Countries, Deals, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, UK

Hop springs eternal in the Czech Republic

They know all about masks in Prague with every Communist schoolchild back in the day put through a daily drill of fixing on a gas one.

And woe betide anyone who didn’t do it quickly enough.

Today’s masks in these COVID days are cloth and less restrictive.

And the revellers at the long table on the King Charles Bridge at its grand reopening in July are lowering them onto their chins.

I know the management

To help them gulp down their Urquell Pilsner beer.

No country on Earth, not even Scotland, drinks as much proportionately as the Czech Republic (official).

And they even bathe in the stuff… close by in the Original Beer Spa.

Beer is everywhere in Czechland.

Monky business

Ya dumpling

Plain-clothes monks produce it and clink glasses on a night out up the hill in Prague’s Castle area.

The superannuated refresh with Pilsner after taking the waters and the treatments in the spa town of Teplice.

And the burghers of Hoptown, Zatec, notch up how many they’ve drunk on their beer mats.

In the Hope Museum next to the Beer Astronomical Clock which is better than the more visited one in Prague.

Here a skeletal figure next to the dials, and Satan himself, mock the teetotal.

They hold a Hop Festival too here in Zatec, eery year where among the competitions is a biggest belly contest.

I’m here to work on mine.

Just as soon as I get out this nuclear bunker.

Have I got nukes for you?

That’s all outside, we’re safe

Radoslav had warned us to stick together as we made our way through the myriad dark, dark passageways five stories down in the bowels of Parukarka Hill in Prague.

Where the only company is mannequins in protective suits and gas masks and the ghosts of Communist past.

Here is where 5,000 Czechs would have come to see out the end of days.

Let’s hope that they had plenty supply of Urquell then to wash down all that tinned meat.

The Czechs would, I believe, have prevailed. They are a durable lot, toughened by a lifetime of being fought over by the ‘Great Powers.’

But they’ve always had a Pilsner to pull them through.

I’m only here for the beer

Something I cobbled together

Beer is at the heart of the Czech story, believed to be the oldest in the world, dating back to 993BC at Brevnov Monastery.

For 250 years in fact only monks were allowed to brew beer.

Which you can only imagine they gave up reluctantly.

They certainly haven’t lost the habit judging by the fun they’re having.

At the Strahov Monastery Brewery close to my opening night billet.

You’d be hard pushed though to recognise them as monks as there is barely a tonsure between them.

In the corner, two British girls on a hen night ply a local with shots and for advice on which bar to go to next and there is no shortage of options.

I am happy where I am though, with my waiter guiding me through the beer menu.

As I sup down my beer onion soup and beer goulash with dumplings.

Mild, followed by dark and finished with IPA, is the answer. But I’m not finished there as I’m given a tour of the brewery with samples at every stop.

Thankfully, it’s all downhill home to the Golden Key Hotel were I will sleep in a triple bed under a wooden ceiling with a sauna in the morning.

And wash it all down…

Roll over Beethoven

My hosts probably feel that they can’t trust me in Prague’s Beer Spa and that I’d drink all the suds.

So they take me next instead to the spa town of Lazne Teplice which is the last word in massage, saunas, bathing pools and medical practices.

But don’t just take my word for it.

Well do, but the luminaries of yore came here to take the waters.

Among them Beethoven who also sought a cure for his failing hearing…

And this is where he stayed

And you can see the horns displayed in the glass cabinets in the Hotel Beethoven corridor.

While you can also ask to be taken to the room where he stayed, although we didn’t get in.

He may very well still be in there and just not have heard the knocking.

Beethoven, the 200th anniversary of who’s birth it is this year, was clearly well looked after in Teplice.

Masked man… old Ludwig

And he would certainly have feasted on the town’s speciality chocolate cake in the titular cafe.

All of which I’ve been told I must work off next, as the Czechs themselves do, in Bohemian Switzerland.

