America, Countries

American winners

And we’re all American winners with the US borders reopening in November for UK and EU visitors.

But indulge me a minute to give a shout-out to my old pal Fionn Davenport, Editor in Chief of the Ireland’s Travel Trade Network.

Scroll of honour: Fionn Davenport

Prize guy

Fionn has only gone and won the major international Travel award at IPW, the American Travel Fair.

The only downside is that I wasn’t there in Las Vegas to see him receive it and share the celebrations.

With the British and Irish contingent who did make it out to the US on the International Exemption Order.

An exemption I was granted but which non-Travel writers or special sectors aren’t given.

Go Joe

Honest Joe: Joe Biden

Only from November there will be no need after Joe Biden at last gave us all the news we’ve been waiting so long to hear.

The word on the street is that we could all be over there by Thanksgiving (November 25) which is around the time of someone’s birthday (hint)!.

Irelando: With Fionn Davenport (middle)

While we, the travellers, are licking our lips my thoughts never veer far from our dream-makers, our Travel providers.

So imagine the excitement at Universal (Orlando and Hollywood), Disney (World and Anaheim), American Holidays, Tour America, Attraction Tickets, TUI, Hays.

And here in Scotland Barrhead Travel.

Digging out my new ESTA I already have my five-year visa, but belts and braces, I’m imagining those pancakes at a US diner.

Next stop Orlando

The 2022 renewal of the American Travel Fair is slated for Orlando in May.

But I’m free between now and then (hint!)

A postscript here and a return to Fionn’s award, for his article on California from the Travel Fair in Anaheim which I also attended.

Fionn is a popular name in Ireland but unheard of on the other side of the Irish Sea.

Pronounced Fee-on, it means ‘fair-haired’.

None of which, of course, the editor who drew the pages for an article from Fionn.

And he immediately assumed that it was a mistake and changed his byline to Fiona.

Now we all make mistakes and I’ve made most of them and being that soldier myself I felt for the editor.

Only one Fionn Davenport

Duck Tales: Next year in Orlando

They must have trawled back through the article to see if ladyfying Fionn might have inadvertently changed his orientations.

Thankfully though nothing to alarm the lovely Laura here.

And Lauren too

Prize gal: Lauren Jarvis

And in further breaking news, big hurrah to too another fave of our Travel Pack, international woman of mystery, Lauren Jarvis.

All of which brings me back to American winners, Fionn Davenport, Lauren Jarvis, us Travel writers and editors and our Travel providers.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

Countries, Flying, UK

Holidos and Don’ts A United approach

I defer on travel (and life) to my hero Billy Connolly which is why I think he would subscribe to my Holidos and Don’ts A United approach.

The Big Yin avows that anyone who shows any inclination in being a politician should immediately be banned from office.

Our immediate Travel future lies in the vice-like hands of two such people.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

And neither are going down a bundle with our Travel providers.

The experts

Joanne Dooey, President of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association.

And Jo White, who runs the UK and Irish Media Press Office for the Irish Travel Fair, IPW.

Over to the experts then on where we lie.

The old Shapps club

Jo Dooey takes aim at Shapps and the Scottish Government in equal measure.

She says: ‘It would be churlish not to say that any moves towards the reopening of travel regulations are welcome.

“However, Scottish travel agents and travellers still need to know that Scotland will swiftly follow suit.

‘We continue to raise the question of travel certification and how Scotland will deliver a scheme to allow the public to provide proof of vaccination status in order to fly to other countries.

“Currently English travellers can use the NHS app to prove their certification status.

“And this integrates with the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) which gives digital proof of a traveller’s vaccination, testing and recovered from COVID-19 status.

‘The Scottish Government needs, as a matter of urgency, to tell us what stage, if any, the development of a Scottish app is at.

“Currently, Scots who wish to travel, have to apply for a paper certificate.

“And we need to be operating at the same level as the other countries which have developed and are already using this technology.

One price for one…

‘While Scotlnd faces more expensive testing that in other UK nations, we persist in lobbying for the cost of testing to be at least equitable across the UK.

‘However, we look at it, 2021 has followed 2020 as a second catastrophic year for our industry.

“And the news last week that TUI has withdrawn from its Scottish base [a favourite tour provider],

“And also is cancelling a raft of holidays to some of the most popular holiday destinations up to 31 July only supports this view.

‘Travel agents have been forced to remain open for 16 months now to help their clients rebook – sometimes for the sixth or seventh time – yet are still receiving no income.

‘There is little, if any, customer confidence in travel at the moment.

