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.

Countries, Food & Wine, Ireland

Hungry and Thursday – The Irish pub worth every €9 a pint

The worst thing is I didn’t even balk when I read of the €9 Irish pint… I know Temple Bar well Raising the Bar.

This though is the fall-out from the Irish Government plan to get their greatest asset, their pubs, reopened.

Punters will be allowed back in but will only get their favourite pint of plain (that’s Guinness to you and me) if they sit down for a meal.

The Irish drinker

Yes, it’s not the Irish pub experience you might have heard of, the heaving mass of humanity packed in like sardines.

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Grannie’s Little Girl

But, in truth, Irish pubs have adapted more than any other country across my five decades.

And the Irish have often been leading while others have merely followed.

Remember it was the Irish who were the first country in the world to ban smoking in pubs.

And they said that wouldn’t work!

Mother’s pride

Irish pubs may be different from the one my Mum was brought up in with her Daddy, Masssey (or Mammy) and five sisters and four brothers in Co. Donegal.

I’m keeping my eye on you

No Sky TV, no jukebox… instead a haze of smoke, a sing-song and a roaring fire.

And a counter where you could buy every grocery or hardware item you might need in an Irish hamlet (or downland).

The roaring fire is still there at my mum’s hotel/bar, the Ramblers Inn in Brockagh, and welcome from Con who doffs his hat to my Mum’s family with a noticeboard of pictures from her childhood.

And puts out a giant teapot, doorstep sandwiches and home-made brack cake.

And some fuel for the fire

The last time we visited was on the eve of Arthur’s Day, a national branded exercise which ran from 2009-2013

And drew thousands to pubs around the country with live entertainment.

It was quiet the day we dropped in on my Mum’s old pub with the only other customer propped up on a barstool, Guinness in hand.

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Boys and the blackstuff

I asked him what he’d be doing for Arthur’s Day when Con piped in… ‘Same as every other day, eh?’

Irish Country pubs is what people come here for.

It doesn’t have to be so different post-Covid.

Just order your pint, loaf of bread, cheese, milk, needle and thread, peat briquettes and kindling.

See https://www.govisitdonegal.com, www.failteireland.ie and www.tourismireland.com.

And where is your favourite Country pub. Tell me and we’ll share the love.

Canada, Countries, Ireland

Where Canadians honeymoon? Ireland

A quarter of a million Canadians can’t be wrong about Ireland.

Which is why so many in Canada https://visit-canada.ca will tune into an episode of CTV Life Channel reality show Where to I Do tonight.

About a couple who search for the perfect venue for the wedding of their dreams.

Lutrellstown

Filming took place here last summer and was supported by Tourism Ireland www.tourismireland.com and Fáilte Ireland https://www.failteireland.ie.

Rock on Tommy

I don’t know him myself but my Canadian pals will be familiar with host Tommy Smyth who is taking his show outside North America for the first time.

Tommy will bring Josh and Andee to Luttrellstown Castle on the outskirts of Dublin www.visitdublin.com.

And a personal favourite, Kilruddery House & Gardens in Co. Wicklow https://killruddery.com.

And the Cliff at Lyons in Co. Kildare http://www.kildare.ie/tourism/

Kilruddery

Tourism Ireland in Toronto have been bysy flagging up the prog.

Party time

And hosted an online ‘watch party’ for Canadian influencers.

The online party included a Q&A session with the show’s host Timmy Smythe who chatted about his time filming in Ireland.

The Orangerie at The Cliff, Co. Kildare

And don’t I know it about Irish weddings with my Dear Old Dad and Mum marrying in Dublin’s port town of Dún Laoghaire.

Lost in France

Before heading for Europe on a road trip where Dad got them lost in Paris.

Wicklow’s vista

And the lesson here… honeymoon in Ireland.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

I wish I was back in Ireland

Where they are coming out of lockdown after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told his people when they could meet again.

While the only faces I see outside of my family back here in Scotland are our new guinea pigs Finlay and Fiachra.

Let me at the lettuce

May 18 is the first stage of a five-point road map.

With the phrase which will excite our garrulous Irish friends the most being ‘outdoor meetings between people from different households’

It sounds less of a reward than is first heralded, with myself and my new North Berwick neighbours having had a street party last week.

Jim tomorrow: With Travel pal Jim Gallagher and my Laurie

Don’t call the police, it was just the four of us from either side of the pavement.

If the Irish can hold their breaths (and they’ve been doing well, thus far, even cancelling their St Paddy’s Day parade) then that first hooley will be something.

It’s likely though to be phase five on August 10 before the real craic can start with the key phrase ‘larger social gatherings will be allowed.’

My local boozer: The Beach House, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

Other key highlights include:

*Opening of public libraries (June 8)

*Small retail offices will be open with social distancing observed (June 8).

