Adventure, America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Holiday Snaps – Hungarian heights

I christened her Funky Gold Edina which she happily went along with despite it probably going over her Hungarian head.

Edina was the ever-smiling Top Flight for Schools host on our walking trip up the Tyrolean Alps in Austria.

Which is no mean thing when everything over your head gives you vertigo.

It’s the people you meet from foreign countries when you’re abroad who inspire you to visit their homelands.

Hungary for cultureEdina’s beloved Hungary is also on Travel Department‘s radar.

Phew Danube

You’ll go right round the bend but you’ll love it on your Danube Bend Walking Holiday.

Spend five nights in the Medieval castle town of Visegard in Northern Hungary.

Enjoy five days of walking with packed lunches with moderate (7-11kms) and challenging (12-20kms) levels.

With Edina and Caroline in the Austrian Tyrol

Among the highlights are Nagymaros, Zebegeny, the Pilis Mountains and a half/day tour of Budapest.

From €1,199pp for seven nights including flights, transfers and 4* hotel accommodation, departing June and September.

Sit down next to me Rosa

Rosa and Thistle in Memphis

There is something iconic about the American bus.

Where else can you see a man in a gabardine suit who looks like a spy when you’ve gone to look for America (ask your folks)?

But not all buses are Greyhound or Peter Pan buses… in the Deep South they were awful segregated affairs.

Until a wee seamstress cast a huge Civil Rights legacy 65 years ago today by refusing to give up her seat.

Her arrest in Montgomery, Alabama, sparked the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Heroine: Rosa Parks

I had the honour of sitting beside Rosa (well kinda) in the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

The real bus is in the Henry Ford Museum in the Detroit area near where she moved, like so many African-Americans.

But the real story begins in Montgomery, Alabama.

Malta crosses

Art of Valletta: Caravaggio

Should you see a Catholic priest walking down the middle of a street in Malta or Gozo then you should veer into a ditch to miss him.

It used to be the case too in Ireland though these changed days they’d probably be stepping on the peddle.

The links to the two countries have always been strong and they’ve just been renewed.

Since the end of last month you can get back to Malta from Ireland with a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

And when you’re there you can enjoy, the sun, sea and swally, of course, but why not the saints too?

And as I often say the best way to check out a new place is to go where they play and pray.

Grand Gozo

The archipelago boasts more than 360 churches and chapels and having visited St John’s Co-Cathedral for the Caravaggio which means only another 359!

St Augustine Church and St Paul’s Shipwreck Church are on the Malta Pilgrimage Trail and the old convert must think I’lm stalking him.

In Malta yes, but also Rome while I’ve also been on the trail of St John too, on the island of Kythera in the Athens/Attica region of Greece.

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

Holiday Snaps – United’s States

No, you didn’t read that wrongly. Our friends at United Airlines might just get us back on transatlantic planes out to Bidenland as we’re now calling it.

United have launched the world’s first free transatlantic Covid-testing pilot programme.

For customers travelling from November 16 through December 11 from Newark to London Heathrow free of charge.

Mississippi… do you remember me?

I touched down in the land of the Delta Blues with United a couple of years ago.

When I flew into Memphis from Newark for an MLK50 (Martin Luther King) road trip.

And sat beside a Memphian coming home who pointed out the Mississippi below.

As we drank craft beers and discussed the future travel for America.

And on the tee…

Mountain a challenge at Slieve Donard

I thought it was just an hour the clocks went back… you know the old saying Fall back Spring forward.

But then I find that one of those Spring rites of passage, the Masters golf tournament will be held this year from this Thursday, in Augusta, Georgia.

Glittering prize

Of course there will be more than a few references to azaleas, or the lack of them, this week.

We’ll miss the galleries though and the hollers of ‘You’re the Msn.’

And this year’s Champion Golfer is…

I was one at Royal Portrush at last year’s Open Golf Championship when we were 20 deep shouting on Ireland’s Shane Lowry to victory.

All of which deviation off the tee brings me to Hastings Hotels and Slieve Donard‘s richly-deserved recognition as Northern Ireland’s Best Golf Hotel at the World Golf Awards.

Once I get these fingers repaired I’ll be bringing the game I’ve developed.

From watching from out of my window onto North Berwick on Scotland’s Golf Coast.

And on the toboggan run…

Now I don’t need an Austrian toboggan run to shred my body.

A shopping trolley and a supermarket car park will do just as well to break my fingertips and tear off my nails.

Of course the prospect of a toboggan run as a detour during my famed booze bus trip to the Oktoberfest had me salivating.

I didn’t trouble the Winter Olympics talent scouts at Kirchberg and Kitzbuhel.

Though with rider and toboggan going separate ways seconds after launch.

I reprised the high jinks on my Topflight for Schools trip to Ehrwald in the Austrian Tirol last year.

Who needs a toboggan or sled anyway? I’m the human sled!

Awesome Austria

Enough already… let’s get back on piste and Kitzbuhel is reopening to recreational skiers from November 30 with Covid restrictions.

Return flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck with EasyJet are from €62pp and from Dublin to Munich are from €80pp.

And anything can happen in Munich… or is that just me?

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Alps, Autry and America

High on a hill was a lonely goatherd, Lae Ee Od Lay Ee Od Lay Hee Hoo – The Sound of Music

And who hasn’t yodelled when they’ve found themselves in the foothills of the Alps? I know I hodelay-hodelay-hodelayhee-have.

Although we couldn’t get superstar septuagenarian and amateur yodeller Brigitte to clear her throat when she took us walking above Interlaken in Switzerland.

Yodel eh? In Austria

We did though get awesome octogenarian Arthut, or Ehrwald Presley as I coined him, doing his verbal gymnastics last year on our Top Flight for Schools trip.

Before the night ascended into an Irish wedding-type hooley.

Now your favourite music on our travels column has been over yodelling before in this series.

But on the occasion of 60 years of the Irish Austrian Society which we’ll celebrate tonight let’s explore how yodelling was carried on the wind around the world.

Gene genie

Gene’s gaffe: The Angels at Anaheim

If you’re of a certain age, or if you’re versed in cowboy movies, you’ll know all about Gene Autry.

The Singing Cowboy, who hit the heights from the Thirties through to the Sixties.

And became such a big star that he even bought himself a baseball team in 1961, the Angels, who in their current iteration are the LA Angels.

Playing for the jersey: Gene Autry, the Angel

Gene may be 22 years gone (an angel for ever now) this month.

But not, nor will he ever be forgotten, in Anaheim

There is a shrine to him at Angels stadium which you can visit ahead of a game.

The Angels held Gene in such high regard that they added him to the roster and then retired the No.26 number.

Hodelayhee-Home Run.

Yodelling meets Blues

Jimmie, Jimmie: Jimmie Rogers. www.countrymusichalloffame.org

Yodelling may have its roots in the Alps but the Americans bluesed it up with the likes of Jimmie Rogers.

And as we all know America, and particularly the Deep South us where music went into a big melting pot.

It gave us, Jazz, Blues, Country, Elvis and Soul.

And, to think it all started with a lonely goatherd, hee-hoo.

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.

Africa, America, Asia, Countries, Europe, UK

Fiveday Friday – take those drinks outside

Just on a whim, and because this is how we’ll be drinking in the future, here is a new feature Fiveday Friday.

Five of the best travel experiences from around my world of travels (and some of them won’t involve drink).

I’m spurred here by a radio shout-out for the sprawling 500-year-old The Lindsey Rose.

The Rose lies near Ipswich, Suffolk in England’s East Anglia http://www.thelindseyrose.co.uk and https://www.visiteastofengland.com.

Southwold in Suffolk, which is about 118 miles east and a two-and-a-half hour drive from London, was recommended to me by my old boss.

And with its dainty beach huts and English Country Garden pubs it was very much like ‘somewhere different but the same’ for this Scottish family within your own country.

Which is what we’ll all be reengaging ourselves with more and more now.

That’s not to say we won’t be reflecting on those awesome outdoor drinks dats we’ve enjoyed around the world.

Beer o’clock in South Africa

The Brewery and Two Goats Deli, Nieu-Bethesda, South Africa: And this beer garden deep in the heart of Afrikans country even has a wooden hammock.

Where you can sleep off your wooden smorgasbord sample of beers and stouts.

There’s nothing wooden though about this little haven in Nieu-Bethesda. Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and What’s new pussycat?.

On the Bosphorus

TTG Travel/Turkey Travel Group: And if the back garden can be a stretch of water which splits two continents….

Pleasure cruises are perfect for small groups and you can work off that Turkish spread with a boogie on board.

While looking out on two continents on the Bosphorus.

See https://www.turkeytravelgroup.com, https://visit.istanbul, www.turkishIrlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Swiss for Prosecco

Interlacken, Switzerland: Well, you do build up a thirst whizzing through a wood and the main road on your tutti bike.

It’s an electric scooter hybrid, you understand.

And you’ll find a bar in the valley where your Prosecco Spritzer has never tasted so good.

See www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

Der Plague and Der Great Outdoors

Oberammergau, Germany: And not a bad place to drop in on as the good burghers of this Bavarian town know all about pandemics.

They made a pact with God back in the Middle Ages where they would put on a Passion Play if He rid them of the plague.

And you’ll want to sit outside anyway to take in the murals that tell the story of Oberammergau.

See https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/home and https://www.topflight.ie and www.topflightforschools.ie.

Jocky Mountain High

Salt & Lime, Steamboat Springs, Colorado: Now Coloradans are ideally placed for this COVID crisis because they’re outdoors people.

They freestyle up the Rockies, white water raft on the French Powder River and then sit down in the open air on their ranches.

And rooftop restaurants such as this one, Salt & Lime Morning www.suckandlime.com in Steamboat Springs www.colorado.com.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – Schnapps

When it came to breakfast on our Oktoberfest booze bus in Munich https://www.muenchen.de/int/en/tourism.html it had to be schnapps.

We all had to take turns at cooking.

But Rambo, a New Zealander with a party trick of putting his false tooth in his beer when he went to the loo, was having none of it.

Put your hat on it

And he led a revolt of fellow heavy bevvy merchants… with this the result.

Slovenian life

All of which nostalgic meanderings are because of a Zoom meeting with Slovenia https://www.slovenia.info/en.

We were tempted by some culinary guides and one speaker who was extolling the virtues of all things pumpkin seed oil.

While one Slovenian with an unpronounceable name showed us hay lofts we could book.

A taste of Slovenia

But, of course, it was the booze experts who drew me in, the Pale Ales and sparkling wines.

And especially the man with the pear schnapps.

We’ll leave Slovenia there and thank them for making nary a mention of the most famous Slovenian of all, Melania Trump.

Schnapps ja

And return to Germany where the schnapps is drunk like water.

As chasers with beer.

An Austrian yodeller

And coming in all fruits and with whole apples and pears in bottles soaking up the alcohol what’s not to love.

Central Europe is home to the best schnapps so a shout-out to Switzerland and hiking in the hills www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

Apres-ski

Or apres-ski in the Whiskey Mühle in Söll in Kaiser Welder https://www.wilderkaiser.info/en/soell/info/whiskey-muehle.html in Austria with www.topflight.ie Soll Mates.

A handle on schnapps

Schnapps bottles too are works of art.

And you can marvel at the designs in the Ehrwald in the Tyrol www.tyrol.com with Top Flight for Schools www.topflightforschools.ie.

Peachy: A fruity little number

Of course Austria specialises in eccentricities https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/01/austrian-toilet-humour/amp/ and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/__trashed/amp/.

But it all starts with the food and drink and with water so damned expensive I’d always recommend the sausages, beer… and schnapps.

MEET YOU AT THE BAR

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe

Rainy Days and Songdays – yodeleeeee!

I’ve been known to sing songs aloud going down a crowded street and can do a whole concert these days.

Try it… you’ll feel liberated and you can belt out a lot of frustration.

Why do you think our friends in the Alps are so chilled?

One word: Yodelling.

Brigitte, our forever young walking guide from our Interlaken and Jungfraujoch perambulations https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/ and Swhisskey on the rocks could warble with the best.

Ehrwald Presley

And by the best I mean Arthur our legendary warbler from the Hotel Sonneburg https://www.sonnenburg.at/en/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1-D8v52I6QIVNoBQBh3LXweXEAAYASAAEgKjkPD_BwE in Ehrwald in the Tyrol.

Hot the floor: At the Sonneburg in Ehrwald, Austria

Octogenarian Arthur stepped in when their house singer had to pull out because of a fracture.

Being an Irish walking group we ratcheted it up by getting him to do Neil Diamond and Elvis Preskey.

The other Elvis

And Arthur became forever immortalised as Ehrwald Presley.

Eine kleine Nachtmusik

Back to yodelling and it would seem that it can carry a danger when you ‘climb every mountain’.

Which I did when stumbling upon a black run on our ski through the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser… Soll Mates.

And had to walk down, skis in hand.

Tired, I fell asleep that night through the football on the telly in the Whiskey Muhle.

But awoke to hear Alex Johnson’s turn at the mic.

When he would bang out classic after classic while apres ski fans would pour shots into his mouth.

The Real Thing

My favourite of his set was Paolo Nutini’s Candy while he swore by The Real Thing’s You To Me Are Everything.

And so in tribute to Alex, who incidentally was back on the slopes the next day skiing away despite drinking the bar the night before.

Here it is… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yT1iDKkZNYU.

Topflight www.topflight.ie and Topflightforschools https://topflightforschools.ie are all over Austria.

Which songs are your souvenirs from your holidays. Share them here and we’ll have a good sing-song.

MEET YOU ON THE STAGE

Uncategorized

The faces of 2019 – Adventure

I’d like to say it’s been a walk in the park, and it was, but it’s also been a walk up mountains and through rain forests.

And desperate dashes through airports to catch (and miss) airplanes!

But someone’s been smiling on me.Because I didn’t miss one trip and got to race with goats in Tobago, ‘Bandanaman’, whom I got to christen.

He’s a winner too.

And some even giddier goats: take a bow ‘Auntie’ Ali, ‘Uncle’ Kenneth, Marsha, Phil, ‘Porridge‘, Ean and Ian and ‘Santa’ Brendan.

And here’s our moment of glory.., Ready, steady, goat… in Tobago and www.visttobago.gov.tt.

It’s been all go and the shoe leather has taken a beating.

In Europe’s most popular national park Teide in Tenerife.

And the hills up to Afur in the midday beating sun which our guide Maria took in her stride.

And even had some ooomph left at the end to give us a pilates demonstration at the top of the mountain.

With CanariaWays.com in Tenerife… http://www.visitingtenerife.com.

And through the Alps from Ehrwald in Austria http://www.tyrol.tlinto Germany with mountain man Reini… where naturally I had a run-in… Water rip-off – a German pit stop

But, of course, I’ll be back in Bavaria https://www.bavaria.by.

It is a region I have loved since first going to the Oktoberfest 34 years ago.

The coming of the Lord

And where the Messiah himself graces them with his presence next year…  Oberammergau and https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/home

And I’d recommend you go on your trekking holiday with https://topflightforschools.ie.

We were, of course, always back in time for the entertainment.

It’s now or never

The lederhosen-clad Septuagenarian singer Christened Ehrwald Presley.

On account of his oompah, waltzing and keyboard renditions of The King.

Not all walks worked out alas and I missed out on the trek up the Hollywood Hills.

Because of a 24-hour sickness bug.

But I made up for it in style all across LA, West Hollywood and Anaheim www.visitcalifornia.com, www.attractiontickets.com.

As part of the American Travel Fair www.ipw.com and My weekend with Marilyn and Stair Wars

Just gone swimmingly

With all that walking I definitely earned myself my dips.

Not a natural swimmer I was glad of the chance to cut corners and the Dead Sea and the Nylon Pool gave me that.

Where I laid back, read a book and dreamt of Jordan http://www.visitjordan.com.

And stood in the sand back in the crystal waters of the Caribbean deep in the sea in Tobago It’s Robinson Crusoe’s very own Tobago limin’ with other revellers.

I’ve tried to conquer some water sports demons.

And went searching for submarines and tanks in the depths of the Dead Sea… Petra and the sands of time

And found out why snorkelling isn’t me… my moustache blocks the airways!

Which is why I dispensed with the snorkel and just used the goggles to see me some rainbow fish in Tobago.

Everybody’s gone surfing

It wasn’t all just corner-cutting. I did learn to paddle board on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas off Barcelona…. https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/ and Surfing the seas in Barcelona

And http://www.royalcaribbean.com

While our Sligo pro surfer Gearoid taught me how to stay up on the surf in RC’s simulator FlowRider.

Well for three seconds at least.

Fun, fun, fun

I’d been practising with the Beach Boys you see in Surf City, Huntingdon Beach.

Enjoy your adventures in 2020. And…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD