Asia, Countries, Europe

Turkey with all the trimmings

I love my Turkey with all the trimmings and still like to get stuck in well after Christmas.

And the new year is when we’ll get back out to one of our old favourite destinations, Turkey.

Now going off on a tangent, or Turkey run, let’s revisit why the country and the fowl are interchangeable.

The story of the turkey

Where you from? Turkey, you say?

The turkey that we know, and scoff, is actually not the turkey that came to define the post-Ottoman Republican country to us.

That turkey is from Mexico which would make school geography schoolteachers and children’s heads turn.

Whereas the Turkey of our Europe and Asia- straddling country is actually the guinea fowl which was transported through eastern Africa to the OE.

And how it all got mangled into the word turkey is because of the similarities to the region Turcia.

Before he got stuffed on turkey: Jonny as Hank

It is also thought to have been passed around the courts of Europe.

With King Henry VIII said to have been the first English monarch to have eaten turkey.

Department of Turkey

Your Onur: With Onur, my pal from Turkish Airlines

That’s all something to chew on then as we digest the latest offerings from our pals at Travel Department.

Istanbul is the only place to start with Turkey.

Where obvs you’ll explore the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and go shopping for Turkish treats (and cats) in the Grand Bazaar.

I’ll always seek out war history wherever I go.

And next up is a visit to Gallipoli.

And if you were dreaming when that was taught in school then listen up to The Pogues’ And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

I, of course, worked like a Trojan at school, at least at history and this scribbling lark.

The joy of Troy

Trojan heroes: And not too Brad

Which is why I’d just scoop up the half-day excursion to ancient Troy.

You’ll also discover Ephesus, an Ancient Greek city which housed the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Deal me in

My cup of tea: Turkey

Priced from €1299pp it includes flights, transfers, seven nights’ accommodation on a B&B basis and expert guides.

Departures from 12th March with a selection of dates up to 11th October 2022.

I’ll take that: Turkey with all the trimmings and put it in a kebab for me.

For more information https://www.traveldepartment.com/holiday/istanbul-ancient-turkey

America, Canada, Countries, Europe, South America, UK

Benefits in going Cold Turkey

It’s a country I love and where I should be this month, and it might surprise you, but there are benefits in going Cold Turkey.

Turkey is for ever set at a crossroads, of continents and civilisations and change.

And diverse colours, hues of peoples and views.

And that changing perspective is as true of Nature and the seasons as it is of the peoples of this multi-faceted country.

As holidaymakers we’re more used to seeing Turkey when it’s roasting.

But it’s resplendent too when it puts on the winter whites.

Cappadocia caps it

Balloons for all seasons: In Cappodocia

Don’t just take my word for it though (well do) but Cappadocia glistens more than anywhere in the world according to our Instagrammers.

Wellness experts at Area 52 have looked at locations across the world and analysed Instagram hashtag data to see which are the most relaxing winter destinations to de-stress this year.

And Balloonists’ Nirvana Cappadocia tops the list with 

I’ve something of a history with balloons having missed out on the pleasure in locations as wide as the South of England, South Africa and Florida.

All of which makes me think that the best is just waiting for me when I get back on board with my favourite Turkish Airlines carrier.

And join the 257,000 Insta clickers who have got there first.

Lapping it up

Northern Lights too: Lapland

And yes you would expect Santa’s home in Lapland to be a favourite for winter worshippers.

And, particularly children which is why I put an old colleague and her nipper first… and incurred the wrath of Daddy’s Little Girl.

Lapland has been the focus of 222,000 Insta followers. 

Give a little Whistler

Whistler while you ski: Canada

With our attentions switching back to the full return of skiing my own revival on the slopes is on course.

Back in the day when I first took up pen my old boss used to snap up the Whistler trips.

And joined the thousands who broke off to snap the Canadian vista on Insta, 45,700 in all.

NY in winter

Icescraper: New York

Now when you’ve seen The Big Apple in the sweltering summer you’ll be glad to chill out in the winter.

This year I’ll leave it to my Irish-American relatives to enjoy their Thanksgiving Day (bucket list) but I’ll be doing the next big thing.

