Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Cassidy’s Sundance Kids

My Dear Old Mum would visit the same Travel Agent every year to book our family holiday and I’m sure it’s the same for Cassidy’s Sundance Kids.

Cassidy, as all in Ireland know, is the country’s biggest independent Travel Agent.

And it has made generations of holidaymakers dreams come true.

Which is why families continue to go back to them again and again to book their holidays.

Now there have been many heroes over this Covid year and a half and our health workers, teachers…

And heck, all of us should take a bow.

But I’d like to give a shout-out to our Travel Providers who have often worked without pay and in their own time.

And all to make sure customers get away or are refunded or have their holidays rescheduled.

Now there are those who say that getting away is not a matter of life and death.

But if self-isolation (and the Son and Heir is facing that just now) has taught us anything it is that humans do not belong caged up.

And so we are delighted to report that Cassidy Travel’s doors are open and filling our inboxes with their offers.

And so without further ado…

On trend

Last year’s blond: ‘The Donald’ in New York

Here’s where they want to take us and I’m indebted to the awesome Aileen who has taken over babysitting us Travel professionals.

Here are the trends (as the kids say):

The late Autumn deals, New York and Las Vegas shopping breaks, Christmas markets, Lapland, Christmas and New Year Sun.

Take a breath…

New Year and January Ski, Cruising, Florida 2022 and Villa Holidays.

And, yes please to them all.

But we’ll pare some of them down to these Three Cheers.

Ola Barcelona

To the Lord: At Gaudi’s centrepiece La Sagrada

We all know Barcelona in the summer where it’s hot, hot, hot.

And I’m sure I’m still the subject of the proud, brusque Catalan waitress who I managed to draw a smile from when I asked for a hot chocolate on the hottest day of the hottest heatwave.

Thankfully we got to take to the water for a cruise stop.

flights and 3 nights accommodation at the 3*Hotel Leo for the incredible price of €149pp (based on two people sharing)!

Flight departs Dublin 13th and returning 16th October 2021.

Call Cassidy Travel on 01 8901000 or book in one of their 10 stores across Dublin.

You’re a Celebrity too

On Celebrity Cruises’ Edge

And Celebrity Edge is the ultimate in cruising with its floating tender… and yes, love me tender.

Cassidy will get you on board for a scoot around Italy and Greece aboard next summer 2022.

Get on this deal for seven nights in an interior cabin including full board.

Plus Always Included Promotion Classic Drinks package, internet package and tips for only €1929pp.

Setting sail from Rome and visiting Naples and the stunning Greek islands of Santorini, Rhodes & Mykonos,

And phinally Phuket

Phuket, we’ll finish with a land, Thailand, and resort, Phuket, where I sent many a young adventurer and page designer and scuba diver Podge in my time as a commissioning editor.

Cassidy has 50% savings included for a ten-night stay in the 4* Old Phuket Karon Beach Resort from only €998pp for next May.

Stay in a Deluxe Sino Wing room, beautiful period accommodation influenced by Sino-Portuguese architecture.

And enjoy the magnificent pool, mountain views and beach side bars.

Prices are based on two sharing and include flights, taxes, private transfers and hotel accommodation.

Book by September 30 to avail of this amazing deal!

And aren’t these all good reasons to pitch Cassidy’s Sundance Kids.

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Sport

Open again for golf

A lot has happened in the last two years since I sat drenched on the banks of the Royal Portrush greens but now we’re Open again for golf,

It is doubtful whether the demure folk of Royal St George’s in Sandwuch, Kent on the English south coast will holler their man home.

The way the Northern Irish did County Offaly’s Shane Lowry on that deluge of a day in County Antrim.

Champion Golfer

Open for glory in Belfast

Shane has been a unique Champion Golfer of the Year in that his reign has spanned two years.

After last year’s tournament was cancelled because of Covid.

A bit like your Travel Editor of the Year who was honoured by Irish Travel as their Travel Editor of the Year in 2019 before the world shut down.

