ABC… of stag and hen parties in Europe

As the song goes it’s as simple as ABC… of stag and hen parties in Europe (OK, a bit of poetic licence here, but you try doing this every day!)

The rather clumsy lead-in just gives us an excuse to highlight the charms of our continent’s cities and its appeal to stags and hens.

Now you’ll have your own pick of the pubs but the A-1 for us before we tied the knot was our old stomping ground at the time, Aberdeen, in the north-east of Scotland.

Where the jokers, mostly those who have never been to the Granite or Silver City by the North Sea, will tar the locals with a parsimony that is misplaced.

But for those who have lived there (eight years for me) it is welcoming and best of all the pubs are hubs of good craic.

Too much so on the night in question when I was persuaded by my usher into drinking too much which forced me to retreat from my own do when we got to the Chinese restaurant.

Thankfully we had decided in advance not to have the stag the night before and I’d recovered by the following week.

This could be Amsterdam or Rotterdam

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Our survey suppliers today Bonusetu (no, us neither) have inexplicably bypassed Aberdeen on their ABC… of stag and hen parties in Europe.

But they do give us some of our favourite cities, starting off with one of the masters, Amsterdam.

And it would be a mistake for revellers to descend on the Red Light district… far better to seek out the cosy, narrow, canalside bars.

The Dutch capital takes top spot for restaurants featured in the Michelin Guide per capita with 70 restaurants making for more than six per 100k population. 

Ranking fifth in casinos per capita, sixth for number of five star hotels, and fourth for five star nightlife locations, the Dutch capital has it all.

Now we all have our ideas of romantic getaways and I won brownie points for taking Mrs M to the Dylan where George and Amal go when in Amsterdam.

But just as good I find is taking your loved one down to Rotterdam to see the Dutch Oranje play Greece I find too.

The upside of Continental Europe for your stag or hen is that it’s proper beer and the Belgians make theirs a matter of national honour as we found out in Ieper and Bruges.

Antwerp or Bucharest

Bucks on tour: Bucharest

But the same goes too for Bonusetu’s pick Antwerp where old friends from Dublin (and more of the Fair City later) await.

They tell us that it contains the second most Michelin Guide restaurants per capita at just over five per 100k, whilst ranking 12th relatively for five starred nightlife locations.

Now, full reveal here, and we’d have imagined that the B Bonusetu would have in mind might have been Barcelona or Berlin or Budapest.

But our guides have pointed us in the direction of Bucharest.

The Romanian capital has a huge amount of top class nightlife with more than 50 bars, clubs and comedy clubs rated over five stars on TripAdvisor.

And it has by far the most casinos with 160 which equates to nearly 9 per 100k residents.

Now you bet that we say where Bonusetu are going with this and what they want us to do when we’re abroad, but we’ll go with it.

Fairytale cities

Walking on air in Copenhagen

Heading north Bonusetu clearly know what they think is wonderful about Copenhagen.

The Danish capital sports just over 1.5 casinos per 100k residents, and more than four Michelin restaurants per 100k.

And it has almost 40 five star rated nightlife locations… but the abiding beauty is, of course, the Little Mermaid.

Prague has a fairytale aspect too and its mix of quirky David Cerny Piss Sculpture and historic erections (steady).

But most importantly it claims to have the most beer drinkers per capita in the world.

Bonsusetu helpfully tells us the Czechia capital has the most five star rated nightlife locations per capita of all cities in Europe with 162 across the city.

And that equates to more than 12 per 100k of the population.

Prague also sports the second highest number of casinos with 56 they inevitably tell us.

Eternal cities

I’ll be back: The Trevi Fountain in Rome

Rome needs little build-up and drinking Chianti with a pezzo on the Spanish Steps or Cakestand is to be recommended (guilty).

And our guides tell us of their 124 five-star rated nightlife locations across the city.

As the city with the most top notch hotels per capita in Europe with almost two for every 100k of its population, it’s a sure spot for a fantastic stag/hen do.

As is Lisbon, the jewel of Portugal. Sporting the third most five star hotels per capita at just over one and a half, it maintains a good rank for nightlife.

And we’d of course recommend the Vinho Verde and the sardines whichever fado bar you go into… and a Port to finish.

For those in these island where I live, of course, your question is bound to be which of Britain or Ireland comes out on top in the Bonusetu survey?

London or Dublin

The Travel pack in Dublin

And this time, it’s Laaandon, although we do know that’s because of the Irish influence.

London’s 163 five star hotels puts it second in the per capita rankings with this making for 1.75 per 100k people.