“And the whole sector needs the Scottish Government to get behind a restart to international travel and boost the Scottish economy.

‘If the Prime Minister’s strategy is, from 19 July, to remove legal curbs on people’s behaviour.

“And to end restrictions and allowing people to make their own decisions, then surely people should be allowed to travel internationally with more choice.

“We remain in consultation with the Scottish Government to outline the way forward for Scottish travel.

“And the role testing and vaccination certification will play in this.”

Meanwhile in America

The 47th President of America: In Washington DC

And for those of us for whom our annual conference with our American Travel partners is key.

To driving business this is also a major concern.

As is the slow progress of opening up the US borders which is key to our travel providers.

And those for whom America is their favoured destination.

While talk that they are being selective too about those who have had the AstraZeneca jab.

And with continued confusion about quarantine.

Well, over to you Joe Biden. No hidin’… 

Prove us all wrong and Billy Connolly who might say, they’re all a load of old jobbies…

What I WILL say is.. follow my Holidos and Don’ts A United approach.

 

 

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

Sing for the Canaries

And at last they listened. To me, my English Canarian pal Mathew Hirtes and to the Tinerfinos and their cousins across the islands.

The Canaries are back on the UK exempt list, and I’m breaking out the Malmsey, the Canarian wine, much beloved by Shakespeare.

Part of the scenery: Jimmy, the Tinerfino

The Canaries, as I reported this week, have been returning rates of Covid infections way down on the UK.

And as Mathew has been telling us for months we’re safer over there than we would be here.

It’s also worth restating here how liberating this is for the Holiday Trinity that always infuses our sector… the holiday providers, the hosts and the holidaymaker.

And so without further ado…

Deal me in

My walking party

Jet2.com and Jet2Holidays, the UK’s largest operator to the Canaries, are recommencing flights.

To Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, from Friday from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Belfast and six other UK airports.

TUI holidaymakers haven’t seen the Canaries for 89 days but are already carrying their clients to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

There must be a plane waiting for me. And happen that my Tinerfino walking guide Eva is waiting for me to take me to Afur.

With Canaria Ways, of course.

A quick walk around the Maldives

And again…. sarong, but oh, so right

It’s more ambling than walking on Kuramathi.

The holiday notes advise you wear flip-flops and you can walk around the Maldives island in just half an hour.

While if you run out of puff in the all-year round 30C heat you can pull up a lounger or have a dip in your own villa infinity pool.

All with a regulatory Strawberry Daiquiri, of course.

And again I know a man who is in Kuramathi right now… and another man in Ireland from Turkish Airlines who will get you there and look after your every need.

While in the UK you want Kuoni.

A trip around the Greek islands

My waterfall: Kythera

And it’s a bit like the hokey-hokey with Greece.

Mykonos is in, but Crete, Lesbos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos is now out.

Which means you don’t have to self-isolate on your return from my own two faves, Corfu and Attica island Kythera.

And with Greece obviously, you never know where your odyssey will take you…

Wonderful Copenhagen

Bet you didn’t expect that: Copenhagen

And finally Denmark, the Little Mermaid et all.

I took my own Little Mermaid there on my cruise around the Norwegian fjords with MSC Cruises, and check out how their recovery is going.

As well as seeing the Little Mermaid, you need to get your photie taken with Hans Christian Andersen.

Not many people there: Leichtenstein

But sorry Leichtensteiners

No, me neither. I don’t know why tiny Leichtenstein has been removed from the exempt list.

Or if indeed it’s right to use the plural.

Well, this is what Leichtenstein has to offer. I’ll just have to get out there to find out for myself… when I’m allowed.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

America, Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – TUI for two

All our holidays were booked through Thomson because we had a discount through working for their newspaper arm… so I’m backing them over Zante.

That, and because I have travelled with them since, and know that they have built their richly-deserved reputation on competence.

Now, we’ve all been on airplanes where the punters are revolting.

And short of putting security on board I fail to know what the holiday provider or cabin crew can do about it.

It has always struck me as something of a miracle that more incidents don’t happen on planes.

The narrative around this is unsurprisingly familiar, depressing and patronising.

We all of us know the risks we take on an everyday basis, either travelling, or crossing the road.

And this COVID has just allowed our leaders to constrain our civil liberties.

A Greek epic

So as an adult I won’t be put off taking a TUI package holiday. Instead I’m doubling down and bringing you their Greece deals.

And because the Ionian Islands were our first holiday as a married couple I give you two nights out of Manchester to Zante.

