America, Countries, Food & Wine, Uncategorized

Flipping marvellous – best pancake places

There is no evidence that Jesus ate a round of pancakes before going on to fast for 40 days… but there’s no evidence that he didn’t.

Today we’ll all tuck into our pancakes with the Son and Heir the flipper in our family.

God being good I’ll be on my way to Prague today.

Where I’m sure that being Central Europe there will be a big plate of pancakes a-waiting.

On-flight, British Airways: I’ve never lost the wonder of eating on an airplane since first peeling back the tinfoil as a kid.

In the years since I’ve found that it’s usually beef or salmon, with a vegetarian option.

While now that I’ve enjoyed business class on occasions on long-hauls there are breakfasts too… which obvs means pancakes.

Mine’s were on my flight to Jordan www.visitjordan.com with www.gadventures.com. Read on The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Pile ‘em high

Everything is bigger in America

The big breakfast, America: It’s funny how certain foods and drinks taste better in the countries of their origin.

Guinness in Ireland, risotto in Italy and pancakes in the Oo Es of Eh.

Yes, I know that pancakes are from France because, of course, they invented food.

It’s just that Americans do it bigger and better... pile ’em high at breakfast and make sure you take in a diner.

And sweeter in Barbados

Watch out for predators

Life sweet in Barbados: The first thing you need to know about Barbados is that this is the home of rum.

So that when you come down for your breakfast at Turtle Beach https://www.eleganthotels.com/turtle-beach and Sandals https://www.sandals.co.uk/sandals-barbados/ in St Laurence Gap you’ll get rum pancakes.

Irie as they say in Bim which is why I went back a second time… Let’s rumba in Barbados and A kiss from Rihanna.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago

You’d easily miss the ‘No Squatting’ sign on Englishman’s Beach on the Caribbean island of Tobago. Robinson Crusoe did.

Convenient that, a seafarer remaining abandoned on this idyll for 28 years!

Daniel Defoe’s castaway has become the source of enduring fascination these past 300 years.

A modern-day Robinson Crusoe

Defoe, who drew on many shipwreck tales of the time tells us that his vessel sank within ‘sight of the great island of Trinidad’.

Which can only be its sister island of Tobago.

Oh, that… and also because of the goats. More of which later.

Which their government opportunistically renamed Isla Robinson Crusoe in 1966.

So would Crusoe recognise Tobago now?

The Englishman’s first challenge, of course, after making shore in 1719, would have been to find food.

With Attenborough’s pal William Trim

And through good fortune, or good judgment, he managed to avoid the poisonous yellow berries on the beach which our hosts warn us about.

Instead he shook the trees for coconuts and bananas and picked the mango groves.

And gladly lived off the other fruits of the land and the sea.

Which we, a party of five, who are guests of the Tobago Tourism Agency enjoy at a range of restaurants.

The Argyle Falls: And I won’t let my dye wash

Where the fish are close enough to jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

And where owners are friendly enough for you to call them ‘Auntie’ Alison and ‘Uncle’ Kenneth.

Tobago has been settled 32 times including randomly by Latvians.

Me…. I belong to Glasgow as the old music hall song goes but I’ve never been to a Glasgow bar like this.

Glasgow boys: Karl and I

It overlooks Parlatuvier Bay, every bit as beautiful as it sounds, and run by local Karl Glasgow.

Who, alas, has never been to Scotland, although his bar is bedecked with Scotland flags.

In an island just 12km wide and our three authentic billets allowed us either breathtaking views or close access.

For golfers Mount Bay Resort has its own course, while for those whose favourite hole is the 19th, it has the best rum punches on the island.

With Jeanelle and Porridge at Castara

Castara Retreats is a hidden-away gem.

And with its hammock on the balcony, and kitchen, buzzing village and bonfire party on the beach, it’s an indulgence worth rewarding you with.

And for convenience Kariwak Holistic Haven is ‘just around the corner’ from the airport, the Strip (with its bars, restaurants and a casino.)

And Sunday worship where you can repent those sins and ‘praise the Lord’ with the locals.

In search of more locals we head for the rain forest and the bird and animal sanctuaries.

