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.

 

 

 

 

Canada, Countries, Deals

Toronto Rapture as Aer Lingus returns

I was there at the birth and the wobbles of the last year so I share the Toronto Rapture as Aer Lingus returns.

The announcement of Ireland’s national airline new Transatlantic route would always be a matter of fevered excitement among the Travel circle.

And Toronto came very much from out of left field when it was revealed in 2018.

Toronto, oh brother!

Spell it out: Toronto

It shouldn’t have. Toronto is Canada’s biggest city and closest to America, both geographically and culturally.

And it has done much to disprove the putdown of raconteur Peter Ustinov who described it as ‘New York run by the Swiss’.

True it is cleaner than NY and my brother who lived there for eight years explained it to me.

It was because of the first generation immigrants who took such pride in their city.

There was also the occasion when I heard the subway train coming and I made to rush for it.

Only for my brother to tell me that there would always be another along in a couple of minutes.

Another good reason for leaving the homeland.

Eh Lingus

All White on the night: Aer Lingus

And another is the renewed Aer Lingus fight, back on the tarmac from the end of last week.

With fares from €149 each way.

So what’ll you do when you’re out in Tronno (as the locals call it).

Eh? As the Canadians will always say at the end of everything

Well, there’s the CN Tower, once the world’s tallest building.

And the Niagara Falls just down the road.

As well as the natural playground which is Lake Ontario.

But it’s also a food hub with Chinatown, Koreatown, Greektown, Little Italy and Little Portugal marking it out as very mych the match of New York.

City of sports

Enraptured: Toronto Raptors

On another (and some say best) grade it, it is a great sports city.

The Toronto Raptors were on the drawing board when I checked in on my brother.

Despite being out of the NBA loop, Toronto was there at the start of the hoop dream.

And in fact played the first game against the New Yoek Knickerbockers (Knicks) 50 years before.

Like all dinosaurs the Raptors took some time to get going.

But 24 years after Toronto’s renewal as a basketball team they were ready to stand tallest again.

As they swept all before them, winning the 2019 NBA Championship.

Wrapped it all up

Blue is the colour: The Blue Jays

The Raptors though have a ling way to go to match the winningest (as they like yo say in North American circles) team.

The Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team have won 13 Stanley Cups, the last in 1967.

While the Toronto Blue Jays, a nascent franchise when I visited, have won two World Series, back to back in 1992 and 1993.

Ice one: Toronto Maple Leafs

And so you see Toronto knocks it out of the park.

And so does Aer Lingus… a winning team.

Which is why I’m in Toronto Rapture as Aer Lingus returns.

Asia, Canada, Countries, Europe

Bonne Fête Nationale mais non Bastille

Oui, the French are celebrating their national day today… Bonne Fête Nationale mais non Bastille.d Fr See e ex

But why did nobody well us that the French aren’t celebrating the storming of the Bastille at all?

And that it is only a coincidence that the day falls on the samed date as the start of the Federation of France.

Bastille daze

Oui mais non… Bastille

So, a tip ici. Don’t wish your amis Happy Bastille Day.

All of which makes sense.

I mean who’d make a thing of freeing seven prisoners.

And two of them lunatics, and one an Irishman who thought he was Julius Caesar?

Well without further adieu Bonne Fete National around la monde.

La Mère ship

Grab an Eiffel

Paris, France: Naturellement. And as you would expect it’s all fly past entertainment, fireworks and flag waving.

And free entry to the Louvre… say bonjour to Lisa and the Parisiens.

The Montréal thing

Vive Montréal

Montréal, Canada: And emigrées are toujours more Francaisez

Canadiennes whoop it up in French Canada with all the Paris pyrotechnics but a Canadian twist with their r own home-grown Montréal Cirque Festival.

Something to Prague about

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

Kampa, Prague, Czech Republic And you might not associate our Czech chums with July 14

We don’t know if it’s a throwback to Bohemia to Napoleon tor if it’s shared experiences of 1968.

But it’s jazz time in Prague with thousands in the square by the Vlatva River and on Charles Bridge. Ah oui, la joie de sax.

Tahiti treatment that

Ooh, really rela la: Tahiti

Tahiti, French Polynesia: And doesn’t July 14 and every fête remind us all how interconnected we all are?

