Asia, Countries, Culture, Pilgrimage

O Little Crown of Bethlehem

We can, of course, take historical re-enactment too literally but there are deffo no inns open today.

Like at the start of Covid when Palestine locked down for 30 days.

Which meant the holy sites.

Although for the Palestinians lockdown was nothing new.

Because as occupied territory Palestinians have become used to having to stay at hime and having their travel restricted.

Silent Night

The red flag was waved in February when a group of Greek tourists visited a Bethlehem.

The Church of the Nativity, on the site where Jesus was born, was shut then, and is shut again today….

To Wise Men from the East, shepherds in the fields… and us.

But it won’t always be.

There was much fanfare when EL AL rolled out its route from Dublin to Tel Aviv at the start of the year.

Holy flight

Joining the aerial map of lines into the Holy Land.

Today the Christmas Tree which was hoisted into position in Manger Square brought some much-needed cheer to these most resilient of townsfolk.

Some had attended a much more subdued Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity.

And Betlehem is across the faiths

Most though mark the day with their own kith and kin in their own domicile, which of course is what the Holy Family did.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph (as they exclaim in Ireland)! I got within 50 metres of Palestine!

G Whizz

When I visited the Baptismal Site of Jesus on my G Adventures tour of Jordan

And I witnessed a group of Russian Orthodox pilgrims duck each other in the Jordan from the other side.

Intermingled on the banks. of course, by rifle-wielding female soldiers.

Which would put anybody off trying to swim across.

Promised land

I’ll have to get there by more conventional means.

Which I would have done had I taken up the invitation to extend my Jordan tour with a trip around Israel and Palestine.

And where the Jordanians say Jesus was baptised

That I didn’t was because I didn’t want to leave my workmates with my workload for the two and a half weeks I’d been away.

A month later I had left said work.

And that’s my lesson for 2021.

Take up every opportunity, and for me that’s visiting Bethlehem and all the holy places.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – the kebab

It’s been an oasis in a desert of closed stores – the kebab shop here in North Berwick, south of Edinburgh.

Where a haggis supper (that’s battered haggis and chips) is even better than your most succulent T-bone steak.

Heck, it always has been.

And also a doner, or shish kebab, or pakora.

A stick-on

Tastes of our adolescence which have stayed with us into adulthood.

And not just if you live in Turkey or the Middle East, but very much a staple growing up in Scotland.

How Bazar!

And in the Bazar restaurant https://www.hotelbazar.nl/en/restaurant-bazar-amsterdam/ in the Middle Eastern De Pijp district of Amsterdam.

Which is a converted mosque and harvests the spices and flavours of North Africa and Asia.

Which are showcased out on the Albert Cuyp Markt on Albert Cuypstrasse in Oud-Zuid (Old South).

De Bazar in De Pijp in Amsterdam

They had come to Amsterdam (https://www.iamsterdam.com/en and Pictures of Amsterdam) to work in the Heineken factory.

A taste of Jordan

Where you can take in the whole Heineken Experience https://www.heineken.com/gb/agegateway?returnurl=%2fheineken-experience.

Our server Rasha was fresh into the great old Dutch city from Jordan.

And regaled us with stories of her homeland.

Which I was lucky enough to visit with G Adventures https://www.gadventures.co.uk and http://www.visitjordan.com.

Portable cooking in the desert

And eat in the Wadi Rum desert… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

It was, of course, the Turks who introduced the kebab to this gastronomically-challenged Glaswegian.

Which introduced me to Turks. And I’m very glad it did.

Family holidays

I introduced myself to Turkey on a family holiday to Bodrum https://www.bodrum.org where they took to us immediately.

And particularly the Son and Heir who they swirled around at the market on account of his near-Muslim name Ally.

He knows my order

I returned a couple of years ago, to Istanbul https://visit.istanbul.

As a guest of Turkish Airlines https://www.turkishairlines.com to their headquarters.

And to see the new $12bn Istanbul Airport, the biggest in the world.

And eat their speciality kofte meatballs, and kebabs, at the Istanbul institution, the Sultanahmet Koftecisi http://www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com.

I’d even fly myself

The Turks https://www.goturkeytourism.com and their kebabs have been part of British culture from my childhood and before.

They have helped to feed me since I were a boy, and not just after a slew of beer on a Friday and Saturday night.

Thank you Turkish Airlines

And they are here for us again in our time of troubles.

With Turkish Airlines at the heart of the mercy mission to cargo PPE to the UK.

They deserve our gratitude and acknowledgment.

And on this their National Sovereignty and Children’s Day an apology for the insults thrown at them during the Brexit referendum.

Adventure, Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine

Oscar bravo to Korea

It’s the pinnacle of your Korea as an actor. OK that’s enough puns (he lied).

South Korea is on everyone’s lips after Parasite’s sensational Oscar triumph yesterday in Hollywood.

And it gave me a little thrill to see Hollywood in all its glamour after visiting last year… https://www.discoverlosangeles.com/things-to-do/the-beginners-guide-to-hollywood and www.visitcalifornia.com.

All the colours of Seoul

So Chughahabrida to Korea and it. may again hold the world’s attention…

If they are successful in their joint-bid with the North to hold the 2032 Olympic Games.

Seoul hosted a memorable 1988 Olympic Games which was attended by all after the boycotts of Moscow 1980 and LA 1984.

The South Koreans came a-visiting just last month at the Holiday World Show in Dublin.

And wowed us with their pitch.

You won’t need second helpings

For a country that boasts old Buddhist temples, hilly countryside, coastal fishing villages.

Traditional food (look out for the bibimbap with its distinctive raw egg and sliced beef on top).

Sub-tropical islands, the volcanic Jeju island, and high-tech cities such as Seoul, the world’s third largest island, of course.

While Busan City is the country’s second largest, with mountains, water, a super cool bridge, and the world-famous Jagalchi Fish market.

Neon glitz in Seoul

I’m reminded here of my two brushes, indirectly, with the two Koreas.

My old Northern Irish flatmate who taught English as a foreign language to the public back in the Eighties.

I fear the poor souls will be going around saying ‘howabite ye?’ ‘yer man’ and a ‘wee fry.’

While my Orlando www.visitorlando.com and Why I love The Donald host Cory relayed us with tales from her year there where she was warmly welcomed.

By a nation where more than 90% of the population is indigenous.

Blooming marvellous

The South Koreans http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto want us to come to learn more about their culture and we theirs.

G Adventures www.gadventures.com has eight days ‘the Best of South Korea’ from €1399, down from €1749.

This trip embraces, rather than skirts, Korea’s troubled history with an excursion to the Demilitaised Zone separating the two Koreas.

Temple culture

You’ll visit spectacular Seoul, folk villages, temples and the bustling markets of Busan.

G Adventures can help point you in the direction of flights…

This offer is for departure date on March 13, and also March 20.

While there are 15% reductions for April 17 and March 30-June 7.

I can recommend first hand how interactive and how immersed in the local culture G Holidays are.

Shopping heaven: Traditional markets

With the best hosts… take a bow Zuhair.

From my visit to Jordan… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time and www.visitjordan.com.

So maybe this year your G Adventures trip will be to Korea… better start practising your Gangnam Style.