Down from £704pp to £398pp. Leaving Friday.

And because Greece is an odyssey worth taking I offer you my epic.

Wizard castle

Every Irishman’s home is his castle

And why not..? Try to sprinkle a bit of Harry Potter magic dust on your business.

Kilkea Castle, an hour from Dublin, boasts a Hermione Restaurant.

Don’t ask me why and don’t worry about toads and spiders, you’ll be getting exclusive culinary fare.

Anyhoos, you can be lord or lady of the manor with golf, tennis, rambling and spa pampering all on tap.

A triple bef

A one-night stay at The Castle with dinner at the Restaurant 1180 and breakfast the following morning is from €335 per room.

While a two-night lodge B&B stay with dinner at Hermione’s Restaurant or the Clubhouse Bistro on an evening of your choice.

From €300 per room.

Pure Michigan

In black and white

It’s a black humour which our holiday providers, our dream-makers, sorely need as they struggle to preserve their livelihoods.

And this one comes from my friend Yolanda who represents Michigan.

And in whose company, and the-then Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, Brian Calley, we dined at Dublin’s iconic Shelbourne Hotel

On the eve of the last American Presidential election when as a Republican he gave us the lay of the land.

City on a lake: Detroit

And explained that Hillary’s problem was that if she’d only fessed up over Emailgate people would have gladly forgiven her.

While it had been a mistake to go after The Donald over not showing his tax records because the American Dream was built on getting rich.

And the public were no fans of the taxman.

Between all this we learned much about Pure Michigan, Detroit obvs and small town cherry festivals too.

And as my Dear Old Dad used to sing… ‘Life is just a bowl of cherries.’

MEET YOU ON THE PLANE

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe

Smooth sailing around the Western Med

He stood on the ship bridge, togged up to the nines, his hand shaking as h publicly reconfirmed his love to his wife. ‘I’ve got Parkinson’s,’ he said. ‘This is our 50th wedding anniversary. We really wanted to do this because I don’t know if we’ll see my 51st.’

The story was told to me on the first day of my mini-break on an Island Cruises jaunt around the west Mediterranean.

I had inquired as to what a lectern and a Bible under a glass case were doing at the heart of a control room.

Which I could only liken to my vague memories of sitting awestruck in an aeroplane cockpit as a boy.

I imagined the couple holding hands and looking out of the waves, letting their minds drift over their years together.

I hope they celebrated 51, 52, 53 years together and are still going strong. Because if any holiday can be life-reviving then that holiday is a cruise.

We took off from Toulon, halfway through the liner’s tour from Italy round to the Balearic Islands.

But although only on the mothership (its size must really experienced to be believed) for a few days it became my floating home from home.

Home that is if you enjoy the life of a country gent or a Beckham.

Life on board

But let me killl off some preconceptions straight away.

You’re stuck on it: Well, why would you want to get off when you’re in the middle of the sea. And you’ve got the sun beating down on you and you can look over the rails at the waves swishing comfortingly below.

The sea is always the same: Only if the weather remains the same, you’re stuck in the same spot and it’s always the middle of the day.

I was next up: Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

The sea is constantly changing and so are your surroundings, so much so that you’ll think that you’re wasting time by sleeping particularly if you can be taking in a breathtaking sunrise.

The onshore excursions are too short: Yes, if you just go to a plaza an sit drinking beer. But I would defy anyone not to get spring in their step whey they are awoken by the captain announcing you are in Barcelona.

And you look out for the first time on the statue of Columbus pointing to the US.

Las Ramblas is a shoppers’ paradise but personally I found the sea front more alluring and spectacular.

I was also put off by the market stall on the main thoroughfare where hens in cages are sold.

For the best way to see Barcelona, take advantage of the helicopter option. If you’ve never been in a chopper, don’t worry about noise.

You get earphones or turbulence because it’s like I imagined Aladdin felt on his magic carpet. Landing too is a skoosh like stepping off a stair.

Sports action

Sports mad? There seem to be more pools, football arenas and studio per square metre the any other city I’ve been to.

For the soccer-mad Briton a visit to the Nou Camp is awe-inspiring. The dilemma is deciding whether to ty to pack in more sights or to return to the liner to enjoy a few extra on-board activities.

Beautiful sunsets. Photo by Shawnna Donop on Pexels.com

Just don’t cut it too fin or they’ll leave without you.

Don’t imagine you will run out of things to do on board. You can swim, drink, eat, and of course, eat.

