Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Messi around on the water

Only one man walks on water in Barcelona.

He’s everywhere – in every shop window, on the backs of every family of tourists or parading his skills before 100,000 worshippers at the Cathedral of Sport, the Camp Nou.

Only on the day I visited the Spanish city, he’s not.

The ubiquitous Lionel Messi is back in his native South America on International duty playing for Argentina rather than curling in free-kicks for his adopted Barca.

Barcelona has a vacancy for a sporting hero then…

And I’m thinking if I nail it I might just get my name on the back of the football top that big fluffy bear is wearing.

He’s sitting in a sports car on the shopping area of a cruise ship in port at the foot of La Rambla.

Such are the trappings of fame… and I want some of it.

And I have the chance.

To walk on water on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas’ surf simulator FlowRider.

And I only have the best in the business to get me up to speed, Irish surfing superstar Gearoid McDaid.

We’re lucky to have Gearoid here, his feet rarely touch the ground.

Gearoid is not ling back from a couple of months surfing in Chile, was in Indonesia before that and is on his way to Portugal.

Gearoid is not what I expect though, no man bun, goatee beard, tattoo sleeve… just a regular Sligo boy.

Although he is pals with Kian Egan.

Thankfully there is one Fiftysomething who keeps up appearances with his bandana and windswept beard.

But boy can he surf… Gearoid, that is!

The simulator is on the 15th deck of the €1.4bn Oasis of the Seas cruise ship which is on its way to Majorca, France and then Italy…

With 6,300 passengers. enjoying five pools and numerous bats, restaurants and shows… and a park, ‘Central Park’ (you’ll forget you’re at sea).

But alas without us who’ll have to get off kicking and screaming before sail time, if they can find us hiding away down in the staff quarters.

The idea of the simulator which is 40ft long, is that a rush of water shoots out to build up the swell.

Which you then surf against.

It’s all in the knees, back and arms – and the trick is to sway and not panic.

Too late, the board went that way and the bandana and everything under it the other way.

It’s official. I don’t walk on water (but my family could tell you that). Maybe I’ll have better luck on my knees.

Eureka or ‘goooooal’ as Lionel Messi might shout.

I manage to master those waves in the prayer position on a boogie board with more than a little help from Mauritian teacher Kai.

Suddenly I feel indestructible. And here I was worried that I’d be caught with my shorts down.

And quite literally I almost was at half-mast.

I hadn’t pulled the cord tightly enough before the surfing class and the waves carried me away.

To be avoided – particularly if you’ve booked up for my next challenge, the 82ft Zip Line.

Nobody nine decks below on the Boardwalk wants to have Stars and Stripes boardie trunks land on them, believe me.

When they’re out shopping having an early-afternoon drink or are on their way to lunch.

Thankfully I can’t do much damage in the Spanish restaurant, other than embarrass myself and my party by getting my maracas out (steady!)

Well, once in we weighed into the plates and plates of tapas and a big jug of sangria (when in Spain).

Fuelled with patatas and shrimp al ajillo we swagger off the ship, only taking time to pass by an eight-year-old boy twisting and turning on the other simulator..

And onto the famous La Rambla shopping and market thoroughfare.

Christopher Columbus is still there where I remember him from the last time I visited Barcelona 15 years ago.

And drew back the curtains of my balcony cabin.

He is proudly guarding the city and pointing out to sea.

To be fair, the arm is right, though I’d maybe bend the elbow and those legs are way too straight.

Sorry, Chris, but you’d be no use on a surfboard either.

TRAVEL FACTS

The deal: Sail the Western Mediterranean for seven nights on Oasis of the Seas from €1049pp based on two sharing, departing Barcelona. Visit Palma, Marseille, Florence/Pisa, Rome (Civitavecchia), Napless and arrive back at Barcelona. www.royalcaribbean.ie. Flights not included.

How to get there: Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair www.ryanair.com.

Where to stay in Barcelona: Hotel Concordia www.hotelconcordiabarcelona.com is a central hub and has a rooftop pool that will tempt you to linger. Pride was on when we visited and the neighbourhood was jumping. €135 per room per night.

Adventure, America, Asia, Countries, Cruising

My Sporting Weekend – Olympic ‘sports’

It might have escaped your attention but Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis broke the world record this week.

Which beggars the question: what’s the point apart from the bit at the end of the stick?

I mean who pole vaults anyway, or shot putts, or throws discuses?