And is yet to truly open again.

Ben Sayers outside my house in North Berwick

Golfers have, of course, been waiting excitedly to get their clubs packed again for foreign trips.

Shane knows he has little to worry from this direction as I usually stick to the driving range.

But here’s a mixed bag of my golfing misadventures abroad. Fore!

Quatre en France

Captain’s choice?

The Old Course, Cannes, France: And continental Europe’s oldest course is where to play with Cannes’ Fast Set.

You’ll even have la joie of traversing a small stream between holes on a boat.

But be sure to remember the international language of golf when slicing your shot.

As I was reminded by the match behind to shout Fore. Needless to say it wasn’t Bryson DeChambeau!

My Ryder

Are you watching Pádraig Harrington?

Quinta do Lago, Portugal: Word had obviously reached Paul McGinley and his Golf Academy in the Algarve.

That I was open for golf again.

My driving was better than my riding with me going off road on our cycle and almost ending up with the spoonbill birds.

Another round in Vegas

Hotshot: In Vegas

Topgolf, Las Vegas: And in Vegas the pitchers are the jugs of booze.

They come to your golf range table with chicken wings and dips. And it helps with your golf driving.

As I also found on a Liverpool course as a guest of Irish Ferries and Jameson Whiskey where a drinks trolley would come round every few holes.

What a Player

My pal Gary Player

Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, Wirral: The north-west of England rivals Scotland as Golfland and where I wrote a golf column.

And where I got the tip that a Japanese TV station were filming a round with Gary Player and would I like to join them.

While I channeled my inner Gary at the Press round before an Open and putted back off the clubhouse wall as Gary did in ‘74.

Turk that

Swing time in the TA lounge

Turkish Airlines Lounge, Istanbul Airport: And the dream of golf nuts who will find every opportunity to play…

An airport lounge driving range on the way back from Istanbul.

Just go easy on the cornucopia of food and drink at the TA lounge or you’ll follow through.

And fill up with Turkish treats

So we’re Open for golf again and there’s an Open invitation to you all to come and see us in North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland.

Although my cousin Greg is still avoiding me after he stood too close to me on the tee box at North Berwick Golf Club

When we were kids and I clunked him on the head. Fore!

 

America, Countries, Culture

Happy 4th of July New America

What a difference a year makes… Happy 4th of July a new America.

A new President and new horizons.

And new (and old) visitors as the American Dream renews itself.

Party time in Vegas

Miss America meets Mr Scotland in Vegas

I think we’d all agree that after the year we’ve had we need a party.

And the partiest party place of all is Party Town, Las Vegas.

Where they’re getting set to roll out the red, white and blue carper for us.

FlyOver Vegas

Fly the West

Vegas is showcasing its new ritzy feature, The FlyOver, this Fall.

This is a multi-sensory journey through the West’s most iconic locations.

They’ll be the Las Vegas Strip, the grandest of canyons, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Arches National Parks and Lake Tahoe.

Magic Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

So how does it work? Well, all the fun happens on a moving platform with a 6 degree of motion.

And anyone who has been to Universal Orlando and ridden the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey simulator knows that these things rock.

The simulator is next to the Hard Rock Cafe on Las Vegas Boulevard and boasts…

An expansive space with two flight-ride theatres, pre-show entertainment area and, of course, a bar to settle your stomachs.

Zipline Vegas

Fly Vegas

You can see Vegas below you too on a SlotZilla zipline whizz through Downtown, Old Vegas.

Today Vegas will roll two Fourth of Julys into one.

So whether that’s a pool party, out on the Strip or at a show then Americans will be sparking in their fave fun city today.

And they’ll be lighting up the sky too with the fireworks displays they do so well.

Miley’s Vegas

Miley high

Multiple hotels will take part, including Caesars Palace, the Aria, Planet

Hollywood, Treasure Island, The Venetian, The Strat and the brand new Resorts World.

And boy will they be celebrating, as only Vegas can, with Miley Cyrus showcasing the grand opening at their AYU Dayclub.