Where the colourful hummingbirds, mockingbirds, black hawks and woodpeckers are in good voice.

Today’s intrepid explorer has rainforest expert William Trim who counts David Attenborough as an admirer.

Bird expert Ean Mackay and animal conservationists Ian Wright and Roy Corbin all there to reveal to us more of Tobago’s natural secrets.

I bet you Crusoe did the same.

And a cure for flu.

Which Crusoe would have experienced.

The barebacked turtles crawling out of the sea to lay their eggs on the beaches.

You’ll go limin’ (pre-drinking), jumpin’ and chippin’ (dancing on the stone chips).

No trip to Tobago would be complete either without a trip to Sunday School in Buccoo on the south of the island.

No, not that type of Sunday School, but a steel pan and Soca (Soul of Calypso) celebration.

Where the whole of the island comes out to drink and dance to the wee small hours (rum punch is the libation du jour).

Although Christmas feels more measured than back home possibly because it’s too warm out here for Christmas jumpers.

Here in Tobago amid the 30C temperatures don’t be surprised if you find Santa in a Christmas T-shirt on the beach.

But they are in fact racing goats who are in training for the Buccoo Festival at Easter..

And I bent over backwards at yoga too

And jockey Levi who shows me the ropes and how to handle my giddy goat Bandanaman… who comes with loose-fitting chord around his neck.

Before the starter cuts to the quick and shouts ‘Ready, Steady, Goat’, or at least I do.

I’m a natural, letting Bandanaman lead me 100 metres up the grass track by the football pitch.

Bonfire party

Today though it is his former mentor Terry Williams holding fort, tiring his young son Elijah out by having him run up a wind to help fly his kite.

It looks hard work in this heat and after my own exertions with the goats I welcome the prospect of a cool down.

On another day it’s the Nylon Pool in the middle of the Caribbean on a boat and snorkelling trip.

Princess Margaret would be proud

It is here that Princess Margaret honeymooned and was so taken by the waters that she described them as being as clear as her stockings (nylon).

Nylon Pool also has the added advantage of being a raised sand bank amid deeper water.

So you can have a bit of fun by standing around in the sea for some afternoon drinks.

And I started a party at Nylon Pool

No Man’s  Land, a small sandy island, is where we drop anchor for our own bespoke Christmas party. 

And where I suspend belief and indulge in rum punch instead of sherry, and mahi-mahi (like swordfish) instead of turkey. 

Party boy Brendan brings a festive feel to proceedings in his Santa hat.

And he listens to my Christmas wish list although I’ve got everything I’ve ever wanted here anyway.

It’s my hammock

Between Lover’s Bay, Pirate’s Bay and Crown Point’s Store Bay Beach where the Trinis (Trinidadians) will pop over on a 20-minute flight for the afternoon.

All of which we try, for research purposes you understand, in case Crusoe had ventured this way.

It is on Pirate’s Bay Beach where we meet a German party who emerge almost Crusoe-like from the thickets.

What a picture: I captured the island on canvas

And a clearing having walked the width of the island from its biggest town Scarborough.

My last day I spend as Crusoe would have done, in reverence to the Divine Creator.

And the sun sets on our Tobago break

And while Crusoe’s most solemn wish would have been to be rescued..,

Mine’s is that my big bird never arrives to fly me off my fantasy island.

The lowdown

Tobago Airport: It’s tiny

British Airways (www.ba.com) flies from Gatwick from £475pp (€560) return; Virgin Atlantic flies from Gatwick from £496pp (€586) return. All major airlines fly into London from Ireland.

Drivers and guides can easily be arranged at hotels to get you around Tobago. Car rental starts at around £44 (€51) per day.

WHERE TO STAY

Mount Irvine Bay Resort (www.mtirvine.com), A week with BA Holidays in January 2020 from £965pp (€1135) for a week’s B&B and return flights from Gatwick. Based on two sharing.

Holistic Heaven: But still time to have a cocktail

Kariwak Holistic Haven (www.kariwak.com):  A week with BA Holidays in January 2020 is priced from £1,195 (€1,405) per person for a week’s accommodation on B&B basis including free daily yoga, and return flights from Gatwick.  Based on two people sharing.

