America, Asia, Countries, Culture

Holidos and don’ts – suitcases

And I am indebted to my friend and Travel mover and shaker, French-based Irishman, Michael Collins for sparking me to revisit an old series, Holidos and don’ts.

Michael flagged up that at his local supermarché the aisles selling suitcases and headrests are interdit, or blocked.

Mad hatters: And when I used to take a full suitcase to America

Which beggars the question: how essential are suitcases?

And who doesn’t have one anyway?

Nothing to see here

As all Travel professionals do I like to take advice from seasoned pros, like doyen and Americanophile JP Thomson, erstwhile of the Sunday World.

JP always packs a half-full suitcase to leave space for what you take home.

Half full

Irish Travel professionals, nay all Irish people, love few things better than hitting the shops after they get off the plane.

Possibly the afternoon after they hit the bars.

Anyone got scissors?

And so when our Irelando party hit Aaawlando, and they set aside a couple of hours at a shopping mall, it was like the Olympics 100m final.

Needless to say they all returned with half the mall in their bags, while I bought a tee-shirt.

New suitcase

The fact is though that shopping in America is great value.

Irish and Scots on tour in Orlando

So why not take the opportunity to update your wardrobe and send the outdated clothes you’re standing up in to the charity shop.

The same applies, of course, if you go on a sun holiday.

Pack light

So that the members of my party who took full suitcases to the Maldives found they only needed their swimwear and summer clothes.

Who needs a suitcase? The Maldives

Some of us, of course, found that all you need on dry land is a sarong and flip-flops.

While we’ll not talk about those women who took heels.

And make it snazzy

And in the last instance why not just go out with hand luggage, or better still a rucksack that doubles as a wheelie?

Here’s to hitting the airport again

And buy a suitcase when you’re out in a country where, Zut Alors!, they don’t stop you buying suitcases from their supermarchés.

And for more Holidos and don’ts advice here’s a reminder of how we roll from where we last rocked up… Bergamo.

America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Music

Give us this Day – Happy Iranian Millennium

Aidé shomā mobarakto Iranians everywhere, and this year is a very special one with it being the dawn of a new Millennium.

The Iranian New Year, celebrated at the Spring Equinox. is the type we all like, lasting for a good fortnight.

This year is marked in the Iranian calendar as the Year 1400 which is the number of years since Mohammed.

And it is celebrated by 300 million people around the world and has been designated International Nowruz Day by the UN.

Hamam bam: Istanbul

Of course everything stops in the motherland but also in Afghanistan, Albania, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, areas of India. And Turkey.

And among the Iranian diaspora around the world.

Who knew, of course, that one of the largest populations outside Iran is in Los Angeles.

Where we all know they love a party but where this year they will be celebrating online.

No, it’s not me

Like all festivities in the Middle East the festivities revolve around the table.

You’d expect candles and wouldn’t be disappointed and you’ll also see touches that are familiar in Eastern worship such as decorated eggs.

The Haft Sin table includes seven symbolic items starting with the Farsi letter ‘S’.

Typically Persian

‘Sir’ is the Persian word for garlic and gives protection from illness and evil and ‘Serkeh’, or vinegar, represents longevity and patience.

Of course these are mere flavours for the much bigger dishes of sumptuous Middle Eastern stews,

You’ll eat fish, meats, rice, noodles and beans with a cornucopia of spices.

Hot, hot, hot

There are a choice of dinners, my favourite sounding Fesenjan, a duck, or chicken, stew in walnut and pomegranate sauce.

There are few better-read people than the Iranians and poetry books and the Quran are centrepiece.

Persian rituals

Though why there is a goldfish…. well, does it matter.

Or why they spend these days throwing wheat grass into flowing waters… something about absorbing negative energy.

So how could us non- Iranians join in?

Don’t try this at home

Well we can send children into the streets to bang their pots and jump over fires… a typical weekend in Glasgow!

Just like Western civilisation there is a gift-giving figure, Amoo Nowruz (Uncle Nowruz).

