Countries, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Toasting Veganuary with a Vegan and Tonic.

A popular meme for a vegan’s favourite meal shows a tray of ice but that’s a cheap shot and I’m toasting Veganuary with a Vegan and Tonic.

The Vegan and Tonic is the creation of Fentimans… well, the Indian tonic anyway.

Tonic for the troops: Fentimans

Whether this was the oul Greek Pythagoras’s tipple of choice when he was working out his theorem this shows Veganism isn’t a modern fad.

Ancients’ way of life

Laying out your stall: Kythera

The ancient world is a good place to start.

It’s accepted that they would eat fish, eggs from quails and hens, and cheese but they hoovered up veg too.

Legumes, olives, figs arugula (no, me neither), asparagus, cabbage, carrots and cucumbers.

So it isn’t a big jump to think that Pythagoras who philosophised and expounded about human rights as well as hypotenuses was a vegan.

After all his followers weren’t allowed to wear wool either.

So long before Briton Donald Watson is said to have coined the word in 1944 the ancients were going vegan.

All around the world 

Veggies rule: Turkish Airlines Business Lounge, Istanbul Airport

The Indian Subcontinent has historically been the bedrock of vegetarianism.

With the likes of philosophers Parshavnatha and Mahavira preaching what we would consider to be the vegan life.

We know, of course, too that what the Greeks started the Romans took on and ran with.

And so for every Pythagoras and Plutarch there was an Ovid and Pliny the Younger.

All of which permeates the Med, Aegean, Middle Eastern (note the Arab poet al Ma’ari poet), North African and Subcontinent diets to this day.

Brand new

Veggie heaven: Jordan

Fentimans is the go-to provider and guide for eating, drinking and clothing yourself in Veganism.

And as we all know when you’re drinking you always get the nibbles.

And so you’ll want to try these snacks:

Co-op Bacon Rashers.
McCoy’s Ultimate Sizzling BBQ ChickenUltimate Chargrilled Steak and Peri Peri McCoy’s.
Walkers Prawn Cocktail.
Smokey Bacon Hula Hoops.

Student life

Dig in: Pot noodles

While for students everywhere…

Bombay Bad Boy

Brazilian BBQ Steak 

Chinese Chow Mein 

Piri Piri Chicken 
 
Beef and Tomato
 
BBQ Pulled Pork
 
Jerk Chicken
 
Sticky Rib
 
Sweet & Sour
 
Asian Street Style Japanese Miso Noodle Soup

Wear it well

Packet in: Crispaholic
And, yes, I promised you vegan fashion…
 
Well, what about the Dr Martens vegan collection they launched in 2011.
 
Now, I’m not one myself but I know more and more and it’s you I’m thinking of toasting Veganuary with a Vegan and Tonic.

Matthew’s Canaries

Canaries life: With Matthew in Tenerife
And while we’re here let’s give a shout-out here to my old mucker and vegan evangelist Matthew Hirtes from my Tenerife trip.
 
And Canaries-based Matthew has forgotten more about vegan life in those islands than we’ll ever know.
 
Thankfully he and the Dreams Abroad team where I was Editor continue to show us a world where veganism has an exalted place.

 

America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Happy Euro Year

It was the perfect start to 2002, we were being given money… so where are we now as we mark Happy Euro Year 20 years on?

And what has it meant for those of us whose every instinct is to travel?

The truth is that for millions of millennials in Europe they won’t have travelled with anything else.

While for everyone who travels under a British passport we’ve always been told to look at it as board game money.

I say that, though ex-pats, of which I was one for 13 years living abroad have had to adjust quickly.

It usually starts when you’re buying booze in the supermarket.

And it’s only when you stop baulking and having to make mental adjustments at the price of a bottle of wine.

It’s more than a tenner… that you’ve truly assimilated.

Europhile, Eurosceptic

I’m in the money: Euro millions

 

So as this day is designated Happy Euro Day, was the Euro a good idea and is it right that Britain stayed with the pound?

Like everything there is the economical argument and then the emotional one.

