Countries, Culture, Europe

Nefertiti on the Island of Museums in Berlin

Where else would you expect to see an Egyptian pharaoh)? Yes, that’s the bust of Nefertiti (stop sniggering at the back) on the Island of Museums in Berlin.

I’ve just been catching up with my old freundes from Deutschland who have been filling me in on among other things their Island of Museums in their capital.

Not what you would initially associate with Berlin. 

But we’re talking a World Heritage site here in the historic Mitte on Spreeinsel (Spree Island).

It encompasses five large museums built under the Prussian rulers.

Here comes the Sun Queen

She’s looking at you: Nefertiti

As well as a reception and exhibition building, the James Simon Gallery, opened in 2019.

The bust had arrived in Berlin in 1913.

Along with the other finds from Amarna unearthed during the excavations of 1911–13 and allotted to the German team.

It had entered the collection of James Simon, who had funded the excavations.

Simon initially displayed the bust in his villa on Tiergartenstrasse, where it was first presented to Emperor Wilhelm II. 

Nefertiti who you’ll find in the Neues Museum is known as the Sun Queen.

And together with her husband Akhenaten paid homage to the new religion of the sun.

A gift of antiquities

Pillars of strength: The Pergamon

The three-winged Pergamon Museum by Alfred Messel is the most visited museum in Berlin.

It displays the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Museum of Islamic Art.

The Collection of Classical Antiquities is one of the most important collections of Greek and Roman art in the world.

The most famous work is the Roman Pergamon Altar, whose sculpted frieze depicts the battle between gods and giants.

This bodes well

Dome from home: The Bode

The Bode Museum houses a unique collection of sculptures, showcasing exhibits from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, including works from Donatello, Bernini and Canova.

Since July 2019, visitors can once again visit the James Simon Cabinet in its original room.

It had been closed as a result of anti-Semitism under the Nazi dictatorship.

In summer, the riverbank opposite is a popular meeting place for Berliners.

Think on

Chin scratcher: The Thinker

The Alte Nationalgalerie is considered one of the most comprehensive collections of art from the period between the French Revolution and the First World War.

And it’s here you’ll find The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, as well as works by Manet, Monet and Renoir.

Uber Altes

At the gates: The Brandenburg

Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s magnus, the Altes Museum, designed in 1830 was the first museum building on the island.

And for the first time, the royal art collections were shown to the public in a specially designed antique-style building.

Today, under its expansive circular dome you’ll see sculpture, jewellery, vases and coins.

From Greek and Etruscan art, as well as from the Roman Empire.

Gold and silver jewellery is displayed under a blue ceiling in a special treasure chamber.

And so while, of course, you’ll visit the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall isle recommend too that you take in the Island of Museums too.

Five museums on 8.6 hectares compresses a world of history in a compact area just the way we like it.

Living museums

With Onur in Istanbul

And if you’re thinking here the intimacy of the proximity of the Topkapi Museum, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, you’ll not be alone.

While it would be remiss not to mention the Smithsonians in Washington DC.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… those who forget their history will be condemned to repeat it.

And so span the generations and bust in on Nefertiti on the Island of Museums in Berlin.





Countries, Culture, Europe

Take the water with royalty in Tuscany

Famous for its Chianti and Sangiovese if you truly want to live like a king (or queen) you’ll take the water with royalty in Tuscany.

The monarchs of Europe, showbiz royalty, romantic poets and the elite of classical music have been coming to Italy for centuries.

They’d lie about, sip the salty curatives and do what they did best and create.

Smiles better: Ellen Coughlan

TV host Ellen Coughlan has made it her mission to have her name carved into the stones of the VIPs who have visited.

From Puccini to Caruso to Grace Kelly to more.

The full Montecatini

Pillar of strength: Montecatini

The Irish adventurer has teamed up with Globetrotter TV to showcase the European Route of Historical Thermal Towns with viewings on Sky.

And she kicks off the seven-part Amazing Towns series in Montecatini Terme.

The first thing that strikes you about Ellen is how healthy and vibrant she is and how little need she would have for a termal spa.

Yes, that’s the other thing… that as a gúna-wearing cailín (a dress-wearing lass) she naturally drops the ‘h’.

Ellen explores much of the territory I have myself on my trips to the Spa Triangle in the Czech Republic.

Czech out the Bohemains too

Sweet Karolina: Czech springs

And she’ll experience King Edward VII’s bath (check) in Marianske Lazne, listening to the Singing Fountain (tick) in Frantiskovy Lazne.

