America, Australasia, Countries

Don’t shake the Cook coconut tree

We all want to conserve our favourite destinations’ USP so as we don’t shake the Cook coconut tree.

And that’s why we leave the minutiae of building committee meetings to spreadsheet junkies.

While we fill in the colour of why our landscapes can grow so far but no further.

Climb the tree

The deep blue sea: And you’ll have a devil of a good time

Deep in the Pacific Ocean they understandably measure their growth against their most widespread feature.

And so developers on The Cook Islands are limited to how high they can build.

Against the measuring rod of coconut trees.

Brand new

Party time: In the Cook Islands

All of which builds up a picture of an island removed of modern branding.

And, you’d be right.

Its 15 islands are free of global brand hotels, chain restaurants, mass market fast-food outlets and traffic lights!

And people… with only 17,500 scattered across the isles.

Ready, steady Cook

Hands up: Tranquil evenings

You interested? Then you’ll be glad to hear that you can fly to the Cook Islands direct from Auckland with Air New Zealand and from next month Jetstar.

News on the return of direct flights from Sydney and Los Angeles will be released later this year.

And you’ll be good to go with a double vaccination, and without the need for a PCR or Antigen requirement.

News of which I hope to share with you for other travels I am planning and tearing my hair out trying to get over the line.

Back to quirky planning regulations and tales of keeping the skyscrapers down.

Philly steam ahead

Rocky and Jocky: In Philadelphia

Now proud Philadelphia doesn’t defer to its more celebrated east coast neighbour New York on anything.

Except on the size of its buildings… and with good reason.

Because their founder, William Penn, is keeping a watchful eye on his descendants.

The convention in the City of Brotherly Love is never to build higher than the peak of Billy Penn’s hat.

But somebody in the committee obviously had forgotten to read the memo.

Because with the 1987 construction of the One Liberty Place skyscraper they exceeded the height of Billy’s statue atop Philly City Hall.

And they lived to regret it when their sports teams failed to win a title until 2008 when the Phillies took the World Series.

Quirky buildings

Philly high: And the city skyline

So how did they do it?

Well, a year and four months before a statuette of the William Penn figure atop City Hall was affixed to the final beam of the Comcast Center.

And this made it the highest William Penn figure in the city at the time.

All good to know for when I come to be immortalised in my home city of Glasgow.

Tell us too about your destination’s quirky buildings superstitions and we’ll get this conversation going.

For now I’m back to these pre-departure tests and thinking how stressless the Cook Islands and others are making it.

And I’m happy to promote them because you don’t shake the Cook coconut tree.

 

 

 

Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland

Ryanwhere is Scotland?

Ryanwhere is Scotland? A question asked by one of its staff to a Polish family returning to Scotland from Portugal.

It was all to do with different Covid regulations applying to Scotland and England.

And fair’s fair because it’s complicated too for those of us who share this island of Britain.

It is of course an occupational hazard of being one of Jock Tamson’s Bairns (that’s being a Scot).

And on my first visit to America nearly 40 years ago the young people I’d meet would ask me if Scotland was in England.

The capital of North Dakota

Sign of the times: Ryanair staff

It irked me then until my American History tutor I learned under when I got back and studied in Aberdeen asked me what the capital of North Dakota was?

And like all lessons in life it’s stuck: Bismarck.

All of which ramblings brings us to Ryanair‘s flash sale which ends tomorrow, midnight, Sunday, January 30.

Michael O’Leary’s empire, of course, is built on a model of flying to out-of-the-way destinations to cut down on prices for the punters.

And so Scots (and non-Scots) have had to become educated in towns we’d never heard of before.

Some of them are also in the same country as the destination we want to visit.

Some out-of-the-way places

Suits you sir: Legoland

For our Ryanair pal Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, which is the northern country of the island of Britain.

And it, and Scotland’s largest city Glasgow, is €9.99, from my old stomping ground of Dublin (Ireland that is, not Ohio).

But like Geography Gio we had to look up the map to find some of these others.

Billund in Denmark is the cheapest destination on offer at €7.99.

The good news for kids (and big kids alike) is that Billund is Legoland.

The bad news is that if you wanted to see Copenhagen then you’d have to island hop and it’s 261kms away.

Eindhoven, 122kms south of Amsterdam, too comes in at €7.99.

And while I’m sure that Eindhoveners are very friendly, their centrepiece the Philips Electronic Museum is always going to be a hard sell.

Do you know these cities?

A Star in Hamburg

Happy Hamburg is in the same price bracket and is instantly recognisable for anybody who has seen the map of Europe more than once.

Now I’ve had the good fortune to attend the German Travel Mart in Dresden and stay abreast of most of what is going on in Deutschland but Memmingen? Sorry.

Well, the old Roman fortress town is 116kms west of Munich and is clearly a smaller airport than the Bavarian capital which you can get lost in (trust me).

Pole star: Lublin

We dare say too that in Lublin‘s fair city the girls are so pretty.

Only it’s pronounced Looblin and is in Poland, 170kms south-west of capital Warsaw.

And you can get there for €12.99 where film buffs may recognise if from the film The Reader.

So the next time an airline worker asks you Ryanwhere is Scotland (insert your own country) then take five.

And reflect on the fact that we don’t all know where each other live.

And it’s all the more exciting when we find out.

MEET YOU IN THE AIR