Adventure, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Look before you Leap – where to propose

I had been planning it for a year since Miss F’s best pal had got married – and it ended up being Malta.

I had a vision that it would have been Istanbul on the Bosphorus but that wasn’t to be but there’s water around Malta. Right?

Only as we traipsed around Bugibba I couldn’t find the restaurant with a piano on the front which I’d been looking for.

Miss F being fair was getting tetchy in the beating sun and the atmos wasn’t conducive for a proposal.

But I went ahead anyway (I still maintain I was only down on one knee to tie my shoelace) and she yelled yes.

The sands of time

I’ve been back (without her, but I hasten to say not with someone else) Malta easer.

If I was to do it all over again, and in this a Leap Year here’s where I’d hope she’d ask the question.

Turkish delight (obviously!)

Istanbul: I fulfilled a lifetime‘s ambition last year by visiting the majestic Turkish city which straddles Europe and Asia… Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

And it surpassed even my wildest expectations.

Yes, Herself knows I like the flesh of an animal and Sultanahmet Koftecisi http://www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com does the best kofti meatballs in the city.

But if she really wants to romance me she’ll take me on the Bosphorus with TTG Travel (Turkish Travel Group) www.turkeytravelgroup.com.

And we’ll have a boogie…

For more on Istanbul visit https://visit.istanbul and, of course, when I head east it’s always my pals at Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com.

The heart of America

He’s lent me his desk

Washington DC: My favourite US city although I’m open to have my mind changed.

Seeing that DC’s most famous resident is half-Scottish I’d say he’d lend us a room.

But where I’d really like to have my romantic moment is at Robert E Lee’s house in Arlington.

Where the National Guard never miss a Passing of the Guard.

And where John F Kennedy told an aide, in perhaps a prescient moment, that when he died he would want to be buried looking down on DC.

Visit www.washington.org.

I love you too Tobago

Wetting my whistle

Tobago: With apologies to Barbados but Id be worried the Scary One would run into Dee-Dee.

I can’t think of many more romantic places to get a proposal than Nylon Beach where Princess Margaret said the sea was as clear as her stockings.

And where you can stand in a sand bank in the middle of the Caribbean with a glass of bubbly or Carib lager in your hand.

Dee-Dee and Me-Me

Still, maybe best that the 5ft 5ins Mrs M doesn’t get down on one knee there.

Visit www.tobagogov.tt and read On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago.

All ring roads lead to Rome

I’ll be back for change later

Rome: Because it’s here where She took me for my 40th as a surprise and we returned as a family.

And I, eventually, found the Eternal City, at the end of my Via Francigena pilgrimage www.viafrancigena.ie.

If only there was some roads that lead to Rome!

On my perfect day we’d take in an AS Roma match at the Olympic Stadium, visit the Pantheon where it would rain and she would pop the question.

Visit www.rome.net, http://www.italia.it/en/home.html and read my misadventures Small roads lead to Rome.

Malta and the altar

Valletta, you betcha

Malta: Of course nothing beat that moment we got engaged… she told me to say that.

And our place is still there. Malta remains one of the gems right under our nose.

English-speaking. English-friendly (and Scottish, Irish, et al) you can also day-trip to Sicily.

And beautiful Gozo and Comino. Visit www.visitmalta.com.

Just a few romantic spots I’m proposingtell me yours.

MEET YOU ON ONE KNEE

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Thirteen years an Irishman – My capital cities (and Istanbul)

I belong to Glasgow,

Dear Old Glasgow toon,

But there’s nothing the matter with Glasgow

Because It’s going round and round.

I’m only a common-or-garden chap,

As anyone here can see.

But when I have a couple of drinks on a Saturday,

Glasgow belongs to me

I’m a city boy, always have been, always will be, and am going back to one of my favourites.

Edinburgh, or Embra as we say in Scotland.

But what of the others, I’ve been keeping you going with my top cities so here we go again:

Capitol idea

Washington DC: Four score and seven years ago (well, three years in my case) I fulfilled a lifelong ambition by visiting the US capital.

It’s still to be beaten for me as an American city.

The Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Washington Monument.

All the Smithsonians, and particularly the National Museum of African American History and Culture https://nmaahc.si.edu/splashify-splash and the National Museum of the American Indian https://americanindian.si.edu.

