America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Our world is ever changing

Our world is ever changing but not according to the cork map I’ve been sent.

OIt has taken me, in truth, the best part of a week to realise that this world at my fingertips was the one of my schooldays.

When Britain was still in denial about the loss of Empire.

Pin sharp

A different world

It was only after I’d stuck the pins in (I’d expected them to include them as in the picture) that I’d realised.

I’d covered Western Europe in red, blue and a spot of Irish green.

And adapted as your sticky pins only seem to come in the primary colours.

Red, white and blue

Don’t tell the Indians

So you end up pinning the Oranje Netherlands in red which to be fair is one-third of their flag.

And Italia in verde green the same, though Il Bel Paese is more associated with sporting azzurro.

Some countries have spent generations fighting not to go red so it seemed wrong to pin Germany red, but hey ho.

Red, of course, means different things, in different places and America and the Arab World proudly flashes red.

We will pin them on the beaches

And it can’t be a Beijing Duck

Of course it’s not just travel-longing Travel Editors who pin stickers to an atlas.

And world leaders are probably doing the same as we speak.

I’ve seen it too first hand at Winston Churchill’s War Rooms in Whitehall in London.

Now I’m thinking that I must have been delivered one of Winnie’s maps when I turned my attentions to Asia.

It can’t be a Mumbai mix

It’s not Queenstown any more: Cork

And saw that my mapmakers are still clinging to old British names of Bombay (Mumbai) and Peking (Beijing).

Before scanning back to Ireland to check that the names were correct.

It truly would not have surprised me if their cartographers were working to a 20th Century template.

I should have known when they insisted that my purchase was for a Queenstown map of the world.

Rather than a Cork one.

Our world is changing for sure, it’s just some are stuck in the past.

 

 

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Europe

Italia und Deutschland

They’ve been wanting to welcome us back, and now they can… bella bella et Wunderbar Italia und Deutschland.

Italy and Germany are heading up a tranche of countries green-listed for us to visit again.

That also includes two of my other go-to countries Austria and Switzerland.

Ciao now Bergamo

Buon Giorno Bergamo

That Italy should be leading the way is reward for the efforts they have made in the last year and a half.

The good people of Bergamo have a claim to the title of huggiest people you’ll meet.

Having got into the Guinness Book of Records just five years ago.

When 11,460 Bergamaschi embraced each other, and that’s 5730 couples.

Huggy bears

Atalanta fans: With Matteo in Betgamo

All of which is revealed in the council offices, an antidote to the heavy subject of Covid, which I was there to discuss with the Tourism Minister.

And isn’t it refreshing to count in cuddles than casualties?

It is, of course, what we miss in these days of restricted engagement when we travel.

And so when I wanted to hug my host Matteo for his friendship after we said Ciao we knew we could only elbow.

Give us a cuddle

My Swiss Miss: In Interlaken

Which used to be what you did when you wanted to get rid of somebody.

Now the peoples of some countries seem to be able to get by without the need for physical contact.

My hugginess then is probably more my Irish than my Scottish half.

Sometimes a smile a clink of glasses and a Prost with your eyes fixed on each other.. a la Germany, the Austrians and the Swiss.

Caribbean dreams

My Tobagonian pals: Auntie Ali, Uncle Kenneth

But quite how my Bajan and Tobagonian pals will get by without enfolding each other in their arms…

I haven’t had the chance to see for myself.

For now I have my sights set again on Italia und Deutschland.

I’ll be back then as soon as I can to throw my arms around Bergamo.

 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Europe

Olympics Flag Day

It’s a vexillologist’s dream, Olympics Flag Day… and there were 206 of them at the opening ceremony.

Of course the majority of them will never be seen again on the podium.

Now flags are really just the costume a country dresses itself up in.

Olympics Flag Day

So just like women and dresses it would never do if you turned up with your best flag.

And then you saw somebody there with the same drapery.

But that is exactly what happened at the 1936 Games in Berlin.

See the Leichtenstein flag

When Leichtenstein turned up for their first Games proudly displaying their blue/red split horizontal flag.

Only to see Games veterans Haiti flying theirs.

And so they did what every lady does… accessorise by adding a crown while Haiti added their coat of arms.

And Haiti has had a redraw

Of course the Olympics are the chance for every country and its athletes to meet people they’d never encountered before.

So just a couple of words here on some flags we’ll see a lot more of in the next couple of weeks.

Made in Japan

Nice one sun

Japan: The Rising Sun flag is one of the most distinctive and easiest to draw… if you’re Giotto.

Japan is said to have been founded by the Sun goddess Amaterasu in the 7th Century BC.

And is an ancestor of first emperor Jimmu… and surely a relative.

Chinese stars

Keep the red flag flying here

China: We all associate China with the Reds but, of course, Communism only dates back 70 odd years.

Not being political here but we prefer an earlier iteration, the Yellow Dragon Flag used by the Qing Dynasty.

Betsy’s bunting

And how it was

USA: The world’s most famous seamstress, you can learn the whole story of the American flag in the City of Brotherly Love.

Of how Betsy Ross sewed the definitive Stars and Stripes in Philadelphia.

And persuaded George Washington to agree to five-pointed stars rather than six because that was easier to sew.

UK OK?

Look who’s dropped in: Boris Johnson

UK: So, you thought you know the story of the Union Jack, actually the Union Flag, the Jack is naval.

It encompasses the St George’s flag of England and its then vassal territory Wales, the Scottish St Andrew’s Cross and the St Patrick’s Saltire.

As was inevitably the way of it the English wanted to tuck the Scots flag up in the corner and the Jocks to have their ceoss dominate.

Until they came up with the drape we all know.

Uber alles

Go for it Gretschen

Germany: The German black, red and yellow horizontal bands derive from the 1848 Year of Revolutions.

And are inspired by the black uniforms with red facings and gold buttons of the Lutzow Free Corps who fought Napoleon.

Happy to share

Pole position: Scotland or Tenerife

Scotland and Tenerife: Vexillologists everywhere know that Scotland and Tenerife share the same flag.

But for those who need a reminder I unpicked the threads of it.

You’ll not see the Saltire fly at the Tokyo Games unless, of course, it’s draped around the shoulders of Jock winners.

That would be a twist on Olympics Flag Day.

But it should have been me, it should have been me.

 

Countries, Europe, Music, Sport

Favourite Euros anthems

Chances are we’ve only been able to hum along to a few… it’s Rainy Days and Songdays’ Favourite Euros anthems.

Vive La France

Allez Lea Bleus

La Marseillaise, France: And the proof is whether your song will last the test of time.

Claude Joseph Rouger de Lille is long forgotten.

Long after be penned this revolutionary rouser in 1792.

Charlie wrote his classic, not on the French Riviera but in Strasbourg.

And it is easy to see why he was so inspired by this Medieval cobbled town on the banks of the Rhine.

There is a spoof version rugby song.

About a Frenchman going to the lavatory with the pay-off (and sing along here… ou est le papier?).

Germany Wunderbar

Ja beauty

Deutschland Uber Alles: And on the right side of the Rhine the Teutons will be belting out this tune.

And when you boast the composers Germany has (they do classical music as well as der fussball) then you pick from them.

This ditty is a Joseph Haydn composition.

And, yes we know he’s Austrian but not of the sane ilk as that wee madman Austrian we’ve all came to loathe.

Azzurri Azzurri-eyed

Forza Italia

Il Canto degli Italiani, Italy: No, it’s not Nessun Dorma as stirring as Andrea Bocelli’s rendition was at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

This 19th-century call to arms gained traction around the Risorgimento and unification.

It got bumped by the monarchy for the Marcia Reale.

But thankfully was endorsed by the new republic after World War II.

The Russians are coming

The Beautiful Game: A Russian fan

Gosurdastvennyy Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii, Russia: And another revisionist anthem which oozes Russian eastern mysticism.

This stomper replaced another classic The Internationale because it’s more Russian-centric.

And in typical Russian fashion it has become deStalinised along the way.

Winning in the Valleys

Flying the flag: For Wales

Hen Wlad Fy Nadau, Wales: With three home nations from which to choose it had to be the Welsh anthem over the English and Scottish dirges.

Better too with it sung in Welsh.

And isn’t it heartening too to see all the Wales players, even those of who are only Welsh by grandparentage, giving it a go.

Which is more than arch-Brexiteer and former Wales Secretary of State John Redwood can muster.

So there’s our Rainydays and Songdays’ favourite Euros anthems…

Now if only Scotland and England could change theirs.

 

 

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Growing your beardie for Obeardammergau

So I HAVE been using my time productively in the last year… growing my beardie for the rescheduled Oberammergau, or Obeardammergau, for next year!

In a world of imitations and accessories the ten-yearly Oberammergau Passion Play keeps it real.

The main man

And they require of their participants to grow their hair and beards from a year out of the Passion Play.

