America, Countries, Deals

Boston T

Anybody who has spent any time in Boston will know that the locals get round by T… Boston T.

No, not an abbreviation for the drink for which it is most associated but rather the Tram, or trolly.

Which in my time working in Beantown in the Eighties I found started overland in my neighbourhood in Tremont Street before duckign down into the Subway.

And I got the whole authentic experience returning at night of seeing the long-tailed residents of the reclaimed harbour run around the tracks.

A real Bostonian experience for this traveller.

America is built on its rail networks which criss-crossed the coasts and coast to coast and which I dare say my Irish navvy antecedents helped build.

And while there is something romantic about a Greyhound or a Peter Pan coach, the same can be said for the train.

And particularly when our friends at Travel Department are at the controls.

The Rail East

East Coast USA by Rail incl. Boston, New York, Philadelphia & Washington DC: This 10-night holiday allows you plenty of time to enjoy each city with guided tours and free time to explore at your leisure.

You’ll begin your journey in Boston, and visit America’s oldest & most prestigious university on an excursion to Harvard.

For those who suffer under the misconception that America lacks history then visit Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall.

And immerse yourself in Boston Tea Party history down by the Bay.

Lady Liberty and Laddie Liberty: NY

Your next stop is the Big Apple where the locals know if you’re a tourist because we’re the ones who look up.

And you’ll find too that New Yorkers while tarred with always having an angle (true) are a friendly bunch.

Ring the bell: Philly

And one in fact came back through the turnstiles in the subway to help mia famiglia with our map and directions.

Next, history enthusiasts will be in their element as you take a tour of Philadelphia’s key highlights like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

And the news from the Capitol: In Washington

The final stop on this whirlwind tour is the capital and jewel, Washington DC.

Where, of course, I’ve got a hotline to the White House and have already had the red carpet laid out for me.

Deal us in

Priced from €3199 pp and Including flights, transfers, that ten-night accommodation on a B&B basis and expert guides.

Departures on 20th May and 4th November 2022.

For more information https://www.traveldepartment.com/holiday/east-coast-usa-by-rail-incl-boston-new-york-philadelphia-washington-dc

 

 

America, Countries, Culture, Music

Way to go Joe America reopening

Just the news we’ve been waiting for… Way to go Joe America reopening.

We never doubted it for a minute, the new American President ain’t no Sleepy Joe.

President Biden gives us encouraging news this mid-July of throwing the gates open.

Striped for action: Joe Biden

Guten tag Angela

Joe has been talking it through with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House.

And encouragingly he said that he would say more ‘within the next seven days’.

Biden is shaping up as the US President the world wants to do business with and building an administration of all talents.

Pool of all talents

With the Rat Pack in Vegas

The best in British and Irish Travel are building up to to pool their talents too for IPW, the American Travel Fair.

Vegas is a magnet for talent and dreamers with an act.

And it is the ideal destination for the filming of America’s Got Talent at the Luxor Hotel on November 4.

Simon Cowell and his pals are doing rehearsals there with the wannabes just now.

And in typical Vegas style there are back stories which will bring a tear to a glass eye.

Hoop dreams

Matt’s the way: Matt Mauser

Such as 51-year-old Matt Mauser who has gone viral after his heartrending rendition of Phil Collins’ Against All Odds.

Father-of-three Matt’s wife Christina taught school basketball which brought them into the sphere of superstar Kobe Bryant.

The legend: Kobe

Alas, the dream turned into a nightmare when Christina died in the same helicopter crash that killed Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and six others.

Matt gives the performance of his life in front of the judges and will have the public right behind him when AGT screens.

Surf dude

Dogg gone it: Snoop in Huntington

The Huntington Beach native also has that wholesome athletic SoCal look which is so endearing.

And we expect that it won’t just be this AGT season that his name and billboard will be up in lights in Vegas.