Ancient stories

So here’s some Iranian New Year party music to get into the spirit.

Of course all of this I should have seen first hand, only for my much-anticipated trip to Iran being cancelled.

I prefer to think of it as only delayed.

Aidé shomā mobarak.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Pilgrimage

Go on, go on, go on to Istanbul

You’d expect Father Ted’s housekeeper, Mrs Doyle, to either snub the Turkish tea.

Or lay into it on Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul.

Mrs Doyle, aka Pauline McLynn, is yet to reveal her true self on the BBC2 show, next on on Friday, March 26 and available on Catch Up.

She, in fact, comes across as a bit ditzy and not at all religious.

Here come the girls: Edwina Currie, Fatima Whitbread and Pauline McLynn

I can vouch for that.

With Pauline effing and blinding like a true modern-day daughter of Ireland when I met her.

She was the speaker at an Australian Irish Chamber of Commerce lunch in Dublin.

My cup of tea

I was as a guest of the-then newly opened Flight Centre store in Dawson Street.

Pauline is joined on the Sultans Trail by six other celebrities, only four others who I recognise.

That’ll be javelin queen Fatima Whitbread, sports presenter Adrian Chiles, ex-politician Edwina Currie and comedian (and I use that term loosely) Dom Joly.

Here come the boys: Dom Joly, Mim Shaikh, Amar Latif and Adrian Chiles

The Sultans Trail is new to me.

But not the pilgrims who have been walking sections of the 2,200km stretch from Vienna to Istanbul.

Our super seven set out from Belgrade, and I am surprised that they didn’t check out its hidden palace.

What’s in a name?

And they make their way through Serbia and a little bit of Greece.

On their 1,000km two-week trip to the great city on the Bosphorus.

Our Lady in Medjugorje

In the first episode we see them walk through forests, pick lemons, climb castles (and one pilgrim, Amar Latif is blind).

And partake in a Serbian celebration to Our Lady. She’s big in the Balkans.

Before in a few episodes’ time we reach Istanbul and the Suleymaniye Mosque.

Cruise the Bosphorus

Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world.

And it has at various times been known also as Byzantium and Constantinople.

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It’s still the centre of the Greek Orthodox Church and is still known as Constantinople across the border in Hellas.

A bit like Derry and Londonderry… know your audience.

I’d recommend that when our pilgrims do get to Istanbul they have a blow-out then on a boat trip on the Bosphorus.

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Now you all know I love a good oul’ pilgrimage and unbeknownst to me there have been two previous series.

Where’s my invite?

Eight celebs have already been out to Santiago de Compostella and Rome following, I guess, in my footsteps.

With Onur in Istanbul

I was, of course, with my friends at CaminoWays and FrancigenaWays.

And I know the question you’re asking… why wasn’t I one of the celebs chosen to go to Istanbul to complete the set?

Yes, you’d be right… the BBC Director General has already had his knuckles rapped for that oversight.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – let’s Moroccanroll

And when you fall off the camel the best thing to do is get back on… only it’s a bike. But then when in Morocco…!

Morocco keeps coming up when I least expect it… and that’s just the beef tajine in the Atlas Mountains.

For many Morocco is Marrakech, the Punk City, and the Sahara Desert but there is much more.

The Moroccans are flagging up their mountain hiking, golf (and, yes, there is plenty of sand to find).

And lesser-celebrated towns Tangier (the capital), Rabat and Fez and the seaside resort of Dakhla.

Morocco is currently off the UK exempt list but when it returns (and it will) then join the half a million British visitors who go there every year.

Turkey shoot

Turk that: With Onur Gull of Turkish Airlines in Istanbul

The new strategy the UK government is applying to the exempt lust is now to ignore the stats even they apply.

Which is why Turkey is now off the list because the UK doesn’t trust the figures of infections they supply.

They are reporting 12.9 cases per 100,000, down from 14.2.

The British, of course have always been so reliable on reporting about Turkey.

The sun will rise again… in Poland

Remember the ‘Turkish threat’, the invasion of people decamping in Europe and the EU, a key plank of the Brexiteers’ campaign for the referendum!!

