America, Countries, Flying

Aer Lingus in a golden state

Not that it’ll silence the flygskammers but airlines are addressing clean skies, and Ireland’s national carrier are leading the way with Aer Lingus in a golden state.

Renewables Aemetis, Inc and International Airlines Group are supplying sustainable aviation fuel.

To power Aer Lingus and British Airways flights from San Francisco Airport from 2025.

Over to Aer Lingus Chief Exec Lynne Embleton.

“As we work towards our commitment of powering 10% of flights using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030…

“This agreement with Aemetis will see aircraft on our San Francisco route using low carbon biofuels from sustainable wastes.”

Spelling it out: The graph

Now, I’ll leave the science to the engineers (best).

And Aer Lingus report that this summer they have signed two SAF deals.

And a lease agreement for two new Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Now for the science bit

Clear thinking: Lynne Embleton

And Lynne says: “These are all key steps in achieving our lower-carbon future and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

IAG, parent company of Aer Lingus and British Airways will purchase a total of 78,400 tonnes of SAF over seven years.

And that is enough to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 248,000 tonnes (the equivalent of taking over 16,000 cars off the road) across the same time period.

Aerial shot of paradise 50+ Mpix

While in July, Aer Lingus signed another SAF agreement with Gevo, Inc., a US-based renewable fuels producer.

The agreement will see the purchase of 19,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel per year for five years, powering flights from Los Angeles

Aer Lingus is also investing in new generation and more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Airbus A320neo and A32l neo LR.

In June, Aer Lingus signed a lease agreement for two new Airbus A320neo aircraft.

And that will see this new generation aircraft joining Aer Lingus’ fleet for the first time.

The Airbus A320neo delivers up to 20% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

Shamrocks in my hair

Wham bam: Thank you tram

And close to 50% reduction in noise footprint.

When compared to the previous generation aircraft, A320ceo.

Of course we don’t have to wait until 2025 to get to Frisco.

And it is an itch waiting to be scratched with Covid putting paid to my plans to get to Dublin in the Tri-Valley region.

When I was, of course, going to channel my inner hippy by going to San Francisco wearing shamrocks in my hair.

Fare play

Greetin’ Greta: Thumberg, queen of the flight shamers

Now with my Irish history, Aer Lingus was naturally my go-to airline.

When I returned Stateside this year for my rail trip around New England.

And when, not if, I go to San Francisco I’ll be hopping on their deals from Scotland.

So that’ll be either Glasgow through Dublin to San Fran from £249.25, each way fare as part of a return trip including taxes and charges.
 
Or £252.52 from Edinburgh.
 
So, yes, despite what Grouchy Greta and her flygskammers will have you believe the airlines are fighting back.
 
With Aer Lingus in a golden state.
 
 
 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Europe

Jet lag cures

I was spooked at the movement in my en-suite, I was home with The Scary One… I should have checked my own Holidos and Don’ts. Jet lag cures.

And then I could have orientated myself on my return from my mini-odyssey to New England.

Earth to Jimmy

Wriggle those feet: And find some earth

Granted your fellow passengers or hosts might look at you funny but..

You might want to take off your shoes and socks and jump about on the earth.

Bare feet and earth: Who says so… only biohacker and Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey who discovered the trick when doing yoga in California.

Of course he did.

Turn on, switch off

Flying high: With Turkish Airlines

In flight entertainment: And you can always catch up on your sleep on the plane.

There’s the more relaxing last film which you can nod off through.

Or classical music or easy listening. And it’ll make you forget you’re up during the sleeping hours.

Water cooler

Refresh: The water

 

Hydrate: And yes that means staying off the booze… so resist the temptations of airport drinks.

On board now you will have to pay for your alcohol anyway.

And rehydrate so stay off the coffee, tea and sugary drinks.

That’s the business

Lounge back: And take in a Turkish Airlines movie in their airport business lounge

Business class: Of course if you’ve been saving your pennies, you’ll be able to treat yourself to business class.

I’ve been fortunate enough to avail of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Turkish Airlines (there are other flyers).

And the reclining seat-beds will make you feel like you’re at home in bed.

Until you turn around for a cuddle on your trip to the Maldives and Island Marketing’s stubbly boss Brian is looking up at you.

Homing in

Home again: And get some Zzzzs in

The home run: And when you get home after you’re through the all-nighter then you need to get home.

If you’re disorganised like me then it’s better not to have bought a return public transport (tram, bus, train) ticket.

Maybe leave the keys too with the neighbours.

All because these things can get lost in transit.

Get in, get a glass of water and get to bed. Will you sleep later? You bet.

And I think I’ll copywright this… Holidos and Don’ts jet lag cures.

 

 

 

 

America, Countries, Ireland, UK

High, fly, this American sky

And with apologies to Don McLean (and Tyson Fury) but my head is in the clouds… and high, fly, this American sky.

Because I’m trying to get all my (Donald) ducks in a row and get over to the States tomorrow.

And what was once a breeze through the gate 40 years ago the first time I visited is now akin to a military operation.

Of course there is always the danger of jinxing any forthcoming trip but I think I’ve most of my prep done.

Start up the band: Visit USA in Dublin

In truth it all started last November with a Thanksgiving get-together with Visit USA in Dublin.

When I reacquainted myself with my friends from Boston,

Rhode Island and New England and made new ones in Connecticut.

Now if you’re thinking of travelling Stateside then the rules may seem quackers but here goes.

Esta visa

A lot to do: But finish it and you’ll be purring

Yes, it’s an ESTA visa which is an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation.

It will last for two years, take 72 hours for you to get back.

And it will be the best $14, or equivalent, you’ll spend.

Double vaccinate

 

And you’ll be doubly protected with a double vaccination and a booster.

So get your health board to send you documented evidence.

You can scan too through an app, although if this trips you up and your daughterie isn’t around then a print will be your fallback.

Pass the supervised test

Concentrate: And get twirling

And while we wait for Joe to lift this requirement we’ll all need to take a supervised antigen test.

Now you need to take this no longer than 24 hours from your flight time.

And you’ll need to book a Zoom test to go through the nose swab test.

Before you then photograph it and go through the step by step digital endorsements.

And wait up to three hours for hopefully the confirmation of your negative result.

And I’d recommend Prenetics who walked me through it all.

While the Scary One held my hand, the one that wasn’t squeezing my swab into the tube.

And they had my results back in half the three-hour timespan they promised.

Almost ready to go

Call the pilot: Airline staff

And if you’re flying Aer Lingus, and why wouldn’t you, you’ll want to check out their Verifly app.

They will give you a four-point checklist.

With an attestation check, a vaccination review which you can tender manually or digitally.

Then there’s the Covid-19 Test review, or Proof of Recovery.

Both of which they’ll contact you with the results of within a couple of hours.

Now for a tea party

Or something stronger: Like a Sam Adams

There’s no guarantee, of course, that that’s the last of it.

We’ve twice missed our flight before to Dublin, our through passage to an America with pre-clearance.

Now not pointing the finger particularly after she helped me today.

Hop on board: My old friends Aer Lingus

But she was involved in both… going back to check the heating was off, and banjaxing the car en route to the airport.

So, it’s a good night’s sleep, set two alarms.

And see you on the other side in Beantown (God, Jehovah, Allah and Buddha be praised).

 

America, Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying

Goodbye to pre-departure tests

If a week’s a long time in politics then a day’s an absolute lifetime as we say a tentative goodbye to pre-departure tests.

The UK and Ireland are not exactly throwing their doors open… we still have to put those little sticks up our nose.

But it’s enough to see punters bombarding their travel agents for summer holiday ideas.

Special agents

Ruby do: With Ruby in Barbados

Our holiday providers have reported business up 150%.

With operators at the likes of Jet2Holidays (flash sale) and Barrhead Travel here in Scotland glued to their phones.

A kinda Christmas come late.

For us Caribbean converts in Scotland (I’ve always been a believer) there has been a rush.

To get on the new Virgin Atlantic Edinburgh to Bridgetown, Barbados route.

While old favourite Tenerife (and why not take in the north and west of the island too) is also seeing brisk business.

State of redemption

Acting Goofy: And a big dog in Disney World In Orlando

The Oo Es of A is always a dream destination with Orlando warming up nicely with a whole raft of attractions.

See you there in June (although I’ve jinxed that on so many occasions I’m loath to name it in case I can’t claim it).

While start spreading the news, New York is among the dream destinations we are lining up as our big comeback holiday.

Now if you’re a UK/Ireland hopper like me then you’ll always favour going through Dublin for your transatlantic trip.

You skip pre-clearance you see.

Aer of optimism

Stairway to US heaven: Brohna Tinnelly and Sean Ryan at the steps of an Aer Lingus plane in Dublin

Our old pals at Aer Lingus are always front and centre with their deals.

Ireland’s national airline carrier has a January Seat Sale.

They have two million seats on sale including up to 20% off European and UK* travel.

As well as flights to North America from just €169 each way as part of a return trip.