It also features the third highest number of casinos with 53, and an abundance of Michelin Guide restaurants put it at ninth in this category with 0.57 per 100k population.

The Bachelor Boy himself, my own Son and Heir, would only partake in someone else’s stag.

Our own old playground of Dublin has long been on the map for stag and hen revellers, particularly around Temple Bar.

The Fair City ranks third in terms of casinos per capita of these European cities with almost two for every 100k residents, and again in the top ten for five star hotels per capita.

So there you are the ABC… of stag and hen parties in Europe.

You bet!




America, Asia, Countries, Europe, UK

World’s ugliest building!

So Scotland’s Holyrood is the world’s ugliest building in the world! But we ask about yours and how’s that for a parliament?

It feels a bit unfair to Holyrood at the foot of Edinburgh’s most famous street, the Royal Mile.

Yes, it may not have the river vista of a Houses of Parliament or the Mall walkway of the Capitol in Washington DC.

Capitol idea: On the hill in Washington DC

But Enric Miralles’s £414m edifice with its boats theme (no, me neither) is hardly the Scott Monument rocket eyesore on Princes Street.

Of course beauty is always in the eye in the beholder.

Not that I put much faith in the Buildworkd twitter survey.

And who chose Holyrood ahead of the likes of the J Edgar Hoover Building in Washington DC and the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea?

Brit hit list

Sick building: Royal Liverpool Hospital

On the surface the British entrants in the survey surely should be less aesthetic than Holyrood…

Newport Train Station, Preston Train Station, the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the MI5 Building in London among them.

But then again in this strangest of surveys there are some odd picks among the American buildings.

Some probably more politically motivated, like with Holyrood.

American scream

Golden Vision: Trump in Vegas

And Trump’s name in glittering gold in his titular hotel in Las Vegas will do that for many.

I’d argue too against dissing Denver Airport having spent 12 hours there and availed of their putting course on the roof.

Or the Watergate Complex, other than its association with Nixon’s crimes.

And it seems politically even-handed with liberal Boston City Hall in the cradle of the American Revolution.

On the hit list for the twitter haters.

Now perhaps that’s it that the twitterati dislike more what’s inside Holyrood than what it looks like outside.

Something to Prague about

Ugly Pretty: Prague

But what about you do you think Holyrood is the world’s ugliest building!

And maybe leave you with this… the Prague television tower with its climbing babies was once the world’s second ugliest building.

The Czech capital edifice surpassed by the North Koreans again. And so there’s hope for Holyrood yet.



Countries, Deals, Europe

EasyJet Booksing Day sale

It’s standard Travel abbreviation pp for per person but the EasyJet Booksing Day sale could just as easily be Portugal and Prague.

A favourite fly and flop and a fun city break it’s no surprise that EasyJet are flagging up these jewels for its sale.

Running from today until the end of January the Big Orange Sale (its livery obviously) EasyJet is offering up to £300 off package holidays.

Helpfully EasyJet map out price ranges across £200pp/£300pp/£400pp/£500pp or less.

And maybe if you’ve shelled out this first post-Covid Christmas then you’ll lean towards the £200 band.

PP Perfect

Golden vision: The Algarve

And that’s where you’ll find Portugal and Prague.

You and yours can kick back in the beach front Dom Jose Beach Hotel, Quarteira, Algarve from £391.

For three nights B&B in Faro from Thursday, January 12-Sunday January 15, flying out of Bristol.

Or three nights SC (self-catering) at Flor Da Laranja, Albufeira, 3.5km from the beach.

Again from Bristol and from Monday, January 16.

The Paladim Alagoamar, also in Albufeira, 1.2km from the beach.

Yes, Bristol is your starting point here too and you’ll be leaving on January 12 and get three nights in the sun.

If Spain is more your style then the Costa Blanca and Lanzarote are also on offer.

While Malta is also a draw… and all flying out of England.

And PP Pilsener

Bridge of highs: On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

Of course there are those of us who prefer the Pilsner and the pubs and the Czech capital has both in abundance.

The Grandior Hotel is a city centre hotel which is handy as you won’t have to trek up the hilly Castle at the end of the night.

And yes, it’s timely too with Boxing Day falling today.

When we all know that Good King Wenceslas last looked out… on this, the Feast of Stephen.

So check out the pp offers aa part of the EasyJet Booksing Day Sale.



Countries, Deals, Europe

Athens an epic city break

Any city where the cabbie asks you how much you want to pay has a jump start on others… yes, it’s Athens an epic city break.

But don’t just take my word for it (well do) but the Post Office’s annual City Costs Barometer makes Athens your alpha city.