Coconut cracking, fire walking (ouch!), stone weight lifting, food tasting and beauty pageants in Papeete’s To’ata Square anyone?

It’s all part of the Heiva i Tahiti Festival since independence day from June 29. Maeva Tahitians.

Indian Côte D’Azur

Vive L’India

Pondicherry, India And this little bit of the Tamil Nadu in the south-east of India will for ever be France.

Which is why it’s often called the Indian Côte D’Azur (not to be confused with the original French one) or the Riviera of the East.

So fly the flag for India and fly the flag for France. Et a La Tricolore.

And we’ll return to morel in vexilology treats at a later date…

Only today belongs to the French et Bonne Fête Nationale mais non Bastille mon amis.

 

 

 

 

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

The Lego has landed in Scotland

Travel’s resumption is all about building blocks so we’ll reboot at the Museum of Flight with the toy Wonders of the World… the Lego has landed.

The Scottish attraction in East Fortune is 17 miles south of Edinburgh as the crow flies…

Or the click of your fingers if you’re on Concorde, the Museum of Flight’s most famous exhibit.

Flying high

This flight tonight: Concorde

We’ll give The Big Bird its own slot in a coming post as it should be but for today we’ll flag up Brick Wonders of the World.

The Lego masterpieces are the creation of Edinburgh-based artist Warren Elsmore.

The Wonders break down into Ancient, Modern, Historic and Natural.

The Wonders I’ve seen

Shape of things to come: The Pyramids

The Green-Fingered One is doing her best to recreate The Hanging Gardens of Babylon in our demesne in nearby North Berwick.

While she didn’t even entertain an invitation to Sharm-el-sheikh in Egypt. She wants pyramids.

The journey around the perimeter of the hangar is one through time and is a reminder of what we haven’t seen.

The Great Wall of China, the Easter Island excavation as much as those we have enjoyed… Old London Bridge and Petra.

Sweep of history

Tis Grand: The Grand Canyon

Few would disagree that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s natural wonders and it is my favourite of the exhibits.

The Grand Canyon, of course, is tough to capture in Lego but they do a great job with glistening blues and whites for the Niagara Falls and recreate the scope of an African savanna.

While the Modern sweeps up Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal, a number of technological, aeronautical and social advances.

Of course the signature piece among the exhibits is Concorde which sits in front of its big brother.

Deal me in

Everything in the Hanging Garden is rosy

Your Brick Wonders display is free with .

Half a million Lego pieces have been fitted together for the display and you really should get down to the National Museum of Flight.

The exhibition which runs until June 27 is free with entry to the museum which you can pre-book for £12.50 (top price).

Now I need to get back and keep an eye on The Green-Fingered One’s Hanging Garden while I try to dig out those ‘talls’ building blocks the Son and Heir loved so much.

The Lego has landed!

 

America, Canada, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Some mothers… travels with mine

I’ve got a husband, five brothers and three sons and James (my Sunday name) is the most selfish of them all.

Never mind that I’d driven her and her sister up from my home in Co. Wicklow to her homestead of Co. Donegal.

Or that I was standing just feet away from my cousin when she was giving out.

On this Mothering Weekend these are our travails.

God’s (and her) Own Country

La Famille: In Donegal

Ireland: And for my Dear Old Mum that’s Donegal where she grew up in a hotel in a rural hamlet, and holds court every time she goes back.

At Powerscourt Waterfalls in Co. Wicklow

Of course the Donegal natives go along with her Diva-like behaviour and indulge her.

Green, green Ireland

It gets us a free pot of tea every time we go back to the now renamed Ramblers Inn.

The Queen of Queens

New York attitude

There’s an advert which the Irish are all too familiar with where two old ones batter the heck out of each other because each wants to pay the bill.

It is quintissentially Irish and it annoys the Scottish half of me to boiling point.

Of course when my Dear Old Mum is with her own siblings and relatives her need to show her largesse goes off the scale.

And so when we went to my cousin’s wedding in Queens in New York she berated me in front of my extended familly and insisted that she pay for the pre-wedding meal.

Before bossing me around Manhattan. Well, I didn’t ask her to wear high heels.

