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Turning Japanese

In the words of the New Wave band The Vapors… I really think so.

The Olympics in Tokyo will take place one year from today while the Rugby World Cup is just 58 days away.

Of course you’ll have already made your plans for the Rugby World Cup but the concentration on the pagodas, the sushi, the sumo and the geishas will raise your interest further in the Land of the Rising Sun.

And it may well prompt you into making 2020 the year to finally take that trip of a lifetime.

Eastern promise. Photo by Satoshi Hirayama on Pexels.com

Japanese culture is still fairly exotic too us as we haven’t all had first-hand experience of it.

I am fortunate enough that one of my closest friends married a Japanese lady and I became immersed in their culture…. the saki, the kimonos, the nod to their forefathers in a humanist/buddhist service on the Scottish island of Islay.

You’ll love it…. and you’ll love this Wendy Wu Tours’ 2020 Early Bird Saver Group Tour with a discount of €200pp.

Hello petal. Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Wendy has a 13 days Discover Japan Twin Share fully-inclusive tour from €7,090pp. You’ll visit Tokyo, Kofu/Sawa, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Nara, Koya – Osaka.

So let’s look in more detail:

Neon city. Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

A Tokyo city tour: You’ll start on the observation deck of the 634m Skytree, the world’s tallest tower before visiting the city’s oldest temple, the Buddhist Sensoji Temple. You’ll sample the Imperial Palace Plaza and the Hamarikyu Garden before finishing your evening with a dinner cruise on Tokyo Bay.

Among the other highlights is a visit on the bullet train (a real treat if you take Dublin’s outdated and unpredictable DART service) to Odawara and cruise on Lake Ashi before taking the Komagatake cable car for views of the lake before. Then if the weather holds (a wee prayer to a Buddha here) it’s up to Mt Fuji’s 5th Station to enjoy the views, Continue to Yatsugatake for an overnight stay.

Food for thought. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Because we want to leave you to be surprised yourself we’ll leave you to find out the rest for yourself.

Visit www.wendywutours.ie or call (00353) 14854159.

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Holiday Snaps La Sagrada Familia

Some things were never meant to be finished… take The Scary One (please). She is always finding things that still need to be done to the house.

Word reaches me that Antoni Gaudi’s magnus opus, the Sagrada Família, first begun in 1882 but only a quarter completed by the time of his death in 1926, has hit another snag.

And just when they looked like getting over the line after Barcelona’s city authority granted La Sagrada Familia’s first building permit. I’m not even asking under what terms they built what’s already up.

Seventy per cent is done (so they had chipped away at it at some point since the Great Man died).

Eight of its proposed 18 spires have been completed and the plan is to have it all finished by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

But I guess nobody counted on the 3,000 residents living in the nearby apartments and their objections.

Watching the cranes above the psychedelic spires while draining a jug of sangria recently I couldn’t help wondering whether Antoni had been on something.

And whether they shouldn’t just tear it down and start all over again.

Make up your own mind. Barcelona is a great city for a ramble… or rambla. Visit www.barcelonatourisme.com. Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair www.ryanair.com both fly to Barcelona.

La Fete National

You dancer: Paris. Photo by Carolline De Souza

I hope you’re having a good one. I won’t wish you Joyeux Quatorze Juillet, or Bonne Bastille, as the French don’t really do that in the way the Americans wish you Happy Fourth of July.

If you want to find out more French nuances then pop by the French Corner in Dublin where Alliance Francaise Dublin and the French Library with the French Embassy will be putting on free workshops and games and face painting for l’enfants.

From 11-5pm today. City Spectacular, Merrion Square, Dublin.

If that gets you in the mood for a bon vacance… remember that Aer Lingus has a range of offers to French cities from €45.99. Visit www.aerlingus.com. www.atout.france.fr.

Wu Wu… savings

Cherry amour: The Cherry Blossom in Japan. Photo by Bagus Pangestu

My old friend Wendy Wu is tempting us with discounts on her 2019 and 2020 Asian tours.

She’s giving us an Early Bird saving of €200pp if booked before August 5.

So you love the Cherry Blossoms and the Autumn Leaves. As a sample of the many Asian offers, how about Discover Japan, 13 days from €7,090pp. Twin share.

Visit www.wendywutours.ie.

Every day is the 11th July

Wall, what is it good for? A gable end with King Billy

As I revealed in one of my random Did You Knows yesterday, the Battle of the Boyne was on July 1 and when converted to the Gregorian Calendar became the 12th of July when it should have been the 11th of July.

Of course we were more interested in commemorating another royal victory this week on the 11th.

The final piece of the Game of Thrones tapestry has been woven in at the Ulster Museum in Belfast to mark the end of the saga.

Before it gets taken to Bayeux where it will be exhibited from September to December.

The Ulster Museum is one of the best cultural and historical museums on this island. And it’s free. Visit it. www.nmni.com.

I’m heading up to Royal Portrush on Sunday for the final day of The Open Golf Championship.

I’m thinking they should start a tapestry to Northern Irish golf royalty… McDowell, Clarke, McIlroy. Visit www.nimadeforgolf.com, www.theopen.com.

Windsor Lego Castle

Queen lives here: Windsor Castle. Photo by Kris Schulze

Back in the day when I first started this scribbling lark, I found myself in the Royal County of Berkshire… where I found myself a wife.

Then where Legoland now is was Windsor Safari Park. Nothing to read into that, just saying.

Berkshire, to the west of London is a great location in its own right for its royal history and quaint villages and is also ideally situated for the Big Smoke.

And that makes it great for families. Cassidy Travel knows it and has put together a great Legoland and football package to keep everyone happy.

If Mum doesn’t fancy the footie, and these days it’s more likely it would be Dad, the shopping in London is unparalleled.

Stay in the 3* Travelodge Windsor Central and choose between Arsenal v Burnley or Chelsea v Leicester City. Package from €379pps based on four sharing. Includes a day pass to Windsor Legoland Resort.

Flight departs Friday, 16 August. Call Cassidy Travel (01) 8395000. Visit www.cassidytravel.ie.

For a few levs more

Greet value: Bulgaria. Photo by Pixabay

They were low-maintenance for two teenage girls.

All they wore for the whole fortnight we were in Bulgaria was their football tops and trackie bottoms.

I think they had a few changes of the same outfits. It was the wrong team they supported but they were sweet girls and their grandparents were nice too.

Bulgaria is still remarkably good value as evidenced by a Sunway survey in conjunction with the UK Post Office.

They compared the cost of holiday essentials including a bottle of beer, a coffee and a three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine in 20 European beach holiday resorts.

Sunny Beach on Bulgaria’s Black Sea comes in at €44.44 for nine items. The most expensive is Sorrento at €159.40.

Sunway offers seven nights B&B at the 3* Hotel Kudadasi for €399. Visit www.sunway.ie. for this and other great holiday offfers.

And Holiday Snaps is just about to get snappier with an extra day of the snappiest snaps in Snaptown, Snapetonia.

Watch this space… and…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD