America, Countries, Europe, UK

Madonna Holiday

If we took a holiday/Took some time to celebrate/Just one day out of life/It would be/It would be so nice Madonna Holiday

And that’s why I’m pushing for a public holiday for us all on Madonna‘s birthday which is as it happens is today.

And to mark The Queen of Pop’s 63rd birthday (really?) here’s five belters from her catalogue which transport us to magic worlds.

Matadoronna

Birthday girl: Madonna

La Isla BonitaAndalucia, Cuba, San Pedro, Belize: And this is where Madonna goes all Hispanic on us.

Or more specifically Andalucian.

Madge fans like to identify La Isla Bonita as San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize but she says it is generic.

Although it is heavily infused by Cuban rhythms.

Go-on-delier

Venice dancer: And no danger of falling in the Canal

Like A VirginVeniceAnd Madge certainly announced herself on the scene with this bells, whistles and Venice lions vid.

Of course, a nod here to Signorina Ciccione’s Italian heritage.

With her dancing around on a gondola in front of The Bridge of Sighs.

And well ducked La Madonna.

California Praying

Racy: Madonna

Like A Prayer – San Pedro, Los Angeles Mission Maria Stella Maris church: You might associate this with the Deep South.

But the church where all that Jesus being reborn as Madonna’s fantasy figure happened in this Latin Church in California.

And while LA is ahead of the times and trends it grew out of a small Spanish settlement… Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula.

Or Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula.

Oh what a circus

Miss American pie: But with an Argentinian twist

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina ~ And Madonna’s life’s dream, to play Eva Peron in a musical.

Naturally it’s shot in Buenos Aires but also Hollywood… and Budapest!

Time goes by so slowly

Raunchy: And with all the moves

Hung Up, London – And this was during Madge’s English phase of her life as she likes to call her marriage to Guy Ritchie.

London shows itself off with the Trocadero being used for the games arcade scenes and also approximating Paris, The Bronx in New York, and Chinatown for Shanghai.

All of which fits with Madonna’s status as a world icon.

And which is why we should all get the day off for a Madonna Holiday.

 

 

Africa, America, Countries, Europe, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays my Oscars favourite songs

In no particular order, and for the day that’s in it, it’s Rainy Days and Songdays – my Oscars favourite songs.

It was something daring, I guess, to award a Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1934.

But it was probably a dancing shoe-in for Hollywood superstars Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ The Continental.

Dance away

If Fred and Ginger were around today then they’d glide easily down the fabled stairs of the Dolby Theater.

But they are there out front in the Walk of Fame.

All of which we can channel, and which every waiter dreams of aspiring too, in Los Angeles and his environs.

The Continental is one of my Oscar favourite songs and set the standard for every Best Original Song to come.

And in truth for every Over the Rainbow and White Christmas there is a Chim-Chim-Cheree and an I Just Called To Say I Love You too.

Gong with a song

The standard is off the chart which is why the usual Fab Five becomes a Top Ten this week for My Oscars favourites.

10 When You Wish Upon A Star, Pinnochio (1940): 

Pure Disney, and what’s wrong with that.

But this is the craftmanship of Florentine Carlo Collodi so let’s give the Tuscans a shout-out as ‘anything your heart desires will come to you.’

Take it away Cliff Richards as Jimmy Cricket.

9 Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Song of the South (1947): 

One of Disney’s more forgettable films and ‘containing outdated language’ though I just dwell on the Deep South music.

James Baskett’s deep anthem is about as happy a song as you’ll ever hear.

And in a cutesie overload Mr Bluebird’s on James’s shoulder too. Everything truly is satisfactual!

8 Three Coins In The Fountain (1954): 

No me neither, nor the singers Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire and Jean Peters who each sang the titular song.

But anyone who has ever been to the Trevi Fountain in Rome will either hear someone singing it there while throwning coins over their head into the water.

Or they will be encouraged to do so.

Singing Cowboys

7 Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969):

And if you love the Wild West  then you’ll love the scene where Paul Newman (Butch) and Katharine Ross (Etta) mess about on the bicycle in Utah.

And Burt Bacharach’s velvety lyrics and BJ Thomas’s smooth delivery set it all off.

6 The Time Of My Life, Dirty Dancing (1987): 

The beauty of a good song is trying to recreate it in your bedroom which is what hairbrushes were made for, although Patrick Swayze’s quiff just came naturally.

But if you truly want to channel your inner Johnny and Baby then you’ll want to get out to Lake Lure Inn & Spa in North Carolina.

And have Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes on the boom box.

5 The Streets of Philadelphia (1993): 

You’re probably exhausted after that (I know I am) so let’s slow it down with the Boss’s evocative and powerful Streets of Phladelphia.

Of course, the actual streets of Philadelphia aren’t as gut-wrenchingly emotional as this song and are actually fun-packed as this vid shows.

Better still if you go to Philly the City of Brotherly Love, and find out for yourself.

Drum roll please

4 Born Free (1966): 

And another to pull on your heartstring with the story of Joy and George Adamson, played by real-life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers.

They released Elsa the Lioness into adulthood and released her into the wilds of Kenya.

All of which brings back warm memories of meeting our lioness out in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

And yes, I sang Matt Monro’s classic in my head then… I didn’t want to stir my lioness.

3 White Christmas, Holiday Inn (1942):

Many of us are probably unaware of Irving Berlin’s inspiration for the best-selling song of all time (I was).

Berlin, a Jew, who didn’t celebrate Christmas had all the more reason to get maudlin on December 25.

His three-week-old son died on that day in 1928. Bing Crosby gives it a timeless uplifting feel.

2 Over The Rainbow, The Wizard of Oz (1939):

And the ultimate in what Daddy’s Little Girl so beautifully puts it, a Happy Sad Song.

And layering on the sentamentality it was the first movie my Dear Old Mum saw in her nearest big city, Derry.

She recalls the switch from black and white to colour seemed like magic to an 11-year-old country girl.

A country girl like Kansas lass Dorothy.

And the winner is…

1 Moon River, Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961): 

Tiffany’s in New York is no more magical than any other jewellery store methinks.

But perhaps that’s because I’m an alpha male bloke, while Breakfast to me is a bagel.

Put them together though and Breakfast At Tiffany’s carries you off to a wonderful escapist world.

It’s the adventurer in me andyou had me Audrey Hepburn at ‘there’s such a lot of world to see.’

So these are my Oscar favourite songs. Now what about you? 

 

 

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, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – Reagan, The Gipper and the Super Bowl

Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush will be watching the Super Bowl on a cloud up there shouting ‘One more win for the Gipper’.

Ronnie’s most famous acting role, other than as the 40th President of the USA, was as Notre Dame great George ‘The Gipper’ Gipp in the 1940 film Knucke Rockne, All American.

And like all the best method actors he even took it into his own life off the screen, adopting the persona in his political campaigning.

As we mark Reagan’s birthday today (he would have been 110) we can look forward too to the Super Bowl tomorrow too.

It features the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

And while nobody is saying Ronnie was a Patrick Mahomes nor Tom Brady, he had some American football acumen having turned out as a lineman for Eureka College in his native Illinois.

And like both he boasted Irish heritage.

Ronald Reagan’s Irish heritage remembered in his Library

The Great Communicator made California his home, of course.

And that’s where you’ll find him now, and where everything Reagan related is kept at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. in Simi Valley 40 miles from Downtown Los Angeles.

Keepers of the Reagan flame

Just like Ronnie himself, the keepers of the Reagan flame are charm personified as I soon discovered at the American Travel fair, IPW.

And like the best friends they always stay in touch.

The good folk at the Library have put on a virtual event which does justice to the Great Man, livestreamed on YouTube at 12.30pm Pacific/3.30pm Eastern.

Portrait of the Great Man

The commemoration includes brief remarks, a three-volley salute, musical entertainment, and the laying of the Presidential Wreath on President Reagan’s gravesite.

A word or two from Ronnie

Of course as it should be Ronnie, his life, achievements (and remember he oversaw an economic boom and helped end the Cold War), and words are to the fore.

His old office: A replica of the Oval Office

True to the wit of the man, the Library has adapted a famous story from his life to mark the 110th in their spiel for the Big Day.

‘President Reagan would have joked that it is the 71st anniversary of his 39th birthday. As President Reagan quipped on his 73rd birthday ”Even though this is the 34th anniversary of my 39th birthday, those numbers don’t faze me at all. I believe Moses was 80 when God first commissioned him for public service. And I also remember something that Thomas Jefferson once said. He said, ”We should never judge a President by his age, only by his works.” And ever since he told me that, I’ve stopped worrying.’

