America, Countries, Europe, UK

Laugh is a Rollercoaster

And this is the day dedicated to thrill-seekers whose mantra is Laugh is a Rollercoaster.

You know the types who will regale you with how many Gs, angles, speed, twists and turns the new corkscrew has.

We all have Edwin Prescott to thank for patenting the first verticle loop roller coaster on this day in 1898 in Coney Island, New York.

I have, of course, a chequered history with playground attractions.

Probably scarred by being put on a Waltzer when I wasn’t yet 7.

A fright in the North

Whooooaaah: Thrill ride

And then when I did try the oul’ rollercoaster as an ‘adult’ I made the ultimate schoolboy error.

Of getting overlubricated the night before my Irish cousin Danny came to see me in Aberdeen.

And I left the previous night’s dinner outside the Granite City’s beachside park Codona’s.

Munich Fearfest

Scnapps to it: Oktoberfest

How then do some resorts think it a good idea to put bars and beerhalls around rollercoasters?

With perhaps the biggest bacchanalian bev-up of them all, Oktoberfest, boasting rollercoasters to distract revellers from the Hofbrau, Lowenbrau et al.

I was too busy trying to split up fighting football frauleins and ending up in a Munich hospital to loop the loop.

Drink up: O’Briens Hurricanes

I managed to body-swerve the big rides through choosing alternative holiday experiences over the years until Orlando came a-knocking.

Now time, the bright lights of Universal, Pat O’Brien’s frankencocktails and one of those turbocharged American breakfasts do things to a man.

And make him believe he can take on the most winding of rollercoasters at Universal Resort.

But then there was a reason Bruce Banner said: ‘You won’t like me when I’m angry’.

And I came off The Hulk as green around the gills as the Marvel monster.

Muggle magic

Drop of the tops: Drop towers

I’ve boxed clever around the rollercoasters though I wouldn’t have passed a dope test in any competition, taking motion sickness tablets on board.

But they are muggle magic if you want to go whizzing above and around Hogwarts with Harry and Ron.

I went on to find my feet, and my ride, on the Drop Tower Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay.

And I imagine I’m not alone in being more than respectful of the loops and twirls of big boys and big girl rollercoasters.

A ride for everyone

Green giant: The Hulk

And you know you don’t have to be a hero to stand aside, find your level of ride, and let the G-rides compete with each other.

With even Colin, my old work buddy and one of the hardest footballers I ever faced declining the Hulk’s invitation.

Colin the shots: With my buddie

There is a ride out there for everyone.

And the Velociraptor is just a big softie and just wants to take you on a twirl on his VelociCoaster.

Hey Dino: In Anaheim

So if you’ve got one near you enjoy your day.

Laugh is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it.


America, Canada, Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, South America, UK

Drink up Oktoberfest is over

Drink up Oktoberfest is over… and only three days into the 10th month of the year.

So you’re thinking it should be Septemberfest.

Well, nein… the first Oktoberfest was held to celebrate the wedding of Kronprinz Ludwig Ludwig to Princess Therese on October 10, 1810.

It’s just that it’s been slowly been moved back to accommodate the lighter nights.

And the 16/18 day festival now runs from mid or late September to the first Sunday in October.

Or all year round if you’re two Aussies on the run.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie

Toast of Munich; The Top Deck crew

It’s a well-told story but my Top Deck double deck bus 10-day trip to the Munich Beer Festival and Austria stretched a little longer.

One year longer to be precise as Brownie and Smutley dropped in on me, if a casual visit describes a 543 mile trip north.

From London to Aberdeen.

Being Aussies, of course, they asked to stay for a weekend and left a year later.

But only after returning to the scenes of my crimes at the Lowenbrau and Hofbrau huises and Kirchberg in Austria.

The original, and still best Oktoberfest may have poured its last stein for 12 months.

But the party still goes on around the world.

Oktoberfest around the world

Embrafest: Oktoberfest in Princes Street

In Edinburgh this October 6, 7, 8 and 9, here where I initiated the neighbour in all things Helga and Hofbrau last year.

And in the greater German diaspora with Kitchener (formerly Berlin) in Ontario, Canada where 700,000 clink steins annually.

The Americans, naturally, would never want their neighbour to outdo them and Cincinatti and Denver run them close.

You might be surprised to know though that Blumenau in Brazil is only surpassed by Munich and Kitchener for visitors.

Lager Down Under

Kick up your heels: Oktoberfest in Munich

Of course Brownie and Smutley could have stayed where they were and enjoyed Oktoberfests in Perth in the Supreme Court Gardens.

Or any of the great Aussie cities.

Mind you as anyone who has been to Munich for Oktoberfest will tell you for those two weeks it is a little corner of Oz.

So the Munich celebrations have wound up when the last lederhosen-dressed Bavarian has called ‘Drink up Oktoberfest is over.‘

But that just means finding your next Oktoberfest bash wherever it is in the world.



Europe, Food & Wine

Grin and beer it but it’s Oktoberfest masks

Well that would be one way of shutting me up, I’m afraid we’ll have to grin and beer it but it’s Oktoberfest masks.

Now I’ve been chucked out of other establishments, including my high school, but none as big as the Lowenbrau or Hofbrau huises at the Oktoberfest.

And because every Dancing Dad has their favourite stories on repeat let’s recap.

The first time was when I tried to redress the unfair balance of baying Antipodeans (mostly in my party) competing with chants of ‘Ausssie’ and ‘Kiwi’.

And so I climbed onto the bandstand as the oompah band was in full flow, and took the mic, to sing uninvited ‘My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean’.

A minute later my bonnie was lying over the outside of the hall.

And because youth is wasted on the young I hadn’t remembered (maybe the drink) or learned from my past experience.

Back for more

Schnapps to it: The Topdeck booze bus

And returning from a Bayern Munich v Nuremberg match I got between two rival football supporters who were fighting.

I thought I was being gallant as they were women, despite knowing all about never coming between fighting women from my time growing up in Glasgow.

A boyfriend took exception (my story, and I’m sticking to it) and bust my nose.

A hospital visit and a taxi later with me not knowing where my campsite was and relying on the cabbie and I was back on site and with a thirst on me.

The Mask

Soak it up: With a pretzel

Back to Oktoberfest 2022 and the good news is that it is back after its Covid hiatus.

But with a difference with the German government considering enforced compulsory mask-wearing in all public spaces –including bars – from October to March.

Good luck with that Mein Herr.

Because once the Munich crowd get started on their steins of beer and schnapps chasers then you’ll have the divil’s own job to get the seven million drinkers to put their masks back on.

That’s if they can even find them because I sure as heck I wasn’t able to find my own backside.

The times are a-changin’

Table service: The beer tents

And you might expect things to have changed in the 36 years.

Since I last clinked steins at the Oktoberfest.

And alas it looks as if my booze bus doesn’t drive to Munich.

I dare say Wombat the driver has long since hung up his drinking gloves.

And is back home in Oz draining a cold one (or judging by his waistline) a kegful.

Ja dancer: The Oktoberfest

And in its place it has this package which involves making your own way and staying at the hostel.

After which the Topdeck people will look after you over the next three days.

So no trip to Dachau or Austrian overnighter with tobogganing and glass boot and schnapps drinking games. Hey-ho.

Still, who knows some of the stragglers from our Eighties booze trips may not have made it back or have continued the annual pilgrimage.

The Oktoberfest Braumeister

Let’s get this party started: In Munich

So check out their specs for their Oktoberfest Braumeister.

And get their app to find out more about costs.

Although you’d have to get into a booze bus time machine.

To get £84 for six days with accommodation on the bus and friends for years.

Those who will drop in on you for a winter in Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland and form an Earl’s Court Aussie colony there.







America, Asia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, Oceania, UK

The ten homes of whisky

It’s the golden seal every country strives for, to be the home of something… so where are the ten homes of whisky?

You’d probably not to be surprised at the top five.

And so it’s more of a case of shuffling that pack to see who is tops.

The next five though is a bit more surprising.

So on this World Whisky Day join me for a distillery tour.

But do me a favour please, don’t ask about distilling or the mashing process.

It just holds us up on our way to the sampling.

Scotch Wahey

Fergie’s dram: Sir Alex’s bottle in his cabinet near Aberdeen

Scotland: And the reach of Scotch (just whisky in Scotland) became clear when the distillers held a whisky-tasting in Barbados.

Now we can blind you with science and stats… 44 bottles of whisky are exported from Scotland every year.

There are five designated whisky regions… Cambeltown, Highland, Lowland, Speyside and my own fave Islay.

They’re all heavenly and 

But my No.1 is Laphroaig. It’s so peaty, just like a bowl of water in an ashtray but stick with me here.

After all you have tried haggis.

United Nips of America

Mark of a whiskey drinker: Kentuckian Mark, Cath and Mum

USA: And, of course, when the Scots left home they took their whisky and its secrets with them.

And adapted it to the new world of America and went on to produce nectar such as Kentucky’s Woodford Reserve bourbon.

But US whiskey isn’t restricted to the Deep South… branch out to Oregon.

Where Westward Whiskey have released a reimagined single malt for World Whisky Day.

Green, malt and gold

The oul’ sod: The oldest distillery in the world

Ireland: And Teeling only made it into our Barbados tastings.

While Bushmills lays claim to being the oldest distillery in the world, established in 1608.

They were also responsible for the extra ‘e’, well the Irish are the masters of using two words when one will do, and more letters too.

Land of the Rising Suntory

Made in Japan: Suntory

Japan: Now this is a love story that drams are made of.