Poland and three Caribbean islands have also been added… Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba. But Barbados is free. Irie!

While Scotland has finally followed England’s lead and put.Madeira and the Azores back in the map.

By Hook or by crook

No witches overhead yet…. Hook lighthouse, Co. Wexford in Ireland

And Halloween being around the corner our holiday providers have been busy stirring the pot to find a magic potion to save Samhain.

Which is the traditional pagan name for the All Souls Festival.

Now I’m reminded of a tale I was told in Bowmore on the Inner Hebrides island of Islay of the circular church where the ‘divil had nowhere to hide.’

Bow I don’t know the angles at the Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford in Ireland but why not find out for yourself?

Spooky tours of the 800-year-old Hook Lighthouse will be on offer from October 29-31 from 6-8pm every half hour.

You will be met by a goos witch on every floor (and some surprises).

While there’s pumpkin painting (€7pp) and slate painting (€5pp) from 12pm-4pm in Saturday, September 31- Sunday, November.1.

Each session will be available to a maximum of six children. Book in advance (051) 397055.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

The Sunday Sermon – the Hagia Sofia

Hate has no place in the house of God – Desmond Tutu

The anti-apartheid hero and man of God was talking in metaphors, and about South Africa, but his balming words fit Hagia Sofya in Istanbul just as well.

When Turkey President Recip Erdogan championed Hagia Sofia’s return.

In prayer

From a museum to a mosque it drew 250,000 of the faithful to pray on the streets of Istanbul.

And it roused an outcry from the Christian churches, the Roman Catholic, the Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox.

Which rung way beyond the ancient high walls of the iconic Istanbul building.

Orthodox

Iconic, yes, to the Orthodox churches.

For whom it is one of their holiest places and who focus on icons for their worship.

Fount of all wisdom

So the sight of drapes covering the mosaic of Our Lady was bound to have raised their ire.

Of course central to Islam is that Allah and the Prophet Mohamed, and Jesus or Our Lady, cannot be represented by images.

Crossroads

Istanbul is unique among the great cities of the world, one foot in Europe, one in Asia.

Royal splendour

Which is why the great Christiian churches of old which called Constantinople, Istanbul’s old name, home are prefixed with their country of origin.

Powerplay

There is, as there always has been in this part of the world, a powerplay going on.

And we, those of us who have been to Istanbul, and those who have yet to, must not fall for it.

Circle of trust

Because this should not, or ever be, about Islam v Christian.

And yes President Erdogan is tapping into Islamic popularism but that does not have to equate to anti-Christianity.

Icons

And we will still be able to visit it as a mosque which we will do.

Our house

Because as I discovered in Sarajevo with Marian Pilgrimages and Jordan with G Adventures and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time God is the same whichever house you’re in.

Countries, Culture, Europe

Srebrenica, lest we forget

It is just 25 years ago since Europe was plunged into a genocide we again ignored.

And just like the Holocaust of the Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals in the Forties the civilised West did not think the Balkans Muslims were worth protecting.

Camp of hell

Until too late.

I am indebted to my good friend Onur Gul, of Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com who has family links to Bosnia-Herzegovina, for flagging up today.

Poignant: Onur and his daughter

As he visited the graveyards in Srebrenica https://www.srebrenica.org.uk/.

Where the massacre of an entire town took place while we turned a blind eye.

I will be back

I had hoped to visit Srebrenica this year after missing out in the Autumn when I went to the Balkans.

With Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie to Medjugorje.

Arnie’s story

And discovered that it was too far from Sarajevo and I didn’t have enough time.

But while they may have been out of sight they were not out of mind.

Bey Mosque, Sarajevo

Sarajevo which was itself under siege marks its own and the greater Balkans wars.

It’s there in black and white at the Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide http://visitsarajevo.ba/?lang=en.

And you will get a sense of how the horrors of the war were played out as you take in the audio, video and everyday artefacts and personal testaments.

History revisited

One of the most heartwarming of them all is Arnie’s story. Yes, that Arnie.

