Adventure, Countries, Deals, Europe, Sport

Holiday Snaps – United for Malta

I’m in good company, with footballers Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelof and Brandon Williams all fans of my honeymoon island… we’re all United for Malta I guess.

The three Manchester United players were only too happy to flag up the jewel of the Mediterannean.

With Malta the club’s official destination partner.

Gozo views

French World Cup winner Pogba said: ‘It’s beautiful, there aren’t a lot of people and I can go there with my family.

He picked out St Peter’s Pool in Delimara.

While Lindelof is rightly taken by Comino.

Valletta you better you bet

The idea is to put together a postcard (remember them) of Malta.

And you can check it out on https://www.manutd.com/en/videos/detail/pogba-williams-and-lindelof-create-their-perfect-postcard-with-visitmalta#

The jewel of the Med 26 years ago was my wee treasure… only what they don’t tell you is that gems have rough edges!

A cheeky wee Algarve

The loved-up Miss F dragged me away to the Algarve for our first summer holiday together although in truth I didn’t need much dragging.

On a budget then we were taken by the Algarve tradition of taking your litre plastic bottle down to the local wine shop in Cabanas.

Algarve wine country

Where the owner would fill it up with house wine for a few escudos (yes, it was that long ago).

As Portugal awaits the green light for us to return to its shores we welcome too the push for Algarve wines.

With Cliff in the Algarve

And what’s more they’ll even share their art with you on the Quinta dos Vales estate.

Get a three-hour induction in winemaking in the Bottle Blending Workshop from €62pp.

Even better stay the night, you’ll need it to put your boozy head down, from €75 per night.

And here’s a toast from past travels in Quinta do Lago.

Our bit for charity

Charity begins at home and seeing we’re all holed up at home let’s all do our bit.

Bike4tourism is a multi-continental charity ride which is hoping to break the Guinness world record for numbers of participants.

Register for the event, on May 30, Fees start from €18 and free for under-18s.

With part of the money raised going to an environmental cause and helping Travel companies affected by Covid-19.

Now my cycling has come on a lot since collapsing on the roadside in the Algarve way back then.

Probably the vino collapso!

And Machu more

If running, or swimming, is more your thing and you want to help out, say, the Machu Picchu porters, then join me in this challenge.

This month we’re being invited to run, swim (OK, or bike) 25 miles to help out the Machu porters who are currently packless.

Twenty-five miles is the length of the famous Peruvian trail.

And £25 provides funds to purchase one essential food parcel for a Peruvian porter and their family for a month.

If like me you’ve taken your foot off the pedal during lockdown then this is your chance to rectify that.

Or alternatively you can donate £25 to Peru 25for25. Visit the Lata Foundation.

And when you do get out to Peru then it’ll be with our old pals at G Adventures.

They are offering seven days Cusco to Cusco from £620, down from £729, Valid on November 1.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

America, Countries, Europe, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Le Tour de Friends

You’d think you’d get splendid isolation at the top of the most cycled climb, Le Col du Tourmalet, but you don’t. It’s the Tour de Friends!

I have a chequered history of cycling which shouldn’t qualify me to join my fellow Scot Robert Millar in that chequered shirt as King of the Mountains.

Hiring bikes with the-then Miss F in Cabanas in the Algarve I was eating dust yards into our ride.

There’s always another mountain

While I also took a turn too sharply in the Ria Formosa in Quinta Do Lago and almost ended up in the lake.

But that didn’t put me off when I started working nights and opted to cycle in and, out of Edinburgh, through Holyrood Park to the office.

And I’ve got the lead

Never mind the Tour de France, the Tour d’Edinburgh is the real endurance test!

I’ve had lads party spray paint me when I was on my bike, been waterbombed and been knocked off my bike.

And I even had time to drop off for a bier

But I got there in the end… ‘on top of the world, Ma.’

With a little help from my friends.

I’ll let you into a secret here. I only borrowed a real rider’s bike at the top of the Pyrenees… don’t tell.

