountain.

Instead grab a pezzo (slice of pizza) on the go for about €3, fill your water bottles from the ornate water taps that proliferate around the city.

Rather than buy it from the shops.

Or just go into a grocery or supermarket and buy a picnic of bread and cold meats. For about a fiver.

This is free

Playing the Emperor

Walking boy the Colosseum and The Forum never loses its appeal but you don’t have to go in, the audio guides will only tell you what you can find out online anyway.

And he’s free

Il Papa’s home. Photo by Valentin Onu on Pexels.com

Book an audience with the Pope. It’s Mass but he plays to the gallery and the backdrop of St Peter’s can’t be beaten.

If you can’t get an audience, and you’ll need to book in advance, then attend Mass in St Paul’s Basilica – you’ll be in there anyway.

Or any of the churches in the city, they double as art galleries.

Other frescoes

The test of time

The Sistine Chapel is a truly wonderful work of art but frescoes can only really be enjoyed if you’ve got time, space and quiet.

Besides every church in Rome has a stunning fresco.

The best fresco, of course, is in the Pantheon, the 7.8m diameter hole in the dome, because God made the view.

It changes every day.

When it rains on Rome stop whatever you’re doing and rush to the Pantheon.

Spend a penny

Penny for your thoughts

No, not that penny, although I can recommend the toilets in the oh-so English Barrington Tea Room, near to the Spanish Steps – Byron, Keats and Shelley lived around her.

More Babington Wee Room, if you like.

No, spend a penny by throwing one over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain.

It’s a cliche, and a superstition but it’s everything that people say it is.

Of course, they know you’ll come back to Rome… how could you stay away?

Skulls and bones

When you’ve seen everything else – and definitely make time for the Castel Sant’Angelo (€10.50) https://www.castelsantangelo.com which is next to St Peter’s Square where rich Papal history was played out.

It also adorns the walls – then head for the Capuchin Crypt http://www.cappucciniviaveneto.it (€8.50), Piazzaa Belerini.

And join the monks at prayer.

I walked past a real live Capuchin monk on my way in before being reintroduced to some real dead ones.

You know, the 3,700 whose skulls and bones were used to build the Crypt’s four chapels.

There’s even a clock mode out of a monk’s boners, although the twist is that he doesn’t have hands.

Time stands still in here. But not for us.

They have left us a message. ‘What are you now, we used to be. What www are now, you will be.’

Que sera, sera?

Flights

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com both fly to Rome.

Where to stay

I found Hotel Trastevere, Via Luciano Manara, 24A. Visit http://www.booking.com. With a 15% reduction down from €121 to €103.

Save your money

Your protector at the Castel Sant’Angelo

Save your money

€10.50: Castel Sant’Angelo

€8.50: Capuchin Crypt

€5: Bottle of wine

€1: Souvenir fridge magnet (it’ll cost you much more t the airport)

€0.50: For the Trevi Fountain. Listen, it can be a one-cent bit, but I’m just keeping it at a nice round number.

€7: For an al fresco spaghetti carbonara (it’s a local Roman speciality) deal with Peroni in Trastevere.

€2.50: For sweeties for the family/work… they’ll suss out though if it slips your mind and you to bluff it and get Haribos back home.

€10: For the disfigure and displaced around St Peter’s Square.

= €50.

Adventure, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Pilgrimage

Every day’s a schoolday – the virtual Seven Wonders

Every day is a schoolday was never so apt with parents all over the world going back to class with their kids… and relearning our geography.

The world is all around me… from fridge magnets to desk souvenirs to the big atlas that takes up half the wall.

Say a prayer: With my pal Hannah

But in the absence of actually being able to get out there just now to visit the wonders of the world we can take a virtual voyage.

Uswitch have brought together seven virtual tours of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World to inspire us for the future.

In with the locals: With my pal Humpy

Carved in my heart

Which, of course, includes magical Petra, where I sweltered and swooned… www.vistjordan.com www.gadventures.co.uk.

This is what Uswich has got for you .

With the honey-toned voice of this teacher better suited than the nasal Scottish twang of your Bandanaman… https://www.google.co.uk/maps/about/behind-the-scenes/streetview/treks/petra/.