And break bread with my Irish family and friends at Visit USA in Dublin. 

Insta Kings

Now because we just know that you all love a list, here’s a rundown of the other favourite Insta winter destinations.

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

Location

Instagram Hashtag

Cappadocia, Turkey

257,000

Lapland, Finland

222,000

Missoula, Montana

124,000

Whistler, Canada

45,700

Prague, Czech Republic

27,200

Dolomites, Italy

27,200

Bled, Slovenia

26,500

Lofoten, Norway

10,500

Tromso, Norway

10,400

South Coast, Iceland

8,800

New York, USA

6,700

Mt.Cayambe, Ecuador

5,200

Lapland, Sweden

4,200

Highlands, Scotland

3,600

Yosemite, California

2,700

Rila, Bulgaria

862

Swiss Alps, Switzerland

845

Lake Baikal, Siberia

169

 

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – let’s Moroccanroll

And when you fall off the camel the best thing to do is get back on… only it’s a bike. But then when in Morocco…!

Morocco keeps coming up when I least expect it… and that’s just the beef tajine in the Atlas Mountains.

For many Morocco is Marrakech, the Punk City, and the Sahara Desert but there is much more.

The Moroccans are flagging up their mountain hiking, golf (and, yes, there is plenty of sand to find).

And lesser-celebrated towns Tangier (the capital), Rabat and Fez and the seaside resort of Dakhla.

Morocco is currently off the UK exempt list but when it returns (and it will) then join the half a million British visitors who go there every year.

Turkey shoot

Turk that: With Onur Gull of Turkish Airlines in Istanbul

The new strategy the UK government is applying to the exempt lust is now to ignore the stats even they apply.

Which is why Turkey is now off the list because the UK doesn’t trust the figures of infections they supply.

They are reporting 12.9 cases per 100,000, down from 14.2.

The British, of course have always been so reliable on reporting about Turkey.

The sun will rise again… in Poland

Remember the ‘Turkish threat’, the invasion of people decamping in Europe and the EU, a key plank of the Brexiteers’ campaign for the referendum!!

Poland and three Caribbean islands have also been added… Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba. But Barbados is free. Irie!

While Scotland has finally followed England’s lead and put.Madeira and the Azores back in the map.

By Hook or by crook

No witches overhead yet…. Hook lighthouse, Co. Wexford in Ireland

And Halloween being around the corner our holiday providers have been busy stirring the pot to find a magic potion to save Samhain.

Which is the traditional pagan name for the All Souls Festival.

Now I’m reminded of a tale I was told in Bowmore on the Inner Hebrides island of Islay of the circular church where the ‘divil had nowhere to hide.’

Bow I don’t know the angles at the Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford in Ireland but why not find out for yourself?

Spooky tours of the 800-year-old Hook Lighthouse will be on offer from October 29-31 from 6-8pm every half hour.

You will be met by a goos witch on every floor (and some surprises).

While there’s pumpkin painting (€7pp) and slate painting (€5pp) from 12pm-4pm in Saturday, September 31- Sunday, November.1.

Each session will be available to a maximum of six children. Book in advance (051) 397055.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

Eid celebrations around the world

The best way to learn about a culture is to go where they play and pray so the disruption to the Eid celebrations around the world diminishes us all.

I have a special connection with Eid.

As it was one of the early stories I covered as part of a column ‘Church News’ which I broadened beyond Christianity.

Eid ul-Adha, to give it its first full name, means ‘the celebration of the sacrifice’.

And it brings to an end the holy month of Ramadan.

All our story

It marks the story of Allah asking The Prophet Mohammed in a dream to sacrifice his son Ismael.

Which Jews and Christians will know as the Abraham and Isaac story.

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The way it usually is

It should come as little surprise to us that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the same roots and stories.

But it is nowhere more evident than at the crossroads of the great religions in the Jordan valley and in Israel.

Ever the diplomat

Where I would readily recommend my G Adventures host Zuhair Zuriqat.

His diplomatic prowess in managing our international party surely marks him out.