And whenever that arises the emotional always prevails.

In countries too that have come over to the Euro there is still a sentimental attachment to the old currency.

Now if you’re a Fortysomething, Fiftysomething or later then you’ll probably remember well the frank, Deutschmark, peseta, escudo, lira or drachma.

And if you’re like my Dear Old Dad then you’ve probably got a box somewhere with all that old coinage.

A careful man, I imagine that he thought he might have use for them again if the Euro experiment failed.

Dinar time

Anyone want an old note: Foreign currency

So what do we miss about our old foreign money?

Well, it was the only time in our lives that we could really feel like a millionaire…

When we got our hands on lira.

The trouble was working out that it cost thousands to buy groceries.

And if you did try the lingo a queue would quickly form as you’re asking the teller how much you’d get for your few pounds.

Of course more of the world is outside of the Eurozone than in it.

Now I’m not about to go all numismatic on you but I do have a Jordanian dinar stuck on the side of my bookcase. And old Turkey notes too.

A souvenir of my Istanbul adventures with Turkish Airways, and with G Adventures trip to the Middle East.

But in truth just some money of such little value that I couldn’t get rid of it.

Any old money

Saddam it: What are you doing here?

Airports do take your old money in those glass boxes in the terminal.

And the descendants of the Nabataeans too in Petra where a trader tried to flog us notes from Iran with Saddam Hussein’s face on them.

Now doubtless there would have been many who would exchange dinar for Hussein.

But they had more than the look of a Monopoly note with Saddam’s face drawn on.

Working for the Yankee dollar

By George: Issy, Jimmy and the First Prez

There are some notes which are gladly accepted wherever you go and they’ll grab your hand off in the Caribbean for the Yankee dollar.

And there are 39 currencies around the world pegged to the dollar.

As a guide your yellow reggae bus in Barbados cost half of the Bajan dollar, $1, when I rocked it there a few years ago.

In the States itself you can buy Confederacy money at fairs in the Deep South on your road trip.

But the real money is in the Union dollar.

Money to burn: And the US here I come

And the more Benjamins (Franklin), or $100s, you have in your pocket the luckier you are.

Conversely, the $1 note is named for the Greatest American of them all, George Washington.

So be careful when you’re tipping.

Me? I always make sure I keep a fistful of dollars with me!

Happy Euro Day everyone or whatever currency you deal in… just, maybe avoid Saddam notes though.

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Pilgrimage

There’s something about Mary Magdalene

There’s always something old to be found in the Holy Land and this year there’s something about Mary Magdalene.

And as always we have the archaeologists to thank.

Those who ply their trowels 24/7 and 365 days a year have only uncovered Jesus’s pal’s birthplace.

And it’s a sacred place, a 2,000-year-old synagogue from the Second Temple period in Migdal.

Synagogue-a-go-go

And we’ve found some vessels: Drink up

So where are we? Migd-where you say.

Well, Migdal served as the main base for Yosef Ben Matityahu (Flavius Josephus).

And what the Bible didn’t tell us was that he was waging a war against the Romans in the Galilee during the Great Revolt.

This site is also mentioned in Christian texts as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene.

Digging for secrets: The Promised Land

And now we’ve got your attention…

And we can tell you that the newly-excavated synagogue is a broad, square-shaped building constructed from basalt and limestone.

While in a small room on the south side of the hall, a plaster-coated stone shelf was found.

And we’re told the room may have been used to store scrolls…

And maybe (and I’m going straight to hell here) some love letters to J of Nazareth.

Building on history

Big hugs: Jesus and Mary Magdalene

So bringing us up to date, Magdalene’s birthplace comes hard on the heels of the building uncovered in the 2009 excavations.

That was the first synagogue from the Second Temple period found in the Galilee.

Professor Adi Erlich, head of the Zinman Institute of archaeology at the University of Haifa put it all in context.

He said: ‘The stone bearing a relief of the Menorah from the other synagogue at Migdal, suggests that the local Jews saw Jerusalem as their religious centre.’