Cerny statues

So, that’s where baby’s gone

No, I’ve not taken a wrong turning although I’ve not been myself since that first night in Prague.

Bohemian Switzerland is the park named for the two Swiss climbers who came here in the 19th century and were reminded of their own homeland.

It truly is an enchanted land and got the official stamp of approval.

Bohemian Switzerland… in Czechland

When the makers of The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe used an arch in the park and set Aslan there.

The Czech Republic is full of surprises and I spend my last night back in Prague which too has many still to reveal.

Two iron figures outside the Franz Kafka Museum, whose waists revolve and who shoot out water onto a map of the Czech Republic.

Hangin’ about: A Cerny statue

It is the work of experimental sculptor of David Cerrny and it is believed to represent what the European Union has don to their land.

The Czechs are wonderfully irreverent to their leaders.

Walk around Prague and you’ll see Cerny’s mark everywhere.

Babies in the tower

A man holding an umbrella hanging from a building a Communist Brabant car on leg and Babies Climbing a TV Tower.

You can get up close and personal to the babies in the tower cafe.

But be careful looking out the window because these weans have no nappies on.

Cerny’s statues blend seamlessly with the Medieval ions, King Charles IV, the nation’s patriarch chief among them.

St John and St Jimmy

Tourists though are urged toward the statue of St John of Nepomuk, who fell out with King Wenceslas, and, no, not the Good One.

This Wencesclas ordered Archbishop John to be thrown off the bridge when he refused to divulge Weneslas’s wife’s confession.

It’s good luck to touch his statue and make a wish and that wish will be lifted up to the heavens.

Me? I think St John of Nepomuk might just have drunk too many Urquells and fallen off the bridge that way.

Where to stay

Ooh missus! Teplice Spa

Hotel Golden Key: The Castle area of Prague from €70. Reception will help you out with maps and directions for the sprawling and tiring Castle area Also that yourself to a spa and the relaxation room. See Asten Hotels.

Stay in Teplice Spa: Beethoven hotel: Price per person per night in off peak season is €87 – including room, treatment. daily entrance to Thermalium pool and enjoy the water features, sprays, cold baths and spas. Lots of Beethoven features dotted around the walls and you can even see the room where he stayed. And full board.

Enjoy your trip

Trip to Bohemian Switzerland and see the arch from the film of CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. – €120.

Where to eat

Strahov Monastery Brewery in the Prague Castle area. When in Prague do like the Czechs and eat goulash with dumplings, of course. Go for a starter too – onion soup  with an infusion of beer. Heck. go the full three course and dig into the apple strudel.

Flights

With Ryanair – to Prague if purchased way in advance from €40-€120.

Important websites

Spa Teplice, Zatec brewery, Bohemian Switzerland, Hotel Golden Key in Prague, Mlynec restaurant  Ginger & Fred  State Opera

 

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

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

Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – Bridge to Greece

There’s a reason why idyll, a Greek word, is our go-to expression for something to which we aspire.

Because Greece has long been our idyll… from Homer to Lord Byron to Shirley Valentine to Mamma Mia!

And so we should be beyond excited at the proposal of an air bridge between the UK and Hellas.

And trust me, direct flights to Greece is how you want to go… My Greek odyssey and https://athensattica.com.

Nice and Easy does it

Bonjour Nice

It’s the airports we whizz through and never get to see the destination that most intrigue.

Nice is a hub en route to the French Riviera The Boat D’Azur and an onward cruise https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/01/21/smooth-sailing-around-the-western-med/amp/.

But Nice should also be explored in its own right.

And I was all set to do just that before a press mission to see how Nice had recovered from the Bastille Day bombing was cancelled.

Nice is the only route out of the UK, from Gatwick.

Now I know they have a Promenade des Anglais but I’m sure they won’t mind an Ecossais.

See https://en.nicetourisme.com and https://about-france.com/cities/nice-city-guide.htm.

For a full list of the routes and Belfast is on it (yeah!) see https://www.easyjet.com/en and a reminder of all that Belfast has to offer Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

How to fly again

Safe distancing

So what will our flying experience look like?