And someone else who fills out the seat of office

Ronnie’s distinguished Vice President and a future President himself, George HW Bush spoke emotionally at the Republic Convention in honour of his great friend in 2004.

He’s up there somewhere

When he exorted the audience by saying ‘this time we can truly win one for the Gipper.’

George HW Bush passed away a couple of years ago when I was in his adopted state of Florida.

I saw then the affection then in which he, and ex-Presidents, are held there and across the country.

So tomorrow, whoever wins, let’s here the clarion call: ‘Just one more win for the Gipper.’

 

 

 

America, Countries, Culture, Ireland, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – MacArthur Spark

Someone left the cake out in the rain, I don’t think that I can take it, ‘Cause it took so long to bake it. And I’ll never have that recipe again – Donna Summer

And today as we mark a historic milestone, the coming of the Messiah of Travel 55 years ago, a word on cakes, songs and one particular song, MacArthur Park.

My own party piece for a family birthday is to leave the cake outside on the patio table before cranking up the song and then bringing it inside.

But what of the location of Donna Summer’s disco masterpiece cover.

Of Richard Harris’s weak croaky version?

Well, there are many MacArthur Parks in the US, all named for the war hero General Douglas MacArthur.

But this one is in LA.

Old Los Angeles

The story goes that composer Jimmy Webb wrote it about the break-up of his relationship with Susie Horton.

That they would meet regularly for lunch in the park opposite Susie’s insurance office near Downtown LA where I’ve seen first hand its cultural snd historic growth.

And that he did see a cake left out in the rain and the old men playing checkers by the trees.

Wings over Los Angeles

It’s a thing in the States, outdoors chess and checkers.

And on a family trip to New York the Son and Heir played with a dude who claimed to have played with Bobby Fischer.

And just saying in the passing Mrs M will surely find the recipe again…

It’s written on the empty box I found in the bin!

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Driving entertainment in lockdown

It’s all come a long way since the days when a drive-thru was getting out of the car and picking up the family’s takeaway.

Now because of COVID we can stay in our hermetically-sealed cocoon and enjoy all manner of thrills.

Park by the Pole

Steamy windows

Lucky Devil Lounge, Portland, Oregon: And here’s where you can get extra with your bun… two buns actually!

Customers who order food can pay $30 per car and driver (plus $10 for any passengers in the car) to use the drive-thru and watch a show.

In normal years I find myself in the US around Gay Pride.

And my friends at the American Travel Fair, IPW, put on a fabulous Gay Pride night… Washington, Denver, Los Angeles/Anaheim.

Bless me, Father

Two Our Fathers and Three Hail Marys

Limoges, France: Maybe you’ve not been out enough over these lockdowns to have compiled enough sins but come on, all that food and drink.

And Sainte Jeanne d’Arc in Limoges will hear your darkest secrets from your car.

When all this is over, of course many of us will be going all Medieval and giving thanks to the Great Redeemer.

In France, that’s Lourdes, in Portugal it’s Fatima, Italy is Rome, Spain the Camino and Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Probably the best gig

Mads for it

Denmark: And Mads Langer doesn’t let a small thing like lockdown make him down his mic.

Mads sold 500 tickets for a concert at Tangkrogen outside Aarhus, Denmark’s second city after Copenhagen.

The cars were rockin’ and rollin’!

Airport movies

Bringing some colour into our lives

Edinburgh AirportAnd all of this drive-thrumania has been triggered by the news that my local airport Edinburgh is putting on a Halloween offering.

Drive-ins were always the stuff of James Dean movies (the first drive-in cinema was actually New Jersey, not LA).

You never forget your first time though and that for me was Toronto and a Bond movie, The Living Daylights. And while our first albums are usually embarrassing I’m happy with that choice.

Anyhoos back to Edinburgh. You’ll get Ghostbusters, Hocus Pocus, Coco, The Lost Boys, Jaws (not nearly as terrifying at Universal Studios Hollywood) and Halloween.

November brings us Back to the Future, Rocketman, Mamma Mia and more.

There’s entertainment galore, food and drink from local producers Cold Town Beer and Alandas plus DJ Captain Calverto will entertain you before each film with car discos. singalongs and quiz fun.

They’ve offered me (and I guess you too) the chance to win tickets.

And you might even see a plane flying overhead… and hopefully I’ll be on it.

 

 

 

America, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Ireland

Holiday Snaps… why we don’t want 24/7 sunshine

Yes, you read that right, as 24/7 sunshine like we had been getting in the UK means the world is dying that little bit quicker.

While strewth, at the other end of the world, our Australian cousins have been shivering.

And that includes their kangaroos… and snowllabies.

Kangaroos in Australia www.bbc.co.uk

No, best keep the hot places where they’ve always been and the cold ones too.

Imagine Barbados, Tobago and the Caribbean and its people without their sunny disposition.

Thankfully we don’t have to…

Woooah, we’re going to Barbados

With Sandals offering seven nights from £2375pp with travel dates May 1-June 30 at the Sandals Royal Barbados.

You’ll be staying in a south sea crystal lagoon club level Barbados suite with Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub. With flights from Virgin Atlantic,

And I know a thing or two about Tranquillity Soaking Tubs.

A welcome from the Nations

And I’m channeling the good guys

We’re on the eve of the 400th anniversary of the First Thanksgiving Dinner in Plymouth, New England next year.

When the Pilgrims and the Natives shared harvest.

And that alas, if it happened like that at all, is when the sharing stopped and the newcomers took their land and sent them packing.

The pipes of peace

Which is probably where the Choctaw Indians and the Irish were sent to Hell or Connaught by the same British forged their links.

The Choctaw sent money to the starving Irish during the Famine and the Irish reciprocated during these COVID times.

And that’s the subject that remains hanging in the air from the last AIATA webinar.

I’ll return to it and my Native American friends whom I first met in Washington DC and then again in Denver and LA

Wigwam Jim

When I’ll get me the American Travel fair that COVID robbed me of in Vegas.

AIANTA’s will come from Albuquerque next month and will reach us all virtually with the organisers waiving the registration fees.

I’ll be there to bring you all the news.

And it’s gentle cruising

Aran Islands

The sea oh the sea is the gradh geal mo croide. Long may it stay between England and me. It’s a sure guarantee that some day we’ll be free. Oh thank God we’re surrounded by nothing. – The Dubliners

And for the uninitiated those strange Irish words mean ‘sweet love of my heart’.

The song is a celebration of Irish waters.

Including my favourite Meeting of the Waters in my erstwhile County Wicklow home which was immortalised by poet Thomas Moore.

My old friends at Travel Department are used to taking us to exotic places near and far.

Connemara’s old sod

And now in Ireland too.

Galway, Connemara and the Aran Islands is from €599pp for three nights including 3* B&B hotel, transfers, excursions and local guide.

Depart October. Ring (00353) 1 637 1600.

MEET YOU ON THE WATER (AND LAND)

 

America, Countries, Deals, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – the real Hotel California

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

If only! Whether it is the steel pan band at Sunday Service on Tobago or the soft rock house band on the Maldives.

It’s how we would want every holiday to end… not ending that is.

The epic Hotel California by the Eagles with its riff which was voted the greatest of all time by Guitarist magazine has spawned an industry in itself.

Around what the lyrics actually mean, where the hotel is that inspires the song, and the hotel that was used for the cover.

The band credit the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel, the hang-out for party people, as being the vibe for the song.

Celeb hangout

Visit nearby West Hollywood where the celebs go these days and you’ll be on Beverly Hills‘ doorstep.

Rainbow crossing at West Hollywood

Turn left out of your WH billet, the Kimpton La Peer Hotel, and you’ll be going in the general direction.

You’ll know you”re in Beverly Hills when you pass the arty sign.

The Beverly Hills Hotel, which predated the town’s existence, was the place to be under vice-president of Bank of America Hernando Courtright.

Galaxy of stars

And Fred Astaire, Cesar Romero, Carole Lombard, the Rat Pack, Humphrey Bogart and Marlene Dietrich were all regular visitors.

Santa Monica

Amazon Marlene even got the Polo Lounge to change its policy on women having to wear a skirt.

I picture Marlene wearing a trouser suit and dominating the room in her husky cigarette drawl.

A day in the life

I’m taken here by CNN’s description of life in the hotel…

Back in the days when celebrity was worn with the elegance and grace of diamonds and mink the Beverly Hills was where the stars played. Humphrey Bogart and the Rat Pack tippled at the bar, Katharine Hepburn did a back flip into the tennis pool in her tennis clothes and Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned in the bungalows out back – six times.

I belong here!

The biggest star of them all

And perhaps the greatest star of them all, Marilyn Monroe, left her mark, staying at the hotel during the shooting of Let’s Make Love.

Marilyn’s back yard

Her favourite bungalow being No.7.

You’ll be surprised though where and who Marilyn is spending eternity with!

Listen here to The Eagles’ definitive version of Hotel California.

And get out your guitar and practise the riff.

And live like a star

Your Ultimate Staycation Offer at the Beverly Hills Hotel will give you a Superior King Room from €575, or the Stanhope Suite from €860.

When they’re back and open.

I might have to bring my own tennis clothes though!

America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe

Covid-day Snaps – Canarian ‘safe’ passports

Nobody likes their passport pic, particularly now we can’t even smile.

Mine’s looks like it could have been taken more than 100 years ago when they were first introduced.

But we don’t even flinch at being asked now for it and I suspect we’ll quickly get used to the technology being rolled out by the Canary Islands to get us back travelling.

The Canary Islands (Spain) and the World Tourism Organisation have agreed a flight in July for the world’s first ‘safe’ flight using the Digital Health Passport, developed by Canarian firm Hi + Card

I can just taste that Tenerife Shakespearean wine Malvasia.

CanariaWays www.CanariaWays.com will make you earn it with their walking holidays but it’s worth it. Also see https://www.hellocanaryislands.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5dWNgOam6QIVCLLtCh2C-AsBEAAYASAAEgLfaPD_BwE

My other family

Family business:: I feel I know these LA folk

If your family is driving you up the wall you may be taking sanctuary in a TV family… me, I’ve been a fly on the wall at the Pritchards and the Dunphys in LA.

Our first introduction to American cities was througb the gogglebox… The Streets of San Francisco https://www.sftravel.com, Cheers in Boston https://www.bostonusa.com, Miami Vice https://www.miamiandbeaches.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/23/fort-lauderdale-and-miami-a-tale-of-two-sittings/.

Colorado rocks

Denver’s Dynasty www.denver.org Go West and Mork and Mindy in Colorado www.colorado.com and The New Frontiersmen Pawn Stars in Las Vegas www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic and House of Cards in Washington www.washington.org and Easy DC.

And New York www.nycvb.com where my Uncle Petie became a superstar in my eyes when Kojak filmed in his bar.

From Missouri to happiness today: Cam and Mitch

I always make a point of annoying the Scary One by pointing out that I’ve been there which is probably why she doesn’t watch Modern Family…

The climax of which is playing out in a two-parter.

Gay parents Mitch Pritchard, an uptight lawyer and Cam Tucker, a hillbilly football coach steal the show.

Hello sailor: In West Hollywood

But it is time for them to move to Cam’s Missouri and leave behind LA https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and I dare say to West Hollywood, the chillest, gayest part of LA https://www.visitwesthollywood.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/.

Where I was complimented on my sailor’s hat and bandana combo.

And if we you feel like the only news you’re getting out of the Oo Es of A is bad then I’ll redress the balance.

So hold on and I’ll let you know how among others my Native American and my Deep South pals are meeting the challenges and prevailing.

We’ll wait for you, Princess

Cruise liners were a sitting target for their critics when the virus first visited.

But they have shown a self-sacrificing responsibility and a willingness to change and I believe they will come back stronger.

Princess www.princess.com has announced the cancellation of select 2020 summer sailings.

And this is a reminder of what we’re all missing and will enjoy again https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/30/cruiseday-tuesday-the-princesss-medallion-man/amp/.

We stayed open

Health is wealth: At the Buchinger Wilhelmi

Our European friends pride themselves on their spas and scientific holiday retreats.

And the Buchinger Wilhelmi http://www.buchinger-wilhelmi.com medi-spa, which overlooks Lake Constance and the Alps and prides itself.

On its therapeutic fasting and integrative medicine, has stayed open through this crisis.

They have a ten-day fasting programme from £2340pp.

And it includes two consultations with a doctor, daily nurse, check-ups, food/drink, fasting provisions and daily activities.

Now, I love an oul’ spa and retreat and my friends, the Czechs know them better than most… www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD