Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, UK

Holidos and don’ts – the Road to Bergamo

At the umpteenth time of asking I’m on the road again… this time to Bergamo, Italy.

Where Europe first witnessed the virus, but now, Grazie Dio, it is a tourist destination again.

The journey, like so many these days does not begin in a travel agent but in an Edinburgh pharmacy with a Covid-19 home kit.

That’ll be £115 to you and me with a £10 courier service to get the sample to Belfast (no, me neither)

Wash those handsies: Edinburgh Airport

The test is invasive and involves you scraping the tonsils (or back of the throat if you’re sans tonsils).

Break the swab stick in half and insert it into the tube provided.

Then break the swab in half and repeat for the nose.

Love a duck: The kerching shop

And if you think I’m going to do that to myself you have another thing coming.

The indomitable Mrs M is my willing assistant in this.

And she seemed a bit too enthusiastic too about the task, saying she was ‘going tae stick it right up me, pal!’

I felt my only brain cell too being scratched as the water welled in my eyes.

Follow the science

When you’ve stopped blinking fill out an online form.

And then sit back and wait for them to email you the next day verifying they got your samples.

Then within 48 hours they’ll email you again to tell you if you’re positive or negative.

You’re on your way.

Check, of course, that your politicians haven’t changed the rules regarding the country you’re visiting.

Or in the country you’re imprisoned in.

And make your way to Edinburgh airport.

Airports are normally a hive of activity but with a vastly reduced number of passengers now it’s refreshing to be able to breathe.

Or it would be if I wasn’t wearing the compulsory medical mask that you have to sport when you’re on the move.

I saw one imposter wearing a bandana around his mouth (the very thought!) but better not risk it.

Not that the staff in Edinburgh are airstapo or anything… they are, in fact, delighted to see you and are I’m sure smiling behind their masks.

Seeing this is a whistlestop visit I’ve taken only a small rucksack and a slightly larger rucksack with wheels.

Ryanair: Those clouds are lifting

Which meets the Ryanair regulations.

And it all cuts out the need for the electronic bag drop off which I hate.

So you’re now through the first test of the Crystal Maze and into the shopping and eating and dining concourse.

Flying safe

It’s all pretty much the same although there are no wee whisky or gin plastic samples.

I guess you’ll just have to buy the stuff.

The kerching souvenir shops are still pedalling their merchandise and you can, of course, still buy your Saltire rubber duck and fridge magnet.

Grab a seat, buy your bottle of water (unless you’re an airport drinker even if this is 7.30am) and pour it into your own container.

Better still if you can find yourself next to a plug to keep your phone charged… the Scary One is bound to text.

And besides if you’re under the age of 30 you’ll have your ticket and documents on your phone.

All the time remember to hand sanitise after everything you do.

Make sure you’ve got all your possessions and documents and sit under the departure board.

Particularly your passport and evidence of your negative test to show at the gate.

Made it: Bergamo

And, maybe go to the toilet before you board.

Now barring being stopped at the gate I’m back on the road… to Bergamo.

Now, what could possibly go wrong?

And seeing this is my first time in Il Bel Paese for a couple of years I’ve been taking a trip down Memory Lane…

And Rome, Padova and Venice. Bella, bella.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Driving entertainment in lockdown

It’s all come a long way since the days when a drive-thru was getting out of the car and picking up the family’s takeaway.

Now because of COVID we can stay in our hermetically-sealed cocoon and enjoy all manner of thrills.

Park by the Pole

Steamy windows

Lucky Devil Lounge, Portland, Oregon: And here’s where you can get extra with your bun… two buns actually!

Customers who order food can pay $30 per car and driver (plus $10 for any passengers in the car) to use the drive-thru and watch a show.

In normal years I find myself in the US around Gay Pride.

And my friends at the American Travel Fair, IPW, put on a fabulous Gay Pride night… Washington, Denver, Los Angeles/Anaheim.

Bless me, Father

Two Our Fathers and Three Hail Marys

Limoges, France: Maybe you’ve not been out enough over these lockdowns to have compiled enough sins but come on, all that food and drink.

And Sainte Jeanne d’Arc in Limoges will hear your darkest secrets from your car.