Our friends at Ryanair have laid out a plan.

And actually some of it will make the experience more pleasurable.

Because wearing masks will mean you won’t have to make small talk with strangers.

And that’ll be doubled down with social distancing.

You’ll be asked to take your temperature before you leave the house and may be required to have it taken again at the airport.

Smile behind the mask

Which is fine by me as my temperature just about returns to normal when I’m at the gate after all my zooming about.

For more information visit www.ryanair.com and remember from July 1 they will be flying 1,000 flights a day.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – booze brothers

The news that they will pour away 70m pints of spoiled beer down the drain would merely have been an invitation to The Sesh.

Our drinking fraternity at Aberdeen University have scattered to the four corners of the world – funny when many couldn’t be raised from their scratchers.

My Best Man Andy is in Singapore https://www.visitsingapore.com/en/, Jevan is back home in the West Indies https://www.visittrinidad.co.tt, https://www.visittobago.gov.tt. My kiss with Rihanna, Let’s rumba in Barbados and Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago/.

While some of my English pals, Wee Jon and Micky, and Gaelic emigrees Alan and Anna went to the bright lights of London https://www.visitlondon.com and The London life.

marischalcollege3

And those flatmates that were foisted on us such as Grumpy Vangelis (no, seriously) My Greek odyssey and the cheery Ibohal Singh (song) https://www.incredibleindia.org/content/incredible-india-v2/en.html are doubtless back where they belong.

It’ll be 40 years in a couple of years since we first bowled up in Aberdeen so I feel a reunion in the making.

And we’ll need more than 70m beers for that… https://www.visitabdn.com and Aberdeen – a light in the north.

Sláinte

pexels-photo-936571-1-150x150

Aberdeen University’s other great gift to the world, after me, is of course Blair Bowman.

Blair Whoman? Yes, Blair Bowman, who only gave us World Whisky Day.

Surprisingly this celebration of uisce beatha has only been running since 2012.

The organisers say that 250,000 people participated in registered events in 2014.

I don’t know the figures for the last few years – I guess they’d overdone the golden liquid!

IMG_2133

To the pantheon of greats who graduated from Aberdeen Uni, Alex Kapranos, Alistair Darling and Nicky Campbell add Jevan Jutagir.

A proud half-Scots, half-West Indian who is one-third of the Barbados Whisky Mafia.

And who if you’ve got an in will crack out the good stuff before Foreday Morning at Crop Over in Barbados https://www.visitbarbados.org, My kiss with Rihanna and Turtle recall.

Free Ireland

Kudos to Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar whose example some across on this side of the Irish Sea would do well to emulate.

You don’t have to be a doctor like Leo to have known that testing and tracing is key but it doesn’t do any harm.

Leo has been outlining how the nation will come out of lockdown.

Which means that the Office of Public Works has opened up certain outdoor sites within social distancing rules.

And that oft-forgotten section of our society, the Cocooners, are being prioritised;

10am to 1pm

Emo Court, Co. Laois

Grounds

Unknown-1

10am to 1pm

Fota Arboretum, Co. Cork

Pleasure Garden & Walled Garden

10am to 1pm

Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, Dublin

Rose Garden.

10am to 1pm

Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

Full Garden

images-1

10am to 1pm

Kilkenny Castle, Co. Kilkenny

Rose Garden

10am to 1pm

Nenagh Castle, Co. Tipperary

Grounds

10am to 1pm

Portumna Castle, Co. Galway

Walled Garden.

Unknown

10am to 1pm

Phoenix Park, Dublin

Visitor Centre Walled Garden

10am to 1pm

Roscrea Heritage, Co. Tipperary

Grounds & Walled garden

And Ryanair are flying high

Few things say summer quite like a fleet of blue and yellow Ryanair planes taking to the skies.

Which is why the news coming out from Michael O’Leary Towers that July 1 is the start-up date for us to get flying again.

With 1,000 flights across Europe from €23.99. And new health measures.

Faro, the gateway to the Algarve comes in at that starting price… https://www.visitalgarve.pt/en/Default.aspx and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/.

London https://www.visitlondon.com The London life and Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam comes in at the same price.

For the full range visit www.ryanair.com.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Countries, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Portuguese men (and women) of awe

I’ll let you into a little secret… and I know all the right people! Portugal will be the country we’ll all be visiting first when we come out of lockdown.

No, it wasn’t Maria dos Anjos, the niece of the last Little Shepherd of Fatima, who told me though she probably knew this already, and that COVID-19 was coming.

I consider myself partially responsible for not sharing the impending pandemic.

No, not Maria dos Anjos

Because Maria was trying to tell me something of import back in 2018. It’s just that my Portuguese stretches to Obrigado and Obrigada.

Which, going off on a tangent, my Dear Old Dad loved to screech out long after we’d returned from the Algarve.

Susana mirabilis

We all have Susana Cardoso, the Director of Portuguese Tourism in Ireland http://www.visitportugal.com to thank for giving us a preview of what Portugal will look like in the coming months.

Venice of Portugal: Aveiro

And the good news is that we will all hopefully be able to see first hand with September slated as the month…

When Irish visitors will all be reacquainting themselves with an old and trusted friend.

Yes Portugal, and for me also the best guide a man or woman could have, and that man and woman is me and the Scary One.

Splendid self-isolation in a castle

The one and only Jose Madomis https://www.madomistours.pt, the Special One, who showed off his beloved Coimbra and Portugal Centro.

When September comes

The end of the year is a great time to go.

Autumn/Winter is still warm as I discovered on my most recent visits to Portugal Centro and The Campus https://www.thecampusqdl.com/en/about/ https://www.quintadolago.com/en/ at Quinta do Lago , Secret Portugal and SPORTUGAL.

My boat comes in… in Quinta do Lago

The Portuguese are showing the way as the gold standard on safety and accountability with their Clean and Safe stamps which almost 3000 tourism companies have signed up for.

Beach life

And for those of you who are sick and tired of being palmed off with promises that amount to very little.

Under the guise of ‘The New Normal’ or ‘O Novo Normal’ as they never say out there.

Let me now tell you that there will be sand.

All this space

Not for sunbathing yet, but then what a waste of time that is, but you will be able to book your own space on the beach and also go into the water…

And that means you mad surfers too with Portugal a Nirvana for those who walk on water.

All the old favourites

Social distancing is key to us all enjoying all the things we always love in Portugal.

Hotels, restaurants, cafes, golf, museums, castles and parks and it is a price well worth paying.

Of course, all of this is marivilohso, but are we going to be able to get out there.

Well, Susana informs us that Portugal is continually monitoring the situation with the airlines Aer Lingus, Ryanair and TAP Air Portugal…. http://www.aerlingus.com, http://www.ryanair.com and http://www.flytap.com.

Obrigada Susana

And, of course, I’ll keep you up to speed with what changes there but again September may be the month.

A new golf… in Quinta

So Obrigada Susana and Ola Portugal.

And see you later this year.

Countries, Deals, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – who’s going to fly our planes?

Well the quick answer is me…

That’s because of my sterling efforts at mastering the simulator at Turkish Airlines http://www.turkishairlines.com in Istanbul.

I went out for the opening of the biggest airport in the world, the Istanbul Airport, last year.

You get an immediate sense of Istanbul being at the crossroads of the East and the West when you travel through Istanbul Airport.

That’s before you even get out onto the Bosphorus.

Or visit the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar or the hamam where Florence Nightingale, Rudolf Nureyev and John Travolta all visited… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/ .

Hub of the world

And you see a troupe (I don’t know what the collective noun is) of Hasidic Jews travel through the terminals. Istanbul,

I discovered it is the biggest hub for Jews returning to Israel.

You could fly an airplane through our airports now (they’re so quiet).

Big enough to drive an F1 car in: The TA Business Lounge

Which I very nearly did after scraping the Statue of Liberty and coming down nose first at JFK in that simulator flight at Turkish Airlines HQ.

The crisis facing our airline industry has been somewhat subsumed.

By the bigger challenges of health and the economy facing the whole world right now.

Tourism driver

But the immediacy of the threat to the sector has to be addressed. Alas,

Travel has forever been treated as frippery and indulgent by politicians and Big Business compared with other industries.

And tuck into BA’s Business Class food

Only tourism is at the heart of every country’s economy, before we even get onto its importance to business.

And while it is obvious that virtual tourism cannot replicate the joy of seeing a county or its people first hand.

And our providers have done a stand-up job in recreating their destinations this way during this crisis.

The same applies to business.

What will social distancing look like?

Dealing with real 3D people first hand over a beer or bottle of wine while sampling local cuisine is the best way to forge relationships.

Faceless bureaucrats

Oh, yes, there’s the conference meetings too.

But don’t we all just look at our watches or the time on our phones when we’re stuck in one of them?

We must fight against the high heed yins, or suits, who will want to stick with Zoom and other digital platforms.

In an effort to cut costs rather than fly their executives out to each others’ countries.

I can just see those faceless, soulless, personality vacuums, the numbercrunchers pushing for a retention of this contactless-free zone we all live in now.

Filling the air: Ryanair

And where do we stand today… with a third of British Airways http://www.britishairways.com staff worried for their jobs, their operation at Gatwick at risk.

Our crew and pilot friends

Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com planning to cut 3,000 jobs and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth?

And Virgin Atlantic www.virginatlantic.com furloughing its staff and raising the alert as to its futurez

And airlines around the world facing similar heart-wrenching decisions.

Every one of those employees is valuable and their struggles are ours.

I have come to know some of them professionally and personally and my heart goes out to them all as they too foresee an uncertain future.

Pointing to the future: In an airport in February

We are continuously having it drilled into us that ‘we will all get through this together’.

But let’s just think about the sectors and real people who are falling through the cracks.

Save our sector

We must have a Travel industry and an air sector to return to for the good of us all.

It cannot all be left to the Trade and the Public.

It is time for those politicians in their private planes to remember the rest of us.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Countries, Deals, Flying, Ireland

Flyday Friday – what’s the deal?

Now I’m told that there are, and I hope I’ve got this right, ‘middle seats’, in an area of the plane called ‘Economy Class’?

You see I’ve been socially conscious way before this crisis.

Always trying to keep my distance by going to the area of the plane where I’m 2m from my neighbour.

But ‘we’re all in this together’, to reprise a crisis cri de couer.

My social distancing

Empty space

And EasyJet www.EasyJet.com are talking about making Economy a bit more like Business…

By initially emptying the middle seats when we get back on planes.

Our old friend Michael O’Leary at Ryanair www.ryanair.com jumps in here to pooh-pooh such a notion.

Deals, deals, deals: With Ryanair

He calls it ‘hopelessly ineffective’ on safety and price.

The challenges

Which brings us to how airline carriers will draw us back into the skies.

When more and more of us will have been let go from work, have less money.

Fun for all the family: At Turkish Airlines HQ

And airplanes and airports will impose even tighter restrictions on us.

While we’ll all be more fearful of being around each other at all and particularly in the close proximity of an airplane.

A true partner

Well, our airlines have been quick to send out circulars reminding us of how valued our custom is.

Now for those of us Travel professionals who have benefited from a partnership with them.

Open door policy www.united.com

And seen first hand how they work… Turkish delight: Airline that has it all and www.turkishairlines.com.

This is the time that we stand by them… In defence of… air travel.

A prophet from the past

And while we try to find precedents on every level for how our predecessors dealt with crises there is good news.

Eating by myself: In Business Class

Airlines have in the past reacted to a plummeting demand by rolling out bumper offers.