Cammy over some time

All of which will be shown on the huge LED screen from 9pm with the fireworks going off all over town from 11pm.

Miley, of course, will guarantee that it’s going to be a Party in the USA. Or NewSA, if you like.

So Happy 4th July New America and we’ll see you all again soon.

When we see at last a new UK and a new Ireland.

My Vegas friends

And Elvis is there too

Over to our leaders then.

I have an appointment with Cammy from Utah and so many other Vegas friends this Fall.

But I need movement on removal of restrictions so we can have our independence back.

 

 

America, Countries, Culture

Pride and joy

The Tarts and Tramps was always a rite of passage for Aberdeen University Freshers students in the Eighties, and I dare say it’s their Pride and joy still.

Quite whether students get a chance to glam and glum it up in a meaningful Freshers week in September remains to be seen.

Hugs around the world

But encouragingly Pride events will be held around the world this month.

Changed from last year when we all rallied together to make the most of it all digitally.

My attention was drawn by one of Las Vegas’s finest music acts, Imagine Dragons, championing Pride.

Flagging up Pride

It just so happens that I’m at my campest in the Oo-Es-of-EH and the 

Cariqueen and it’s that love of a good pun which makes me fit right in.

By rights we who travel for a living would have been boogieing it up in Party City.

That is of course Las Vegas, where I should be now at the US Travel Fair.

My beardie matches: In California

Their Pride party is legendary as is their entertainment.

With the Beach Boys and Snoop Dogg entertaining us last time up in Anaheim.

And OneRepublic rocking Red Rocks in Denver the year before.

Red Rocks in Denver

We’ll hopefully do the American Travel Fair all over again in the Fall.

Where, yes, Pride will be behind us.

But I know someone from my last Vegas trip, Cami from Utah.

My Pride and joy, who I might just still be married to!

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy days and Songdays – Holyday favourites

And because of the holyday season we’re in this week’s Rainy days and Songdays today celebrates Holyday favourites.

Happy clappy California

Whoopi

Oh Happy Day (Oakland/San Francisco)

Oh happy day, oh happy day, when Jesus washed, oh when He washed, When Jesus washed, He washed my sins away – The Edwin Hawkins Singers/Sister Act

They don’t need much invitation to unleash a Gospel Choir on you in California.

And Hallelujah there was one waiting for us on the first day in Anaheim for our American Travel Fair, IPW.

Elvis sings Gospel

Full of Graceland

How Great Thou Art (Memphis)

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation. And take me home what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow in humble adoration. And then proclaim, my God how great thou art – Elvis Presley

And it is worth remembering that Elvis first learned to sing in church.

And during his residencies in Las Vegas he would invite his friends up to his room for impromptu Gospel singalongs

It’s better to imagine Elvis’s heart being joyful at the moment God came to take him home that day in Graceland.

All God’s Children

Whenever God Shines His Light (Belfast)

Whenever God shines his light on me. Opens up my eyes so I can see. When I look up in the darkest night. And I know that everything is going to be all right – Van Morrison/Cliff Richard

And aren’t we all God’s children anyway even Van the Man, the grumpiest man in rock?

Religion is all around you in Belfast where Van is known to put on occasional jazz cabaret shows at the Europa Hotel.

It’s always best though with a Celtic soul twist.

Welsh worship

Bread of Heaven (Cardiff)

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer, Pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak but thou art mighty. Hold me with thy powerful hand. Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven. Feed me till I want no more. – Bryn Terfel, Cardiff

And Cwm Rhondda (The Rhondda) is the unofficial anthem of Wales.

And is a favourite of Welsh rugby fans.

It scores too as it celebrates God rather than the popular policy of God celebrating said country.

Mississippi music

Grammy loves you

This Little Light of Mine (Mississippi)

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, all the time, let it shine – Sister Rosetta Tharpe

And you’ll find a lot more about Sister Rosetta and all the wonderful Gospel and early Rock singers at the Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.

