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.
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
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.
There’s always a big welcome from our friends at Etihad and they have introduced Wellness Ambassadors to deal with your every flying need.
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.
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
It’s free and it’s fun… to people watch, window shop and you can take pictures at your leisure.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
The different ways
The French Way: Saint Jean to Santiago, 770km. Las leg: Sarria to Santiago, 116kms.
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.
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 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.
There is much more that’s old about New York than new.
It’s just that we don’t always see it.
Walk through Broadway as I did en route to my Kimpton Hotel in Little Brazil, or 130 W 46th Street and you can’t fail to notice the giant billboard for Hamilton.
It is, of course the hip-hop musical that has taken the world by storm and it is playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater.
It’s the hottest ticket in town and you’d almost need to be the President or Vice-President to get one.
Veep Mike Pence did, and such is the status that the actors in Hamiton have that they felt empowered enough to lecture him on his politics.
His big pal, the Greatest Living New Yorker, wasn’t impressed and dissed their stand on Twitter demanding – hilariously – that they apologise.
Shame there’s no evidence he’s ever seen the production because The Alexander and The Donald have much in common.
Both are big business, both half-Scottish and both ladies’ men, both egotists and both bestrode their age.
And yet just before the musical reconnected Americans with Hamilton, appartchiks were planning to have him replaced on the $10 bill.
It would have been a particular kind of humiliation for the man who saved the nascent Union from bankruptcy and set up the financial system.
The one that has served The Donald and countless others so well.
And yet other than on Broadway and on the $10 bill where in New York will you find ‘The Greatest Ever New Yorker’?
The best place to start is Central Park.
Another Central Park celeb
You’ll see a steady flow of tourists stopping by to pay tribute to John Lennon who only actually lived here for a few years.
He was always going to go back to England anyway and wouldn’t have been any good in a war.
He’d be lying back in bed talking about, well ‘giving peace a chance.’
Where would the New Yorkers and the Americans have been with someone like him?
Hamilton, by contrast, fought bravely in the defence of New York.
And represented them proudly in government, both here when New York was the nation’s capital from 1875-1878.
And in Philadelphia and Washington DC.
Where is Hamiton, though?
He’d appreciate a visit.
His statue is in Central Park, on East Drive, opposite 83rd Street, on the way to Harlem.
And seeing as you’re in the neighbourhood and it’s a Saturday then why not sign up for Jimmy Napoli’s Outside In Hamilton tour http://www.hamiltonsnewyork.com in Washington Heights and Hamilton Heights.
And find out more about this larger-than-life character.
Visit the actual Morris-Juliet Mansion that Washington chose as his HQ at the Battle of Harlem Heights.
And where Hamilton was by his side.
It was later the home of one-time Vice-President and our hero’s nemesis Aaron Burr.
And it was from here that Washington and Hamilton looked down the peninsula to Manhattan burning in the distance.
Some bigger buildings would block their view today.
Jimmy’s hour-long, one mile walking tour will take you to other important landmarks in The Great Man’s life, including the restored Hamilton Grange National Memorial.
If there’s anything he’s missed out – and there won’t be – you can always catch up at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 226 W 46th Street.
My VIP pal
Again you’d probably need to be pals with the President or Veep to get a ticket.
Good job I am.
The Commander-in-Chief has a pitch on Times Square, near the Naked Cowboy, but more appropriately near Hamilton.
And it’s a beautiful pitch… a beautiful pitch.
How to get there: New York is served by airlines from airline. And you can get pre-clearance from Ireland. And by bus and trains if you are in the US. I took a Peter Pan bus from DC. It takes nearly five hours.