And here I take solace from a Business Traveller interview with former BA executive Richard Tams, of Tailwind Advisory…

Ireland’s call: Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com

He takes us back to the aftermath of the Gulf War when confidence in air travel was low because of fear of terrorism.

Read his thoughts here and… https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=y7PLXuFAFLE

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Rome on €50

Rome wasn’t built in a day… if it was there wouldn’t be so much to enjoy.

But if you’ve only got one day (and maybe the next morning)…

Then what to see and what to miss out?And how to do it for less than €50 spending money.

Fun and games at the Circo Maximo

Bohemian Trastevere next door past the Circo Maximo is a better bet.And I recommend the welcoming and economical Hotel Trastevere although remember there’s a €4 a night city tax.

Walk the walk

A family thing happened on the way to the Forum

It’s free and it’s fun… to people watch, window shop and you can take pictures at your leisure.

L’Amore: With La Scary One

You’ll pay for the privilege of eating and drinking near St Peter’s Square and the Trevi Fountain.

Instead grab a pezzo (slice of pizza) on the go for about €3, fill your water bottles from the ornate water taps that proliferate around the city.

Rather than buy it from the shops.

Or just go into a grocery or supermarket and buy a picnic of bread and cold meats. For about a fiver.

This is free

Playing the Emperor

Walking boy the Colosseum and The Forum never loses its appeal but you don’t have to go in, the audio guides will only tell you what you can find out online anyway.

And he’s free

Il Papa’s home. Photo by Valentin Onu on Pexels.com

Book an audience with the Pope. It’s Mass but he plays to the gallery and the backdrop of St Peter’s can’t be beaten.

If you can’t get an audience, and you’ll need to book in advance, then attend Mass in St Paul’s Basilica – you’ll be in there anyway.

Or any of the churches in the city, they double as art galleries.

Other frescoes

The test of time

The Sistine Chapel is a truly wonderful work of art but frescoes can only really be enjoyed if you’ve got time, space and quiet.

Besides every church in Rome has a stunning fresco.

The best fresco, of course, is in the Pantheon, the 7.8m diameter hole in the dome, because God made the view.

It changes every day.

When it rains on Rome stop whatever you’re doing and rush to the Pantheon.

Spend a penny

Penny for your thoughts

No, not that penny, although I can recommend the toilets in the oh-so English Barrington Tea Room, near to the Spanish Steps – Byron, Keats and Shelley lived around her.

More Babington Wee Room, if you like.

No, spend a penny by throwing one over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain.

It’s a cliche, and a superstition but it’s everything that people say it is.

Of course, they know you’ll come back to Rome… how could you stay away?

Skulls and bones

When you’ve seen everything else – and definitely make time for the Castel Sant’Angelo (€10.50) https://www.castelsantangelo.com which is next to St Peter’s Square where rich Papal history was played out.

It also adorns the walls – then head for the Capuchin Crypt http://www.cappucciniviaveneto.it (€8.50), Piazzaa Belerini.

And join the monks at prayer.

I walked past a real live Capuchin monk on my way in before being reintroduced to some real dead ones.

You know, the 3,700 whose skulls and bones were used to build the Crypt’s four chapels.

There’s even a clock mode out of a monk’s boners, although the twist is that he doesn’t have hands.

Time stands still in here. But not for us.

They have left us a message. ‘What are you now, we used to be. What www are now, you will be.’

Que sera, sera?

Flights

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com both fly to Rome.

Where to stay

I found Hotel Trastevere, Via Luciano Manara, 24A. Visit http://www.booking.com. With a 15% reduction down from €121 to €103.

Save your money

Your protector at the Castel Sant’Angelo

Save your money

€10.50: Castel Sant’Angelo

€8.50: Capuchin Crypt

€5: Bottle of wine

€1: Souvenir fridge magnet (it’ll cost you much more t the airport)

€0.50: For the Trevi Fountain. Listen, it can be a one-cent bit, but I’m just keeping it at a nice round number.