But, of course, I took my own circuitous journey… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Don’t tell anyone… I’m a Christian

Colossal

Like everything in life there is always someone who wants to charge you for what you can see with your own eyes.

The Colosseum is one such example.

Your own imagination is your best tool… and supplement it with Uswich’s tour with this hour-long walking tour of the Colosseum.  

And why not at the end of your Francigena Ways 100km pilgrimage walk from Viterbo into Rome www.FrancigenaWays.com

Now that obviously leaves a golden of wonders (if that’s the collective term) for me still to do.

Now that’s a walk

China in your hands

Which are… The Great Wall of China. And one that got away from me.

When a former colleague who would usually turn their nose up at going to Travel events decided they would grace this promotion in Dublin.

Hey ho, I was off on my travels elsewhere at the time.

But I’ll get there yet, and don’t you know the Wall isn’t going anywhere… Virtual Tour provided by The China Guide

And that’s another

Peru too true

Machu Picchu, Mexico: And the preserve of the backpacking trustafarians but heck us oldies can walk the legs off most of them.

The Uswich virtual tour comes complete with a voiceover, will be right up your street.

Dome from home

Indian stunner

Taj Mahal, India: I’ve spent many a happy and drunken night at the Taj Mahal… trouble is it’s the Indian restaurant in Glasgow.

Still Uswich have allowed me behind the scenes of India’s Crown Jewel and once I do get out there I will channel my own Princess Diana look.

Mexican rave

Mexican areeba

Chichen Itza, Mexico: The nearest I’ve got to Mexico is a summer spent working in GuadalaHarry’s in Boston.

Don’t judge me! Rather let’s us all experience a 360 view of the stepped pyramids in this virtual tour. 

Putting Christ on his pedestal

Rio by the sea-o

Christ the Redeemer, Rio: And did you know there’s one in Lisbon too? Yes, if you’re Portuguese obviously.

But Rio offers the added extra of the Copacabana.

Here’s Uswich’s www.uswitch.com introduction to Christ the Redeemer in Rio… a virtual tour of the statue.

All wonderful wonders we’d all agree and ones you can tick off with G Adventures www.gadventures.co.uk and well done Uswitch but why no place for the Acropolis?

The wonder of the Acropolis

Greek gift

Which is just one of many contenders for the Wonders of the World… https://athensattica.com and My Greek odyssey.

And your teacher will be back next week with more perils of wisdom. Remember your homework everyone.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, Pilgrimage, UK

Sign me up for the end of the world… Finisterre

Our forebears in the Middle Ages believed that Finisterre at the outpost of Galicia in north-west Spain was the end of the world.

And they would carry their penitential pilgrimage, the 87kms to Santiago de Compostella on to Finisterre.

Well, if this is the end of the world I’m jumping right off. Gladly!

Here’s your ‘cut-out and keep’ guide to everything you want to know about Finisterre and the Camino…

I need a rest… after that coach ride!

Piper at the gates of heaven

Santiago to Finisterre, 87kms: What else would you expect at the Edge of the World? A Galician piper belts out a Celtic tune by the lighthouse at Finisterre, the westernmost post of their world.

A sign with the Camino shell, marks 0,00kms.

Many pilgrims continue on by foot from Santiago to Finisterre.

Wendy, my fellow peregrinos, take a three-hour coach ride from Santiago (€26 return) on our last day, Wednesday.

Any trip to the Edge of the World should not be rushed, there is much to see, from quiet coves to golden beaches and coastal villages.

With azure and terracotta-washed cottages.

As I look out on the horizon from atop the cliff on the clearest of clear days I can see why my Celtic predecessors refused to countenance that there could be anything beyond or above this.

Wear light clothes

The legend of the Camino

Santiago de Compostella, or ‘St James of the Field of Stars’, the name derives from the belief that the bones of St James the Greater were taken here from the Middle East to Spain.

Where he is reported to have preached earlier in his mission.

In 814AD Bishop Theodoric of Aria Flavia, is said to have been guided there by a shepherd who had been led to the bones by a star.

A church was built over the bones and later replaced with the Catedral de Santiago.

Pilgrims have been walking the Camino, originally from their own homes as a starting point. ever since, as a penance and to gain indulgence.