And has a licence to thrill at the James Bond Casino Royale (check), the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary.

But first it’s Montecatini Terme which like many old Italian towns comes as a pair.

And has an alto hilltop town, like Bergamo.

The Grand Tour

Spray that again: The magic water

There are plenty of old Grand Tour touchpoints.

Stunning architecture, renaissance art and music.

And fountains and taps obvs for your water.. and 500+ toilette!

Montecatini boasts too its own postcode and post office in its writing house.

Where you can only imagine Byron and Shelley wrote home of their exploits.

This being Italy there’s always exotic travel, and the transport I always levitate to… a funicular.

In this case two red ones much beloved of Guiseppe Verdi (or Joe Green to you and me) take the 1770m journey.

Fun on the funicular 

Rail thing: The funicular

It’s not just the funicular train that takes the strain.

Back down in Terme there are masseurs in hand to ease your knots.

While you can detoxify from your liquid lunch in the hot and cold walking pools and bicycle jacuzzis (si si).

And with that Ellen was off to Acqui Terme to continue her near 3,000km road trip around the seven towns on her odyssey.

On the road again

Hitting the heights: Alto

Before checking in (soz) at my favourite Spa Triangle and Frantiskove Lazne, Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne.

And then Germany and Baden-Baden and Wiesbaden.

So that now you’ve taken the water with royalty in Tuscany you can sample the rest of what Ellen’s Grand Tour has to offer.


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.





Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Yappy 150th Anniversary Greyfriars Bobby

Yappy 150th Anniversary Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal dog who slept by his dead master’s grave, and let’s put more animals on pedestals.

There were pipes and prayers to mark the milestone in the Edinburgh kirkyard.

And I dare say a whisky or two in his memory at the local inn, named after the West Skye Terrier who Walt Disney brought to the world.

Bobby’s statue is, of course, the best in the Scottish capital, nay the world.

And, yes, those no-name figures of Empire should be taken off their plinths.

Replaced by popular and cultural figures of our age and recent memory.

Pets on plinths

Pups: An earlier Jimmy, and Bobby

And let’s be radical here… women.

And animals.

So here’s our menagerie of all creatures great and small.

And on the grounds that we’ve got the best wee doggie, here in Scotland.

And that all God’s creatures have a place in my choir let’s sing the praises of…

The Puck stops here

King of Ireland: Puck

King Puck, Killorglin, Ireland, Now we’re not acting the goat here.

And I’m all about the goats, from my time racing them in Tobago.

In Kerry, in the south of Ireland they have been crowning a goat and throwing a festival around it since the 17th century.

When a goat alerted the village of Oliver Cromwell’s coming.

King Puck is in truth a better fit than any of the chinless wonder monarchs England imposed on them.

Before they broke free a hundred years ago.

On the Bosfurus

Turkey treats: For Tombili

Tombili, Istanbul: And no, I’ve not lost my dictionary… and if I had I’d always return to the book section of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

How Bazaar: Cats in the Grand Bazaar

Cats have a special place in the hearts of Turks, and none more so than diva Tombili.

Tombili became a global hit after she was photographed reclining on a pavement… give her some Kite-Kat turkey treats.

Bear with us here

Bear hug: The Winnipeg statue

Winnipeg the Bear, Canada: The silly willy-nilly all stuffed with fluff is, of course, more prone to napping than scrapping.

This is the real Winnipeg, a Canadian military mascot bear cub, whom AA Milne and Christopher Robin visited at London Zoo.

The Wolf of Rome

Suck it up: The Wolf and the Babes

Capitoline Wolf, Rome: And where’s a she-wolf when you need her?

Rome, that’s where. And lucky that she was for Romulus and Remus.

Because she rescued the babes from the Tiber and they went on to found Rome.

The Romans have never forgotten, and you’ll see fountains adorned with wolf taps around the city.

While they’ll wish each other well with the time-honoured greeting: ‘In bocca al lupi (in the mouth of the wolf).

Those wacky Germans

On the shoulders of giants: Bremen

The Town Musicians of Bremen, Germany: And why celebrate one when you can have four?

The story goes that four old domesticated animals, a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster, escape their mistreatment.

To go in search of their fortune in Bremen as musicians, obvs.

They get distracted by a house robbery, take over the gaff and live there happily ever after.

And so as we say Yappy 150th Anniversary Greyfriars Bobby and all your furry and feathered friends.

All of whom are deserving of being pets on plinths.


Countries, Culture, Europe

The Swede Life

Ah, the Swede Life… again our Scandinavian friends have been recognised as the Happiest Place To Live.

