Adventure, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, UK

Craig Sera Sera

Craig Sera Sera, that’s a wrap from the 12th Bond.. and he’ll sure miss those exotic missions.

So which countries has 007 visited most, other than England where he works?

Well of the 50 he’s been to, Italia would seem to have been his favourite with the spy having touched down in Il Bel Paese eight times. 

Pasta Master

Venice: And let’s catch a gondola back to Padova

Rome, Venice and Como have inevitably been stick-on locations for any filmmaker and international man of mystery.

And this time it’s the European City of Culture for 2019, Matera, which is getting its place in the sun this time. 

With its houses. built into caves, cobbled streets and high arches a dramatic backdrop for the opening scenes.

And Felice Giorni for Matera with the town’s mayor, Raffaello De Ruggieri, predicting its association with Bond will be worth $20 million to the local economy.

In truth this is probably the highpoint of the movie, and all before the credits and Billie Eilish’s disappointing dirge of a soundtrack.

As Daddy’s Little Girl rightly pointed out the best bits were the locales. 

Live and Let Spy

Love a duck: At Epcot Centre, Florida

With Britain and America enjoying that much feted special relationship it is unsurprising that The Oo Es of Eh is his next favourite stop-off.

And we particularly enjoy his forays into Florida and its keys… whose pleasures I had to put off on the outbreak of Covid but where I intend to fulfil just as soon as.

Ski another day

Like an Alpine skier: In the Austrian Tyrol

Next up might be less predictable, Austria, but then we have to remember its stunning snowscapes and Bond’s love of winter sports which of course we share.

Although we have never seen him on the slopes of Soll while we have enjoyed skiing alongside some dapper fancied-dressed folks.

And we look forward to seeing a penguin-suited Bond on the piste some time soon.

For Bond anoraks it’s an easy question but which is the only country in a film title?

The spy who came in from the Red

Dance away: Russia

Yes, the old Soviet Union, or Russia as we knew it in shorthand.

And as well as the titular film From Russia With Love, Bond turns up in Fabergeland another three times.

Turkish crossroads

Hamam bam: Istanbul

It has been the crossroads for espionage since first the first looked out over each other at either side of the Bosphorus.

And, of course, Istanbul, has been an ideal backdrop for Bond’s adventures… and yours, and mine with three films taking in Turkey’s biggest city.

Three’s a charm

Limber up: The next Bond?

And among those countries where Bond has a trio of visits is Hong Kong, Spain, the Bahamas, Scotland, his homeland and Jamaica where Ian Fleming penned the books.

And the West Indies’ biggest island is where we first fell in love with Bond on the Laughing Waters beach in Ocho Rios.

Or Sean Connery to be more precise, even if you were a red-blooded bloke, you actually wanted to be him.

Wear a swimsuit: Craig as Bond

And be with Ursula Andress.

There was much fuss too about Daniel Craig with his take on coming out of the water, ripped and in a pair of budgie smugglers.

Only thing is a budgie has more charisma.

Craig Sera Sera… whatever will be, will be.

 

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Food & Wine

Jamaica? No, she came of her own accord

And apologies for the old schoolyard gag: I took my wife on holiday to the Caribbean… Jamaica? No, she came of her own accord.

You see nobody needs a second invitation to Jamaica.

Unless, of course, you’re me.

And herein hangs a tail with me being off in another corner of the world when the first invitation came in.

I had sent a colleague to Orlando at the same time the second invitation came in and I had to stay back in the office to cover for him.

My old buddie Kevin Gleeson was the beneficiary of that mix-up.

Going back to that old joke (groan) and our friends in Yeah Mon Island are shining the light on the romantic side of the island.

Social island

Jamaica reached out across social media to invite followers to share their special romantic memories.

And understandably Negril Beach, one of the best beaches in the world was namechecked.

Rockhouse was highlighted as one of Negril’s most scenic dining venues.

Overlooking the volcanic cliffs on to the brilliant Caribbean Sea. Also named as an ideal spot

While the Martha Brae River through Jamaica’s breath-taking greenery is another favourite.

And the Rio Grande River is a fave boating route, specifically along the aptly named ‘Lovers Lane’.

Strawberry Hill Forever

Got it all: Strawberry Hills Hotel

 

Strawberry Hill Hotel  is just as beautiful as it sounds, with beautiful views of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains.