We dig what you say

Holiest of holies: Jerusalem

While excavator Dina Avshalom-Gorni built on that.

She added: ‘We can imagine Mary Magdalene and her family coming to the synagogue here.

‘Along with other residents of Migdal, to participate in religious and communal events.

‘The exposure of a second synagogue casts new light on Jewish communal life in the Galilee, the area where, according to the New Testament, Jesus performed his miracles.’

At this time of the year we’re all focusing on birth, and a new beginning.

And Israel, which led the way in vaccination roll-out, is born again (they’ve a history for this too) for visitors.

Old and new

Star power: Israel

The Land of Milk and Honey‘s latest campaign, Two Cities, One Break, encourages us to visit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

They serve as diverse destinations that boast the country’s mineral beaches, Bauhaus architecture, 3,000-year-old history and biblical background.

And you’ll know too that Israel is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Old City of Jerusalem, Acre and Masada.

Some of which they even share with their neighbours such as the Baptismal Site of John the Baptist along the River Jordan.

And you can take in both on a G Adventures Israel and Jordan trip… they’re pals, you know.

Yes, there’s something about Joseph, Jesus and there’s something about Mary Magdalene.

 

 

 

 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Europe

Submariners and life under the sea

You been keeping Vigil these nights and got to thinking about abut submariners and life under the sea.

Well thankfully we don’t have to plunge the depths to get a sense of what submariners had to go through.

I’m sure there’s one sitting down in the port near you…. or somewhere in your country.

New York Up Periscope

Depth charge

I stumbled upon mine in New York as a ticket in my CityPass book.

And I spent a couple of hours out of the Manhattan heatwave at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

Walking through the cramped USS Growler with others.

And ducking your head through the doorways gives you a sense of the challenges these subterraneans faced.

Without of course seeing the sky for weeks on end and worrying that you could get blown up at any minute.

Of course Manhattan has the advantage of being an island surrounded by water.

Jordan jumps

Get back in: The Red Sea

But you can find submarine anywhere even landlocked countries as long as they’ve got a stretch of water.

And so in Jordan on my G Adventures trip they have the Dead and the Red Sea.

Now I’m no scientist but would the sub not float to the salty surface… this sub(editor) certainly did.

But the Jordanians did drop a submarine in the Red Sea to encourage marine life (and snorkelers) to swim through.

Now, while we’ve all been hibernating they’ve been up periscoping in places we wouldn’t expect.

Swiss subs

Swiss dip: On Lake Lucerne

Such as Switzerland, bang in the middle of Europe.

So let our Swiss friends take it away just like they took me away with Swiss Air.

‘Dive into the mystical darkness deep below the surface and glide weightlessly through adventure-filled underwater worlds..

‘Visitors can explore old wrecks in Lake Lucerne on an unforgettable dive.

‘Go to depths of up to 120 metres in Switzerland’s only passenger submarine.

The P-63

Tourist ahoy: In Lake Lucerne

The P-63 submarine is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and safety systems.

‘And it offers passenger trips for one to three people.’

 

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Europe

Thrillsrael

There’s little record what they did for kicks in the Old Testament but it’s always been right there for them in Thrillsrael.

Our time-out from travelling because of the pandemic has only increased our appetite for foreign shores.

And allowed us to expand our horizons or dip our toe in a different part of the sea.

Best foot forward: In outdoor activities

And so while most of us in Western Europe know the Med from its northern shores there is a beautiful south too.

With Israel leading the way in vaccinations and being at the head of the queue in opening up our attentions switched there.

And the news keeps getting better with Israel announcing today that from Monday it will be accepting individually vaccinated visitors.

Shalom Sharon

The Southern Med: From Israel

Sharon Bershadsky, Director of the UK & Ireland Tourist Office said “I’m very excited to be able to share the news.

‘the Ministry of Tourism along with our colleagues in the industry have been working tirelessly over this difficult period and we are thrilled to be able to welcome visitors back to Israel”.

Now Israel is obviously about the Holy Sights and there will be plenty of us giving thanks for emerging safely from this crisis.