The Scallop Shell

When St James’s disciples were shipping his body to the Iberian Peninsula a storm is said to have hit the boat and his body was thought lost to the sea.

However, it washed ashore undamaged, coated by scallop shells.

Pilgrims display their shells for identification and are rewarded still with charity from locals.

Medieval pilgrims would also use them to scoop up drinking water: pilgrims take them home as keepsakes.

When to go

April-June, September-October: Galicia is at its most colourful with spring and autumn hues and the temperature is warm without being baking (late teens to early 20sC).

Winter is quieter and temperatures can dip to the early double figures.

Galicia is so verdant because of the rain so be prepared.

A hat and a rucksack… and you’re ready to go

What to bring

Walking boots and socks, picking trousers (convertible with zip to make them shorts).

No jeans, they’re restrictive and will weigh you down in the rain and mark you out as a newbie.

Shirts (long-sleeved and t-shirts).

Walking stick (depending on agility and age).

Light rain jacket and polar fleece.

Sun hat, sunglasses, sun cream.

Water bottle, first aid (Paracetamol, competed blister plasters and anti-inflammatory cream).

How to prepare

Caminoways.com hold training walks throughout the year for different levels of walker.

Alternatively avail of the many walkways around the country which can be similar to the Galician terrain.

And do your basic stretching exercises before and after walks.

Some Halloween spirit

Where to eat/drink

Breakfasts in designated Caminoways.com hotels are buffet style. The large range of fruit is healthy and refreshing, bacon and sausages are thinner than Irish tastes while scrambled eggs are constantly light, fresh and tasty.

Cafe/bars on the Camino are well priced, a range of filled baguettes are around a fiver.

And wine and lager range from around @1-1.50 and while the costs increase the nearer to Santiago you get they are not prohibitive.

Hamlets and towns are well served for eating places.

And if you do stumble across a Queimada (a Galician ritual involving stirring a brew in a fiery cauldron) as I did at the Mandala restaurant in Rua Cima Do Lugar, Arzua then that’s a bonus.

I had their equivalent of an early bird of skag bol and wine which filled the plate, all for €6.

I always seize on calamari where I find it, but it’s pulp (octopus) which is Galicia’s speciality.

Sit on a stool and eat with fingers, mopping up the tomato sauce from the bowl with bread and swirling it down with a large red (at La Puerta, Santiago, €6.50).

Santiago is noted for Padron peppers, usually green where the random one is very hot…. Galician Roulette. I chickened out.

Where to stay

Alfonso IX, Rua Do Peregrino 29, 27600, Sarria (close to the river) Good starting point, good hotel sundries.

Pousada de Portomarin, 27170, Avda de Sarria, Portomarin. A welcome archway after the first day. A cosy stay, and ah, a bidet!

Complejo la Cabana C/Dr Pardo Ouro, 27200.

Palasd de Rei: A bit of a hike up town so a walk to restaurants if you choose not to eat at the hotel. There was a wedding on when I tased which was good of them to arrange for our evening entertainment.

Teodora, Avda de Lugo, 38 Arzua: Centrally located, comfortable and friendly.

Amenal 12, O Pino: One-horse hamlet but that’s OK after a 30km trek, and the stew is filling.

Santiago: HOtel Geimirez, Horreo 92, 15702: Ideally located close to the historic old town. A welcome and deserved bottomless tube at the end of your Camino.

Walk this way

The different ways

The French Way: Saint Jean to Santiago, 770km. Las leg: Sarria to Santiago, 116kms.

Portuguese Coastal Way: Porto to Santiago, 236km.

Northern Way: San Sebastian to Santiago, 806km.

Le Puy Way: Le Puy-en-Velay to Santiago, 713km.

What to read/watch

John Bierley: Camino de Santiago guide.

Lonely Planet: Walking in Spain.

Cicerone: Way of St James – Spain.

Everest: Camino de Santiago.

The Way starring Martin Sheen and James Nesbitt.

Who to go with/How to get there

I travelled with Caminoways.com http://www.caminoways.com and Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com.

Caminoway organise guided and self-guided tours on the many routes across Spain, Portugal and France.

Prices start at €560pp sharing for a six-night Camino trip, walking the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago, including half-board, luggage transfers from hotel to hole and holiday pack with pilgrim passport and route information.

Airport transfers, hotel upgrades and bike rental are also available.

This year is a Holy Year for Pilgrims as declared by the Pope The Holy Door of the Cathedral will be open for the Year of Mercy.

And, of course everyone’s Camino is their Camino… This was mine A pilgrim’s prayer.

Have stick, will travel

And this was my Via Francigena.. the last 100kms walk of which I did into Rome from Viterbo www.Francigenaways.com and Small roads lead to Rome.m

My sore feet… on the road to Rome

Heck, let’s go the whole hog and flag up Tenerife too and www.visitingtenerife.com and A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine, UK

I belong to Glasgow

I belong to Glasgow

Dear Old Glasgow toon

And there’s nothing the matter with Glasgow

Even if you’re ball ain’t roon,

Murty’s take on the auld Glasgow music hall song.

Growing up just a Johnny Sexton (or back then more a Mike Gibson) kick over the stream (or burn, as we call them in Scotland) to the Glasgow High playing fields.

I would often jump over into the grounds and practise kicking over the posts.

Robbie Burns is watching: George Square


No, I didn’t become the next Andy Irvine (I am Scottish after all), but I did go onto play at school, report on the game, and become a lifelong fan.

For 51 weeks a year the oval ball game plays second fiddle to football in Glasgow but on May 25 it will have to share centre stage.

When Celtic Park will host the Pro 14 Final, Celtic will be contesting the Scottish Cup final with Hearts the same day at Hampden Park.

HOW TO GET THERE
Ryanair www.ryanair.com and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com both fly to Glasgow.

WHERE TO STAY
I found a standard room for two at the ibis Glasgow City Centre – Sauciehall Street (it’s actually just two minutes from Sauciehall Street on 220 West Regent Street).

For two nights from May 24-26 from €320. Visit www.booking.com.

And, of course, the chippier, the Chip Chik Inn in the West End https://www.chipchikinn.co.uk

Curry favour

WHERE TO EAT
Glasgow’s national dish is not haggis as you might have been told but ‘a cheeky wee Ruby’, no she’s not a good time girl from the Gorbals. A ‘Ruby’ or ‘Ruby Murray’ is Jockney slang for a curry.

And the best place to go for a ‘Ruby’ is the West End. Try the Shish Mahal www.shishmahal.co.uk 60-68 Park Road or the Koh-I-Noor www.hoh-i-noor-glasgow.com on 235 North Street.

And did you know that the Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Glasgow.

When Ali Ahmed Aslam, the owner of the above mentioned Shish Mahal improvised by putting tomato soup and some spices into a chicken curry.

For a Glasgow bus driver who had complained that the original offering was too dry?

Not to be confused with the Chicken Tikka Mo Salah which has Egyptian spices and is served in Liverpool!

Best bar none

WHERE TO DRINK
The Park Bar, 102 Argyle Street is a popular hang-out for Heelanmen and women, or Highlanders to you and me.

Serving tips: don’t wear ‘colours’, that’s hats and scarves with the colours of your sporting team, greens and blues are particularly divisive on account of the two big soccer teams Celtic and Rangers.

A pint of heavy is what we know as a pint of ale or Smithwicks and even if it is pronounced the same they spell whiskey without the e. It tastes just as good though.

Best value

Photo by Ratworks Media on Pexels.com


The Horse Shoe Bar, 17-19 Drury Street www.thehorseshoebarglasgow.co.uk, down an alleyway, or close.

Near to Glasgow Central Station, is where Rod Stewart goes to drink when he is in town.

Of course the island bar is why it’s called the Horse Shoe Bar. Upstairs you can get a three-course lunch for a fiver… you don’t believe me?

It’s all good wholesome stuff.

I’d opt for the soup of the day (tomato is a favourite) followed by the sausage and mash or Scotch pie, chips and beans.

While for dessert (get away, it’s called puddin’ in Glasgow) then it’s vanilla ice cream or a caramel apple betty for me.

Glasgow greetings

We belong to Glasgow

Slainte, enjoy the rugby if you’re there for that, or if you’re just in Glasgow for other reasons then have a rerr time.

Tell me how you get on and we can share.

And say hi to my maw!