Countries, Europe, South America, UK

It’s Coming Home Messi’s Homecoming

Felicitación Leo, or Felicitats in his adopted Catalan, It’s Coming Home Messi’s Homecoming.

It has been largely ignored in the UK but there has been another football match taking place this weekend.

And the clash of Argentina and Brazil in the Copa America was also watched by hundreds of millions.

King of South America

 

Argentina, Argentina: Leo with Emi Martinez

Messi has been scratching an itch for some time now.

That his great rival Portugal hero Cristiano Ronaldo has won his continent’s competition, and he hasn’t.

Scratch no more Leo, the Copa is yours. after Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Brazil in the early hours of this morning.

I have, of course, had the pleasure of meeting both Ronnie and Leo… in Portugal and Catalonia.

The One Ronnie

Model footballer: Cristiano

Alas, not in person, but in the ubiquitous paraphernalia in those countries (and I freely give Catalonia that status).

You may usually come for the sun in Portugal but you will soon realise the importance of football.

In the land of Fado and Fatima, Coimbra and Fatima.

Hotti Totti

Roman God: Francesco Totti

Where in amongst the tables of Our Lady statuettes and trinkets sat a beach towel of that other hallowed figure, Cristiano Ronaldo.

What is it about religious pilgrimages that the religion of football sits alongside it so easily?

Italians worship both Gods equally and the shops outside the Vatican are a wash of colour.

Make a wish

I’ll be back: The Trevi Fountain in Rome

Yellow and white Holy See and yellow and reds AS Roma.

And where Francesco Totti noddy dolls are all the rage although Ciro Immobile figures will no doubt be sharing the tables now.

Immobile’s team Lazio are named after the province in which Rome sits and both clubs share the Olympic Stadium.

Although you’ll see more light blue flags and scarves the more you get out into the country.

Balkans boy

Go Croatia: With my Balkan pals in Ireland

You’ll see the power and pull of football in Medjugorje too where Croatia captain Luka Modric is idolised.

Now, granted I have taken a circuitous route here.

Before eventually reaching the Great Man.

So back to Messi’s Homecoming…

Leo’s a big teddy bear

Our goal celebration in Barcelona

Now Argentina is a pleasure I’ve yet to enjoy, and will, but Messi’s home now is Barcelona.

Where if you can’t get up close and personal with Leo you can cuddle a Messi bear.

On a Royal Caribbean ship in Barcelona harbour, a hub for cruise ships.

Now noddy statuettes of the England players will already be in production.

And don’t be surprised to see them sharing tables, shelves and shops with the Queen soon.

But until it happens today belongs to the Little Maestro.

It’s Coming Home Messi’s Homecoming.

 

Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe

Cruiseday Tuesday – Rome’s port

All roads may well lead to Rome but all ships sail to Civitavecchia, so as we bring back our cruise series here’s Cruiseday Tuesday – Rome’s Port.

Civitavecchia, or Centumcellae was the piece de resistance, and I should remember the Latin for that, of the emperor Trajan who built the port between 103-110 AD.

Ancient Civitavecchia

And that means St Peter, the first Bishop of Rome and Pope, would have sailed in here.

But not obviously on the fancy Royal Caribbean cruise ship Allure of the Seas.

Classical Rome

Seeing that you’ll arrive nice and early for your cruise as it’ll go without you take a jaunt around Civitavecchia.

The Old Rock

Pope Julius II commissioned Fort Michelangelo to protect the port from pirates.

Now your seven-night Royal Caribbean Western Mediterranean cruise might be the most romantic trip you ever take.

But many a sailor left a lovelorn maiden back on shore.

A kiss before you sail

The bronze Kissing in Memory of a Port statue remembers all those who went off to war and to mark the Allied bombing of 1943.

Swell of history 

So what were the Classical Roman ships like?

Behind Pope Julius II’s 14th-century Old Rock is a reconstruction of a Luburna, a warship of the emperor’s fleet.

So you’ll be sailing in the swell of history as you make your way down to Naples.

The answer to your prayers in Barcelona

Before checking into Barcelona, Palma, Provence (Marseille), Florence/Pisa before checking back to where it all began, Civitavecchia.

Port of exit

Now I’d always recommend exploring your exit port before your cruise, whether that’s Southampton, Kiel(central to Germany’s war history) or Fort Lauderdale.

So start your Allure of the Seas cruise with a Civitavecchia tour before your seven-day from €724pp in 2022.

So glad to have you back and where better to start than Cruiseday Tuesday – Rome’s Port.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

 

 

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Ireland, UK

The UK’s Four Nations approach is a cruise

It’s been one of the catchphrases of politicians over this Covid year but I prefer it when the UK’s Four Nations approach is a cruise.