But we’re due some rewards too.

And it’s worth remembering that for all its antiquities Israel is a relatively young country at a sprightly 73 years old.

And an outdoorsy people with plenty of opportunities to indulge in general sportiness.

Float On

Dead handsome: Jerry and Jimmy

The Dead Sea: Now they’ve kicked us off with the floatathon which is the Red Sea.

Which we enjoyed from the other side in Jordan with G Adventures when we got all muddied up.

And a shout-out here to St Lucia’s finest, Jerry, the Big Rapper who said he was plenty black enough.

Madder for Masada

If the rocks could talk: Massada

Masada: And yes, we promised you Biblical history and Masada is, of course, where 960 Sicari rebels committed mass suicide.

All rather than surrender, in the First Jewish-Roman War.

Abseil away

Give me enough rope: Abseiling

Rappelling in the Nachal Tamarim Canyon: And full disclosure here I had to check that abseiling and rappelling were the same.

Which they are.

Now having wimped out in the Rockies in Colorado I couldn’t back out of this canyon.

You’ll encounter amazing scenery and panoramic views of the Dead Sea and the Moav and Adom mountains.

Zig zag through waterfalls and trek past fig trees for a day’s hike with a difference.

For a new twist try the night hike, which is particularly atmospheric with a full-moon!

Mammy Dolphin

Smile: You’re on camera

Dolphin Reef: When it comes to swimming with dolphins you’re probably thinking more SeaWorld in Orlando but did you know you can find the finned ones swimming away in the Red Sea.

I didn’t get far enough down in my snorkel in the Red Sea (my guide told me my moustache got in the way) to see them.

But you can. Get down to Eilat and get up close and personal with these remarkable creatures.

Up, up and away

Watch out for the hang gliders: When you’re ballooning

Ballooning in Israel: Now just like the kiddies’ balloon that gets let loose… hot air ballooning has always floated out of reach.

In England, in Orlando, in South Africa.

Of course all of the above look beautiful from the air. And it is worth reflecting that our forebears weren’t able to see their world from the skies (unless they were birds). 

If you like exploring places you haven’t been before, try 500 metres up in the air! See Israel from a whole new vantage point from 500m up in the air.

With breath-taking views of the country’s rolling green hills and valleys, famous historical sights and the hustle and bustle of the cities.

For a truly unforgettable ride, book a sunrise tour to see the stunning landscape coated in the morning sun’s pink and orange hues.

Whichever activity you choose make sure it’s in the Promised Land.

And particularly now with the new more tourist-friendly regulations. Enjoy your Thrillsrael.

 

Africa, America, Asia, Canada, Countries, Europe, South America, UK

World Rivers Day and the flow of life

We can’t survive without it so it’s only right today to celebrate World Rivers Day and the flow of life.

With the publication of B-WELL CBD’s most loved European rivers on Instagram, we’re stretching it out to include the world too.

Of course you can’t ignore European waterways so I’ll dip my toe in them as well.

Top ten Euro rivers

On the Elbe, Dresden

The oils and cosmetic products company has tracked our habits and unsurprisingly namechecked this top ten.

1 Thames, 2 Danube, 3 Elbe, 4 Seine, 5 Ural, 6 Douro, 7 Loire, 8 Rhine, 9 Vistula, 10 Tiber.

Wading through it I’ll definitely sing the praises of London’s Old Father Thames, its towers, bridges and the country towns it dissects.

The Danube has remained just along the river if you will when I’ve visited Central Europe.

I’m pleasantly surprised to see the Elbe more popular than the Seine.

And I would recommend taking a river cruise in Dresden to see the fine riverbank houses and enjoy a fireworks display.

Wine and Rhine

Disney it look magical: The Disney castle in Neuschwanstein

I daresay if a dacha along the Ural is good enough for Russian communists and oil billionaires I should pay it a visit.

And I’ll confess I know more about the Tagus from Praia do Ribatejo in Portugal Centro than the Douro in Portugal and Spain.