The Global Citizen Solutions’ Quality of Life index shows the Sverige passport heading the top ten for quality of life.

Now this is obviously all good for the Swedes of Swedeland.

And I’m reminded here for context of the travelling Irish Green Army and their chant towards their rival Swedish fans at a past Euros.

To the tune of The Village People’s ‘Go West’.

‘Go home to your gorgeous wives, go home to your gorgeous wives, go home to your gorgeous wives, go home…’

Let’s all move there

Ah, Agnetha: My first love

And talking about home, Global Citizens Solutions are reminding us here with their survey that Sweden awaits us…

Because their audience here is ex-pats yes, but also international retirees and digital nomads.

So what is it that GCS likes about ABBAland?

Well, the many beautiful landscapes, obvs.

But also its corporate culture that has fully embraced a good work-life balance.

And a country that leads in global development.

The six indicators

Pretty as a picture: And in the kitchen too

The six main indicators considered for the Quality of Life Index are

*Sustainable Development Goals (weighted at 30%)

*Cost of living (weighted at 20%)

*Level of freedom (weighted at 20%)

*Level of happiness (weighted at 10%)

*Environmental performance (weighted at 10%)

*Migrant acceptance (weighted at 10%).

Index of happiness

Flagging up Sweden: And Homer’s a fan too

And Sweden scored 87.2 in the Quality of Life Index.

So in layman’s language that means they’re high in sustainable development, level of freedom, environmental performance (pause for breath).

Happiness levels, and migrant acceptance categories.

Sweden only ranked unfavorably in the cost of living category, which is considered high.

However, the country has relatively high salaries for its population, which increases the cost of living.

The top ten

Now don’t shoot me here, they’re not my findings.

Because here they are in descending order…

1. Sweden

2. Finland

3. Denmark

4. Canada

5. Germany

6. Netherlands

7. New Zealand

8. UK 

9. Spain 

10. Austria 

An expert writes

See, happy: The Swedish Chef from The Muppets

Mapping it out, Patricia Casaburi, Managing Director at GCS, said: ‘From kindergarten, there are 16 months of paid family leave.

‘That can be split between the couple after a new child is born, with free daycare also available.’

And though I’d never complain about rearing my family in Ireland, mmmm?

Over to Patricia again: ‘While most passport rankings focus solely on the number of countries that one can visit visa-free with a certain passport, Global Citizen Solutions believes that a passport’s true value has so much more to offer.’

And wouldn’t that just be Bra (behave… it’s Swedish for good)?

Ah, yes, The Swede Life.



Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Wunderbar Germany is open again

Ja beauty Wunderbar Germany is open again. Neujahr!

In the best booster of all, the UK has been recategorised as a ‘high-risk area by Germany’.

It sounds scary but it is in fact one down from ‘an area of Covid concern’ which meant temporary banned entry.

A high risk worth taking

A holy place: Oberammergau

Over to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office who gave us all a late-night pep.

They said: ‘From 23:00 GMT on 3 January 2022 the UK is designated a high-risk area.

‘You may enter Germany from the UK for any travel purpose if you are fully vaccinated.’

Right, if you’re not why not (and I need a note signed by a parent)?

And you rightly won’t be treated like the rest of the staff.

Jab, jab, jab

Our prayers are answered: The Bavarian town

They go on: ‘This means that travellers arriving from the UK, who are not fully vaccinated, are subject to 10-day quarantine, and test and release is available after 5 days.

“Fully vaccinated and recovered individuals are exempt from this requirement, once they have uploaded their proof of status on the pre-departure digital registration portal.

Yes, it’s not untrammelled entry but der baby steps.

And we’ll need a negative PCR test result that is no more than 48 hours old at the point of departure, if travelling to Germany via plane, train, bus or ferry.

Our prayers are answered

Der Jesus: A German Jesus

It sounds as if our Christmas prayers have been answered.

And I think I know who has been behind this.

Yes, the most connected man in Travel only got in touch with Jesus himself last year.

And I asked him if he would get the show back on.

Jesus prophecy

Auditioning: For Oberammergau

By Jesus, of course, I mean Frederik Mayet who I interviewed last year ahead of the renewal of the Oberammergau Passionsspiele this year.

I had, of course, done my prep work in the Bavarian town on my Top Flight For Schools trip to Ehrwald in the Austrian Tyrol.

And Frederik assured me that he has been growing his beard assiduously since the lockdown in preparation for his big part.

All of which I recognise as the mark of a holy man as I’d done.