That’s a rap

Life’s a Huntington Beach

He’s already every bit as big a hit back home in Surf City USA as the likes of this rapper who just happened to put on a show for us two years back.

We’ll be planning to check out what else is happening in Vegas when we visit in September and reporting back on some of it

Because thanks to Mr President whatever happens in Vegas doesn’t have to stay in Vegas.

I’m betting on Vegas

Way to go Joe America reopening.

And a shout-out here too to the holiday providers who have been patiently and conscientiously keeping our dreams alive.

All the time waiting for the green light.

Our American dream

The Whip Its in Harrah’s, Vegas

We don’t know yet if Angela and the EU are ahead of the UK but if they are then check out American Holidays and Tour America.

And we’ll bring you all the offers from wherever you are when we can say with certainty again Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas.

 

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Signdays

You might not expect to be moved at a Cliff Richard concert unless Old Maura lifts your wife’s hand in Dublin so she can sway too.

Thank you to all my friends: Cliff Richard

But the sight of a section of deaf fans signing at one of Cliff’s Christian concerts at Wembley had me transfixed.

You’ve got to own it: Eminem

As an Eminem signer goes viral for her animated renditions at his concerts a celebration and selection of other captivating signing songs.

Toast of the Grammies

Hello Halo: Beyoncé

Beyonce: Of course her position as Queen Bey is unchallenged.

Although I do think that OneRepublic’s Halo which they thrilled us with in Red Rocks tops her (I know treason).

And here’s someone who also tried to steal some limelight from Grammys multi-award winner Beyoncé at one of her gigs.

And I know how hard it is to get into Grammy folklore.

Take a bow the signer at Atlanta Pride who rocked it.

Where is the Love?

There is the love: The Peaa

Black Eyed Peas: And we have a visual signpost straight off with the question mark cards we all remember.

But this from the LA formed Black Eyed Peas classic, the best-selling single in the UK in 2003, is filled with imagery.

Now full disclosure here.

I have no sign language here other than knowing flapping your arm against your side means Scottish, as in bagpipes.

And just randomly recalling the lyrics I imagine that KKK is either a very rude sign or pulling a hood over your head.

Thrashing around

Rock gods: Slayer

Slayer: We probably know more sign language than we think.

And we are certainly all capable of describing a musical instrument.

For many a spotty teenage boy, and greasy-haired men too, being able to play the air guitar is vital at a heavy metal concert.

And this signer certainly knows her Slayer although I’d like to see her slide along the floor too.

Marlee’s movements

Deaf and loud: Sean Forbes www.deafandloud.com

Marlee Matlin is probably the best-known deaf performer in the world, recognised for her craft.

She famously won an Oscar for Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God in 1986.

But Sean has not come across my radar. He is for all you who don’t know which is probably very few a Detroit hip-hop artist.

And this is the magic that happens when Sean and Marlee get together.

Sean Forbes Ft Marlee Matlin

Katy’s Fireworks

Perry good: Katy Perry

Her detractors will say that Katy Perry is on point but then why is that a bad thing.

The green-eyed monster of jealousy is of course rearing its ugly head here while our heroine is rearing her gorgeous head.

No less a figure than Joe Biden had her perform at his inauguration party.

And she brought the house down with her rendition of Fireworks in Washington DC.

All of which was signed and which cut the night air.

 

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, Culture

It’s another American conspiracy

We’re hard-wired to try to explain what we can’t accept by shouting CONSPIRACY!

And that is why Covid had to have been engineered by a Chinese lab.

And why the US Election was stolen by underground alien child snatchers.

They and the rest of the SH1T we’re seeing now will draw the Conspiracy Tourist for years to come.

Of course our curiosity for conspiracies is constantly fed by books and movies, the most recent of which is a new one on me…

Grab a Booth

Public enemy No.1 http://www.fords.org

John Wilkes Booth, Washington and Virginia: And it is timely to talk of Booth.

And we all saw the Confederate flag-wielding protestor breaking into the US Capitol Rotunda last week.

Channel surfing, I fell upon a PBS programme.

Somebody was positing whether it was indeed Booth who was shot dead in his hideout in Virginia.

It was though the actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC

Let your imagination run wild aa you walk through history itself.

The classy knoll

The Book Depository in Dallas where you found more than books

The Dallas Book Depository: And the segue here is the highest pub in Ireland, Johnnie Fox’s in the Dublin Mountains.

Where amongst all the Irish memorabilia there is a poster comparing the circumstances of Lincoln’s death and Son of Ireland John F Kennedy.

Both 43, both succeeded by a Johnson, Booth killing Lincoln in a theater, Oswald arrested in a cinema.

If it was in fact Oswald… all of which you can learn and more at the Sixth Floor Museum at the Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

The Lorraine Motel

King and Memphis: And the most recognisable bedroom balcony in history which with its bedroom is now the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Where you can witness where Dr Martin Luther King was shot down.

And you’ll learn, as I did the strange circumstances behind ‘assassin’ James Earl Ray’s flight.

And also how fingers are pointed at the FBI and the Mafia.

Ray was arrested weeks later in Heathrow Airport in London after suspicions were aroused because he was in possession of two passports.

All of which makes me edgy every time I visit the Deep South

And go through customs as I carry around my old passport with my ten-year American visa.

Goodbye Norma Jean

Lying with Marilyn

Marilyn and LA: And Marilyn Monroe fans will all pay a pilgrimage to her last resting place.

The Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary is a retreat of solace in La La Land.

Where Marilyn rests in peace for eternity.

Apart that is from the unwanted attention of her nemesis Hugh Heffner who bought his drawer next to her.

In life Marilyn too was hounded to her death. By suicide if you believe the official line.

Better celebrate her life instead around LA and in Hollywood and Venice Beach… forever the California Girl.

A concrete story

What’s behind the door? The Mob Museum in Las Vegas

The Mob in Vegas: And Las Vegas is built on conspiracy with every gambler who has ever lost his shirt able to blame the house.

Of course Las Vegas was built on Mob money and on top of crooks who have crossed then.

You can learn all about all the shady goings-on at the Mob Museum

It’s an offer you can’t refuse.

America, Countries

Washington Rotunda – out of the many one

E Pluribus Unum – ‘out of the many one’ is etched into the Rotunda frieze of the US Capitol.

Not that the Mob who stormed it would know nor care.

The motto was first voiced in American political circles in 1776 by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, but clearly originated from Classical times.

And it has endured as a mission statement since those days when out of the 13 colonies became one United States.

Higher things: The Rotunda

Land of the coup

The Revolution has been hijacked by the ‘Stop the Steal’ Lobby since Joe Biden’s November victory.

With the iconic painting of George Washington Crossing the Delaware and the election result used as a rallying poster.

Their argument is that Washington and the troops on his rafts that Christmas Day flouted authority.

They refused quarantine and took down the greatest army of its day.

No place like dome/ The US Capitol

Oh, yes, and they had God on their side too.

The Rotunda has become a sacred place for all Americans..

Lincoln and Kennedy’s bodies lay in state here so the public could pay tribute.

While just last year Civil Rights activist John Lewis and Women’s Rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg were each given the honour.

Pocahontas

The Rotunda clearly resonates with Americans and visitors to the US Capitol.

Washington legacy

The Apotheosis of Washington, finished at the end of the Civil War, places the first US President in a Classical frieze setting.

But while he is the centre-point in the Rotunda of the parliament.

In the city that bears his name it is significant to consider another who shares equal billing in the Rotunda.

That American is Pocahontas, a First Nation heroine of the peoples who inhabited this land first.

In the Frame: Part of the American Story

The Land of the Free has become The Land of the Flawed this past troubled year.

But at its heart and in the sentiments displayed around the Rotunda and who it memorialises from its history and its present lies hope.

Motto of hope

That E Pluribus Unum, out of the many one, and that ‘many’ is the majority which voted in the ‘one’, the President Elect Joe Biden.

The correct, proper and dignified way to visit the US Capitol is not by kicking down doors and parading Confederate flags but on the official tour.

While the beauty of Washington DC itself is that you can walk through American history on its streets and Smithsonian Museums.

E PLURIBUS UNUM

America, Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

New Year’s Holiday Snaps – Happy New Aer

And because America is at a turning point don’t we all want to get on board.

Especially when on board is with our friends at Aer Lingus who early last year had me all booked up for the Florida Keys when…!

Ireland’s national airline carrier has a January €148 sale for this summer to North America which is Toronto.

Waving the flag for DC and Aer Lingus

While my old favourites Boston, New York and Washington is pitched at €164.

And you know the deal it’s each way as part of a return trip.

Cruise into ’21

Yea, they’ve got forks too!

Or a Happy Blue Year, the kind of blue you only find on the sea

Or the blue of Greece. So let’s put them together.

Royal Caribbean have on the Eastern Mediterranean sailings we’ve zeroed in on in 2021.

Oh, how I would have loved to have spent the last year on a wee Greek island.

My pals at Royal Caribbean only have a range of Eastern Med packages as we plan to cruise again in 2021.

An old relic and the Acropolis

A six-night Greece and Croatia cruise, leaving from Venice (Ravenna) on Rhapsody of the Seas from €569pp taking in Split, Olympia and Athens.

And you know what I always say… there’s no party like a Royal party.

United in tribute to The Doc

Me and ‘Baby Doc’ Peter

And it might be apt that former Scotland manager Tommy Docherty, an old friend of the Murtys, should die on Hogmanay.

The Doc’s son Peter was one of my earliest pals in Glasgow before his Dad took the family off to Manchester.

Of course being a football man and someone who joked that he’d had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus there’s no single destination to point you too.

But perhaps Manchester United is the club he’s most associated with.

So let’s point you in the direction of a football match day package.

If you’re an Irish United fan, and there are many, you’ll no doubt know about Celtic Horizons and Abbey Travel.

And the important thing is that we will all be together again soon in a football ground.

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.

Adventure, Africa, America, Countries, Sport

JFK remembered

We have a long-forgotten aide of John F. Kennedy’s to thank on this day as JFK is remembered.

This is why the iconic US President’s grave being open for us to pay pilgrimage.

Kennedy had spoken to the aide from Robert E Lee’s house looking down on Arlington Cemetery in the weeks ahead of his assassination.

He said, with some prescience, that he would like to spend eternity looking down on this view of Washington DC and the Potomac River.

Jackie Kennedy had wanted to bury her husband in the Kennedy family homestead of Hyannis Port in Massachusetts.

The sentry never sleeps

Sentinels have continued to stand watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

There at Arlington House throughout the pandemic, albeit without tourists.

For history tourists it is a must as part of a visit to General Lee’s house.

You can see the recreated office where he contemplated on whose side to fight on during the Civil War.

The Arlington grounds on which the cemetery now stands was used as a military camp.

It served as a resting place for soldiers by Union forces.

A family affair

Kennedy’s grave is a simple. solemn stone, beside the eternal flame and his family

And movingly his and Jackie’s still-born child Arabella and their infant son Patrick, born in the months before his death.

Kennedy’s Irish visit in 1963

Jackie is buried here too.

She lies near his brothers Robert and Edward, and all are tended too beautifully and respectfully by the groundsmen.

Today on the 57th anniversary of his assassination focus will switch to Dallas, his Massachusetts home, and perhaps too his Irish homestead.

A view for immortality onto Washington DC

And all resonant to the man and his legend.

But today I will be reflecting on gardener Old Jorge tending the graves the day I visited.

And how Kennedy would have come to represent his champion.

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.