Countries, Europe, Ireland, Pilgrimage

Sono Spartacus and Failte Ireland

What a joyless and jealous species we can be.

A hard-working man takes his family on holiday abroad and breaks no laws.

And is shamed into giving up his job, his passion, his skill and his livelihood.

I am talking here about Failte Ireland Chairman Michael Cawley.

The Francigena Way

About whom Ireland’s Tourism Minister Catherine Martin (no, me neither) said…

She was ‘disappointed to learn that the chair of Failte Ireland was holidaying in Italy.’

Before going on: ‘While Italy is on the green list, meaning that people who return from there do not have to restrict their movements…

‘The government has called on people to avoid all non-essential travel.’

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Ah Venice

And still more: ‘Many of our citizens and residents have followed the guidelines at some personal and financial cost to themselves.’

Before sticking the knife right in: ‘I rang Mr Cawley this morning and he has offered his resignation which I have accepted.

‘I wish to thank Mr Cawley for his service as chair of Failte Ireland.

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I’ll be back: The Trevi Fountain

So Michael Cawley broke no laws nor in fact did anything unethical or any harm to anybody.

Other than those naysayers who do not like the idea of somebody else having what they don’t.

While a Government purporting to represent its people leaves its own Travel industry up the creek without a paddle and facing a complete collapse.

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Sono Romano

So the message here is support your local travel agent.

Your Top Flight, your TUI, your Sunway, your Francigena Ways and go to Italy I have, and did again, and will do in the future.

And if anyone wants to shame you Michael about going on holiday to Italy, do what I’d do and tell them Vaffanculo.

 

 

 

Adventure, Africa, Countries, Culture, Deals, Ireland, UK

Give us this Day – Ramadan a ding-dong

Whatever you’re doing I hope you’re having a good Eid and a good feed Abdullah, after our Ramadan a ding-dong in the Atlas Mountains.

Because I know that Abdullah, just like all my Muslim friends, has earned it after all that fasting.

I don’t know how they do it, and I don’t know how Abdullah did it as he whizzed around the Atlas Mountains.

We still love Morocco… we think!

On not even a drop of water or a water biscuit.

Fast and furious

There was water though, and when it falls in Morocco, it does so in epic proportions.

And as quickly as Abdullah swept the rain off his minibus window than Allah chose to drop more rain on it.

What’s all the fuss?

And all this while negotiating his way around the narrowest and highest bends with cliffs eroding and crumbling on us.

Quite what he thought of us piling into a chicken tagine while he starved he was courteous enough to keep to himself.

A light show in the sky

But Abdullah would have the last laugh only he was spiritually cleansed.

I’m all right, Jock

Because your favourite Travel writer took sick in the Sahara Desert.

I did though get to ride my first camel (my second would come on my G Adventures trip to Jordan).

And see a light show in the sky, complete with shooting stars, as I spent the night on the toilet seat.

And the train moves on

Looking out above as there was no roof on the shack… and no flush either.

I’ll be coming round the mountains

And I was still paying for it the next day when my host Alice came looking for me in my tent.

It’s all well and fine the Berbers singing on

And as punishment I had to ride my camel back to the minibus and back around those winding mountain roads.

The rains had abated though… Praise be Allah!

I would, of course, now go with my friends at G Adventures, while equally Sunway in Ireland pride themselves in being all over Morocco.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – pasta masta

Was it you who took all the pasta from the supermarket shelves?

Who knew that that was our go-to food in time of crisis.

Italian Mammas, of course, have been serving pasta as a cure-all since Julius Caesar were a lad, with that special ingredient of love.

And with Bandanaman’s l’amore to Italia and to flag up our friends, the travel providers, who have taken us there for years www.topflight.ie, www.tuiholidays.ie and www.sunway.ie among others.

Here’s a dishy Italian treat…

Aperitivo

Now this one is the easiest of the lot with Prosecco or Campari as a kicker… or my choice the Venetian favourite, the Aperol Spritz: Prosecco, Aperol and soda water.

Antipasto

Bruschetta, Central Italy: Or maybe as far back as Classical Rome with the Latins’ verb ‘bruscare’ meaning ‘to roast over coals’.

But you knew that?

The bruschetta is what you make it, and you will have all this around your cucina.

Garlic-rubbed grilled bread, salt, pepper, tomatoes, basil leaves and oil.

Primo

Risi e Bisi, Padua: Now it’s always good to know that you have the Anthony Bourdain seal of approval.

I was also guided to Anthony’s fave Risi e Bisi by my hosts in Padua.

It looks easy too and in fact is so this is something you can rustle up in double jig time.

Now I’m reliably informed by Anthony that the peas and rice float in a vegetable broth made from a simple base of onion and pancetta — the fatty, cured-pork cut.

And that it was always served at the Doge’s Banquet on April 25 which sounds like a good idea for an Italian-themed night at home.

Visit https://www.venetoinside.com/discover-veneto/plan-your-holiday-in-veneto/top-10-places-to-visit-in-veneto/ and http://www.italia.it/en/home.html.

Now this is where I get confused… my Italian friends variably tell me this is a main course.

But my old Italian teacher Donata said that it’s a primo and that the secondo be chicken, meat or fish along with the contorno of vegetables.

Secondo

Chicken cacciatore, all across Italy: Should you decide a bistecca is not for you and object to, or just don’t like, veal then pass up on the Bistecca alla Fiorentina.., besides its serving suggestion isn’t well done enough for mio.

The simple to make (and most Italian dishes are) chicken cacciatore which involves frying chicken cuts with base ingredients of onion, garlic and tomato is something even I could cook.

Particularly as I’ve been shown my penne from my tagliatelle by my friend Catherine Fulvio at her Ballyknocken House & Cookery School https://ballyknocken.ie.

Dolce

Fragola Gelato, Rome: Now, you might be expecting a tiramisu here but I’m not a coffee, creamy signore… in fact the only cream I like is ice cream.

So dish me up a fragola (strawberry) gelato and you’ll not get a peep out of me (well, maybe!). See https://www.rome.net.

Caffe

And I’m going to deviate from the script here with una ciocolatta calda densa, a hot chocolate that is more of a thick chocolate pudding.

Digestivo

A Grappa perhaps, or a Limincello… and the latter has made it over in our move from Ireland to Scotland.

And returned to our freezer. And now that mia moglie has gone into the distilling business with her alcohol sanitiser then it’s a small step surely to making Limoncello.

Now we just need some lemon trees and a Mediterranean diet.

Vino

Of course a full Chianti or Valpolicella is usually what il dottore ordered.

But instead I’ll opt for a pinot grigio seeing that it’s a white meat dish.

And seeing that I want to evoke Rome and an al fresco family meal just outside the Pantheon.

Then I’m going to plump for due bottiglie di Lazio Pinot Grigot Cantina Gabriele.

And we’ll maybe slap on some Vivaldi and look up at our painting of the Castello Sant’Angelo in Rome and know that we’ll be back.

Because, of course, we threw some coins into the Trevi Fountain.

Lire, naturally… I am Scottish!

And here’s my love letter to Rome… Small roads lead to Rome and https://www.rome.net.

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Cruiseday Tuesday – Nile’s better

Ancient conquerors and empire builders get a bad press – they were really just adventurers who wanted to see your land.

Now if only they had put away the slaughter they’d have been very welcome.

Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte were among the most successful and like most emperors they cut a dash.

Jools and Bony would have sailed into Egypt back in the day in a very different vessel than the one you’ll be going on.

Sphinx I know this. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But Luxury Gold want you to use your imagination as they flag up walking in the footsteps of the two military geniuses.

On a seven days visit January to March of next year which they are pitching at €2,345pps, down from €2595pps.

You’ll float down the Nile on board the River Tosca and visit the Temple of Luxor, the necropolis of ancient Thebes and the temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

Oh, and the Sphinx and the Pyramids. No wonder Jools and Bony went sight-seeing. http://WWW.LUXURYGOLDVACATIONS.COM.

Alluring Sunway

Now that’s an entrance

There are few things more opulent than arriving into port on your grand cruise ship.

It’s just that my Royal Caribbean cruise experiences have never actually seen me decamp at port…

I guess they never trusted me to get back on board.

A jaunt around the English Channel and a trip from Florida to the Bahamas that were truly memorable but without the stop-offs.

Still relive them with me here… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-to-here/.

Barcelona is the answer to your prayers

Well, something to look forward to, and you will be full of anticipation too for the Sunway Classic Med Fly Cruise on board Allure of the Seas http://www.sunway.ie.

Departing from Barcelona on September 6 next year you will call at Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles (for Provence), La Spezia (for Florence and Pisa) and Civitavecchia for Rome and Naples. From €1145pp.

Down by the riverside

Passau skyline during sunset, Bavaria, Germany.

Sailing down the river in Germany is one of the great pleasures afforded to our Teuton friends.

Which I had the pleasure to enjoy with them on my trip to the German Travel Mart in Dresden where I enjoyed a jaunt down the Elbe https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/.

So I’d say you’ll enjoy taking in the old town of Passau with its historic 17th century towers and St Stephen’s Cathedral.

Which is just one of the highlights that Travel Department is offering as part of its five-day Discover the Delights of the Danube taster cruise package.

Next you will sail to Vienna, where a guided walk will show you the sights of the city.

Vienna for a whirl. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Following this you will dock in Budapest where you will be escorted on a guided tour of the historic centre.

The next stop is the Slovakian Republic capital of Bratislava.

For your last full day on board you will visit the Austrian city of Milk. Before heading back home you till revisit Germany and join a morning tour of Munich.

Prices from €1099pp including return flights, transfers, five night full-board river cruise, and guided excursions, departing on September 25.

Book before September 20 and receive €25 off per person with the code VP-SEP25. For more information or to book, click HERE or call 01-6371600.

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Holiday Snaps – UNESCO sites and bike treks

Mariaclaudia kept us on a tight leash which is as it should be and is fiercely proud of her Padova.

Which is why her antennae pinged when I asked to be dropped off at the train station during free time.

Of course she drew out of me that I was going to spend the afternoon in Venice.

And that I would be taking two Venice tyros with me.

Against type I took a clean shirt and tie with me in my rucksack for the official function at the Padova Botanical Gardens, the world’s first, opened in 1545..

For emergencies… and yes, the train was late and so were we.

‘The Dragon’ wasn’t so preemptive and drew withering glances for wearing a t-shirt and boardies.

There are other ways to traverse the Veneto region that you’re more in control of such as on your bike.

Freedom Treks have the field covered and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of UNESCO they are flagging up Bolzano to Venice among others.

seven-night Bolzano to Venice Hotel & Bike self-guided tour, taking in Padova, departing this month, costs from £746 pp (two sharing) and includes B&B accommodation in four-and-three star hotels.

You’ll have luggage transportation, travel guide with maps and route notes and GPS tracks available on request.

Get on your bike in the Veneto region

There will be a welcome meeting, local contact number for assistance, four-hour ferry cruise on Lake Garda, entrance to Villa Valmarana ai Nani and ice cream in Vicenza.

Return flights, transfers, bike hire, cycle helmet and local taxes extra.
Freedom Treks (01273 224 066, www.freedomtreks.co.uk).

And for a reminder on all that Padua and the Veneto region has to offer https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/11/give-us-this-day-padova/

Travel in our footsteps

Typical street in Vejer de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain

The effervescent Eva (and you’ll be hearing a lot more about mine hostess) had put our CanariaWays.com http://www.canariaways.com group to bed in Tenerife.

And was already thinking of her next group in Tenerife.

I will come back to Tenerife, both in person and on this blog, but I don’t want to ignore the rest of Spain.

After all there are two million visits from Ireland every year.

Every year in Trinity College our travel circuit are treated to the company of the signors and ignores of Seville.

And some flamenco dancing which has me twirling and clicking and swirling all the way home. Filled with vino naturally.

The traffic lights stop on this street: In Andalusia

Travel Department’s trip to Costa de la Luz in Andalusia also includes Seville, the Moorish town of Niebla, a wine museum at Bodegas Andrade. And a walking tour in the vineyards.

Prices start from €659pp for seven nights including return flights, 4* half-board hotel accommodation, transfers, and excursions with an expert local guide, departing this month and next.

Plaza de Espana – Spanish Square in Seville, Andalusia, Spain

For more information or to book, CLICK HERE or call 01-6371600.

The four-hour flight

Moroccan culture. Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni on Pexels.com

A deal maker for many is flights under four hours and Sunway http://www.sunway.ie has them aplenty and is happy to share.

Morocco felt like the nearest furthest place I’d visited when I went there 15 years ago. And probably still is.

Marakech, the Pink City, is a hustle and bustle of souks and stall-holders, snakes and spices.

More of which another time but let’s flag up the charms of its little brother, Agadir.

The natives. Photo by Edwin Vossen on Pexels.com

Sunway has seven nights self-catering at the 2*+ Intouriste Apartments from  October 26.

From €399 price including flights/return airport transfers/ accommodation/20kg FREE baggage

Agadir offers several kilometres of beach, kayaking, surfing, hiking, nearby golf clubs, and road trips through Berber villages.

Ah yes, it’s all coming back to me.

Cultural Ireland

Reflections of Dublin. Photo by Mark Dalton on Pexels.com

There are some holiday providers who really get you under the skin of a country and G Adventures http://www.gadventures.co.uk are right up there.

As I found out when I took a group trip with them to Jordan https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/05/11/petra-carved-into-my-heart/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/

G Adventures and National Geographic Expeditions are into the fifth year of their joint partnership.

And they have added eight new trips to their National Geographic Journeys collection.

Blarney Castle. Photo by Chris Carter on Pexels.com

There are three new countries to the Journeys product line. As well as us here in Ireland there’s Singapore and Greece.

It doesn’t surprise me that Ireland is included. I remember well a story-telling afternoon in an authentic Irish cottage in Killiney, Co. Dublin when I stayed at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel http://www.fitzpatrickcastlehotel.com.

For those who don’t live in Ireland, why not?

And here’s their package: Iconic Ireland – 9 Days from €2,449. 

Uncover Celtic culture and admire medieval architecture across the stunning countryside, and delve into historic Dublin and the rebel city of Cork. Eat, dance, and sing with the locals.

Of course you’ll also kiss the Blarney Stone.

Croatian delights

The Plitvice Lakes in Croatia

Must split… the Scary One is calling.

But before I go (and I’ll sneak back for more updates) let me tempt you with Split and Croatia.

I’ll be stopping off on my way to Medjugorge where I’ll complete the set of Fatima, Lourdes and Medj next month and sharing.

Travel Department has an Undiscovered Croatia package highlighting the medieval town of Zagreb and a wildlife walk through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Plitvice Lakes National Park.

See, my ramblings all come around in the end.

You’ll also be charmed by Opatija, Rijeka and Pula.

Prices start from €859pp for 7 nights including return flights, B&B or half-board 4* hotel accommodation, transfers and guided excursions, departing this month and next.

For more info or to book, click here or call 01-6371600.

And if I’ve still got your attention I’m hearing that you want more Snaps. So I’ll snap to it.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

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Cruiseday Tuesday – Alaska, I’ll ask her

I always get a thrill when I hear of people cruising for the first time.

And before I forget to get angry I’m reclaiming that word ‘cruising’ which has come to mean something else.

My old friends Dougie and Julie are floating around the western Med at the moment and the last time I checked they were in northern Italy. Bella, Bella.

Every sailing though will inevitably be compared with a round-the-world trip for my very own Scary One.

Who came back as a kid from Australia on a working ship.

It doesn’t sound like much work was done though and she was supposed to have been schooled on board.

But all she tells me about are parties, particularly the Neptune and the Equator one. And going through the Panama Canal.

Ice one: Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

She does though harbour a dream of Alaska.

Which brings me to Sunway’s Seattle Stay & Alaska Fly Cruise with Norwegian Bliss.

From €2,099pp with two pre-nights stay in Seattle and Aer Lingus flights. Check out details on http://www.sunway.ie.

It’s nine nights from September 20. And I haven’t sorted out our 25th Wedding Anniversary treat yet.

Round the world

Talking about global peregrinations look out for some news on same next week from Viking http://www.vkingcruises.co.uk.

Don’t worry, I won’t be leaving you to go on a round the world cruise. Unless, of course they ask.

Encore MSC

Souk it up: Morocco. Photo by Zakaria Boumliha on Pexels.com

My friends have chosen just the right people to dip their toes into the cruise water… MSC. I predict they’ll go back for more.

MSC, who brought me and the Scary One to the fjords https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/ have just the right balance between a treat and a relaxed vibe.

They have an 11-night Mediterranean Fly & Cruise on MSC Opera from €799pps which is exclusive to Click&Go http://www.clickandgo.com from November 30.

So you’ll take in Rome, Genoa, Malaga, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Morocco, Cartagena in Spain and then back to the Eternal City.

Christmas on the river

Oh, I wish it could be Christmas every day.

And in a shop in my old stomping ground of Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile, it was.

And guess what? As you would expect the man who is most associated with December 25, sent them a letter which was proudly displayed at the front.

Yes. Cliff.

If you like an oul’ Christmas Market (misseltoe and wine) then Cassidy Travel has a Rhine River cruise, stopping off at the Christmas markets of Rudesheim, Koblenz and Koln.

It’s part of their first dedicated Christmas Markets brochure which I’ll bring you more on.

Bur for now, the Rhine cruise in December is from €759 which includes flights from Dublin. http://www.cassidytravel.ie.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Cruiseday Tuesday – Transatlantic

My three Irish uncles had tried Glasgow but swapped it for New York (each to their own).

Glasgow had, in fact, rivalled New York as a shelter for immigrants in the 19th Century.

And especially Italians who had mistaken it for America’s biggest city when the ship stopped for refuelling on it’s way there.

No, not Glasgow: Photo by Nout Gons on Pexels.com

It might have helped had the Statue of Liberty been around then.

The Italians stayed in Glasgow.

And opened chippers and ice cream parlours and generally enlivened and enriched Scottish society.

A transatlantic cruise was fantasy for Uncle Danny, Petie and Eddie back in 1959 but they realised their American dream.

And their children, my cousins, have taken up the baton simce.

Sunway www.sunway.ie has a seven-night full board Transatlantic deal on board the Queen Mary Southampton to NY from €650.

Which reminds me, I must dig out my Old New York review, my old new take on the world of Hamilton.https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/.

But for now start spreading the news about Glasgow in my I belong to Glasgow review.

Rock opera

What a riff: We all love to rock it

The advantage of having an elder brother is that I got an early grounding in the right musical influences.

Back in the days of musical LPs (long-playing records… ask your parents) one stood out for its look.

The rock opera Tommy.

It is 50 years this month since The Who performed the bulk of it at Woodstock.

And I will return to that seminal moment in modern popular culture elsewhere on this site.

Book me up: Princess Cruises’ live entertainment

Musical shows are at the heart of a cruise experience.

As important as swimming pools, spas, food and drink, your cabin and on-shore itineraries.

Which is why I’m taken by Rock Opera which is to be showcased on Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess.

The show which will feature on the 3,600 guest Sky Princess in December as it sails the Caribbean will feature tenor Brian Justin Crum from America’s Got Talent: The Champions.

We’ve been promised a musical journey featuring an eight-piece live orchestra playing iconic rock songs.

Enchanted Princess gets the show in June for its inaugural season in the Med. www.princess.com.

Oh man, it’s Oman

Market time: With a difference in Oman

Andy, Sarah, Ian and Jane were (and I dare say still are) the kings and queens of the table quiz in Aberdeen.

And how I could have done with them at the Oman night earlier this year.

I think the only questions I got right were the ones on frankincense and myrrh and Sinbad the Sailor.

Of course there is a great deal more to learn about this exotic land.

And you can on Royal Caribbean’s seven-night Oman & United Arab Emirates cruise on Jewel of the Seas.

Departing on December 16, and returning from Dubai, it will visit Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas, Muscat and Oman.

Book by September 30. All-inclusive drinks too. From €519pps. Visit www.royalcaribbean.ie.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

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Holiday Snaps – Post-exam hols

I’m glad that’s all over – the Post-Leaving Cert holidays.

By the time it got to my two the destinations had changed.., it was Lisbon and Amsterdam.

For me and my buddies it was camping in the French Riviera. And, no, of course it wasn’t Cannes.

But St Raphael.

The boys of ’82: Chris, Martin, Bandanaman and Adam

And yes, I’ve had to add that to the list of places I’m banned from.

Castle Douglas, the Lowenbrau and Hofbrau Huis in Munich, Kirchberg in Austria and a hotel in Interlaken, Switzerland spring to mind.

Of course your guys will have booked their richly-deserved hols by now.

But this just gives me the chance to flag up the French Riviera.

Which doesn’t have to cost you un bras et une jambe.

I found seven nights with Click&Go http://www.clickandgo.com for the sample date of September 15 staying at the Appart City Nice Acropolis Aparthotel including Ryanair flights for €933.04.

I upgraded from a camp site when I went to Cannes…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-boat-dazur/.

Greece and Gozo

A spin around Gozo

Of course when we get older and wiser (well, at least one of us) we fall in love and get married.

In Malta (engagement) and Corfu (honeymoon).

Now in the words of Chris Tarrant, I don’t want to give you that… I want to give you this – Gozo and Halkidiki.

You’re very welcome.

Sunway http://www.sunway.ie is flagging up the less busy north of Greece as opposed to the south.

And has these deals all per person for seven nights in Halkidiki and including flights.

€399 – Alkion Hotel Room only, €445 – Lily Ann Village Half Board, €635 – Theophano Imperial Palace All Inclusive.

And Gozo, billed as how Malta used to be, although Malta as it is isn’t half bad…

Try €285 Calypso Hotel Bed & Breakfast – 4 nights, €369 Calypso Hotel Bed & Breakfast – 7 nights.

And let me give you a flavour of Gozo and Malta https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/malta-easer/.

Mid-term Spain breaks

Scenic: Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Pexels.com

And family mid-term breaks too are a thing of the past…

I’m in danger of getting nostalgic here but that quickly passes as I remember the Son and Heir ordering a T-bone steak in Majorca as a kid.

And only eating the chips!

But that’s only because I didn’t have this parenting lark sussed out, and I know you do.

TUI http://www.tuiholidays.ie have Dublin to Gran Canaria, seven nights’ self-catering, staying at the 2*+ Jardin Alantico, Playa Del Ingles for a family 2+1 from €1,599 on October 24. 

And on the same date, Dublin to Gran Canaria, seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 3* Marina Elite Resort, Balito Beach, 3*, family 2+1 from €2,479 and family 2+2 from €3,079

The Deep South

There’s a hairy little Jim waiting for the King

Cities take on a magical quality when you hear them in a pop song.

Unless it’s ‘I was sick and tired of everything when I called you last night from Glasgow.’

Sure Abba might have ‘wished it was the last show’ but Moscow rhymes too.

When I realised a lifelong dream to visit Memphis I just had to reenact every line from the Mark Cohn song in Insta.

I’m not sure though if it did the trick and my friends ‘could really feel the way I feel’.

Luxury Gold www.luxuryvacations.com does, and has a nine-day odyssey, Southern Grace, from Nashville through Memphis to New Orleans on September 27.

So you’ll be musicked out by the end of it all with Country, Elvis, Rock’n’Roll, Blues and Jazz all on the menu.

Luxury Gold offers a saving of €355 per person if booked before August 31. Was €3,525, now €3,170.

The Deep South is everything I thought it would be, and more, and I am drawn to it like a magnet.

Which is why I’m sharing my series The Three Kings on Dr Martin Luther King, BB King and Elvis here… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/elvispresley-the-king-of-kings/.

A blooming Rose

Scenes of the Rose Hotel and Tralee

She’s 60 this year… and doesn’t she look good on it?

No, not The Scary One, but The Rose of Tralee… quickly adding my devotion to my Rose of Kintbury.

So you’ll want to be there, right, for the festival from August 23-27.

The Rose Hotel offers one, two, or three-nigh breaks.

With prices from €220pps.

And you’ll likely rub shoulders with a Rose, with nightly entertainment from 9pm at Dott’s Bar.

Visit www.therosehotel.com.

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Holiday Snaps La Sagrada Familia

Some things were never meant to be finished… take The Scary One (please). She is always finding things that still need to be done to the house.

Word reaches me that Antoni Gaudi’s magnus opus, the Sagrada Família, first begun in 1882 but only a quarter completed by the time of his death in 1926, has hit another snag.

And just when they looked like getting over the line after Barcelona’s city authority granted La Sagrada Familia’s first building permit. I’m not even asking under what terms they built what’s already up.

Seventy per cent is done (so they had chipped away at it at some point since the Great Man died).

Eight of its proposed 18 spires have been completed and the plan is to have it all finished by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

But I guess nobody counted on the 3,000 residents living in the nearby apartments and their objections.

Watching the cranes above the psychedelic spires while draining a jug of sangria recently I couldn’t help wondering whether Antoni had been on something.

And whether they shouldn’t just tear it down and start all over again.

Make up your own mind. Barcelona is a great city for a ramble… or rambla. Visit http://www.barcelonatourisme.com. Aer Lingus http://www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com both fly to Barcelona.

La Fete National

You dancer: Paris. Photo by Carolline De Souza

I hope you’re having a good one. I won’t wish you Joyeux Quatorze Juillet, or Bonne Bastille, as the French don’t really do that in the way the Americans wish you Happy Fourth of July.

If you want to find out more French nuances then pop by the French Corner in Dublin where Alliance Francaise Dublin and the French Library with the French Embassy will be putting on free workshops and games and face painting for l’enfants.

From 11-5pm today. City Spectacular, Merrion Square, Dublin.

If that gets you in the mood for a bon vacance… remember that Aer Lingus has a range of offers to French cities from €45.99. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com. http://www.atout.france.fr.

Wu Wu… savings

Cherry amour: The Cherry Blossom in Japan. Photo by Bagus Pangestu

My old friend Wendy Wu is tempting us with discounts on her 2019 and 2020 Asian tours.

She’s giving us an Early Bird saving of €200pp if booked before August 5.

So you love the Cherry Blossoms and the Autumn Leaves. As a sample of the many Asian offers, how about Discover Japan, 13 days from €7,090pp. Twin share.

Visit http://www.wendywutours.ie.

Every day is the 11th July

Wall, what is it good for? A gable end with King Billy

As I revealed in one of my random Did You Knows yesterday, the Battle of the Boyne was on July 1 and when converted to the Gregorian Calendar became the 12th of July when it should have been the 11th of July.

Of course we were more interested in commemorating another royal victory this week on the 11th.

The final piece of the Game of Thrones tapestry has been woven in at the Ulster Museum in Belfast to mark the end of the saga.

Before it gets taken to Bayeux where it will be exhibited from September to December.

The Ulster Museum is one of the best cultural and historical museums on this island. And it’s free. Visit it. http://www.nmni.com.

I’m heading up to Royal Portrush on Sunday for the final day of The Open Golf Championship.

I’m thinking they should start a tapestry to Northern Irish golf royalty… McDowell, Clarke, McIlroy. Visit http://www.nimadeforgolf.com, http://www.theopen.com.

Windsor Lego Castle

Queen lives here: Windsor Castle. Photo by Kris Schulze

Back in the day when I first started this scribbling lark, I found myself in the Royal County of Berkshire… where I found myself a wife.

Then where Legoland now is was Windsor Safari Park. Nothing to read into that, just saying.

Berkshire, to the west of London is a great location in its own right for its royal history and quaint villages and is also ideally situated for the Big Smoke.

And that makes it great for families. Cassidy Travel knows it and has put together a great Legoland and football package to keep everyone happy.

If Mum doesn’t fancy the footie, and these days it’s more likely it would be Dad, the shopping in London is unparalleled.

Stay in the 3* Travelodge Windsor Central and choose between Arsenal v Burnley or Chelsea v Leicester City. Package from €379pps based on four sharing. Includes a day pass to Windsor Legoland Resort.

Flight departs Friday, 16 August. Call Cassidy Travel (01) 8395000. Visit http://www.cassidytravel.ie.

For a few levs more

Greet value: Bulgaria. Photo by Pixabay

They were low-maintenance for two teenage girls.

All they wore for the whole fortnight we were in Bulgaria was their football tops and trackie bottoms.

I think they had a few changes of the same outfits. It was the wrong team they supported but they were sweet girls and their grandparents were nice too.

Bulgaria is still remarkably good value as evidenced by a Sunway survey in conjunction with the UK Post Office.

They compared the cost of holiday essentials including a bottle of beer, a coffee and a three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine in 20 European beach holiday resorts.

Sunny Beach on Bulgaria’s Black Sea comes in at €44.44 for nine items. The most expensive is Sorrento at €159.40.

Sunway offers seven nights B&B at the 3* Hotel Kudadasi for €399. Visit http://www.sunway.ie. for this and other great holiday offfers.

And Holiday Snaps is just about to get snappier with an extra day of the snappiest snaps in Snaptown, Snapetonia.

Watch this space… and…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Uncategorized

Holiday Snaps

I love an oul’ festival…. they’re almost always not what you expect, and even better too.

Take for example the Festival of the Trays which too me conjures up an image of people banging beer trays over their heads.

It used to be popular in the Seventies and was featured in one of Esther Rantzen’s That’s Life shows I’m sure. I have vague recollections of doing the same one Hogmanay (or New Year’s Eve to those not of the Scottish persuasion).

This Festival of the Trays in Portugal though is far more serene. In commemoration of Queen Saint Isabel and the Holy Spirit, this is all about hundreds of young girls carrying trays of gifts on their heads.

The trays are blessed, there are street decorations and quilts in the windows. Flowers are thrown over the procession too, naturally!

The Procession of the Tabuleiros, heralded by pipers and fireworks is led by the Banner of the Holy Ghost and the three Crowns of the Emperors and Kings.

Bringing up the rear are cartloads of bread, meat and wine, pulled by the symbolic sacrificial oxen with golden horns and sashes. Visit www,tabuleiros.org and http://www.visitportugal.com. The festival starts today and goes on until July 8.

And for two very different sides to Portugal, Secret Portugal and Portugal read my reviews https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal/(opens in a new tab) and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/(opens in a new tab)

Aer Lingus, Ryanair and TAP Portugal all fly to Portugal, http://www.aerlingus.com, http://www.ryanair,com, http://www.flytap,com.

Climb every mountain

Ah! But if Maria and the Von Trapps had climbed every mountain as The Sound of Music told us they did they would have ended up in Hitler’s back yard.

Sorry, I just tell it like it is and so do the Salzburgers who burst our bubble on a tour of the city…. they do take you to some great Sound of Music sites and it is seriously good fun.

Me telling it like it is, it’s important to flag up what a great summer destination Austria is and what great deals there are out there.

TUI has last-minute deals for July 3, seven nights B&B staying at the *3 Hotel Obermair, Mayrhofen, from €449pps or seven nights half-board at the *3 Pension Hannes, Neiderau from €469pps. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

An offer you can’t refuse

I went into the doctor and told him that I felt like a small Mediterranean island. He told me to stop being Sicily.

Like many who have visited Malta I spent way too short a time in Sicily on a day’s catamaran cruise. Of course, I will be back and when I do I will take it all in, The Godfather history, the beautiful coastline and vibrant villages.

You can get great value with a late deal to Sicily with Sunway. Seven nights for €499 on July 6. Visit http://www.sunway,ie,

The best China

You’re my rock: Tang and Zhang

Zhuhe, Tang Yixin and Zhang Ruoyun. Which, of course, is congratulations, but you knew that anyway.

And maybe that they are a Chinese celebrity couple who chose Adare Manor to marry.

Tang and Zhang are TV drama stars back home and have 33 million followers on Weibo, the social media platform in China. Now Bandanamann followers with a wee nudge we might make a dent in that!

Tang and Zhang’s combined showbiz name would be Tang, meaning she’s in charge which is a bit like most marriages really!

Tourism Ireland helped the happy couple with trips to Dunluce Castle and the Dark hedges. Visit http://www.tourismireland.com. http://www.adaremanor.com. http://www.visitnorthernireland.com.

The English Beach

Not what you expected: La Gomera

If that conjures up images of a packed Blackpool or Brighton or Magaluf then we wouldn’t blame you.

But this is The English Beach in Great King Valley in La Gomera.

La Go-where? Yes, this is the Canaries and it’s the more unspoiled, smallest and less visited of the seven islands which makes it all the more appealing.

Thing is though that they’re peeling off too. Billed as hippy and alternative there’s a clue there. Thing is though that the first post on Trip Advisor said that it’s half and half.

I can only imagine that it was a Swinging Sixties crowd of English that gave it its name.

I leave the choice to you but check out La Gomera anyway. Fly to Tenerife and then get a crossing is the best way to get there.

But if you do decide to go au natural, for goodness sake don’t leave your clothes on the beach. Visit http://www.lagomera.travel/en.

Let’s duck out of here

You’re quackers: With The Donald

Yes, I know any excuse. I’ll tell you what every time The Other Donald tweets something daft or puts us on the brink of war…. and I’m not forgiving him this week after his antics caused the rearrangement of my trip to Iran… then Ill put up a photo of The Real Donald.

And anyway American Sky has a great saving of up to €530 per family on a seven-night stay at the *4 The Grove Resort Hotel & Spa in Orlando, valid for travel before February 11 2021. This holiday now costs from €649.

This is a new resort, just a few minutes drive from Walt Disney World Resort and it includes a kids Surfer Water Park.

There are four on-site restaurants.

Based on two adults and two children sharing and return flights from Dublin with transfers and accommodation on a self-catering basis.

Visit http://www.americansky.ie or call (01) 664 9900.

Killer tunes

Drum roll: Ronnie Vannucci Jnr

For Reasons Unknown Ronnie Vannucci Jnr tried to bat off the well-wisher who approached him at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood, Co. Down, and said that he was a delegate at a science convention.

But we were onto him or at least The Son and Heir and The Scary One were… and she let him know that I was their biggest fan.

I know I’ve drip-fed you this story but it’s just that the world’s greatest rock band who were playing up North are headlining Glastonbury tonight.

I’ve got it taped of course while I’m away in Barcelona but I expect they’ll be Wonderful Wonderful.

I’m not surprised that The Killers were staying at the Culloden. It’s only had a £750,000 refurbishment. Visit http://www.hastingshotels.com.

Two for you

… A double helping of Bandanaman today. Lourdes and the Pyrenees in The Herald and Star Wars Millennium Falcon: Smugglers’ Run at Disneyland Anaheim in the Irish Daily Mail.

I’ll reprise them here when I return.