Adventure, America, Countries

A woman on the Moon

Now we all know a woman who is out of this world (brownie points for me at home) but did you know that the Ancient Greeks put a woman on the Moon?

Well, there’s some artistic licence here as Artemis is their Moon Goddess.

And this, of course, you know from your Ancient Greek studies (private school education, doncha know?).

The smart people at NASA know that too.

And that Artemis is Apollo’s twin, and that’s behind their decision to namecheck her in their lunar return.

While they fully support a woman astronaut following in the legacy of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the eight other white men who have walked on the Moon.

Lunar lady

Out of this world: Artemis

And with the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System set for lift off for the Artemis 1 mission on Tuesday.

Some words from one of the top women in the field.

Vanessa Wyche, the deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas said: ‘As we increase the diversity of our astronaut corps in the Artemis Generation, we look forward to the first woman walking on the Moon.

‘And inspiring women and girls from around the globe.’

The return to the Moon is slated for 2024.

But before that, of course, visitors to the Kennedy Space Center can see any one of the 40 rocket launches that have taken place this year.

Gateway to space

Ride on: NASA
Visitors can experience the future of space travel for themselves.
Inside its new attraction Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex.
It features a showcase of NASA and commercial spacecraft hardware.
With immersive displays, a ‘journey’ through space, a unique launch viewing opportunity and more.
Visitors are surrounded by actual flight-flown artifacts and full-scale models.
And that is set around the floor and suspended from above to allow 360-degree viewing and interaction.
Heroes: And room for some heroines too
In addition to offering a ‘nose-to-nose’ view of the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, Gateway’s second floor features a 30ft, floor-to-ceiling Robotic Space Explorers Interactive Wall.
With interactive, touchscreen displays, where guests can learn about 40 different satellites and probes in space.
Guests can also visit the HoloTube presentation station.
To learn about the high-powered James Webb Space Telescope by manipulating holographic imagery, video and animation through a touchscreen kiosk.
At Spaceport KSC, guests are transported to an airport of the future.
Hearing the atmospheric airport chatter and seeing distant views of active launches and landings through the galactic spaceport windows.
The main concourse showcases destination, departure and arrival information.
Guests then board “spaceships”, in the form of a two-story motion theatre, for one of four journeys: Cosmic Wonders, Daring Explorers, Red Planet or Uncharted Worlds.

Rocket man and woman

All you need is glove: Interactive
Guests to the visitor complex might be lucky enough to witness crewed and uncrewed rocket launches at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Base.
Companies like SpaceX, Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) regularly have launches throughout the year.
And guests can catch one of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences during their trip to the visitor complex.
Some launches are included with admission or require the purchase of a Launch Viewing Package.

Astronuts

Mind the spaceman: On the right
Interact with astronauts is one of the many exciting experiences many guests have at Kennedy Space Center.
And having enjoyed that on Kennedy’s travels in Dublin.
In Florida, the Astronaut of the Day sits down in a casual, small group setting.
To answer the most pressing and curious questions.
With plenty of time for an engaging Q&A session, attendees leave feeling truly acquainted with a space pioneer and equipped with incredible stories to share for years to come.
This feature  is offered twice daily at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, at 10am and 2pm.
Now going full circle on this, I have a woman back here who would be right at home, a real space cadet.]
And she will be right at home up there as a woman on the moon.

That’s a deal

It’s out there: With my Americanophile Irish pals Dee and Tony

So for a single-day admission it’s $75 per adult, $65 per child.

The new, two-day ticket can be used for up to six months from purchase.

And it averages a cost of less than $45 per day, is now available for $89 per adult and $79 per child.

 

 

 

 

Countries, Deals, Sport

Rock up for Wrestlemania

He’s the lord of the ring, the hottest ticket in town, who you can see for yourself if you rock up for Wrestlemania.

And the best folk to tag along with to see The Rock come out of retirement at Wrestlemania 39 in Los Angeles next year are Cassidy Sports Travel.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson debuted at Wrestlemania 25 years ago and has competed at 11 events.