The beta, gamma, delta and epsilon (I knew Greek would serve me well one day) are outliers Lisbon, Krakow, Riga and Budapest.

The Post Office took a dozen common holiday purchases.

From a travel card and entrance to a museum to a cup of coffee and two nights in a three-star hotel.

And Athens came out on top at £207.18.


Spoiled and ruined at the Acropolis in Athens

Now famously the Greeks bankrupt themselves partly because they supposedly saw underground fares as optional.

I don’t know about the veracity of that having enjoyed the services of my old Athenian pal George’s driving.

And Athens’ peculiar taxi service.

Where they’ll quote a fare of €15 or €10 or whatever you’ve got to get up from your downtown hotel to the Acropolis.

And then if you get the right return driver it could be €10 to get back to your hotel.

Or as my own chilled cabbie put it pay if you can.

Dublin’s fare city

The Travel pack in Dublin

T’wouldn’t catch on in Dublin though where the latest incomers bag a licence.

And then take you halfway around the city just to ramp up the fare.

That and the think of a number drink fares around Temple Bar put Dublin down at 17 on the list at £436.12.

Just behind Pricey Paris at £423.42.

And only ahead of Copenhagen (£455.75), Venice (£456.92) and Amsterdam (£592.79).

Some local knowledge is, of course, helpful which is what you get over 13 years living and working in the Irish capital.

Some personal favourites

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

We’re pleased to see, of course, that some personal favourites make the top ten.

With Prague at £248.50 which leaves plenty in your pocket for Pilsner.

And Rome at £347.17, although we can show you some short cuts around La Citta Eterna.

The top 20

I’ll be back: The Trevi Fountain in Rome
  1. Athens – £207.18
  2. Lisbon – £218.03
  3. Krakow – £218.55
  4. Riga – £220.32
  5. Budapest – £220.95
  6. Prague – £248.50
  7. Madrid – £298.81
  8. Berlin – £316.97
  9. Dubrovnik – £318.30
  10. Rome – £347.17
  11. Barcelona – £384.80
  12. Bruges – £389.05
  13. Florence – £397.87
  14. Vienna – £401.64
  15. Stockholm – £421.16
  16. Paris – £423.42
  17. Dublin – £436.12
  18. Copenhagen – £455.75
  19. Venice – £456.92
  20. Amsterdam – £592.79

So that’s the alpha to the omega from your local post office.

And if you didn’t know it before then here’s confirmation what we already know about Athens an epic city break.


America, Countries, Europe, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays Carols

Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, in excelsis deo (wherever that is), it’s Rainy Days and Songdays Carols.

And particularly with the choir of carol singers from the high street in our town now having dissipated.

Sing-a-long: And we love a carol

But church services go on unabated and the original spirit of Christmas sometimes sneaks past Mariah Carey and Michael Buble.

And so a celebration of carols, their origins and the destinations with which they’re associated.

Stille Nacht

The Other Salzburg: With the Scary One

Or Silent Night which originates in Oberndorf bei Salzburg.

No, not that Salzburg of Mozart and The Sound of Music in Austria but the small city north of Salzburg.

It does though have it’s own blessed place in music as the birthplace of one of our favourite carols.

Mohr and Grober may not be as recognisable as Gilbert & Sullivan, Rodgers & Hammerstein, King & Goffin, Lennon & McCartney or John and Taupin.

But the assistant priest, and the schoolmaster and organist certainly hit on one with this classic on the Christmas Eve of 1818.

It travelled around the world and got the ultimate seal of approval when Bing Crosby sold 10 million copies in 1935.

Feliz Natal

In her working clothes: With the Scary One again

Feliz Natal as they say in Portugal.

Or O Come all ye Faithful (except they say it in Portuguese) and not this southern US draw… though Carrie on Ms Underwood.

We have King John IV to thank for it becoming Anglicised (the Portuguese are England’s most enduring ally).

The clue to King Johin IV’s musicality is in the moniker he was given King John The Musician.

His works (he is also said to have written a setting for a Good Friday standard Crux Fidelis) alas were destroyed in the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

Of course Portugal is full of secrets just waiting to be discovered.

Crowning Bethlehem

Philly Christmas: They love a carol

Talking of secrets, I’ve just been watching the original Jesus.

Well the blockbuster televisual one, anyway, Robert Powell retracing Our Lord’s steps on the Smithsonian channel

And spoiler here.. he may not have been born there but rather his childhood home Nazareth.

The song would be very different, or would it be? Nazareth scans too.

The carol we so love, is actually an American construct.

With it written by Phillips Brook, an Episcopalian minister, then a rector in Philadelphia, and later of Boston, in the 19th century.

And sung beautifully here by The King himself.

Ding Dong Merrily On High

Roger Bravo: Roger Whittaker

Sounds very English village hall, but mais non, Ding Dong Merrily On High is a French Joyeux Noel, ditty.

The tune was originally recorded in the 16th century by Dijon‘s finest Jehan Tabourot in his study of French Renaissance social dance called Orchésographie.

Ca va, English composer and campanologist George Ratcliffe Woodward updated it with the old ding dong that we all enjoy.  

Now randomly we can’t think of anyone better to sing or rather trill it than Roger ‘The Whistler’ Whittaker.

Deep pan crisp and even

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

OK, we’ll get the old Christmas Cracker joker out first.

What pizza does Good King Wenceslas like?

Deep pan crisp and even.

Whether the Good King first looked out on the Feast of Stephen and the snow laid round about deep and crisp and even we don’t know.

But Wenceslas Square in Prague is usually packed at this time of year, and on most days.

It might be different this year with Covid which is all the more reason to toast our Czech friends with an Urquell. Na Zdravi.

Take it away Bing… 

Merry Christmas and sing along to yourself with your Rainy Days and Songdays Carols.




America, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Gay you love me – five top gay wedding destinations

It may only have been for show at the Graceland Chapel, Las Vegas but Peter and Martin would have made a lovely couple.

The King and I: In Vegas

As would Cami from Utah and myself who made sweet music on the dance floor of Harrah’s off the Strip and Strip… the light fantastic.

The Queen and I: At Harrah’s

All of which came back to me today with the fifth anniversary of Ireland becoming the first country in the world to pass a referendum to legalise gay marriage.

So to celebrate the glorious day, here are five great destinations, Ireland included, to tie the knot.

The Power of love

The Power behind the throne… my little flower

Powerscourt Estate, Avoca,Co.Wicklow, Ireland ( and And my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow, Ireland’s Garden County.

A plush ballroom where celebs including Chris De Burgh’s daughter, the former Miss World Rosanna Davison, got married to slot machine heir Wesley Quirke.

The gardens and estate are a favourite location for movie producers but the biggest star of all is Powerscourt’s redoubtable matriarch Sarah Slazenger.

See Flowerscourt and

Say it with flowers in Amsterdam


Dam romantic:Amsterdam

They’re everyone’s favourite celebrity couple so seeing that Celeb-catching belongs to the Gays.

Then where better to stay for your honeymoon than George and Amal’s Amsterdam hideaway.

The Dylan Amsterdam looks out over the Keizersgracht canal and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

They’ll put flowers in your bedroom, tulips of course and more on this king of flower in Pictures of Amsterdam.

And you’ll have a concierge to look after your every need and plan itineraries for you while there is also the invaluable city card

As well, as of course, caviar in the Vinkeles restaurant. Well, it is your honeymoon.

Greek gods

And the bride wore white: In Kythera

Where all the men look like Zeus and I could easily have been turned. 

If you want the Athens experience then you’ll want to take in the Athens Riviera where all the Beautiful People hang out.

While the Greek islands have always drawn us there.

With some even forgetting to go back like Dutch walking tour leader Frank and his partner who have settled down in Kythera.

And who can blame them? See, and My Greek odyssey.

Let’s go cruising

Norwegian would: With the Scary One on the fjords

Well, we had to didn’t we? Now cruises come in all shapes and sizes so there will be one to suit every one of you… 101 in our case.

And here’s one that comes highly recommended by Herself and Myself where we spent an anniversary The call of the fjords.

Of course they can marry you on these cruises too which I found out on my first cruise Smooth sailing around the Western Med… no, not me.

If you want to go more upmarket still the gamechanger Celebrity Edge I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here will sail you around the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

With the best entertainment, a floating tender and Eden!

Brag about Prague

We’re only here for the beer: At the Strahov Monastic Brewery

Yes, you can walk by the Seine or go down the Grand Canal in Venice.

But maybe you’re more party people and want to kick back.

Then there are few better places than Prague…

There is a real frisson about the Czech capital and you can’t help but feel infused by it.

As I was when I passed by a Stag party wearing T-shirts emblazoned with ‘I turned Philip Schofield’.

Have your nuptials in the Castle area and stay at the Golden Key Hotel

Where you’ll be enchanted by the wooden ceilings and dainty downstairs sauna.

And imbibe the best beer in the world at the Strahov Monastic Brewery