Africa, Countries, Culture

Our return to Africa and the Middle East

They’re the cradles of civilisations our modern metropolises still aspire to… and we’re planning our return to Africa and the Middle East.

The grand old cities of Jerusalem and Petra.

Spanning across the ages, one a living museum, the other a Modern Wonder of the World, they have rightly been honoured.

Ten out of ten

Camel ye: To Petra

In Travel + Leisure’s 10 Best Cities in Africa and the Middle East.

Jerusalem I have seen longingly, like Moses, from atop Mount Nebo on my G Adventures odyssey.

Petra, I have stood up close to, by a camel, whose ancestor would have carried a Nabataean in days of yore.

With divining rods for water to trade for the jewels of the desert… the Nalbataean that is.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tel Aviv shows Israel’s modern face.

Now being of the male variety, and so a listaholic, most rolls of honour fall into my remit.

Heroes in Capes

I’d have to see more of Cape Town than just the airport as I did on the way to the Eastern Cape

And would have had Covid not popped its head up as we were puttImg the final touches  to our trip to Napoleon’s island, St Helena.

The old perennials naturally pop up on the list.

Marrakech, the Pink City, was my first port of entry into Africa. 

And, of course, you can’t hold a whole continent against one country for an experience.

Of getting mugged in the souks and food poisoning in the Sahara.

So that the best experience of Morocco was in the airport back in Fez.

Although the good readers of Travel +
Leisure also have a penchant for the Moroccan port of Essaouira.

I’ll take your word for it.

Gulf in class

Where as a memento I brought back a camel scene handbag for my Dear Old Mum which she flashed around her Bridge club.

The Gulf has also been on the radar with visits from Dubair and Muscat delegations during my time in Dublin.

And after they got in touch and we explored opportunities in Abu Dhabi

Of course, it is pure indulgence to sit around and grade a continent and a region’s cities.

But it does serve another, healthy purpose… to travel in our imagination.

To share experiences and knowledge and plan our return to Africa and the Middle East.

Now which are your favourite cities?

 

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

Water into wine Israeli delicious

Jesus and the Apostles at the Marriage Feast at Cana. Jesus announces ‘I’ll turn this water into wine.’ Peter pipes up: ‘No, you won’t. You’ll buy your round like the rest of us.’

Just a wee joke as old as the Bible to illustrate that wine dates back to The Chosen People themselves.

And to ask where is the Israeli wine on our supermarket shelves?

Glass act: Israeli wine

Thankfully my Israeli friends sent me a bottle of the golden nectar to celebrate Shavuot with them.

Cheese and wine party

Shavuot marks the wheat festival in the Land of Israel.

And the commemoration of the anniversary of God’s giving of the Torah to the Children of Israel on Mount Sinai in 1312 BCE.

So how do Jews celebrate this, the Feast of Weeks?

Kibbutz in Israel

Well with dairy and the fermented juice of the grape, making it one of the oldest cheese and wine parties in history.

This, and more, we learned from our Israel hosts who warmed us all up on a cold mid-May morning.

Israeli delicious

Land of Milk and Honey they say.

Well each varietal of this elegant First Page 2017 wine from Givat Yeshayahu in the Judean Hills is separately fermented for seven months before blending.

Then 50% is aged in French oak and 50% in stainless steel producing a perfectly balanced and aromatic wine with hints of citrus and green apple.

The blend is 50% Pinot Gris, 40% Riesling and 10% Semillion.

And that bit about the Land of Milk and Honey… well, Israel is also the soil of Terra Rossa, clay and limestone.

No wonder the wedding guests turned to Jesus when they ran ou of this.

Kibbutz for hippies

Israeli trad music

The winemakers at Sphera focus solely on white wines.

Now for many an old hippy, like me, Israel and its communal kibbutzes truly represented a Promised Land.

And an Israeli tour guide from Kibbutz Ein-Carmel on our conference call and tour gave us an insight into the best of Israel.

And showed us how to dance a Hora.

Israel is  Promised Land I have still to set foot on although I have viewed it from 100ft away on the other side of the River Jordan.

On my G Adventures odyssey in Jordan.

And from atop Mt Nebo where Moses looked out onto the Land of Milk and Honey only for God to deny him access.

Worth the wait

Mt Nebo, Jordan

It famously took the Chosen People 40 years to reach The Promised Land following their release from Egypt.

And centuries longer after the various Falls of Jerusalem.

These are challenging times for an Israel which has in so many ways shown the way to the world in Covid vaccinations.

And where Travel routes have just been restored from England.

Promise us a miracle

Site of Jesus’s baptism on the River Jordan

So in this Feast of Weeks, we lift our glasses and toast each other, all of us and the power of miracles.

Water into wine Israeli delicious.

Now back to my First Page 2017 although I will be back to tell you more about Ancient wine.

And give a nod to my old friend from Colorado whose a  specialist in ancient food and wine. 

 

Countries, Europe, UK

Travel pursuits – UK and Scottish roadmap

How nearer are we to getting back on the road following the pronouncements from the British and Scottish governments.?

The answer is no nearer.

Let’s take what Airlines UK are saying.

They are calculating that with no significant 2021 summer Travel there will be a £55.7bn loss in trade and £3bn in tourism GDP.

While no link to the US until September will leave the UK £23m short a day.

All of which will put 574,000 jobs at risk.

The Alpha to Omega of Travel

So our message to the politicians is stop dithering, get the finger out, and put the technology in place to help us to travel.

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

Because we’re big on Covid passports here.

We will, of course, continue to flag up what other countries are doing… Greece and their policies and the pacesetters Israel.

We’ll continue to take soundings from our friends at the Scottish Passenger Agents Association and are happy to take up their cause.

Photo by Haley Black on Pexels.com

So it’s over to Joanne Dooey, SPAA President.

She said: ‘The concept of vaccine certificates as proof that you are protected against specific diseases is by no means new.

‘Some wishing to travel to a host of countries including parts of Africa and Central and South America and the Far East already have to do that.

‘And produce an International Certificate of Vaccination to gain entry.

‘As travel agents we’ve never experienced this system being described as divisive, authoritarian or a human rights issue.’

Test, test, test

And yes, like Joanne, we are all about the testing and I was happy to do just that to report on Bergamo last Autumn.

‘Testing will have a role to play in the restart of international travel for at least a 24-month period.

‘The current cost of PCR tests is too high to be affordable for the average family.

‘There is a need for quick, reliable and affordable testing at airports.

‘And we would welcome further research into the different forms of testing than PCR including antigen tests and lateral flow tests.”

Hear, hear.

The oldest and the best

And we here at jimmurty@traveltraveltravel.com will ALWAYS support our dream-makers, our Travel providers.

Wise words: Joanne Dooey

And a shout-out to the SPAA which was founded in 1921 is celebrating its centenary as the world’s oldest organisation representing travel agents.

It currently has 120 member companies.

All their associated agencies across Scotland including many home workers, and 92 associate members across the travel and transport industry.