Counting such other luminaries as Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena as his opponents.

My eye on you: The Rock

And dropping jumping clotheslines, Samoan drops and running shoulderbreakers along the way.

Wrestlemania has been right up there with the NBA as the world’s biggest indoor entertainment sport.

And yes debates will rage over how scripted it is.

But nobody can deny that is pure entertainment.

And the SOFI stadium in La-La Land is just the venue for the antics as it hosted the latest Super Bowl.

The Fighting Irish

Swagger: WWE star Conor McGregor

The hybrid of Mixed Martial Arts has proved to be a gateway into Wrestling for many.

And Conor McGregor‘s successes in Las Vegas have prompted an Irish following for WWE too.

Ireland boasts a rich seam of wrestlers who will be represented across in LA at Wrestlemania.

And wherever the Fighting Irish go then their fans go with them… so look out for Finn Balor and Sheamus & Becky Lynch when you get over there.

So here’s what Cassidy are billing…

Wrestlemania Goes Hollywood

 

Wrestlemania 39 Package with return flights will see you stay for five nights at a 3* hotel in LAX area, travelling on March 30 with prices from €1,830pp.

And you will get the goldens tickets for Wrestlemania Nights 1 & 2 (Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April).

Making the grade

Sport mecca: The SOFI

Upgrades Available on Request for the Smackdown Event – 31st March – €550pp Supplement

Raw Event – 3rd April – €650pp Supplement

Wrestlemania will take place in SOFI Stadium – an incredible venue & host of the latest Super Bowl!

Drop into Cassidy Travel or contact them on 01 8779853.

 

 

Asia, Countries, Europe, Sport

Anyone for Raducanu and Maldives

So where has Britain’s sporting darling gone… well, anyone for Raducanu and Maldives?

Emma I think it would be right to say can do with some time out of the spotlight.

And that is what last year’s US Open tennis winner is getting with her engagement in the Indian Ocean atolls.

Emm-meet and greet

Oh OK then: Emma’s invitation

Emma will share her skills and pro tips with guests at Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences on Baa Atoll from 25 October -2 November.

Emma will give a 60-minute tennis clinic at the resort’s jungle-clad, US Open-standard tennis courts.

She will also attend a meet-and-greet and just like any other 19-year-old is excited about going out to the teardrop isles.

She said: ‘I’m delighted to discover the Maldives for the first time. I will have an amazing time there.’

Kings and queens of court

Off Pat: Rafter is a fan

Baa Atoll has become something of a magnet for the cream of tennis.

With former World No. 1s Angelique Kerber and Pat Rafter and Olympic gold medallist Sasha Zverev and Davis Cup winner Viktor Troicki all gracing its courts.

And those of us who have been out to the Maldives have always been mighty glad to have an alternative to water sports.

Because as enjoyable as they are, if like me you weren’t born with a snorkel in your mouth scuba diving doesn’t come naturally.

Howzat!

Lounging around: In Kuramathi

And you’ll be glad for a game of football or cricket with the staff as I did in Kuramathi.

And cool down later in your own infinity pool.

All of which should appeal to the jet set tennis player.

Something of which I got to know when we signed up for a Judy Murray masterclass in Quinta do Lago in Portugal.

Ace

Bandanaman is coming: Emma

And that’s the beauty of it for us and the scrutinised tennis star, here’s an escape from the humdrum of home.

Anyone for Raducanu and Maldives… I know I am.

 

Adventure, Europe

Hungarian around the bend

Now they say that the best way to address a fear is to confront it and heights drove one particular Hungarian around the bend, my old pal Edina.

Not that vertigo was going to stop this particular force of nature.

From guiding a tour of walkers around the Tyrol in Austria.

Reward: Edina deserves her dessert

Of course Edina nailed it as we knew she always would…

She is made of good sturdy stuff and had the miles in her from being one of those active, outdoorsy Hungarian types.

If you’ve never trekked through Hungary then you’ll know that it truly does drive you around the bend… the Danube Bend.