Bending over backwards. www.wikipedia.com

Field of screams

Javelins have their place… partly because of bonkers Tessa Sanderson who I interviewed in my first job and the force of nature that is Fatima Whitbread.

They could make it even better if they were to time it to when the long-distance runners were on the track.

Long jump? Nothing exciting has happened since Bob Beamon jumped out of the pit.

And high jump? Since Dick Fosbury flopped over the bar in the Sixties.

Give it a hurl www.wikipedia.com

Home run

Baseball: I’m surprised it isn’t in the Games already but it hasn’t been since 2002.

But seeing that the Japanese are pretty good at it..,

Anyway, because I’ve got some game from the Washington Nationals… if the UK team want a Joe DiMurtio.

And check out my Washington adventures Easy DC.

Capital: Slugger Murty

Chairman of the board

For flip’s sake www.wikipedia.com

Skateboarding: Born out of the old outdoor swimming pool in Venice Beach, it should remain there.

Venice Beach life should be experienced though https://www.venicebeach.com as should Muscles Beach https://www.musclebeachvenice.com but they wouldn’t introduce body-building, would they?

Aw, hell, I’ve only gone and given the IOCC ideas.

And also check out www.visitcalifornia.com.

Kicking on

Karate kid

Karate: I’m only surprised it isn’t.

I never got near the oul’ Martial Arts other than having a dressing gown which was dangerously close to a Del Boy fashion item.

Hardly a spectator sport

Get your rocks off

Sport climbing: I don’t even know how they judge this.

But I do know a crowd who do… the Coloradans who spend their days climbing the Rockies.

And their evenings getting stoned at their craft beer and organic restaurants… Go West and www.colorado.com.

Everybody’s gone surfin’

Surfing: And here’s another newbie that I’m pitching myself for.

After roadtesting the Royal Caribbean Flow Rider in Barcelona.

And then throwing some shapes at Surf City USA, Huntington Beach https://www.surfcityusa.com.

I’m only surprised the Japanese haven’t tried to get sumo wrestling included… I’d watch that.

Visit https://www.japan.travel/en/uk/ and https://tokyo2020.org/en/.

MEET YOU AT THE GAMES

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Cruiseday Tuesday – the naked truth

I was a more attractive proposition than the previous candidate for the spare room in the girls’ Belfast home – I promised to keep my clothes on.

The guy before me was a naturist.

The thing is that naturism depends on everybody being in on it,

Now there is every type of cruise on the planet so you won’t be surprised to hear that there is one as well for naturists… https://cruisebare.com.

I‘m breathing in: On board Oasis of the Seas

Though I was and am indebted to my friends at Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com for putting me onto this.

Not that I’m going to suggest it to The Scary One.

Although it does look as if it has a plus side in that you never have to worry about getting into your penguin suit or cocktail dress to sit at the captain’s table.

I’m not even going to ask if that’s a thing on this cruise ship.

I usually like to keep my clothes on when I go cruising.

Although I was almost caught with my pants down from the surf simulator FlowRider on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas in Barcelona. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/23/surfing-the-seas-in-barcelona/

Drink Canaria dry

As you’ll all know by now I spent a thoroughly enjoyable few days walking, talking, swallowing and swallying in Tenerife with www.CanariaWays.com.

And I will be compiling it all in a grown-up article.

Tenerife calling

However you get there, get to Tenerife.

TUI is offering Marella Cruises on the Explorer, inside cabin, all-inclusive seven nights from €995pps. http://www.tui.ie.

It just clicks

Now Click&Go http://www.clickandgo.com are a mighty fine holiday provider and will feel genuinely proud of picking up their Best Cruise performance for Rest of the World from Royal Caribbean at an awards ceremony in Waterford.

But there’s no point in me being modest. I’m thinking that my performance at a particular Karaoke bar of Chuck Berry’s Memphis, Tennessee would surely deserve at least joint billing.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Hungry and Thursday – playing with your food

We’re all told from an early age not to play with our food… but heck, that’s half the fun.

Doesn’t it make your flesh crawl when you see some foodie snob at work?

Pursing their lips, noses upturned, inspecting their food like Hamlet does Yoric.

It’s food, there to be eaten and, if you’re lucky, enjoyed.

And that’s exactly what you get with Le Petit Chef. Sounds fun already, eh?

I met the Wee Cook and his pals at Le Grand Bistro on the inaugural Celebrity Edge on the high seas to the Bahamas last year.

