Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Holiday Snaps – An Irish solution

It’s an Irish solution to an Irish problem as they like to say over there but even this one has never been tried before… shared leaders.

The Irish have taken four months to agree that they can’t agree but, and you have to get into the Irish way of thinking, that’s no bad thing.

So Micheál Martin will get the first two and a half years as Taoiseach while his predecessor Leo Varadkar wiil resume power for the last two and a half.

But not down and out

For those of you who think that that long without a new government is careless should look to Belgium https://visitbelgium.com and Northern Ireland www.discovernorthernireland.com.

And this is a flick of how these countries run In Flanders fields, Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

And talking about shared leaders just think of the fun and possibilities if Donald Trump split the next Presidency with Joe Biden www.washington.org and Easy DC.

Or Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer… www.visitlondon.com The London life.

While this is how I saw Ireland in…

Swiss Miss

Running woman: Sara Roloff

I make no apologies in dedicating this next Snap to the force of nature that is Sara Roloff.

Sara brought us Swiss bingo, Swiss wine and beer and much more besides in my time in Ireland.

And champion skier and Marathon runner that she is she was always the fittest person in any room.

Alas, Sara was struck down with COVID-19 93 days ago and only started her recovery 43 days ago.

But last week she got the all-clear from her cardiologist and guess what she’s planning a marathon.

That’s what the Swiss are like Swhisskey on the rocks and www.myswitzerland.com. You have to go.

And me? I’ll take the gondola.

Home Department

Now here’s a walk

This lockdown has reminded us all that we should appreciate our own country.

And Travel Department, who know all about the world, know too that Ireland is the best of the world.

Which is why they’re launching Homegrown, their domestic trips from September.

My first professional Travel trip was from Wales to Cork and Kerry on the now discontinued Swansea-Cork shipping route.

It was the poor young PR’s first trip and she wasn’t prepared for how rough it would be with half a dozen hacks.

And look at that landscape

Or how choppy the sea was as we all fell down with sea sickness.

The return journey was almost as bad with us being kept off shore for a couple of hours.

I learned two things… that without our holiday providers and hosts we are rudderless and that Co. Kerry is one of the most beautiful places on God’s Earth.

TD has a guided four-night Kingdom of Kerry walking trip and a seven-night guided seven-night Kingdom and Cork’s Rebel County itinerary.

Check out https://www.tdactiveholidays.com/ireland-adventure-holidays.

And you must know by now how much I love an oul’ walk… www.CaminoWays.com, A pilgrim’s prayer and www.FrancigenaWays.com and Small roads lead to Rome.

The Special Relationship

I’ve often felt that we’d be better off if we put broadminded Travel people in charge of the world.

Rather than the leaders we have.

And I wholeheartedly support the US Travel Association’s response to the European Union further shutting its doors on Americans.

Tori Enerson Barnes: ‘This is unwelcome news and will have major negative implications for an economic recovery. – particularly if this ban results in cycles of retaliation as is so often the case.’

What would our forefathers who fought side by side in two World Wars have made of this disintegration of a once unshakable friendship… In Flanders fields, https://gtitravel.ie and www.visitusa.ie and www.visitusa.com.

Countries, Culture, Food & Wine, UK

Opening time – my Five best English pubs

Whose round was it?

It will be seventy-six days since the pubs shut their doors when they reopen on July 4.

So why is that important? Well because that was how long it took Wuhan to come out of lockdown.

And it will be the same number of days between the UK lockdown and us emerging blinking into the sunset.

And, of course, July 4 was the day your Nostradamus of a travel blogger predicted it would take for us to get back to some kind of normal.

So in celebration of that here are five English and Welsh pubs I know and will toast…

While I’m waiting for the Scottish pubs to reopen.

Ye Olde boozer

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham: The oldest pub in England, dating back to 1189.

Carved into Castle Rock, upon which Nottingham Castle is built, it’s sad that pilgrims would stop here on the way to Jerusalem.

And you know how I love a good pilgrimage, and tankard of ale A pilgrim’s prayer, Small roads lead to Rome, www.CaminoWays.com and www.FrancigenaWays.com.

