Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

Holocaust Memorial Day

It was a moral dilemma to test the wisdom of Solomon himself, if bombing Auschwitz would justify the loss of life.

A major consideration was that Hitler’s Third Reich would paint the Allies as anti-Semitic.

History tells us that bombs did rain down on Auschwitz but the damage and deaths to inmates and guards were collateral damage.

Behind the wire: Auschwitz

From a raid on a nearby industrial installation.

It was the Soviets who eventually liberated Auschwitz. 76 years ago today, January 27.

And in the the aftermath of the War the Poles decided to preserve Auschwitz.

Dramatic Dachau

Lest We Forget Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Dachau and the 20+ other Third concentration camps in tbs Third Reich.

Dachau may seem a strange inclusion in a Topdeck Oktoberfest bus booze tour.

But the first German concentration camp left a lasting mark on the Aussie and Kiwi (and one Scot) hard-drinkers.

Manassas battlefield in Virginia

War tourism is not for everyone and its critics decry it as mawkish, but it is for me.

And I would much rather visit the Flanders Fields and the Somme, the American Civil War Manassas battefield, Anne Frank’s House and Dresden than sit on a beach.

Although thankfully they’re not mutually exclusive for the curious visitor.

Old Town Krakow

My passion for history has thankfully been taken up by my family (they had little choice).

And the Son and Heir sought out Auschwitz on his trip to Krakow for World Youth Day.

Of course, you can only truly appreciate the gravitas of these concentration camps by visiting them.

But since we all can’t go we must rely on the witness testimonies of those who survived its horrors.

And those of us who pay our respects.

America, Countries, Food, Food & Wine

Murty Gras in Orlando

I’ve a Gra for Mardi Gras… ask your Irish friends. Or a Murty Gras if you like.

Forget the soggy pancakes, you guys in the Americas and the Caribbean have got it right with your dancin’, drinkin’ and dinin’.

But if you can’t get to see how they do Mardi Gras around the world just now then why not let our Travel friends bring the world to you?

Murty Gras In Orlando

And who better at it than Universal Orlando?

Universal is serving up a real treat with its International Flavors of Carnaval from February 6 to March 28.

Eat around the world

When it will showcase dishes from New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, Spain and er Germany (who knew?)

Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago

Of course carnivals have long been choreographed to the minutest detail so you’ll not even notice social distancing.

There will be floats throughout the park and a Big Easy Bash.

Jambalaya mia my-oh

And from personal experience it is the done thing to start at breakfast time with Jambalaya, a Sazerac and a jazz brass band.

You want a taster of some of the other culinary delights.

Moe’s and Jimbo’s

  • Cajun cuisine from New Orleans, such as a Crawfish Boil, Jambalaya, Beignets and other Big Easy delights.
  • Classic Carnaval dishes from the islands, such as Pernil & Mofongo from Puerto Rico, a vegan Pholourie from Trinidad & Tobago and Jerk Chicken from the Bahamas.
  • Pork Schnitzel Sliders and Bavarian Pretzels from Germany, iconic Paella Mixta and Leche Frita from Spain and Belgium Liege Waffles from Belgium.
  • Other flavours from Brazil (Moqueca de Camarao), Canada (Beef Short Rib Poutine), Colombia (Carnitas Arepas), Cuba (Cuban Sandwiches), Italy (Caneloni), France Poached Pear Creme Brulee Crepe) and more.
Can you give me some Spanish pulpo please?

There will also be themed menus on CityWalk and at the Universal Orlando Resort Hotels while there are rides aplenty.

And isn’t it just what you need? A bit of escapism, either Harry Potter’s Wizarding World or The Simpsons’ Springfield.

 

 

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

My blooming Valentine – the pick of the bunch

Say it with flowers. Happy Valentine’s Day.

And here is the pick of the bunch of my flowers from around the world.

Of course my fave is right here at home.

California blooming

Purple reigns: In Beverly Hills

Jacaranda, Southern California:?No, not the name of a Hollywood actress but these vibrant purple blooms in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

The best time to see them is in June when the jacaranda showers its blooms on passers-by which was me.

See www.visitcalifornia.com and https://www.weho.org.

Edelweiss in Austria

Austria’s flower

Edelweiss, Austria, Switzerland: They should write a song about this

We know it from The Sound of

Music and as the national flower

of Austria Soll Mates but you can

also find it all around Switzerland

Swhisskey on the rock

Visit https://www.austria.info/en and https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/. And get out that old soundtrack.

This flower lasts for ever

Something for everyone

Sempre viva, Kythera, Greece: Yes, I love yellow but there are other golden flowers other than daffodils.

Take the sempreviva flower from the Attica island, off Athens, which is so called because of its hardiness.

A bit like the old men and women of the island…. https://visitkythera.com. And My Greek odyssey.

The miracle flower

Pride of South Africa

The spekboom, South Africa: The good people at Raggy Charters https://www.raggycharters.co.za would take us out on Algoe Bay in the Eastern Cape in South Africa…

To spot bottlenose dolphins and penguins.

But they would always plant a spekboom to counter the fuel consumption from the boat.

Read about this magic plant in This plant can save the world and What’s new pussycat?. And visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/.

A Mimosa for me

Model flower

Mimosas, Cannes, France: Drink it in… they’re flowers and cocktails!

And Mandelieu-La-Napoule, near Cannes is awash with them during the week-long Mimosa Festival https://www.mandelieu.com/evenements/mimosa-festival-4 which takes place from February 19.

And of course I got in the spirit of things too… The Boat D’Azur.

The flower of peace

Where once was mud

The poppy, Flanders, Belgium: It was the only flower that could grow in the mud of No-Man’s-Land in Flanders.

During the carnage of the First World War.

Lest we forget it is a beautiful flower and symbol all year around and the Fallen should be remembered all year round.

See In Flanders fields and www.visitflanders.com.

And always…

My wee flower

Tulips from Amsterdam: They are the flower that were the gift among royal courts.

The must-have status symbol of the 17th Century in the Netherlands.

And the flower that fed the starving Dutch in the last winter of the Second World War.

Read more about them in Pictures of Amsterdam and What’s new pussycat?.

Visit www.iamsterdam.com and also take in the Tulip Museum https://amsterdamtulipmuseum.com.

While the Netherlands’ other great flower, the crocus, is just as regal… Crocus gold… Valentine’s in Amsterdam and Ireland.

Happy Valentine’s everyone and tell us your favourite flower and destination.

Uncategorized

Moanday Morning – Electioneering

Holidays are coming and so is electioneering. In fact where you are it may already be here.

All over Britain people are drawing curtains and turning down their televisions for fear of encouraging the doorsteppers.

Our time will come in Ireland in the New Year.

When election posters will go up on every available pole.

No electioneering here: In Tirol, Austria

It’s like being gatecrashed by the annoying people down the pub.

It’s not just that they have an opinion on everything and promise you the Earth with no intention of delivering.

Or eat into your time when you’re watching I’m A Celebrity.

But those damned posters are so distracting in your eyeline when you’re driving.

At Thiepval, Belgium where they honour my Great-Uncle

I’ve seen how they do it in other countries and although, of course, I’ve not been in the tinpot dictatorships of the world.

I’ve found other people do do it better.

For example in Ehrwald in Tirol in Austria https://www.tyrol.com.

Where they were holding a general election when we visited with https://topflightforschools.ie.

You wouldn’t have known it as nothing cluttered the pure white vista.

He’s out electioneering in New York

And Daniella, our Italian hotel host, seemed pretty non-plussed on Election Day when I’d asked who’d won.

In other European countries too they make sure politicians don’t become a blot on the landscape.

Like in Belgium where they make sure half of their government is French-Belgian and the other half Flemish.

They know from history that compromise is the only way to peace… A pilgrim’s prayer and https://www.visitflanders.com/en/?country=en_GB.

And the best vote is ME

You may have caught on that screen in the corner of your room that the Americans are ratcheting up their Presidential race.

But when we visited New York as a family back in November 2008 it was all low-key on the street.

Yes, you could get buttons (or pins as we like to call them).

And I recall wearing a We’re With The Duke button when I was working in Boston in 1988.

I can always be depended on to pick a loser.

Maybe not… In Jordan

Back to Obama and that election race and it being Halloween when we visited I was particularly taken by the Obama pumpkins.

While even better are the Trumpkins… New Yorkers https://www.nycvb.com can be guaranteed to give you your (not their) opinion too.

And have been since the days of Hamilton…

Vote this way

Of course for all our ennui with politicians and elections there are some countries for whim true democracy is still nascent.

Which our South African hosts shared tales of queueing from the early hours to vote Nelson Mandela in in the Nineties.

When I visited Port Elizabeth http://www.visiteasterncape.co.za and the Eastern Cape with https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/.

I’m putting my cross next to the Monster Raving Looney Party.