Countries, Culture, Europe

Flying turtles to the Canaries

And let’s not be shellfish here that someone else is getting abroad, that Aer Lingus is flying turtles to the Canaries.

No lateral flow tests, no 72-hour PCR test, no passenger locator forms…

Well, this turtle is Canarian.

Julius Caesar (stay with me here) has been kicking his stubby feet in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, for the best part of a year and a half.

The loggerhead sea turtle washed ashore in 2019.

Hail Caesar

Crate expectations: JC gets the deluxe treatment

Julius Caesar, thus named by the Donegal family who found him because of his fighting spirit, has been recuperating in Down.

At the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry where they have put the poor fella back together again.

JC was just three months old when he was swept along the current (and who hasn’t been there).

And he was carried along the Gulf Stream to Co. Donegal.

Donegal diver

Just the ticket: And it’s Turtle luxury on Aer Lingus

The poor wee thing was underweight, just under a few hundred grammes, and suffering from hypothermia.

So it was just as well that it was Donegal where he was found.

Because Ireland’s most northern county boasts the warmest people in the world.

OK I’m biased as my Dear Old Mum and her people are daughter and sons of the sod.

The Ulster folk are famous for their hospitality as anyone who has enjoyed their ‘wee’ Ulster Fry will testify.

Turtle’s Ulster Fry

Turtle loving care: And the crew is besotted

So it’s no surprise Donegal’s fellow Ulsterians filled JC up.

Those pounds piled up on a diet of fish mixture, squid and gel.

Just a thought here but I might just have been a turtle in a previous life.

As I’ve got on famously with them in Barbados and in the Maldives.

Well, after 20 months being pampered in Ireland the day finally came today for JC to head home to the Canaries.

And when you travel from Ireland you need to promote the national airline carrier.

And of course Aer Lingus was only too happy to fly JC on the EI 782 to veterinarian Pascual Calabuig at the Tarifa Wildlife Recovery Centre on Gran Canaria.

Turtle on board

It’ll take longer: The swim back to the Canaries

JC’s minder Portia Simpson is going along for the company.

Our turtle, now weighing 25kg, is protected in a specially designed waterproof crate.

I can only say the best things about Aer Lingus’s flight experience… and the same can be said for turtles.

JC is not the first turtle that Aer Lingus has repatriated.

Another rogue loggerhead turtle, Leona, was found in Co. Clare in 2013 and transported to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria by Aer Lingus in December 2014.

This is your pilot speaking

Next time I’m flying: And i’ll choose Aer Lingus

Pilot Captain Peter Lumsden introduced the VIP to the passengers.

‘It is our pleasure to welcome aboard a very special passenger today and to ensure the safe transportation of JC the Turtle to Gran Canaria.

‘Keeping the turtle’s temperature above 19 degrees is critical to his wellbeing and he requires regular monitoring and shell lubrication so placing him in the aircraft hold was not an option.

‘Like all of us on the flight today, I’m sure he is looking forward to the warmer climate upon landing.’

Turtle minder

And so say all of me. The Canaries are a pleasure any time of the year, but especially in the late summer after a year in cold storage.

So the next time Portia needs a hand, then I’d be happy to fly turtles to the Canaries.

 

 

 

 

Countries, Culture

The day Travel fought back exceptionally

This was the day Travel fought back exceptionally.

I have discovered since returning to the UK last year after 13 years in Ireland that a sinister exceptionalism, dressed up as nationalism, stalks the island.

Our clarion call

Get on board

Britain wants to be treated as an exception in the world from the continent in which the Ice Age determined it must lie.

And within that island its northern part is claiming that it should be treated as an exception.

On account of it having voted against Brexit.

Day of action

Spell it out

Scotland, meanwhile, is caught up in knots.

Because it had voted to stick with England not long before the Brexit referendum.

The separatists want now to reverse that poll which they put down to dirty tricks and misinformation…

Much like an offside goal at the Euros.

They hope that a second referendum which would be in the gift of an anti-vote Boris Johnson.

To free them from the UK.

They want to open the doors to readmission to the EU if only Spain fearful of Catalonian secession would remove their veto.

People power

United front

Yes, I know what you’re thinking…

Is this not a Travel site, jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com and not jimmurtywafflewafflewaffle.com?

Quite right. Only that British exceptionalism is stopping us travelling while the land I left, European Ireland can.

So while the EU prepare to roll out its vaccine passport the UK pushes back its Freedom Day.

Scotland stand up

Freedom?

We’re going into next month, a Freedom which doesn’t contain any such document.

Those of us of a Scottish variety must wait until August.

Only then can we enjoy what we once claimed could never be taken from us… our Freedom.

As is the way with a controlling figure we are being seduced with the offer of something shiny.

To keep us happy in the meantime.

Hail Malta and the Balearics

Malta solitude

Malta and the Balearics are being floated to be put on the Green List.

As welcome as that is we are particularly sore about this.

Because this is one situation where we promote exceptionalism.

We have long been advocating that there should be a special case made for the Spanish Islands.

And Tenerife too

So what about the Canaries? And the Greek islands?

For now, of course, our Travel sector must keep pressing our case.

Real freedoms for our exceptional Travel professionals and customers.

Yesterday was just the start, the day Travel fought back exceptionally.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countries

Flagging up Jimmyaica

As Scotland strikes out again to try seize its freedom following the vote for independence parties in the Scottish election, your global traveller is flagging up one Scots-infused country of Empire which did… Jimmyaica.

No, Jimmyaica isn’t my lame efforts at Jamaican patois.

It’s more a recognition of the Scottish imprint on Jamaica (Scots are playfully known as Jimmys) and particularly its flag.

Jamaican flags will be flying even more proudly next year as the Caribbean Island celebrates 60 years of independence and some of you might wonder why it has that St Andrew’s Cross at its centre.

Flags are us

If some of you are tentatively wondering that it might have something to do with Scotland then go to the top of the class.

You may very well be a vexillologist, or somebody who loves flags and have found a link too between the Scottish flag and the Tenerife flag too.

I did when I went out to the Canary Island with CanariaWays and found that they have the exact same flag.

No, that one is in Tenerife

The initial suggestion for the flag was a Tricolour of green (agriculture and hope), black (the struggles of its people) and gold (sunlight).

But that was thought too similar to Tanganyika’s (now Tanzania).

But then you knew that already.

Scotland the Wave

Besides, a missionary from Glasgow, Rev. William McGhie (he’d obviously considered his ain Glaswegians well past saving!) had the ear of the Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante.

The Man of the Cloth persuaded him to embed Christian imagery into the flag.

And so the X of the St Andrew’s Cross found its way onto the flag to mark how the Apostle had lost his life.

Glasgow belongs to I and I

Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago

The Jamaican Glasgow on the west of the island is, of course, just one of a number of place names we both share.

Among the others are Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Greenock and ouch… Culloden!

So we’re off… with our official countdown to the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.

And I’m bringing you this in association with Flag Up Scotland Jamaica which helpfully also seems to want to promote Caledonian preserves – flagupscotjam.

Jammin’ in Jamaica: Bob Marley

So where do we start in the story of Jamaica?

Well, how about at Scotland’s lowest point, no not the aforementioned Culloden but Scotland’s failed attempt at an empire of its own, the Darien Expedition in Panama.

Darien’s loss

It could have been Scottish: The Darien

The Darien Expedition was the breaking point for the old independent Scotland.

The whole nation from king to pauper had put money into the project only to lose more than just their shirt.

Cap in hand a section of the Scottish Parliament approached England to bail them out in 1703…

And the price was union, all of which you can read the whole story of in historian Douglas Watt’s excellent The Price of Scotland.

So where does this take us in the Jimmyaica story?

The Campbells are coming

Rev it up: Rev. William McGhie

Well to Colonel John Campbell who refused to allow Darien to put him off making his fortune and who decamped to Jamaica in 1700 and set up a sugar plantation at Black River.

He was by no means the first Scot on the island though.

Oliver Cromwell banished 1,2000 Scots prisoners of war out here in the previous century where they worked as indentured servants.

Others to be exiled included those failed colonialists from Darien, Jacobite rebels, criminals and Covenanters.

All ‘Scots’ look like this: Naomi Campbell. http://www.naomicampbell.com

Campbell’s kingdom has a rich lineage.

And it is said that there are more Campbells here per square acre than in the whole of Scotland.

While his descendants may very include supermodel Naomi Campbell and Costa Rica footballer Joel Campbell.

And the Irish too

I’ve found my own native land’s DNA elsewhere in the Caribbean in Scotland in Barbados and in Glasgow’s bar in Tobago.

My own roots are in the old sod of Ireland and Armagh from where Patrick Murty hailed.

But I dare say that the rambling Murtys managed to get out to Ja as the locals affectionately call their island.

I’ll return to Jamaica’s many Scottish connections and I’ll be happy flagging up Jimmyaica.

As we journey on the road to the independence anniversary.

And I’ll scatter some Irish magic dust on the island too with the links which bind Jamaica and Ireland.

MEET JA ON THE ROAD

America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Bring on the Nashville New Year

We Scots like to claim New Year’s Eve as our own but, in truth, it’s freezing and can be samey too which is why I’ll be seeing out 2020 with a Nashville New Year

Better Tennessee than Tillicoutry I say which sounds like a Country song, which I’ll give to my old pal Keith Urban.

Nashville’s finest came to town pre-Covid, Dublin town and treated us all like Country royalty as part of Country To Country.

Country roads: In Dublin

And Keith, who headlined the Nashville New Year big bash, was front and centre of ours, putting a Grafton Street busker on stage.

And giving a random fan one of his guitars.

Nashville meets Dublin

The good old boys in Nashville are not letting this pesky bug stop the music in Music City, or us hearing it.

Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight New Year’s Eve in Nashville from 4.30pm-5pm on WTVF-NewsChannel 5.

Country boy Jimmy

And see what I’m doing there getting a second shot at the Bells because they’re earlier.

Local favourites Moon Taxi, described as ‘a little indy, a little proggy, a little poppy, will play for 40 minutes just before midnight.

Jazz, soul and R&B combo The Shindelles will play a 20-minute set earlier.

Music to the ears and so will the green light, when it comes, to get back out to Nashville, Music City.

A better Canaries New Year

Saltire In Tenerife

And we’re not letting the latest UK block on the Canaries (they’re back off the exempt list)) spoil our hopes that we will be able to get out there again soon.

And as usual our friends at TUI are ahead of the curve.

With seven nights from December 28 at the 3* Rocamar Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria, self-catering from €579pps (Covid cover included).

While Dublin to Lanzarote from December 31 at the 3* Cincos Plazas, Puerto del Carmen, self-catering from €409pps (Covid Car included.)

MEET YOU IN THE NEW YEAR

Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

St Andrew’s Day around the world

Happy St Andrew’s Day.

From Banff to Barbados, Turriff to Tenerife, Lewis to Limassol, Sauchie to Sochi, Keith to Kiev and Thurso to Thessaloniki.

You get the picture – it’s not just Scotland, we all celebrate Andy as our patron saint.

So let’s pick the bones out of the apostle and his links to these countries.

Scots Sandy

Relics: St Andrews

St Andrews, Scotland: We’re here at the Home of Golf and the third oldest university in the UK,

The story goes that St Regulus (me neither) brought Andrew’s kneecap, arm, three fingers and a tooth here.

And King Oengus built a holy settlement on this collection.

You’ll want to stay at the Old Course Hotel and look out at where the legendary stickmen took the plaudits.

Fly the Canary flag

A St Andrew’s Day flag lurking In Tenerife

St Andrew, Tenerife: I’m not going to spoonfeed you here though as to how St Andrew came to be associated with the Canaries island of Tenerife.

Only to say that Scotland and Tenerife where I visited with CanariaWays share the same white cross on blue background.

San Cristobal de La Laguna is more Havana (it models itself on this World Heritage site) than Hamilton.

But you will find the iconic flag flying here.

Windies’ Andy

And my old half-Scottish pal Jevan is here

Barbados: The island call Little England has an area called Scotland.

Three hundred and sixty five days of sun, a bit like the Scotland in Europe!

Barbados is split into regions named after saints…

The one where the Rooneys, Simon Cowell, Cliff Richsrd, and, er me, like is the Platinum Coast in Saint James obviously.

All Greek to Andy

Alpha for Andrew

Greece and CyprusThe old white beardie man (and there’s nothing wrong with that) is literally an icon in Greek parts.

You know those wooden framed pictures the Greeks love.

St Andrew is said to have been crucified in Patras.

It is Greece’s third biggest city, the regional capital of Western Greece in the northern Peloponnese.