The phew Danube

Blue for you: The Danube

Our pals at Travel Department do and they’ll make the whole trip go smoothly.

The Danube Bend is a region of peaks and river towns.

And where the hills on both banks force the river to turn sharply and flow southward.

TD say it is arguably the most picturesque stretch of the Danube.

And that’s good enough for us.

On this seven-day holiday, you’ll explore the highlights of this breathtaking region up close.

You’ll take daily walks through the countryside with an expert, local guide.

Hungary’s Camelot

Kings and queens of the castle: Visegrad

Your home for this holiday will be the small town of Visegrád.

It is Hungary’s ‘Camelot’ in the 15th century (so you’ll be guaranteed a round table for socialising).

And it is home to Renaissance-era palace ruins and incredible views from its forbidding hilltop fortress.

The group will divide into two parties; moderate and challenging.

Depending on the participant’s fitness levels, during all five walking days.

And watch out here for any septuagenarians… looks are deceptive and they sprint ahead.

Walk this way

Hunker down: And throw some stones

The moderate walks will be a between 7km-11km.

With a maximum daily walking duration of up to six hours.

The challenging walks will be between 12km – 20km.

With a maximum daily walking duration of up to six and a half hours.

And, of course, this being Hungary then you’ll want some good meaty food fuel and it is the home of goulash.

From €1,249 pp including return flights, transfers, 7 nights’ accommodation on a half board basis, walking guides Departs 3rd October.

So go for it and join a Hungarian around the bend.

 

 

Africa, Australasia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

An Irish rugby conversion

As an Irish-Scot it’s when I’m at my most conflicted when it comes to international sports, but when it comes to egg-chasing mine’s is increasingly an Irish rugby conversion.

It wasn’t always so but then that’s 13 years in Ireland, and working in rugby heartland Ballsbridge in Dublin for you.

Scotland the grave

Scot the lot: Springjock Duhan van der Merwe

My own native land is Scotland of course, and let me remind you I followed them as a schoolboy through thin and thin in the late 70s and reported on them in even thinner times in the early 90s.

And now while the same can’t be said for Ireland in a football sense, in rugby the Boys in Green are actually for the most part Irish.

As opposed to a Scotland side which is filled with players who have been discarded by New Zealand, Australia and worst of all England.

In fact we’ve even coined a name for the legion of South Africans who have rebranded themselves as Scottish… Springjocks.

All of which running around aimlessly brings me to the imminent Rugby World Cup in France next year when I will more than likely be waving my Tricolour instead of my Saltire.

Now if you want to put yourself in the safest travel hands then get on board my old Irish pals Cassidy Travel‘s deals for France RWC 2023.

Deal us in

Vive La France: Les Bleus

Cassidy’s packages include return flights, return airport transfers, hotel accommodation (unless it’s a day trip) and t tickets,

So, whether you want a quick day trip, a longer 2-3-7 night option or a bespoke tailor-made sport holiday then Cassidy have you covered.

Game on

Drum up support: Romania

So without further ado here are the matches you can be at, starting with the Romania mania.

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Ireland v Romania

Day Trip Package to Bordeaux!

9th September 2023

Don’t have time to stay? No problem at all! Make it a day trip!

Ireland meet the European runners-up in Bordeaux.

Package Includes:

Return flights

Return Airport Transfers

Match tickets

All from €599pp!

Rand old team

Rainbow nation: South African support in the townships

Bok your team, if your team is Ireland, against South Africa.

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Ireland v South Africa

2 Night Package to Paris!

23rd September 2023

The perfect two-night deal for rugby fans!

Package Includes:

Return flights from Dublin or Shannon

Return Airport Transfers

2 Nights in a 3* Hotel

Match tickets

All from €1099pp!

From Bok to Jock

Split loyalties: Ireland v Scotland

And one where any Irish-Scot can’t lose.

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Ireland v Scotland

2 Night Package!

7th October 2023

Two-night deal for you to enjoy one of the best

Rugby World Cup France 2023 events.

