Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Alps, Autry and America

High on a hill was a lonely goatherd, Lae Ee Od Lay Ee Od Lay Hee Hoo – The Sound of Music

And who hasn’t yodelled when they’ve found themselves in the foothills of the Alps? I know I hodelay-hodelay-hodelayhee-have.

Although we couldn’t get superstar septuagenarian and amateur yodeller Brigitte to clear her throat when she took us walking above Interlaken in Switzerland.

Yodel eh? In Austria

We did though get awesome octogenarian Arthut, or Ehrwald Presley as I coined him, doing his verbal gymnastics last year on our Top Flight for Schools trip.

Before the night ascended into an Irish wedding-type hooley.

Now your favourite music on our travels column has been over yodelling before in this series.

But on the occasion of 60 years of the Irish Austrian Society which we’ll celebrate tonight let’s explore how yodelling was carried on the wind around the world.

Gene genie

Gene’s gaffe: The Angels at Anaheim

If you’re of a certain age, or if you’re versed in cowboy movies, you’ll know all about Gene Autry.

The Singing Cowboy, who hit the heights from the Thirties through to the Sixties.

And became such a big star that he even bought himself a baseball team in 1961, the Angels, who in their current iteration are the LA Angels.

Playing for the jersey: Gene Autry, the Angel

Gene may be 22 years gone (an angel for ever now) this month.

But not, nor will he ever be forgotten, in Anaheim

There is a shrine to him at Angels stadium which you can visit ahead of a game.

The Angels held Gene in such high regard that they added him to the roster and then retired the No.26 number.

Hodelayhee-Home Run.

Yodelling meets Blues

Jimmie, Jimmie: Jimmie Rogers. www.countrymusichalloffame.org

Yodelling may have its roots in the Alps but the Americans bluesed it up with the likes of Jimmie Rogers.

And as we all know America, and particularly the Deep South us where music went into a big melting pot.

It gave us, Jazz, Blues, Country, Elvis and Soul.

And, to think it all started with a lonely goatherd, hee-hoo.

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Music, UK

Cuba – Viva La Evolucion

Were the Vandals and the Pariahs really as bad as we’ve turned them into?

The Vandals, who hailed from the Danube area of Central Europe have been blackened by history.

But were these well-dressed military men really any more destructive than the others who invaded Classic Rome?

Outcasts or misunderstood?

While the Pariahs used to beat the drum from which they got their name and had magical powers before things turned.

All of which ramblings brings me onto how modern outcast states can be pilloried by being tagged a pariah state.

Mind you, while a country can be rubbished with this mantle there can also be retribution.

In the pink: Cuba

And in these crazy days the British Government has given the thumbs-up to Cuba in its latest national profiling exercise.

Otherwise known as the exempt list.

And so more of my favourites, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Jamaica are outah here and Cuba are in.

Music everywhere

Now like us all I have my preconceptions of Cuba, their Fifties classic cars, rumba, cigars and Castro.

And my friends have been urged by all I know who tell me I must continue my Caribbean education there.

Unmistakably Havana

And with my projected next destinations, the Czech Republic and Switzerland (doncha just know it?) now made pariah states by the UK it’s time for a rethink.

I’m reminded too that I have got close to Havana in that I visited San Cristobal de La Laguna in Tenerife on which Havana was based.

And check out these guys for best deals… https://www.audleytravel.com/cuba?

So Cuba, I’m swaying my hips here… quiero bailar la salsa.

Now are you listening out there?

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, UK

Flyday Friday: Tobago no-go and what a Swiss swizz!

Any Port in a storm… and the UK’s newscasters are all aflutter now Portugal has earned a place on the exempt list.

Although my old pals in Tobago are now off limits as are the Croatians (flagged here) while the Greeks thankfully have had a stay of execution.

Quite what the Swiss have done to annoy the Scots who have unilaterally shut the country down is anybody’s guess…

As welcome as getting Portugal back (and not a moment too soon) it begs the question why not the others too?