You’ll never be bored

The buffet is an eat-all-you-like when-you-like, what-you-like treat… that comes at a price!±

Out guide told us that on average people put on a stone a week during a cruise.

He said this while downing a large glass of water. He has come down from 25 stone to 18 with a plan which involves drinking litres and litres of H2).

You can also gamble on board in get ship’s casinos. Or having sampled foods from around the world in any of he exclusive restaurants you can burn it all off in the gym.

Have a go on the rowing machine while looking out over the swell or opt for a massage in the on-board health suite.

Or simply do nothing.

When do we ever really give ourselves that luxury,

Turn off the mobile phone and just relax by the pool.

Even if somebody wanted to see you you couldn’t get to them so you might as well ignore that phone.

In the evenings it’s sheer indulgence to be able to saunter on from your living room (read, the restaurant) to your lounge (read, the theatre) to enjoy West End-style shows.

Delights around every corner. On Majorca. Photo by Zach Besley on Pexels.com

Majorca adventures

But then the dy finally comes – damn, I’m only halfway down the cocktail list when we have to get off.

Thankfully though, it’s not Old Blighty yet. As part of our package we have a couple of nights stop-off in Palma, Majorca.

We stayed in Santa Ponsa, in a lovely secluded hotel called the Jardin del Sol Suites & Spa which is close enough if you want to be near the busier main village.

We used the hotel as base and what a luxurious base it was. A Jacuzzi bath and a shower with sprinklers.

You will get hot if you go to Majorca in high season but that’s great, it gives you the chance to have a bath and a shower.

And if you want a siesta, then you can sprawl out on the hotel’s triple beds!

Michael and Catherine

The balcony looks out on the swimming pool and the glistening sea.

Drag yourself away from it all though and get out into the north of the island, it’s the most picturesque part of Majorca. But don’t just take my word for it.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have a home there.

You’re in the high part of the island here and the views from the top of the passes are stunning.

The pick of the tourist attractions is the monastery at Valdemosa.

The best Chopin: At Valdemosa. http://www.seemallorca.com

Let’s go Chopin

It would be interesting enough for its history, religious relics, position and scenery.

But it is all the more fascinating because of its association with Frederic Chopin, the composer and his lover George Sand.

Ostracised by the religious zealots in the village, the sickly Chopin was taken in by the monks and nursed by Sand.

You can still see his manuscripts and what is claimed to be his piano.

There’s only so much high culture you can take though, and any trip to Majorca would not be complete without some Spanish dancing.

The Son Amar show in a huge arena in the middle of the island crams it all in.

And that’s just the food which is shovelled on to plates and whisked away while you’ve still got your fork in your hand.

Still, there’s a show on.

Still not finished: La Sagradia Familia Photo by Enrico Perini on Pexels.com

The least said about the comic the better – maybe humour doesn’t always travel but the flamenco dancers and the magic art were well, magic.

But like the sun setting on the horizon over the Med on the liner, so it had to set on my cruise.

With my in-flight magazine on my lap and looking out on home soil again, I thought of circling Barcelona in a helicopter and the view at sunrise on my Island Cruise trip.

Reasons to cruise the Med

I’ll give that a go: Flamenco dancer. Photo by Mark Neal on Pexels.com

Watch the sunrise: You can watch the sunrise anywhere but you can’t watch it appear over the horizon with a cooling breeze around you on board a luxury cruise. Pure poetry!

Take in a cruise show: You can just watch while nursing a cocktail in your hand, or budding thespians can take part in one of the talent shows.

Step ashore in Barcelona: And then a take a flight over the city. It’ll be the smoothest flight you’ve ever had. Swirl over forests, haciendas, Las Ramblas, the specatacular seafront rebuilt for the Barcelona Olympics and the statue of Columbus.

Join the monks in Majorca: Visit the monastery that housed the hard-living hard-loving George Sand and her composer beau Frederic Chopin. Their short life together on Majorca could make a Hollywood blockbuster.

Learn flamenco in Spain: The La Mer Show is good old-fashioned Spain for the tourists, bu too less enjoyable for that.

El deal

She’s got the whole world in her hands. Arty Majorca. Photo by Tim Savage on Pexels.com

Operating out of Palma, Majorca, until October, Island Cruises offers 14-night cruise-and-stay packages from £675pp.

Comprising a seven-night cruise followed by a seven-night stay in one of 29 Majorcan hotels.

Cruise and stay packages at the Jardin del Sol Suites & Spa with accommodation on a half-board basis start from £965pp.

Flights are available from Glasgow and Edinburgh, supplements apply.

