America, Asia, Countries, UK

Imagine dressing these trees

Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite, Mariposa: Like many up and down the land we’ve been on Christmas Tree duty but imagine dressing these trees!

With everything treesy the best starting point is those leafy mammoths out on the west coast of America.

And the biggest in Central California is Tenaya Lodge’s lobby tree, the Yosemite Mariposa.

We’re told too that it’s sustainably harvested.

The lodge just tops off a Douglas Fir each year so the rest of the tree can continue to grow healthily for years to come.

A yen for Christmas trees

Light show: Huis Ten Bosch. http://www.discover-nagasaki.com

Nagasaki Kingdoms of Light, Kyushu: And, hey, when it twinkles it doesn’t even matter if you’re a non-Christian country.

And winter illuminations around Christmas have become a popular attraction in cities across Japan.

Some of the country’s largest displays can be found at Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch-themed amusement park.

And off on one of my tangents here but the Netherlands is home to both the wackiest museums and amusement parks.

Tree cheers: With my laaf pals

Such as Efteling where laafs, the Dutch version of gnomes live, and which make the best tree decorations.

Back to Japan and Huis Ten Bosch transforms into a magical wonderland during the winter season.

Don’t miss the Art Garden of Light’s glass floor or the Bungee Bridge, where visitors drop 20 metres into the garden below.

A festive celebrity in Wales


Festive castle: Fonmon

Enchanted Adventures at Fonmon Castle – Vale of Glamorgan, Wales: Elsewhere in Wales some celebrities we’ve never heard of compete to be king or queen of the castle…

While here in Fonmon they’re getting ready for a proper celeb.

There’s a Santa Show, festive lights, themed walks, rides and a festive market.

Alongside the existing popular medieval and dinosaur attractions….

And yes it’s a stretch to have dinosaurs attached to the Nativity but have we not all added on witnesses since Jesus’s birth?

Enjoy the beauty of Fonmon walled gardens too as the fortified medieval castle teams up with lighting specialists.

To create an atmospheric festive walk. Tickets start from £14.50 (+50p booking fee).

 

Countries, Deals, Europe, UK

Strain of Britain’s trains

Holidos and don’ts goes off track (what’s new there?) with a vent on a national disgrace… the strain of Britain’s trains.

I mean it shouldn’t be this expensive to attend a Christmas party in London.

It’s not as if you’re circumventing the globe.

I mean, it’s only a 403-mile expedition between the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, and the English/British capital.

And just four hours, 40 minutes on the old hail and rain.

Train drain

Rail downer: It’s Bean and gone

But book a train for a fortnight’s time, Thursday, December 16, on LNER to go out midmorning (10am) and get an overnighter (12.05).

And it’ll set you back £145.10 if you’re lucky enough to get the few remaining special offer tickets before they’re swallowed up.

And your bed for the night for your 10hr 13mins trip Sir/Madam is a cramped seat.

Plane savings

Take it Easy: Easier by plane

Compare that with a flight out with EasyJet for those dates and you’ll get change out of £100.

Still dear, yes, but why cheaper than the train.

Alternatively you can take the coach.

Now a detour here down Memory Lane when I took an overnighter down to London and back.

I’ll reach you by coach

Coach me if you can: Topdeck

For a Topdeck Munich Beerfest reunion.

My sole motivation was to renew a holiday romance with a South Australian, Di.

Only she didn’t turn up at our Leicester Square rendezvous.

But did turn up on the night with her Scottish boyfriend.

Still, it wasn’t the coach’s fault… and I’d take it again.

There are, of course, new transport businesses on the road and new booking platforms.

Omio way to go

With Matteo in Bergamo Alto

Omio are now the way to go.

As I found out the last time I circumvented our politicians’ Travelstapo curbs on us going to the continent and visited Bergamo.

And I’ve done the homework for you here too for getting around the UK and brought you a return coach trip Edinburgh to London for £44.12.

And you’ll save in not having to book a hotel room with two nine-and-a-half hourer overnighters on the bus.