When all this is over, of course many of us will be going all Medieval and giving thanks to the Great Redeemer.

In France, that’s Lourdes, in Portugal it’s Fatima, Italy is Rome, Spain the Camino and Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Probably the best gig

Mads for it

Denmark: And Mads Langer doesn’t let a small thing like lockdown make him down his mic.

Mads sold 500 tickets for a concert at Tangkrogen outside Aarhus, Denmark’s second city after Copenhagen.

The cars were rockin’ and rollin’!

Airport movies

Bringing some colour into our lives

Edinburgh AirportAnd all of this drive-thrumania has been triggered by the news that my local airport Edinburgh is putting on a Halloween offering.

Drive-ins were always the stuff of James Dean movies (the first drive-in cinema was actually New Jersey, not LA).

You never forget your first time though and that for me was Toronto and a Bond movie, The Living Daylights. And while our first albums are usually embarrassing I’m happy with that choice.

Anyhoos back to Edinburgh. You’ll get Ghostbusters, Hocus Pocus, Coco, The Lost Boys, Jaws (not nearly as terrifying at Universal Studios Hollywood) and Halloween.

November brings us Back to the Future, Rocketman, Mamma Mia and more.

There’s entertainment galore, food and drink from local producers Cold Town Beer and Alandas plus DJ Captain Calverto will entertain you before each film with car discos. singalongs and quiz fun.

They’ve offered me (and I guess you too) the chance to win tickets.

And you might even see a plane flying overhead… and hopefully I’ll be on it.

 

 

 

Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Lisbon lie-ins

Paris or Munich players will wake up with sore heads tomorrow morning in Lisbon after tonight’s Champions League final.

Just like many a thousand Scot did 53 years ago when Celtic’s Lisbon Lions became the first British club to win the European Cup.

Scots have long had a special relationship with Portugal with it truly being for many back in the day their first foray off this isle.

So amid all the gloom Portugal’s return to the UK exempt list where we don’t have to self-isolate on our return is truly welcome.

And it is good to see that my new local, Edinburgh Airport is reaching out.

To flag up the delights of Lisbon from £128, Porto from £72 Faro from £172 and Madeira from £452.

All on my list and a next stop after our adventures in the Algarve and Portugal Centro.

Where a lie-in in Fatima is disturbed by the Church bells beckoning you to give praise to Our Lady.

Make ski and mend

And a shout-out here to my old pal and contributor and multi award-winning ski writer Catherine ‘Murphski’ Murphy.

For whom lockdown has been torture because she had to spend half the year down here in the valleys with the rest of us.

Catherine has though flagged up some skiing in Ireland.

Sands slaloms

No, she wasn’t hallucinating.

Rather it is sand skiing in the west of Ireland in Co. Mayo.

And if you thought that was mad then in outdoorsy Colorado I only looked out the coach window to find a woman skiing along the road.

On the lay-by in the heart of summer.

The Ski Club of Ireland

Skiheads will grab their pleasures where they fond them.

And in Ireland, that means the Ski Club of Ireland in Kilternan in Co. Wicklow. And you can always ski home down the road.

A day at my Turkish barber’s

With my old friend Onur on the Bosphorus

The conversation turns at the barber’s, as it always will, to where you’ve been, or are planning to go, on holiday.

Only in these COVID days even the most intrepid traveller is mostly confined to barracks.

But while we wait around to get back on the road we can reminisce.

Up, up and away in Cappodocia

Which is what I’ve been doing with my new Turkish pals at the barber’s shop in North Berwick, south of Edinburgh.

About Istanbul and the new airport (Mohammed raised it).

Mohammed flagged up the virtues of the capital, Ankara.

Which I’ve long known about from my old buddy Ireland’s Mr Turkish Airlines himself, and fellow Ankara native Onur.

The cat’s whiskers: Turkey’s ancient ruins

All of which reminisces are well and fine but we must look to the future and researching a trip I’ll keep on the lowdown for now I came across…

My friends at Intrepid Travel are offering £1 deposits for holidays for 2021.

Which includes 15 days Turkey Encompassed from £1186 (down from £1475) starting and finishing in incredible Istanbul.

