America, Countries, Deals, Europe

Bonjour Mickey enfin

For those who have missed out on a summer holiday the mid-term break takes on extra significance… so it’s Bonjour Mickey enfin.

Mickey et amis have been waiting patiently for nous retour at Disneyland Paris.

And our old friends at Click&Go are bringing us back together again.

Click, you’re on camera

Minnie break: With Ms Mousr

Click&Go have three nights at Disney Santa Fe for a family of four departing October 23 with flights from Dublin.

And that’s a saving of €287.92. And tickets for the park are included.

All of which allows us to reflect on an American in Paris, Monsieur Mouse.

An uneasy alliance

Yes, it got Goofy: With ma pal

Mickey isn’t typical in being an American embraced in France.

With a frosty relationship having built up in Gaul land towards the Americans over the years.

It wasn’t always the case.

The French stood four square behind the rebels during the American Wars of Independence.

And George Washington’s great friend, the Marquis de Lafayette is honoured in his city Washington DC.

With his statue in Lafayette Square within sight of the White House.

Sons of Liberty

Laddie Liberty: In New York

The French and the Americans revelled in their self-proclaimed status of trailblazers of liberty.

And the French gifted the Americans the Statue of Liberty to mark the 100th year of American independence.

The Americans repaid the generosity in twice coming to France’s aid over two world wars.

Over to Donald

I am not worthy: With Donald at Epcot, Florida

So where did La Bromance go wrong?

Well, it may very well have been the fault of an interfering Scot (no, non moi).

But Groundskeeper Willie out of The Simpsons who called the French ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys.’

On account of them not supporting the US in their invasion of Iraq.

Not that things got petty or anything for the then Republican Chairman of the Committee on House Administration.

Bob Ney renamed the menu in three Congressional cafeterias Zut Alors.

A common language

Magic Kingdom: Fireworks

Thankfully our favourite animated figures act like grown-ups.

And Mickey, Donald and their pals chose Paris to set up their European home.

Perhaps it’s the common language they share.

Bonjour Mickey enfin.

 

 

America, Countries, Ireland, Music, UK

Donald Duck Day is a quacker

Eider expect your party is in full swing already because… Donald Duck Day is a quacker.

Our beloved Donald first waddled onto our screens on this day back in The Wise Little Hen.

And oh boy, oh boy, oh boy… we’ve been loving his company ever since.

The Four Cabbaleros

I first met The Original Donald when another was trying to steal his shade back in November 2018.

He Disney half look good

Donald was wintering where we all want to make for, Florida.

While, of course, Donald has homes all over the world.

I am not worthy

And I followed him from Orlando to Anaheim.

And danced away with the Three Caballeros.

Of course while today is about the Donald I’ve taken my duck fun wherever I find it.

The Duckmaster

So when the Duckmeister invited us to the Duck Parade in Memphis, well I was there in double quack time.

Rib a dub duck

I’ve been hooting my quacker today, lining up my Northern Ireland Hastings ducks in a row and getting ready for my party.

So don that duck suit, waddle around the house and watch your Donald Duck films.

Me? Being of the Scottish variety be celebrating with my people, the McDuck clan.

The McDucks are, of course, from a rich lineage going back to the ancestral home of Dismal Downs.

Near the village of MacDuich somewhere in Rannoch Moor.

The McDucks

With the main duck on The Walk of Fame

We owe it all to the union of Hortense McDuck and Quackmore Duck and gave us the genius creation of Scrooge McDuck.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I’ll get a smile out of old Scrooge.

On this day because Donald Duck Day is a quacker.

 

America, Countries, Culture

I’m a Kissimmeeass

What breeds do you get when you cross a Kissimmee Zebra and Horse? A Kissimmee Zorse? A Zebra and Donkey? Me, I’m a Kissimmeeass!

Now if you want high-brow culture then you’ll sometimes get it on this site…

But if you want infantile hybrid humour then that’s guaranteed.

Zorses and Zonkeys were the talk of the day when our friends from Kissimmee in mid-Florida came a-calling again this week…. they’re old friends.

Is it a Zorse, is it a Zonkey?

As were sloths and alligators and any manner of creatures that laze in trees, slide through water and walk on two logs supping on Safari Slushys and Florida Freezes.

That’s us humaneee types of creatures.

And the Safari Slushy is a pineapple, mango, passion fruit, cream of coconut slushy and the Florida Freeze a shake which boasts layers of ice cream with safari slush. Yummmmmee!

Vacation capital of the world

Images of Orlando

Kissimmee, which is only 23 miles from Orlando is the type of place which just sounds fun.

It is known as the Vacation Capital of the World with 50,000 rentals.

And each one is tailored to your needs…

For me (the big kid in me) that’s Character Breakfasts with all our favourite cartoon friends, and great pirate theme bedrooms.

Light up, light up

And why are they great? Because they aaaaarr!

I really should be working there but failing that I’ll take the family (God knows we deserve a break).

Get us back out there

Action stations

The Kissimmee folk tell us too that while the local market has picked up in good style.

As Covid restrictions are eased they are all desperate to have us British and Irish back.

And not least because we are so houseproud of their properties.

Now Kissimmee naturally has a tie-up with Disney so you’ll get a chance to enjoy two Magical Places when you visit.

And maybe see a Kissimmeeass or two.

 

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

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, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

The travel pack – the birds of the world

Does anyone else here feel like Burt Lancaster in the Birdman of Alcatraz? Oh, to be that little birdie with his freedom.

So let’s take wing and celebrate our feathered friends around the world.

The Spoonbill

Scoop of the day. www.algarve-birdwatching.com

Rio Formosa, Quinta do Lago, Algarve: And anyone who didn’t think that God has a sense of humour hasn’t paid attention to how he made us all.

For every pink flamingo there’s a Spoonbill.

I found these fancy snouted fellas in the Via Formosa in Quinta do Lago in the Algarve…

Their bills, of course, are purpose-built to scoop up all that pond life to give them fuel for the skies.

Yes, Pink Flamingoes

In the pink: In Busch Gardens

Pink Flamingoes, Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida: And for those Fiftysomethings among us the opening shots for the Florida soap Flamingo Road made us fall in love with these birds

Yes, and Morgan Fairchild, to be fair.

I got up close with a flamingo out in SeaWorld and again he is a reminder of God’s Grandeur.

Heron good things about you

You’ll have a long wingspan then

Herons, Kuramathi, The Maldives: And you know when a bird has her eye on you.

She even came into the pool with me every morning.

Kuramathi is a bird-watcher’s dream, big, small, skinny, plump, and every colour.

And as bird-watching is a stationary pastime isn’t it a relief that you don’t have to freeze your whatsits off either?

Caribbean wood doves and mockingbirds

The West Indies: Rihanna, my wood dove used to join me in my hot tub in Barbados of a morning… and leave a mess in the bedroom.

I would forgive Rihanna anything though.

The West Indians take their nature very seriously, just as seriously as their rum and their music.

And Ean The Birdman of Tobago will show you around his Adventure Eco Villas where the birdies will twirl and tweet around your head.

You can stay too and awake to birdsong.

And not forgetting the Duck

Ducks everywhere: Whether they’re the rubber ones in your bath at Hastings Hotels in Northern Ireland (or in mine).

Or with The Donald in Epcot in Florida or in Anaheim.

Following the Duckmaster and the quackers down to the fountain in the hotel lobby in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

MEET YOU WITH YOUR BINOS

Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe

Lay your hands on me… the best massages

I’m looking forward to having a beautiful young woman lay her hands all over me… and maybe later I’ll have a massage

Some people need a humour transplant.

Back in the day when I edited Ireland’s then award-winning Travel section I had some massage fun in a Barbados article.

Only by the time it got to the inhouse clickbait site it was edited out.

As it didn’t sit well with The Third Wave of Feminism overseers.

Who missed the point totally as Barbados is gloriously irreverent and saucy.

And which is why this Scot just clicked with the Bajans.

And I will have to work off this belly

Now you’re nice and relaxed

I’m floating on air as I write this post after being a guinea pig for my daughter as she keeps her skills up.

And I’m thinking of my five fave places where I’ve just laid back and thought of..

Acting all goofy in Orlando

Animated in Orlando

Orlando: Travel trips often throw the most unlikely people together but I found that I had a lot in common with Finnish Paula.

Not least when our hotel in Orlando mistook Mrs Murray for my wife (lucky her).

And to this day, and today is that day I greet her as Missus.

A massage is just the thing after cricking your neck and being twisted this way and that on a Disney World rollercoaster.

And this drink Becherovka is a healing potion

The Czech Republic: And it’ll come as little surprise that in this land of spas and wellness that you’ll get a great massage.

Especially in the Spa Triangle.

Watch though whose dressing gown you pick or you’ll have a small Japanese woman shrieking at you.

And a swim will relax the muscles

The Maldives: Because you’ll be stressed out on this island Kuramathi with no traffic bar the golf buggy buses.

Bur it’s hot, hot, hot. And so is the weather outside.

A floating massage parlour

The Western Med: It’s often been said that I need my head looked at.

And who better than a cruise and what better than an Indian head massage?

And for a minute I thought I was going to end up with a revolving head like Clunk from Stop the Pigeon.

Sweat off the rum and food

Barbados: I’m guided as always by my friends and Travel professionals Michael and Niamh and Bronagh.

Who helped to prompt this tour around massage destinations.

By flagging up the Irish-owned Sandy Lane on the island’s Platinum Coast.

But equally you can travel with Tropical Sky pop next door to Club Barbados for your massage.

Without having to sell off a vital organ to pay for it.

MEET YOU IN THE PARLOUR

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, 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.