America, Countries, Ireland

Escape room to victory with Universal Orlando

Now I could lose myself in a telephone box so I’d deffo need some help with this one, an escape room to victory with Universal Orlando.

I’ve been in escape rooms before.

And some would say the story of my travels has been one of trying to escape from various scrapes and detours.

Thankfully though I’ve been rescued by any number of Good Samaritans.

And holiday providers, to get me back on track.

I got the hump: The dinosaurs

Chief among them are our friends at Aer Lingus.

I suspect too the Irish national airline carrier might have been having fun with me.

And that’s why they set their media partners an escape test challenge in Dublin a couple of years back.

Aer to go

The Great Escape: The Aer Lingus Escape Room

I was grateful to my old colleagues then, Eoin and Danny.

For coming up with the Crystal Maze solutions to get us outta there.

Although we were slower to get to the end than the other teams.

And hence we missed out on the big Transatlantic flight prize.

Mind you though, I have always been brought up to share the love.

And Aer Lingus have been nothing but generous throughout my Travel years.

In facilitating my journeys to the Land of the Free.

Escape to the movies

Here Dino, Dino: At Universal

For other reasons, this year I was unable to join my fellow Travel professionals in Universal Orlando for IPW, the American Travel Fair.

But I am happy to report the bounceback in the States and particularly in Rollercoaster State.

The latest innovation this autumn is Universal’s Great Movie Escape which channels Jurassic Park and Back to the Future… read on.

Concepted and designed by the same creative masterminds responsible for the wildly immersive haunts of Halloween Horror Nights.

Universal’s Great Movie Escape will bring two distinct and extraordinary escape adventures to the heart of Universal CityWalk.

Through interactive state-of-the-art missions, captivating storytelling and intricately detailed sets.

How do I get outta here? The Back to the Future Escape Room

And guests will be swept into the dinosaur adventures of Jurassic World or the time-traveling chaos of Back to the Future.

Solving as they do, their way through a multi-sensory experience like no other.

Universal’s Great Movie Escape will open later this year and tickets will go on sale in the months ahead.

Scare us up some more fun

White face, fright face: Halloween

Talking of Halloween Horror Nights which our pals from out in Halloween have toured around the UK and Ireland on media nights…

Halloween’s relentless slasher Michael Myers makes his vengeful return to Universal Studios’ Halloween horror night.

All kicking off on September 2 and September 8, the show sizzles in haunted houses inspired by the classic 1978 film

The franchise’s latest trilogy concludes with Universal Pictures’ release of Halloween Ends on October 14.

And guests will venture back to where it all began.

Inside eerily authentic haunted houses that depict the most chilling moments from the critically-acclaimed original film.

On both coasts, this year’s harrowing experiences will transport guests to Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night

When Michael Myers first donned his notorious mask to embark on his brutal rampage.

As guests make their way through his dilapidated home.

They’ll narrowly dodge attacks from the knife-wielding Myers as he stalks their every move.

Lie back and think of scaring: Michael Myers

Both events will run on select nights through Monday, October 31, and additional details and haunted houses will be revealed soon.

Tickets are available via a number of travel partners including AttractionTickets.com (our old friends from West Hollywood, LA and Anaheim).

And Floridatix, Orlando Attraction Tickets, Travel Republic and Ocean Florida.

What though if you’re having so much fun you don’t wanna leave?

Well, maybe you can get stuck in that Escape Room to victory in Universal Orlando.

 

 

America, Countries, Food, Food & Wine

The Streets of Boston

Now I’ve experience of the streets of Boston and the difference a turning can make, albeit 35 years ago.

So when I’d overshot Chinatown in Washington Street yesterday.

And found myself crossing the Mass Turnpike bridge I knew I was off course.

Way to go Shojo

Chop, chop: Shojo

I had been personally waited on by restaurant manager Jim at Shojo on Tyler Street.

And licked my lips and fingers tearing through his Wu-Tang Tiger Style Ribs, Jasmine rice and Japanese Saison Du beer.

And heavy of tummy had decided to take a walk down Memory Lane to my old workplace, the Black Rose, on State Street.

Now the proliferation of Asian spellings and smellings ought to have alerted me that I was on the wrong scent.

The Black Rose

Get on your bike: The Godfrey

So I doubled back, span into a vortex and was suddenly back in 1987.

With the singer, Irish Terry, singing The Dubliners’ standard Fiddler’s Green.

I waited patiently, cradling my Guinness, for the favourite when I tended door and bar here in the Eighties.

And was glad to put bread in his jar for a rendition of Black Velvet Band.

Filled with the best type of fuel I rolled home and let the tiredness of a three-country, 17-hour Aer Lingus journey drift me to sleep.

And dream of days gone and to come on The Streets of Boston.

Before hitting the Streets of Boston again and checking out its famous T trams.

And a tea party.

 

America, Countries, Deals, Flying

Happy Quacksgiving Day

And the most famous Donald on Earth is certainly celebrating today because duck isn’t on the menu.. Happy Quacksgiving Day everyone.

We all know about the Other Donald, the one with the tuft and the big mouth who doesn’t make any sense.