€7: For an al fresco spaghetti carbonara (it’s a local Roman speciality) deal with Peroni in Trastevere.

€2.50: For sweeties for the family/work… they’ll suss out though if it slips your mind and you to bluff it and get Haribos back home.

€10: For the disfigure and displaced around St Peter’s Square.

= €50.

Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine, UK

I belong to Glasgow

I belong to Glasgow

Dear Old Glasgow toon

And there’s nothing the matter with Glasgow

Even if you’re ball ain’t roon,

Murty’s take on the auld Glasgow music hall song.

Growing up just a Johnny Sexton (or back then more a Mike Gibson) kick over the stream (or burn, as we call them in Scotland) to the Glasgow High playing fields.

I would often jump over into the grounds and practise kicking over the posts.

Robbie Burns is watching: George Square


No, I didn’t become the next Andy Irvine (I am Scottish after all), but I did go onto play at school, report on the game, and become a lifelong fan.

For 51 weeks a year the oval ball game plays second fiddle to football in Glasgow but on May 25 it will have to share centre stage.

When Celtic Park will host the Pro 14 Final, Celtic will be contesting the Scottish Cup final with Hearts the same day at Hampden Park.

HOW TO GET THERE
Ryanair www.ryanair.com and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com both fly to Glasgow.

WHERE TO STAY
I found a standard room for two at the ibis Glasgow City Centre – Sauciehall Street (it’s actually just two minutes from Sauciehall Street on 220 West Regent Street).

For two nights from May 24-26 from €320. Visit www.booking.com.

And, of course, the chippier, the Chip Chik Inn in the West End https://www.chipchikinn.co.uk

Curry favour

WHERE TO EAT
Glasgow’s national dish is not haggis as you might have been told but ‘a cheeky wee Ruby’, no she’s not a good time girl from the Gorbals. A ‘Ruby’ or ‘Ruby Murray’ is Jockney slang for a curry.

And the best place to go for a ‘Ruby’ is the West End. Try the Shish Mahal www.shishmahal.co.uk 60-68 Park Road or the Koh-I-Noor www.hoh-i-noor-glasgow.com on 235 North Street.

And did you know that the Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Glasgow.

When Ali Ahmed Aslam, the owner of the above mentioned Shish Mahal improvised by putting tomato soup and some spices into a chicken curry.

For a Glasgow bus driver who had complained that the original offering was too dry?

Not to be confused with the Chicken Tikka Mo Salah which has Egyptian spices and is served in Liverpool!

Best bar none

WHERE TO DRINK
The Park Bar, 102 Argyle Street is a popular hang-out for Heelanmen and women, or Highlanders to you and me.

Serving tips: don’t wear ‘colours’, that’s hats and scarves with the colours of your sporting team, greens and blues are particularly divisive on account of the two big soccer teams Celtic and Rangers.

A pint of heavy is what we know as a pint of ale or Smithwicks and even if it is pronounced the same they spell whiskey without the e. It tastes just as good though.

Best value

Photo by Ratworks Media on Pexels.com


The Horse Shoe Bar, 17-19 Drury Street www.thehorseshoebarglasgow.co.uk, down an alleyway, or close.

Near to Glasgow Central Station, is where Rod Stewart goes to drink when he is in town.

Of course the island bar is why it’s called the Horse Shoe Bar. Upstairs you can get a three-course lunch for a fiver… you don’t believe me?

It’s all good wholesome stuff.

I’d opt for the soup of the day (tomato is a favourite) followed by the sausage and mash or Scotch pie, chips and beans.

While for dessert (get away, it’s called puddin’ in Glasgow) then it’s vanilla ice cream or a caramel apple betty for me.

Glasgow greetings

We belong to Glasgow

Slainte, enjoy the rugby if you’re there for that, or if you’re just in Glasgow for other reasons then have a rerr time.

Tell me how you get on and we can share.

And say hi to my maw!