America, Countries

American winners

And we’re all American winners with the US borders reopening in November for UK and EU visitors.

But indulge me a minute to give a shout-out to my old pal Fionn Davenport, Editor in Chief of the Ireland’s Travel Trade Network.

Scroll of honour: Fionn Davenport

Prize guy

Fionn has only gone and won the major international Travel award at IPW, the American Travel Fair.

The only downside is that I wasn’t there in Las Vegas to see him receive it and share the celebrations.

With the British and Irish contingent who did make it out to the US on the International Exemption Order.

An exemption I was granted but which non-Travel writers or special sectors aren’t given.

Go Joe

Honest Joe: Joe Biden

Only from November there will be no need after Joe Biden at last gave us all the news we’ve been waiting so long to hear.

The word on the street is that we could all be over there by Thanksgiving (November 25) which is around the time of someone’s birthday (hint)!.

Irelando: With Fionn Davenport (middle)

While we, the travellers, are licking our lips my thoughts never veer far from our dream-makers, our Travel providers.

So imagine the excitement at Universal (Orlando and Hollywood), Disney (World and Anaheim), American Holidays, Tour America, Attraction Tickets, TUI, Hays.

And here in Scotland Barrhead Travel.

Digging out my new ESTA I already have my five-year visa, but belts and braces, I’m imagining those pancakes at a US diner.

Next stop Orlando

The 2022 renewal of the American Travel Fair is slated for Orlando in May.

But I’m free between now and then (hint!)

A postscript here and a return to Fionn’s award, for his article on California from the Travel Fair in Anaheim which I also attended.

Fionn is a popular name in Ireland but unheard of on the other side of the Irish Sea.

Pronounced Fee-on, it means ‘fair-haired’.

None of which, of course, the editor who drew the pages for an article from Fionn.

And he immediately assumed that it was a mistake and changed his byline to Fiona.

Now we all make mistakes and I’ve made most of them and being that soldier myself I felt for the editor.

Only one Fionn Davenport

Duck Tales: Next year in Orlando

They must have trawled back through the article to see if ladyfying Fionn might have inadvertently changed his orientations.

Thankfully though nothing to alarm the lovely Laura here.

And Lauren too

Prize gal: Lauren Jarvis

And in further breaking news, big hurrah to too another fave of our Travel Pack, international woman of mystery, Lauren Jarvis.

All of which brings me back to American winners, Fionn Davenport, Lauren Jarvis, us Travel writers and editors and our Travel providers.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

America, Countries, Culture

A flight of fancy on Superman’s Day

And doesn’t he still look good for 87… it’s a flight of fancy on Superman’s Day.

This day in 1934 The Man of Steel burst into public consciousness in DC Comics’ Action Comics Series issue #1.

As we all know Kryptonite Kal-El exploded into the Mid-American wheat fields if Smallsville.

Only it wasn’t Kansas in the Oo Es of Eh but Beynon, near Calgary in Alberta in Canada.

A man can fly

Top man: Superman

The Beynon Canyon is pivotal in the Clark Kent story.

It is here that Martha and Clark bury his adopted father Jonathan and the young Kent decides to leave for Metropolis.

Another better-known canyon, the Grand Canyon, hoves into view when Superman saves the day.

And Daily Planet photographer Jimmie Olsen from the crumbling Hoover Dam. And trust me a good Press photographer is hard to find.

On the right track

The Rail Thing http://www.imdb.com

We all know too that Superman flew through the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

While Metropolis we all automatically associate with New York.

How could we not when Clark and Lois go for a night-time spin around the Statue of Liberty?

And we would be right to see NY as Supes’ town… in parts.

Dam impressive

The Hoover Dan set up. http://www.superman1978.com

The Daily Planet where Clark works can be found at the art deco News Building, 220 East 42nd Street.

Moved, though, from the Los Angeles City Hall, 200 North Spring Street. Yes, La La Land.

Lex Luthor’s lair we are led to believe is below the Grand Central Station although whisper it it is Pinewood Studios, Berkshire in England.

Superman’s origins may lie somewhere entirely different, the Eiger in Switzerland and Friedrich Neitzsche’s imagination.

Man of Letters

Is it a Bird? No, it’s Bandanaman in Orlando

Of course we have all channeled our own Superman on the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride at Universal Orlando.