And as we look into the horizon to the days (next year hopefully) when we can all cruise around foreign shores again, let’s celebrate our own British Isles.

And that’s what our old friends at Royal Caribbean are doing with their All roads lead to the British Isles pitch.

Whistlestop tour

Now Royal Caribbean helpfully give us a Four Nations approach.

That’s a whistlestop digital tour of the British Isles which geographically (and not politically) also includes the Republic of Ireland to make it five.

All of which we’ll leave to others to debate as cruiseheads leave the outside world behind when we’re on the waters around our shores.

Deal me in

Kings and the Castle: Edinburgh

Royal Caribbean is offering three 12-night options on Jewel of the Seas which leaves from Amsterdam… and, of course, Royal Caribbean will keep you abreast of the latest Travel guidelines.

But so that you can get saving here’s their offers:

RC has an interior room for €1369 for August 19, 2022, which checks in at Edinburgh with its Castle, its historic Royal Mile and Greyfriars Bobby statue.

Then up to seee Nessie at Loch Ness, Greenock from where James Watt, the father of steam power, originates.

Onto Liverpool, home of the Beatles and the Son and Heir, over to Cork, the last stop for Titanic before its transatlantic voyage although maybe best not mentioned in shipping circles here.

St Peter Port in the Channel Islands will be your last stop on this tour and obviously we’ve inserted a Jersey Cow heere.

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Before checking out the White Cliffs of Dover, and we won’t spoil a classic song by mentioning that Bluebirds don’t fly over here and that they’re really found in the US of A.

I said we won’t.

Those white Cliffs of Dover

Before you’re back in Amsterdam, and seeing that this trip is for next year and we’ll all be back to normal spend some time in one of the world’s great cities.

We want more

The Giant’s Causeway: Northern Ireland

The €1399 package for June 8 for an interior room includes Belfast  Holyhead in Wales an Waterford in Ireland too.

The Travel pack in Dublin

While for €1599 for an interior room you can get the jewel in the Irish crown, Dublin amongst the other highlights on the other offers.

And seeing you’re on holiday you can also check out their upgrades to balcony rooms… and you know you’ve got savings for just this option.

So we’re all behind the Four Nations approach… sorry, make that Five!

 

America, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

New Year’s Holiday Snaps – Happy New Aer

And because America is at a turning point don’t we all want to get on board.

Especially when on board is with our friends at Aer Lingus who early last year had me all booked up for the Florida Keys when…!

Ireland’s national airline carrier has a January €148 sale for this summer to North America which is Toronto.

Waving the flag for DC and Aer Lingus

While my old favourites Boston, New York and Washington is pitched at €164.

And you know the deal it’s each way as part of a return trip.

Cruise into ’21

Yea, they’ve got forks too!

Or a Happy Blue Year, the kind of blue you only find on the sea

Or the blue of Greece. So let’s put them together.

Royal Caribbean have on the Eastern Mediterranean sailings we’ve zeroed in on in 2021.

Oh, how I would have loved to have spent the last year on a wee Greek island.

My pals at Royal Caribbean only have a range of Eastern Med packages as we plan to cruise again in 2021.

An old relic and the Acropolis

A six-night Greece and Croatia cruise, leaving from Venice (Ravenna) on Rhapsody of the Seas from €569pp taking in Split, Olympia and Athens.

And you know what I always say… there’s no party like a Royal party.

United in tribute to The Doc

Me and ‘Baby Doc’ Peter

And it might be apt that former Scotland manager Tommy Docherty, an old friend of the Murtys, should die on Hogmanay.

The Doc’s son Peter was one of my earliest pals in Glasgow before his Dad took the family off to Manchester.

Of course being a football man and someone who joked that he’d had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus there’s no single destination to point you too.

But perhaps Manchester United is the club he’s most associated with.

So let’s point you in the direction of a football match day package.

If you’re an Irish United fan, and there are many, you’ll no doubt know about Celtic Horizons and Abbey Travel.

And the important thing is that we will all be together again soon in a football ground.

Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Ireland, UK

Cruiseday Tuesday – Bahamian rhapsody and a tale of two Serenas

And it remained tantalisingly close but not out of reach… the Bahamas.

From my $1bn Royal Caribbean wonder ship Celebrity Edge.

We’d got off their revolutionary tender which moved up and down the side of the ship to take on the theme of the floor it attached to… the Eden lounge, the bar etc.