A wee break in Scotland

The Royal Wave

And I can’t even get that.

Anyone who has been to a major golf tournament (2000! Open, St Andrews) will tell you that the queue for the Portaloos is long.

And that when you eventually get in then you will make the most of it.

Of course, too long for my Dear Old Mum, who sent a random spectator to knock on the door and ask how long I was going to be.

She obviously wanted to see Tiger.

But of course I got my own back and outran her, and jumped the Swilcen Burn with the crowd to see him lift the trophy.

Piping up: In Glasgow

One of my favourite trips was when I took her into her adopted city and my homestead of Glasgow to see the World Bagpipes Championships.

Another particular quirk of the Irish is to be dumbfounded that you could ever by hosted by anyone else. She, of course, wanted to pay!

And one that got away

King of the wild frontier. Go West.

My brother, that is who emigrated to Canada after meeting a Torontonian.

I broke the habit of a lifetime by being responsible and putting my studies before a few days in Canada to see my brother get married.

But my Dear Old Mum didn’t forget me then and brought me back a Davy Crockett type hat which became my signature look from then on in my student town of Aberdeen.

 

Africa, America, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Europe, Ireland

Water waterfalls

Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to – TLC

Only I do go chasing waterfallsor rather they go chasing me.

And probably you too… after all they are a staple of your holiday day tours.

Angel’s from heaven: In Venezuela

But like rivers and lakes usually once you’ve seen one then you’ve seen them all.

Chasing rainbows: Niagara Falls

The must-sees are obviously Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls and Angel Falls.

The Big Three

The first of them I have ticked off in Canada on a trip to see family in Toronto.

The second on the list is with my friends from Ethiopian Airlines en route to Namibia.

Victoria tall. www.victoriafallstourism.com

While the third in Venezuela I’m inching closer to having acquainted myself with the Venezuelan Spanish ladies of Tobago.

Not all waterfalls have to have come down from the highest heavens.

Caribbean scream

Nor do they have to be at a neck-craning height to be blessed by the gods.

Water world

As I discovered in Kythera in Greek Attica.

Keeping dry in Kythera

Whether you’re gazing on nature’s wonders among the world’s great mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees

Rockie waterfall high

In the valley of the Rockies. cruising through the fjords.

Or with the sun on your back in the Caribbean waterfalls are one of the Gods’ gifts.

There are trolls up there in the fjords

Unless, of course, it’s Powerscourt’s waterfalls in my old back yard of Co. Wicklow in Ireland which you have to pay for.

Power of Powerscourt

Powerscourt, its gardens and splendid hotel and grounds and best-value restaurant is one of the country’s jewels.

Spray that again

All of which waterfall waffling brings me to the subject in hand, an invitation from one of the best Travel providers in the business.

Monty zoomer: Montmorency

American Holidays are flagging up their Canadian market and as well as Niagara Falls, the less well-known Montmorency Waterfalls.

The Montmorency Falls in Quebec are actually 30m higher than its much-vaunted Ontario neighbour.

You can decide for yourself which you prefer on your nine-day tour of Canada’s great Eastern Cities.

Toronto A

Where you’ll spend three nights each in Toronto, Montréal and Quebec.

You’ll fly from Dublin to Toronto and return from Montréal from €1539pp.

MEET YOU BY THE WATERFALLS

America, Canada, Countries, Culture, Music, Sport

Rainy Days and Songdays – Weeknd & Canada dudes

A Blinding performance from The Weeknd at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show I think you’ll agree.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed on America’s Big Day, not least by me, that they drafted in a Canadian, The Weeknd, to lead the parade.

And so this Rainy (more snowy) Day and Songday I’ll toast the Torontonian The Weeknd and Canada.

And run through a fave five Canadian singers.

Joni, remember me

Smiling now: Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell, Fort MacLeod, Alberta: Who Mountie John MacLeod was I’ll have to do some digging to find out.

But he must have had some Scottish in there somewhere.

Joni has history with my homeland of Scotland of course, and not that far from an old workplace.

The singer-songwriter was allegedly thrown out of The Doric bar.

On Market Street just down from the old Scotsman newspaper building.

Whether she is prepared to look at things from Both Sides Now you’d have to ask her.

Leonard, the Montreál thing

Alleluia: It’s. Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, Montreal: I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel lyrics and those dirty New York stories which always appeal to an adolescent.

The poet laureate of pop is rightly revered in his home city of Montreál, an arts city par excellence.

And you can do the whole Leonard thing on a tour of his haunts around the city.

Alanis’s jagged little thrill

She smiles too: Alanis Morisette

Alanis Morisette, Ottawa: Capital cities come in many different shapes and sizes but often it’s the ones that aren’t the biggest cities that enchant the most.

Proud Ottawan Alanis burst onto the scene in 1996 with her cynical classic Jagged Little Pill.

And isn’t it ironic that it’s in sharp contrast to the chilled vibe of Ottawa.

Where locals put on a summer yoga class for hundreds on Parliament Hill

While there are few cooler things to do than skate on the world’s largest naturally frozen rink, the 7.8km long Rideau Canal.

The Groover from Vancouver

And the chicks love him: Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams,Vancouver: And we’ll even forgive Bryan his annoying Robin Hood ballad ‘Everything I Do’.

Because he gave us the rousing nostalgia favourite The Summer of 69.

Vancouver reminds you that Canada is the second biggest country in the world with a Pacific vibe quite different to the Atlantic Canadians on the other side.

Regularly ranked in the world’s top five of liveable cities (you can both hipster and whale watch) it has a stunning backdrop.

Drake’s Toronto

Stay your distance Drake

Drake, Toronto: I, and every red-blooded male, should by rights hate him for Drake taking Rihanna off us.

Quite what they’re Facebook personal status is is almost certainly just toying with us.

Toronto is as we know home to hundreds of cultures but there is a special fusion with the Caribbean.

Not that that gives this uppity Torontonian the right to lay hand on my Ri-Ri.

Under the famous CN Tower the city is teeming with life and entertainment although Brady and Mahomes would go largely unnoticed.

In the Big Four Gridiron (they call it Canadian Football lags behind Ice Hockey, Baseball and Basketball.

All of which the Torontonians have beaten their neighbours at over the years. Eh!

America, Canada, Countries, Europe

Happy Brownie Day from Amsterdam

And why not treat yourself to a space brownie today, Brownie Day…? you deserve it after the year we’ve had.

The Brown Cafe is something of a rite of passage for youngsters visiting Amsterdam.

And your favourite Travel blogger took one for the team on my first trip to the Dutch city…. all for research purposes you understand.

Brownies and whities

Dam right: With The Scary One in Amsterdam

More of a whitie than a brownie to be honest in my case.

And the Amsterdam cafe I visited didn’t help the non-user by operating a toilet system.

Because surely I’m not the only customer who turns a whiter shade of pale and then has to take the shame.

Of asking the owner to press the little white button under the counter.

So to mark Brownie Day I’m flagging up a the Brown cafe where you can get more than just a sugar rush… just don’t overdo it.

And maybe also other other places on my visits where a friend with weed is a friend indeed.

High old times

Get down, give me a Brown

Paradox: The district of Jordaan is a Boho favourite of tourists to Amsterdam.

With its narrow bars, boats and cycle routes.

And while you’re in the neighbourhood to visit the Anne Frank House and others of the marvellous museums in Amsterdam.

Such as the Amsterdam Tulip Museum and the Amsterdam Cheese Museum

Then try out canalside cafe Paradox where they tempt you in with board games and rich coffee…

And remember the Dutch brought the stuff here through the Dutch East Indies Company.

Paradox’s excellent website has a section for Social Paradox with a picture of the ubiquitous Amsterdam bicycle.

While they also tum you through everything you need to know including how to roll a joint – and edibles.

Bake your own

Now even in those other liberal hotspots we’ve all come to know around the world, you won’t get this eating experience.

I’m thinking Denver, California, Canada, Hamburg.

You’ll have to take your weed home and bake your own.

Now this has never made the technical challenge on Great British Bake Off…

Noel and Matt are already giddy enough although I’d pay money to see Prue and Paul off their faces.

So let me give you you the Bandanaman Brownie Friend With Weed recipe.

The recipe

The ingredients: An eighth of an ounce of cannabis. Or three tablespoons.

Three-quarter of a cup of butter.

Four ounces of unsweetened chocolate.

One and three quarters coconut sugar.

Half a teaspoon of salt.

Two teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Three large eggs.

One and three-quarters cups of all-purpose flour.

Two-thirds cup chopped walnuts.

Ready, steady, bake

1. Preheat oven to 240°F (115°C). Spread cannabis evenly on a baking sheet. Bake 50 minutes (if using less cannabis, check oven after 35 to 40 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add decarboxylated (oven-baked) cannabis and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, then remove from heat.

3. Strain cannabutter through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a small glass measuring cup or bowl. Discard strained cannabis solids or save for cannabis tea.

Out of my tree?

4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9-by-13 inch glass baking pan with cooking spray.

5. Place chocolate in a large glass mixing bowl and melt in the microwave or over a saucepan of boiling water.

6. Add cannabutter to melted chocolate and mix until combined, then mix in coconut sugar, salt, and vanilla.

7. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated.

8. Mix in flour, and walnut and/or mint, if using.

9. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into 16 pieces. Store leftovers — clearly marked if there are others using your kitchen — in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for several months.

Adventure, Canada, Countries, Culture, Ireland, UK

Yes Yukon – 125 years since the Gold Rush

Yes Yukon. Happen if I had been a young buck in 1896 I would have been searching for gold in them thar hills.

Listen it’s got so bad in Murty Demesne that I’ve taken to burrowing up in the Pentland Hills around Edinburgh.

Grandpa Murty too went to Canada to try to make his fortune (actually sent there to get himself out of trouble in Scotland).

But that was later.

London’s calling

Yukon has been in the public conscience this year again with the remake of Jack London’s Call of the Wild with Harrison Ford.

Turning back the clock: A bygone age

My good friend Jo, who babysits the British and Irish journalists at IPW, the American Travel Fair, is a mine of information on Yukon.

And she has dug us out this….

Hit the trail

The Chilkoot Trail traces the prospectors’ path from Skagway, Alaska through the Yukon to Bennett Lake, British Colombia.

Across the ravine, the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway chugs over the pass (this woman’s a poet).

En route through the coastal mountains to Carcross village.

Visitors can enjoy Gold Rush tours of the Klondike Gold Fields and also pam for gold.

Dawson City

Jack London fans will love the Jack London Museum and Cabin in Dawson City.

You, of course, will be staying somewhere a lot more salubrious.

The Dawson Lodge is a new ten-bedroom environmentally-conscious boutique-style hotel with Gold Rush ambience.

And Yukon will ensure you don’t feel alone even though there are only 40,000 human types across an area the size of Spain.

You will get a welcome from its 180,000 caribou, 70,000 moose, 22,000 mountain sheep, 7,000 grizzly bears, 10,000 black bears and 250 bird species.

Heavenly dancers

While there’s plenty of life too up there in the skies with those heavenly dancers, the Northern Lights.

It’s just one more frontier for this Wild West frontiersman to cross.

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Our New Common Market

Back in the days when Britons got on with Europeans (a lot of us still do) we called it the Common Market.

Alas, Cummings and Johnson have forced us all to pack up our stalls and leave the Common Market (or European Union)

But in a parallel universe, the one all of us Travel nuts inhabit, there is a much bigger market still, the World Travel Market.

The way it was: WTM in London

Which I’ve admired from afar for years but not been able to get to because of The Man who wouldn’t give me the time off.

This year though I’m my own Man and as for getting there all I’ve got to do is travel to the West Wing of New Murty Demesne.

This year’s Virtual World Travel Market won’t have the bright lights and entertainment of London.

And the Great Old City only grows in our affections because we can’t get there.

But I’ll thrust my London mementoes to the front of my desk, chief among them my Peter Pan piggy bank.

And only promote my international keepsakes when meeting up with the representatives from Jamaica to Japan.

Life as a Wanderer is a different normal to most at the best of times and while these are anything but we’ll make the best of it.

We’ll have the staple of travel fairs, the presentations, talks and stall visits.

And the meeting up between old friends who see each other every second week of November in London.

Now you know what they say, if we can’t get out to see the world let the world come to us.