Asia, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

Easter in Israel

Easter in Jerusalem would normally be a throng of pilgrims.

But it has been reassuring, if a little surreal, to see masked worshippers following the Path of the Cross.

But it does give us a sense, both metaphorical, and real, of revival, of resurrection.

Israel, and Britain for that matter, have been the great success stories of the vaccine roll-out.

The Promised Land has vaccinated half of their population

While 1 in 12 Britons have had both jabs, although there  are more than six times as many of us.

Common cause

But let’s celebrate both our countries and talk up the preliminary discussions of the UK-Israel route opening up from August.

Yes, May 17, has been mooted for a Travel review but late summer remains more realistic.

A British Government source was quoted in the Sunday Times.

They said: ‘There will be a system of travel corridors to green-list countries with good vaccination rates. Israel, here we come!’

So where are we with our Israeli friends who we touched base with at the digital World Travel Market at the end of last year.

Well, several airlines have added limited routes and slowly increased flights in June and July.

Easy does it

That would then be in line with an August return for Britons so keep an eye on all our old favourites.

EasyJet offers two nights room only at the American Colony Jerusalem on July 2.

Leaving from Luton (hint to our Government to get a move on) £396pp, which means £792 for two.

While Virgin Holidays has tempted us of a Scottish persuasion, and now living up here in Braveheartland.

With seven nights at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem from £3381pp (well, you deserve it) for October 26.

Kayak is many a traveller’s second point of contact (after obviously). And what about the Queen of Sheba for my Queen of Sheba?

The Dead Sea

Three nights and flight at the Hilton Eilat Queen of Sheba Hotel three nights and flight for £1,079

And, of course, our friends at G Adventures who have been trying to get me out to Israel these past few years (you have, you have, you have).

G whizz

They have 15 days from £999 Jordan and Israel Adventure from £1954, valid on December 10 (plenty of time to be super-vaccinated). And this was £2299!

Mt Nebo, Jordan

Now teasingly, as you’ll all know by now, I’ve been taken right to within 50 metres of Israel from the Jordan side at the site of John’s baptism of Jesus.

And so I’ve seen the Promised Land… only the Israeli soldiers on the banks were looking suspiciously at us from the other side.

I’ll just have to leave it to our holiday providers to look after us as always.







The rebirth of Puerto Rico

Every time there is a gentle zephyr in Britain and Ireland tired headline writers trot out the old banner: ‘batten down the hatches’.

But any storm here pales into insignificance compared with the annual worries Caribbean islanders have to go through.

Maria variously conjures up images of The Sound of Music, West Side Story or a Blondie song.

But there was nothing joyful about this Maria’s visit to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in 2017.

Hurricane Maria made her presence known with winds of 155mph which ripped roofs off houses, deprived the island of electricity.

And caused nearly $100bn worth of destruction.

But worst of all nearly 3,000 people dead.

Future is bright. Photo by Reynaldo #brigworkz Brigantty on

That Puerto Ricans have rebuilt their island is credit to their indefatigable spirit.

And I was lucky to meet them first hand and hear about their island when I attended the American Travel Fair (IPW) in Anaheim in June.

Yes, Puerto Rico, is a US Territory. Of that much I already knew and that there was a large population in the States.

But while Americans are familiar with its many charms we as Europeans are less so, apart perhaps from Spaniards who know its Hispanic history.

For Puerto Rico boasts a rich culture with Caribbean and Spanish fusion food and music and dance at its heart.

It also has the only rainforest in the US forest system, El Yunque and three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays.

Rainforest: Photo by Molly Champion on

This year is a special one in the Puerto Rico calendar with the 500th anniversary of the capital San Juan.

While this autumn, or Fall, there is the opening of District San Juan, a five-acre hospitality and entertainment district.

We can help

Puerto Rico has identified tourism as a key driver in its economy.

And it should be on the list of any fan of the Caribbean.

I checked out and found a return flight package with Aer Lingus and JetBlue with a layover in Newark on the way out and JFK on the way back.

Indomitable spirit. Photo by J. Rodriguez on

For the sample dates of September 23-30, it costs £605.96 (€670).

Visit for more on Puerto Rico. And dip your toe in the Caribbean with these thoughts on Barbados… And

And as Dorian blows through the Caribbean let’s all say a silent prayer that she is not as angry as Maria.


Thank you Norwegian

We take it for granted now but transatlantic travel has transformed our lives.

And that is in no small part down to the influence of low-cost carriers.

And why I lament today Norwegian discontinuing its service to North America.

It is 100 years since John Alcock and Arthur Brown landed their modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber in Clifden, Connemara…

The first non-stop manned flight… those birdies had us beat on that one.

And we take flights across to America now as easily as we do trips to Lanzarote.

Bring me your passengers

And 61 years on from the first flight from our national airline carrier Aer Lingus now carries a million of us over to the Oo S of A every year.

And that’s not to mention the other carriers who fly us to the States.

The number of passengers able to fly to North America is directly correlated to prices falling over the years.

I remember well the impact that Freddie Laker’s airline had on all of us back in the Seventies.

Where once America was considered beyond our reach we were soon walking the same streets we’d watched on the TV and movies.

And yet here we are today processing the loss of Norwegian’s routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon

On the back of WOW which, of course, boasted the Iceland lay-off.

Bustin’ Boston

Norwegian which flies out to New York Stewart, Boston and Toronto will cease flights from September 15.

The main reason… the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

Looking after the customer

Matthew Wood, a senior vice-president at Norwegian, assured worried passengers:

‘We are assisting customers by ensuring we can still get to their destination by rerouting them on to other Norwegian services.

‘Customers will also be offered a full refund if they no longer wish to travel.’

Visit the Norwegian website for more information.

And, of course, amid all the doom and gloom it is worth remembering how lucky we still are.

There is still a tranche of airlines out there flying to the States.

I found Air Canada on www/ from Dublin to New York La Guardia with the dates Tuesday, October 22 to Sunday, October 27.

And for what’s going on in the air, and on ground read Flyday Friday every week on the day after Thursday.