Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

And hard on Greece’s Croat-tails

Tomorrow, Thursday, is fast becoming my least favourite day of the week though to be fair it has six very close rivals.

Because Thursdays is when the UK Government tells us which new country they are banning us from visiting.

And it’ll be Greece and all its myriad regions which I’ve already gone into bat for. And Croatia.

Of course I know they actually check which country I’m going to next before they drop the bomb.

The sands of time

Croatia first came into my orbit long before I passed through on my way to Medjugorje and Bosnia-Herzegovina last year.

It was a German with whom we dined by Rialto Bridge on our 10th wedding anniversary in Venice who first flagged up Croatia.

By saying that Dubrovnik was even better than the famed Venezia.

Relaxing times

I had, of course, intended to find out for himself only for someone to get in my way… Me!

Throughout all of this our holiday providers, our dream makers, have been enduring a living nightmare.

Pilloried as fluff (it was ever thus) by pampered politicians they have seen their businesses collapse from under them.

I’ll have two of these cocktails

For want of a bailout with our leaders preferring to use their float (our taxpayers’ money, remember) for interpretative dance.

Than the multi-billion Travel industry and to allow hard-working families their God/given right… to travel.

The Adriatic

Thankfully our resilient Holiday providers are persisting with presenting deals for us.

Mostly for 2021 it must be said.

Now you might not recommend me trying something as fancy as a yacht to get to Dubrovnik seeing I failed with something as simple as a bus.

The grass is greener

But you can… Carrier suggests you hiring a private yacht to sail around the Elafti Islands, an archipelago just north-west of Dubrovnik.

Or explore Konavie Valley, the Tuscany of Croatia, although maybe it should be the other way round.

The Old Town

You’ll have your transport of choice… walking, cycling or a horseback ride.

And best of all you’ll frequent traditional konobas, or taverns, serving authentic Mediterranean fare.

Harbour of delights

The world will be your oxter (or oyster) when you visit the Medieval town of Sion by fishing boat.

Where you will get the chance to taste Fresh European Flat Oysters from their beds.

Pictures of Croatia

Your bed will be in the exclusive Hotel Excelsior which has obviously been putting their time to good use with a repaint.

There are spectacular vistas of the Medieval town and the Adriatic.

Which you will be able to enjoy in the hotel’s brand new Sensus restaurant.

While you’ll want to dip your toe too in the ‘sea pool’ and come back to luxuriate in the spa.

Bridge of highs

Carrier offers five nights from £1,050pp based on two adults sharing a Classic room including breakfast.

Return Club Europe flights from London Gatwick and private car transfers.

And if you’re Irish, then you’ll know all about Croatian Tours. I do!

Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals, Flying

Wu, Wu… The Land of the Rising 2021

We all deserve a big treat. And for 2021 we’re looking east, the Far East, and Japan, with our old friends Wendy Wu.

Which is as it should be as it was at the Chinese New Year lunch in Dublin in January that we travel writers first spoke about COVID-19.

senso-ji-temple-japan-kyoto-landmark-161251
The shape of things apart

There are many reasons to tour Japan at any time but the world’s focus will especially be on The Land of the Rising Sun in 2021.

When the delayed Olympics will take place.

image004
Geisha load of this

A big cuddly bear… and a panda

Now as often happens with these things Japan’s charms are currently being flagged up on TV by one of our favourite Travel writers… in this case Joanna Lumley.

Who waxes lyrical about Japan’s stunning rail network and routes.

IMG_6746
Pandamonium… that would be me on tour then

As usual Wendy was there first and she has two new tours including the UK’s first three-week fully inclusive rail tour.

Of islands covering the islands of Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido.

IMG_6741
Wendy crew

And from now until the end of August there are a range of special offers.

IMG_6740
And what’s for the next dish?
  1. Free single supplements for solo travellers (worth up to £1790pp) plus a range of dedicated solo departures.
  2. Free business class upgrades with Emirates, British Airways, Finnair (ex Dublin and Edinburgh), Air China and many more (worth up to £700pp.
  3. BA World Traveller Plus upgrades (worth up to £600pp)
  4. Free Vietnam Airlines Premium Economy Upgrades (worth up to £300pp).
  5. Savings up to £500pp per person across cherry blossom departures through March and April.
  6. Holidays can be booked with a deposit from £99pp with flexible terms and conditions.

MEET YOU UNDER THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS

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,

 

Countries, Deals, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – who’s going to fly our planes?

Well the quick answer is me…

That’s because of my sterling efforts at mastering the simulator at Turkish Airlines http://www.turkishairlines.com in Istanbul.

I went out for the opening of the biggest airport in the world, the Istanbul Airport, last year.

You get an immediate sense of Istanbul being at the crossroads of the East and the West when you travel through Istanbul Airport.

That’s before you even get out onto the Bosphorus.

Or visit the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar or the hamam where Florence Nightingale, Rudolf Nureyev and John Travolta all visited… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/ .

Hub of the world

And you see a troupe (I don’t know what the collective noun is) of Hasidic Jews travel through the terminals. Istanbul,

I discovered it is the biggest hub for Jews returning to Israel.

You could fly an airplane through our airports now (they’re so quiet).

Big enough to drive an F1 car in: The TA Business Lounge

Which I very nearly did after scraping the Statue of Liberty and coming down nose first at JFK in that simulator flight at Turkish Airlines HQ.

The crisis facing our airline industry has been somewhat subsumed.

By the bigger challenges of health and the economy facing the whole world right now.

Tourism driver

But the immediacy of the threat to the sector has to be addressed. Alas,

Travel has forever been treated as frippery and indulgent by politicians and Big Business compared with other industries.

And tuck into BA’s Business Class food

Only tourism is at the heart of every country’s economy, before we even get onto its importance to business.

And while it is obvious that virtual tourism cannot replicate the joy of seeing a county or its people first hand.

And our providers have done a stand-up job in recreating their destinations this way during this crisis.

The same applies to business.

What will social distancing look like?

Dealing with real 3D people first hand over a beer or bottle of wine while sampling local cuisine is the best way to forge relationships.

Faceless bureaucrats

Oh, yes, there’s the conference meetings too.

But don’t we all just look at our watches or the time on our phones when we’re stuck in one of them?

We must fight against the high heed yins, or suits, who will want to stick with Zoom and other digital platforms.

In an effort to cut costs rather than fly their executives out to each others’ countries.

I can just see those faceless, soulless, personality vacuums, the numbercrunchers pushing for a retention of this contactless-free zone we all live in now.

Filling the air: Ryanair

And where do we stand today… with a third of British Airways http://www.britishairways.com staff worried for their jobs, their operation at Gatwick at risk.

Our crew and pilot friends

Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com planning to cut 3,000 jobs and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth?

And Virgin Atlantic www.virginatlantic.com furloughing its staff and raising the alert as to its futurez

And airlines around the world facing similar heart-wrenching decisions.

Every one of those employees is valuable and their struggles are ours.

I have come to know some of them professionally and personally and my heart goes out to them all as they too foresee an uncertain future.

Pointing to the future: In an airport in February

We are continuously having it drilled into us that ‘we will all get through this together’.

But let’s just think about the sectors and real people who are falling through the cracks.

Save our sector

We must have a Travel industry and an air sector to return to for the good of us all.

It cannot all be left to the Trade and the Public.

It is time for those politicians in their private planes to remember the rest of us.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Uncategorized

Holiday Snaps – Carnegie’s Pittsburgh

The next time you visit your library you might bump into Andrew Carnegie.

Andrew Carnegie? Doesn’t he have something to do with music and the Carnegie Hall in New York.?

Yes, but the great industrialist and entrepreneur helped fund more than 2,500 libraries in his time too.

And his name may well be inscribed on the outside of your library.

Easy living: Pittsburgh

Carnegie was though more associated with Pittsburgh than New York.

Just call me Mr Carnegie

Carnegie centenary

If we’re quibbling (and I love an our’ quibble) then he’s really a son of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland who emigrated to the US.

Carnegie died 100 years ago so it’s timely to flag up Pittsburgh…

After all his Carnegie Institute, or Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, are one of the big reasons to visit Steel City.

The Carnegie Museum of Art… you make up your own mind

The Carnegie Museum of Art puts an emphasis on contemporary art. Carnegie instructing them to collect the ‘old masters of tomorrorow’. http://www.cmoa.org.

Admission is £16.50 for an adult and £10 for a child.

Enraptured: At the Museum of Natural History

The most famous inhabitant of Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one Dippy the Dinosaur. http://www.carnegiemnh.org

Dippy is the nearly complete fossil skeleton of the Diplodocus carnegii dinosaur.

He was discovered in 1899 by a team of scientists, an excavation funded by Carnegie. 

General admission is £16.50 for an adult and £10 for a child.

The Carnegie Science Centre is true to the Scot’s vision for future generations, dedicated to nurturing innovators and leaders like himself http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org.

General admission is £16.50 for an adult and £10 for a child.

Wow Mao: Andy Warhol Mao

The Andy Warhol Museum will celebrate its official 25th anniversary 19-20 October 2019, coinciding with the launch of the Andy Warhol: Revelation exhibition. http://www.warhol25.org.

And if you’re in the vicinity of Dunfermline, Fife in Scotland I’m sure he’ll look down on you kindly if you visit his birthplace http://www.carnegiebirthplace.com.

How to get there

I found a round trip Dublin-Pittsburgh through Boston from£301 (€340) with Delta Airlines http://www.delta.com.

And Pittsburgh is also served by British Airways through London http://www.britishairways.com.

BA has a sale on that ends on September 24. I found return flights from £348 for any month between October-March.

Also check out http://www.visitpittsburgh.com,

And Philly too

Whisper it but here’s an oul’ review from the city up the road Philadelphia https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/philadelphia-freedom/

And from now on your Holiday Snaps will get even snappier with regular snap dates through the weekend.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Uncategorized

Tobago… ready, steady, goat.

My Dear Old Mum would sometimes chide me for being a bit of a giddy goat.

Nothing much changes, she’s still my Dear Old Mum, although a year older, and dearer, on Saturday, while I’m even giddier and even goatier…

With white hair hanging from my chinny-chin-chin.

We’ve had some travels, me and Mum, and I often think how much fun we’d have had together in some others.

A tartan band: She’s small but mighty

Like Tobago.

Tobago ‘our little dot on the map’ as one local called it lies just off Trinidad and just off Venezuala.

But it’s in a world of its own with a tropical rainforest, its own national dish ‘crab and dumpling’.

That’s my kind of beach

And TV chef Ainsley Harriott was there to try some for himself.

Sunday School, which is anything but… it’s actually a street party held in Buccoo every Sunday night.

When our friends from Tobago visit every year it is always a highlight of the Travel circuit.

Last year they brought us up to speed with the many unique cultural aspects of the island.

This year they wanted to stress the nature, animal and birdlife and sustainability of the island.

Carnival time

The best animals, of course, are the goats.

The Tobago Goat Race was started by Bajan Samuel Callender in 1925 as an more everyman’s alternative to horse racing.

Those goats again

It runs every Easter Tuesday… and I’m looking to get out there next year to run too.

And some cooking… here’s Yzanne Williams Chance

Am I kidding? You’ll need to keep following to find out.

See http://www.tobagobeyond.com, http://www.visittobago.gov.tt and here’s a neat site I found too http://www.buccoo.net.

How to get there

Virgin Atlantic flies from Manchester and Gatwick http://www.virginatlantic.com

And British Airways flies from Gatwick http://www.britishairways.com.

Now you want to read about my adventures in the Caribbean? Thought you would https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

And you want to see how I got on when I tried to learn how to cook Caribbean-style…

Uncategorized

Give us this day: Jesus, John & Jordan

And the lesson today in Give us this day is from John 1:28 and tells the tale of Jesus, John and the Jordan.

These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptising.

John 1:28

Not here in Israel…

Lost in time: Al-Maghtas

But here in Jordan.

Like all things in the Middle East there is a history and a land dispute.

Israel claims that John baptised Jesus in this spot, modern-day Israel, in the River Jordan.

While the Jordanians claim that it was further in, deep in their country, modern-day Jordan.

In what is, to our tongue, Bethany.

It looked like a dry ditch when I visited Al-Maghtas, ‘immersion’ in Arabic, in the baking heat of an early Jordan summer.

Could it have been like this: John’s Baptism of Jesus

But the fact is, and not meaning to sit on the fence wherever that might be, you do get a very powerful sense that Jesus of Nazareth was here.

The Pope on John, Jesus and the Jordan

Pope Francis visited the Jordanian site on the east of the river back in 2014 after he became pontiff.

While further to the west a group of Russian Orthodox Christians took a dip in the waters.

A river runs through it: The River Jordan

Which means you don’t have to imagine hordes of pilgrims being reborn again with the water of life.

You just have to open your ears and eyes to the spectacle before you from the Jordanian side.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.

Matthew 3:16-17

And sorry for mixing my evangelists which is a canonical crime on par with mixing metaphors.

Judge for yourself if I stay on the right path with my review of Jordan and we’ll visit Petra and go on a camel ride. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/(opens in a new tab)

Uncategorized

Holidos and don’ts – packing tips

She’s the Wonder Woman who sews me up and sends me on my way… and very occasionally I come back with everything I left with.

And I’m getting better.

I’m also prompted by RTE reruns of the sumptuous Silk Road by the even silkier Joanna Lumley who agrees about the importance of multi-compartment purses and wallets.

They come in all shapes, sizes and styles (wives and wallets) and all make your life easier.

So what to remember

Your passport obviously. Now you may want to keep it in your inside jacket pocket or perhaps skin tight in your front trouser pocket.

And you will need to take it in and out at the airport but when you don’t need it, it’s best to put it away in the zipper compartment of your folder. If you’re travelling with your partner and your kids maybe put them all in together.

When you get to your hotel room put your valuables in the safe and only take it out if you need it for ID for bars, nightclubs or to get into some sports events.

Your tickets. Keep in another sleeve or compartment. It will be easier to differentiate. Some people (usually younger) are comfortable with having their tickets on their phones but what happens if you run out of battery (Ally?). Be safe do both.

Currency. Save yourself fiddling around in your wallet/purse between euro and a foreign currency and maybe even a third (sterling) if you’re passing through London. Use a third compartment for foreign dosh.

Now you’re on the plane

If you’re on a long-haul flight then you’ll want to keep your vanity case with you… save yourself from having to tap the person sleeping next to you so you can get up to the overhead cabin.

And if you’ve had the good fortune to go Business Class then remember the little overnight bags they give you the next time you travel.

And the earplugs will block out the noise of the snorer next to you.

Overnight bags tend to be the same but different and it’s always nice to find a little new treat.

A little bottle of Eau de Cologne was a particular treat in the Etihad bag I got this week even though I’m the last person who needs it.

Thank you http://www.etihad.com. And you too http://www.aerlingus.com, http://www.turkishairlines.com, http://www.virginatlantic.com, http://www.britishairways.com and everyone else who keeps us all refreshed in the air.

Luggage

Unless you’re just doing an overnighter you’ll probably be taking hand luggage and putting a suitcase in the hold.

Don’t do as I do, but as I say.

Avoid black or blue suitcases, they all look the same on the carousel. Put stickers on it to identify it as uniquely yours, maybe places you’ve been to cheer you up.

Padlock your case up and choose a lock number that’s not 1234 or your birthday or one you might forget.

And always fill out your luggage tag with your address for obvious reasons.

Don’t forget to remember

Make a list. Check it twice and give yourself enough time.

Better if you pack to go home the night before but if you are making the most if your last night on holiday then set your alarm early or get a room call.

Otherwise…

Next week: How I didn’t take any of this advice and some of the scrapes I got into (and out of) mostly because of the saints and saintesses who helped me out.