Mind you this is the Tour where the rules are there to be bent.

Whaddya mean? This is refuelling

The Tour started this weekend and I’m thinking they’ll have a devil of a time stopping the public come out to cheer.

Vive Le Tour!

And newsflash here from A Queer in Provence who has sent me his vlog on Le Grand Depart from Nice…. https://youtu.be/XQ2Udd7rcLg

Paralympic heroes

Prize guy: Ireland’s Paralympic hero Mark Rohan

As a young lad running around the UK’s boggy fields and dirty streets I always envisaged that I would get my hands on Olympic gold.

The Olympics’ loss was Newspapers’ gain.

But destiny was calling when I met Irish Paralympian hero Brian Rohan at The Campus in Quinta do Lago.

I’d thought of running off with his medal but he’d have hunted me down in that dream machine.

The Paralympics were due to have started this weekend… but it will be back in Japan next year. Don’t miss it!

Chuck me a hot dog

Fan-tastic… the Angels in Anaheim

With two thousand fans being allowed in at Brighton’s ground for their friendly with Chelsea.

And Scottish rugby bringing back a sprinkling of supporters into Murrayfield for the Glasgow v Edinburgh match.

It beggars the question… how do we get fed?

Well, here’s something we could take from American sport… the chucked hot dog.

Where’s the mustard?

As I lapped up (including the mustard) at the California Angels game in Anaheim.

Maybe pass the Bovril along the line though.

MEET YOU AT THE BALL GAME

America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Meditate on the world

There are some people whose company just sends you to sleep… and then there are the professionals like my pal SLM who put you into dreamland.

Travel and Yoga Nidra professional Sarah Lloyd-Morrison is one of those precious gems you discover on your life’s journey.

You know the type: chilled, funny and unstintingly patient.

And I’m glad to say that she’s not blocked me since we returned from Tobago www.tobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Or at least this is what she told me to write when she had me under…. in her meditation class.

Tobago beyond: With SLM and pals in Tobsgo

And it’s just what I needed in lockdown and it’ll help me from killing my family.

Although there’s no guarantee that they’ll not kill me first if I say I’m meditating when there are chores to be done.

Of course now I can self-meditate I’m going to seek out a zen break.

Here are five of the best.

Rockies of ages

Shambhalah Mountain Center, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado: America’s hipster state where Brad and Dexter are so chilled.

Because of the Great Outdoors, the freestyle rock-climbing, white-water rafting, horseriding and maybe too the substances.

Where better then to zen out than Red Feather Lakes, 50 miles north-west of Fort Collins?

They’ve a variety of programmes from ‘Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’ to ‘The Path of Simply Being’.

And they also have nature-based programmes with astronomy.

Stay a month, week or weekend in a tent or lodge suite. Visit https://www.shambhalamountain.org www.colorado.comand The New Frontiersmen.

Portyogal

Shamballah, Sintra, Portugal: I’m reminded here of the friendly Wolverhampton masochist who had me contorted during yoga in the Algarve www.quintadolago.com, www.visitportugal.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/sportugal-2/amp/.

Shamballah puts on a Yoga and Meditation Retreat.

And you know that Portugal is throwing its doors open again.

Before all this kicked off they were quoting three nights single room €350 per person. See https://www.shamballahretreats.com/retreats.

O Lotus Flower of Scotland

Kagyu Samye Ling. Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland: And this is the first Buddhist retreat in the west of Scotland.

They have all manner of accommodations including retreat rooms, camping and camper vans.

And five golden rules including: no killing, no stealing, no lying, no drink or drugs and no sexual impropriety.

You will, of course, be so zenned out you’ll love everybody because you’ll love yourself.

Or in the words of Choja Lama Yeshe Losal Rimpache: ‘Meditation means simple acceptance.’

See https://www.samyeling.org and www.visitscotland.com.

Ireland’s Garden County

Bobbio Centre, Co. Wicklow, Ireland: Now Irish sisters and brothers were a fixture of my upbringing.