WHAT TO DO

The boat that rocks

Waterholics: Take a boat ride out to Princess Margaret’s honeymoon swimming spot, Nylon Pool, a sand bank deep in the sea, where you can also stand up in the sea, She said the waters were as clear as her nylon stockings. Visit www.ilovetobagott.com for information and prices.

The boat ride Jim did was $120pp. Waterholics do exactly what they say on the tin… coastline tours, glass bottom boat tours, dolphin watching, fishing trips, booze cruise for small trips et al.

Their mantra is ‘just add water’.

WHERE TO EAT

Macaroni and cheese with everything

Jemma’s Tree House, Charlotteville-L’Anse, Fourmi Rd, Hermitage. https://m.facebook.com/pages/Jemmas-Tree-House-Restaurant-Speyside-Tobago/352296588174092

Jemma’s Treehouse: Naturally there are birds

You’ll need to get used to sharing your table space with the hummingbirds but I suppose that comes from eating in a treehouse.

How much fun is that?

The ice cream: Rum’n’raisin naturally

Order mahi-mahi, a type of swordfish, and so good they named it twice.

IMPORTANT WEBSITE

For more information: (https://www.visittobago.gov.tt).

Adenture Farm and Nature Reserve Adventure: For the best bird-watching (and a villa to stay over in and wake up to the sound of hummingbirds and mockingbirds) https://adventure-ecovillas.com

Cannon fodder: At Fort King George

Fort King George and Museum http://nationaltrust.tt/location/fort-king-george-tobago/

Tobago Cocoa Estate: https://www.tobagococoa.com

Corbin Local Wildlife: http://www.tobagowildlife.com

And if you want more Caribbean fun see Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

America, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Portland – Let er buck

Scholastica sounds a pretty severe name for a woman and, as it happened, she was an English teacher… from Portland, Oregon.

But Scholastica, my Dad’s Sixtysomething second cousin, and this 14-year-old Scot had something in common… Tolkein.

I don’t know for sure that JRR didn’t visit Oregon but he would surely have been impressed by their Giant Redwood Trees.

Cool: Portland

Tolkein, for all you who don’t know, had walking, talking trees.

Portland and Oregon is known also as where all the Hippies from Haight Ashbury left for.

And so, yes, they probably see marching trees too.

Me? I stick to their very good whiskey which I was introduced to at the American Travel Fair.

Whiskey pals

‘Here’s a stetson hat, a whiskey, now you clink glasses and say ‘let er buck.’

All which stuff and nonsense I took to the table at the Woollen Mills in Dublin when the good people of Portland popped into town.

Queen of Portland Laura and Portland Bandanaman

Now, you’ve probably latched onto the fact that this iteration of me is Bandanaman.

And God help you, those who knew me when I wore a raccoon hat in my head, called ‘Lola’.

The whiskey and bon homie was flowing again last night.

And, of course, all talk centred around the North-West Coast state.

Flying high

Now, this was always going to be Westward whiskey, the pride and joy of Portland.

Stick it on me ead

Portland is unique in many ways, not least for boasting the world’s first-ever distillery-focused tasting room at the airport.

Fly me there… and Icelandair www.icelandair.com will through Reykjavik where you can also have a stop-off.

While British Airways www.ba.com flies there from London and Delta from Dublin through Amsterdam www.delta.com.

And Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com flies to Seattle which is approximately three hours drive to Portland.

The Portland hat

Portland also boasts the world’s largest bookstore Powell’s www.powells.com

Which must have room for the blockbuster that is gathering dust in my drawer.

And you know what’s holding me back? Lazy nights drinking whiskey.

I’m made for Portland. Let er buck as they say over there.

I’m working my way up the west coast from LA California, the Golden Globes State and am hoping to see San Fransisco in May.

So Portland is getting closer.

Uncategorized

Flyday Friday extra – Laid-back in Portland

When the hippies had had enough of Haight Ashbury they moved up to Portland.

Which is what the cult American TV comedy series is all about which boasts the best of the Saturday Night Live crowd.

I know it’s my kind of place from their American Travel Fair parties www.ipw.com where we whacked back whiskey and ‘let her buck.’