And is the result of a relationship between a Japanese chemistry student at Glasgow University Masataka Takaretsu and Jessie Roberta Cowan.

Masataka had been dispatched by the Settsu Shuzi liquor company.

A love Suntory if you will.

Maple leaf

We’re in the Club: Canadian Club

Canada: Right, we’re told that Canadian whisky has its origins not in its big Scottish diaspora.

But because the natives, the First Nations, got a taste for what they called the traders’ firewater.

It was a meld of rum and ‘high wine’ which developed into Canadian whisky, of which Canadian Club is the most recognised.

Sikh beatha

Basket of goods: Indians love their whisky

India: Or Sikh of life, my twist on the uisce beatha which is Gaelic for water of life and is what Scots call their favourite drink.

And long may the Indians keep up their love affair with whisky which they have been producing since 1948 since Amrut entered the market.

More than half of all whisky drinkers in the world come from India. 

Wizards of booze

Bonzer: Aussie whiskey

Australia: And we should have come to expect this with our ne’er-do-wells sent over there as convicts.

Specifically Tasmania is whisky haven with the best Aussie whiskies Sullivans Cove, the best Single Malt at the world awards, and Lark based there. 

A Swede whisky

That way, Sweden

Sweden: Now here’s something you don’t get at your local Ikea with your meatballs but should.

Mackmyra was Sweden‘s first distillery and the Swedes got it right first time, winning the First Edition Gold Award in 2013.

The Isle of Tai

Gold standard: Taiwanese whiskey

Taiwan: You see what we’ve done there. Yes, Taiwan‘s connections with the West probably plays its part here.

Kavalan whiskey won the World’s Best Single Malt at the awards in 2015 and the island’s distillery produces 9 million bottles a year. 

Ja beauty

Dram busters: Germans on the whisky

Germany: Now some of us have ripped it up in Germany at the Oktoberfest where it’s lager obviously but also schnapps chasers.

The Germans though are open to everything and they have around 250 distilleries and around 130 of them are focused just on whisky production.

So, on this World Whisky Day a big Slainte to the ten homes of whisky.





America, Countries, Europe, Ireland

It’s EaZzzzzy with Holidos and Don’ts

A redeye and no Aircoach… fear not it’s EaZzzzzy with Holidos and Don’ts.

Your globetrotting Bandanaman is hotfooting it over to his spiritual homeland of Ireland tomorrow morning.

But such are the vagaries of North Berwick, 15 miles east of Edinburgh, that there is no aircoach from outside my door.

As there was 24-7 in Greystones, Co. Wicklow.

Hubba bubba: Dublin Airport

And so I have the options of a £75 taxi from Castle Murty, asking The Scary One to give me an early morning lift.

Or grabbing the last train (hopefully it’s on as the slightest puddle causes cancellations).

And bunking for the night at the airport… I’ve ruled out the £100 hotel rates.

So the Holidos and Donts.

A site for sore eyes

It helps if you’re in any of the airports flagged up by the excellent Sleeping in Airports site.

And you’ll notice that most of their followers’ recommendations are in stopover airports in Asia.

But there are some old faves too in Europe and America.

Best for a layover

On the right track: Turkish Airlines Business Class

In Istanbul’s award-winning Turkish Airlines Business Class lounge sure but also in their rest rooms with privacy walls while they also have shower rooms.

But also in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam where they have designated rest zones and plenty of amenities including a casino, fitness facilities, a library and a museum.

Denver too gets a shout-out probably because I spent longer there than anywhere… eight hours after being dropped off after my Wild West odyssey in Colorado.

And you’ll become an expert in putting with their 18-hole green on the balcony… and an arts aficionado with their excellent gallery.

Check it out: Munich check-in at Oktoberfest

Oh, and as for the rest the massages come highly recommended.

Munich Airport falls into the same category, and what it lacks for in ease for getting from one gate to the next when you misread your ticket it makes up for with helpful staff.

Arriving there just before the Oktoberfest you’ll find the staff dressed in Bavarian lederhosens.

And if you’re lucky then you’ll get the same Bertha who changed my ticket for a later one when I’d missed my original forwarding flight to Athens.

Dublin’s lair city

Dressed to thrill: At Dublin Airport

Now that I’ve had my accommodation taken care of by my friends in Ireland who are running the international travel network I won’t have to worry about kipping in Dublin Airport.

But there’s a sleeping pod with my name on it which I’ve bagsied in the past and no doubt will again.

And just to make sure your layover goes well a few tips.

*Lock your bags when you’re asleep and keep them wrapped around your shoulders.

*Put the alarm clock on your mobile to make sure you don’t miss the flight.

*And make sure you’re next to a plug socket just in case your mobile which has your boarding pass and Covid details and locator form on it is charged up.

See it’s EaZzzzzy with Holidos and Don’ts.


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!