To broker the peace in this part of the world.

Now you know I love a festival as much if not more than the next man or woman…

And that those festivals normally involve drink.

Festival time

But not always.

I am transfixed by religious festivals too and will gladly travel the world to witness or take part in them.

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Joy in our hearts

Of course, the world being a smaller place, particularly now, we should also acknowledge that many of these festivals are on our doorstep.

Which is why it is alarming to hear that the lightning lockdowns in the north of England on the eve of Eid weekend may be deliberate.

Eid is all about extended families coming together at each others’ houses.

And there is more than a hint of mistrust from our politicians here who do not think that Muslims can adapt their customs accordingly to the pandemic.

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Our cup of tea… and I love reship

When in fact they are already doing so around the world with Turkey a prime example.

Of course Istanbul as we saw on our televisions with the Hagia Sofya celebrations last week is even more epic when its citizens come out to pray.

But they too are adapting their Eid to the current circumstances.

Sing out

That means communal prayers are cancelled to be replaced with broadcast prayers from the minarets of mosques.

Now just think about that… would our Government cancel Christmas, and with just a few hours’ notice?  Time will tell but you have to think not.

EID MUBARAK OR (AS THEY SAY IN TURKEY) BAYRAMINIZ KUTLU OTSUN

 

Adventure, Culture, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day: the day Jesus was baptised

You’d be glad of a cool down in the 30C heat of a Jordan May. but Jesus wasn’t complaining.

Today is designated the sacred day when we commemorate The Baptism of the Lord.

It is in truth a little cooler in Jordan than when I went, at 11C but I can’t imagine the Lord was shivering.

So for the day that’s in it let’s take a deeper look into baptisms.

The first question is: where exactly was Jesus baptised.

The Jordanians claimed that he was doused further inland at Al-Maghtas.

Here in ‘Bethany beyond the Jordan’ in what is modern-day Jordan.

The Israelis for their part believe that he was baptised on their banks.

And this is where the Russian Orthodox Christians believe there are healing waters and they go full immersion.

The Jordanians claim Jesus was baptised here

All of which I learned on my G Adventures trip to Jordan last year…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/culture/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/, http://www.visitjordan.com, http://www.gadventures.com.

While decide for yourself which you think it is…. or like me just soak it all up and maybe sneak some holy water… http://www.baptismsite.com

So for us Gentiles it’s worth reflecting that of course John, Jesus and all those who were being baptised were all Jews.

And that John though the most famous baptist would not have been the first.

Today at Mass

Ritual immersion had been part and parcel of Jewish culture, or mikvehs for some time.

Jews would ritually immerse themselves for spiritual purity before worshipping.

Washing is, of course, central to the daily and spiritual life of Muslims.

Water of Islam

As I have found out on my trips to Marrakech http://www.visitmarrakech.com and Morocco http://www.visitmorocco.com.

And more recently in Istanbul www.visitistanbul.com and Turkey www.goturkeytourism.com.

And Sarajevo in Bosnia & Herzegovina www.visitsarajevo.ba

The boys in the Blue Mosque

It is, of course, a primal act to wash as well as being hygienic.

And you can find it in Sikhism through Amrit Sanskar.

While in Hinduism they like to immerse statues of Durga and Ganesh during the final stages of the festivals Durga Puja and Ganesh Charturthi.

Water of death

And purification is as much part of death as it is a spiritual birth.

A ritual bath in pure water is performed for the dead in many religions including Judaism and Islam.

For more on this pilgrim’s progress… read https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/culture/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pilgrimage/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/ and Fatima in https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/

Uncategorized

Holiday snaps – TUI blue-sky thinking

I’ve always had a soft spot for TUI as they grew out of Thomson’s which had a newspaper arm, who gave me my first job and my first holiday discounts.

TUI http://www.tuiholidays.ie which gave us the dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and putting us in the middle and is now branding a range of holidays ‘Blue’.

Just a suggestion but you might want to talk about blue-sky thinking… my usual rate!

TUI Blue for Families

And here’s what they’re offering with their TUI Blue concept resorts.