And the significance of This Little Light in a room of reflection on your Civil Rights visit to the Two Museums in Jackson.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland

Paddy’s Day Snaps Pt1 – Johnnie Fox hooley

Sláinte… sure aren’t we all Irish today anyway, St Paddy’s Day, Ireland’s national day?

Paddy’s Day, of course, will be different this year with the streets of Ireland (and the world) empty.

But that just allows the whole world to link arms and party.

Fantastic Johnnie Fox

Old foxes: La Famille at Johnnie Fox’s

It’s something of a tradition to take relatives and friends up to Johnnie Fox’sin the Dublin Mountains.

At any given time but particularly on St Paddy’s Day.

 

This year one of Ireland’s fieriest firecrackers, Bláithnaid Ní Chofaigh will be throwing the hooley.

It will be livestreamed from Johnnie’s and also Dick Mack’s in Dingle and The Duke of York in Belfast.

And she’d be up dancing too

And there will even be some Riverdance thrown in.

There’s also a Guinness demo on how to pour the perfect pint which I know how to do from Vegas of all places. And to drink it.

And someone has greened up for today: At the Duke of York

The party which Tourism Ireland are putting on will be on your screens from 7pm-8.30pm here in Europe and 9.30pm-11pm in North America.

Go to the Facebook page, YouTube or Ireland.com. I know what I’ll be watching.

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Liam Neeson will find you, and he WILL green you

What I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career – Bryan Mills (aka Liam Neeson), Taken.

And make no mistake Liam Neeson will look for you, will find you, and WILL green you.

Irish eyes are smiling: Liam Neeson

Yes, Big Liam is fronting a new online video for St Patrick’s Day with footage shot around Ireland.

A Giant was here: The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

At locations like Dingle, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Derryclare Lough, Newgrange and Titanic Belfast.

Taken with a green filter

The Greening Tower of Pisa

The footage will be interwoven with images from Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative.

That will see famous landmarks and iconic sites illuminated in green each year on St Paddy’s Day, Wednesday, March 17.

The Taken actor waxed lyrical about his native country.

London calling

He said: ‘This year, more than ever, seeing the world turn green for St Patick’s Day will help to bring positivity and hope to millions on 17 March.

‘This is a reminder of the beautiful island that awaits when it is safe to travel again.’

The man himself

The announcement of the new landmarks to be greened around the world has always been a highlight of the year and this year is no exception.

And may even be more dramatic with the absence of us to spoil the view.

An Irish Opera: Sydney Opera House

The Tourism Ireland initiative began on March 17, 2010, when the Sydney Opera House was bathed in shades of green.

And it quickly caught on with The London Eye, Niagara Falls, the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China...

Phew (pause for breath) Rio‘s Christ the Redeemer and the One World Trade Center in New York among the more than 300 around the world going green.

Viva Green Vegas

I’ll put it all on green: Vegas

While the Welcome sign in Las Vegas will be emerald too…

Hopefully in preparation for the delegation of Travel professionals from this island going out to their American Travel Fair in the Autumn.

Our friends at Tourism Ireland earlier this month announced details of those famous attractions and reminded us too of the debt we owe to Wales.

It is after all the birthplace of St Patrick, where the village of Portmeirion will green up.

The Mannekin Piss in Brussels

Over the coming week, Tourism Ireland will roll out its St Patrick’s film in 12 markets around the world.

Including Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, the Nordic countries, the GCC (Gulf Cooperaton Council), the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

Seth’s magnus opum

For a broader sense of Ireland’s Greening of the World, check out the beautiful book of that name by renowned Irish journalist Seth Linder.

And because every picture tells a story, here is a further selection from his book.

Rio de Greeneiro

Should it not be Moulin Verde?

I Greensterdam

Colossal: The Colosseum

Empire state of green mind

A little bit of Scotland

The Kelpies in Falkirk

Of course, there will be a corner of North Berwick, here in Scotland which will be Forever Green.

 

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

It’s a crime… police dramas around the world

Excitement is building to fever pitch ahead of the resumption of police drama Line of Duty on March 21 which allows us to explore police dramas around the world.

Hastings’ landscape

Europa living In Belfast

Belfast: I can’t find evidence but it must be true that Superintendent Ted Hastings is named after Belfast’s faves Hastings Hotels.

The seahorse on the wall of the Great Central Hotel is your compass wherever you go in the Northern Irish capital.

That is if you can drag yourself out of the Observatory bar atop the hotel where you get the best views.

And where James Nesbitt opens his Bloodlands detective drama.

Adrian Dunbar on the Graham Norton Show watches Vicky McLure at his Line of Duty mural

Hastings, aka Adrian Dunbar in Line of Duty has been immortalised.

As are all they take to their heart and allow to film in their city.

By having their image set as a mural… and be sure to take a black taxi tour around Belfast.

Check in at the Europa Hotel, part of the story, and get ready for a potted history of The Troubles.

Mob rules

Vegas baby

Once upon a crime in America: And everywhere there is an American dream there is a big job to realise that dream.

You can see how Las Vegas was built by Bugsy Siege.

And The Mob in Chicago in the Mob Museum and channel your inner Al Capone.

Call him Fonz

Tom Hardy as Capone in the Netflix dramas

Fonz Capone is synonymous of course with Chicago.

Where he was invited from New York by Johnny Torrio, and ended up running the city.

The invitations have piled up over the years for me to visit Chicago but the big job has eluded me thus far.

Last year was to be me marking the centenary of the Volstead Act which beckoned in Prohibition.

And I was all set to join one of the retro tours

My cocktail will be all the sweeter when I do get there…

I’ll just have to watch at the speakeasy doors for the cops.’

Florida where he ditched the Al

Miami vices and Capone

We never did find out why Mae Capone insisted to the police watching the house: ‘We don’r call him that [Al] here.’

Here is Palm Beach, near Miami, where the syphilitic Capone spent his last days under house arrest deep in the doo-doo (literally).

You can see it all in graphic detail on Netflix’s Capone, starring Tom Hardy.

Italy, the Old Country

The Old Country, Sicily

Of course Fonz (or Al) and la famiglia are really all just displaced Sicilians.

Visitors to Sicily will always head for Mt Etna until it gets too hot to handle.

But for those who stay awhile and see Taormina then a Godfather tour is highly recommended.

This one I’ve stumbled across includes a Fiat 500 {Cinquecento)and me and the Cinquecento have history.

When I stalled in the car park in the French Riviera and the good monsieur took over.

I’m not sure whether Capone would be so understanding.

Countries, Culture, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – singing in the Welsh Valleys

The old land of my fathers is dear to me, A land of poets, singers, famous celebrities; Her brave warriors, ardent patriots, for freedom they lost their blood Welsh National Anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers)  

Dydd, Gwyl, Dewi, Hapus as you need to say in a North Wales pub today, St David’s Day…

Only they’re not open (probably) because of lockdown.

I know more about Wales’s lock-in rules than their lockdown regulations.

I spent much of my year in Cardiff as a post-graduate student in lock-ins in Kildare’s Bar.

Capital stuff: Cardiff

There was much singing there.

And as a Scots fan at the rugby, although we were drowned out by the Welsh chanting before our biennial drubbing.

So on this day of days for the Welsh, and with a rugby victory over England fresh in their memories from the weekend…

A celebration here of Welsh singers.

You can count on Bassey

Ultimate diva: Shirley Bassey

Shirley Bassey: And what better introduction to life for a new-born baby boy than Shirley Bassey belting out at you?

And Son and Heir you can thank me later for playing the Queen of Tiger Bay to you when you came out of hospital.

You were put on Earth to be, a part of this great world is thee, and thy life.

The Jones Boyo

Tom Jones: Take a Biblical story, give it a Mariachi feel and employ a Welsh heartthrob crooner.

And you’ve got Tom Jones’s Delilah.

The Jones Boyo is, of course, legendary in Las Vegas.

But, in truth, has a residency at any and every party around the world.

And on cruise ships wandering aimlessly around the English Channel.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Welsh Preachers and Phonics

Design for life: The Manic Street Preachers. http://www.manicstreetpreachers.com

Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics: Tread Caerphilly, the Manics are pure rat-a-tat-tat rock.

With a skill for a title which we love…

Motorcycle Emptiness, A Design for Life, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next.

While the Rhondda Valleys’ finest, the Phonics make it on the list.

For raspy Kerry Jones and his rendition of the old classic Handbags and Gladrags.

Daddy’s Little Girl called it the Black Black Song… ‘four and twenty blackbirds in a cake and bake them all in a pie.’

Church music

Smile: Charlotte Church

Charlotte Church: Only the Voice of an 11-year-old Angel can sound good over the telephone on TV’s This Morning.

Charlotte went on to sing at Rupert Murdoch and Wendy Deng’s wedding and had a celebrity marriage herself to rugby star Gavin Henson.

The Llandaff, Cardiff lass’s signature tune… Pie Jesu.

Time to say

Give us a song: Katherine Jenkins

Kathrerine Jenkins: Beauty, grace and gravitas, that’s Neath‘s finest Kathryn and Pisa‘s Andrea Bocelli.

And their haunting Time To Say Goodbye.

Of course Time To Say Goodbye is inexorably ties up with Italy.

And it played out in the piazza in Bergamo the last time I was allowed out of the country.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – baseball in England

And judging by what a mess England are making of their cricket Test series in India, maybe they’ll go back to baseball.

There are few things more American than baseball.

And that obviously means that it came from somewhere else.

And this somewhere else is England where it had been a folk game.

Lord’s, the home of cricket, gave itself over to baseball for the first time when it hosted the Boston Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics in 1874.

And Slugger Jimmy in the USA

So for all the big Wembley and Tottenham Stadium American Football matches it’s not a new phenomenon.

To bring American sporting franchises over to the Old Country.

We do, of course, have splendid memories of Aer Lingus‘s biennial American Colllege matches at the Aviva. Happy days!

For the record Boston beat Phladelphia 24-7.

In truth Beantown and Philly are winners when it comes to sport and you can’t visit without being touched by their love of their athletes.

Paris, non

Bravo: On World Cup final day

And the hairy-arsed Scots who make a biennial pilgrimage to Paris to converge around the Arc de Triomphe.

And watch their Bravehearts lose to Les Bleus were unable to do so this year.

So too did the Scotland rugby team whose match against Les Bleus of France was called off when the home outfit was hit by Covid.

Paris hasn’t always been kind to this hairy-arsed Scot either.

I had my butt kicked when I kipped down for the night in Paris Saint-Lazare railway station in my summer holiday down on the French Riviera after schoool.

The butt-kickers en force were the Gendarme…

And it wouldn’t be my first brush with the French law who took offence to me stopping the traffic in Saint-Raphael.

Let’s be Frank about Bruno

This year? When I’ll be back in Vegas

For those of us whose golden years (so far) were the Eighties Frank Bruno was ubiquitious, know what ah mean, Harry.

And his story was inexorably tied up with that of Mike Tyson’s though he was merely a punchbag for the Baddest Man on the Planet.

Sky Documentaries’ excellent Bruno v Tyson chronicles Frank’s story.

From inauspicious beginnings in South London through to him becoming the Gentle Giant of the Nation.

Las Vegas looms large as the two fights were held there…

The first Bruno v Tyson clash was set to be held in London before Iron Mike pranged his car.

The Las Vegas Hilton was the venue for the first fight and the MGM for the second.

With Vegas our venue for the American Travel fair this year we’re all hoping there will be boxing on then.

And with a seniors circuit now kicking in in which Iron Mike figures.

Let’s get this Bruno v Tyson III on in Vegas in the Fall.

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