And the Greek Orthodox basilica is the holy site for Andreans as we’ll call followers of Andrew.

And they’ll think nothing of the 215km trip from Athens.

Eastern Andy

Badge of honour: In Russia

Russia and Ukraine: Our adventurous Andy loved to travel. Much like us.

And our Galilea trawler got himself up to the Black Sea and beyond.

We hope too that he was more than just a fisher of men.

Now should you get on the right side of Vladimir Putin in Russia you’ll get the tap on the shoulder.

And the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle the First-Called.

It is the highest order in the Russian Federation.

Get it wrong and you’ll get something slipped in your tea and sent on a plane out of the country.

One man’s assassination is another’s martyrdom!

HAPPY ST ANDREW’S DAY

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Covid-day Snaps – get to the front of the Q

They’ll be the new social group, the Quaranteenies… those who are, like Tom Hanks in the Terminal, stuck in an airport but can’t move on.

Strange times. But what does it all mean to be in quarantine?

Well, my old Kiwi-Aussie friend Simon who moved to Norway knows.

He had to make his own way back to Oz via Asia and was locked down in Melbourne for a fortnight.

Entertainment: North Berwick style

Musico that he is he was OK in isolation, getting food into his hotel, though he did say the view did start to ware on him.

Turkish treats: Istanbul Airport

Better though than the man on the ladder decorating the outside of his house whom I see every morning.

It’s like watching paint dry.

If I have to be quarantined at any airport then I want to make it Istanbul Airport and Turkish Airlines Business lounge.

Straight down the airport: Turkish Airlines’ Business Lounge

They’ve got bedrooms, a cinema, a golf range, toy car track and enough food and drink to feed an army.

Just leave the key under the mat. See www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

El Hierro of the hour

Just swimmingly: El Hierro

So what will we all be looking for when Travel returns… biodiversity is up there.

El Hierro, the second smallest of the Canary Islands after La Graciosa with only 11,000 inhabitants, is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and Geopark.

The Meridian Island is aiming to be the first 100% sustainable island in the world in four to eight years.

El Hierro’s https://www.hellocanaryislands.com and https://elhierro.travel/en/ volcanic connections help, of course, and the eruptions of 2011 and 2012 have helped renew the seabed.

Our island: Only 11,000 inhabitants on El Hierro

For the dolphins, stingrays, barricudas, white sharks and my fave…

The turtles who I got to meet on the other side of the Atlantic www.visitbarbados.org Turtle recall.

I’m told that there’s a 16km water route trail which I’m hoping doesn’t involve getting my beardie wet.

And it’s all happening below: El Hierro

It’s more than a hop, skip and a jump to get there and you may want to combine El Hierro with another Canaries Island.

With the Canaries opening up again I’d suggest Tenerife https://www.visitingtenerife.com with CanariaWays https://canariaways.com and A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

Greece is the word

An old relic and the Acropolis

The Gods on Mt Olympus have calmed the unclean air where all our spray has been collecting.

And Athene has seen to it that her showpiece Acropolis and the other outdoor archaeological sites have been reopened.

Standing on the very stones where Socrates and his toga-clad pals scratched their beards and worked out the world was worth the circuitous route to get there… https://athensattica.com and My Greek odyssey.

At the Parthenon

With the UK exploring an air bridge to Greece on account of its low R rate we will all reconnect with the great civilisations of Hellas soon.

Check out your government’s health and travel guidelines.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Adventure, Africa, Culture

This plant can save the world

Raggy Charters https://www.raggycharters.co.za isn’t your normal dolphin-watching boat company.

You see owner Lloyd Edwards and manager Jake Keeton are putting back what they are using in carbon emissions whey they are whizzing their boat around Algoa Bay, the bottlenose dolphin capital of the world.

Fins are looking up: Algoa Bay

I have come to Port Elizabeth on South Africa’s Eastern Cape to find out more.

And to meet the locals…Human, dolphin and pussycat https://www.visiteasterncape.co.za www.southafrica.net and What’s new pussycat?.

Lead the way

Raggy Charters’ Lloyd and Jake (and Sahara their Jack Russell) have a mini-jungle of plants around their jetty.

And they plant a new spekboom plant every time they take the boat out.. it acts as a succulent. And here’s where you can find out a lot more… https://www.samara.co.za/blog/five-things-didnt-know-spekboom/.

Cuttings to the chase

The spekboom project which originated in the Eastern Cape is the idea of Aidan Lawrence, of SATSA Eastern Cape, who handed out 600 spekboom cuttings to delegates.

Our boat comes in

This is SA’s response to the carbon emissions problem.

Flying shame

And the flygskam (flying shame) campaign championed by Greta Thumberg among others.

All of which salves my conscience a little as I am acutely aware of how many air miles I have been chalking up.spekboom-planting-agents-samara-conservation-karoo-south-africa-marnus-ochse-980x560You see the humble speksboom only stores solar energy to perform photosynthesis at night.

And it is ten times more effective per hectare than any tropical rainforest.And I’ve seen how valuable our rainforests are this year, in Tobago, www.visittobsgo.gov.tt and It’s Robinson Crusoe’s very own Tobago.

In the Tobago rainforest

While we doff our hats to what the South Africans are doing on the ground it is worth mentioning that global airlines and cruise liners continue to explore ways they can address carbon emissions.

 

Pppppick up a penguin

And British Airways www.ba.com are leading the way.

From the start of this year BA is now offsetting carbon emissions on all flights within the UK.And it is investing money in green projects around the world.

The challenge ahead

The challenge remains huge.

With a study from 1st Move International https://www.shipit.co.uk/blog/other-articles/cost-of-carbon highlighting the 20 top destinations for travellers from the UK.

Not to depress you but a return trip from London to Mallorca will cost the planet six trees.

Walking in Tenerife, the eco way to go

I feel a little less guilty because my flights to Tenerife www.hellocanaryislands.com and https://www.visitingtenerife.com.

And A walk through the ages… Tenerife Tenerife was five trees.

And I took me in some rainforest there too.

Plant those trees

The 15.62 average UK visitors to Spain would each owe 43,237,500 trees, about 3017 football pitches.

But who knew that Nature may just hold the answer in this little plant, the spekboom?

Uncategorized

Hungry and Thursday – Drink Canaria dry

It was a challenge, rescheduling our wine-tasting meeting in Tenerife from early evening to late morning.

But I’m always up for a challenge.

The problem was that we had a woman and a man down on our climb up to Aver the previous day.

And that meant postponing that night’s drinking.

But the Canarian wines dulled their senses and eased their pain (and mine).

Bentayga winery

I return to Canarian wine and that memorable CanariaWays.com http://www.canariaways.com trek https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/tenerife-walk/ and introduction to the magical multi-faceted North and West of Tenerife.

Because someone else has had the idea too… https://www.hellocanaryislands.com/ and they pinged me their latest news.

Ears to Tenerife

We’ve been drinking Canarian wine since the 15th Century while they’ve been drinking it since God put grapes in the ground.

And St Andrew stopped off on the island and got drunk, leaving a lasting legacy… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/02/tenerife-and-scotland-wave-the-same-flag/

There are 135 different varieties with the volcanic malvasía a particular favourite of William Shakespeare who references it in his plays.

El Grifo Winery

And which I tasted on that fact-finding mission.

You can find it in the off-sales Merchant of Vinos. OK, I made that last bit up.

There are many other native varieties such as the baboso, listán or vijariego, among others.

Vines at Camino La Faya

And needless to say I couldn’t pronounce any of them after drinking my fifth, sixth, seven, eighth… hic!

What distinguishes these wines is the salinity of the sea and volcanic minerals.  

And the islanders have been working hard to recover little-known native varieties that have gone on to prove very popular. 

Half a bottle to go… in Tenerife

The islands have 11 certificates of origin. Tenerife has five of these seals of quality:

Ycoden Daute Isora, Abona, Valle de Güímar, Tacoronte Acentejo and Valle de la Orotava. 

Islands’ vine lands

And the beauty is that each island is different:

Lanzarote is known for its volcanic malvasía and La Palma for the aromatic malvasía.

Is that all I’m getting?

There are also other peculiar wines such as wines from the whistling island La Gomera, made with the forastera variety.

The baboso reds hail from El Hierro, a variety recovered from the brink of extinction, as well as the more extended whites of Diego or Verijadiego.

It’s wine o’clock and guess what I have a bottle of malvasia in the rack and The Scary One’s off work tomorrow!