And taking in Cappadocia, the islands off Kepova, the ancient ruins of Ephesus, the hot springs of Pammukale and the war memorial at Gallipoli.

Asia, Countries, Europe, Flying

Flyday Friday – Turkish d’flight out of Dublin

You know they’re smiling behind their masks… and why wouldn’t they? Because Turkish Airlines are back flying us out of Dublin.

And believe me they’re a delight.

I have fond memories of being met by Mr Turkish Airlines wwwa.turkishairlines.ie Onur Gul at their desk before being flown out to exotic destinations… https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/amp/ and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

They’ll be flying twice a week for the remainder of this month and four times weekly in July.

I do hope that we’ll not stop talking to our fellow passengers just because we’re wearing masks.

I’ve met some lovely and fascinating people on flights.

Sweet dreams

And the odd Manchester United fan in TA’s famed business class with whom I’ve slept tops and tails and who has snored their head off.

You know who you are, Brian http://www.kuramathi.ie.

Virgin territory

Passengers are a bit like needy lovestruck teenagers… stick with me here.

We need constant reassurance and validation.

And I’m happy to say that our airlines have been using this lockdown to tell us how much they love us.

I know, and love Virgin, from my fact-finding research trips to the Caribbean www.visitbarbados.org, www.visittobago.gov.tt and Let’s rumba in Barbados, My kiss with Rihanna and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

And I am delighted that they have been keeping us members of their Flying Club up to speed with how we’ll all be taking to the skies again soon.

Come August they’ll be planning to return to 17 destinations.

They’re all available to book now along with flights from New York JFK, Los Angeles and Hong Kong to London Heathrow, starting from July 20.

And here’s what to do when you get there, https://www.virginatlantic.com, www.visitlondon.com and The London life and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/29/carole-king-youre-beautiful-londonwestend-musical/amp/.

Departing Edinburgh

No, I haven’t persuaded The Scary One to leave the delights of North Berwick near Edinburgh, I’m merely flagging up Edinburgh Airport’s http://www.edinburghairport.com reopened destinations.

Edinburgh was the last airport I flew out of … to Prague www.czechtourism.com way back in February. Yes years ago Hope springs eternal.

And I’m glad to say they’re now flagging up other old favourites back on the schedule.

Budapest, Malaga, Alicante and Barcelona https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/ and Messi around on the water . And Smooth sailing around the Western Med.

And anybody who has flown out of Dublin Airport and then Edinburgh http://www.edinburgh.org  and Edinburgh – an old friend will be comforted by the comparative smallness of the Scottish version.

Taking to the Aer

And the last word is to back Aer Lingus’s www.aerlingus.com stance on the Irish Government’s latest direction of travel on quarantines.

While welcoming the lifting of the restrictions from July 9, they merely want clarity until then.

As one who would gladly queue overnight to get back, I echo their call. And all my airline friends who we appreciate even more, if that’s possible, now we’ve been seeing them less Flyday Friday – Airline angels with wings 

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Countries, Europe, Flying

Holidos and don’ts – know your airport

Now, it would be silly to suggesr an airport is as familiar as a train or bus station while it is considerably more complicated.

But knowing your airport can take the stress out of your holiday: start badly and it’ll set your break off wrongly.

And as I begin a new journey from a new (old) airport here in Edinburgh www.edinburghairport.com my first thought is that this does save the legs.

An old fave, Turkish Airport, at Edinburgh Airport

Anybody who has been through Dublin Airport (www.dublinairport.com) knows the long hike to your airplane.

It almost feels like you are taking the strain off the plane by walking halfway to your holiday destination yourself.

So leave yourself plenty of time. while it’s easy to mix up your Ryanairs and Aer Linguses.

Flyinair

So don’t leave yourself having to sprint between terminals: Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) Terminal 1 and Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com).

Apply this logic too to even bigger airports where it might involve buses between terminals, or even trains.

And ALWAYS read the small print on your information… you may be flying with an auxiliary airline from Munich to Athens.

And the main airline where you are is in another terminal in the airport.

Yes, guilty, and I am forever grateful and still terrified of the Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com) reservations manager I had to break the news to… My Greek odyssey.