Countries, Cruising, Flying, Food & Wine

New Year Revolutions

And as the Alt-Right tries to wage a Second American Revolution in the US a look at the revolutions we do need.

The air

United we atand

And clearly the challenge is carbon emissions where EasyJet can take a bow.

The budget airline topped a London School of Economics report in a top five which also includes Alaska Air, Qantas, my old friends at United who flew me to the Deep South and JetBlue.

The seas

Norway wood: In the Norwegian fjords

And high up for the haters in this Covid and Climate crisis are our cruise ships.

Where my old faves MSC whom I sailed with around the Norwegian fjords, Royal Caribbean who showed off their wares in the English Channel and in Barcelona.

And Celebrity Cruises who treated us all like, well Celebrities, off the coast of Florida on their $1bn state-of-the-art Edge.

A nod here to Princess Cruises who had us on board when they stopped off in Dublin on their way round Britain and Ireland.

And Paul Gauguin Cruises who drew us a picture of tantalising Tahiti who have been keeping us going through lockdown with their images and news.

The food

Food for thought: A tajine

And now more than ever we have to watch what and where we eat.

So that means avoiding markets we know little about in countries we are visiting for the first time.

So for me that was Morocco and I should have gone with the professionals.

Northern Africa and the Middle Eastern food is bright, spicy and often new for Western palates so don’t be afraid to ask.

And if you can find Zuhair, G AdventuresJordanian host extraordinaire then all the better.

All our cultures and culinary ways should be celebrated around the world and animal welfare should be central to our approach.

A joint resolution

I’ve probably already broken my own personal resolutions already so it might be presumptuous to ask my Travel pals to take on these targets.

But, in truth, we’re all in it together…

This past year’s challenges have brought opprobrium upon Travel professionals but lockdown has only reaffirmed how vital it is to us all.

So let’s build it back even better this year.

Adventure, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Out of my tree

And watching the Scary One plant her pear trees in the drizzle for National Tree Week has sparked memories of where I’ve been out of my tree around the world.

Let’s hear it for the beardies… on Barbados

Beardy trees

Caribbean: The trees certainly caught the Portuguese mariners” eye when they landed in Barbados..

Not the golden beaches, interestingly (well they have their own) but their bearded Ficus citrifolia.

While we all visit the West Indies for its beaches we miss a lot if we ignore its heartland so you should go safari.

Where Dwayne will tear up the woodland in his Jeep and the bowed bearded trees will flick your face.

Eat one of those famous Tobagonian meals of fish which has just jumped out of the sea and macaroni in Jemma’s Treehouse.

And sleep it off in your own treehouse in Castara Retreats in a hammock naturally.

Tree si

Bergamo is a poplar destination

Italy: And my favourite is this much-loved straight up and down tree… it’s very poplar.

My good friend and an Irish Travel Writer of the Year into the bargain, Muriel Bolger, wrote beautifully for me on their appeal, on a trip I sent her on to Northern Italy.

Which I checked out for myself in Bergamo this past Autumn.

I had, of course, familiarised myself with them when I went off-road on my Via Francigena pilgrimage.

Me and the chasing dogs.

Espana fir favor

Does this house look big on me?

Spain: And while the summer is when we all descend on Spain’s beaches here’s my ode to Autumn in Espana.

When nature is in a state of undress, and when she is at her most becoming.

The best way to discover a region is by foot and on my Camino in Galicia I trudged the same tracks the Medieval Peregrinos did.

I dare say that the tree growing out of this house was there then too.

The explorer to Tenerife, rather than the sun seeker, will head north, rather than south.

And the rainforest in the Northern Anaga Mountains. All of which you cam enjoy on your CanariaWays.com trip.

The Power of trees

Crane your neck: The Douglas Fir at Powerscourt

Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Ireland: And when you live in the Garden County of Wicklow then trees are all around you.

The tallest one in Ireland is on the magnificent Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, near Bray, some 60m plus which is it the seventh highest in Europe.

And when you stay in the sumptuous hotel you get a view, and a review, like no other.

And shiver me timbers

Who put that there? On Edge

Celebrity Edge: And trees are the last thing you’d expect on a cruise ship.

But this is just one of the things which separates the $1bn Celebrity Cruises Edge from the other ships on the seas..

Edge which I boarded two years ago for its inaugural trip from Fort Lauderdale to tbe Bahamas boasts Eden, a forested wonder et land of plants.

But then every on Edge transports you to a different world.

MEET YOU UP A TREE

Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Give us this Day – charity begins abroad

The collection plate has for a long time been coming around twice.

While there’s always someone at the church door with another charity box.

You might recognise them from coming around your house.

We have, of course, been given a reprieve during lockdown.

Give a little bit

Doctor’s orders… my Dear Old Dad

Of course charities are having it tough right now with many of us left cash-strapped by the Covid crisis.

But while there’s less to go around just now we’ve been here before and found an enduring solution.

Tithes, integral in Islam, used to be a central plank in Christianity.

But they’ve not gone way.

Going through my Dad’s personal effects I came across documentation from his contributions to the Church.

A percentage of his income.

Middle Eastern culture

A design for life: In Jordan

One of the joys of visiting the Middle East is immersing yourself in Islamic culture.

And it is heartening to find holiday providers who feel the same.

Such as G Adventures https://www.gadventures.co.uk and http://gadventures.iewho through their Planeterra Foundation https://planeterra.org help build community projects in their destinations.

Which I found when I visited Jordan www.visitjordan.com.

We can often be suspicious when we hear of the biggest companies allying with charities.

And Celebrity Cruises https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/?ecid=ps_accord_google_brnd_bndpurebrand%5Bexact%5D_gbr&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu5TajbvM6QIVYIBQBh1PvARHEAAYASAAEgKjY_D_BwE and Malala Yousafzai didn’t initially seem to be ideal bedfellows.

A very young Godmother

But the Nobel Prize winner has lent great credibility and authenticity as Celebrity’s Godmother I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here to their involvement in the destinations they visit.

Now I’m as guilty as the next man of glossing over Liam Neeson et al’s message to give on airlines… and then failing to fill those little envelopes.

But once I get back on a plane (and I mean that to be soon) I will ensure I empty my pockets into the envelope.

There are some out there who need no pricking of their conscience.

The Scots who give 

And a square meal for all around the world

Such as Scots Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane who were so moved by an article in The Glasgow Herald on the Marian apparitions in a small Bosnian town that they went out there.

And then began a charity drive through the Balkans Wars which grew into the phenomenon that is Mary’s Meals https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/who-we-are/our-history/marys-meals-a-fruit-of-medjugorje/

Which helps give a square meal to those in less developed countries to provide a springboard and which you can see out in Medjugorje.

Where I visited with Marian Pilgrimages https://marian.ie and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

And Sarajevo’s rebuild

Christians and Muslims: In Sarajevo

You can also take a day out to Sarajevo where Muslim and Christian have come together over time.

But where still the human instinct to give through charity has helped rebuild the central city of Sarajevo  Sarajevo revisited: Arnie’s story.