Before back to work as the pictures show.

And as then as now… of course Superman is a man of letters too, a journalist.

So I’ll continue to be inspired by The Man of Steel and enjoy a flight of fancy on Superman’s Day.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Meet the World – all turned out wellness in the end

Travel is, of course, good for your health… and health is good for your Travel.

That is the recurring theme coming out of the Meet the Media international Travel fair.

That our industry’s health depends on acknowledging that holidaymakers will now put our wellbeing front and centre of every trip from hereon in.

Veloci for Victory: In Orlando

And so every destination will need to show that they are safe.

And that social distances are observed, and discreet, so that we all feel we are actually on holiday.

As ever, our American Travel friends are leading the way with their innovative organisation.

And so in our usual scattergun way let’s see how the world is opening up again.

Ride on

We’re waiting for you: Universal Hollywood

Universal: And our friends at Universal, and that includes you Veloci and your VelociCoaster, are waiting for us in Orlando.

Even better than that, if that’s possible, is the reopening of Universal Studios Hollywood on Friday.

To Californians at first (drat!) but to us later (yeah!).

Hello Pet

Knight Rider at Universal Hollywood Studios

And a chance too to try out the all-new Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash and Jurassic World – The Ride.

As well as the famous Studio Tour.

Join the tour

Get your ticket to ride!

We’ll do a sweep of the States from Utah to Michigan to New York State as we go.

The morning after

But as is the way… the morning after the Meet the Media international Travel fair always comes with a monster hangover.

And this year’s digital get-together was no different.

All of which has me looking for some medical intervention!

Medical Czech

Ever since sipping from the magic sippy cup in the Czech Republic’s Spa Triangle I have been enlivened by this magical land.

You too can be born again by drinking from the magic waters from the ubiquitous fountains.

And the magic beer in Hoptown, Zatec,

Why not put the two together in the beer spas which are a thing around Central Europa.

Long Covid cure

Look at the head on that: Zatec, Czech Republuc

All of which shouldn’t come as a surprise because Beethoven among other luminaries of the day would come a-visiting.

You’ll not be surprised to see that the cutting-edge Czechs are leading the way too in pandemic treatment.

Such is their place as pioneers in medical tourism.

We’ll bring you more on how they’re addressing Long Covid and attracting inquiries from abroad from those of us who want a cure and the best beer.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

 

 

 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Culture

Holidos and don’ts – suitcases

And I am indebted to my friend and Travel mover and shaker, French-based Irishman, Michael Collins for sparking me to revisit an old series, Holidos and don’ts.

Michael flagged up that at his local supermarché the aisles selling suitcases and headrests are interdit, or blocked.

Mad hatters: And when I used to take a full suitcase to America

Which beggars the question: how essential are suitcases?

And who doesn’t have one anyway?

Nothing to see here

As all Travel professionals do I like to take advice from seasoned pros, like doyen and Americanophile JP Thomson, erstwhile of the Sunday World.

JP always packs a half-full suitcase to leave space for what you take home.

Half full

Irish Travel professionals, nay all Irish people, love few things better than hitting the shops after they get off the plane.

Possibly the afternoon after they hit the bars.

Anyone got scissors?

And so when our Irelando party hit Aaawlando, and they set aside a couple of hours at a shopping mall, it was like the Olympics 100m final.

Needless to say they all returned with half the mall in their bags, while I bought a tee-shirt.

New suitcase

The fact is though that shopping in America is great value.

Irish and Scots on tour in Orlando

So why not take the opportunity to update your wardrobe and send the outdated clothes you’re standing up in to the charity shop.

The same applies, of course, if you go on a sun holiday.

Pack light

So that the members of my party who took full suitcases to the Maldives found they only needed their swimwear and summer clothes.

Who needs a suitcase? The Maldives

Some of us, of course, found that all you need on dry land is a sarong and flip-flops.

While we’ll not talk about those women who took heels.

And make it snazzy

And in the last instance why not just go out with hand luggage, or better still a rucksack that doubles as a wheelie?

Here’s to hitting the airport again

And buy a suitcase when you’re out in a country where, Zut Alors!, they don’t stop you buying suitcases from their supermarchés.

And for more Holidos and don’ts advice here’s a reminder of how we roll from where we last rocked up… Bergamo.

America, Countries, Culture

Twenty years of Shrek

Of course Happy Ever After can yield another and another and another in the movie fairytale world, particularly when it yields as many dollars as Shrek.

Shrek exploded onto our screens 20 years ago next month and it’s fair enough to say nothing was ever the same again.

More Shrek

And although we thought the release of Shrek Forever After, also called Shrek: The Final Chapter in 2010 would tie up the franchise why give up on the gift that keeps on giving?

They’re part of the audience. https://www.attractiontickets.com/en?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu7Ol7bLz7wIVlIXVCh1NIgigEAAYASAAEgKsefD_BwE

And so we’ve had the spin-off Puss In Boots.

While Shrekkies were given a real treat when it was announced that there would be a Fifth Shrek film next year.

So where does Shrek live?

Shrek’s home

Well, when he’s not in his swamp, Universal Resort Orlando is where you’ll find him hanging out.

The dynamic duo

There are other action heroes who will leave you sickly green at Universal with their stomach-churning rides.

I’m talking you Hulk, my first corkscrew ride in Orlando with Attraction Tickets

Which makes you regret that omelette and stack of pancakes you took at breakfast.

He’ll be all right

No, Shrek 4-D is a tamer, more family fun interactive experience, but no less fun for all that.

Shrek’s ride

When we last left the layered one in Shrek Forever After he was grappling with fame in a Shrek lite theme park.

Before Rumpelstiltskin tricks him into giving it all up for just one day of his old life.

Big in Japan

Spoiler alert here.

But our favourite author extricates himself from his sticky moment and we caught up again in Universal Studios Hollywood on our superheroes’ get-together.

And both being of the Scottish variety, and both sharing some nasty habits we both got on like a swamp on fire.

Hear them roar

He’s invited me back so, of course, with a new film coming and Universal Resorts cranking up again for visitors.

With something new all the rime… I’m talking about you VelociCoaster me.

Shrek around the world

And because Shrek is beloved around the world and is big in Japan, our friends over there are enjoying him too.

Now for 2021 I’m thinking because it’s the Fifth Shrek we can have 5-D!

I’m on my way from misery to happiness ptoday, uhu-uhu-uhu-uhu!

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – International Women

Women I will try to express my inner feelings and thankfulness for showing me the meaning of success. Woman, John Lennon

And on this International Women’s Day a celebration of international women in the places they celebrated.

La Vie en Paris

La Vie en Rose: Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf, Paris: A solemn fan stands in contemplation at the grave of La Chanteuse in Pere Lachaise.

And gives out to the family trying to negotiate their way through the myriad streets of the huge graveyard in Paris.

Before Le Custode rang the bell on us, in our ears.

Moi? Je ne regrette rien.

La Vie en L’Ecosse

Take it as red: Eddi Reader

Eddi Reader, Scotland: My own wee country has produced many memorable Scottish singers and singers of Scottish songs.

But I’m picking out Eddi Reader, once of Fairground Attraction, for making Robert Burns and Old Scotland hip again.

With songs such as Jamie Come Try Me and Comin’ Through The Rye.

Scottish Warriors

Eddi learned her craft in Paris where she channeled her own Edith and then brought that vibe over to old Scots.

Old Scots translates too to our brethren and sistren in Ireland.

Where she owned the audience in my adopted town in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, and Dublin.

La Vie en New Jersey

Movie star: Debbie Harry in Union City www.imdb.con

Debbie Harry, New Jersey: Was there anyone racier for an adolescent schoolboy in the late 70s than Debbie Harry?

And when she sings in French on Sunday Girl… incrèdible!

On the New Jersey side

Debbie made even the starkest landscape sing and who can forget the video of her flirting with the camera in the Union City. boatyard?

La Vie en New Orleans et Orlando

Pretty Patti: Patti LaBelle

Voulez-vous coucher avec mou c’est soir?

Not an invitation, though it was to the thousand or so in Orlando’s Rising Star Karaoke Club in CityWalk, Universal Orlando.

En route to CityWalk: Universal Orlando

I channeled my own Lady Marmalade there and while you’d be forgiven for knowing it wasn’t French New Orleans.

The compere was gracious enough to tell the audience that that was the way to deliver a girls’ song.

ICI, AUX FEMMES

America, Countries, Culture, UK

Happy Deliverance Day when it comes

Happy June 21 when it comes – but what about us Travel people?

June 21 is the glorious date when out Covid restrictions will be lifted and we can all go back to the way we were.

So if it is to be a Deliverance Day we all celebrate in the future then a bit more about its significance already.

Harry’s Day

Harry Potter: No not that merry merry band of brothers that fought with King Harry on St Crispin’s Day nor the pussy-whipped current Prince Harry.

No this Harry is the magical boy wizard Harry Potter whose book the Order of the Phoenix was released today in 2009 and became the fastest selling in history.

And so the legend which is celebrated from Watford through Edinburgh to Orlando grew.

Make way for the Molly Maguires

The Molly Maguires

Molly Maguires: Anyone who has enjoyed an Irish trad band in an Irish bar will have ‘made way for the Molly Maguires’.

Probably without knowing who they were.

Irish coal-mining activists in Pennsylvania, ten of whom were hanged this day in 1877….

‘They’ve drinkers, they’re liars but they’re men, you’ll never see the likes of them again.’

Reagan shot

The 47th President of America: In Washington DC

Ronald Reagan shot: In a country where everything is marked with a plaque it is noteworthy that the spot where John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan is not.

I looked for it but didn’t find it when I stayed at the Washington Hilton

I did find Ford’s Theater where John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, and a swathe of American history in DC.

A new King Billy

Just William

Prince William born: The one who will be king and probably why he’s sticking around.

That and the fact that his wife isn’t homesick for Hollywood.

Prince William was born this day in 1982. Who knows when he will sit on the throne but London and all its royal schmaltz will reopen. Hurrah!

America, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying

Rainy Days and Songdays – Travel toons

Our planes may be grounded, our ships docked, out trains in their stations but we’ve still got a song in our hearts.

And we’re keeping ourselves going with a playlist of Travel Songs.

Here are ten until we can travel again.

Life’s a Beach

Sloop John B, Beach Boys, California

Only I didn’t, and don’t, wanna go home.

There are few songs, or singers more synonymous with their home than the Beach Boys.

You get it about California when you see the Boys in Anaheim, as you do, and Mike Love touches your hand.

The Beach Boys Get Around all right by boat, plane, car or surf board. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Hail Mary

Proud Mary, Tina Turner, Mississippi

Home of the Delta Blues: The Mississippi

 

Watching those river boats, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ down the river to Mississippi made me Mr Happy.

And reminded me of Proud Mary… and Proud Beverley.

Pumping her arms and rolling her body on stage at Rising Star Karaoke club on CiyWalk at Universal Orlando… 

Proud Beverley that is, a proud Scot who was supposed to be the warm-up act for my Lady Marmalade but who absolutely slayed it on our Orlando recce.

The Mississippi is, of course, America’s South to North artery and a playground or play waterway if you like.

And it’s how you really want to do The Deep South although that’s to take nothing away from our unforgettable road trip through Tennessee and Mississippi.

Hit the Road Jock

Jack, Ray Charles, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

With my Jazz partner and global travel pal Agnetha in Prague

You might not immediately associate Ray Charles and Jazz with the Czech Republic.

But then you can’t have been or you would have seen the saxophonists on Charles Bridge in Prague.

It was probably Hit the Road Jock when I dance with Swedish Agnetha in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic’s Spa Triangle back when.

Jazz has truly travelled the world and is in itself a music of travel with many a song of a vagrant worker eking out a living on the road.

Sounds all too familiar.

On the sunny Caribbean Sea

Dance away: Wukkin’ up in Barbados

Woah, I’m going to Barbados, Typically Tropical, Barbados

Now I’ve never been on Coconut Airways and I wasn’t off to see ma girlfriend Mary Jane…  at least that’s what I told the Scary One and I’m sticking to that story.

No, it was Virgin Airways, and I was the guest of Visit Barbados and then the second time with Tropical Sky.

Woah, I’m going to Barbados may not be the pure Soca they so love in Barbados and me too but they will sing along too.

As the house singer at Club Barbados who had a bow tie and dress shirt designed on to his T-shirt delivered without any degree of corniness.

I can’t wait to be…

On the Road Again, Willie Nelson, Pilgrimages in Spain and Italy

The Sun shines on the righteous on the Camino

And my go-to song when I’m out on the road is Willie Nelson’s standard… it’s my mission statement when I hit a pilgrimage, and my friend Aileeen Eglington’s Destination Anywhere radio show on Dublin South FM.

You’ll get plenty of time on your own when you’re on your Camino on your way to Santiago  or your Via Francigena into Rome.

And yes, of course, I can’t wait to be…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

Countries, Culture, UK

Oxford is always the cure

The City of Dreaming Spires has granted our wishes again with a game-changing vaccine and in truth Oxford always delivers.

The ancient university city on the Thames was a favourite destination of mine.

In my years living in the Thames Valley.

A well-worn day trip for foreign visitors from London here’s why…

Give it a punt

We’ll try them all

Punting: It’s an enduring image of Oxford, to stand up on a boat and steer your way with an oar.

Which is how they came up with the term ‘punter’ probably… or probably not.

Order your Champagne and smoked salmon.

And get down to the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse on the River Cherwell, another of Oxford’s waterways.

Potter about

Hall of fame: Oxford University

Harry Potter: Yes, the world’s most famous university inspired the world’s most famous school, Hogwarts.

Right, so you’ll be wanting to go to the Bodleian Library.

And you’ll feel right back in Philosopher’s Stone where Harry is hospitalised after confronting Voldemort.

Or the New College Cloisters where Malfoy was sitting in a tree in Goblet of Fire.

And where you can see the very same gigantic oak.

To get the full experience and to enjoy another icon in Alice in Wonderland then get on the Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland Official Walking Tour.

And don’t be late for this very important date.

While if you can’t get enough of Harry…

Then you’ll want to visit The Making of Harry Potter in Watford and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando,

Seat of learning

Give us a clue: Morse and Lewis in Oxford

Oxford University: The UK’s oldest and most famous uni is really 38 different colleges.

And for the dreamiest view from the dreamiest spire.

Then you’ll want to climb the University’s tallest tower, the University Church of St Mary the Virgin.

We’re sure Oxford’s most famous Inspector, Morse was here. And you can retrace his footsteps on the Morse, Lewis and Endeavour Tour.

 

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Go! Monopoly around the world

We may never know why Vincent Van Gogh lost his ear, though here is a fine crime fiction on the subject, but who is to say it wasn’t after a row about Monopoly?

Our pals at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam are the latest to join the Monopoly club.

With the release of their own Vincent board game for Christmas.

Becoming one of hundreds of Monopolys around the world.

With at the latest count, the game being licensed in 103 countries and printed in more than 37 languages.

The Van Gogh version substitutes the Great Man’s art for the traditional streets.

Just painting

While among the pieces naturally is a paint tube though perhaps tastefully no ear.

Monopoly for most of us is as much part of Christmas as Santa, who often brought it fir our stockings, and Christmas turkey.

But it was also brought out when friends came over, or relatives, from home or abroad.

And this was when it got really exciting to see the names of their streets and public transport.

O’Monopoly

So when my Irish relatives got their Dublin board out it had such names as O’Connell Street, Shrewsbury Street in Ballsbridge where I got to stay, and the Busaras on it.

It was very much a point of honour that your country had its own Monopoly.

It was a sign that you were not under the English yolk.

Although when you did get down to London when you were older you didn’t feel such a tourist as you ambled along the Strand, Pall Mall and Fleet Street.

Big Appley

Most spectacular of all was the New York edition where you could say you owned Broadway.

All us poor Scots had to dream of was buying Mayfair, Park Lane or Old Kent Road.

Until the manufacturers stumbled on the rather obvious idea of giving us all what we wanted.

McNopoly

And so we got Edinburgh, and the Royal Mile, Princes Street, the two football stadiums, Easter Road and Tynecastle Park and the rugby ground, Murrayfield.

Now, of course there are now football clubs, film and TV franchises Monopoly merchandise.

D’Ohpoly

In fact you name it and Monopoly have probably adapted it to your needs.

And so I have in my attic a Royal Caribbean cruise game as well as a Simpsons game.

From my travels in Europe and in Orlando.

Of course Monopoly, while having a deeply suspicious Property speculation message in its origins back in 1935, has really become a vehicle for imagination.

And discovering about foreign destinations…

By plane, ship, car… or my personal favourite, a wee Scottie dog.