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, Countries, Europe

New Year fireworks… let’s have fun in ‘21.

Baby you’re a firework. Come on let your colours burst – Katy Perry

And boy did those colours burst, signalling that the world wants to have fun in ’21.

The Middle East led the way with the celebrations with some real actual human beings gathering… at social distance.

And rock gods Kiss even performing in Dubai.

Now New Year’s Eve is always going to be a challenge in crowd containment and resources.

But it is a depressing admission that we in the West can’t trust ourselves, and others, to social distance, or meet in pods.

Now, I love an oul’ firework any time of the year, so as Katy says ‘you just gotta ignite the light and let it shine. Just own the night.’

Dresden takes back the sky

Drum roll… in Dresden

Dresden: And Dresdeners have more reason than most to be wary of their sky lit up above them.

The older generation still talk about the red sky, the Allied bombers’ firestorm which razed their beautiful city to the ground at the end of the Second World War.

The resilient Saxons went on to rebuild their city, the Florence of the Elbe, brick by brick to the grandeur it is today.

The light show on the Elbe was the backdrop for the closing night of the German Travel Mart.

And a magical reminder of how light kills darkness.

Take me to the DC ball park

Me, George and my Travel pal Issy

Washington: They love a firework in DC… and that’s just a Donald Trump barbecue.

They put on firework displays for all their VIPs which meant the delegates at the American Travel fair, IPW.

At the Washington Nationals’ ball park.

Home run!

Disney get any better than this

Acting all Goofy

Orlando: And whatever you’re doing around 9pm of a night in Orlando then stop it and look up at the skies.

For that’s when the lights go on above The Magic Kingdom.

All of which you can see from your Four Seasons balcony. Magical!

Or Mickey in Da House

Anaheim: And in Disneyland too in California where Mickey, Donald and the gang like nothing better than a light show.

Mickey runs his own show which is in effect one of just a number of extravaganzas around the resort.

With Star Wars and Harry Potter getting in on the act.

America, Countries, Culture, Deals

Mucky Mouse jokes and a Disney New Year

And what’s the difference between Walt Disney and Bing Crosby?

Bing Sings but Walt Disney.

My Dancing Dad jokes didn’t land with my party, probably my Scottish accent, nor my cruder set of Disney gags.

Minnie and Me

But then I did make Mickey, Donald and the gang smile on that Visit Orlando trip to Disney World and also out in Disneyland in Anaheim in California.

I know what you’ll say, it’s painted on, but Mickey and his pals have been working hard throughout Covid to ensure Disney remains The Happiest Place on Earth.

I’ll tell you what else will make you smile. This Walt Disney World deal.

Gooding about

Four nights free and 14 for seven tickets for Spring and Summer.

Stay at Disney’s Coronado’s Springs on selected dates for four nights free worth £872 on your two-week holiday.

Then there’s the 14-day Ticket for the price of a seven-day for most arrival dates in 2021 including Memory Maker worth $199.

And you can also boost your budget with a free Disney Gift Card per booking, loaded with $200 spending money.

The Don and Me

And here’s the indicative price offer…

That’s £974pp, and savings (£872) for a two-week stay arriving between July 14 and September 12.

That’s for two adults and two children (aged 3-9) sharing a Standard View Room at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

And Disney’s 14-Day Ultimate Ticket for the price of a seven-day ticket.

Now something else to make you smile… the roll-out of the vaccine.

MEET YOU ON THE ROLLERCOASTER

America, Countries, Culture

A clear result in Florida – Hail to the Chief

It was the night of the Three Presidents.

When I left Ireland it was Barack Obama with Hillary Clinton his projected successor, only to learn on my arrival in Florida that Donald Trump would be the next President.

Washington DC may be where Americans inaugurate their Presidents but it is Florida where they get over the line.

Yes, he does love Mexicans… in Epcot Centre

And who can forget the shenanigans around the Florida vote in George W Bush’s Millennium election victory over Al Gore?

And they’re off and running

The Happiest Place on Earth was struggling to put on their famous smiles when they collected our party four years ago.

But just like tonight when we observe America’s decision on who to put in the White House I had prepared for both eventualities.

…. And in Florida

And I had decided that seeing that my hosts for the week were Disney World I’d frame my story on The Donald.

He’s got a big mouth, is a bit quackers, and all that.

It’s all showbiz

America’s President is an all-encompassing figure from the very moment you arrive in the States.

Leader of the country, king (or queen), Commander In Chief and showbiz icon.

Which is why we’ve had an actor, Ronald Reagan, lothario, Bill Clinton, and salesman and dealmaker Donald Trump.

I saw too the reverence in which they’re held first hand when I saw the outpouring of grief for George Herbert Walker Bush when I visited Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

Kennedy’s Washington

I saw it again in Arlington Cemetery where there is a constant stream of mourners at the Kennedys’ grave.

While George Washington himself has his Memorial and Abraham Lincoln his big chair in the country’s capital.

Down the road in Philadelphia they still hold it dear that they were the burgeoning country’s early capital, and will always be the City of Brotherly Love.

Way to go Joe

And of course Pennsylvania is the hime state of Joe Biden.

New York defined Donald Trump growing up and building his name and reputation in his ow image.

And you’ll see his gleaming hotels all over America, with the memory of looking down onto his palace in Vegas on my way to the Grand Canyon seared in my mind.

The greatest prize though is Washington though and who gets the keys we may have to wait around to find out.

Adventure, America, Countries, Europe, Flying, Ireland

Zoom… everyone’s gone to the moon

Streets full of people, all alone, roads full of houses, never home, church full of singing, out of tune, everyone’s gone to the moon – Jonathan King

The news that we’ve spotted water on the moon has opened up opportunities for astronauts to go to live on the moon.

The idea would be that NASA could set up a colony on the Earth’s satellite.

Both for further lunar exploration but also as a refuelling spot for the ultimate goal, a mission to Mars.

All of which sounds appealing as Earth looks a pretty poor bet just now, what with Covid and climate change.

So how are our out-of-this-world tour providers doing with getting us all out there?

Well, they’re not our usual favourite Travel agents, rather billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos instead.

With NASA givven the go-ahead to, along with aerospace veteran Dynerics, to develop the technology to get us there.

Elon targeted next year for putting tourists on the moon while NASA believes the next decade is more likely.

Launchpad

It’s hardly one of your bucket deals, more like $70m for a three-day trip to the Moon.

Which hasn’t put Japanese moneybags Yusaku Maezawa who has booked his place.

For the rest of us that’s all a moonshot as one Space Cadet politician is fond of saying.

A trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida is more achievable.

And Cape Kennedy is open with airplane flights to Orlando with Covid regulations including face masks.

And there are other legends in headgear just down the road too at Disney World and Universal Orlando.

Back to Cape Kennedy here and I’m thinking space helmets would be even better than face masks.

And they’re offering launch viewings too!

Everything is sunny

Cape Kennedy has been on my bucket list for years and I can’t even blame Covid for not getting out there last year for the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing.

Or take up an invitation to mark it in the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California.

Nixon having taken the call from Neil Armstrong from the Moon in 1969.

I’ve enjoyed the company of the Cape Kennedy crew, astronaut Jon McBride included, on missions they’ve undertaken to Ireland over the years.

While Alabama too played a huge role in the whole Apollo expedition.

Give it a hurl: Chris Hadfield with Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons and future Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. http://www.leovaradkar.ie

Ireland, of course, is a treat on the ground, but from Space too.

Jon was glad to be back in the land of his fathers.

While Chris Hadfield tweeted pictures of green, green Ireland from space, along with Gaelic messages.

And then hooked up with Tourism Ireland for a series of films to promote Donegal, Titanic Belfast and the Guinness Storehouse and Gaelic Sports.

MEET YOU IN SPACE

America, Countries, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – slam dunk, the NBA

I was immediately marked out as a spectator and not a player.

When my cousin Maura threw me into a game of pick-up basketball with her boyfriend John in Queens, New York.

Basketball had always been a novelty game for milk bottle white Scotsmen whose only connection with the game was The Harlem Globetrotters.

A free throw anyone?

Until I got to America.

And saw the importance of the game on that visit to see my cousins in New York and then four years later in Boston.

Where I would pass by the statue of Boston Celtics’ legendary coach Red Auerbach.

Outside Quincy Market at Faneul Hall where I was a bus boy at GuadalaHarry’s and ice cream salesman at a parlour.

Anyhoos I had myself my basketball team.

And despite warming to all the teams in North American cities I’ve passed through in the years since.

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, LA Lakers and Clippers, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.

nba-orlando-magic-mickey-mouse-basketball.jpg

I was a Celtics fan. Which wasn’t a huge jump from my young days following a football team, Celtic in Glasgow.

This was my year for my long-awaited return to Boston 33 years but COVID has stalled that on the plate.

When I would also fulfil an ambition I didn’t even know I had.

The home of baseball: Fenway Park

To walk the Fenway Park Green Monster perimeter where I’d seen the Red Sox hit their home runs that 1987 season.

The NBA play-offs are playing out in a DisneyWorld bubble in Orlando.

And you should catch it on whichever channels you pick up.

MEET YOU ON THE COURT

America, Countries, Food & Wine, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Ten Direction

Can it really be ten years since five fresh-faced kids bounced onto the scene as One Direction?

And five years since five refreshed-face veterans croaked out One Direction to the crowds in Orlando.

And then there were four

At Pat O’Brien’s duellimg piano bar in Universal Resort’s CityWalk.

Where we spluttered out ‘You don’t know you’re beautiful, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.’

I wanna sing a Classic

Lubricated, of course by Pat’s own signature giant Hurricane cocktail glass.

There were other classics we took on too: Sweet Caroline, oh, oh, oh… and, yes, we were so good, so good, so good.

What are you having? With Bev and Eoghan

And sing us a song, you’re the piano man… He needed no invitation, nor us.

And, of course, in Pat’s, on CityWalk, in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, across Universal’s attractions you forget about life for a while.

Open for business

Universal, and Orlando’s theme parks have been challenged by COVID, and they have had to be slow in resuming the total experience we all enjoy.

Well, that’s my five a day

So spraying out classics as two pianists who would grace American X Factor duel on their pianos is out for now.

But the parks are open.

Your own park

And CityWalk is partially open. So if you are in that part of the world then get down to CityWalk and the rides.

Even better in Orlando, if you can get them to close off the park through the early hours.

Eat my shorts, and drink a few too

As they did for my friend and Disney host Cory at DisneyWorld.

For the rest of us we can return to the rides and our favourite Disney characters on a reservation basis.

And they bring their own water

Where we can look forward to reduced queues.

The main attraction

And there will be fewer people there to see you squeal like a baby on the likes of the thrilling SheiKra at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay.

For more squealing we sang on through the night at Rising Star Karaoke Bar which I have the pleasure to bring you here on Rainy Days and Songdays.

And when you do get back out there from the UK and Ireland then Attraction Tickets are the guys to go with.

America, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – the end of buffets?

Buffets are like marmite (and you can get that too) so the prospect of no buffets is just another thing to pile on our COVID tray.

First off, a history question? Who introduced the buffet?

Padova in north-west Italy actually.

I discovered this on a trip to the Veneto region… https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/11/padova-city-of-frescoes/amp/.

Boney’s Italian adventure

Napoleon, it transpires, was responsible for the introduction of the buffet when he held parties for his pals in the Italian grand casas.

Well you don’t think he got that girth from croissants do you? Visit http://www.turismopadova.it/en/basic-page/padua-24-or-48-hours.

Here’s where I’ve stood in line for my food asking for more. And there’s always more!

Carry on Cruising

Cruising: And one of the draws of a cruise for many is their food.

And you can eat around the world on a cruise, and go back and do it all over again!

Get there early for breakfast, lunch and dinners on MSC Cruises https://www.msccruises.ie/en-ie/Homepage.aspx and The call of the fjords

Particularly when the food-mad Italians are around!!!

Of course where you go on your cruise can inform your choice of foods.

And on the Celebrity Cruise Edge https://www.celebritycruises.ie/onboard/our-ships/celebrity-edge/ maiden voyage I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here from Florida to the Bahamas they like to spice it up.

And that’s my five a day

If you want though a taste of home then Royal Caribbean are the cruise for you.

When you can visit an authentic British Fish and Chip Shop.

Authentic that is for being on the top deck with a cocktail in hand https://www.royalcaribbean.com and A Royal Party and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/24/messi-around-on-the-water/amp/.

Caribbean cruising

Barbados: And seeing we’re talking about the Caribbean (and aren’t we always?) then a Caribbean buffet always has something special?

Yes, rum!

Because bread, cakes, pancakes, bacon, you name it they have it, and it will be on the hot plate in Barbados https://www.visitbarbados.org and Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Der buffet

Dresden: And for Germans, eccentrics that they are, that means doing things differently.

And the Saxons in Dresden Dresden’s renaissance https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php at the German Travel Mart https://www.germany.travel/en/trade/gtm-germany-travel-mart/gtm/gtm_10.html put out all their meats at one side of the room and the veg at the other.

Guess which one I went for!

America’s a rollercoaster

Orlando: You’ll pay for it if you were overdoing the Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/dining/pat-o-briens.

Because in American hotels bigger is better.

And there will always be a chef waiting with a frying pan offering an anything you want omelette.

As well as the plethora of sweet treats.

But remember you have theme parks of loop the loops awaiting you.

And believe me you don’t want to make the Hulk angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.

See https://www.visitorlando.com/en-ie, https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us. And Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and See off Voldemort, then for a beer at Moe’s.

MEET YOU AT THE BUFFET- SOME TIME

America, Canada, Countries, Ireland, UK

Happy Fourth of July

Who’d have thought it? The Fourth of July today is as big a cause for celebration (if not more) here in the UK than it is in America.

I did, of course, tell you months ago that today would be the exact day that we would be coming out of lockdown in the UK (except for Scotland, doh!).

And not just in the last couple of weeks but as long ago as April 21 Wuhoo Wuhan.

Still, when all is said and done I would still prefer to be in the Oo Es of Eh today than anywhere else.

As big an Americanophile as I am I have never managed to time it so that I am there on the Fourth of July, nor for Thanksgiving either but I aim to put that right as soon as I can.

My Travel professional friends are projecting 2021 as the year when travel to America will have begun… and see what I’m doing there giving them the slogan…. We’ve Begun in ’21.

So have a nice day and my gift to you is these American dreams courtesy of our pals, the Travel providers:

American Holidays http://www.americanholidays.com has instilled some much needed confidence with their ‘Book with Confidence’ and ‘Travel with Confidence’ initiatives.

And they have backed that up with an expanded portfolio of itineraries to the West Coast, Deep South, Canada, Road Trips and Mexico.

Something for everyone

Now some say the West is Best http://www.visitcalifornia.com and https://disneyland.disney.go.com My Weekend With Marilyn and Stair Wars.

While others that it’s the Beautiful South https://www.deep-south-usa.com and The Promised Land, The Story of the Blues and The King of Kings – Jim Murty’s TravelTravelTravel.

And you can make a great Road Trip out of either and any number of zig-zags across the continent.

Canada has been in full flow all week as they celebrated July 1 with a virtual Canada Day and Irish landmarks went red in unison. And don’t think they’ve stopped because it’s now the American national holiday.

Deal me in!

American Holidays also bring you Mexico with a bit of Miami Fort Lauderdale and Miami – a tale of two sittings and https://www.miamiandbeaches.com thrown in which is always the best way.

Here’s something to get your teeth into for ’21:

Miami and Mexico, February 2021: Spend three nights in hip Miami, taking in Little Havana, South Beach and Miami Beach before kicking back and enjoying seven nights all-inclusive in Mexico. From €1849pp.

Attraction Tickets (http://www.attractiontickets.com): These are the guys to go with for Disney, either in Anaheim or in Orlando https://www.disneyworld.co.uk and http://www.visitorlando.com. Also see Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and Why I love The Donald.

And they have a Disney and Universal Combo Ticket for £757 for adults and £727 for a child. And you’ll have a wizarding time too or you can Eat My Shorts… See off Voldemort, then for a beer at Moe’s and https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us.

For glitz-seekers America is all about New York www.nycvb.com and Las Vegas www.lvcva.com and Tour America know it. As well as all the other great offers they have they can give you.

Hit The Strip in Vegas, from Sunday, January 31-February 4 is from €435pp, based on two adults for four nights sharing one room at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino.

While they’re confident that they can get you over to New York before the year is out.

The Carvi Hotel is from €546pp, based on four adults for four nights, Tuesday, December 1-4.

See http://www.touramerica.ie and Strip… the light fantastic and Old New York: Hamilton.

Where is your favourite place in America? Let us know and we’ll share.

Adventure, America, Countries, Flying

Space – the final travel fromtier

It sounds like a good idea just now – getting the hell off this planet.

So Godspeed Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken as they head off on Elon Musk’s 24-storey Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.

Walking on air

Last year as we all know was the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon.

While next year will be 60 years since Yuri Gagarin.

Waste not, want not

How many years before I, you, and everyone’s gone to the moon in the words of all the song depends on how we feel after COVID.

Space cadet… the one on the left

Space watchers like to congregate around Cape Canaveral, Florida.

But because of COVID they only got to see the first take-off from American soil for space in nine years on the TV.

All of which meanderings around the galaxy before getting to the subject brings me to a special night in Dublin with a real astronaut…

My cosmonaut from The Kennedy Space Center who told us of the myriad sunsets he saw up there.

Lend me your goldfish bowl

And how he felt the presence of a Divine Being.

Before he turned to the Holy Grail of Space Travel… a trip to Mars.

With the biggest challenge not the myriad years spent in space but the need to recycle.

Kennedy’s Space legacy

So that the spacecraft isn’t too heavy and eats up fuel they don’t have.

And our astronaut means everything!

Meet you in space

Just the jobbie for an astronaut!

But seeing we’ll have to wait for our seats on the ship why not visit https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com.

Where you can dine with an astronaut.

And this comes highly recommended by the passenger I met on the way to Orlando www.visitorlando.com on my Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com flight.

Quackers!

I was on my way to meet the Donald Why I love The Donald https://www.disneyworld.co.uk while he was off to see Buzz.

And at least one of these American icons is wired to the moon.