Sunday, November 19, 2017
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By award-winning travel journalist and NI Travel News columnist John Trew

FOR THE past decade I have been using my latest research trips and personal experiences as the basis for my annual ALL THE BEST compilation in which I share up-to-date recommendations on all manner of serious travel and tourism topics as well as trivia. How else would you discover that (a) Ulster’s finest traybakes are in the HOPE Café at QUB Library (b) you can take the bus from Nice along the Cote d’Azur coastal road to Monte Carlo for ONE Euro; or (c) Carrick-a-Rede Ropebridge is now open all year round?


ANDALUCIA is not, of course, new to ‘tourists’ since it was invaded many centuries ago by the Moors, the Romans and other tourists such as the Vandals (that’s why it became known as Vandal-ucia. Honest). It is a vast region of eight provinces stretching between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and I have recently fallen in love with two of them – Cordoba and Jaen – which are inland from Malaga, where mass tourism was born on the Costa del Sol.



Spain’s Lands of Liquid Gold


LANDS OF LIQUID GOLD: ¡ESTUPENDO!” That’s the superlative I shouted about 20 times a day during my recent voyage of discovery through Cordoba and Jaen, two of the eight provinces which make up the autonomous region of Andalucia in the south of Spain.

Three of those provinces – Malaga, where mass tourism was born on the Costa del Sol, plus Seville and Granada – are among Europe’s most famous and perennially popular holiday destinations. Yet the neighbouring cities and countrysides of Jaen, Cordoba, Baeza and Ubeda are relatively unknown, even though they are endowed with some of the greatest tourist attractions I have encountered in my long career as a travel journalist.

This month and next, I will be introducing you to these great holiday destinations in more detail, as I really want to do justice to them! Among the world-class attractions we visited in a wonderful week of autumnal sunshine, are many which came as a complete surprise. Here are a few tantlising appetizers:



Why I'm sad this Festival time


FOR THE FIRST time I can remember, I am writing this column with a tear in my eye. Read on for the reason…

The Belfast Festival at Queen’s is the cultural highlight of our tourism year, and I have always found space to promote it every October in all the publications I have worked for during the past five decades. My commitment has been due largely to the fact that I was one of the pioneers of the Festival, having been involved in the satirical comedy that was a sell-out show devised for Festival ’63, which was Michael Emmerson’s first festival worthy of the name.

It was also the first time I had ever performed my own material in public, and I still suffer from sweaty stage fright even thinking about those smoke-filled nights in the Basement of the Whitla Hall.



Giant steps to Awe-some loch


BACK in the 60s, before the Nanny State banned TV cigarette advertising, Ulster Television regularly ran a black and white commercial showing a couple crossing our world-famous ropebridge, then rewarding themselves with a locally-made ciggie.

The catchy rhyming jingle ran something like this:

”Carrick-a-Rede has a ropebridge / You’ll cross it and quake in your shoes /



Normandy - celebrating the Impressionists


REGULAR readers know that Normandy is my favourite part of my beloved France, and that the French Impressionists are my all-time favourite painters.

You can imagine, therefore, my unbounded enthusiasm for the dazzling tourism initiative 'Normandie Impressionniste', the huge summer programme of events and exhibitions celebrating the region's role as the cradle of the19th Century artistic movement which included masters such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro and Gaugin who are among the world's most revered artists.



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