Nooks and crannies and history and if you want to make like your a local they call it ‘the Trip’. See https://www.visit-nottinghamshire.co.uk.

A masterpiece

The Dundas Arms, Kintbury, Berkshire: Sitting proudly in Chez Murty I commissioned this painting from a photograph of The Scary One’s local.

The grumpy owner, David, was of Scottish origin and cartoons hung up behind the bar of him and his Dad.

The counter had polished copper coins embossed into it, while at the bar were an eclectic bunch.

Including the 6 O’Clock Club, off the train, Terry, the spoons player, Chris the estate agent and horse tipster and me and Miss F. Visit https://www.dundasarms.co.uk and https://www.visitsoutheastengland.com/places-to-visit/berkshire.

No show without Punch

The Punch and Judy, Covent Garden, London: Covent Garden is a mix of trader, buskers, kerching shops, office workers and tourists.

And the Punch and Judy spans generations for me.

From us travellers taking a pit stop and drinking on its balcony to a return visit to take in Beautiful: The Carole King Story with The Scary One.

Great memories… and more to make https://www.visitlondon.com, https://www.coventgarden.london/pubs/punch-judy and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/29/carole-king-youre-beautiful-londonwestend-musical/amp/.

The apple of Liverpool’s eye

Flanagan’s Apple, Liverpool: Now you’re not wanting fancy-dan wine bars… this is Liverpool after all.

And being an Irish pub I had to seek it out the first time I visited Liverpool for a job interview.

And on many occasions after in the year we spent in Liverpool and brought a Son and Heir and Liverpool’s greatest fan into the world.

See https://www.flanagansappleliverpool.co.uk and https://www.visitliverpool.com.

Grapes of froth

The Grapes, Sheffield: And another Son and Heir related hostelry.

And where his favourite band The Arctic Monkeys played their first gig in their home city.

And which we had to seek out on a return trip where we namedropped to try to get a free drink… the father-in-law, of course, who hails from Steel City.

Visit http://www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/visit, http://thegrapessheffield.com.

And www.visitengland.com.

MEET YOU IN AN ENGLISH BAR

America, Caribbean, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Pilgrimage, UK

The Sunday Sermon –

“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 104:33).

Psalm 104:3

But when will we be able to sing again in church?

I have long sung lustily and croakily and in the wrong place and always find that the service is less uplifting when the organist or the choir are off.

But that is what we’ll have to put up with when our churches reopen, initially for private prayer and funerals.

A hotel with its own church… on the road to Rome

The sound of a stirring choir has lifted me in cathedrals and smaller churches on all the pilgrimages I have been on… A pilgrim’s prayer, Small roads lead to Rome, The Lourdes prayer and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

There is a gravitas to the singing as the botafumeiro swings from side to side in St James’s Cathedral during the Pilgrims’ Mass at the end of your Camino Ways walk http://www.caminoways.com.

But the real stirring stuff comes from the black gospel singers on the other side of the Atlantic.

And yes, I know we have them over here but they’re not in the same number.

I’d been chasing the choirs unsuccessfully on my travels and was disappointed to have to miss the Southern choir in Jackson, Mississippi https://www.deep-south-usa.com and The Promised Land because our flights back through Texas clashed with the choir.

Mas took precedent over Mass during Crop Over on Barbados http://www.visitbarbados.org. And Mas is a party.

But I did get to take in said choir in Anaheim https://disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disneyland/ at our street breakfast party http://www.visitcalifornia.com.

Before finally getting to a church in Tobago https://www.visittobago.gov.tt Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Hat’s the way to do it

We’ve long forgotten that it was milliners Dunn & Co who came up with the brand ‘If you want to get ahead get a hat’ in the 1940s.

But it’s the enduring appeal of the power of a slogan that it endures,

It has also become something of an unconscious personal mantra.

I’d even go as far as to coin my own slant: ‘put on a new hat, put on a new you.’

Hatta boy!

So an entirely unscientific trawl through five hats on my travels and why when I put them on I’m transported right back there.

The tail of Denver

Remember the Jimbo

Davy Crockett hats, Denver, Colorado: And a reacquaintance two years ago with an old friend, a raccoon hat in Denver www.denver.org and Go West.

I got a reputation for myself in my alma mater, chilly Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north for wearing said hat.

Forward fast to San Antonio, Texas, and the Alamo town www.visitsantonio.com hosts the US Travel fair www.ipw.com in 2023.

And I’ll blend in with all the other Davy Crockett impersonators.

Does this car look big in me? The Cote d’Azur

In the Cannes

Trilby hat, Cote d’Azur: Well it is Cannes and it’s what they’ve come to expect of me out there.

A classic Fiat 500 is obligatory too. Visit www.mandelieu.com and The Boat D’Azur.

Sailor boy: In West Hollywood

Sail away in California

Hello sailor, West Hollywood: It’s nautical but nice and in Pride Week in camp WeHo you have to make an effort.

I strutted like a peacock after getting a compliment from a queen.

I was on my morning constitutional www.visitwesthollywood.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/

Buen Camino

Camino hat, Santiago de Compostella, Rome, Tenerife, the Austrian Tyrol: And if you’ve walked the Camino then it’s important to tell everyone after.

It also keeps the sun off your head but that’s secondary.

Visit www.CaminoWays.com, www.FrancigenaWays.com. www.CanariaWays.com and www.tyrol.com. www.topflight.ie and www.topflightforschools.ie.

And A pilgrim’s prayer, Small roads lead to Rome, A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

If the hat fits

Cowboy Jimmy

Cowboy hat, Washington DC: Like a Greystones cowboy, riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo.

It was given to me by my Portland, Oregon https://www.travelportland.com friends and I showcased it with a glittery beard in DC https://washington.org and Easy DC.

And on the hottest day of the year carting luggage around New York https://www.nycvb.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/old-new-york-hamilton/amp/.

MEET YOU IN A HAT

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

Give us this day – Hermits

Hermits have been one of the most pilloried sections of society, though really their very raison d’etre was to be outside of society.

Which is where you want to be just now.

Now hermits fall into three categories: The Lost, The Saintly and The Imprisoned.

The first of which I definitely am, the second I strive to be and the latter which miraculously I’ve been evading all these years.

Where is everybody? On the Via Francigena

The lost: Which is where I normally find myself on my travels.

Particularly if they put 100kms between me and my destination.

Which is the case on the last leg of the Camino in Galicia in north-west Spain www.caminoways.com and A pilgrim’s prayer.

Ciao, Roma

And on the Italian Camino from Viterbo into Rome www.FrancigenaWays.com.

Probably more so the Via Francigena, to be fair, where the irregular arrows can leave you abandoned, alone, in an olive grove.

Still, more time to talk to the Lord while you can squeeze the olives onto those rolls you bought that morning…

A perfect accompaniment for that half bottle of wine.

And here’s a celebration of being alone on the road… Small roads lead to Rome.

I’ve made land… in Tobago

For those who prefer the sea there are opportunities aplenty to get lost too.

Like Robinson Crusoe. Still there are worse places to get washed up on than Tobago.

He wasn’t totally alone though. Man Friday? No, the goats he trained.

And yes I got to race them… www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/

Halo there!

The Saintly: You can live like the Fast Set in Cannes and Mandelieu-la-Napoule.

Or like the Fasting Set on the hermit’s island of Ile Saint-Honorat where Saint Honoratus went for a little solitude and a natter with his boss.

Word got out and more of his monk pals came out…

He founded a monastery which drew the attentions of no less a luminary than St Patrick.

Today’s traveller skirts the island on a speed boat… well, you have to, don’t you?

The Fast Set in Cannes

Visit https://www.cannes-destination.com/discover and https://www.mandelieu.com and http://www.atout-france.fr/content/about-us.

And come join me as I make a splash on the Riviera The Boat D’Azur.

You’ve found us: Napoleon’s island Saint Helena. http://www.sainthelenaisland.info

Boney’s bones

The imprisoned: The best-laid plans des souris et Frenchmen gang aft a-gley.

And the most famous Frenchman of them all, Napoleon Bonaparte ended up here.

On Saint Helena, the second-most remote inhabitable island in the world.

Where I have been destined for this year.

No, not because after spending three weeks locked up with me she wants to send me 5,000 miles away.

But because I’d been planning a trip out there this year. See http://sthelenatourism.com.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, Pilgrimage, UK

Sign me up for the end of the world… Finisterre

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…

I need a rest… after that coach ride!

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.

Wear light clothes

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.

A hat and a rucksack… and you’re ready to go

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.

Some Halloween spirit

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.

Walk this way

The different ways

The French Way: Saint Jean to Santiago, 770km. Las leg: Sarria to Santiago, 116kms.

Portuguese Coastal Way: Porto to Santiago, 236km.

Northern Way: San Sebastian to Santiago, 806km.

Le Puy Way: Le Puy-en-Velay to Santiago, 713km.

What to read/watch

John Bierley: Camino de Santiago guide.

Lonely Planet: Walking in Spain.

Cicerone: Way of St James – Spain.

Everest: Camino de Santiago.

The Way starring Martin Sheen and James Nesbitt.

Who to go with/How to get there

I travelled with Caminoways.com http://www.caminoways.com and Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com.

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.

And, of course everyone’s Camino is their Camino… This was mine A pilgrim’s prayer.

Have stick, will travel

And this was my Via Francigena.. the last 100kms walk of which I did into Rome from Viterbo www.Francigenaways.com and Small roads lead to Rome.m

My sore feet… on the road to Rome

Heck, let’s go the whole hog and flag up Tenerife too and www.visitingtenerife.com and A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Deals, Ireland, Pilgrimage

St Paddy’s Day crawls

You’ll see them, clad in their green cassocks enjoying the craic, with St Paddy’s vital accessories, his crook or crozier staff… and a pint of Guinness.

It’s the St Paddy’s Day procession only, in fairness, there is very little proceeding… unless it’s to the next pub.

St Paddy’s staff, or crook with cross on top, is a symbol of his high status but probably not the best walking aid.

It’ll turn your beer green

I’ll get onto walks around Ireland with IrelandWays www.IrelandWays.com but first a walk around the houses.

My Dear Old Dad, a doctor, and perhaps a sainted figure himself by now would always advise people use walking sticks.

I must say on my first Camino A pilgrim’s prayer and www.CaminoWays.com I thought differently of those clicking their sticks into the holds on the Ryanair www.ryanair.com flights.

My Way… the Camino

How wrong I was.

I could have done with a stick as I stumbled along the Via Francigena Small roads lead to Rome and www.FrancigenaWays.com.

On top of the world… well, Germany at least

I had one, hewn from wood, on my historic walk through Austrian and German history with Topflight for Schools… https://topflightforschools.ie

In fact two, three, four, five… they are left around the mountain by previous walkers.

Who, like me, forgetfully leave them behind as they take photos and selfies of the breathtaking scenery.

And I could have done with one on my toughest trek yet in the height and heat of a Tenerife autumn day…

I’ve got style and stile

On a storied climb up to Afur.., A walk through the ages… Tenerife and www.CanariaWays.com.

While walking through the Bohemian Switzerland section of the Czech Republic Hungry and Thursday – Czech please and www.czechtourism.com.

Czech me out in Bohemia

And on the actual Switzerland… it’s definitely worth a walk too https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/ and Swhisskey on the rocks.

So take your stick with you on your IrelandWays trek.

With particular reference to my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow, the Garden County.

Hike the Wicklow Way

Follow peaceful paths through ancient forests and open mountain trails to Glenmalure, Ireland’s longest glacier valley… and finish in Dublin.

Duration: Up to eight nights. Price: From €900pps.

And my best walking companion

The Kerry Camino

In olden times, Dingle was one of the departure points for ports for the north-western port of A Coruna.

From here set on foot for Santiago de Compostella

Duration: Up to four nights. Price: From €410pps.

*Book before March 31 to get a 10% discount off your trip.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day – missing Mass

Nothing much got past my Dad… he had rows of the Western Catholic Calendar in his bookcase to check when I was missing Mass.

Which I did today… and I’m only hoping that he’s not telling The BIg Man although He sees everything anyway, a bit like my Dad.

I did get up for 10am Mass today, albeit I cut it a bit fine… the trouble was I got lost. Obviously.

I’m still getting used to my new town, North Berwick, near Edinburgh.

North Berwick RC church

And I can find it if I set out from my Outlaws where we were living when we first turfed up here a fortnight ago.

But not from my new demesne, near the North Berwick sign on the main road.

I also missed Mass last week in the Czech Republic.

But my Dear Old Mum who is still alive and kicking, going to Mass, and telling everyone what they’re doing wrong, says: ‘You don’t have to go when you’re on holiday.’

It’s just that I do… my mantra is go to where the locals pray and play.

Old Czech Protestant service

And so on my previous sortie into the Czech Republic www.czechtourism.com I stumbled upon the first Protestant Jan Hus… Hope springs eternal.

I caught up with the one we know better, Martin Luther, in Dresden Dresden’s renaissance.

While in Tobago I sought out a happy-clappy West Indian Mass… On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago and Give us this Day – Sunday School.

At the Blue Cross, Medjugorje

I’ve also been on pilgrimage.. to Lourdes The Lourdes prayer, Fatima Secret Portugal and Medjugorje What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

Where I went to Mass every day and wore out my Rosary beads.

While there was also the Camino A pilgrim’s prayer and the Via Francigena Small roads lead to Rome and Jordan The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Do I protest too much?

Bernadette and me in Lourdes

It’s not just Christian Masses though… I seek out Mosques in Istanbul Wham bam, thank you Hamam and Sarajevo.

And synagogues and Jewish history in the Czech Republic and Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam.

So, I’m ready for my penance… and, yes, I know the tariff off by heart by now. Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Thirteen years an Irishman – Five holy holidays

Give us this day, your weekly Sunday sermon from your outgoing and going out Eucharistic Minister (no, really, I am).

And as part of my long farewell, though not quite the 40 days between Christ’s Resurrection and his Assumption.

I give you five holy holidays:

I’m James too

Saint James

Buen Camino, Camino passport stamps and the La Queimada (the Galicia Halloween festival complete with fiery alcohol cauldron.

Peregrinos, that’s pilgrims to you and me, blisters and blisteringly good pulpo (octopus) and Chianti.

And the red-cloaked clerics swinging the botafumiero, the ornate and heavy incense holder, at the Pilgrims’ Mass in St James’s Cathedral.

With www.caminoways.com and A pilgrim’s prayer.

Or Giacomo in Italian

Phew Italia

Stranded in a one-horse town at night and Rosso Rum has left la citta, a bus from nowhere, lost again ten minutes into my Via Francigena.

The 100km pilgrimage from Viterbo to Rome, via country paths with snarling dogs behind barbed wire fences.

The sight of the Tiber, getting your last stamp in St Peter’s Square. A day to walk round and round La Citta Eterna.

Visit www.francigenaways.com and Small roads lead to Rome.

The last secret of Fatima

I think she knows the words

A Cristiano Ronaldo beach towel on a stand among the Virgin Mary souvenirs outside the Little Shepherd’s home.

Praying with Maria dos Anjos, the niece of the last Little Shepherd in her porch.

An elderly woman crawling on her knees to the altar, and a drunken Scotsman crawling out of the bar after too much Madeira wine.

Visit www.visitportugal.com and Secret Portugal.

Lourdes have mercy

Bernie and me

Candles… in cartons for the night-time vigil, in the shops, giant ones at €60, and ones inscribed by everyone in the village in which they were carved.

The helpers wheeling the disabled, pilgrims quietly queuing in front of the baths.

St Bernadette hiding in the gardens around the model villages in Lourdes Castle and the interdit sign which a disobedient Scot will always ignore.

Visit https://en.lourdes-infotourisme.com and The Lourdes prayer.

The Medjugorje story

The Lady is waiting

A monk held captive by ISIS giving a talk to pilgrims.

A priest revealing how Our Lady revealed herself to him and listening to Ivan Visionary channeling the Virgin Mary at the Blue Cross.

Visiting Muslim Sarajevo, its beautiful Bey Mosque and its museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide https://sarajevo.travel/en/things-to-do/museum-of-crimes-against-humanity-and-genocide-1992-1995/923.

Visit https://marian.ie/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMInMu4zdWu5wIVWeDtCh19mA5OEAAYASAAEgIXzfD_BwE.

Tomorrow on my long goodbye, my favourite cities.

Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – cook around the world

A sallow 17-year-old, I was sent away with a recipe book, and not a clue how to cook – that’s an Irish Mammy for you!

Of course, I was never afraid to seek guidance, knocking on my flatmate’s door to ask how to make an omelette.

When he had his girlfriend around!

Well, you can’t make an omelette without cracking eggs.

I’m still checking out how the experts do it: when the Scary One allows me into her kitchen.

Here are my cookery demos from around the world:IMG_0964

It’s got arms and legs

Pulpo; The driver transporting me from Santiago de Compostella on my Camino would repeat two words on our 100km drive.

Albergo (hostel) and pulpo (octopus) .

Eating pulpo with Galician tomato sauce (not the stuff out of the bottle) sitting on a high stool with a vase of Rioja…

Bueno!

My friends at the Spanish Tourist Board in Dublin took us to Cookery School to show us how it’s done.

It looks like just boiling: something I could master.

Visit CaminoWays www.caminoways.com and read A pilgrim’s prayer

And obvs salty pulpo was the first dish I ordered in Tenerife with CanariaWays www.CanariaWays.com.

Where they taught us how to make mojo rojo, a fancy tomato sauce! A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

Ruby’s a gem:

Barbados Okra: Cooking in the Caribbean is a shared experience.

Which is why Ruby enlisted me as her assistant at Club Barbados http://www.thelubbarbados.com

To make Barbados Okra.

This is how to do it… heat the butter in a saucepan and sauté onion and garlic until soft and nicely smelly.

Add okra, salt and remaining water. Cook for ten to 15 minutes on low heat or until okra is cooked. 

 

Of course Ruby had something to say.

Also see www.visitbarbados.org and www.tropicalsky.ie.

And here’s my misadventures in Barbados Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

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Pasta masters

Pasta: Catherine Fulvio is Ireland’s pasta master.

And she’s now got me, of course, too whenever she needs some advice at her www.ballyknocken.ie.

Catherine and her kitchen were good enough to teach me how to make my own pasta and more.

When Top Flight, the Italian specialists, brought us along to showcase their new brochure www.topflight.ie.

Italy is a culinary dream and everyone returns with tales of their favourite restaurant and dish.

Mine’s is a risotto ai piselli in Padua… Frescoes

Cooking with Auntie

Curry favour: Or more accurately Uncle…

The uncle in this case being Uncle Kenneth at the Blue Crab restaurant in Scarborough, Tobago http://www.tobagobluecrab.comand http://www.visittobago.gov.tt

Uncle Kenneth let me help him cook the chicken curry… there’s a big Indian culinary influence on the island.

Auntie Alison was the real entertainer (hilarious) though telling the womenfolk how to keep their men interested.

Auntie Alison was the real entertainment (hilarious) though telling the womenfolk how to keep their men interested.

Here’s a peek, and some of my ramblings on the island made famous by Robinson Crusoe and, er, Ainsley Harriott… ainsley.

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How to boil an egg

Egg fried rice: The obvious one. But in the hands of a professional cook, and entertainer, it’s pure comedy.

And on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas they’ll do just that with their open kitchen.

What these guys can do with an egg… we’ll actually hatch a chicken in their chef’s hats.

While starting a singalong.

Visit www.royalcaribbean.com. And here’s a Royal party for you A Royal Party.