Arlington https://www.arlington.ie, the Kennedy graves, Robert E. Lee’s house, Frederick Douglas’s house. Oh, and the Capitol https://www.visitthecapitol.gov and the White House https://www.whitehouse.gov too.

Visit https://washington.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIx66X0f2v5wIVh7HtCh1YpQ9FEAAYASAAEgL9uvD_BwE.

Roman holidays

I’ll be back… and I was

My former colleague and still my pal, the office PA, Rebecca, is in Rome and asked me for some pointers.

Well, she’ll know the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Spanish Steps.

St Paul’s Basilica, the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel.

But she should try out the Capuchin Crypt where the bones and skulls of dead monks were used to build the three altars. Now that’s eternal.

Visit http://www.cappucciniviaveneto.it and https://www.rome.info and Small roads lead to Rome.

And before Rome there was Athens

An old relic… and the Acropolis

Socrates was here and so was I and two very helpful taxi drivers who got me here after I was late the first time… a case of Acropolis Later.

Athens is beautifully chaotic which is why I feel I belong there, there where you can get stuck in a restaurant lift for half an hour.

And walk in on an elderly couple post-coitus because the rooms were mixed up and the manager sends you up a couple of bottles of wine as an apology.

Visit Athens www.athensattica.com/things-to-see/ and My Greek odyssey.

And the crossroads – Istanbul

With my good pal Onur from Turkish Airlines

The crossroads of Europe and Asia and where I’d planned to get engaged 25 years previously.

On the Bosphorus where I made up for last year.

On a boat cruise with me singing along to Abba’s Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy (A man after midnight) and my pal did his Dancing Ian.

And, of course, the Hagi Sofya, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, whirling dervishes and the hamam where Florence Nightingale and Kate Moss went (https://www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr.

Visit https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/index.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu9Tm8aSw5wIVhbTtCh3HQwB5EAAYAiAAEgIwDPD_BwE and https://visit.istanbul and of course Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Harbour of my dreams

Valletta, a safe betta

I’m going to have to put this in as it was Malta where I actually did get engaged. I’d bent down to tie my laces and she yelled ‘Yes’.

The harbour is the most beautiful in the world… my survey and you should sail between the islands.

And Valletta’s Fortifications and the Caravaggio in the St John Co-Cathedral.

Visit www.maltaireland.com and Malta easer.

And tomorrow, five more from Northern Europe.

Uncategorized

Holiday Snaps – Malta pleaser!

It’s one of the highlights of the year, the Irish Travel Trade Awards… and not just because I get my kiltie out!

I don’t know if there was a drawing of lots when I first arrived as to who would end up with me at their table.

But it was my pleasure to spend the evening again this year with my Maltese pals.

With Malta chief Tolene van der Merwe

There’s a synergy about Malta for me, it being where I bent down to tie my shoelace only to then discover I’d got engaged.

And also it being my first Press trip after a 12-year hiatus when I swore off them when I got…

Mugged in Marrakech and food poisoning in the Sahara Desert.

Malta crossroads

Malta restored my faith in Press trips five years ago and the rest is history.

As I’ve very nearly been.

On almost every one of them.

Save for the unstinting and patient help of any number of hosts.

Now there are many similarities between our wee islands and we’re both steeped in Catholic tradition.

Get on your segway in Gozo

They have a cracking Christmas Village from December 1 and a 35ft Christmas Tree by the Valletta waterside.

And an Eco Christmas Market on December 21 and 22 at Magazzino Hall, Valletta Waterfront.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a dip in the sea.

But while we freeze our whatsits off at the Forty Foot they have…

The Thomas Smith Christmas Charity Swim off the pier by Independence Gardens, Sliema.

Swim time. Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

You’ll be wanting somewhere to stay?

Why not try the 5* Phoenicia Malta, just outside the City Gate of Valletta. From €116 per room per night.

Or the 5* Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay for €125 per night in a deluxe sea view room including breakfast.

Visit www.maltaireland.com. And here’s one I prepared earlier… Malta easer.

Of course back to the awards at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin.

Beautiful People. Photo. By Bruce Mars on Pexels.com

And for all the legendary ladies of Ireland’s Travel Trade on show, I still had the best legs.

Keep posted and I’ll be namechecking the Travel Trade partners from the night. Also visit https://www.ittn.ie.

History. Photo by Artur Roman on Pexels.com

For whom this is a well deserved chance to have a night off and a rare drinkie.