The train refrain

Bandanaman and the Bandanettes In Denver

So the bandana and the man stayed home while my Croatian friends had their Christmas party in the Embassy in London.

All within the restrictions too if our one- law-for-us government is watching.

So what then do I do with the sell from HolidayPirates survey.

It says that more than three in four Brits would travel by train if there were more direct destinations and connections.

Whether it’s some post-Brexit British is best loyalty to our trains or whether it’s always been a misplaced patriotism.

Swiss trains

Comfort: Swiss trains

But for anyone who has travelled on subsidised continental trains like in Switzerland will testify they’re cheaper, more efficient and faster.

Guess though we’ll keep buying our government sell and keep putting up with the strain of Britain’s trains.

Asia, Countries, Europe

Turkey with all the trimmings

I love my Turkey with all the trimmings and still like to get stuck in well after Christmas.

And the new year is when we’ll get back out to one of our old favourite destinations, Turkey.

Now going off on a tangent, or Turkey run, let’s revisit why the country and the fowl are interchangeable.

The story of the turkey

Where you from? Turkey, you say?

The turkey that we know, and scoff, is actually not the turkey that came to define the post-Ottoman Republican country to us.

That turkey is from Mexico which would make school geography schoolteachers and children’s heads turn.

Whereas the Turkey of our Europe and Asia- straddling country is actually the guinea fowl which was transported through eastern Africa to the OE.

And how it all got mangled into the word turkey is because of the similarities to the region Turcia.

Before he got stuffed on turkey: Jonny as Hank

It is also thought to have been passed around the courts of Europe.

With King Henry VIII said to have been the first English monarch to have eaten turkey.

Department of Turkey

Your Onur: With Onur, my pal from Turkish Airlines

That’s all something to chew on then as we digest the latest offerings from our pals at Travel Department.

Istanbul is the only place to start with Turkey.

Where obvs you’ll explore the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and go shopping for Turkish treats (and cats) in the Grand Bazaar.

I’ll always seek out war history wherever I go.

And next up is a visit to Gallipoli.

And if you were dreaming when that was taught in school then listen up to The Pogues’ And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

I, of course, worked like a Trojan at school, at least at history and this scribbling lark.

The joy of Troy

Trojan heroes: And not too Brad

Which is why I’d just scoop up the half-day excursion to ancient Troy.

You’ll also discover Ephesus, an Ancient Greek city which housed the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Deal me in

My cup of tea: Turkey

Priced from €1299pp it includes flights, transfers, seven nights’ accommodation on a B&B basis and expert guides.

Departures from 12th March with a selection of dates up to 11th October 2022.

I’ll take that: Turkey with all the trimmings and put it in a kebab for me.

For more information https://www.traveldepartment.com/holiday/istanbul-ancient-turkey

Countries, Culture

Vive La Republic of Barbados

I must have been one of the very few kids in Glasgow to be lullabied to sleep with old Republican songs… and because of that and my own journey I’m an avowed internationalist republican which is why today I say Vive La Republic of Barbados.

Now you’ve heard me wax lyrical already many times about the magical island of Barbados and my Kiss With Rihanna  and Rumba  there.

And Bim, as it is affectionately known (hence me being known on the island as Bim Jim) is the talk of the Scottish and British Travel scene with the Bridgetown route rolling out from Edinburgh next month.

Now to celebrate Barbados becoming the latest country to throw off the shackles of monarchy and go out on their own, here’s to all those nations who have taken their destiny in their own hands.

And decided to be governed by one of their own.

Now a true republic, just like a true democracy or a true anything these days in double speak, is a moveable object.

But you’ve got to start somewhere which is why we’re going with 160 (now Barbados have signed up).

All republics lead from Rome

And if you know you’re Classic History, and my Latin is better than my Ancient Greek then you’ll know that republic derives from the two Latin words res and publica (public thing).

