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In defence of Travel people

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts – Mark Twain

Cathy’s clown: DC Easy DC and

The next time you see a cinema usher, a football steward.

Ave Maria: In defence of Travel people

Or if you even run into a sports writer, then I trust you’ll pick them up on getting in for free!

Muriel, my pal: With Muriel Bolger

Only you won’t because you’ve got class.

King Louis: Friends of racing in Tobago, Louis, Nadine and Clem. Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

And you know that they’re doing their job.

Kythera: My Greek odyssey

And that they’re good at what they do or else they wouldn’t get asked.

Herr for the beer: Hamburgers and ships and

My friends

I ran a gauntlet of abuse on my way to becoming Ireland’s Travel Editor of the Year – and from the very people I was helping, my own staff.

Aer we go: With Paula and Aer Lingus

Who would, and to be fair it wasn’t all of them, put me down when I was on my Travels (in my own time).

Oo Es of Eh: and

And snidely refer to my trips which always produced articles, written on time and to the brief I was given, as…

Wooah. Barbados: Let’s rumba in Barbados My kiss with Rihanna

Junkets, Jollies, Beanos, freebies.

Of course it didn’t apply when I sent them.

Fab Four: With Maria Eoghan and Sharon

And they would be the ones who would be late with their copy.

Petra time: With Zuhair… and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time

Sometimes even embarrassing themselves and a host.

Your Onur: And and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

While their articles would often have to rewritten..

Your USA: With

And all because it was a ‘junket’ and not given the same attention as any other article.

I would then have to apologise profusely to the providers who thankfully and very generously considered me worthy of the ultimate accolade…

Your South Africa With Siseko in Dublin What’s new pussycat?

Their Pleasure To Work With award which was sneered at when I got back to the office.

LA story: Universal Studios’ www.universalstudioshollywood.comJon, The Scottish Sun’s Heather and Tickets Direct’s Kate. And My Weekend With Marilyn and Stair Wars.

Back then, and it’s only a year ago, I would call on the services of the finest freelancers who never let me down.

Star women: The Irish at IPW

On the other side

Now I’m on the other side of the fence I have been glad to say that the holiday providers I cultivated then and many writers and editors remain the best of friends.

Zach the lad: My old pal Zach from my Deep South The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings odyssey,

And you always know who your friends are in your time of need.

Give it a twirl: At Pic du Midi. and The Lourdes prayer

Don’t Cancel

So that’s why I’ll not rest in promoting our industry which, like Twain, I believe is vital to the human condition.

Live like a Royal: Messi around on the water In Barcelona withPaula and

And that’s why I’ve been sprinkling this polemic with pictures of us around the world.

Grand oul tome: With BA’s Tara and Queen of Vegas Tryphavana. And and And Strip… the light fantastic and The grandest canyon.

So join me to support #DontCancelPostpone and #tourismstrong.


Holidos and don’ts – Passports

Why do we have to surrender our passports to hotels?

It’s not as if they’re national security and they can just as easily cover your expenses and the risk of flight with a credit card.

Because let me tell you you’re always safer when you’ve got your passport in your possession.

Preferably behind lock and key in the safe in your room.

Or if you need to take it out with you then you’ve only yourself to blame if you lose it.

Stamp it out

Yes, it can be pickpocketed but I always think that your front pocket is the best place to keep the passport and the wallet.

And just make sure that you never come close to brushing people in a busy market.

So, why am I hot under the collar over hotels or guest houses taking your passport.

Because there is always the danger that somebody may pick yours up by mistake.

Which is what happened in Tenerife last month when a fellow British traveller picked mine up by mistake and then went walkabout in town.

Tenerife for walkers

Nor did the girl at reception seem particularly bothered as she continued to try to sell hotel goodies to people as I slowly boiled with frustration.

You’ve got my passport

My fellow traveller was deeply apologetic when everything was resolved but I didn’t necessarily blame him as accidents happen.

The thing is that the situation should never exist in the first place.

Of course, every holiday has its hiccups and it in no way marred a wonderful visit to Tenerife which is officially my favourite Spanish island now…

Follow, and read my thoughts on this magical island

Our Lady’s town: Medjugorje

Yes magical, but La Gomera and its whistlers may run it close if someone would care to invite me out there.

The old passport tripped me up again on my recent trip, out to Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Daniella took everyone’s passport in the party for safe keeping I guess but also for her own security, but she did give me mine back when I went to Sarajevo for the day.

I would need it for currency exchange.

I miss Sarajevo

Where it went wrong though was because I have another passport too .

And when I got back, tired, I got in a muddle…. all of which I can explain here.

Medjurgorje, Sarajevo and Bosnia & Herzegovina should be on your list and here are a few sites to help you out…, and


Holiday Snaps – Step this way to Tenerife

I’ve had more than my fair share of stick… and sticks.

And stick about sticks.

But I’ve become dependant on them, and not just because there are more rings on my trunk now.

I do feel fitter now than I have done for some time and that is in large part down to the trekking trips I have been fortunate enough to go on in recent years.