I’m more interested in My Donald though – Donald Duck – and of course we go way back to when we had a quacking time out in Disney World in Orlando.

Me and my Duck: With Donald

And if my luck holds out then I’ll be dancing with the duck next year at the American Travel Fair, IPW, next year.

But many of us can’t wait until then and have been working with Visit USA to get out there before then.

So, it’s just as well then that our old friends, Ireland’s national airline carrier are there to help us.

Aer we go to Orlando

Fly the Flag: Aer Lingus to the States

From this Saturday customers will be able to travel directly to Florida, following the lifting of travel restrictions to the US earlier this month.

From this weekend, Dublin to Orlando will operate three flights per week to connect families, friends, and business in the run up to the holiday period.

This weekly schedule of direct flights to Orlando will fly on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday with fares starting from €169 each way, including taxes and charges.

Those looking to visit the Sunshine State can avail of the great Black Flyday offers on flights to the US with Aer Lingus.

Flyday Friday

I’m in charge: Your next President

You’ll get €100 off return fares to North America and €200 Business Class fares to the US (travel 1st January to 31st May 2022). Book by November 30.

With 13 direct routes between North America and Ireland, including New York, Chicago, Boston, LosAngeles, San Francisco, Orlando, Washington, Seattle, and Philadelphia, offers, which run until November 30.

That includes €100 off return flights to North America and €200 off return business class tickets.

They’ll be valid for travel from 1st January to 31st May 2022. And remember there’s pre-clearance.

Very VerifLY

Fly with me: And Aer Lingus

Now if you want the best advice on how Aer Lingus flies then it helps to have access to the people who fly us.

And fortunately I am and they gave us the rundown on how they, and us, travel these days.

And their super-duper VeriFLY travel pass app.

Most importantly… Aer Lingus customers cannot check-in online ahead of flights to/from the USA unless they use VeriFLY.

The app allows users to upload and ensure that their travel documentation is checked and approved before travelling to the airport.

This will allow customers to get their online boarding pass and go straight to bag drop/boarding gate, and avoid queuing at check-in.

 

 

Countries, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

A favourite airline now gone, Stobart Air

Sorry to be such an old misery guts on your rest day but every day will now be a rest day for Stobart a favourite airline now gone.

Stobart Air has been the wings beneath my winding my way from Ireland back to Scotland.

On more occasions than I care to remember.

Liquidation looms

But alas the 50-year-old carrier has been forced into liquidation now.

By Covid and Irish Government inaction.

Up in the air: For passengers now

For every Irish adult Stobart Air will always be Aer Arann.

Aer Arann got off the ground in 1970 to serve Inishmore in the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland.

And Galway and the West, where I would spend my childhood summer holidays, is best.

Fly the flag: My friends at Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus, the national airline carrier, saw the possibilities and soon got on board, contracting Aer Arran to operate their short-haul commuter links.

Stobart story

Stobart Group jumped in during the choppy mid Twenty-Teens and rebranded as Stobart Air.

Which is when I started to lean on them as my taxi service back and forth to Scotland while living and working in Ireland.

That’ll be Edinburgh Airport obvs

And revisiting my old haunts such as my young party days in Aberdeen, my adopted home Edinburgh and my home city Glasgow.

There are other airlines and they will fill the gap left by Stobart Air mist critically now where flights have been lost.

But the collapse of any airline is to the detriment of passengers.

A sad day

The wider the range of airlines the greater choice on offer and the better value.

Purple reigned: FlyBe

This is all on the back of the collapse of FlyBe.

And they were a favourite too with their flights to cruise town Southampton, Stobart Air’s decline is a sad day for us all.

We’ll be told that it is Covid collateral damage but try telling that to those who have lost their jobs.

And passengers who have been left out of pocket.

And until governments change their attitude to Travel as vital and not trivial…

Then it might be Stobart a favourite airline now gone today but there will be countless others tomorrow.

 

 

 

Africa, Countries, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Freeday Friday – Ethiopian have you covered

Yes, you’ve read that right, our friends at Ethiopian Airlines are giving it away…

EA have launched their Sheba Comfort Insurance policy which covers customers for medical costs if you contract Covid-19 overseas.

EA have been busy, busy, busy… they’ve refurbished their passenger terminal at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa.

A clean bill of health: Ethiopian Airlines

And they remind us that they work with their Star Alliance partners via Frankfurt, Stockholm or Istanbul.

I wonder if I can get off in Crossroads City and rejoin them later.

Aer we go for 2021

You’ll keep going back: The Rovers Return, Manchester

And Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus, carrier are spoiling us again… with flights from only €25.99.

Which is Birmingham where you’ll need to take in Cadbury World in Bourneville and Manchester whose jewel is their Coronation Street tour.

Dublin-London is €29.99 and a few euro more from Knock in the West at €32.99.

Beefy: In London with a local

You want to get to the continent? I thought you would, and you’ve got the same taste as me, then I give you…

Living like locals in Saint-Pauli

Hamburg and Amsterdam from the Irish capital for €35.99. From Cork Clog City is just four euro more.

And Ireland’s national airline carrier will, of course look after you if circumstances change.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

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.

IMG_0841
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

IMG_1568
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.