Testing times

The answer is here

And this is where airport testing would open up our borders again.

Our Travel Agents association here in Scotland, the SPAA (Scottish Passenger Agents Association) which is the oldest in the world, are pushing for its introduction.

But they, and airports, seem to be pushing against a closed door

Our airlines thankfully are continuing to keep routes open and are leaving the decision up to us adults.

Not so splendid isolation

And you’ll have a whole coastline to yourself

Whether we want to self-isolate when we get back.

Although for many who can’t remote work then that will mean a loss of earnings.

Spare a thought too for holidaymakers stuck out in one of the newly banned countries.

Who are having to pay inflated air prices to get home in time before the quarantine kicks in.

One traveller told of his experience in trying to get back to the UK from Croatia.

They won’t be stopped

Ryanair cut to the chase

Which would have involved him making his way across to Italy first and shelling out £450.

In the middle of all this madness Ryanair are still offering cut-price single deals.

Including Pula in Croatia and at a bunch of destinations across Spain from €9.99.

Aer Lingus go green (naturally)

And my friends, the Aer Lingus crew

Ireland’s national airline Aer Lingus carrier knows what sacrifices the public are making.

Which is why they’re making green list countries Greece and Italy even more attractive… if that’s possible.

And so they offer Athens, Rome, Venice and a host of other Italian delights and Greek gifts from €39.99 from Dublin.

Countries, Deals, Europe, Sport, UK

Fun on the water in Corfu and Lake Geneva

I know you think I walk on water but I really don’t.

I’ve swallowed more sea… in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea doing water sports than a puffer fish, who incidentally I never did get deep enough to see.

But I do persist and got to see me my turtles and rainbow fish in the Caribbean,

Let’s walk on that… Corfu

All of which messing around on the water brings me around to Corfu where Ryanair will fly you for €24.99 single which is 30% off.

And where my waterskiing career dived just as it began on honeymoon though thankfully the marriage bit has lasted,

Because I learned early where the Scary One is concerned that ‘when she wants my opinion she’ll give it to me.’

Window to the world: Ryanair

Ryanair has a range of offers which end midnight tomorrow, August 6.

But we’re zeroing in on this sample on Greece with Chania (€31.87) and Thessaloniki (€29.99).

And Greece’s Second City my Hellenophile pals assure me from my Greek Odyssey is the real jewel of Greece.

Or surfing in Switzerland

Pictures of Switzerland

And yes you know it, you can surf in the most surprising places as I did on that cruise ship in Barcelona.

With my old friends Royal Caribbean and my new pal, Irish surfer Gearoid McDaid, on Odyssey of the Seas.

All you need is a board, a body of water for a swell which you can get too in landlocked countries.

Zurich-West is one of the places to see and be seen with its urban surf centre, flowing drinks, sumptuous food and rocking music.

Professional instructors are on hand and I do hope they have more to work with than Gearoid had with me on FlowRider.

Watery playground

Zurich, of course, has its own natural watery playground, Lake Zurich where you can learn to sail or be sailed.

As well as the public outdoor pools where you can enjoy your pool experience.

Switzerland we all know from skiing but those mountains are transformed in the summer into hiking heaven.

Jump in: Lake Geneva

Stay at the grand dame Baur au Lac Hotel overnight stay including breakfast and two-hour vintage boat trip on Lake Zurich.

The real deal

With driver and Baur au Lac pucnic basket for two from 990CHF (€906/£819) and each additional night 450CHF (€411/£371.71) for two.

Baur au Lac has rooms from 695CHF (€634/£573) per night based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Double on room-only basis.

MEET YOU ON THE SWELL

Africa, America, Asia, Countries, Europe, UK

Fiveday Friday – take those drinks outside

Just on a whim, and because this is how we’ll be drinking in the future, here is a new feature Fiveday Friday.

Five of the best travel experiences from around my world of travels (and some of them won’t involve drink).

I’m spurred here by a radio shout-out for the sprawling 500-year-old The Lindsey Rose.

