Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

In defence of… cruises

The world is a book. And those who do not travel read only one page – ST AUGUSTINE

And I don’t remember the page where it says pandemics were God’s message to us to stop travelling.

In defence of Travel

So while we are confined to barracks let me get some things off my chest and address why Travel is essential to our very existence in my Defence of Travel.

Despite what the naysayers, who are dancing a jig because some dolphins have been seen in the Grand Canal in Venice, are saying.

You’d think cruise ships were parking at the Rialto Bridge than far off.

While I know one or two who would only be too happy to discuss cruise ships too… and you’d want to keep your social distance for your own safety.

We’re all of us seafarers

Of course those of us who are Travel professionals, and those for whom it’s their life investment, are in the frontline when it comes to this release of schadenfraude.

Cruises: There is a fanatical, almost religious zeal which drives those who want to remove cruise ships from the face of the earth.

Who mock cruiseheads as ‘overfed, newly-wed and almost dead’ and guess what cruise chiefs have a sense of humour snd cams up with that themselves.

It’s not a sin to have fun

While they moved on from that years ago and we now have cruises for every age and every niche…

While also providing the best food, drinks, entertainment, activities, shows and stop-offs.

And for whom the sight of cruise companies docked in port and suspending operations because of Coronavirus was seen as vindication.

Dolphins in Venice

And which reached fever pitch with the return of those dolphins to the Venice lagoon, seen by many as divine retribution for the ‘sins’ of cruising.

I never have felt stained by taking the decision to cruise, and nor should you.

Because don’t we celebrate the journeys of Odysseus My Greek odyssey, Sinbad, Marco Polo, Drake, Magellan, Columbus Messi around on the water, Francis Chichester, Ellen MacArthur.

And we should never forget today’s sailors…

Let’s hear it for the crew

The crew’s untiring work, their distress at the loss of passengers, the 24/7 work done back at base to compensate customers and the loss too of their livelihoods.

And that people are at heart seafarers… after all didn’t we all come from the sea anyway, haven’t we been harvesting it since the day dot?

And for all those divine retributionists I guess they would have been screaming for Health & Safety to burst down the doors of Noah’s Ark.

To arrest the oul’ fella and release the animals two by two.

#DontCancelPostpone

So #DontCancelPostpone, and support our cruise companies.

Be rest assured that I’ll be hopping on board to promote cruise companies when we get back on board with…

MSC https://www.msccruises.co.uk and https://www.msccruises.ie, Celebrity Cruises https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk and https://www.royalcaribbean.com/gbr/en. http://www.princess.com

All of whom I’ve sailed with… The call of the fjords, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here and A Royal Party.

While I’ll also flag up those I haven’t sailed with, but you have, and I will.

I love a dolphin too

And now to show you that I love a dolphin as much as the next man, or woman, I’ll talk to you tomorrow about how we can tackle Flygskam, or ‘flying shame’.

I hope you’re reading, Greta Thunbetg.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Life’s a drag… queen

There’s no photographic evidence that it ever happened and I don’t know what it says about the ‘nurse’ who agreed to date the drag queen me.

Nursie clearly had second thoughts the following day and didn’t turn up at the bar.

Although my much-storied Australian flatmates had great fun in telling me every five minutes that I’d missed her.

All of which diva prancing around (the occasion was a student ‘Tarts and Tramps’ party.

Oh Nicki, you’re so fine: Ms Minaj

Where the guys dressed as women and the women as hobos) brings me to RuPaul’s new season of Drag Race which also showcases Nicki Minaj and Michelle Visage.

Which is, thanks to Daddy’s Little Girl, a big fave in our house.

I particularly love RuPaul and the beautifully pink Trini, that’s Trinidadian and Tobagonian to you and me Nicki Minaj.

And as you know I love a bit of colour and make-up and slapped it on in Tobago in December.

While Nicki also likes to tear it up at Tobago carnival… www.tobago.gov.tt and Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago. And https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lt9dXQ-YmZ8.

All of which stuff and nonsense allows me to talk about the divine divas I’ve sashayed with on my travels.

Sugsr bum-bum: The Drag Race girls

Vegas baby

Cami, Las Vegas: What happens in Harrah’s in Vegas stays in Harrah’s in Vegas.

Dance the night away

And when that mad. glad joint off the Strip kicks into life again then myself, my travel companions and Cami who comes down from Utah will be there.

Now who wants a shot… and a drink too?

Visit www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic

Pride of Barcelona

Pride, Barcelona: Barca. the football team may be the pride of the Catalonians.

And Lionel Messi… but how about Lionel Missy?

I’ve been watching too much Drag Race… my favourite is Heidi N Closet from Missouri.

While my Drag Name is Shirley Brassy.

But sun on your back, on the streets of Barcelona with a Sangria Familia is where to spend Pride.

And it’s the perfect place to kick off your cruise when we get back on the water.

Visit https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/, and www.msc.com.

Dee-Dee and Me-Me

Purple reigns in Barbados

Dee-Dee, Barbados: Don’t smudge my make-up, mon.’

But the husky-voiced Dee-Dee broke out a smile that was as warm as the Barbados night on Crop Over at Barbados Carnival.

I was in for a dime in for a Bajan dollar with my purple painted beard.

Visit https://www.visitbarbados.org and My kiss with Rihanna.

LA is my laddie

LA -La

LA ladies, Anaheim: ‘At last my man has come along’… she could have been singing to me at Platinum Triangle in Anaheim on Pride night.

We stole a moment later and a pic for my scrapbook.

But what kind of gentleman am I… I forgot her name and didn’t call.

Visit https://visitanaheim.org www.visitcalifornia.com and My Weekend With Marilyn.

Adventure, America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Women’s Day – my own heroines

And by order of the management my heroines are – The Scary One, Daddy’s Little Girl and my Dear Old Mum.

All of whom have been wonderful (and challenging) fellow travellers on life’s unpredictable journey. Never my fault, of course.

Love boat in Amsterdam

Where do I start? I give her one thing to do, remember my dates for our weekend away in Monaghan Monaghan’s country roads.

While we almost ended up by taking the wrong bus from Hamburg, to east Germany rather than Kiel.

Springtime in Bergen

En route to our MSC cruise www.msccruises.co.uk up the Norwegian cruises where we almost missed our ship in Bergen. Moi???

It was always going to be a challenge on the slopes with Topflight www.topflight.ie to Soll Soll Mates.

Hamburgers on the menu

But we stayed out of trouble in Central Portugal, Secret Portugal all down to our perfect host Jose https://www.madomistours.pt.

While we were on the same wavelength this time in Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

My Queen of Dragons in Belfast

Because the previous time, 23 years earlier, when there was a fork in the cycling route and we ended up going 10kms out of the way.

Then there was the adventure of 13 and a half years in Ireland with The InterCon… what a Ledge! a particular highlight.

Mum Champagne

Get a grip

My first holiday companion… I was in her belly en route to her homestead, Co. Donegal https://visitdonegal.net and we’ve been back countless times.

Latterly when I would take her up from my home in Co. Wicklow.

On one occasion I was tasked to drive her and my Auntie Ronnie who was grieving her husband, my Uncle Tom, up from Dublin… in Ronnie’s automatic sports car!!!

My Mummy… and just as old

Then when I accompanied her to New York https://www.nycvb.com/about/ for my cousin’s wedding… and suddenly I was back to 12 years old again.

While she wimped out of the Red Hot Chill Pipers concert when we were VIPs in my home town of Glasgow https://peoplemakeglasgow.com at the World Pipe Band Championships https://www.theworlds.co.uk.

Daddy’s Little Drinking Girl

Piping hot

Now there are only good memories… from the time in England’s Lake District https://www.golakes.co.uk when she asked me to find a friend for her.

To a family camping trip in Co. Wicklow https://visitwicklow.ie… when she was nine and she swigged from my whisky flask and claimed that she thought it was tea!

With my trekking pal Big Jim Gallaghet

There was no pretence when we attended a cocktail night at the Dylan https://www.dylan.ie

Well, she is her Grannie’s grand-daughter… and don’t even get me started on the other Grandma, the storied Bamba.

*And now I’ve got started I’ll move onto my heroines from my own personal Travels.

Adventure, Asia, Countries, Europe

You make your bed… now lie in it

There’s someone sleeping in my bed… yes, a dozen pillows.

So as I sit precariously on the edge of the bed in my new chilly billet waiting to get in… here are my fave places I’ve laid down my head.

Never getting up again

I’ll be here for some time

Castara Retreats, Tobago https://castararetreats.com And a hammock on your balcony.

Remember to light your anti-mosquito candle.

Alternatively just sleep out in the open as Robinson Crusoe on the beaches… you won’t go cold.

Visit www.visittobagogov.tt and here’s some mud adventures… On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago.

City beach

Sleeping the beer off

Hamburg, Germany: This was made for me.

No long walks home or trying to hail a taxi in the cold.

Just sleep off your hamburger and beer in The Strand Pauli Beach Bar https://www.strandpauli.de.

And relive it in Hamburgers and ships.

Uncle Jim’s Cabin

With a seaview, obvs

MSC Preziosa, the Norwegian fjords: And as you can see I’ve got the pillows off... out of picture, on The Scary One’s side.

Get yourself an infinity cabin for extra space where the balcony door disappears into the sides to give you more room.

So you can smell and see the sea. Visit www.msccruises.ie/www.msccruises.co.uk.

Lie back and think of Jordan

In from the desert

Aqaba: Yes, you’ll go flat on your back on the Dead Sea.

And flat on your tummy, snorkelling in the Red Sea.

So after your Shisha pipe snd Turkish tea, and maybe a game of chess or backgammon with a local, it’s time for…

A triple rollover on this comfy bed in Aqaba. Visit www.visitjordan.com and www.gadventures.com.

No drama on Kythera

I’ll make the bed later

El Sol Hotel, Kythera, Greece: Now you’ll not need many covers on your bed in your island of Kythera bedroom in sunny Greece.

The family-run El Sol hotel is a million miles away from the big multinational hotels.

And it has breathtaking views and a swimming pool you can almost into from your room.

Visit http://elsolhotel.gr/en/, https://athensattica.com and https://visitkythera.com. And read on… My Greek odyssey.

MEET YOU ON… WELL, ON SECOND THOUGHTS

Adventure, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Bananaman meets Bandanaman

Happy Birthday Bananaman, 40 years old on Saturday, although his alter ego, Eric Wimp still retains his schoolboy looks.

The Bash Street pupil who like all comic characters is condemned to be stuck in time and never grow up first appeared in ‘Nutty’.

Man of peel. Bananaman. www.wikipedia.com

Before going onto become a star of the Beano and Dandy.

Enough Banananaman already… here’s Bandanaman around the world…

Dublin and Portugal

I didn’t need asked twice to promote a barbers in Dublin who would green me up one Christmas…

Me and Cami with the long blonde hair

Cami liked my bushy bear while l stroked her luscious hair.

As we danced on the floor at Carnaval Court off the Strip in Las Vegas.

Visit www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

Towelled down in DC

We might not get tomorrow

Tonight, give me everything tonight.

And I did, grabbing R&B star Ne-Yo’s sweat towel at the American Travel Fair in Washington DC.

And we DID get tomorrow. Easy DC & https://washington.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyNz25NbO5wIVjbTtCh0y-Aj4EAAYAiAAEgLDx_D_BwE.

Maldives and a sarong

Sarong but oh, so right

I made sure that The Scary One didn’t send the sarong to the charity shop when we were moving.

What do you mean that nobody else would be seen dead…

Visit https://island-marketing.business.site and www.visitmaldives.com.

Trolls in the fjords

Norway would: On the MSC cruise

The wind was blowing in my beardie but not my bandana.

But I reckoned I looked full Viking on my MSC cruise www.msccruises.co.uk and The call of the fjords.

South Africa’s rand plan

Voting Line in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

They like their headdresses in Africa.

So I was right at home, particularly as my new friend Siseko chanelled his inner Bandanaman on a return visit last month for Holiday World,

Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and when I had to lie down in a thicket… What’s new pussycat?

Lie back and think of Jordan

So what else would you do in the Dead Sea!

Although you do get salt everywhere and it’s a divil to get the bandana on and off. And…

Read The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time and see www.visitjordan.com.

Adventure, Deals, Europe

Fairytale deals to Copenhagen

Once upon a time there was an airline carrier which offered wonderful deals to Scandinavia.

But guess what we still live happily ever after with these deals from Scandinavia Airlines http://www.sas.com.

They offer Stockholm from €41, Copenhagen from €44 and Oslo from €37.

Our ship down there: MSC in Norway

We got our first taste of Scandinavia https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/ when we cruised around Denmark and Norway and got a tantalising look at Sweden on our MSC tour of the fjords… http://www.msccruises.ie and http://www.msccruises.co.uk.

Where we also popped in an old friend in Copenhagen … well, yes him. But him as well, my old university mucker American Tom.

Fairytale story: With Tom and The Scary One

It was invaluable having local knowledge for that day trip with Tom being able to show us where you can buy a coffee for under a tenner.

And also tell us which rides to go on and which not in the Tivoli Gardens http://www.tivoli.dk which we all know Walt Disney used as his inspiration for his Disney theme parks http://www.disneyparks.disney.go.com.

BTW I’m up there somewhere and did get a fabulous view of the whole of Copenhagen http://www.visitcopenhagen.com and our ship.

Tom knew all the cool parts, Vesterbro (you’re very welcome).

Dance away: In Copenhagen

Where local artists use industrial holders to play out their modern interpretative dance moves.

And yes Bandanaman was throwing some shapes from the back of the crowd too.

Sweden is tantalisingly close when you sail off from Copenhagen on your way to Norway.

And when you do visit Stockholm http://www.visitstockholm.com you will, of course, hit the dance floor at the ABBA The Museum http://www.abbathemuseum.com.

Munch break: In Bergen

And I will also catch up with my old friend Agnetha… though again not that one. A long story which I’ll return too. And a salutary lesson too!

But while we only dipped our toes into Denmark and barely at all Sweden we did jump in head first into the Norwegian fjords. And will be back.

Dahl boy: Norwegian landscape painting

And this time having sampled the art of Munch and the drama of Ibsen it’ll be full sail for Oslo… http://www.visitoslo.com.

Cruising in the fjords became popular in the 19th century through the works of Hans Dahl and there began an influx of tourists there on the back of it.

Mind you they would have got there quicker and cheaper with SAS.

Uncategorized

Cruiseday Tuesday – Trolls and the fjords

You never forget your first love which is why I make no apologies in revisiting our unforgettable trip to the Norwegian fjords last year.

Me, The Scary One and MSC.

It was our first dip into cruising as a couple (no, not that and again why has that word been hijacked?)

I swam in the fjords… well, not exactly the deep blue sea but in a swimming pool on board.

As the mists enveloped the mountains and inlets and hid the trolls from view.

Of course there’s plenty to do inside should you want to stay out of the soft drizzle.

And it doesn’t always rain, it was just that we went in September which made it all the more dramatic.

There are a host of spa, gym, food and drink and restaurant options and great bars.

And if you want to unleash your inner karaoke singer you can do that too, although you’d have to be really lucky to be there when Bandanaman is singing Chuck Berry’s Memphis, Tennessee.

The Scary One wasn’t!

Now, of course there are wonderful on-shore excursions in Norway and a day in Copenhagen too. Wonderful!

So, here’s the deal:

7 Night Norwegian Fjords Fly + Cruise on MSC Meraviglia from €899pp, departing May-August 2020.

Balcony cabin upgrades from €200pps.

Itinerary: Copenhagen, Denmark – Hellesylt/Geiranger, Norway – Alesund, Norway – Flaam, Norway – Kiel, Germany – Copenhagen, Denmark.

Price Includes:

Return flights from Dublin, seven-night cruise, all meals and snacks, entertainment, service charge,

Visit Click & Go www.clickandgo.com/holidays/cruise/cruise-deals.

Christmas on the river

Christmas Market Dusseldorf Marktplatz – with a Christmas tree as a backdrop.

Just 71 sleeps until Christmas so plenty of time to escape…

Our friends at Travel Department will help you get away from Auntie Mary and Uncle Joe and all those annoying little nephews and nieces.

Not to mention your own family!

Christmas Rhine River Cruise (Cologne-Cologne)

Hop on-board the 4 star MS Amadeus Silver II and sail through Germany.

Visit Cologne, Dusseldorf, Koblenz, Strasbourg and Mainz along your cruise.

Beat the drum: Dresden and the Elbe

Stop in Speyer where you will have free timBe to explore the former imperial town or attend Christmas Mass before a Christmas party on-board the ship with dinner and entertainment. 

Departing December 22. Visit http://www.traveldepartment.ie

Cruising in Germany is a delight which I should have done more of, but here is Dresden, a boat trip and much, much more… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/

Uncategorized

It’s our 25th Wedding Anniversary!

The world has changed a lot in the last 25 years but we’ve not… unless it is to get even more handsome and pretty.

Twenty-five years ago today Sarah and I (yes, that’s her name, the Scary came later) formed a modern-day Scotland and England union.

Match of the day

And as the fractures in the older United Kingdom have threatened to pull that union asunder, ours has survived and thrived.

And begotten two heirs… and lost a whole lot more hairs.

We’re hitched

Which brings us to the holiday bit… we honeymooned in Corfu and it will be poignant that I will be returning to Greece this week.

Alas without my goddess… but I did try, honest!

The Greeks, or Hellenes as they liked to call themselves, are of course an ancient people.

So the economic (a Greek word) problems they’ve suffered are just a blip in their history (another Greek word).

I’ll visit the Acropolis and of course get a selfie with the obligatory caption ‘An Old Relic and the Acropolis’.

It must have worked: A lucky charm

But I’ll also be taking in the greater Attica region and visiting the beaches.

Before rounding it all off with a visit to Aphrodite’s island, the one she was born on, Kephyra.

And I’ll bring back a souvenir of my trip, the thing I know my Sarah loves better than anything else.

ME.

In the meantime here are a couple of unforgettable trips we’ve been on which coincided with past anniversaries.

Beach boy and girl: In Aveiro in Portugal

Central Portugal above… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/ Visit http://www.visitportugal.com

And the Norwegian fjords below… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/ See http://www.msccruises.ie and http://www.msccruises.co.uk.

The fountain of youth: In Bergen

And Hamburg… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/hamburgers-and-ships/ Visit http://www.visithamburg.com.

And why not?