And it was the location of choice for musical legend Bob Marley’s romantic getaways, set in 26-acres of vivid mountaintop gardens.

From Bob to Bond and GoldenEye, the home of Ian Fleming was  named the ultimate proposal spot.

The resort was designed as an idyllic retreat attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the world.

With beautifully appointed villas enclosed in a lush jungle of tropical plants and trees.

Montego Bay

Shining light: The Half Moon

Now Jamaica seems to have the copyrwright on lyrical names (and a good few Scottish and Irish ones too).

And few are more recognisable than Montego Bay.

For foodies, the Sugar Mill Restaurant at the Half Moon counts the Queen  and John F. Kennedy amongst its previous guests.

And for you lovebirds (no, not those two icons… I don’t want to end up in the Tower)

There are secluded spots for a proposal such as the candlelit overwater Sunset Gazebo.

So Jamaica? No, she came of her own accord. Of course.

 

Caribbean, Countries, Culture

Sandals Jamaica I dig it

They’re the best pools, where you don’t have to swim and just drink in the pool and play volleyball. Sandals Jamaica I dig it.

The volleyball is the favoured entertainment of the American visitors.

And if you ask nicely they’ll let you join in.

Be prepared to high five after every winning point.

Pool Sandals

Of course the Sandals pool allows gentle swimming.

Preferably to the bar in the middle.

Or up to your room if you’re lucky enough to get a swim-up room.

As tempting as it is to spend your entire holiday on the hotel grounds.

And enjoy the restaurants, bars, pools and sea, an island of fun is waiting just outside the gates.

Mine was, and is, Barbados but Sandals is part of island life right throughout the Caribbean.

Integrating your holiday between your hotel, your activities and your day trips will enhance your Caribbean getaway.

And pacing.

Constant refills

So while there are refilled comp mini-bars and Champagne, make sure to refuel at the breakfast bar.

And if you’re out limin’ (pre-drinkin’) then plenty of water.

And dance it off at a Mas (a music party).

At the end of your day out (and you’ll snorkel, swim or do water sport of your choice) you’re back at the Sandals gates.

And drowsy of head (and rum) you’re awakened.

And with a jerk you put your arms straight out and hands together in a volleyball dig manoeuvre.

Set for pool volleyball

You’re replaying your pool volleyball match from the morning.

And practising for the next day’s match.

Although it will be tough as the Americans haven’t left the pool all day.

Jamaica remains my next cab on the rank, and that cab is pointed towards Ochi Beach.

The Butler at your service

Where Sandals Jamaica is offering a stay in a Butler Village Poolside one-bedroom villa suite.

Seven nights luxury included. Travel to Marleyland in June from £2199pp.

Save up to 45% off plus up to an extra £700 booking bonus on select rooms and suites.

British Airways Club World Sale is bookable until September21.

Bring on Sandals Jamaica I dig it!

Caribbean, Countries, Culture

Jamaica green list? Why not?

Jamaica green list? Why not? The Caribbean has got the go-ahead from the UK but Reggaeland has been given no respect.

Imagine if everywhere in your neighbourhood gets lifted from curfew and you stay locked down.

The case for Jamaica

Well, that’s what’s happening to Jamaica which was slated to be back on the roster with a case rate of just 14.4.

When can we join the dance again?

The first question you’ll be asked by anyone you meet in the Caribbean is what your favourite island is?

To which, of course, you say the island you’re on which won’t be difficult.

The islanders are fiercely proud of their dots in the sea but equally they know that their fortunes are forged by their geography.

West Indian unity

West Indians come together, of course, most famously at carnival and on the cricket ground.

The heart of the Caribbean

But also when Mother Nature shows her displeasure and batters their islands.

And that was evident again this year with the joint effort to help Saint Vincent after La Soufriere volcano erupted.

So while each Caribbean island who got back on the green list will be celebrating our return there will be sympathy for Jamaica.

Jamaican independence 

It is as we all know a big year for Jamaica next year, the 60th anniversary of independence from the UK.

Those flags look familiar

And I’ve got missionary work to do, spreading the Jamaican word back here.

About how independent Jamaica is forever linked to Scotland.

Ruby do: With Ruby in Barbados

You see that thread run through the Caribbean and I found it in Barbados (green 😊) and Tobago (red 😢).

Island hopping 

And I’m making it a life’s mission to check out for myself in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Dominica, Grenada, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Wheel deal: In Montserrat

I’ll see the tracks of the Irish there too and nowhere more so than Shamrocked Montserrat.

Of course, it’s a cause for celebration that some of the most welcoming islands in the world are open again.

But it will only really be carnival time until they all are.

So again I ask the question… Jamaica green list. Why not?

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

Countries

Flagging up Jimmyaica

As Scotland strikes out again to try seize its freedom following the vote for independence parties in the Scottish election, your global traveller is flagging up one Scots-infused country of Empire which did… Jimmyaica.

No, Jimmyaica isn’t my lame efforts at Jamaican patois.

It’s more a recognition of the Scottish imprint on Jamaica (Scots are playfully known as Jimmys) and particularly its flag.

Jamaican flags will be flying even more proudly next year as the Caribbean Island celebrates 60 years of independence and some of you might wonder why it has that St Andrew’s Cross at its centre.

Flags are us

If some of you are tentatively wondering that it might have something to do with Scotland then go to the top of the class.

You may very well be a vexillologist, or somebody who loves flags and have found a link too between the Scottish flag and the Tenerife flag too.

I did when I went out to the Canary Island with CanariaWays and found that they have the exact same flag.

No, that one is in Tenerife

The initial suggestion for the flag was a Tricolour of green (agriculture and hope), black (the struggles of its people) and gold (sunlight).

But that was thought too similar to Tanganyika’s (now Tanzania).

But then you knew that already.

Scotland the Wave

Besides, a missionary from Glasgow, Rev. William McGhie (he’d obviously considered his ain Glaswegians well past saving!) had the ear of the Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante.

The Man of the Cloth persuaded him to embed Christian imagery into the flag.

And so the X of the St Andrew’s Cross found its way onto the flag to mark how the Apostle had lost his life.

Glasgow belongs to I and I

Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago

The Jamaican Glasgow on the west of the island is, of course, just one of a number of place names we both share.

Among the others are Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Greenock and ouch… Culloden!

So we’re off… with our official countdown to the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.

And I’m bringing you this in association with Flag Up Scotland Jamaica which helpfully also seems to want to promote Caledonian preserves – flagupscotjam.

Jammin’ in Jamaica: Bob Marley

So where do we start in the story of Jamaica?

Well, how about at Scotland’s lowest point, no not the aforementioned Culloden but Scotland’s failed attempt at an empire of its own, the Darien Expedition in Panama.

Darien’s loss

It could have been Scottish: The Darien

The Darien Expedition was the breaking point for the old independent Scotland.

The whole nation from king to pauper had put money into the project only to lose more than just their shirt.

Cap in hand a section of the Scottish Parliament approached England to bail them out in 1703…

And the price was union, all of which you can read the whole story of in historian Douglas Watt’s excellent The Price of Scotland.

So where does this take us in the Jimmyaica story?

The Campbells are coming

Rev it up: Rev. William McGhie

Well to Colonel John Campbell who refused to allow Darien to put him off making his fortune and who decamped to Jamaica in 1700 and set up a sugar plantation at Black River.

He was by no means the first Scot on the island though.

Oliver Cromwell banished 1,2000 Scots prisoners of war out here in the previous century where they worked as indentured servants.

Others to be exiled included those failed colonialists from Darien, Jacobite rebels, criminals and Covenanters.

All ‘Scots’ look like this: Naomi Campbell. http://www.naomicampbell.com

Campbell’s kingdom has a rich lineage.

And it is said that there are more Campbells here per square acre than in the whole of Scotland.

While his descendants may very include supermodel Naomi Campbell and Costa Rica footballer Joel Campbell.

And the Irish too

I’ve found my own native land’s DNA elsewhere in the Caribbean in Scotland in Barbados and in Glasgow’s bar in Tobago.

My own roots are in the old sod of Ireland and Armagh from where Patrick Murty hailed.

But I dare say that the rambling Murtys managed to get out to Ja as the locals affectionately call their island.

I’ll return to Jamaica’s many Scottish connections and I’ll be happy flagging up Jimmyaica.

As we journey on the road to the independence anniversary.

And I’ll scatter some Irish magic dust on the island too with the links which bind Jamaica and Ireland.

MEET JA ON THE ROAD

Caribbean, Countries, Culture

Rainy Days and Songdays – Jamaica sings Burns

Robert Burns’s greatest creations Tam O’ Shanter and Soutar Johnny sit with their tankards in the Burns Monument Gardens.

Alongside them is a carved tabletop map of the world with mini-Burns statues depicting where the poet is celebrated.

On this his birthday it is worth considering that Burns is lauded by as vastly opposing cultures as America and in Russia.

Because he was an everyman, ‘a man’s a man for a’ that’ and all that.

Ode to the Caribbean

But also in the old countries of Empire.

My guys and Burns’ guys in Alloway

Burns, proud Scot though he was, had set his sights on the Caribbean.

And he had agreed to a position as a bookkeeper in Port Antonio in Jamaica.

You see Burns’s wild lifestyle was beginning to catch up with him.

A new start

A hard drinker, he was facing penury while he was impregnating women all over Scotland.

Robert Burns

Although there was one, Highland Mary, whom he wished to take to the Indies.

O sweet grows the lime and the orange, and the apple on the pine, but a’ the charms o’ the Indies, Can never equal thine – Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary

Only for his poetry to take off at home which made him change his mind.

And continue juggling his women.

All of which took its toll, of course, and he died, still beset by money worries, at just 36.

My bonnie lassie

Now if only there had been a digital work abroad scheme for Burns like we have today in the Caribbean.

Scots have left their mark all across the West Indies.

Scots in the Indies

The region of Scotland in Barbados being testament.

Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago

While any excuse to namecheck Glasgow Bar in Tobago.

Now for the day that’s in it, and your regular feature, Rainy Days and Songdays here’s a site with Burns in Jamaican patwa.

And check out this collaboration between Scots producer Kieran C Murray and Jamaican singer Brinathe 2015 Jamaica Sings Robert Burns.

Oh ye Jamaicans by name, lend an ear, lend an ear!

SLAINTÉ

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Ho-ho-Ne-Yo

Excuse me. And I might drink a little more than I should tonight…. Cause we might not get tomorrow – Give Me Everything ~ Pitbull ft Ne-Yo

He didn’t give me everything although I guess a beardie middle-aged Scot wasn’t who he had in mind, but Ne-Yo did give me his sweat towel.

When the hip-hop star performed for the delegates at the American Travel Fair (IPW) in Washington DC.

No swear: Ne-Yo

And I jumped out of the mosh pit (actually by the stage and round dinner tabes) to grab the towel he threw out.

It now has pride of place on my bookshelf in my office.

Dancing with Ne-Yo

I brushed shoulders again with Shaffer Chimere Smith (for it is he) again in the Recording Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.

When a virtual Ne-Yo ran me through an interactive dance lesson.

The Museum is a must-do on tour trail when you can also get a lesson from John Lee Hooker and a chance to record your own cover of Boom Boom.

Grammy, we love you: In Mississippi

And have it transferred to your phone… and watch out X Factor I’m coming for the Christmas No. 1.

Christmas in the Windies

Ne-Yo’s latest offering is as a featured star with DING DONG (no me neither) on the Shaggy track Holiday in Jamaica.

Shaggy dips his toe in the Caribbean to explore how they celebrate Christmas.

And in the absence of chimneys Santa has been known to throw the pressies down from the mango trees!

Shagalicious: In Jamaica. www.clashmusic.com

It’s off Jamaican Shaggy’s Christmas in the Islands album, a 16-track collection with new tracks, something there’s just too little of at Christmas.

Including Catch Myself Some Rays, although there is a reggae version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas..

Which brings me back to Mississippi snd a gospel singer’s rendition in Jackson three years ago this week.

Christmas in Mississippi

And aren’t we all intertwined just like Christmas ribbon anyway?

Soca stars

Now if you like Shaggy’s reggae Christmas then you’ll adore the irreverent Parang Soca stars sound of Tobago

where I was this time last year.

Now back to the beach… a sodden North Berwick in grey oul’ Scotland!

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

Sir Sean’s iconic sets (or should that be shets?)

Resht in peash, Shir Sean. And I hope Shaint Peter understandsh your acshent.

Living in Portobello, Edinburgh’s beach suburb for ten years I never heard anybody spik like Sir Sean.

But maybe thatsh moviesh!

Preparing for the role: In Portobello. www.twitter.com

First Porty of call

Portobello: And Porty is as good a place as any to talk about Sir Sean’s sets.

Because it was here in his hometown, and as a lifeguard at Porty’s outdoor swimming pool that he had his first stage.

The pool is now a five-a-side football complex, and we have both moved on.

Visitors to Edinburgh rarely go any further out of the city than Leith where the Royal Yacht Britannia is kept.

But they should. Porty is bohemian while still being grounded “, and if you can’t get to those beaches Bond did you can walk in Sean’s sandsteps here.

Bahama Mamma

Bahamas: And it’s fitting that Sir Sean saw out his days in the Bahamas.

He clearly enjoyed the island lifestyle as much as Ian Fleming who penned the spy which would propel Connery to fame just down the road in Jamaica.

We’ve all, of course, been reminiscing about who until today was the second Greatest Living Scot (it’s Billy Connolly now).

And my old pal, Rebecca Lee, who I sent out to the Bahamas reminds me of how she stayed at the hotel where he still played the tables.

And was beloved by the locals which is as it should be.

The daddy of them all: Indy’s Dad in Jordan. www.pinterest.com

Jordan and crusaders

Jordan: Sir Sean was always unmistakably Scottish… all Jocks look like movie stars after all.

And share his dry wit.

Sir Sean upstaged Harrison Ford in the Last Crusade, the climax of which is staged at The Treasury in Jordan.

Hardly surprising that proud nationalist Sir Sean should star in an Indy film!

For hire: With Kevin Costner

Untouchable in Chicago

Chicago: And the film for which he won his Oscar as Best Supporting Actor above the wooden acting of Kevin Costner.

You can truly believe Sir Sean as a gritty Chicago cop.

So we’ll pass over that he’s meant to be Irish.

Whodunit: In Orient Express. www.imdb.com

Murder on the Orient Express

Istanbul: The Albert Finney version of course where Sir Sean plays Colonel Arbuthnot.

And Istanbul is the terminus for the Orient-Express, although we all know that Poirot and his fellow passengers were on their way back to London.

And an example of how less is more… with Sir Sean, the upstanding stiff military man rather than than the dashing, reckless Bond.

Anyone for Venice? James and Tatiana. www.pinterest.com

From Russia (really Istanbul and Venice) With Love

Istanbul and Venice: And this being released in the mid-60s and in the middle of a real Cold War the filming was done in the West.

There are some iconic scene in this my favourite Bond.

I love Commie kicker Hleb’s kickathon with Bond and who can forget Bond and Tatiana sailing under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice.

There’s definitely something about James… or should that be something about Murty!

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland

Rainy Days and Songdays – the Cucumba rap

Cucumbers are my kind of vegetables. They’re not in the league of mushrooms I grant you, but who is?

But they are easy to prepare… and if you want to go to a lot of bother you can even slice them before eating.

What rhymes with Cucumba?

Which we’ve been doing for our new house guests Poo and Pee, our lockdown gifts to ourselves, our guinea pigs.

Easy to make for the kids

All of which prompted Daddy’s Little Girl to point me in the direction of this Jamaican rapper and his contribution to the panoply of music.

I give you Macka B and Cucumba https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dRGlon_ezvU.

I should by now already have visited Jamaica.

Life’s rollercoasters

Jamaica my day

Only I had double-booked by sending a colleague to Orlando to satisfy his rollercoaster addiction and who can blame him? See www.vistorlando.com and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital, See off Voldemort, then for a beer at Moe’s and Why I love The Donald.

So Jamaica had to be put on hold while I did the TV column that week… something by the remarkably unfunny Amy Huberman I remember.

The good folk from Jamaica promised they would have me back… cannot wait https://www.visitjamaica.com.

Irie!

To add it to my Caribbean scrapbook http://www.visitbarbados.org, Let’s rumba in Barbados, My kiss with Rihanna and http://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/

The last dance

Our friends in the Travel Trade have been showing remarkable resilience and bonhomie as they wrestle with the worst thing ever to have hit our industry.

And few more than our friends at Travel Biz http://travelbiz.ie who have been putting on a Friday night Zoom disco over the last couple of months.

It was bittersweet then to take to the dance floor (my study) on Friday for the last time.

But it does mean that TravelBiz and all our other Trade professionals and holiday providers who are the most important people of all are ready for the off.

Here’s a little more of the fun.

MEET YOU ON THE DANCE FLOOR