By growing a beardie on the same on the Camino to Santiago.


Slice of Bavaria: Town life

And so you can plan for your Oberammergau either independently.

Or as we discovered on a quick browse through agents McCabe Pilgrimages.

They are offering a one-week, two-centre holiday combining a choice of Austrian resort hotels with the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play.

With prices starting at £1,670.

Germany, here we come

Plague history: Oberammergau

Jesus won’t be the only Second Coming to Germany in 2022.

We aim to be back too having kept in touch right through 2021 with our German friends.

While Daddy’s Little Girl aims to fulfil her trip to Berlin (we might just follow on).

Ja, it’s a beauty, and Ja Wunderbar Germany is open again.

And we’re open to clink steins, look into our pals’ eyes and bark Prost.

Just like I’ve been doing since I first fell in love with Germany 37 years ago.

And yes, if it’s good enough for our Teuton pals, then what’s keeping notre amis en France?


America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

A kick in the baubles

A kick in the baubles… I’ve lost my battle with The Scary One and her apprentice.

It’s five years since our MLK50 group was serenaded with Merry Christmas Everyone by a Southern singer at an antebellum guesthouse.

The Southern Ball

Southern baubles and belles: Mississippi

And every year when I see the Fairview Inn bauble from Jackson, Mississippi, I think of that Deep South Family…

Her, her husband and their eight kids.

This year though I have to crane my head around the back of the tree to see the Mississippian bauble.

Because The Scary One and her mini-me have decided to hide it there behind glittery shop decorations.

It is a daily ding-dong to get my baubles on the tree…

My belle and her baubles

Masked ball: In Venice

We both love Venice so the Grand Canal bauble makes it.

Greening up: A touch of Irish

While my Irish harp (an extra greening this year didn’t go down well).

Countered, of course, by the red phone box, a symbol of Englishness.

Hat’s a decoration: The Sorting Hat

And a sorting hat and Harry Potter’s Gryffindor scarf.

He’s got bounce: Tigger

Tigger doesn’t deserve to sit below Potter but I expect him to get up the tree.

He has the bounce after all.

A Christmas laaf

Game for a laaf: A touch of Dutch

Up there and deservedly so are my favourite urchins, the Laafs I fell in love with in Ireland.

But who hail from the Netherlands.

Baubles were born in Germany as was the Christmas tree.

So if you were able to get to one of their Christmas markets then you know how tinseltastic they are.

Birthplace of baubles

Birthplace: Lauscha

Lauscha is the birthplace of the bauble and celebrates it every November with its kugelmarket.

Yes, you guessed it, it translates as bauble market.

And it all started in the glassworks of this German mountain town near the Czech border.

With craftsman Hans Greiner moulding the ornaments into the shape of fruit and nuts in 1847 and exporting them to Britain.

Neither of which would work with Santa’s little helper in Chez Murty who clears the tree of hanging chocolate every year.

Before moving my keepsake… it’s a real kick in the baubles.





Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, UK

Herr of the dog

Ja, it’s the Herr of the dog.. an Oktoberfest followed by a Pilsener piss-up.

Welcome to my boozie world.

Oktober in Edinburgh I’d forgotten in my 13 years in Ireland turns itself over to resemble the famous Munich Beerfest.

Or at least the party in Princes Street Gardens in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle does. 

And that’s where I was with my neighbour (in our Bavarian pigtails of course) clinking steins, dancing on the wooden benches to the oompah band.

And echoing the invitation from the bandstand which all of you who have been to Munich for the Beerfest will know.


Ja dancer: Beerfests

Die Kruge Hoch

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit

All of which means ‘Raise your glasses, a toast to wellbeing’.

Followed, of course, by Oans, zwoa, drei, gsuffa! or one, two, three, drink.

The best Beerfest of course is the original in Germany and I was there for the 175th in 1985 and again in 1986 with a Topdeck busload of Aussies and Kiwis.

Fun and games: And drinking

And I have left it all this time because I think they might still remember me, the Scot who got up on the bandstand and sang ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’.

The Beerfest is probably Munich’s greatest export and alas was cancelled this year.

We’ll be back with pigtails on and slap the thighs even louder next year.

Czech this out too

In the Strahov Monastery Brewery in the Czech Republic

And so heavy of head but bright in spirits (that’ll be the schnapps) I Czeched in with my old pals from the Czech Republic.

For a catch-up on how they’re progressing.

And the good news is that they’ve got the red carpet out for us again.

Now I know this from old from clinking glasses and crying Na Zdravi in Prague and Hoptown Zatec.

And all spots in between.

This time around we were treated to the delights of Pilsen too.

Now the Pilsner brewery is one of the top ten most visited tourist attractions in the country and no surprise.

Let’s workshop it

Look at the head on that: Zatec, Czech Republuc

The good folk of Pilsen advise the Pilsner Urquell Draft Beer Workshop, where you can master the correct principles of beer tapping, taught by experienced barmen, during this three-hour course.

The Brewery even offers you the chance to rent a place for yourself in a traditional “šalanda” (a room where beer workers once ate and rested)

And with the kind and wise soundings of our tapman showing us how to do it I glugged my favourite Czech beer down.

It had all started at the Edinburgh Oktoberfest so it was a Herr of the Dog with a Pilsner chaser.

I really am the first among Urquells!


Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

European Spa Towns springing forward

It felt like I should have been letting all this seep into me in my reviving bath… European Spa Towns springing forward.

And indeed I’m remembered for attending our last European Thermal Cafe seminar from my tub.

Our friends from the European Thermal Towns’ visit to Chez Murty corresponded with its Heritage Day.

In truth they were in Wiesbaden but you get the picture.

It is indeed timely with the world coming together soon for COP 26 in my home town of Glasgow.

Water is, of course, the source of life, but it’s worth repeating that spas were the first tourist resorts.

Our hosts mapped out their First XI who have World Heritage Status as the Great Spa Towns of Europe.

Of course we all know that they just trip off the tongue.

The First XI

Crystal clear: Spa

But here’s a reminder.. 

1. Baden bei Wien (Austria)
2. Spa (Belgium)
3. Františkovy Lázne (Czechia)
4. Karlovy Vary (Czechia)
5. Mariánské Lázne (Czechia)
6. Vichy (France)
7. Bad Ems (Germany)
8. Baden-Baden (Germany)
9. Bad Kissingen (Germany)
10. Montecatini Terme (Italy)
11. City of Bath (United Kingdom)

And while it’s the Czech Spa Triangle I know best they all have their merits.

Belgium’s other watering hole

My kind of watering hole: With Simon in Belgium

Now I’d be more used to the Belgian bars and the kinds of beer experience which remind you of the paucity of good ales back here in Scotland.

Now as water is core to beer it’s worth flagging up Belgium’s spa sector, and particularly the town which gives the whole business its name.

Spa‘s springs we are told date back to the 14th century and you’ll get some good exercise in walking from the town to the forest to get your water.

For a town of just 10,000 Spa does punch above its weight with its grand prix and it’s status in beauty pageants, Concours de Beauté, as the first in the world back in 1888.

Beethoven on a roll

Beethoven got around: In Czechia

And the Great and Good of European society would flock to spa towns. 

With our old friend Ludwig Van Beethoven a frequent visitor to Baden bei Wien in Austria

We tracked him down at the hotel named in his honour, Beethoven Spa in Teplice in the Czech Republic on our Hops and Health tour. Complete with his hearing horns in a glass cabinet. 

That ain’t half Bad

Kaiser Wilhelm: In Bad Ems

The Germans are the only other country which has three spa towns on the list.

And yes, that ain’t half bad… but in truth, bad is just another example of the Germans having a word which means something completely different from ours.

Bads are baths and Kaiser Wilhelm I loved them (no, not the Bad Wilhelm of First World War Fame).

It was in Bad Ems where the Kaiser mixed with the Great Unwashed, before they were cleansed, and there’s a statue of him in Bad Ems in his civvies.

All of which we’re told just emphasises that in spa towns everybody mingled freely, away from the social dividing lines elsewhere.

V for Vichy

Mais oui: Vichy

Now the wars do get in the way and alas we do associate Vichy in France with the Second World War.

But get close and personal and you will see that it is one of our glorious Spa Towns with a drinking hall and a Celestins Spring.

Que Sera la spa

L’Aqua Italia: Montecatini Terme

Yes, another tortured pun brings us to Italy’s offering, but one with a funicular railway which is always a selling point with your favourite blogger.

We’re told too that Mussolini was here in Montecatini Terme... and I guess he got all the funiculars to run on time. 

We’re told there is a strenuous walk up to the springs but we’ll leave it to you to decide if you want to trek to the Alto, high part of the town.

Why not do both? 

Bath, English for Bath

Let’s get steamin’: Bath

And yes, we’ve kept the best for last, Bath

The English city with the Roman roots is twice blessed with a UNESCO stamp for both the city and also as a Spa Town.

A great lead with European Spa Towns springing forward.


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.