Now we’ve all been around open kitchens but this takes you from farm to fork.

TableMation at Le Grand Bistro on the $1bn ship sees the food prep played out on your table top by a cast of mini-animated characters.

They are beamed onto your plate with our little friends rounding up their animals from in this case the Italian countryside.

Fun and games: With Eric

The detail, the chatter and the humour will have your captivated.

And then magically the real human waiter, the one you can pinch, takes the food they have prepared to your plate.

I have never had so much fun with ravioli.

Equally they have Chinese and French tableaux to enjoy too. See http://www.lepetitchef.com, http://www.celebritycruises.ie,

And my review of Edge, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-to-here/

Cruise ships have food at their heart and they’re fun when you’re not in a bun fight at the breakfast buffet.

I’ll have the lot

Filipino chef Eric had us all playing along on Independence of the Seas with the Teppanyaki.

He makes egg fried rice and all sorts, using his chef’s hat as a prop to bring chicks out of the hat.

The cherry on the top: Izumi

And rattling those pots and pans and leading us all in a sing-song.

And the food tastes all the better for it. See my review https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/.

And follow http://www.royalcaribbean.ie and http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk.

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Holidos and don’ts: kids on holiday

You can’t live with them… you can’t leave them behind on holiday. Your kids.

One of the biggest stress points on holiday is the need to entertain your children.

Which does not come cheap.

I mean you have to feed and water them, and they’re not like plants, these guys are always grazing.

Big kids too

I’ve no evidence for this but I think boys are worse.

I remember well one city break in Rome when we were on a tight schedule.

And had to be at the Vatican for a tour of the Raphael Rooms by a certain time.

When the Son And Heir decided, nay demanded, that he get fed.

Chess, who’d have thought it? In New York

Not just a pezzo either (a small piece of pizza) on the go, but a sit-down two-course meat dinner and dessert at a trattoria,

And don’t think you can turn to Herself. She’ll always support Him.

So when I anxiously looked at my watch and opined that if he didn’t hurry up I’d gladly throw him in the Tiber…

She told me to stop making a scene and that people were watching.

Now we could be in Outer Mongolia and She would still be worried that people’s first concern was our business.

Swings and roundabouts

And so when we arrived at the Vatican She decided that she was no longer in the mood.

And I had to plead to every one of those saints to intercede and get her to change her mind.

Hence the forced smiles here in the photos.

So, what to do with kids?

Leave them behind with their grandparents. Yes, if you’ve enough capital good will.

But if you HAVE to bring them with you then don’t think the Kids’ Club will save you.

Animals are magic

The idea of kids as fun-loving, gregarious and societal is for the movies.

Mostly they are sullen, complaining and suspicious of little Johnny or Mary, or, these days, Jaydon and Meghan.

But don’t despair, there are solutions at hand.

One I’ve written about recently and make no apologies in returning to is Hotel Magnolia http://www.themagnoliahotelqdl.com and The Campus in Quinta do Lagohttp://www.quintadolago.com in Portugal.

And I’d bet the kids will take to the sport of paddle, a cross between squash and tennis.

There are an abundance of sports camps out there.

They will tire out your kids and you might just get time to yourselves at the bar at night.

Alternatively why not try a cruise?

We’d made up by then. In the Vatican

Anybody who is new to cruising is always taken aback by their size.

Which means kids get a chance to run around aimlessly which is one of their favourite things to do.

And being limited by where they can go because there’s an ocean out there then they won’t get lost.

And there is helpful staff to tell you where everything is on the ship.

The permanent access to food takes away that headache.

While they’ll be in and out of the pools all day, they’ll love things like the Royal Caribbean FlowRider on Oasis of the Seas.

And the water chutes and ziplines.

Choose from Royal Caribbean http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk, Celebrity Cruises http://www.celebritycruises.ie and MSC http://www.msccruises.ie for good clean family fun while I’ve roadtested the Princess Cruises’ OceanMedallion http://www.princess.com magic key.

And I reckon it would open up a magic kingdom for me.

And here’s a few trips to get you in the mood https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-to-here/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/http://A Royal Party

While of course every Tuesday is Cruiseday Tuesday. Here’s the latest offering https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/20/cruiseday-tuesday-transatlantic/ and me as Medallion Man https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/30/cruiseday-tuesday-the-princesss-medallion-man/

So that’s the kids sorted out… now for an even bigger challenge.

NEXT WEEK: WIVES