I have to confess that on the first of those I sneered somewhat when I saw the oldies with their walking poles on their way to the Camino in Galicia in Spain.

But it was me who was left with egg on my face and pains in my calves.

My Dear Old Dad, a doctor by trade, was right when he would say that we all need a stick.

And there was a collection of them in our porch back in Chez Murty when I was growing up.

I added to that too when I transported an adorned and steel-tipped stick back from my fabled Oktoberfest trip. Along with a Stein and a medical bill!

Which my Dear Old Dad, James G as opposed to my James J, discovered when he ‘accidentally’ opened my mail some weeks later.

Walk in my footsteps

I make a point of grinning and bearing any pain abroad rather than going to the hospital now.

Not that any of that will befall you on your trip as you will have the best prep and back-up from your holiday provider.

All of which brings me to a trailer for my Tenerife trek which was published in The Herald newspaper this weekend an in case you missed it….

Here it is here…

And also to flag up these other Tenerife holidays… courtesy of TUI

Try seven nights over the Festive Season, and there are lots of quirky customs on the island.

From December 20, flying from Dublin to Tenerife and staying S/C in the 3* Globales Tamaimo Tropical from €719pps.

Or if those dates don’t suit, try January 3, from €409pps or January 17, from €419pps.



Give us this Day – Christ in a cross-dress

I’m going to ask my parish priest if we can put a skirt on Jesus.

No, it’s not heresy.

This is actually what they do in Tenerife.

Which if you’re a regular visitor to this blog you’ll know is where I spent a few days last week.

The church in question is San Cristóbal de La Laguna or Catedral de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.

Of course, the mantra for this column and its weekend sister column This Sporting Weekend is ‘where you play and pray.’

And I try to pop my head around as many chapel, synagogue or mosque doors as I can on my travels.

But never in my time have I seen Jesus on the cross with what on first look appeared to be a tutu.

I’m indebted here to my new friend Lizzie for doing the research on this one for me.

Our Lady will know

Lizzie flags up the Christ in a skirt (and that’s our shorthand) from Lima in Peru.

The story goes that this is one of many paintings of a sculpted crucifix that hangs in Cuzco’s cathedral.

The statue was believed to have brought the great earthquake of 1650 to an end.

Save us, O Lord

After the quake, painted copies of the Crucifix were made.

But the only explanation that I can get on why the Tenerife church was on the same wavelength was that they had similar in Burgos on the Camino.

I’m guessing that it is because they wanted some divine protection from one of the hundred or so volcanoes on the island.

He’s got his loin cloth on here

I also see that he’s got the old guna (that’s Irish for a dress, btw) on in Scicli in a gorge in the Val di Noto in Sicily.

And they are an island with a rather big volcano at its heart.

For more on Tenerife, and there’s a full review coming, read

And here’s another: In the Lalaguna Cathedral

And here are the websites you need…

Now I’m going… straight to Hell!


Hungry and Thursday – Tenerife potatoes

Who’d have thought an Irish travel party would be so interested in potatoes… or that the Tinerfeni, or inhabitants of Tenerife, were too?

But we are, and they are too.

There is much that is unique about these people…

And I have been giving you snippets in my few days on the Canaries Island.

With walking specialists, a branch of

I’ll put it all together in a jumble of words, or story, as some people have so generously called them.

But here are some more morsels for you.

Pressed into action

On potatoes, in your weekly food column Hungry and Thursday.

But now I’m on the subject of columns, where is our weekly cruise feature Cruiseday Tuesday I hear your scream?

Put off until this weekend because I was halfway up a volcano.

But it will be worth waiting for.

As I will give you the lowdown on the Viking Sun which stopped off in Dublin for day 5 of the Ultimate World Cruise.

Here’s where the magic happens

But back to potatoes, and more specifically the wrinkly variety.

Now the Canadians love their wrinklies (which might be why they took to me).

These are small new potatoes which are unpeeled and boiled (originally in sea water but these days in salt).

When they are boiled the potatoes are briefly removed before being left on the pot.

To dry off until they become wrinkled with a fine salt crust.

I have a variation on that theme, my very own burnt potatoes.

It’s all in the olive oil

The Tinerfeni have their boiling technique down to a fine art.

You’ll be encouraged to dip the potatoes in a sauce called mojo rojo.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

I was sure they were a Stock, Aitken and Waterman act of the 1980s but it is actually a child pepper garlic sauce, either green or red.

The Papas Arugadas (wrinkly potatoes) are an accompaniment to meat dishes, usually rabbit stew.

And you’ll never run out of either the wrinklies or the wrabbits (there are 30,000 of them on the island, one for every three people although they are seen as pests.

Don’t call us, we’ll call you

We were enlisted into the secret society of Elaboration mojo rojo (red sauce) and mojo verde (green sauce) makers in Santiago del Teide.

Being let loose with a chopping knife, a pestle and a board.

How to make the sauces

Now it couldn’t be easier – the mojo rojo is a couple of pinchfuls of palm tree paper, garlic, oregano, salt, spicy pepper and olive oil.