My Dear Old Mum had a family of cousins who all went into the Holy Order.

And they would regularly turn up on our doorsteps in their long beards and shawls.

The Bobbio Centre in my beloved old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow is run by the Columbine Sisters.

They have 11 bedrooms and one en-suite single, special needs bedroom.

You have your meeting room and prayer room as you would expect and also a beehive which has created quite the buzz.

See https://www.columbansisters.org/bobbio-retreat-centre/ and www.visitwicklow.com..

Himalaya stayer

Vidya Niwas India Hotels, Himalayas: Hippies the world over will tell you that Dharamsala is where you need to go to find your inner zen.

And the Dalai Lama’s resident region in exile in India does have everything you need for meditation.

You can choose from the likes of The Rose Room, the Golok Princess Room, the Kotha Basant Room and the Sherpa Everest Room.

The views are gratis and the zen is guaranteed. See https://www.dalai-lama-dharma-dharamsala-miniguide.com/vidya-niwas.html

Where is your favourite zen retreat? Let me know and we’ll share.

And now we’re feeling all floaty here are some yoga guides… My Sporting Weekend International Yoga Day and Yoga-dabba-do – International Yoga Day.

Namaste: Sarah Lloyd-Morrison

And look out for my Meditation Diary with my Yogi Sarah Lloyd-Morrison in these pages.

MEET YOU IN NIRVANA

Adventure, America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport

My Sporting Weekend International Yoga Day

There’s no point trying to duck out and watch the yoga from the thicket outside… Derek!!!

And, of course, the women in our company, and the men to be fair, in Tobago https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/. were never going to allow him to be a bystander.

Tomorrow is International Yoga Day snd I’ll be doing a downward dog in Scotland.

When I could, of course, have been aoammmming in India.

It’s the kind of surprise and challenge I miss from my time in the office.

Bend over and stretch: In Tobago

When Incredible India called and invited me to send a member of staff to India for a few days…. only they needed a name by the next day.

And confirmation that they had an appropriate visa.

It would have been easier had I gone myself but big softie that I am I sent the ditziest, most entitled member of staff because she said she was a yoga nut.

A nut all right… she only threatened to report the PR I was dealing with to their superior while having me to sort out her mess.

And then dissing me further down the road.

All of which reminisces brings me around to what is being done around the world to tempt us for the future.

Red Rock Revellers

Yoga at altitude, Denver, Colorado: And where better to stretch your limbs than in the stunning backdrop of Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

We settled for watching down on high the early-morning exercisers while we did move our limbs later when OneRepublic entertained us.

Visit https://www.redrocksonline.com/yotr/, www.visitdenver.org, Go West and The New Frontiersmen.

Beach yoga, Huntington Beach, California: Zen out on the beach where Snoop Dogg plays sets.

And dogs go surfing.

Well it is the Californian life. See www.visitcalifornia.com, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/03/holiday-snaps-surf-dog-huntington-beach/.

Laid-back California

LA Rooftop Yoga, West Hollyeood, California: Try rooftop yoga in laid-back WH where one Sunday per month you can join in a class at the Andaz West Hollywood.

They’ll even throw in a complimentary Zico (I thought he was a footballer) coconut water drink.

While you’ll also get 20% off bottomless brunches at the Riot House restaurant on the first floor. See www.visitwesthollywood.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/.

It’s a stretch: Tobago

Tobago: And we’re back to the eccentric Derek who as well as trying to spy on us doing yoga also wore a suit on the hottest day of the year to one of Tobago’s most secluded beaches.

They also love to roll out the coconut water in the Caribbean. Stretch out and get yourself over next year. https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Quinto da Lago, Portugal: Have you ever noticed that yoga teachers are sweet assassins.

Ours in The Campus, Quinta do Lago on the Algarve couldn’t have been smilier as she got us to use muscles that hadn’t been exercised in tears.

See https://www.quintadolago.com/en/sports-wellness/the-campus/ and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/sportugal-2/amp/.

And I’ll be back tomorrow with some more yoga, this time from its spiritual home, Asia.

That’s unless I get a last-minute invitation to get out there myself. And guess what, I’m keeping it for myself this time.

Altogether now… aoam.

MEET YOU ON THE MAT

Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

The beach to yourself in the Algarve

Beaches, like the skies and seas, are benefitting rom the lockdown and the Algarve has had the chance to breathe.

That’s because they are without the type of beachgoer who treat our beaches like a dumping ground… or worse.

The first beach holiday I had with the-then lovesick Miss F was in the Algarve https://www.visitalgarve.pt/en/Default.aspx where we met two brothers who are now our lifelong friends.

We played football on the courts, pool volleyball and even took to the stage to do our best theme from Raw Hide… complete with whip sounds.

In the interests of public disclosure that was me and Ray, not me and Miss F, although that doesn’t sound any better.

What a pane!

We thought about staying away from the Cabanas beach though as we had been warned that the approach was strewn with glass.

That didn’t stop us, though it took much of the enjoyment away from the experience, and I’m sure Ray lacerated his foot.

Now none of this is levelled at Cabanas , more those reckless visitors back in 1990.

Today’s Cabanas I imagine will be like a Caribbean beach because of a lack of litterbugs!

The beaches in the Algarve will reopen on Saturday.

There will be colour coded signage indicating the level of occupancy of the beach (low/medium/full).

And it will be updated in real time on the app ‘Info Praia’ (available in English) and APA website.

Just swimmingly

Visitors will be expected to keep 1.5m apart unless they are in the same household and parasols will be 3m apart.

And swimming, water sports and surfing will be permitted.

Of course, Portugal, and the Algarve, for many of us, holds many wonderful childhood and adult memories.

And check out www.visitportugal.comSecret Portugal and https://www.quintadolago.com/en/.

Now many of you reading this may be asking why we didn’t wear flip-flops when negotiating the Cabanas expert.

Well, the best I have us that that’s hard-earned booze money you’re talking about there.

Fly high

Now here’s what Ryanair www.ryanair.com is planning for us from June 21.

Ryanair – flights from Stansted, Dublin and Manchester.

EasyJet http://www.easyjet.com from June 16 from Belfast, four weekly frequencies from Luton from June 16.

British Airways http://www.ba.com – July.

MEET YOU ON THE BEACH

Culture, Europe, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – masked fans

Sports supporters have long had a gallows sense of humour and it’s hardly surprising the Covid-19 crisis has thrown up the masked fan.

Enterprising businessmen and clubs have been busy marketing masks with their team’s crests and colours.

And they have been snapped up by fans who are never left wanting when it comes to the latest merchandise.

The Belgians have been leading the way.

In Brussels Molenbeek have face masks going with club logos which reportedly fetch €7 a piece.

And champions Club Brugge, Liege’s Standard and Ghent’s KAA have been weighing into the initiative.

With charity a major beneficiary.

Wear your own colours: In Belgium

Which isn’t surprising as the Belgians remain one of the most empathetic nations in the world.

On account of their challenging history… In Flanders fields and https://visitbelgium.com.

The craze has caught on too in the UK with some of the less fashionable clubs to the fore.

So a shout-out to Bournemouth, Dundee United and Dumfermline.

Ja beauty

Yellow peril: Borussia Dortmund. www.bundesliga.com

The Germans are kicking off again today with the eyes of Europe taking a greater than usual interest in the live afternoon game Borussia Dortmund v Schalke.

Dortmund fans are renowned for their passionate support.

But alas their ‘Yellow Wall’ of fans at the Westfalenstadion will be bare as the game will be played behind closed doors.

If I need to pick a side it would be Dortmund because if the small gesture from a visiting Borussia reporter.

Who handed out small crested Borussia pins to the Press Box for a European match at Celtic Park.

If it was a subtle way of getting the Glaswegians on their side and subconsciously reducing Celtic’s chances it failed… the Scots won.

Schalke though have their passionate fans too, none more vociferous than Greta who almost converted me.

On a boat cruise down the River Elbe in Dresden Dresden’s renaissance and https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php. Dresden too have their storied club Dynamo.

For more on the Bundesliga https://www.bundesliga.com/en/bundesliga and Germany https://www.tourism.de.

Gone fishing

You’ll need a bigger boat

I hope you’re staying alert on the court and the golf course now that Boris Johnson is allowing the English to get out there playing.

If you’re in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you’ll have to keep your clubs and racquets in the shed for now.

But we can all get our fishing rods out.

On our first summer holiday, to the Algarve, myself and The Scary One went out with a local boatman for a spot of fishing.

No sooner had we dangled our lines in, and I’d caught a tiddler, than we had to head back.

She only needed a toilet break! It was either that or searching out the nearest island… Madeira!

Portugal, as I’ve been keeping you informed, is ahead of the curve and ready to welcome us all back… if we’re healthy.

They’re encouraging watersports, with safe distancing so that’s surfing and angling then.

Which you’ll find in Portugal Centro Secret Portugal and https://www.centerofportugal.com.

While when everything is normal again in Quinta do Lago then you’ll be able to hone your golf skills.

At the Paul McGinley Golf Academy https://www.quintadolago.com/en/golf/academy/ and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/sportugal-2/amp/.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Golf’s back.. of course

Staring out on the historic North Berwick links golf course on Scotland’s Golf Coast I’ve been asking myself: why no golf?

When it’s the politicians I should be asking.

All that course to play

The rest of the world seems to recognise the obvious that’s staring us in the face… it’s one pastime where social distancing comes with the territory.

Encore Le Golf

Which is why France, which has been flagged (sorry) up as having particularly draconic lockdown laws, is reopening its courses from May 11.

And Ireland on a limited basis from May 18.

Par-tugal

Portugal, a particular favourite with British and Irish golfers, is even further ahead with Monday slated as the day they tee up again.

While in the USA a poll of golf courses showed 60% already open.

As a sample, how about our friends in sports-mad Philadelphia https://www.visitphilly.com and Philadelphia Freedom?

The golfing world

So it comes as little surprise thar they have been straining at the leash to get back out on the course.

New Zealand and Dubai are further ahead of the curve than the Home of Golf and are also open.

Landmarks: Golf heritage in North Berwick

So why is Scotland which gave the world the sport behind everyone else when it comes to a resumption of the Royal & Ancient game?

Because there are straightforward conditions that can, and are being applied abroad, which can be put in place which will make it possible to get back out there.

The rules

*Confine play to private members

*No competitions

*No raking of bunkers

*No flagpoles.

While, of course, golfers already have putting gloves which they can use to take the ball out of the hole.

Of course my own golfing efforts abroad have been scratchy (no, not the handicap) to say the least.

My golf record

I set a course record high on the Old Course in Mandelieu, Cannes https://www.1golf.eu/en/club/old-course-cannes-mandelieu/ and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/us.france.fr/en/news/article/about-atout-france-0/amp

And had my good pal and proper golfer Jacinta running back to bunkers to collect wedges I’d left behind.

In Las Vegas at the https://topgolf.com/us/las-vegas/ www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic I shot the neon lights out.

I discovered that I was better at the pitcher of beer than the pitcher of golf balls.

Par excellence

But maybe by the time I’d got to Portugal and the Paul McGinley Golf Academy in Quinta do Lago https://www.quintadolago.com/en/golf/academy/all the practice had started to pay off.

Turkey shoot: At Istanbul Airport

I’d made sure I’d stopped off at Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com Business Lounge to play their driving range.

Now with a golf course on my doorstep I’ll be able to get out to the Old Course.

The Old Courses

Either the original across the Firth of Forth in St Andrews https://www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk/old-course-hotel.

Or the oldest one on continental Europe in the French Riviera.

MEET YOU ON THE COURSE