*Small social gatherings will be permitted (June 29).

*If you like your museums then you’ll be at the front door of the newly reopened museums and galleries early… and the churches too (July 20).

And with the Son and Heir at our favourite Dublin bar Mary’s

*Bad news though for the kids of Ireland schools will reopen on August 10. Those who can be dragged away from the hooley.

Just to get you in the mood here’s what Dublin https://www.visitdublin.com, one of Europe’s great cities, has to offer.

We’ll meet again: No, not us, The Temple Bar

And here’s where to stay in Dublin and its hinterland, Co. Wicklow www.visitwicklow.ie.

The InterContinental in Dublin 4, Rugby central, it’s the InterCon… what a Ledge! and Flowerscourt, Powerscourt in the Garden County.

While beyond the Pale there is much to offer too… Monaghan’s country roads.

Now to catch a flight back… www.tourismireland.com and https://www.failteireland.ie.

Adventure, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Bananaman meets Bandanaman

Happy Birthday Bananaman, 40 years old on Saturday, although his alter ego, Eric Wimp still retains his schoolboy looks.

The Bash Street pupil who like all comic characters is condemned to be stuck in time and never grow up first appeared in ‘Nutty’.

Man of peel. Bananaman. www.wikipedia.com

Before going onto become a star of the Beano and Dandy.

Enough Banananaman already… here’s Bandanaman around the world…

Dublin and Portugal

I didn’t need asked twice to promote a barbers in Dublin who would green me up one Christmas…

Me and Cami with the long blonde hair

Cami liked my bushy bear while l stroked her luscious hair.

As we danced on the floor at Carnaval Court off the Strip in Las Vegas.

Visit www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

Towelled down in DC

We might not get tomorrow

Tonight, give me everything tonight.

And I did, grabbing R&B star Ne-Yo’s sweat towel at the American Travel Fair in Washington DC.

And we DID get tomorrow. Easy DC & https://washington.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyNz25NbO5wIVjbTtCh0y-Aj4EAAYAiAAEgLDx_D_BwE.

Maldives and a sarong

Sarong but oh, so right

I made sure that The Scary One didn’t send the sarong to the charity shop when we were moving.

What do you mean that nobody else would be seen dead…

Visit https://island-marketing.business.site and www.visitmaldives.com.

Trolls in the fjords

Norway would: On the MSC cruise

The wind was blowing in my beardie but not my bandana.

But I reckoned I looked full Viking on my MSC cruise www.msccruises.co.uk and The call of the fjords.

South Africa’s rand plan

Voting Line in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

They like their headdresses in Africa.

So I was right at home, particularly as my new friend Siseko chanelled his inner Bandanaman on a return visit last month for Holiday World,

Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and when I had to lie down in a thicket… What’s new pussycat?

Lie back and think of Jordan

So what else would you do in the Dead Sea!

Although you do get salt everywhere and it’s a divil to get the bandana on and off. And…

Read The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time and see www.visitjordan.com.

Countries, Ireland, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Rugby’s VAR and away days

The rugby Test match has come a long way since my days in the Schoolboys Enclosure at Murrayfield.

When programmes were 20p… they’re now about €15 although I’m grateful to the Irish Travel Agents Association for paying for me.

Both that and the ticket for the Ireland v Scotland match at the Aviva and the lunch before.

Remember to ground the ball

And the earpiece that hooks up to the referee and the action on the pitch.

As football tears itself apart over video assistant referees it seems that rugby has had the answer all along.

This magic earpiece, which you can buy at the ground, lets you into the decision-making on the pitch.

Both the referee and the captains’ response.

That the players eff and blind a bit so be it… we’re all grown-ups.

And I’ve got the kiltie on: With my Travel pal Michelle Jackson

That the crowd can hear the decision quickly and with clarity keeps us all informed.

And surely that is all we ask for.

Of course it can’t stop Scottish captains dropping the ball on the try line.

So here is my answer… let the spectator talk to the players on the pitch via a mouthpiece.

So where are we on a Travel blog with this? Edinburgh that is… where I now live again.

It’s the great thing about life and Travel…

Football can learn a lesson

Last week here I was at the Aviva this week I’m watching the Scotland v England game in Edinburgh.

Now I know the Scary One will get me back for that!

A girls’ weekend away

It struck me though, and my brother reminded me of it, that my adult life has spanned Britain and Ireland.

Get on your bike… for Rome

If only I’d progressed from being captain of the C team at school.

London goes round and round

See https://www.visitlondon.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4JqL2cHA5wIVF-DtCh1BsQ7HEAAYASAAEgLTtvD_BwE And read The London life and Carole King… you’re Beautiful.

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Whiskey – it’s Irish for whisky

It’s a Scottish thing… to say ‘without the e’. Why? Because the Scots are too tight to give you the extra ‘e’.

No, that’s just my little joke, to get my retaliation in first.

We are of course nothing like this stereotype and are in fact very charitable.

And liable to go off on a tangent. So back to whiskey… and the launch of IrishWhiskey360°.

Me as a younger man.. I wish. Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi

It’s the new brand and home of Irish whiskey tourism although of course Irish whiskey has been around for ever.

It’s the water of life, uisce beatha, after all while Bushmills Distilleryhttp://www.bushmills.com in Antrim is the oldest in the world.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD (centre), with PaulKelly (left), CEO of Fáilte Ireland, and David Stapleton, Chairman of Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey

There are 17 Irish whiskey distillery visitors centres or brand homes operated by Drinks Ireland/Irish Whiskey Association.

Ireland is aiming to become the number one destination in the world for whiskey tourism.

You can have that… and Scotland will be the top whisky destination.

A milllion welcomes

Last year there were 923,000 visitors to this island of Ireland.

And with the figures for this year set to go through the million mark that seems a very good reason to have a festival.

If any is needed.

Some take it with ice. Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The Festival of Irish Whiskey, supported by Failte Ireland as part of Taste the Island, will take place between Thursday, October 10 and Sunday, 13.

There will be 30 events and promotions in distilleries, brand homes and visitor centres across thew country.

The events will range across free and discounted tours, open days, whiskey tastings and food pairings to meet the distillers and more.

Roll out the barrel

Now I’ve been on more distillery tours than I’ve had orange malted drinks (well, not really, but I’ve been to a lot).

And the best bit of them is not how it’s mashed but how we get smashed.

Of course I don’t mean that (drink responsibly everyone) but it’s the sample we get at the end of the tour that makes all the learning more palatable.

Plenty of ice here: In an Ice Bar

Visit http://www.IrishWhiskey360.ie. http://www.failteireland.ie,

Now all the distilleries are worthy of a mention and I’m ticking them off as I go.

But for here I’ll just flag up my local distillery, Powerscourt, and Slane. http://www.powerscourtdistillery.com http://www.slaneirishwhiskey.com.

No, I don’t miss much about my old work but one guy who was a diamond is Stephen.

Now Stephen is a whizz on IT and I was his best customer.

Now this is Swhisskey

But he is even better on whiskey. And I was delighted to be able to invite him down to Slane as my Plus One.

Now that I think about it, Stephen, my screen is doing funny things here…

Drams are made of this

Here’s some whisk(e)y adventures… at least the ones I remember. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/brexit-aberdeen-a-light-in-the-north/

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/

And look out every Thursday for my food and drinks column. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/05/hungry-and-thursday-wrinkly-potatoes/.

Also my cocktail column https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/05/jocktails-tenerife-coffee-liqueurs/

Slainté

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This Sporting Weekend – Gaelic

‘Come on and I’ll take you to the football’ always got the Son and Heir out of bed.

Nothing will probably compare to the time we were in Edinburgh and I told him to get his coat as we were off to see his beloved Liverpool.

Understandably he thought we were off to the pub until we got on the road to Sunderland.

I teased him too when we relocated to Co. Wicklow in Ireland and I tempted him again with football.

Despite Ireland being without a professional football league such is his love for the game that he would have gladly gone down to see Bray.

But we headed the other way to see Wicklow play Gaelic Football against I can’t remember who in Aughrim.

There had been a lot of noise around their new coach, Kerry and the game’s legend Micko O’Dwyer.

The whole community atmosphere of the day caught our imagination.

Parking on a muddy verge, creature comfort food and us standing up with the crowd for the national anthem Amrhán na bhFiann.

Or Soldier’s Song, an anthem I’d learned at my Donegal mum’s knee and on the terraces of Celtic Park in Glasgow.

Kerry http://www.gaa.ie

And I loved too that fans of both Gaelic football teams milled around together where football teams don’t.

And against his better judgment the Son and Heir enjoyed himself.

Although I don’t think either of us remember who the opposition were.

Or whether we won.

The national games

The All-Ireland Gaelic football competition and Ireland’s other indigenous sport hurling are nearing their climax in September.

And whoever wins, and it’s usually Dublin and Kerry at Gaelic football, and Kilkenny at hurling, the cups will do a tour of the counties.

And the other game of hurling. http://www.gaa.ie

And I got a taste of it when I was told of the lengths that neighbouring town lands, or village outposts, in Monaghan would go to to gain an advantage.

Read my misadventures in Monaghan’s country roads.

And for all you want to know about Co. Monaghan see http://www.visitmonaghantourism.com and Co. Wicklow http://www.visitwicklow.ie

For everything you want to know about Ireland’s home sports visit http://www.gaa.ie and Ireland http://www.failteireland.ie.