The Rose lies near Ipswich, Suffolk in England’s East Anglia http://www.thelindseyrose.co.uk and https://www.visiteastofengland.com.

Southwold in Suffolk, which is about 118 miles east and a two-and-a-half hour drive from London, was recommended to me by my old boss.

And with its dainty beach huts and English Country Garden pubs it was very much like ‘somewhere different but the same’ for this Scottish family within your own country.

Which is what we’ll all be reengaging ourselves with more and more now.

That’s not to say we won’t be reflecting on those awesome outdoor drinks dats we’ve enjoyed around the world.

Beer o’clock in South Africa

The Brewery and Two Goats Deli, Nieu-Bethesda, South Africa: And this beer garden deep in the heart of Afrikans country even has a wooden hammock.

Where you can sleep off your wooden smorgasbord sample of beers and stouts.

There’s nothing wooden though about this little haven in Nieu-Bethesda. Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and What’s new pussycat?.

On the Bosphorus

TTG Travel/Turkey Travel Group: And if the back garden can be a stretch of water which splits two continents….

Pleasure cruises are perfect for small groups and you can work off that Turkish spread with a boogie on board.

While looking out on two continents on the Bosphorus.

See https://www.turkeytravelgroup.com, https://visit.istanbul, www.turkishIrlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Swiss for Prosecco

Interlacken, Switzerland: Well, you do build up a thirst whizzing through a wood and the main road on your tutti bike.

It’s an electric scooter hybrid, you understand.

And you’ll find a bar in the valley where your Prosecco Spritzer has never tasted so good.

See www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

Der Plague and Der Great Outdoors

Oberammergau, Germany: And not a bad place to drop in on as the good burghers of this Bavarian town know all about pandemics.

They made a pact with God back in the Middle Ages where they would put on a Passion Play if He rid them of the plague.

And you’ll want to sit outside anyway to take in the murals that tell the story of Oberammergau.

See https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/home and https://www.topflight.ie and www.topflightforschools.ie.

Jocky Mountain High

Salt & Lime, Steamboat Springs, Colorado: Now Coloradans are ideally placed for this COVID crisis because they’re outdoors people.

They freestyle up the Rockies, white water raft on the French Powder River and then sit down in the open air on their ranches.

And rooftop restaurants such as this one, Salt & Lime Morning www.suckandlime.com in Steamboat Springs www.colorado.com.

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Green for go to these countries

And I’m already swotting up on New Zealand www.newzealand.com Thailand https://www.tourismthailand.org/landing and Vietnam https://vietnam.travel/home.

The UK is putting in a traffic light system for countries as we ease out of lockdown.

Greece is the answer to our prayers

And my favourites are all green-lighted for return:

Austria https://www.austria.info/en Barbados https://www.visitbarbados.org Croatia www.croatia.ie Germany https://www.germany.travel/en-mobile/index.html and Greece http://www.visitgreece.gr and https://athensattica.com are all go.

Out of quarantine

Translated that means returning travellers need not quarantine for 14 days.

I’m just glad Home Secretary Priti Patel finally listened to me.

Just swimmingly In Tenerife

You won’t have to be an amber gamblers either if you’re visiting a country on this list:

Australia, Belgium, Canada and Denmark France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Spain.

Or cycling in the French Pyrenees

The hit list

And there’s been more than a sprinkling of love from most of them… https://visitbelgium.com, https://visit-canada.ca, https://www.visitdenmark.com, https://about-france.com/visit-france.htm, http://www.italia.it/en/home.html, https://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm, www.visitportugal.com, www.myswitzerland.com and https://www.spain.info/en_GB/ https://www.spain.info/en/informacion-practica/oficinas-turismo-embajadas/turismo-exterior/oficina_de_turismo_en_dublin.html.

Bad luck though if you’re stopped at red:

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, India, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa and the US.

With the last two turning my clown into a frown.

Having set in train all my trips this year around these countries I’m having to make do with North Berwick beach these past couple of months.

Barbados hotpots

You see I don’t fancy much being one of half a million on Bournemouth beach.

Give me one of Barbados’s beaches, and I’m reminded now of a tub of chicken stew and bottles of Banks beers in Bathsheba, St Joseph East… Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Of course the beach is a Bajan’s dining room where the locals put up bars like we do brollies.

And where the flying fish jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

Fish of the day

There are many different varieties of cutters including liver, cheese, ham, egg and more.

Clubbing together: Club Barbados on the Platinum Coast

Or even easier are their fish cakes… do like a local and order a ‘bread and two’. On a bun.

The Bajans will be only too happy to show you how to cook up a treat…

And if you like it hot then here’s how they scare up a Pepper Pot… https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCUwplS8uhaieGiL_50XhJCg.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Holiday Snaps – An Irish solution

It’s an Irish solution to an Irish problem as they like to say over there but even this one has never been tried before… shared leaders.

The Irish have taken four months to agree that they can’t agree but, and you have to get into the Irish way of thinking, that’s no bad thing.

So Micheál Martin will get the first two and a half years as Taoiseach while his predecessor Leo Varadkar wiil resume power for the last two and a half.

But not down and out

For those of you who think that that long without a new government is careless should look to Belgium https://visitbelgium.com and Northern Ireland www.discovernorthernireland.com.

And this is a flick of how these countries run In Flanders fields, Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

And talking about shared leaders just think of the fun and possibilities if Donald Trump split the next Presidency with Joe Biden www.washington.org and Easy DC.

Or Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer… www.visitlondon.com The London life.

While this is how I saw Ireland in…

Swiss Miss

Running woman: Sara Roloff

I make no apologies in dedicating this next Snap to the force of nature that is Sara Roloff.

Sara brought us Swiss bingo, Swiss wine and beer and much more besides in my time in Ireland.

And champion skier and Marathon runner that she is she was always the fittest person in any room.

Alas, Sara was struck down with COVID-19 93 days ago and only started her recovery 43 days ago.

But last week she got the all-clear from her cardiologist and guess what she’s planning a marathon.

That’s what the Swiss are like Swhisskey on the rocks and www.myswitzerland.com. You have to go.

And me? I’ll take the gondola.

Home Department

Now here’s a walk

This lockdown has reminded us all that we should appreciate our own country.

And Travel Department, who know all about the world, know too that Ireland is the best of the world.

Which is why they’re launching Homegrown, their domestic trips from September.

My first professional Travel trip was from Wales to Cork and Kerry on the now discontinued Swansea-Cork shipping route.

It was the poor young PR’s first trip and she wasn’t prepared for how rough it would be with half a dozen hacks.

And look at that landscape

Or how choppy the sea was as we all fell down with sea sickness.

The return journey was almost as bad with us being kept off shore for a couple of hours.

I learned two things… that without our holiday providers and hosts we are rudderless and that Co. Kerry is one of the most beautiful places on God’s Earth.

TD has a guided four-night Kingdom of Kerry walking trip and a seven-night guided seven-night Kingdom and Cork’s Rebel County itinerary.

Check out https://www.tdactiveholidays.com/ireland-adventure-holidays.

And you must know by now how much I love an oul’ walk… www.CaminoWays.com, A pilgrim’s prayer and www.FrancigenaWays.com and Small roads lead to Rome.

The Special Relationship

I’ve often felt that we’d be better off if we put broadminded Travel people in charge of the world.

Rather than the leaders we have.

And I wholeheartedly support the US Travel Association’s response to the European Union further shutting its doors on Americans.

Tori Enerson Barnes: ‘This is unwelcome news and will have major negative implications for an economic recovery. – particularly if this ban results in cycles of retaliation as is so often the case.’

What would our forefathers who fought side by side in two World Wars have made of this disintegration of a once unshakable friendship… In Flanders fields, https://gtitravel.ie and www.visitusa.ie and www.visitusa.com.