And as they reminded us when I was over in Dublin for our American Thanksgiving catch-up their VeriFLY app takes all the work out of it for us.

That way you can upload your Covid-19 related documentation required for your destination,

And that way all of your Covid documentation is verified before travel.

Ya dancer: Ryanair seat sale

As usual we’ll bring you the best deals and destinations right here.

And with that in mind Michael O’Leary and Ryanair never miss out on the opportunity to seize the moment.

And they are offering 100,000 seats from €16.99.

Politicians watch out

Edinburgh Airport Covid rules

So let’s say a tentative goodbye to pre-departure tests.

Safe in the knowledge that politicians being politicians then they’ll likely change all the rules next week.

Let’s not let them.

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.

 

Adventure, America, Countries

Say hi to Donald from me

Are you in America now it’s open again to UK and Irish visitors… if so, say hi to Donald from me if you’re in Orlando.

Orlando will be the first stop for visitors from these, and Irish shores, as our favourite US holiday destination.

We hooked up with our friends from Roller Coaster City.

And they took just enough time off the rides to update us on the thrilliest, spilliest place on Earth.

Stars in my eyes

Now in a Galaxy’s Edge far, far, away in Disney’s twin centre in Anaheim… well, two years ago I got a glimpse into the future in the first party to try out Star Wars world. 

And the future is here now in the present and ready for y’all to see it both in California and here in Orlando.

Of course Mickey, Donald and their pals have been celebrating since last month their 50th birthday (well, not theirs, they’re much older but Disney World’s).

On a theme

Rat-a-tat-tat: Food for thought

And the four theme parks and beyond have been in fine song.

Among the most anticipated attractions, and the ones we’ve zeroed in on are:

Disney Enchantment, a new all-new nighttime extravaganza at Magic Kingdom Park, featuring captivating Disney music, enhanced lighting, stunning fireworks and immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A.

And we’ve danced along to Mickey’s In Da House party on that very street and can advise that you lose all inhibitions (or was that just me, Mickey and Donald?)

Then there’s Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot, where guests shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure.

You like your French gastronomeee, oui? 

Then La Crêperie de Paris is a new restaurant located in the France pavilion at Epcot which offers both table and quick-service options and features a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse.

The Showbiz Lion and I

Scots wahey: With Bev in Orlando

Now as a veteran of the Orlando theme parks I know how nothing sits still (well, it wouldn’t with you twirled this way and that).

Personally, I prefer a wet one, as my old sparring partner, Lady Lyons, Bev, of Showbiz Lion fame, would say.

And so we both loved Aquatica Orlando. AO can now boast Florida’s first-ever duelling waterslide, Riptide Race, which opened in the spring.

You’ll start atop a 68-foot tower and race side-by-side at top speeds, navigating tight loops and accelerations through indoor and outdoor sections.

While Florida also loves its natural as well as animated animals. And it has those in abundance, particularly flamingos.

In the Pink

Pickin’ ma pocket: Flamingo time

The Flamingo Mingle at Discovery Cove is a new, exclusive animal experience where guests can feed and learn about our pink friends in an outdoor setting. 

Another old pal I met back then in Anaheim is The Jurassic Park VelociCoaster which opened in June at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

The ride sends you catapulting up to 70mph and over 150ft in the air with the swiftest of prehistoric predators.

If you like your fun irreverent and green and ogre-like then you’ll love Shrek (guilty).

And his DreamWorks friends. So you’ll be excited about DreamWorks Destination, an all-new, interactive character experience, opened in the KidZone area of Universal Studios Florida.

Guests can interact, dance and be photographed with multiple beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation’s hit film franchises, including Trolls, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda – all in one location.

And seeing it’s all about you in ’22 then here’s what’s still to come. 

Wet, wet, wet

Twirl power: SeaWorld Orlando

Ice Breaker, SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster, will open in February and riders will shiver through family-friendly adventures featuring four launches, both backwards and forwards.

It all culminates in a reverse launch with a 93ft tall spike with 100-degree angle, the steepest vertical drop in Florida.

Aquatica Orlando’s newest water slide, Reef Plunge, will launch in spring with guests sliding through translucent cutouts and rings.

You’ll get to twist and turn though 330ft of fiberglass; and zoom past a vibrant array of marine life.

Commerson’s dolphins, leopard sharks, sardines, and a variety of other cold-water fish will be part of the new dynamic habitat.   

Peppa party

Hamming it up: Peppa and pals

Again, they like it pink in Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida Resort will open the world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park  on February 24.

The standalone theme park will feature multiple rides, interactive attractions, fun live shows, themed playscapes and water play areas.

Phew, and you’ll be looking for somewhere to stay, but not just somewhere but the best Star Warsy place of them all.

Starry hotel

In control: Star Wars time in Anaheim

Walt Disney World has unveiled plans for its immersive Star Wars-themed hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, opening March 1.

Guests will “board” the starship Halcyon for an all-inclusive experience that puts them into the immersive world of Star Wars.

The hotel will debut as part of the new Disney 360 vacation concept that gives each guest a storyline upon arrival. 

So, plenty of stories of your own to tell, like mines the week I met His Royal Quackness.

So, say hi to Donald from me if you’re in Orlando.

And remember all our favourite airlines, Virgin, British Airways and TUI . And, of course. Ireland’s national airline carrier, Aer Lingus.

And Attraction Tickets who will look after your every care when you book with them. 

 

 

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.

Countries, Culture, Europe

Flying turtles to the Canaries

And let’s not be shellfish here that someone else is getting abroad, that Aer Lingus is flying turtles to the Canaries.

No lateral flow tests, no 72-hour PCR test, no passenger locator forms…

Well, this turtle is Canarian.

Julius Caesar (stay with me here) has been kicking his stubby feet in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, for the best part of a year and a half.

The loggerhead sea turtle washed ashore in 2019.

Hail Caesar

Crate expectations: JC gets the deluxe treatment

Julius Caesar, thus named by the Donegal family who found him because of his fighting spirit, has been recuperating in Down.

At the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry where they have put the poor fella back together again.

JC was just three months old when he was swept along the current (and who hasn’t been there).

And he was carried along the Gulf Stream to Co. Donegal.

Donegal diver

Just the ticket: And it’s Turtle luxury on Aer Lingus

The poor wee thing was underweight, just under a few hundred grammes, and suffering from hypothermia.

So it was just as well that it was Donegal where he was found.

Because Ireland’s most northern county boasts the warmest people in the world.

OK I’m biased as my Dear Old Mum and her people are daughter and sons of the sod.

The Ulster folk are famous for their hospitality as anyone who has enjoyed their ‘wee’ Ulster Fry will testify.

Turtle’s Ulster Fry

Turtle loving care: And the crew is besotted

So it’s no surprise Donegal’s fellow Ulsterians filled JC up.

Those pounds piled up on a diet of fish mixture, squid and gel.

Just a thought here but I might just have been a turtle in a previous life.

As I’ve got on famously with them in Barbados and in the Maldives.

Well, after 20 months being pampered in Ireland the day finally came today for JC to head home to the Canaries.

And when you travel from Ireland you need to promote the national airline carrier.

And of course Aer Lingus was only too happy to fly JC on the EI 782 to veterinarian Pascual Calabuig at the Tarifa Wildlife Recovery Centre on Gran Canaria.

Turtle on board

It’ll take longer: The swim back to the Canaries

JC’s minder Portia Simpson is going along for the company.

Our turtle, now weighing 25kg, is protected in a specially designed waterproof crate.

I can only say the best things about Aer Lingus’s flight experience… and the same can be said for turtles.

JC is not the first turtle that Aer Lingus has repatriated.

Another rogue loggerhead turtle, Leona, was found in Co. Clare in 2013 and transported to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria by Aer Lingus in December 2014.

This is your pilot speaking

Next time I’m flying: And i’ll choose Aer Lingus

Pilot Captain Peter Lumsden introduced the VIP to the passengers.

‘It is our pleasure to welcome aboard a very special passenger today and to ensure the safe transportation of JC the Turtle to Gran Canaria.

‘Keeping the turtle’s temperature above 19 degrees is critical to his wellbeing and he requires regular monitoring and shell lubrication so placing him in the aircraft hold was not an option.

‘Like all of us on the flight today, I’m sure he is looking forward to the warmer climate upon landing.’

Turtle minder

And so say all of me. The Canaries are a pleasure any time of the year, but especially in the late summer after a year in cold storage.

So the next time Portia needs a hand, then I’d be happy to fly turtles to the Canaries.

 

 

 

 

Countries, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

A favourite airline now gone, Stobart Air

Sorry to be such an old misery guts on your rest day but every day will now be a rest day for Stobart a favourite airline now gone.

Stobart Air has been the wings beneath my winding my way from Ireland back to Scotland.

On more occasions than I care to remember.

Liquidation looms

But alas the 50-year-old carrier has been forced into liquidation now.

By Covid and Irish Government inaction.

Up in the air: For passengers now

For every Irish adult Stobart Air will always be Aer Arann.

Aer Arann got off the ground in 1970 to serve Inishmore in the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland.

And Galway and the West, where I would spend my childhood summer holidays, is best.

Fly the flag: My friends at Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus, the national airline carrier, saw the possibilities and soon got on board, contracting Aer Arran to operate their short-haul commuter links.

Stobart story

Stobart Group jumped in during the choppy mid Twenty-Teens and rebranded as Stobart Air.

Which is when I started to lean on them as my taxi service back and forth to Scotland while living and working in Ireland.

That’ll be Edinburgh Airport obvs

And revisiting my old haunts such as my young party days in Aberdeen, my adopted home Edinburgh and my home city Glasgow.

There are other airlines and they will fill the gap left by Stobart Air mist critically now where flights have been lost.

But the collapse of any airline is to the detriment of passengers.

A sad day

The wider the range of airlines the greater choice on offer and the better value.

Purple reigned: FlyBe

This is all on the back of the collapse of FlyBe.

And they were a favourite too with their flights to cruise town Southampton, Stobart Air’s decline is a sad day for us all.

We’ll be told that it is Covid collateral damage but try telling that to those who have lost their jobs.

And passengers who have been left out of pocket.

And until governments change their attitude to Travel as vital and not trivial…

Then it might be Stobart a favourite airline now gone today but there will be countless others tomorrow.

 

 

 

America, Countries, Music

Sing for Minnesota and Prince and Dylan

I’d heralded in the last year with a party like it’s Two-Zero-One-Nine and a celebration of the Purple One’s state. 2021 will catch up so let’s sing for Minnesota and Prince and Dylan.

2019 was special not least because I clocked up more air miles than an astronaut.

Minne marvel: Minneapolis. http://www.visitusa.org.uk

But also because Aer Lingus launched its inaugural flight from Dublin to Minneapolis. Unhelpfully, though, that was when I was already on my travels so I’ve still got to check in.

This year will be even better in Prince’s backyard as Paisley Park reopens after Covid and the Mid-West state also celebrates folk poet Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday in his home town of Duluth.

The legends

The King and I: In Vegas

It always comes as a source of inspiration to me that our musical legends don’t generally hail from the glittering cities of the world but rather Mississippi/Memphis (Elvis), Liverpool/Hamburg (The Beatles), Gary, Indiana (Jacko) Barbados (Rihanna) and Minneapolis (Prince) and Duluth (Dylan).

For Prince fans, and the rest of us, the reopening of the sex thimble’s iconic recording studio and home at Paisley Park will have us letting out high-pitched screams.

So what can we expect? A lot of purple (obvs), his wardrobe and yes only a Rock God can pull some of those outfits off while it also helps to have a hairy chest.

The Ultimate

Chest a minute: Prince. http://www.prince.com

You can wonder at his eclectic elecrtric guitars and pianos… and, er, his ping-pong table and pick up a paddle and play. The table tennis that is.

Three packages are advertised on their site: The Ultimate Experience ($160), The VIP Experience ($85) and The Paisley Experience ($45). And for the $160 I’d want to get behind a Little Red Corvette. Only saying!

Now while Prince was the idol of the Eighties, alongwith Michael Jackson (and let’s face it for all time) the Poet Laureate of the Sixties was another Minnesotan Bob Dylan.

Mr Zimmerman

The answer my friend: Bob Dylan. http://www.bobdylan.com

Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth which is 154 miles north of Minneapolis on Lake Superior. 

Again an unlikely port of call for a Rock God.

The young Robert spent the first six years of his life in the port by the Greatest Lake of them all before his family relocated to Hibbing 75 miles north-west. 

So each have a claim to the Great Man. 

Man of Minnesota

Moothie man: Dylan

And how do they solve such things in Minnesota?

Well Minnesotans and sharing and caring and are celebrating their favourite son together.

Duluth Dylan Fest , the Hibbing Dylan Project, Visit Duluth, the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce, Iron Range Tourism and the Minnesota Discovery Center have all formed a band (Dylan reference there) under the title Year of Dylan.

The year will run between Dylan’s 80th and 81st birthdays which will be celebrated both in Duluth and Hibbing. 

It will all get under way at the Dylan Monument at Hibbing High School on May 22, as well as music at Dylan’s boyhood home in Hibbing. 

Who’s your favourite?

I’ll keep you updated as we go along but let’s just celebrate this Mid-West state and sing for Minnesota and Prince and Dylan.