So that’s one of the famous things that ‘the Romans did for us’ although, of course, if you’re British then it’s an experiment from which we’ve run far away.

Apart, of course, from a brief period from 1649-1660 when these islands of Britain and Ireland entered into a Commonwealth which was really a theocracy.

But while Westminster claims to be the mother of all parliaments (doubtful, and Europe’s oldest in Iceland might have something to say about that).

It’s Rome which is the mothership of all republics, and we have the good fortune that the Forum, the hub of Roman public life is still there.

No fools those Ancient Romans though with their togas as I found out when I almost fainted in the Eternal City heat in my modern clothes.

An Italian fixture

Venice: And let’s catch a gondola back to Padova

Now where Rome led the rest of Italy followed.

And chief among them was the 1100-year Venetian Republic which still styles itself thus and is hewn into every gondola and the very bricks of the Campanile.

Florence, Siena, Amalfi, Pisa and Genoa all saw what the Doges were doing and how fetching their hats were and followed suit.

But the republicaniest of all the republics and the longest-standing is San Marino.

And so what they lack in football skills (0-10 v England) they more than make up for in their political skills.

La Republique, mais oui

Je suis L’Empereur: Napoleon

Ah, yes, the French. like so much, would have us believe that they are the shining light of Republics.

So much so that they have had five of them ever since Corsican Napoleon got le ball rolling.

Notre ami soon decided though that L’empereur sounded so much better…

And he did that with one arm behind his back (or affectedly tucked in his jacket then).

It must be a poncey royal thing because the UK’s Prince Charles who very graciously decided to attend the signing-over papers to the Bajans (and bag himself some sun at the time) does pretty much the same thing.

And on a tangent we’ll not say anything about the carbon footprint, Prince Save The World.

None of us are perfect, of course, it’s just the rest of us don’t bleat on about it and preach to the rest of us who do hop on planes.

Middle Ages and Middle Europe

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

The breeding ground for republics in the Middle Ages was what we now know as Germany.

And a quick count chronicles 62 in the northern European powerhouse.

All of which would be a good exercise and excuse to traverse modern-day Germany with a Michael Portillo type notebook.

I’d have to start in my favourite German city Hamburg first of course.

There are some who have gone the opposite way to the Bajans and jumped from republic to monarchy like the Dutch.

Others who have had a brief dalliance with republicanism, Catalonia, and still have hopes of a return to those halcyon days.

Battle hymn of the Republic

Southern men: At the statue of Stonewall Jackson at Manassas

Yes, their eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

And while the North eulogised its Republic, the South too held its close to its bosom, albeit for just five years.

That said the Confederate States of America still exist in the hearts and minds of many in the Deep South.

As I found at the Manassas memorial to Stonewall Jackson in Virginia.

And you don’t need me to tell you that that was the first battle of the US Civil War.

Post-colonial

Cool for cats… in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

There were, of course, a rash of republics in the post-colonial world which is where Barbados join us now.

While in Africa and Asia the cry went up for the ‘public thing’ which alas all too quickly became the ‘dictator thing.’

And because of these precedents it ratchets up our hope that the South African Rainbow Nation experiment proves successful despite its challenges.

And the USSR and its satellites

The voice of Dresden: With Ingrid in Dresden

Dogmatic ideologists, of course, think nothing of hijacking the word republic for something that looks nothing like it.

And hovering up previously self-governing nations, which is where Russia came in and formed the bloated Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic.

Unless I find me a time machine a trip back to those days will inevitably elude me, although that’s where museums and heritage come in.

And you can still immerse yourself into the spirit of those days on any trip out there.

Which is exactly what you get when you visit the old DDR.

Now we all know of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie but more of us should visit the mural to communism which stands as a reminder of Russian misrule and occupation in Dresden.

Irie, Barbados

It’s a republic, now: With Ruby in Barbados

And so good luck to the incumbent President of Barbados. Sandra Mason, incidentally also the last governor-general.

Vive La Republic of Barbados.

I’ll raise a glass of rum punch to you on the official date of handover tomorrow.