The flow of the Loire is only bettered by the running wine from its vineyards.

But I confess a soft spot for the Rhine and its fairytale castles, especially The Wonderful World of Disney‘s opening title. Neuschwanstein. 

The Vistula in Poland is still a pleasure to enjoy as is Polska unless being hosted by the Embassy in Dublin counts which it does!

While just squeezing into the top ten (and I feel like DJ Alan Freeman here pop pickers) is a river I feel is a friend, the Tiber.

When in Rome

The holy of holies. At the end of the Francigena in Rome

Just walk the Via Francigena into Rome and your final long stretch to St Peter’s Square will be along the Tevere.

While staying in the bohemian Trastevere you’ll soon get to know the river well by taking wrong directions.

And the bridges of Rome stand comparison with anywhere in the world.

Particularly the Ponte Sant’Angelo, its statues on the railings and its centre point, the magnificent Castel Sant’Angelo,

A notable exception on the list was the Vltava through Prague with its magnificent Charles Bridge.

The World

Tis Grand: With Tara and Tryphavana at the Grand Canyon

Now I know I promised you the world.

So let me show you the river of rebirth, the Jordan between the country and Israel.

Where pilgrims go to be baptised where the Israelis claim John baptised Jesus.

It’s a different type of water activity along the Colorado river.

Take the bird’s eye view from a helicopter through the Grand Canyon.

Or do like the Americans and use it as your playground.

Water is our most precious commodity and America’s West survives and thrives because of one of my Modern Wonders of the World, the Hoover Dam.

Although, incredulously it has not been recognised as such on the official list.

Quality of Mersey

The boat comes in: The Mersey

So I’ll throw in another couple of favourite rivers which speak for themselves.

The Mississippi, with its Dolly Parton bridge in Memphis (think about it) and the Hudson and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Of course the Amazon, the Nile, the Congo, the Ganges, the Yellow, the Makong and many others deserve our attention.

And so I’ll be patient in getting back out abroad.

And I will continue to enjoy the rivers and bridges where I am.

I spent the last week walking by and sailing on the Ferry Across the Mersey.

So a thought… where would we be without our waterways.

Let’s hear it for World Rivers Day and the flow of life.

 

 

 

 

Africa, Countries, Culture

Our return to Africa and the Middle East

They’re the cradles of civilisations our modern metropolises still aspire to… and we’re planning our return to Africa and the Middle East.

The grand old cities of Jerusalem and Petra.

Spanning across the ages, one a living museum, the other a Modern Wonder of the World, they have rightly been honoured.

Ten out of ten

Camel ye: To Petra

In Travel + Leisure’s 10 Best Cities in Africa and the Middle East.

Jerusalem I have seen longingly, like Moses, from atop Mount Nebo on my G Adventures odyssey.

Petra, I have stood up close to, by a camel, whose ancestor would have carried a Nabataean in days of yore.

With divining rods for water to trade for the jewels of the desert… the Nalbataean that is.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tel Aviv shows Israel’s modern face.

Now being of the male variety, and so a listaholic, most rolls of honour fall into my remit.

Heroes in Capes

I’d have to see more of Cape Town than just the airport as I did on the way to the Eastern Cape

And would have had Covid not popped its head up as we were puttImg the final touches  to our trip to Napoleon’s island, St Helena.

The old perennials naturally pop up on the list.

Marrakech, the Pink City, was my first port of entry into Africa. 

And, of course, you can’t hold a whole continent against one country for an experience.

Of getting mugged in the souks and food poisoning in the Sahara.

So that the best experience of Morocco was in the airport back in Fez.

Although the good readers of Travel +
Leisure also have a penchant for the Moroccan port of Essaouira.

I’ll take your word for it.

Gulf in class

Where as a memento I brought back a camel scene handbag for my Dear Old Mum which she flashed around her Bridge club.

The Gulf has also been on the radar with visits from Dubair and Muscat delegations during my time in Dublin.

And after they got in touch and we explored opportunities in Abu Dhabi

Of course, it is pure indulgence to sit around and grade a continent and a region’s cities.

But it does serve another, healthy purpose… to travel in our imagination.

To share experiences and knowledge and plan our return to Africa and the Middle East.

Now which are your favourite cities?

 

Asia, Countries, Deals

Carbon neutral in Mauritius

Climate change will continue to hover over Travel but we are addressing it and will always promote best practice such as the resorts that have gone Carbon neutral in Mauritius.

Small islands stand particularly exposed to the warming seas.

And Mauritius in the Indian Ocean is particularly vulnerable.

They are though meeting the challenge.

And Heritage Resorts and Veranda Resorts have stood up.

With the first carbon neutral hotels in Mauritius.

The Resorts will offset all CO2 emissions that would be generated by a hotel stay.

How does it work?

Crystal clear: The Indian Ocean

Well, we’re told this will be achieved through the purchase of carbon credits.

With the Aura Group, an environmental commodity trader and through local carbon offset projects including the construction of a solar farm.

Guests at Veranda hotels can make a voluntary contribution to the projects.

It’s all happening under a Mauritian model (no, not that kind of model but there are plenty of them there) called Now For Tomorrow

Over to you, Thierry

Stitched Panorama

Thierry Montocchio, CEO of the VLH group, puts flesh on the bones.

He said: ‘Our conservation programme that created ten artificial reefs in the Bel Ombre lagoon has enabled significant regeneration of the corals.

‘And we have seen 20 new species of fish.

‘Our Heritage Training Academy has empowered local communities.

‘And offered them a career in the hotel industry.

‘Our new water bottling unit enabled us to avoid using the equivalent of 27 tons of plastic bottles in 2019.

‘And in addition, 65% of our waste has been recycled.

‘Now for Tomorrow is also a first in the sector.

Because it promises carbon neutrality through clearly defined objectives and an action plan.

‘Acting for the climate and the environment means identifying and neutralising our greenhouse gas emissions.

‘And coming up with concrete initiatives to achieve carbon neutrality.’

Local produce

Palm trees: Obviously

The group has also committed to include from the beginning of next year 100% of the fruits and vegetables, seafoods, poultry and meat consumed in their hotels will come from Mauritian farmers and producers.

Or from regional partners in the Indian Ocean.

They are looking to recycle 75% of its waste by 2022.

‘And aims to reduce food waste by committing to a pilot project carried out in collaboration with The Pledge on Food Waste.’

It’s a deal

Meet the locals: I feel peckish

So now you’ve signed up to doing your little bit to save the planet what are you getting for your bucks?

Well, Heritage Resorts has Heritage Awali.

It is billed as the best 5* all-inclusive resort in Mauritius offers you €193 per night per adult.

And the Heritage Le Telfair, your refined small luxury hotel from €124 per night, per adult.

It’s an even better deal

And some monkeying about: But friendly residents

Should your budget not stretch that far.

Then Veranda Resorts has Veranda Palmar Beach  €25 per night, Veranda Paul & Virgine €44 per night and Veranda Pointe aux Biches €54.

And a nod to others

Food for thought: Exotic foods

Now, we all love to let ourselves go when we’re away but excess doesn’t equate to success.

It would be wrong too to accept that all holidaymakers particularly those from my bailiwicks, Britain and Ireland, just go on holiday for the sun, sea and sangria.

And care little about the country they visit or its people.

We take, of course, our inspiration from those for whom conservation isn’t the latest fad.

And have been banging the drum for years.

Luscious landscapes: In Mauritius

Such as G Adventures and their initiative Planeterra.

I saw first it hand in Jordan and they employ it across the world.

While we’re also glad to see that our friends in Mauritius are leading the way on the future coral.

Which my old buddies from the Maldives and Tobago will fully subscribe.   

And finally

The whole planet’s future depends on us doing the right thing… and our small nations are standing up and being counted.

So, let’s hear it for Carbon neutral in Mauritius.

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Europe

In Bodrum it’s the pipe of peace

The Son and Heir was more used to me ordering a coffee and a biscuit, but when in Bodrum it’s the pipe of peace.

Well they say that in life you should try everything (and that would include the shisha pipe) once.

By hookah, by crook


Smokin’: The hookah

You probably need to be from Turkey, the Middle East or North Africa, to pull off the kasbah chic look.

And so that when I joined the shisha gang next in Istanbul and Jordan I declined the pipe of peace.

My cuppa tea

A beautiful day: Bodrum

Instead I just sipped my mint tea and watched the regulars play chess.

In Bodrum. I dare say there were more than a few Bobby Fischers, but on our first days in the marketplace it was backgammon.

They played a different, more fast-paced game than the one me and my Mum would play back in the stuffy Glasgow suburbs.

It wouldn’t have gone down well to chain smoke in front of my Dear Old Mum, exhort Allah or slam my counters down.

Chairman of the board

Counter attack: Backgammon

The cry of Ally filled the air too in Bodrum when I would try to bring the Son and Heir back into line.

And would discover a market trader swirling the six-year-old in the air exclaiming Ally!

They would look out for the boy every day with the Arabic name every day when we would walk through the market.

We had made instant friends.

And we would enjoy a family holiday we still look back on with joy 20 years later.

A slice of Turkey

It’s all about the… tea

I would fall in love with Turkey, its Turkish barbers, mud baths and Turkish dancers.

Which is why my heart breaks to see the wildfires around Bodrum.

And holidaymakers evacuating for rescue boats.

The Turks have suffered particularly badly through the pandemic.

So the wildfires must feel like the last straw.

Flying Turkey

Flying high: Turkish Airlines, Istanbul

Inevitably, and not without some evidence, the climate change zealots are taking excessive joy out of the situation.

I, of course, do not have the answer. But I would say that we cannot glibly just say make it more difficult to fly.

As exploring foreign countries, meeting the locals and making their friendship is the best way of breaking down barriers.

Because when they do get back on their feet, remember in Bodrum it’s the pipe of peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countries

Miss Universe Israel treat

Long before I discovered women I discovered countries through sport and beauty contests, so an invitation to Miss Universe Israel treat.

And like, say the Olympics, you could put a face on the countries which you’d never heard of before.

And a beautiful one at that.

Golden vision: Eliat

I don’t know why but Miss Guam has left a lasting impression to this day.

Of course the choice of The Land of Milk and Honey for the 70th iteration of the pageant is a marriage made in heaven.

Israel’s own beauty is beyond question.

Yacht to be here

The Red Sea is where Israelis and Middle Easties, and discerning international travellers, go to party.

And I dipped my toe in the water there, on the Jordan side with G Adventures.

Eliat will bounce with even more beautiful women in November and December.

Eliat nightlife

When stunning women from more than 100 countries will pose before the Red Sea beauty spots.

The Promised Land, as I’ve flagged up from the start, has led the way in vaccination and reopening.

And Miss Universe promises to be the focal point of three weeks of partying across November and December.

Now as a teaser here are some professional model shots we prepared earlier.

Making a splash in the Red Sea
Smouldering
And I’m driving this show

And the stunning panorama of Eliat and the Red Sea.

Now as well as contestants from around 100 countries we’re also promised more than a hundred American celebs and world renowned judges.

And you can get out in the desert too

Now over to the Israel Minister for Tourism for the type of shalom only the Israelis can offer.

Yoel Razvozov said: ‘Israel is a beautiful land of creativity and innovation and we have successfully faced the COVID-19 crisis head on.

‘Therefore, we are among the first countries to host an international event – the unifying Miss Universe.

Practise your wave

‘What a great opportunity. An event celebrating women’s empowerment, optimism, tolerance and desire for excellence, that crosses every geographical and national border.

‘I fully hope that in December we will be celebrating not only the new Miss Universe here in Israel, but most importantly, the end of the world pandemic.’

Miss Universe Israel treat. And, of course, I await the call for Mr Universe soon too.

Pictures by Boaz Samorai, Rony Balahsa and Bandaman.