Package Includes:

Return flights

Return Airport Transfers

2 Nights in a 3* Hotel

Match tickets

All from €899pp!

Pieces of eight

Hakademic: The All Blacks’ Haka

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Quarter Finals!

Tickets to both matches included!

14th & 15th October 2023

Should they progress, Ireland will then meet the winners or runners-up of Pool A,

which includes France and New Zealand, at the Stade de France.

Package Includes:

Return flights

Return Airport Transfers

2 Nights in a 3* Hotel

Match tickets for Both Games

All from €1599pp!

And, of course, if Ireland beat the All Blacks (and everyone defeats them these days) they get to keep them!

So get your green out and support the Boys in France next year.

And that even includes Irish-Scots looking for a proper team to support… it’s an Irish rugby conversion.

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean, Sport

Dom Rep it up

So we bought my Dear Old Dad a book of the world’s most difficult golf holes though the Teeth of the Dog where they like to Dom Rep it up wasn’t on it.

The book was, of course, a joke with tees on one mountain and the green on the other among the ‘holes from hell’.

And bless him, Dad was incredulous and slightly nervous even looking at the holes.

On account that he took a 7-iron off the tee at a particularly difficult par-5 at his local Hilton Park Golf Club, near Glasgow.

Teeth of the Dog

Water feature: Casa de Campo

The Teeth of the Dog in Casa De Campo is one of those courses which will test all those Sunday golfers, like Dad and me, but it’s for real.

Casa De Campo, which my old chum and expert on all things Caribbean (and golf) Clem Walshe, came on my radar.

When we all met up for a Caribbean Road Show in Dublin.

And the Dominican Republic resort brings news to us that it has been voted No. 1 golf resort in the Caribbean.

All of which hasn’t escaped the notice of the world’s A-listers.

Grand Slam Dunk It

In the hold: Michael Jordan

Grand Slam Dunk Michael Jordan is a fan.

As well as Jennifer Lopez, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Dennis Quaid.

While Bill Clinton has even got his molars into the Teeth of the Dog.

The specs are that it was designed by Pete Dye with seven of the 18 holes on the 7,357 yards course playing right along the Caribbean Sea, 20 feet above the surf.

For those golfies among you Golf Digest  placed The Teeth of the Dog at No.20 in its top 100.

It was topped by Royal County Down at No.1 but with Gullane’s Muirfield.

Up the road from me here in New Berwick, at No.7.

On the Teeth of the Dog the sea is on the left on holes five through eight.

And on the right on holes 15 through 17 and every hole is unique and scenic.

The rates

Dye For: If you avoid the water

Now there are three courses at Casa de Campo in La Romana.

The geniusly-named Dye For and the more traditional The Links building the trinity with our Teeth of the Dog.

We’re told that with your all-inclusive stay you can enjoy daily golf across all three award-winning courses at a reduced daily rate.

The nightly rates per person are between $65-$95 and follow the site for other rates.

The resort also boasts eight outstanding restaurants.

And the stunning Minitas Beach Club, a Marina and an Equestrian Center featuring Polo.

There’s a shooting course too.

While there’s great shopping, and three private pristine white sand beaches.

So go on Dom Rep it up.

 

 

 

Countries, Europe, Sport

Let Israel’s Maccabiah Games begin

We all know the world’s biggest sporting events, the Olympics, the World Cup and no, not the one you’re thinking… let Israel’s Maccabiah Games begin.

And so we’re hailing the four-yearly Maccabiah which runs from July 14-28, a year later after the Covid hiatus.

With the Games including 10,000 athletes from about 60 countries.

And with five new sports for this year, including wave surfing, climbing, 3×3 basketball motocross and paddle.

Now there are those who will celebrate Britain never, ever, ever being slaves by throwing those who they did enslave a week of games in Birmingham from July 28-August 8.

Onto the Maccabiah Games now and it is an Olympics for Jewish athletes, has run from 1932.

And that’s just a couple of years after the first Empire Games, forerunner of the Commonwealth Games.