Our friends at Der Passionspiele have been updating us on their preparations for next year’s renewal of the world-famous spectacle.

The Spanish Flu

Giddy up: Always a showpiece in Oberammergau

And our Bavarian friends have experience and precedence in these matters having been down this route 100 years ago.

When the Spanish Flu ravaged the world in 1920 the organisers gave themselves another two years before putting on the Passion Play.

That should fir me

Such prescience should come as little surprise to us.

Because as we all know the Passion Play itself was born out of The Black Death.

The Lord is a listening Lord

Giddie up: Always an occasion in Oberammergau

The villagers had promised to put on a tribute to Our Lord in their village if they were rid of the plague.

And God being a listening God, it worked.

Fast forward to today and Passion Play Oberammergau 2020 was in full flight when an all too familiar intruder knocked.

And only eight weeks out of Jesus taking his first steps they had to rearrange their plans.

All of which means that Oberammergau 2022 will be even better for the organisers having had two more years to plan.

Der youth

Medieval man: When in Oberammergau

Oberammergau 2022 will be putting the emphasis on the youth of today and tomorrow.

And they have special offers for tickets for the spectacle.

Oberammergau truly is a spectacle, in and out of Passion Play.

I saw for myself on my Top Flight trip out there on how it wears its history on the side of its buildings.

While the locals like nothing better than dressing up.

Whether it be in the fashions of Palestine 2,000 years ago or in liederhosen.

Written on the walls: In Oberammergau

And, of course, it’ll put a smile on your face to be sat opposite historical figures and be able to clink steins and say Prost, at the end of the day.

We’ll be keeping you up to date on all that’s going on as the year progresses.

But now that I’ve no place to go thanks to our politicians…

I just think I’ll sit here and watch my hair grow and dream of Germany.

 

 

 

 

Countries, Deals, Europe

Uber Oberammergau and get on your bikes to Berlin

Guten Tag. And our prayers are being answered with miraculous deals from Oberammergau, while they’ve got on their bikes in Berlin too.

Our German friends have been regaling us with all that’s been going on in Deutschland in the last little while in anticipation of us returning this summer.

And there’s always a bar

Der best Passion Play yet

Oberammergau, or Der Passion Play, dates back almost 400 years.

To when the villagers retold the story of Christ’s passion on their streets in thanks to the Lord for delivering them from the plague.

Sound familiar?

I don’t remember the prams in the original

The Passion Play, as we all know is held only every ten years.

And it was due to be performed last year but has now been pushed out to next year.

All of which gives the good burghers of the Bavarian village more time to make next year the best Passion Play.

Since, well maybe the one 2,000 or so years ago!

That’ll fit me

There’s good news too for the under-28s (a bit arbitrary but an age which I’m sure I can blag).

With a humungous reduction in prices through the Oberammergau site.

All for the new two-day World Youth Days spin-off on May 7 and 8.

The week before the main event, when 8,000 young people will descend on the picture-perfect village.

You probably won’t believe your eyes but they are offering a ticket with accommodation as a two or three-day arrangement.

With costs between €34-92pp in a double or multi-bed room including breakfast.

How they used to do it

And single rooms are available for an extra charge of €23- 34.

And as you know we’ve got a hotline with the Man Who Matters.

So we’ll keep you abreast of all that’s going on in Oberammergau through the year.

The Wheel Berlin Wall

Vibrant Berlin

It was anything but a picnic in No Man’s Land by the Berlin Wall back in the day when the city was divided into East and West.

But now that’s where Berliners recline on the grass with their food and wine, or beer.

Those that is who don’t cycle along the Wall.

Yes, Erich Honecker would turn in his grave which is, of course, in Chile, and not far enough away from Berlin, wethinks.

Now, it may all be more than 30 years ago, but then history is obviously all around you in Berlin.

And the Berliners are always rebuilding their city.

The new must-visit attraction in Berlin is the cultural multi-purpose Humboldt Forum.

While for history buffs you will want to check out the Potsdam exhibition, particularly when we actually get back out there to see it in person.

And the journey there on the S-Banh or regional train will make you feel that just like Churchill, Attlee, Stalin and Truman did way back in 1945.

Now how did that all work out.

And there’s more to come

Now our German friends gave us an expansive tour of what Germany 2021 and 2022 has to offer.

But once they got to the beer that distracted me and had me scurrying off to mein bierkeller.

So I’ll have to get back to you with the rest. But in the meantime check out their official site.