Family fun

The 5T TUI BLUE for Families Atlantica Aegean in Rhodes sit on the edge of a sand and shingle beach.

With a jungle-themed waterpark bursting with tubes and slides.

And four restaurants with wellbeing at the core.

And it’s all just down the road with a regular bus service into Rhodes Town… http://www.visitrhodes.com.

Then there’s the 4TPlus TUI BLUE for All Grand Azur in Marmaris which comes with its own private Blue Flag beach.

Good clean fun: In the Istanbul hamam

Now as well as the best Turkish cuisine, I’m loving this…. Turkish language classes. Because I love Turkey http://www.goturkeytourism.com.

Guests can also visit a Hamam at the BLUE Spa.

And you won’t have to look at this motley crew from a trip to Istanbul either https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/.

TUI Blue for All

Now if you’re a fan of Portugal (of course you are) then try 4T TUI BLUE for TWO Falesia Atlantic.

When the boat comes in: The Algarve

Set on a clifftop location, there are two chic bars while you can reserve your table on the app.

The adults-only ‘instagrammable’ hotel is just a five-minute drive from the centre of Olhos D’Agua.

And if you want to explore lively Albufeira, it’s a 15-minute drive away, which lines up classy restaurants and late-night bars.

Water challenges: The Algarve

Portugal http://www.visitportugal.com is always high up my list of European destinations and recommendations.

Of course there’s the Algarve where for the sporty you can try the Campus in Quinta do Lago https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/.

And for a different Portugal try Portugal Centro… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Uncategorized

Moanday morning – it’s cats v dogs

You’re either a cat person (and my kind of human being) or a dog person (and probably not).

No doubt if I google it I’ll be able to find out what a cat person is and what constitutes a dog person.

Equally there’s bound to be some kerching mug, plate or tea towel saying why dogs are better than men and also cats. In fact I know there are.

Now don’t get me wrong I love dogs (most of them) but it’s just their owners.

Have you no respect?

Let me kick off with their extendable leads.

What was wrong with the small leads? They didn’t stretch far enough I hear dog owners scream.

But then what are you meant to do when you’re walking along the pavement?

Minding your own business, and you get your way blocked by Fido or Rover?

You’re forced into the road where you step on Fido’s do-dos.

Puss in books

OK, there’s less of that now, but the sight of dog owners earnestly and smugly gathering their pet’s poo in an outpoured plastic bag (and don’t get me going on plastic bags).

Or using that pooper scooper.

Cat’s litter

I mean why can’t they do like cats and do it in a tray or in someone else’s flower bed (I know I do, the last bit anyway, or at least I used to as a student).

And then you can’t get past two dog owners who meet in the middle of the pavement and start pawing each other’s pets.

And again you never get that with cats.

Spot the human: In South Africa

I was reminded of cats’ superior place in God’s choir by an old pal and fellow felinophile.

He was responding to my recent review on Istanbul by lauding the Turks, not least for their love of cats.

Bazaar cats

And yes, I was taken by the cats sprawling over the book stalls in the Grand Bazaar…

Something you definitely wouldn’t want a mangy old dog doing.

Join me in celebrating our furry friends and Turkey https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/. And here’s where to find out more about Turkey https://www.goturkeytourism.com.

That engine is purring. On the Via Francigena

In fact I’d say that in my travels my best animal experiences have been with cats.

There were the cats that joined me on the Camino https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/ and the Via Francigena https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/. http://www.caminoways.com and http://www.FrancigenaWays.com.

Doggone it!

Although I will give the dog who photobombed my pic of a Camino cross by piddling on it an A+.

Although I doubt it would have helped him getting to doggie heaven.

And my fur is growing… on the Camino

And, of course, I’ll always purr at the memory of our beloved First Born, our cheeky, too brave for his own good tabby Celtic.

He incurred the wrath of a particularly menacing crow – I think he was eyeing up her baby bird.

My cuddles

But the most majestic of all animals are the big cats and I will treasure getting this close to these pussycats on safari in the East Cape in South Africa.

MEEOW!