For more visit Bosnia-Herzegovina https://www.visit-bosnia.ba/.

And while you search for holiday providers, let me recommend Marian Pilgrimages’ sister company Croatia Tours www.croatia.ie who operate in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

And here are some recollections of my Balkans odyssey… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/24/sarajevo-revisited/ and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know

Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – Hamilton, Monaco and Barbados

You know when you think you’ve seen someone famous, like Lewis Hamilton or me. you convince yourself it’s just someone who looks like them.

And so I had a job in persuading my fellow revellers at Grand Kadooment, the closing parade of the Barbados Carnival, that it was actually Lewis on the float.

Lewis should be there right now… he is, every year in the land of his forefathers. As should I as was before Let’s rumba in Barbados My kiss with Rihanna

But www.visitbarbados.com instead he is in Austria whizzing around the track in that country’s Grand Prix.

Alas without the cheering petrolheads who go from circuit to circuit following their favourite boy racers.

One solution would be to have a series of purely road races so we could all see.

And nobody does that quite like the most famous race of them all… Monaco.

Me? I can’t even get out of the pit lane in my Fiat 500.

Don’t worry, Lewis, I’m no threat. And besides I’d rather be driven around the Cote D.Azur in a speed boat anyway… The Boat D’Azur and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/about-france.com/mobi/index-amp.htm.

Everyone should visit Lewis’s home, Monaco (it’s one of four globally actually) if they’re in the French Riviera on holiday.

It’s only one of those great French train journeys around stunning cliffs and we took it from our camp base in St Raphael.

Full reveal here… we pulled down the shutter when the ticket conductor came around.

Not the first, or last, time we tested the officials, or gendarmes’ patience on that post-school holiday.

Visit https://www.francethisway.com/places/saint-raphael.php and https://www.visitmonaco.com/en.

And back to Lewis’s beloved Barbados. We chased him down the street… he’s used to everybody being in his slipstream.

His float though was going a little slower but as you can see from the picture he ended up giving us the bum’s rush.

So until the next time it’s back to playing with my toy racing cars.

I only wish I had a track like this one in Istanbul Airport’s Turkish Airways www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

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.

America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Top of the shops – my five best around the world

My Dear Old Mum washed her hands of me… and not for the first time (or last) when we went shopping in New York.

I had bought The Scary One a pink Guess handbag in Macy’s and Mum told me in no uncertain terms Sarah wouldn’t go for it.

It’s still in her wardrobe a dozen years later which is something, seeing most things are usually chucked out after 12 months.

So with clothes shops here in the UK reopening here’s a trawl around the world of some favourite clothes shops.

It’s now or never

Dress like a King

Lansky Bros, Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee: And what else would you expect in Elvis’s home city but button-doen shirts.

Lansky does a range called ‘Clothier to the King’ and this is no idle boast.

The Lanskys did clothe the King when he was a wannabe prince off to his Prom.

Then onto the Ed Sullivan Show, on screen for Jailhouse Rock while his last suit was a Lansky too.

And visit https://www.lanskybros.com, https://www.deep-south-usa.com and The King of Kings.

All clothes lead to Rome

Shirt hot

Dan John Roma, Via del Corso, Rome: Si, Milan gets all the cred for its fashion but the Via del Corso knows its threads too.

So when in Rome, and because la donna wants new clothes and when la donna wants la donna gets, I followed suit.

And bought myself a red shirt with a white colour.

We won’t go into how some pink underwear turned that collar rosé when we got back.

Visit https://www.rome.net, http://www.italia.it/en/home.html and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/ and Small roads lead to Rome.

Sweet Barbados

If the shoe fits: Bridgetown, Barbados

Cave Shepherd, Bridgetown, Barbados: An Old Bridgetown old institution and where you want to come for some old Barbados elegance to take home.

For herself.

Cave Shepherds are spread throughout the island.

And if you’re staying on the Platinum Coast and don’t venture beyond (not guilty) you’ll find them there too.

And you’ll even get a 💋 from Rihanna My kiss with Rihanna www.visitbarbados.org.

Al-Fayed’s old pad

Putting on your best front: Harrods

Harrods London: And just like Macy’s in New York when you’re in London you have to visit Harrod’s.

The first thing that struck me about Harrods when I lived down there and visited was the memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed.

Now since Mohamed Al-Fayed sold the world’s most famous store to the Qataris it now resides in his home.

Buy the cheapest thing in the food court (not the caviar) so that you can get your Harrods bag to put your Tesco shopping in.

Visit https://www.harrods.com/en-gb, www.visitlondon.com and The London life.

How bazaar!

Blockpurrster: Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul: The original shopping malls.

And these have the authentic spices of the East, proper Turkish Delight and dress-up stores where you can make like a Sultan.

As well as the beat shopping alley. Why best? Because cats sprawl out on the tables in the Midday Sun.

See https://visit.istanbul, www.turkishairlines.com.

Where is your favourite store? Let us know and we’ll share.

MEET YOU IN THE SHOP

Adventure, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – cow fighting breaks out

Lockdown has stopped us humans competing against each other but animals continue to do it, well, naturally.

I got to hear of the strange sport of Combat de Reines In Switzerland where cows fight each other www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

And I intend to make it my mission to seek out this ultimate moortial (sorry) arts duel on my travels as well as these other animal v animal contests.

Kicking seven cow bells out of each other

A bit of stewarding doesn’t go amiss

Combat de Reines, Switzerland: These contests date back to the 1920s when the skiers were on a break in the summer.

And they attract as many as 50,000 spectators across the season.

Although I’m assuming the cows are happy to fight behind closed doors (or in the open field) without us there.

The mootivation (ouch) for the cows is herd dominance although some need jivvying up and prefer to munch the grass.

Camel ye, come all ye

And in the red corner. https://wrestlingtv.in/have-you-heard-of-camel-wrestling-check-how-popular-it-is-in-turkey/

Camel wrestling, Turkey, Middle East, Asia: And your otherwise loping humpy desert dweller will bear his teeth…

If you try to jostle him along. Or put a female camel on heat between two males.

So not that different from humans then really.

The season is November to March so there’s still hope.

And here’s some Turkish delights and Jordanian japes to tantalise you… https://www.goturkeytourism.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam. And www.gadventures.com, www.visitjordan.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Herd up your haggises

http://www.facebook.com

Haggis hurling, Scotland: OK, this isn’t actually a sport but try telling that to the young Irish group I was with a couple of years ago.

Dry-witted Aberdonian Stevie informed our party that because we were running late he’d have to take the haggis farm off the agenda.

Distracted by another question Stevie might not have returned to the subject.

Had I not reminded him and warned him that this might yet appear in their articles as fact.

Invented in 1977 by a Robin Dunseath in 1977 it is still going strong. And check out www.visitabdn.com and Aberdeen – a light in the north and wwwvisitscotland.com.

One for the puperazzi

Catch that wave

Dog surfing, Huntington Beach, California: And to think I might never have learned about this sport of canines had I not pried.

The good folk of HB had invited me out for breakfast in Dublin to tell me about their new hotels and I probed them for info about their beaches.

I discovered that they have a popular annual dog surfing competition and that Garrett McNamara and his Brazilian labrador Bono lead the way.

And no, I never did hear if this Bono wore shades too all the time. Maybe the next time I get out to HB I’ll check it out.

Visit https://www.surfcityusa.com, www.visitcalifornia.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/.

I haven’t heard if September’s big surf is going ahead but the Pacific is a big ocean.

Acting the goat

Goat racing, Tobago: And a skill I got me, Marsha.

Marsha had gone through our coach asking us what we were good at, with housebuilder Antony scoring highest and me lowest.

But I showed her! Me and my goat Bandanaman only beat Antony and his kid in the goat race.

The big event is held in Buccoo at Easter and if there’s any justice myself and Bandanaman will be at the starter’s gate.

Although I might pass on the crab race.

Visit https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.