That’ll be Nassau then

And when we all got on the smaller boat for a spin out on the sea we saw the Bahamas in the distance which is where you’d be going on your shore excursion.

Now the Bahamas had come on to my radar years before of course when I dallied with a home-made career in Cocktail making and the Bahamas Breeze.

A tale of two Serenas

You don’t need me to tell you you’ll want dark rum, banana liqueur, apricot liqueur, coconut rum, grenadine syrup, honey, lemon juice and orange juice, pineapple juice and ice cubes.

And there are some tips on measures, although if you’re on a Royal Caribbean ship there’s no scrimping.

Bahamian queen: Serena Williams, left

The other Serena Willams

While back in the office in Dublin I felt that somebody was calling me to get me out to the Bahamas, although not any somebody you might expect.

Serena Williams called me one day to ask when I would be publishing an article I had sent a writer on.

And, yes, as her email makes capital out of it… No, not that one. She is, of course, a Bahamian smasher.

Love me tender

All this Bahamian fun is because my old friends at MSC have been in touch to tell us of their plans for 2021 which include

Their Escape to the Tropics offer where you’ll spend three nights in Miami .

Feast of Exen

And then four nights on board MSC Armonia en route to Nassau and the exclusive private island Ocean Cay MSC Mraine Reserve.

Prices for this cruise on May 3 start from €401pp for a four-night sailing based on two sharing a cabin, price includes a premium drinks package and service charge (gratuities).

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Sweet Caroline, so good!

Hands, touching hands/Reaching out, touching me, touching you – Sweet Caroline/Neil Diamond

And this’ll have you bopping on land or sea… Sweet Caroline, oh, oh, oh, good times never felt so good (so good, so good, so good).

Reaching out: Neil Diamond

You always know you’re onto a rousing stadium song and party favourite when the crowd know their cues.

And so randomly here are some of the places where those good times with Neil Diamond have never felt so good.

The duel in the crown

I don’t know what you’re having

Pat O’Brien’s duelling pianos, Universal Orlando: And you’ll need to bring a fistful of dollars with you (no, not the film though I dare say they’d play that soundtrack too).

Somebody will almost certainly ask for Sweet Caroline, and Piano Man, so that leaves the field open for your other faves.

Randomly I asked for (and got) Barry Manilow’s Mandy… ‘And I came and I gave without taking, and you sent me away, I’m Murty.’

Summer in New York

Holding hands… well, almost

The Beast, The Hudson River, New York: And on the hottest day of the summer with no space on the sidewalk (remember that) then the best place to go is the Hudson.

You’ll want to take the 70ft powerboat The Beast building up to 45mph around the Statue of Liberty.

And as you pass by New Jersey on the other side there’s a nod to that state’s favourite sons Bon Jovi and Livin’ On A Prayer.

Check it out as part of your New York CityPASS.

A gran old time in Austria

And that’s Ehrwald Presley there on the keyboards

Ehrwald, Austria: And what do you give a group of Irish senior walkers for musical entertainment?

The octogenarian oompah-oompah man laid on by Top Flight for Schools had tried some Austrian music and some Elvis.

But one of our group pointed out that we were an Irish group and ran off a list of Irish Wedding Songs… and obviously Sweet Caroline.

Booze cruise

And wait till the party gets started

Royal Caribbean, the English Channel: And we’re in the main shopping and entertainment area, of the Independence of the Seas rockin’ on our final night.

We’ve had the DJ belt out Hi Ho Silver Lining, 500 Miles, Delilah and It’s Not Unusual.

But the one that really rocks the boat is… you guessed it Sweet Caroline. So good, so good, so good.

Asia, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Cruiseday Tuesday – Israel by sea

They got there how they could… by Cyprus and overland across the desert, but how about cruising imo Israel?

You can with our old friends at Royal Caribbean on Odyssey of the Seas with a 12-night with Holy Land With Overnight in Athens.

Master of all he surveys: In Athens

From £1176, leaving Rome. Depart September 7, 2021. And with Athens thrown in too. Efcharisto.

pexels-photo-2002604
Ship ahoy: There’s a cruise ship off here

Imagine digging into your milk and honey at breakfast as you cruise into The Land of Milk and Honey.

No, who am I kidding? It’s all about refuelling on the meats of the world at the buffet on Oasis of the Seas.

 

Don’t worry, you can work it all off on the FlowRider surf simulator through the day.

The closest I’ve got thus far is across the narrowest stretch of the River Jordan.

Channeling my inner Moses at Mt Nebo

At the purported Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

And at Mt Nebo where Moses looked out onto a Promised Land he would never be allowed to enter because he’d had a tiff with God.

Lord, I am heartily sorry… and a favour about that Royal Caribbean cruise to Israel.

An Italian teaser

IMG_0835
Venice: And let’s catch a gondola back to Padova

And another oasis… a glimpse of the city on the lagoon, Venice, from down water on the River Brenta.

When I visited neighbouring Padova which has its charms too with one of the oldest universities in the world and Giotto’s fresco which inspired a certain Michelangelo.

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Our own Le Boat

Venice and its environs have been refreshed by the lockdown and have never been more beautiful.

And of course the best way to see this region is on the water. Try Le Boat, your private craft which sleeps four to ten and where you get your own sundeck.

Venice is a given, but why not head to Trieste too where you will see what seduced James Joyce of all people.

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A tavola pronto: Dinner on the water in Italy

While go the other way to the south and enjoy the nature of the Po Delta and the colourful villages.

A seven-night self-catered cruise, started and finished at Le Boat’s base at Casale, on board the Caprice, sleeping up to six, arriving September 19.

Priced from £1429 per boat/£238pp. Transport to and from the base is not included. Le Boat (023 9280 9124).

MEET YOU ON THE WATER

 

 

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

Hungry and Thursday – the end of buffets?

Buffets are like marmite (and you can get that too) so the prospect of no buffets is just another thing to pile on our COVID tray.

First off, a history question? Who introduced the buffet?

Padova in north-west Italy actually.

I discovered this on a trip to the Veneto region… https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/11/padova-city-of-frescoes/amp/.

Boney’s Italian adventure

Napoleon, it transpires, was responsible for the introduction of the buffet when he held parties for his pals in the Italian grand casas.

Well you don’t think he got that girth from croissants do you? Visit http://www.turismopadova.it/en/basic-page/padua-24-or-48-hours.

Here’s where I’ve stood in line for my food asking for more. And there’s always more!

Carry on Cruising

Cruising: And one of the draws of a cruise for many is their food.

And you can eat around the world on a cruise, and go back and do it all over again!

Get there early for breakfast, lunch and dinners on MSC Cruises https://www.msccruises.ie/en-ie/Homepage.aspx and The call of the fjords

Particularly when the food-mad Italians are around!!!

Of course where you go on your cruise can inform your choice of foods.

And on the Celebrity Cruise Edge https://www.celebritycruises.ie/onboard/our-ships/celebrity-edge/ maiden voyage I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here from Florida to the Bahamas they like to spice it up.

And that’s my five a day

If you want though a taste of home then Royal Caribbean are the cruise for you.

When you can visit an authentic British Fish and Chip Shop.

Authentic that is for being on the top deck with a cocktail in hand https://www.royalcaribbean.com and A Royal Party and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/24/messi-around-on-the-water/amp/.

Caribbean cruising

Barbados: And seeing we’re talking about the Caribbean (and aren’t we always?) then a Caribbean buffet always has something special?

Yes, rum!

Because bread, cakes, pancakes, bacon, you name it they have it, and it will be on the hot plate in Barbados https://www.visitbarbados.org and Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Der buffet

Dresden: And for Germans, eccentrics that they are, that means doing things differently.

And the Saxons in Dresden Dresden’s renaissance https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php at the German Travel Mart https://www.germany.travel/en/trade/gtm-germany-travel-mart/gtm/gtm_10.html put out all their meats at one side of the room and the veg at the other.

Guess which one I went for!

America’s a rollercoaster

Orlando: You’ll pay for it if you were overdoing the Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/dining/pat-o-briens.

Because in American hotels bigger is better.

And there will always be a chef waiting with a frying pan offering an anything you want omelette.

As well as the plethora of sweet treats.

But remember you have theme parks of loop the loops awaiting you.

And believe me you don’t want to make the Hulk angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.

See https://www.visitorlando.com/en-ie, https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us. And Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and See off Voldemort, then for a beer at Moe’s.

MEET YOU AT THE BUFFET- SOME TIME

Adventure, Countries, Cruising, Deals

Cruiseday Tuesday – polar bears and penguins

Why do polar bears not eat penguins? Because they can’t get the wrappers off?

The prosaic answer, of course, is that they live at opposite ends of the world, polar bears in the Arctic and penguins in the Antarctic.

Best check for yourself though…

We’ve not gone away

Yes, cruising is back, so book yourself a getaway for 2021.

Aaaaw!

Royal Caribbean https://www.royalcaribbean.com/?country=IRL is offering seven nights Alaska Glacier Cruise on The Serenade of the Seas.

With a one-night pre-stay Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport.

Get cruising

It includes indirect return flights from Dublin, one checked bag per person and transfers included throughout:

Interior (guarantee): €1242pp/€1388pp; Oceanview (guarantee) €1304pp/€1538pp.

Cruise only €559pp/€596po (inside guarantee).

Vancouver calling

So your itinerary will include:

Vancouver

Inside passage (cruising)

Ketchikan (Alaska)

Juneau (Alaska)

Skagway (Alaska)

Tracy Arms fjord and glacier (and you know I love a fjord The call of the fjords.

And back to Vancouver

I’m there already… back on my Royal Caribbean ship A Royal Party.

Ppppick up a penguin

Penguin suits on

If you want to see those penguins in their natural environment, and the nearest I’ve got is Busch Gardens https://buschgardens.com/tampa/ and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital with Attraction Tickets https://www.attractiontickets.com/en

Then John Galligan Cruises are the people to go with. See https://www.jgt.ie/cruises/.

And remember to ask for your bandage to help you negotiate the sea sickness around Drake’s Passage.

See, I was listening that night in Dublin, John.

And seeing that colony of penguins on the ice will be worth it.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

America, Culture, Europe

Virtual Pride in America

Say it loud and say it Pride, I may have been late in arriving but I love an LGBTQ+ party.

Which is why I’ll be rifling through the wife’s closet this year before coming out of it for Virtual Pride.

Queen Bey and Queen Jay

My first Pride was three years ago in Washington DC http://www.washington.org Easy DC where I had a Capitol time, darlings.

I am, of course, self-censoring here and won’t be bringing you pictures of myself sticking dollar bills into the male dancer’s trunks on the podiums.

Frockie and Jocky in the Rockies

But I like the girls:With the Bandanettes at Denver’s Mile High Stadium

I climbed on to the pedestal myself when they were off on my break but with my body… all I got were nickels and dimes.

I was back for more in Denver http://www.denver.org http://Go West where myself and the multi award-winning and shots-drinking Isabel Conway and Portland’s finest Laura Guilmond formed the rock trio to beat all trios.

With rubber mics and guitars. And a warning here… there was sax too.

Marilyn and Murty

Some like it hot

This time last year and it was West Hollywood http://www.visitwesthollywood.com and My Weekend With Marilyn where they had rainbow up the zebra crossing.

And then Anaheim where at last my man has come along… the jazz and old standards singer in the side bar to the main dance floor.

Lying with Mari

And I also managed to fit in a European Pride too in Barcelona before I went cruising… Steady I was a guest of Royal Caribbean and hopped on their ship for a bit of surfing.

That’s why it’s called the Strip

With Cami in Vegas

Now my friends in America where I should be now, Las Vegas to be more precise http://www.lvcva.com Strip… the light fantastic and already have Florida from just after the lockdown under my belt have been in touch.

And they have put more flesh on the bones of Virtual Pride from these great American cities.

Dogs in Drag, you say

Denver PrideFest, June 20-21 – Colorado: It is recognised as one of the top ten Pride events in the US, and I can believe that of Denver PrideFest.

It is a free, two-day festival that (usually) takes place in Denver’s Civic Center Park with the pick-out the Dogs in Drag Parade.

While there is also a Gay Pride Parade and a Big Gay 5K.

This year’s virtual event will include digital versions of the parade, 5Ks, concerts, dance parties and more. www.colorado.com

Say it big

Frothy Seattle

Flag day

2020 Seattle Pride Parade and Trans Pride Celebrations, 26-28 June – Washington: Seattle Pride is working with PrideFest and Trans Pride to put on the best show they can in late summer. Keep up-to-date here for the June Virtual spectacular. www.visitseattle.org

Man Diego

The bras and stripes

San Diego Pride, 11-18 Juy – California: And this way your Pride fun can go on and on.

San Diego Pride runs across a week in July with a burst of activities. Using the #TogetherWeRise, She Fest launches it all off recognising the talents and contributions of women, followed by Light Up the Cathedral with a ceremonial rainbow lighting.

There’s a Spirit of Stonewall Rally and a a 5K too. sdpride.org. www.sandiego.org 

West Jollywood

Sailors in port? West Hollywood

50th Anniversary Celebrations to Kick Off via Digital Platforms, West Hollywood: And I’ve saved my best for last.

This is the 50th Anniversary of LA Pride.

And nothing will be underplayed.

Rainbow Letter Day

As CSW Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore said: ‘Pride is not just about a specific month or weekend in June. Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community lives and breathes Pride every day’ and therefore, celebrations will span through to 2021. www.visitwesthollywood.com

So Vogue… let your body move to the music.