For more information and recruitments call Island Cruises on (08707) 500 414 or visit http://www.islandcruises.com.

*Since this article was published in The Scotsman in 2003 Island Cruises has gone through a number of changes with TUI now moving the previous brand forward with great success. Hence you being redirected to https://www.tui.co.uk

And remember for your Cruise News it has to be Cruiseday Tuesday on the day between Monday and Wednesday…. and we’re still pushing Stena’s spanking new ship. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/01/13/cruiseday-tuesday-stena-estrid-what-a-maiden/

While for a whizz around Barcelona here’s what I found when I went back with Royal Caribbean… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/23/surfing-the-seas-in-barcelona/.

Uncategorized

Flyday Friday – Abu Dhabi do

Beep, beep! Fiftysomethings, like your impossibly youthful looking Travel blogger, spent half their childhoods watching Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner.

Stay there

And Bugs Bunny (a bit smart ass for me). I loved Sylvester, Tweety Pie, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn and Daffy Duck though.

I haven’t a Scooby why I haven’t got to Warner Bros World in Abu Dhabi before.

Although I do know why I missed out on Warner Bros. Studios Tour in Hollywood… I say, I say, I say I do know.

What’s up Doc?

I reckon it was the calamari in Venice Beach which turned me green. Almost put me off it, almost!

Warner Brothers World Abu Dhabi should be on your to do list if you stop off there on your long-haul.

I’m collecting mosques (Istanbul) Wham bam, thank you Hamam (and Sarajevo) Sarajevo – the Scot that was heard around the world.

Is it really winter there? Photo by Iva Prime on Pexels.com

And the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque looks like one I need to get down on my knees on their magic carpet to give thanks for.

Book a two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi and get your second night free. Visit www.etihad.com.

Now I’ve also found something else interesting in my inbox. Ten nights in Phuket’s 4* Baumanburi Resort & Spa with Escape2 http://www.escape2.ie two free nights in the 5* Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort.

Prices from €1149pp. Offers based on travel in February. Other dates available.

Sheikh it up TUI

The other side of Egypt. Photo by chepté cormani on Pexels.com

It’s often the trips that you pass up, or are passed up for you, that stick in the mind.

Such as the invitation to go out to Sharm El Sheikh which came around a few years ago.

And which I kindly gave to a colleague.

Such were the instabilities then that a couple of weeks later Sharm El Sheik was hit by a terrorist atrocity.

With all such things the people on the ground in the industry are also victims and it is good to see that TUI http://www.tui.co.uk and Red Sea Holidays http://www.redseaholidays.co.uk have reopened its market there from the UK.

Fire and ice in Iceland

Photo by Gabriel Kuettel on Pexels.com

It doesn’t look like it is good breeding ground for modern beat combo music but there are good vibes coming out of Iceland.

AWAL and Icelandair will include an ‘A World Artists Love’ showcase at Iono on November 7 at 8pm.

I’m told Millie Turner (UK), Joesef (UK), Yaeger (Sweden), Warmland (Iceland), Joipe x Kroli (Iceland).

Ice one: Of Monsters And Men

The festival’s big headliners are Of Monsters And Men who the Son And Heir only interviewed recently when they came to Dublin.

And the Irish are flying the flag too with Dundalk’s Just Mustard. Dublin’s Pillow Queens and AE Mak who are also from Dundalk.

Icelandair packages to Airwaves start from €293 including flights from Dublin to Reykjavik and a festival pass. https://www.icelandair.com/en-ie/vacations/city-breaks/iceland-airwaves/.

And also visit http://icelandairwaves.is for the full line-up and other news.

The fountain of youth

Part of the picture: In Rome

Pet hate… commentators who try to make a name for themselves by throwing out controversial opinions.

Such as The Leaning Tower of Pisa is not all that and that Big Ben is just a bell (it’s actually the Great Bell but I’ll let them off that) and that they were underwhelmed by the Trevi Fountain.

On my first trip to Rome, a surprise 40th birthday gift from La Scary Una, she was most excited to show me Trevi Fountain.

And so as we turned into piazza after piazza I gasped at the fountain before me which she was only too pleased to tell me was not the Trevi Fountain.

Aer Lingus who have launched a ‘November deals to gorgeous cities’ offer, among which is a five-star city break in Rome.

You’ll get return tickets Dublin to Rome with three nights at the 5-star Radisson Blue Es Hotel.

You’ll be paying a discount price of €2286.80pp. Visit http://www.holidayswithaerlingus.com. And here’s some Rome love for you… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/.

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES