America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Anne Frank’s birthday gift and other diaries

And mine’s started ‘Woke up this morning’ (the Bluesman in me), not nearly as observant as Anne Frank’s birthday gift and other diaries.

Eighty years have passed since Otto Frank gave Anne a diary for her 13th birthday in Amsterdam… and the rest is history.

And for the rest of history we have to rely on diarists, and today’s chroniclers, your humble bloggers.

We have, all my favourite Bandanini and Bandanettes, shared in wonderful odysseys, and with Bandanaman at the tiller, that’s obviously meant detours.

A Homer run

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

Homer’s Iliad: And isn’t the journey home always better when you’re diverted to exotic destinations?

We think Odysseus though was just using my excuse for His Scary One that it was a working assignment.

To linger longer in the islands of Attica Region such as Kythera…. or Corfu where we honeymooned and Odysseus dallianced.

Byron Alpshausen

Mad, bad, adventurous to know: Byron Country, Switzerland

Lord Byron’s Alpine Journal: And when Byron was exiled from England for getting ‘too close to his family’ where did he go?

To heaven’s ceiling in Interlaken, Switzerland, of course.

And where you can dine at the very hotel, the Hotel Interlaken, the Bad Boy of the Romantics quaffed wine. And this Swiss swisher too.

Where Twain shall meet

Yale, Connecticut

Mark Twain, a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: And as prolific a traveller as Connecticut’s Samuel Clemens was this was his most epic journey.

Across 14 centuries and an ocean.

Twain is for many the Father of Modern Travel Writing.

And his home was tantalisingly up the road on my latest trip to New England.

What the Dickens?

Way to go, Joe: With hotel boss Joe at the Hotel Envoy, Boston

Charles Dickens’ American Notes, Pictures from Italy: The Great Victorian Age author of course stripped bare the England of his days.

But his curiosity and enthusiasm to explore the foibles of human nature stretched way beyond that… to America and Italy.

Which just so happen to be two of my favourite countries anywhere in the world.

Dickens was particularly impressed with Boston (good judge) of which he said: ‘Boston is what I would like the whole of the United States to be.’

But he seemed to have a conflicted view of Rome, observing on first viewing that it reminded him of London (no harm there).

But then being captivated by the Colosseum and just as quickly let down by the smallness of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What the Dickens!

Fits the Bill

Peachy: Georgia

Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: And, of course, we could pick from any of his vast collection of travel diaries/books.

But we’ll plump for his trek along the Appalachian Trail, probably because we’re jealous.

I know I could persuade the Boss to allow me the five and a half months to walk the 2,100 miles from Maine down to Georgia.

And that’s 14 states, and five states I’ve still to tick off.

Counties to Synge about

My Life’s Traveller: Sadie in Greystones, Co. Wicklow

JM Synge, Travels in Wicklow, West Kerry and Connemara: And full disclosure here, mine have been more in Wicklow.

Although I was captivated by Kerry and Connemara will always be the land of my childhood holidays.

Described as capturing ‘the embers of a dying culture’ and accompanied with drawings by Jack B. Yeats it’s a reminder…

That you can always come home to Ireland.

For today though we share Anne Frank’s birthday gift and other diaries and ask whose are your favourite diaries?

 

 

 

 

America, Countries

Civil War home to roost

As the fighting started in Manassas, Virginia, farmer Wilmer McLean was in the wrong place with the Civil War home to roost.

Fortunately for Wilmer he was too old at 47 to sign up for the Confederate Army.

Go Mac: Wlmer McLean

But the war came to him with his house in Virginia used as Brigadier General PGT Beauregard’s headquarters.

And a cannonball dropping into Wilmer’s kitchen fireplace.

The beginning and end

The house that Mac built: Wilmer’s house

With all that death and destruction on his land he can be forgiven for moving on after battle.

And heading 120 miles to the hamlet of Appomattox Court House.

Yes, that Appomattox Court House where 157 years ago today General Robert E Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S Grant.

And you can visit the museum there today and learn more about a war that changed America and the world.

And perhaps Wilmer McLean (Scottish surely).

Wilmer’s stuff and Custer

Dress-ups: In Virginia

If you’re looking for Wilmer’s original furniture I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.

As the Army of the Potomac made off with them as souvenirs giving Wilmer a paltry financial recompense.

The table on which Lee signed the surrender documents came into General Custer’s possession.

And you can see it now in the American History Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

With an authentic recreation of McLean’s second home is now part of the Appommattox Court House National Historic Park.

Civil War sites

Let battle begin: Manassas

Now where Wilmer led I have still to follow.

Visiting, yes, Manassas, but still to make Appomattox.

Which I will, and as much of the pristine American Civil War sites that I studied way back in my University days.

And remember that all major airlines fly into Dulles Airport, the feeder airport for Washington DC.

Which Virginians never tire of reminding you is in their Commmwealth.

And not state as former governor, and Bill Clinton’s best buddy, Terry McAuliffe was at pains to tell us all.

Over a pint of stout in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

But that’s another story.

And today is about marking the date with the Civil War home to roost for Wilmer McLean.

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