While the mojo verde is even easier, coriander, garlic, salt and olive oil.

So why did it all look like a slurpy mess while my esteemed Travel colleague Tom Sweeney and his team looked as if they had made a produce worthy of Dragons Den?

And good enough to eat.

This is the way to live: Casona del Patio.

Which we did with our lunch in the charming farmhouse of La Casona del Patio.

Of course, you’re not going to see my finished product.

I don’t want you suing me for bringing on nausea and sickness!

For more information on how to get to Tenerife, Aer Lingus flies seven times a week from Dublin and up to two flights a week from Cork during their winter schedule.

Fares from €66.99 one way.

And all that you’ll enjoy on the island and

And if you’ve enjoyed that, here are some more Tenerife thoughts… and

And a couple of Camino trips… And

Now off to make a Tenerife Jocktail… and share it with you.


Walk in the park – Tenerife

It’s not a sight you want to see – a Fiftysomething bandana-wearing hairy Scotsman clambering over Tenerife rocks.

Gollum springs to mind!

But this was the challenge we took on on our and

A word here on our guide Eva, a Tenerife native who knows these winding paths like the back of her hand.

Now living and working in Ireland I know all about ‘four seasons in a day’.

But Tenerife is on a different planet with 11 ecosystems.

Tenerife is truly a different world where you can be walking in the shadow of volcanoes (dormant) one minute.

And rainforests the next,

But one thing is a constant today… the baking sun.

And our guide Eva, who is as bright and vivacious as the sun.

Gang of four: Claire, Maria, Bandanaman and Eva

As are our CanariaWays colleagues Maria and Claire.

Eva, or La Masochists, as I tag her delights in the nickname.

5ft 4ins in her trainers she skips up those cliffs and makes whip-crackin’ sounds to keep me keeping up.

Quite what this cat thought? Well, he know the best thing to do when it hits 30C.

I’m not going far today

And when it’s all over and we reach the oasis of a bar after 10kms of trekking she hasn’t shed a bead of sweat.

And while my warm-down is trying (unsuccessfully) to touch my toes Eva is doing an aerobics and salsa dance routine front of us.

Before dancing off into the sun.

You’re Eva in our thoughts.

This is my last day in Tenerife (although) I will be back.

To walk more if this unique island.

And here are two more walks I’ve taken and would love to share A pilgrim’s prayer and Small roads lead to Rome.

And a recap on some other thoughts on Tenerife Tenerife and Scotland wave the same flag and Vegging out in Tenerife.

Also visit and

Aer Lingus has seven flights a week from Dublin to Tenerife and up to two flights a week from Cork during the winter schedule.

Fares from €69.99.


Tenerife and Scotland wave the same flag

O Flower of Tenerife

When will we see…

No, I haven’t been on the vino, only I have.

Or been out in the Midday sun. Guilty too.

But I could be home, if it weren’t for the 30C temperature, the humdreds of volcanoes, 11 microclimates and rainforest… Need I go on.

Flagging it up: The St Andrew’s Cross masthead

It’s just that that’s a Scottish flag waving proudly.

And it’s not a Scottish exiles pub.

It’s there in the masthead of a local newspaper too.

Now there is a prosaic answer to why we share flags.

One theory goes that it’s because Admiral Lord Nelson lost a battle here and the flag was confiscated.

And the Tinerfenos confiscated it as spoils of war and adopted it as their national flag.

The flag, that is.

Convincing as that sounds, and the Scottish flag alas has flown over more defeats than victories. the romantic in me favours another story,

Here’s where to get the wine

That St Andrew (or Andres) our shared patron saint visited the island (maybe they did package tours then from the Holy Land).

Just in time for the new wine.

Just to be sociable he imbibed.

When he was grabbing a siesta (our Andrew was a quick learner) the local bambinos tied pots and pans to him.

So when he awoke his language was not so much of the saintly kind.

No, this guy is in Scotland

You want to know more about Andy’s links to Scotland.

Well, the best place to go is a dovecot in Athelstaneford 32kms east of Edinburgh and the National Flag Heritage Centre.

St Andrew’s visits

Where the story of King Oengus II is played out.

The King of the Picts had a visit from Andrew, maybe after Oengus had too much wine too, on the eve of battle with the Angles.

Andrew had not come empty-handed either, he was promising a famous victory.

And her too

The next day Oengus and his army saw white clouds forming a diagonal cross across a blue sky.

A Scottish tale

Handy, as Andy had died on a disgonal cross.

And so the legend of the flag was born and St Andrew was adopted as patron saint of Scotland.

Athelstaneford is well worth a visit… and my bonnie wee country too

But this is more like it… Tenerife.

While our sister island Tenerife is too.

We’re kinsmen

I’m here in Tenerife this week roadtesting the new frontier the Canaries With flights from Dublin with seven times a week and twice a week from Cork.

Fares start from €69.99.

And I’ll uncover, and share more, as I go. For more visit and

And to get into the spirit if walking in Spain and what CaminoWays does here’s my Camino to Santiago A pilgrim’s prayer.