Adventure, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – cow fighting breaks out

Lockdown has stopped us humans competing against each other but animals continue to do it, well, naturally.

I got to hear of the strange sport of Combat de Reines In Switzerland where cows fight each other www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

And I intend to make it my mission to seek out this ultimate moortial (sorry) arts duel on my travels as well as these other animal v animal contests.

Kicking seven cow bells out of each other

A bit of stewarding doesn’t go amiss

Combat de Reines, Switzerland: These contests date back to the 1920s when the skiers were on a break in the summer.

And they attract as many as 50,000 spectators across the season.

Although I’m assuming the cows are happy to fight behind closed doors (or in the open field) without us there.

The mootivation (ouch) for the cows is herd dominance although some need jivvying up and prefer to munch the grass.

Camel ye, come all ye

And in the red corner. https://wrestlingtv.in/have-you-heard-of-camel-wrestling-check-how-popular-it-is-in-turkey/

Camel wrestling, Turkey, Middle East, Asia: And your otherwise loping humpy desert dweller will bear his teeth…

If you try to jostle him along. Or put a female camel on heat between two males.

So not that different from humans then really.

The season is November to March so there’s still hope.

And here’s some Turkish delights and Jordanian japes to tantalise you… https://www.goturkeytourism.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam. And www.gadventures.com, www.visitjordan.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Herd up your haggises

http://www.facebook.com

Haggis hurling, Scotland: OK, this isn’t actually a sport but try telling that to the young Irish group I was with a couple of years ago.

Dry-witted Aberdonian Stevie informed our party that because we were running late he’d have to take the haggis farm off the agenda.

Distracted by another question Stevie might not have returned to the subject.

Had I not reminded him and warned him that this might yet appear in their articles as fact.

Invented in 1977 by a Robin Dunseath in 1977 it is still going strong. And check out www.visitabdn.com and Aberdeen – a light in the north and wwwvisitscotland.com.

One for the puperazzi

Catch that wave

Dog surfing, Huntington Beach, California: And to think I might never have learned about this sport of canines had I not pried.

The good folk of HB had invited me out for breakfast in Dublin to tell me about their new hotels and I probed them for info about their beaches.

I discovered that they have a popular annual dog surfing competition and that Garrett McNamara and his Brazilian labrador Bono lead the way.

And no, I never did hear if this Bono wore shades too all the time. Maybe the next time I get out to HB I’ll check it out.

Visit https://www.surfcityusa.com, www.visitcalifornia.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/.

I haven’t heard if September’s big surf is going ahead but the Pacific is a big ocean.

Acting the goat

Goat racing, Tobago: And a skill I got me, Marsha.

Marsha had gone through our coach asking us what we were good at, with housebuilder Antony scoring highest and me lowest.

But I showed her! Me and my goat Bandanaman only beat Antony and his kid in the goat race.

The big event is held in Buccoo at Easter and if there’s any justice myself and Bandanaman will be at the starter’s gate.

Although I might pass on the crab race.

Visit https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – Schnapps

When it came to breakfast on our Oktoberfest booze bus in Munich https://www.muenchen.de/int/en/tourism.html it had to be schnapps.

We all had to take turns at cooking.

But Rambo, a New Zealander with a party trick of putting his false tooth in his beer when he went to the loo, was having none of it.

Put your hat on it

And he led a revolt of fellow heavy bevvy merchants… with this the result.

Slovenian life

All of which nostalgic meanderings are because of a Zoom meeting with Slovenia https://www.slovenia.info/en.

We were tempted by some culinary guides and one speaker who was extolling the virtues of all things pumpkin seed oil.

While one Slovenian with an unpronounceable name showed us hay lofts we could book.

A taste of Slovenia

But, of course, it was the booze experts who drew me in, the Pale Ales and sparkling wines.

And especially the man with the pear schnapps.

We’ll leave Slovenia there and thank them for making nary a mention of the most famous Slovenian of all, Melania Trump.

Schnapps ja

And return to Germany where the schnapps is drunk like water.

As chasers with beer.

An Austrian yodeller

And coming in all fruits and with whole apples and pears in bottles soaking up the alcohol what’s not to love.

Central Europe is home to the best schnapps so a shout-out to Switzerland and hiking in the hills www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

Apres-ski

Or apres-ski in the Whiskey Mühle in Söll in Kaiser Welder https://www.wilderkaiser.info/en/soell/info/whiskey-muehle.html in Austria with www.topflight.ie Soll Mates.

A handle on schnapps

Schnapps bottles too are works of art.

And you can marvel at the designs in the Ehrwald in the Tyrol www.tyrol.com with Top Flight for Schools www.topflightforschools.ie.

Peachy: A fruity little number

Of course Austria specialises in eccentricities https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/01/austrian-toilet-humour/amp/ and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/__trashed/amp/.

But it all starts with the food and drink and with water so damned expensive I’d always recommend the sausages, beer… and schnapps.

MEET YOU AT THE BAR

Adventure, Countries, Europe, Sport

World Cycling Day

This year’s cyclist is next year’s angry motorist but I’m willing to let them have their day today, World Bicycle Day.

Because I used to be one, a lycrad-up pedal-pumping moraliser.

Even when I got waterbombed and party paint-sprayed while riding through Edinburgh.

You see the Mammal look is never a good image.

It doesn’t mean though that you can’t fake it.

Tour de Murty

As I did at the top of the most climbed peak in the Tour de France during my tour through the Pyrenees https://www.hautespyrenees.fr/ and The Lourdes prayer here.

By persuading a real cycling climber to lend me her bike.

I prefer the flat road these days and did get my chance to rotate the legs at the Campus in Quinta do Lago www.quintadolago.com and SPORTUGAL in Portugal.

Only to overplay it and come off at a corner in the woods…

Earlier on my adventures, in Cannes, I toyed with e-bikes http://www.mandelieu.com and The Boat D’Azur.

And I didn’t get going on this either

Only to move on and stall a Fiat 500 and not even get out of the car park!

Mind you as is the way of things and as the old saying goes:

You wait ages for an e-bike and two come along at the same time.

Enter a couple of my old favourites Italy https://www.visititaly.eu and Switzerland www.myswitzerland.com.

If there’s an area of Italy not worth exploring I haven’t found it although I am prepared to extend my travels beyond Padova – city of frescoesSmall roads lead to Rome and Rome on €50.

image001-2

A taste of Lake Como

Lake Como has entranced visitors for centuries but have you tried it by bike, or e-bike?

The Lake Como Greenways snakes above picturesque villages.

While the Chilometro Della Conoscienza (open only on Sundays) allows explorers the chance to wander through the extraordinary gardens of Villa Olmo, Villa Sucota and Villa del Grumello.

Cyclists can enjoy various climbs that traverse tunnels left by the Italian army during the First World War. 

With Alpine views stretching to Switzerland.

Let the train take the strain

We’ll get onto Switzerland in a jiffy but you’ll be wanting to know where to stay in Lake Como.

The answer, if you don’t know George and Amal, is Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

It will reopen for the season on June 26th at a third capacity (30 out of 90 rooms).

As well as its five restaurants and three swimming pools looking out over the lake and natural park.

This year, the hotel team is launching the T Beach club – comprising a sandy beach with chic sun loungers and cocktail bar framing its floating swimming pool.

Rooms available from €550/approx. £497 per night + VAT; free cancellation up to eight days prior to arrival. For further enquires and bookings, visit www.grandhoteltremezzo.com.

Scoot. Trotti scooting in the Alps. www.grindelwaldbus.ch

Switzerland, you ask? 

We’ll your favourite Travel blogger will always flag up the joys and efficiency of the Swiss train.

From where you can hop on and off to indulge your interest, be that skiing, walking, boating or cycling.

Or Trotti scooters which you can take through the woods and then onto the main road and race with Koreans.

Just don’t take the corners too quickly!

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD