WHERE TO EAT Glasgow’s national dish is not haggis as you might have been told but ‘a cheeky wee Ruby’, no she’s not a good time girl from the Gorbals. A ‘Ruby’ or ‘Ruby Murray’ is Jockney slang for a curry.
And did you know that the Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Glasgow.
When Ali Ahmed Aslam, the owner of the above mentioned Shish Mahal improvised by putting tomato soup and some spices into a chicken curry.
For a Glasgow bus driver who had complained that the original offering was too dry?
Not to be confused with the Chicken Tikka Mo Salah which has Egyptian spices and is served in Liverpool!
Best bar none
WHERE TO DRINK The Park Bar, 102 Argyle Street is a popular hang-out for Heelanmen and women, or Highlanders to you and me.
Serving tips: don’t wear ‘colours’, that’s hats and scarves with the colours of your sporting team, greens and blues are particularly divisive on account of the two big soccer teams Celtic and Rangers.
A pint of heavy is what we know as a pint of ale or Smithwicks and even if it is pronounced the same they spell whiskey without the e. It tastes just as good though.
There is much more that’s old about New York than new.
It’s just that we don’t always see it.
Walk through Broadway as I did en route to my Kimpton Hotel in Little Brazil, or 130 W 46th Street and you can’t fail to notice the giant billboard for Hamilton.
It is, of course the hip-hop musical that has taken the world by storm and it is playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater.
It’s the hottest ticket in town and you’d almost need to be the President or Vice-President to get one.
Veep Mike Pence did, and such is the status that the actors in Hamiton have that they felt empowered enough to lecture him on his politics.
His big pal, the Greatest Living New Yorker, wasn’t impressed and dissed their stand on Twitter demanding – hilariously – that they apologise.
Shame there’s no evidence he’s ever seen the production because The Alexander and The Donald have much in common.
Both are big business, both half-Scottish and both ladies’ men, both egotists and both bestrode their age.
And yet just before the musical reconnected Americans with Hamilton, appartchiks were planning to have him replaced on the $10 bill.
It would have been a particular kind of humiliation for the man who saved the nascent Union from bankruptcy and set up the financial system.
The one that has served The Donald and countless others so well.
And yet other than on Broadway and on the $10 bill where in New York will you find ‘The Greatest Ever New Yorker’?
The best place to start is Central Park.
Another Central Park celeb
You’ll see a steady flow of tourists stopping by to pay tribute to John Lennon who only actually lived here for a few years.
He was always going to go back to England anyway and wouldn’t have been any good in a war.
He’d be lying back in bed talking about, well ‘giving peace a chance.’
Where would the New Yorkers and the Americans have been with someone like him?
Hamilton, by contrast, fought bravely in the defence of New York.
And represented them proudly in government, both here when New York was the nation’s capital from 1875-1878.
And in Philadelphia and Washington DC.
Where is Hamiton, though?
He’d appreciate a visit.
His statue is in Central Park, on East Drive, opposite 83rd Street, on the way to Harlem.
And seeing as you’re in the neighbourhood and it’s a Saturday then why not sign up for Jimmy Napoli’s Outside In Hamilton tour http://www.hamiltonsnewyork.com in Washington Heights and Hamilton Heights.
And find out more about this larger-than-life character.
Visit the actual Morris-Juliet Mansion that Washington chose as his HQ at the Battle of Harlem Heights.
And where Hamilton was by his side.
It was later the home of one-time Vice-President and our hero’s nemesis Aaron Burr.
And it was from here that Washington and Hamilton looked down the peninsula to Manhattan burning in the distance.
Some bigger buildings would block their view today.
Jimmy’s hour-long, one mile walking tour will take you to other important landmarks in The Great Man’s life, including the restored Hamilton Grange National Memorial.
If there’s anything he’s missed out – and there won’t be – you can always catch up at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 226 W 46th Street.
My VIP pal
Again you’d probably need to be pals with the President or Veep to get a ticket.
Good job I am.
The Commander-in-Chief has a pitch on Times Square, near the Naked Cowboy, but more appropriately near Hamilton.