Which is a shared holiday, Barbados’s National Day, and Scotland’s too.

In Scotland, Barbados: Honest

And until my own native land becomes a republic (I’m not holding my breath) I’ll. mark yours, and America’s and France’s.

And the whole lot of you, 160 or so, who have taken the revolutionary step of deciding that you wanted to be ruled by someone of the people.

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe

Alpha to Omega of variants and travel

Ever wondered why the latest viral threat is called Omicron… well here’s the Alpha to Omega of variants and travel.

We have the World Health Organisation to thank for improving our Greek… and Zeus knows I’ve forgotten almost all my Classical Greek from school.

And anything that shines a light on Heroic Hellas and its culture has my vote.

The WHO plumped for the naming system so as to remove stigma from countries after the media jumped on the first Covid variant.

And our news gatherers lazily called it the South African variant.

Now we here at TravelTravelTravel being internationalists fully support their motives, particularly because jingoism and racism can run as wild as pandemics.

And it is to the Greeks that we have turned for wisdom and philosophy.

Lay off the Spanish

With queen of Spain Teresa, Eoghan Corry and Sharon Jordan in Dublin

Back in 1918 when the last global pandemic broke out it was tagged the Spanish Flu, the name by which it is still referred.

And this wasn’t because it broke out in the Iberian Peninsula (we still don’t know its origins).

Rather it was because that was where the information first started emanating about the virus.

On account of Spain being neutral in the First World War and its media generously sharing the information.

While, of course, the virus was taking its toll across the world.

Going for a walk: In Tenerife

And war-concerned countries were killing information at home just as freely as they were needlessly destroying each other.

As it is the first reported death was in the USA but let’s not quibble.

I only say this to set the record straight and correct a historical wrong in favour of my Spanish friends.

And we well know that they have had their own troubles to seek either natural or political as is all too real in one of our favourite Spanish destinations, the Canaries.

And my last port of call in Spain, Tenerife.

Alphabetti spaghetti

Next year? When I’ll be back in Vegas

Now, Omicron as it’s coming back to me now is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet which means that w’ve had 13 variants.

Delta we all know, and this pesky letter put paid to my trip to Oregon at the last minute…

And led me to pull out of the earlier working assignment to Las Vegas.

But beta, gamma and epsilon thankfully passed us by.

As did their friends zeta, eta and theta… who sound like the intake of a modern-day creche.

The next one barely registered an iota (and yes Greek letters have entered our lexicon before all this pandemic nonsense).

Kappa (no, not an American college sorority), lam(b)da (not a Tex-Mex dance), mu, nu (the other discarded Teletubbies) and Xi (a Chinese dynasty) soon followed unheralded.

Until we got to our Omicron.

Omicron, not Armageddon

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

And although our leaders are scaring the bejaysus out of his by interchanging Omicron with Armageddon it’s not.

The narrative is that it’s more infectious but haven’t we been told that the vaccines and the boosters are there to protect us.

And is it just me who is cynical.

That at a time when our politicians want to distract us from restricting our liberties the seriousness of Omicron gets ramped up.

And so we in the UK are told that we must now get a PCR test on arrival back in the UK and self-isolate until we get the result.

Which again sounds scary until you realise that we’re all Working From Home now anyway.

Isn’t it about time that we challenged these assumptions.

Particularly as everything our politicians have told us since the pandemic was called has blown up in their faces?

Democracies on trial

Now we might not go as far as Socrates who attacked Greek democracy (roughly translated as power of the people) in favour of meritocracy or elite rule.

But it is well seen that democracies are on trial.

And while it was the legacy of the First World War which all begun with the assassination of a royal in Sarajevo in the Balkans which heralded in the Fascists of the Twenties.

And of course the Wall Street Crash.

But it was also the failure of democracies in a crisis. We have been warned.

The good news

The good news is that there are only another nine Greek letters to go so we should be through all of this soon.

That’s the Alpha to Omega of variants and travel then.

