That was the year that was – it’s 12 months now since I left my beloved Ireland for my first love Scotland.
I had though little intention of spending all my time in Scotia.
And instead had a long list of destinations to fill out the year.
So to mark the anniversary I’ll share the year that never was.
Off to a flier in Czech Hoptown
The Chinese lady with the mask on in the airport in Prague Airport seemed a curio at the time, a reminder of the latest virus that only affects Asia.
A few weeks later the fun and intimacy of the Czech Republic were but a warm embrace I clung onto as I entered lockdown in Scotland for the first time.
As I came out of isolation I engaged with my Czech friends again over the new-fangled Zoom app we were all compelled to use and toasted each other in time-honoured fashion Na Zdravie.
I was heartened to see them lay out a table for a feast along the Charles Bridge in the early summer and wished that I was back there again in Prague or in the Czech Republic’s Hoptown, Zatec.
I know this though that the Czechs will get through this because they have the best beer in the world, Pilsener Urquell.
Trump steals my Keys
Suitcase packed, bandana on, I was all set for my fly-drive around the Florida Keys when Donald Trump (remember him) closed the country to visitors while encouraging Americans to gather… at his rallies.
And so Hemingway’s six-toed cats, key line pie, Florida sunsets and easy living will just have to wait.
Of course the beauty of it is that Papa’s pussies won’t have had any idea that anything was even different about the past year.
Exile me in St Helena
And another on the back-burner is Napoleon’s island. No, not his birthplace, Corsica, or the one the British sent him to initially, Elba, but the one where he ended his days, St Helena.
St Helena, 1200 mile west of southwestern Africa is one of the most remote inhabitable islands in the world and is an ecological dream.
All of which makes you think that exile was a pretty good option back in the day. And if I end up needing to self-isolate anywhere then I’ll be back in touch.
Vegas or bust
Now I’ve always felt bad about leaving Cami from Utah at the bar at Harrah’s Las Vegas a few years ago and knowing she goes down there every weekend knew that she’d be there when I revisited in June.
The American Travel Fair was scheduled for Neon City and I was all booked and ready, my chips at the ready to make my million.
But alas I had to leave Cami waiting again and to get my fix of Vegas I had to make do with watching the world’s greatest band The Killers perform from the ceiling of Caesars Palace on YouTube.
The fair, IPW is slated for the Fall, and I’ll be expecting an Access All Areas ticket, Brandon.
And maybe even reprising my Mr Brightside from the Rising Star Karaoke Bar, CityWalk at Universal Orlando a few years ago.
Time to say goodbye, Paesi che non ho mai, veduto e vissuto con te, Adesso si, il vivro, con te partiro, su navi per mari che, io lo so, no, no, non esistono piu, it’s time to say goodbye. – Andrea Boccelli
Ciao Bergamo e grazie mille. Molamia, miei amici, stay strong my friends.
It’s time to say goodbye, although on my terms and not Signore Johnson’s.
I have made it my mission to come to Bergamo since the start of the outbreak to find out why the pandemic came here first.
What it was like for the Bergamoschi to live through.
And how they are living today and how they see tomorrow.
Peace to Bergamo
The overriding feeling I have found is one of peace (except for the raucous ragazzi e ragazze outside my window at midnight although this is how the young should be.)
I spend my last afternoon reading the stories on the picture boards in the piazza they are using as a testing centre.
And, of course, nothing tells a story quite like a picture, or a photograph.
I wish mia moglie, the long insufferable (sorry, suffering) Mrs M was here to put her award-winning photo skills to work.
A work of art
I have come too from the Academia Carrera where I have been enjoying Titian, Canaletto and trying out Lotto (no, not the lottery, but the artist.
I have just enough time to treat myself to my Italian guilt pleasure, una ciocolatta di calda densa, a hot chocolate that wants to be a dessert.