It is evident too that the Maccabiah still holds onto its original name.

The name Maccabiah is named for Judah Maccabee, a Jewish leader who defended his country from King Antiochus.

Modi’in, his birthplace, is also the starting location of the torch that lights the flames at the opening ceremony,

Teddy, steady go

History: The First Games

So let’s begin and the opening ceremony will take place at Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem.

We can look forward to a crowd of 30,000 with the torches being carried by five athletes.

And we have Tokyo Olympic medalist Avishag Semberg; swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko; Paralympic swimmers, Mark Maliar and Iyad Shalabi, and Jewish-American baseball player Ian Kinsler.

And I know the question you’re asking… yes, the Games’ ceremonial torch will be kindled by Israeli Olympic Medalists Linoy Ashram and Artem Dolgopyat.

Now if you haven’t seen it before then you’ll be glad to know that there’s a world first this year.

Because all the games will be broadcast live all over the world via Pixellot.

And the Maccabiah will also host Paralympic Games in a variety of sports.

And competitions in the ‘Special Needs’ category for athletes with special needs.

The Land of Milk and Honey is also inviting us all to follow the Maccabiah and various events on Facebook,Instagram and TikTok.

How’s that for an opening?

Five alive: Maroon Five

There are some, of course (deluded, I’d say) who can take or leave sports and tune in only for opening ceremonies.

And you won’t be disappointed with this year’s Maccabiah showpiece.

Because the sponsors are telling us that it will be spectacular and exciting.

And we can look forward to it combining a rich artistic performance with hundreds of dancers and pyrotechnics. 

Take singer-songwriter Hanan Ben-Ari who will perform the official Maccabiah song, Carnival by Jordan (Jordi) Peleg and Ron Biton.

And the singer of the decade, Eden Ben Zaken, who will be singing an adaptation of Jehoram Gaon’s song, You Will Not Beat Me.

While The Next Star winner Tamir Greenberg will perform the song he wrote and composed to win the competition.

That’s Tell Me Where the Light Goes’, and as well as Maroon 5’s Memories as a salute to the historical sports heroes of the People of Israel.

Now this is all new to us but isn’t that the point of expanding our horizons and one of the great take-aways from any travel.

Tickets can be booked on the Maccabiah website.

Beach games

Yes, we heart you too: Netanya

Of course, the athletes’ competitions will be the main draw but beyond the events, Israel will go full party for the spectators too.

Because the Maccabiah, in cooperation with the Netanya Municipality will offer for the first time a huge sports complex for the whole family.

It’s all taking place at Poleg Beach from July 12-14 that includes an area for sports competitions.

And there will be activities for children, performances and food trucks with dishes from all over the world.

Night race

Israel beautiful: Jerusalem

And, of course, the Maccabiah want to create the next generation of champions so encourage everybody to get involved.

And hence the Maccabiah in Jerusalem night race will be held on July 18.

There will be thousands of runners taking part from all over Israel and the world.

And the race will pass the Science Museum, the Knesset, Hebrew University, the Rose Garden, the Cross Monastery and the Givat Ram Stadium.

With it all accompanied by lighting, music and a very special atmosphere.

And so participation in the race is paid and pre-registration is on the Maccabiah website .

Celebrate the diaspora

Hands across the oceans: The Games’ athletes

Now Israelis, much like Scots and Irish have a diaspora around the world.

And all have enriched the globe with our traditions and added to the general lexicon.

And with the Maccabiah Games at last getting the broader recognition it deserves through this inaugural global broadcast.

We can immerse ourselves in yet more Jewish culture, spectacle and the achievements of Jewish athletes.

Let Israel’s Maccabiah Games begin…

And I suspect as well that they will have a more lyrical way of saying that too.

 

 

 

Countries, Europe, Skiing, Sport

Garmisch and G7 garnish

As Messers Biden, Johnson, Trudeau, Macron, Scholz, Dragi and Kishida gather in Bavaria, let’s look at Garmisch and G7 garnish.

Schloss Elmau is the fancy (of course it is) five-star pad where our leaders are staying while we struggle to pay our bills.

And you can check it out for yourself on their site.

Fancy specs

Schloss boss: The G7 leaders’ hangout

The specs have Schloss Elmau as boasting rushing streams in Elmau Valley, an Alpine nature reserve, 100 km south of Munich.

They flag up a casual Luxury Resort, Spa Retreat & Cultural Hideaway.

And recommend their yoga, tajiquan (no, me neither) and sports.

Writing’s on the wall: In Garmisch

While foodies are naturally more than catered for, readers with a phenomenal bookstores and classicos with the best concerts.

We checked out Schloss Elmau.

And whether because of our reputation or high heid-yins are staying there, it was booked out long-term.

Olympic champions

Skate away: Garmisch champions

And so we looked at the charming village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 15km west, instead.

Garmisch you probably identify with skiing and you would be right.

And it was Garmisch where the Germans went in 1936 to hold the Winter Olympics.

Ski royalty: The 1936 Games

You’ll see too the winners from those Games adorning walls in bar/restaurants.

And wonder too about whether you could leap off ski jumps as you pass by the village jump.

Gorge on the Gorge

Watch your step: The Gorge

For those who like the depths as well as the heights then Garmisch-Partenchirken has the Garganta de Partnach.

A natural monument for 110 years, the gorge i2,303 ft long and, in places, over 260 ft deep and there is constant running water.

So go before you enter… and I’m talking to you President Biden.

Better than the bike: Joe Biden

Partnach Gorge advise though not to visit until after Tuesday because of the G7.

While the G7 leaders live it up in Schloss Elmau you can economise.

By staying in a small double room at the Olympiahaus for £84, say overnight on October 3.

 

 

America, Asia, Canada, Central America, Culture, Sport, UK

Queer how offside Qatar is to the world

It’s become a fixture on the party and social calendar in the West but, of course, Pride is a revulsion elsewhere in the world, and in this World Cup year isn’t it queer how offside Qatar is to the world?

Now the football world (a different universe, of course) turned a blind eye to the Emirate’s discrimination and criminalisation of the LGBTQIA community when awarding Qatar the hosting of this winter’s World Cup.

Flagging up an issue: With Qatar

And quite what that’ll mean to LGBTQIA football fans who are wanting to follow their countries’ fortunes then we’ll try here to decipher.

While we all know too that of the hundreds of footballers, coaching staff and officials taking part not one will be LGBTQIA.

And that will get FIFA off the hook… and there won’t be anybody queer in that organisation either.

A word from the sponsors

Take that: The Qataris

Football’s World Cup is, of course, more than a sporting event.

It is a cultural, educational example and the tourist trip football fans have been planning for years.

So make of these welcoming words if you will from Qatari official Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Ansari

‘If he (a fan) raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really want to really take it to really insult him.

‘But to protect him. Because if it’s not me, somebody else around him might attack (him).

‘Watch the game. That’s good. But don’t really come in and insult the whole society because of this.

‘Reserve the room together, sleep together – this is something that’s not in our concern. We are here to manage the tournament.

‘Let’s not go beyond the individual personal things which might be happening between these people… this is actually the concept.’

Right, where do we start? The Major General’s assertion that he really wants to protect ‘them’?

Qatari protection

Sheikh it off: The Qataris

So, protecting them then would be not exposing them to a punishment of up to seven years in prison and a fine.

And the possibility of death penalty if you are indigenous.

Of course this is for men because just like in Victorian Britain lesbianism wasn’t even considered thing despite upper-class society’s obsession with all things Classical where the Sapphists were chronicled.

Maybe here too Major General you might think.

About criminalising the people who would attack an innocent person simply because which sex they love.

And then what about their concession to gay visitors that they can ‘reserve the room together, sleep together’?

Well evidence this very year has shown that FIFA recommended hotels in Qatar are actively refusing to accommodate same-sex couples.

Or ‘these people’ as the Major General calls them.

Of course it’s not as if we hadn’t been warned.

Bla, bla Blatter

Out of touch: Sepp Blatter

That bastion of integrity, former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter had thought it all a big joke.

When he was asked about a lack of gay rights in Qatar shortly after they were selected in 2010… ‘They should refrain from any sexual activities.’

And the Qataris, naturally, must have seen this as a green light.

Because three years later the head of Qatar’s World Cup bid team, Hassan al-Thawadi, said that everybody was welcome at the event, so long as they refrained from public display of affection.

‘Public display of affection is not part of our culture and tradition’.

To which you can justifiably add… and particularly not when you’re holding hands with, or kissing, a member of the same sex.

American continental LGBTI army

The right path: Pride in West Hollywood

We can console ourselves somewhat that the next World Cup will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Where people are allowed to express themselves and love each other how they want.

Let’s hope too that by then there will be more than one openly gay professional footballer in the English league structure.

And that this is replicated throughout the country.

And that the sports whitewashing by Middle Eastern and Gulf countries who are buying up, or have bought up Europe’s biggest clibs, does not deter LGBTQIA players from coming out.

Now we’ll leave this heavy but necessary subject.

To get back to checking out where I can get my best Pride experience around here in sleepy North Berwick, near Edinburgh.

A Dutch of class

The future is Oranje: The Oranje Army

But before we go, big hats with feathers off.

To the Dutch politician who suggested that the Netherlands national team play in pink rather than their traditional orange, in solidarity with the LGBTI community.

We’ve not heard whether that this is being taken up by the Dutch football federation.

But having partied with the inclusive Oranje Army on the way to Rotterdam to see them play Greece a number of years ago…

We know the supporters’ only rule is that you love Total Football.

    

Adventure, Countries, Europe, Sustainable Tourism, UK

150 years of swish Switzrailand

And as Britain’s trains career off the tracks with mortgage-price fares and looming strikes here’s where they do it properly… 150 years of swish Switzrailand.

1847 was when the first Swiss train route, the Swiss Northern Railway, opened between Zurich and Baden, and nicknamed the Spanisch Brotli Bahn.

Because previously gentry’s servants had to set out from Baden at midnight on foot with Spanish buns.

Bun ride

Poster boys: For the railways

The buns are a light, flaky pastry filled with a mix of roasted, crushed hazelnuts and apricot jam.

And they were apparently derived from those made in Spanish-ruled Milan during the 17th century.

Bun fight: For the Spanish buns

The new line took just 45 minutes to traverse the 20km route, just a little more than it takes me to get from North Berwick to Edinburgh.

And this is more challenging Swiss terrain and 150 years ago.

I know Swiss trains from my ride in the country from Interlaken.

And observed that they’re priced at the wherewithal of you and me with the Swiss Pass and not the gentry.

Even the ones, the unique ones, that scale the Eiger… the tallest railway ride in Europe, the Jungfraujoch.

Swiss funday and fondue

Only one Ondine: Ondine restaurant in Edinburgh

All of which reminisces we shared as we reconnected with our Swiss amis in the en vogue Ondine restaurant in Edinburgh.

Take the two-hour Luzern-Interlaken Express whose rails we rode taking in five crystal-clear mountain lakes.

Only way is up: On the Jungfraujoch

And for those of you of the trainspotter penchant (that’s my father-in-law Casey Jones) then here’s the science…

Shortly before starting its steep, winding ascent to Brünig Pass.

And there the train changes to cogwheel drivetrain technology in order to conquer the gradient.

On the right track

Swiss misses: With Fran, Myriam… and Bobby

Trains, in truth, are a joy in many countries across Europe and as easy as American pie on Amtrak in the States.

Fat as a lord and lubricated with the best white Swiss wine and brimming with the latest Swiss advances we went out into the daylight.

And paid homage to Edinburgh’s most famous son, Freeman of the City of Edinburgh Greyfriars Bobby.

Before thinking about catching the train to North Berwick… I’m just back!

Not a worry they’ve ever had in 150 years of swish Switzrailand.