And my Dad’s cousins are out there too.

Portland hoved into view with the announcement that British Airways www.ba.com will fly five times a week to beautiful Oregon from London Heathrow.

With return fares from €540 in World Traveller.

Visit www.travelportland.com and www.traveloregon.com. And it’s great for cruises… www.portlandspirit.com

Al have some of that

The Israelis are more used to waiting than the rest of us… in fact it’s the story of their people.

We in Ireland have been waiting too for a direct route out to Tel Aviv.

But it is now only a few months off with non-stop flights starting from May 26… http://www.elal.com.

The closest I got to Israel was 20ft across the Jordan and in the Red Sea in Jordan… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/. With G Adventures… http://www.gadventures.com.

Now to make that long-awaited next step.

Swede Christmas

It’s the time of year when you surf the channels trying to find something that hasn’t got Christmas lights on it.

Which is how I came across an Abba programme on Sky Arts.

Of course the Abba Museum is one of the most popular sites in Stockholm.

But it’s not the Swedish capital we’re flagging up here.

But hailing from a second city myself, Glasgow https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/ it’s second city Goteborg, or Gothenburg to you and me, that I’m flagging up here.

And Ryanair’s http://www.ryanair.com early Christmas presents…€9.99. While Frankfurt is the same price.

So let’s thrown in some Scandinavian and German memories here…

With https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/29/ich-bin-ein-hamburger/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Uncategorized

Flyday Friday – Caribbean island hopping

The best thing about giving advice, in this case aisle seats, is that you don’t have to follow it yourself.

And yes, I would have been better with a window seat so I could have looked out over Saint Lucia before we landed.

Jerry, the Big Rapper, who entertained us all in Wabi Rum in Jordan earlier this year, had promoted his island big time.

But here was I missing sight of the mountain that announces Saint Lucia to the world.

Saint Lucia is one of two alternative stop-offs on your Virgin Atlantic flight from London Gatwick to Tobago.

Tantalisingly, you wait on the plane for about an hour for a new crew to come aboard for the 20-minute trip to Tobago.

And never get off… still, can’t complain because Tobago is reward enough.

And yes, I’ve been entertaining you all with my adventures which put Robinson Crusoe’s to shame…

With It’s Robinson Crusoe’s very own Tobago, Ready, steady, goat… in Tobago and I should cocoa – Christmas in Tobago.

Virgin www.virginatlantic.com flies from London Gatwick from £496pp return. British Airways www.ba.com also flies from Gatwick, from £475pp.

The eleven hours will fly by with good food, wine and movies.

But I’m remembering why I prefer an aisle seat as my colleague Anthony was zonked out for most of the journey.

And I had to climb over him to get to the loo.

Thankfully he didn’t stir. Otherwise he’d have got a shock, waking up to me straddling him!

Ryanair’s Christmas gifts

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

I do wish airlines would stop putting on flights to the same city, London in this instance, on at the same time…

It was Athens with Lufthansa and Lufthansa and Aegean Airlines out of Munich during the summer… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/20/flyday-friday-averting-a-greek-disaster/.

And I was less lucky on that occasion, ending up missing my connection.

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Either they all change or I grow a brain.

I got myself in a pickle (again) between the Ryanair flights to London Gatwick and London Heathrow.

Cut me some slack… I hadn’t had any sleep, it being the early flight.

Still Ryanair did help me out of a booking mix-up when I was arranging tickets from Dublin for my Tobago trip.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Connections? I’ve got a loose one.

Better direct flights then. Ryanair www.ryanair.com has these Christmas crackers for travel in the New Year.

London from €9.99, Goteborg (which you and I know as Gothenburg) from €9.99, Cologne from €12.99, Luxembourg the same and Warsaw and Santander from €14.99..

Now, I’ve a Travel buddy who says he won’t go to the US while ‘that man’ is in charge.

By the same principle he won’t then be going to the UK. London is one of the world’s great cities and whoever inhabits No.10 Downing Street you won’t keep me away.

And here are some precious memories… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/23/carole-king-youre-beautiful/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/31/londons-punch-and-judy-show/

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES