America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

WTM Holiday Snaps and a beautiful wrap Donald

And the last word is from Donald, a bit of a scoop from your favourite Travel blog.

While the rest of the world has been trying to talk to the Big Mouth we got him… well, we are old pals.

And Donald has a message for the world: ‘I love you all and I want you all to come and see me again soon in America.’

The Happiest Place on Earth is now also the Safest on Earth with reservations, social distancing, alternate rollercoast carts and new hospitality measures.

While Mickey, Minnie, Donald and the Gang aren’t about to let the virus turn their smile into a smell.

And are dancing, waving and welcoming us all in their own inimitable way.

Watch this space for new Disney features coming along soon.

While Visit Orlando also flagged up what’s happening up at Universal Orlando and particularly their Jurassic World feature.

All of which, and SeaWorld and Busch Gardens I’ll give you a taster of what’s in store… in my rollercoaster whizz around Florida.

Golden vision: Florida Kets

I had all planned to take a whizz around the Florida Keys before the other Donald closed America off in March but hope to put that right when I get the chance.

And it’s those areas with natural distancing like the Keys and island nations (and yes a lesson here to the UK and Ireland too) who have an advantage.

Sail away in Croatia

Water wonderland

And when you’ve got 1200 islands then there’s ‘one for everyone in the audience.’

As they like to say in the world’s longest-running TV chat show, Ireland’s The Late Late Show, or whatever the Croatian equivalent is.

But here is a country which, as a Balkans state, dealt better than the rest of Europe with the virus.

And which is perfectly placed to host the tourist’s new requirements during and post-Covid.

One area is in small boat holidays and yachting around the islands, another adventure in the Great Outdoors.

Kayak attack: In Croatia

My go-to people in Ireland for Croatia are Croatia Tours, and I went on pilgrimage with them to neighbouring Bosnia & Herzegovina where I started out on the road to Dubrovnik.

They have a seven-days Rivers by the Sea package, making the most of where the area where the Krka River enters the Adriatic, on June 26 £1255pp.

Where you’ll get to sea kayak, cycle, canoe, rock climb, hike and raft.

The Tuscan Islands

And Firenze too

We’ll also be spreading our wings more next year even when we do visit our favourite cities.

And that’ll help hotspots like Firenze breathe as we explore greater Tuscany, its adventure trails, cycling opportunities and thermal waters.

And its seven islands, chief among them Elba, the first island of exile for Napoleon, and Montecristo, it of Alexandre Dumas’ Count.

Able was I ere I saw Elba.

As every schoolchild, well, at least those of  certain age and lexical bent, will tell you.

And Tuscany was, and is, ere able to thrive in ‘il novo normal’.

And, of course, the Caribbean

Daddy’s Little Girl, as all our little girls do these days, is wont to show me amusing things she finds on the internetty thing.

And one we both find funny is a Jamaican tour guide who extols the benefits of inhaling the island’s plants.

I grab every chance to hook up with my Caribbean friends, Barbados, Tobago, Anguilla (heck, all of them) albeit these days over Zoom, if only to hope that I can draw some sun out from the screen.

And as usual their warmth came flowing us out as they reminded us that in their island their neighbourliness has helped them through this crisis and referred in passing to London where ‘people don’t know their neighbours but had been getting to know each other this year.’

Los Filipinos

For those of us too who in the second half of the century of years some of us are blessed to live, our cultural touchpoint for the Phillipines is the Thrilla in Manila, the nation’s capital which hosted Ali-Frazier III.

And of course the Philippines are knockout and our old friends at G Adventures are all over it.

Manila is on the island of Luzon, one of 7,641 in the archipelago.

And you’ll not be surprised to learn then that out of 7,641 islands that it should have boasted the world’s most beautiful island, courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler in 2016.

The exotically-named Atty. Maria Anthonette C.Velasco-Allones, the Tourism Promotions Board’s COO has an equally lyrical way about her.

As she described her islands and what they have to offer.

‘When the dark night is over and the sun rises, wake up in the Philippines.

 

 

 

 

 

America, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

The travel pack – the birds of the world

Does anyone else here feel like Burt Lancaster in the Birdman of Alcatraz? Oh, to be that little birdie with his freedom.

So let’s take wing and celebrate our feathered friends around the world.

The Spoonbill

Scoop of the day. www.algarve-birdwatching.com

Rio Formosa, Quinta do Lago, Algarve: And anyone who didn’t think that God has a sense of humour hasn’t paid attention to how he made us all.

For every pink flamingo there’s a Spoonbill.

I found these fancy snouted fellas in the Via Formosa in Quinta do Lago in the Algarve…

Their bills, of course, are purpose-built to scoop up all that pond life to give them fuel for the skies.

Yes, Pink Flamingoes

In the pink: In Busch Gardens

Pink Flamingoes, Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida: And for those Fiftysomethings among us the opening shots for the Florida soap Flamingo Road made us fall in love with these birds

Yes, and Morgan Fairchild, to be fair.

I got up close with a flamingo out in SeaWorld and again he is a reminder of God’s Grandeur.

Heron good things about you

You’ll have a long wingspan then

Herons, Kuramathi, The Maldives: And you know when a bird has her eye on you.

She even came into the pool with me every morning.

Kuramathi is a bird-watcher’s dream, big, small, skinny, plump, and every colour.

And as bird-watching is a stationary pastime isn’t it a relief that you don’t have to freeze your whatsits off either?

Caribbean wood doves and mockingbirds

The West Indies: Rihanna, my wood dove used to join me in my hot tub in Barbados of a morning… and leave a mess in the bedroom.

I would forgive Rihanna anything though.

The West Indians take their nature very seriously, just as seriously as their rum and their music.

And Ean The Birdman of Tobago will show you around his Adventure Eco Villas where the birdies will twirl and tweet around your head.

You can stay too and awake to birdsong.

And not forgetting the Duck

Ducks everywhere: Whether they’re the rubber ones in your bath at Hastings Hotels in Northern Ireland (or in mine).

Or with The Donald in Epcot in Florida or in Anaheim.

Following the Duckmaster and the quackers down to the fountain in the hotel lobby in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

MEET YOU WITH YOUR BINOS

Adventure, America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

The rapids adventures of an old Bandanaman

In the event of injury and you dying, and the rapids are nice and lively today. Woaaaaah! Give me a Yeaaah!

Maybe rewind to the bit about dying!

We’re driving down the highway to the Colorado White Water Rafting Center.

And tattooed, man-bunned Brad is banging the top of the roof with the palm of his hand.

Out Travel providers are turning to Adventure tourism as a plank of our comeback.

But will you need a plank yourself, or oar, to dig you out of choppy waters!

Here are five thrills and spills for the future:

Rapids eye movement

White-water rafting, Colorado: Rub-a-dub-dub, three men and three women in a tub.

And one goes overboard, the first ‘jumper‘ of the season.

Thankfully not from our raft, and a support kayaker is there to rescue her.

Your bandanaman hangs in there througb the rapids and my beer at the end of the course has never tasted so good.

Will I try it again? Well, the dudes at Yosemite Tuolomne are trying to tempt me to their Californian canyon. Yeaaah!

Zip-a-dee-doo-da!

Zip-lining, Las Vegas and Barcelona: And yes this should be flying through the air on the Cloud scraper Zip Line the highest in America.

12,000ft above the Arkansas River from one side of the Royal Gorge to another.

But it’s gentle zip lining on SlotZilla through Downtown Old Vegas, Frenont Street.

Where a member of our party got stuck halfway across the street because he was too light!

No such trouble for Bandanaman, or on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas where thankfully the harness kept the shorts up.

A surf bet

Walking on water: Anaheim

California and Barcelona and Portugal: And I’d backed myself to surf after being put through my paces on Royal Caribbean‘s FlowRider in Barcelona.

You see international surfer and Sligo’s own Gearoid McDaid walked on water on their surf simulator and had me doing the same (ŵ

Trouble was when I got to Anaheim later in the year I double booked (not for the first time) and missed out on the surf class.

So I did the next best thing and pulled a surfing pose on Huntington Beach instead.

California is synonymous with surfing but the biggest wave pulled was in Portugal.

And you can check out the water sports at VILA VITA Parc in the Algarve from €330p per night.

While Original Travel offers four nights from £975pp based on two sharing a garden view room or £795pp based on four sharing a family suite.

Hottie for Trotti

Scoot… down the Alpine valley.

Downhill Trottibikes, Switzerland: Now you always have to be ready for the challenge when it is thrown down.

Which it was in the Grindewald area of Switzerland when a Korean took me on.

No, not the slopes, but these scooters… through the forest and onto the main road, weaving between onrushing cars.

Until I passed her and swerved into the bar for my celebratory Aperol Spritz.

OK, it’s a bit of a leap to mountain biking in Mammoth Lakes, California, but I can only work with what I’m given.

And besides I did hone my cycling skills in the Campus, Quinta do Lago, Portugal… til I took a corner too sharply and fell off!

Life is a…

The Cyclone on Coney Island

Yes, Ronan Keating, but I bet you’ve never been on The Incredible Hulk at Universal Orlando or SheiKra at Busch Gardens.

You won’t like me when I’ve got an angry stomach, and, yes, I was green around the gills by the end.

Will I be back? Well, I’ve been on rollercoasters from A-B, Aberdeen to Blackpool to C Coney Island to Ooooooohlando.

So yes, and I’ll have my motion sickness tablets with me too.

MEET YOU ON THE THRILL RIDE