See you on a plane or ship soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asia, Australasia, Caribbean, Countries, Deals

Back in Black Friday

Now that we’re all travelling again my take on today’s saveathon is Back in Black Friday.

And Wu have we got some deals for you?

And with Wendy Wu you know that she will bring you the world.

Simply book one of our selected fully-inclusive group tours with just a £99 deposit per person and your partner Flies FREE on any departures in 2022 or 2023.

And if you’re travelling solo you can enjoy the same savings with 50% off you airfare.

And Wendy’s generosity doesn’t just stop at that. She’s including a free Airport Lounge Pass with every booking.

So without further AWu.

Wu deals

Shape of things to come: Japan

Japan –  Save up to £350 per person

Southeast Asia – Save up to £300 per person to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and more

Central Asia – Save up to £400 per person to Uzbekistan, Georgia and the Silk Road

New Zealand – Save up to £350 per person

South America – Save up to £400 per person to Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina

Far East – Save up to £300 per person to South Korea and Taiwan

Middle East – Save up to £250 per person to Egypt,and Jordan.

Offer ends Monday 29 November. Book online or Call 0808 2580 600.

Sandals in the Windies PtI

Here’s to Sandals: And Barbados

Sharing is caring and I’m either full of Christmas spirit or just too damn kind.

Because i’ve passed over a place on the inaugural Virgin Atlantic flight from Edinburgh to Bridgetown so a Barbados virgin can get on board.

No, not one of them, but a work colleague who has never been to Bim like Bim Jim has.

It was luxury all the way with Sandals then and we have remained pals with the swanky hotel chain keeping me abreast of all their offers.

Like their Black Friday Flash Sale which offers customers the chance to save an extra £100 off your next Luxury included holiday with code BF100.

And so you’ll get change out of £2,000 at £1,949pp for seven nights at Sandals Royal Barbados for travel on September 22.

Where you’ll stay at the South Seas Crystal Lagoon Club Level Barbados Suite with Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub. Including flights with Virgin Atlantic, of course.

Sandals in the Windies PtII

Of course the question you constantly get asked when you’re in a Caribbean island is which is your favourite.

To which you need to answer… I’ll tell you when I’ve been around them all.

Jamaica has to be next on the horizon and I’m always happy to flag up Scotland’s island in the sun. 

Sandals Ochi comes in at £1,399 for seven nights. You’ll be staying in a Butler Village Poolside One Bedroom Villa Suite. And again our friends at Virgin will be flying you there.

Book by midnight on November 30.

Yes, now we’re travelling again, I’m all behind the Back to Black Friday.

And I’ll give you more of our favourites over the weekend.  

 

 

America, Countries, Deals, Flying

Happy Quacksgiving Day

And the most famous Donald on Earth is certainly celebrating today because duck isn’t on the menu.. Happy Quacksgiving Day everyone.

We all know about the Other Donald, the one with the tuft and the big mouth who doesn’t make any sense.

I’m more interested in My Donald though – Donald Duck – and of course we go way back to when we had a quacking time out in Disney World in Orlando.

Me and my Duck: With Donald

And if my luck holds out then I’ll be dancing with the duck next year at the American Travel Fair, IPW, next year.

But many of us can’t wait until then and have been working with Visit USA to get out there before then.

So, it’s just as well then that our old friends, Ireland’s national airline carrier are there to help us.

Aer we go to Orlando

Fly the Flag: Aer Lingus to the States

From this Saturday customers will be able to travel directly to Florida, following the lifting of travel restrictions to the US earlier this month.

From this weekend, Dublin to Orlando will operate three flights per week to connect families, friends, and business in the run up to the holiday period.

This weekly schedule of direct flights to Orlando will fly on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday with fares starting from €169 each way, including taxes and charges.

Those looking to visit the Sunshine State can avail of the great Black Flyday offers on flights to the US with Aer Lingus.

Flyday Friday

I’m in charge: Your next President

You’ll get €100 off return fares to North America and €200 Business Class fares to the US (travel 1st January to 31st May 2022). Book by November 30.

With 13 direct routes between North America and Ireland, including New York, Chicago, Boston, LosAngeles, San Francisco, Orlando, Washington, Seattle, and Philadelphia, offers, which run until November 30.

That includes €100 off return flights to North America and €200 off return business class tickets.

They’ll be valid for travel from 1st January to 31st May 2022. And remember there’s pre-clearance.

Very VerifLY

Fly with me: And Aer Lingus

Now if you want the best advice on how Aer Lingus flies then it helps to have access to the people who fly us.

And fortunately I am and they gave us the rundown on how they, and us, travel these days.

And their super-duper VeriFLY travel pass app.

Most importantly… Aer Lingus customers cannot check-in online ahead of flights to/from the USA unless they use VeriFLY.

The app allows users to upload and ensure that their travel documentation is checked and approved before travelling to the airport.

This will allow customers to get their online boarding pass and go straight to bag drop/boarding gate, and avoid queuing at check-in.

 

 

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Happy Birthday to me, the Jim Yin

I defer to only one Scotsman, my hero Billy Connolly, which is why I was bowled over to get a signed copy of his autobiography. So it’s Happy Birthday to me, the Jim Yin.

What I didn’t know is that Billy’s birthday is tomorrow when he will still be 23 years my senior, at 79.

Billy is everything I admire and aspire too, a raconteur, a liberal and an adventurer.

And the Travel writer I want to be.

Glasgow belongs to us

My hero: Billy Connolly

Whether it’s in my Glaswegian genes or it’s because I’ve simply copied him I keep discovering random things we both enjoy.

And so in the first couple of pages he describes the garb he was wearing one day… and his own personal Jesus is my Homeboy T-shirt.

No doubt from the same batch as my own.

While he is also a devotee of the magic cloth, the bandana.

Both of which I’ve taken on many a journey.

Amsterdam birthday

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Being a winter baby I’ve oft found myself confined to barracks in a dark old Northern European country when it comes to my anniversary.

The exception was my first year with my Scary One. 

When she took me over to Amsterdam for the first time. 

And cycled my legs off, so much so that I cramped up on the way back… not something that we had to contend with at George and Amal’s favourite Dutch hotel, the Dylan Amsterdam, 30 years later. 

I’m fitter now through my walks and pilgrimages with Camino Ways.

Have boots, will travel

By George: We both love Amsterdam

But hundreds of kilometres of trekking has taken its toll on my boots (and liver).

And the Scary One has upgraded my boots, although it’s sad to say Adios to the old ones.

Throw in a pyjama and slippers set (although I do like my branded hotel ones) from the Outlaws and I’m a happy birthday bunny.

Of course on this day of days I always think of my Dear Old Mum as we did go through this journey together.

And she’s always been the first to wish Happy Birthday to Me, the Jim Yin

 

 

 

 

Asia, Countries, Food & Wine

Cocktail Millionaire Hour

We’d been seduced by a rooftop viewing over Cannes but I baulked at a $16.50 Aperol Spritz… before I learned this week about Cocktail Millionaire Hour.

They must have heard about me at Pay Day Loans because why else send me news of a $22,600 cocktail, Diamonds Are Forever?

And so if you’ve got that down the back of a sofa then get yourself over to Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo.

What a sparkler

Glitzy: The Ritz-Carlton

We’re told the DAR in the skyscraper hotel is a Grey Goose vodka and a twist of lime…

And a $16,000 diamond on the side of the glass, and helpfully they advise not to swallow the diamond.

Not wanting to stymie any future chances of a stay at the Ritz-Carlton but that’s one expensive voddie and lime at $6,600.

Vegas mixers

Oh yes: The Ono

Now you pay for the celeb watching in Vegas too.

Although thankfully I had the good services of my hosts the Las Vegas Convention Board to thank for introducing me.

The Ghostbar in the Palms Casino is where you’d find everyone from Matt Damon to Paris Hilton.

But you always had to take your passport to The Ghostbar, Palms Casino to get in… they’d want verification that it’s really you.

Or you can check in at the XS Nightclub, Encore for a $10,000 Ono.

Which is a Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie 1981 and Louis XIII de Remy Martin Black Pearl cognac.

Plus the drink comes with a pair of men’s silver cufflinks and a woman’s 18k white-gold chain.

Playboy of the Cocktail World

Let’s shake on it: The Playboy

Now us playboys need a drink that best reflects our lifestyles.

And the $9,000 Salvatore’s Legacy at the Playboy Club in Mayfair, London, does just that.

It is made from a 1778 Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac, 1770 Kummel Liqueur, Dubb Orange Curacao circa 1860 and two dashes of Angostura Bitters circa 1900s.

We don’t know what the tip is here but at 10% that’s $700 so be prepared when you hit the Big Smoke.

And the others

What every woman wants: The fast set

We’ve just extended our knowledge of Connecticut following our trip to Dublin for the VisitUSA Thanksgiving get-together.

And they were keen to flag up their rich casino tradition.

Usually if you’re gambling you’ll be offered a comp drink, but not alas a Sapphire Martini at the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Now Hemingway sure loved his cocktails and the Bar Hemingway in Paris channels the Great Man.

Through its $1,670 Sidecars.

And one we made earlier: With my Cocktail Girl

When I go high set in Belfast I head for the Grand Central Hotel and the highest bar in Ireland, the Observatory.

Alternatively the Merchant Hotel will keep you in maraschino cherries.

They do an Original Mai Thai at $1,270.

While as coral and atoll islands have been in the news with COP26 et al we’ll finish off in the Maldives.

It’s a favourite place and I’m glad to see some Irish friends who had yet to have sampled its charms are over there now.

At $312 for a Hennessy Cognac it’s to be sipped and swirled around the mouth.

Yes, you’ll feel like a high-roller In Cocktail Millionaire Hour.

 

 

 

America, Countries, Ireland

An American-Irish Thanksgiving in Dublin

It probably wasn’t like this for the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1421… but I’ll more than take An American-Irish Thanksgiving in Dublin.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, masks, double dose certificates at the Radisson Blu Royal.

And certainly not what the Pilgrims laid before the natives…

Dried meat and fish, grains and flour, dried foot, cheese and hard biscuits.

Chow on chowder

Catch of the day: chowder

Thankfully culinary fashions have changed and we dined on New England chowder, mini burgers and wings.

All the time listening to the band belting out American standards.

And taking a tour of America, around the stands, from New England, Washington DC, Georgia and Florida.

Right across the Mid-West (Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah).

And over to my old friends in California.

Flying time

Fly the flag: Aer Lingus

And you’ve got it… Aer Lingus and British Airways were there (are there) to take us back.

Now that the borders are open again.

Now like a kid in a candy shop the difficult thing is what to choose first.

Our American Travel Fair resumes in Florida in May.

Orlando, woah, woah, woah

Minnie brwak: Minnie and me

So all roads lead there… to Orlando.

Now if the Pilgrims thought that New England was a good enough starting point to explore the New World who am I to disagree.

The eastern seaboard collection of states and commonwealths I know well from a summer in Boston after university and day trips to New Hampshire.

Connect with Connecticut

Making his Mark: Mark Twain

But I’m grateful here to Sue from Connecticut for clueing me in on her state.

You might be familiar with Mark Twain name-checking it in his time-travelling tome A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur.

And you’ll find everything you want to know about the Great American and his great creations Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in his museum here.

And also take in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house and get a glimpse of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

She’d be known today as HBS but back in the day to Abraham Lincoln she was ‘the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.’

It’s a rich old history and one I can’t wait to add to in 2022.

But for now it’s enough to acknowledge my dear old friends and embrace (with an elbow nudge) my new ones.

With an American-Irish Thanksgiving in Dublin.