And it’s a beautiful pitch… a beautiful pitch.
How to get there: New York is served by airlines from airline. And you can get pre-clearance from Ireland. And by bus and trains if you are in the US. I took a Peter Pan bus from DC. It takes nearly five hours.
He’s everywhere – in every shop window, on the backs of every family of tourists or parading his skills before 100,000 worshippers at the Cathedral of Sport, the Camp Nou.
Only on the day I visited the Spanish city, he’s not.
The ubiquitous Lionel Messi is back in his native South America on International duty playing for Argentina rather than curling in free-kicks for his adopted Barca.
Barcelona has a vacancy for a sporting hero then…
And I’m thinking if I nail it I might just get my name on the back of the football top that big fluffy bear is wearing.
He’s sitting in a sports car on the shopping area of a cruise ship in port at the foot of La Rambla.
Such are the trappings of fame… and I want some of it.
And I have the chance.
To walk on water on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas’ surf simulator FlowRider.
And I only have the best in the business to get me up to speed, Irish surfing superstar Gearoid McDaid.
We’re lucky to have Gearoid here, his feet rarely touch the ground.
Gearoid is not ling back from a couple of months surfing in Chile, was in Indonesia before that and is on his way to Portugal.
Gearoid is not what I expect though, no man bun, goatee beard, tattoo sleeve… just a regular Sligo boy.
Although he is pals with Kian Egan.
Thankfully there is one Fiftysomething who keeps up appearances with his bandana and windswept beard.
But boy can he surf… Gearoid, that is!
The simulator is on the 15th deck of the €1.4bn Oasis of the Seas cruise ship which is on its way to Majorca, France and then Italy…
With 6,300 passengers. enjoying five pools and numerous bats, restaurants and shows… and a park, ‘Central Park’ (you’ll forget you’re at sea).
But alas without us who’ll have to get off kicking and screaming before sail time, if they can find us hiding away down in the staff quarters.
The idea of the simulator which is 40ft long, is that a rush of water shoots out to build up the swell.
Which you then surf against.
It’s all in the knees, back and arms – and the trick is to sway and not panic.
Too late, the board went that way and the bandana and everything under it the other way.
It’s official. I don’t walk on water (but my family could tell you that). Maybe I’ll have better luck on my knees.
Eureka or ‘goooooal’ as Lionel Messi might shout.
I manage to master those waves in the prayer position on a boogie board with more than a little help from Mauritian teacher Kai.
Suddenly I feel indestructible. And here I was worried that I’d be caught with my shorts down.
And quite literally I almost was at half-mast.
I hadn’t pulled the cord tightly enough before the surfing class and the waves carried me away.
To be avoided – particularly if you’ve booked up for my next challenge, the 82ft Zip Line.
Nobody nine decks below on the Boardwalk wants to have Stars and Stripes boardie trunks land on them, believe me.
When they’re out shopping having an early-afternoon drink or are on their way to lunch.
Thankfully I can’t do much damage in the Spanish restaurant, other than embarrass myself and my party by getting my maracas out (steady!)
Well, once in we weighed into the plates and plates of tapas and a big jug of sangria (when in Spain).
Fuelled with patatas and shrimp al ajillo we swagger off the ship, only taking time to pass by an eight-year-old boy twisting and turning on the other simulator..
And onto the famous La Rambla shopping and market thoroughfare.
Christopher Columbus is still there where I remember him from the last time I visited Barcelona 15 years ago.
And drew back the curtains of my balcony cabin.
He is proudly guarding the city and pointing out to sea.
To be fair, the arm is right, though I’d maybe bend the elbow and those legs are way too straight.
Sorry, Chris, but you’d be no use on a surfboard either.
The deal: Sail the Western Mediterranean for seven nights on Oasis of the Seas from €1049pp based on two sharing, departing Barcelona. Visit Palma, Marseille, Florence/Pisa, Rome (Civitavecchia), Napless and arrive back at Barcelona. www.royalcaribbean.ie. Flights not included.
Where to stay in Barcelona: Hotel Concordia www.hotelconcordiabarcelona.com is a central hub and has a rooftop pool that will tempt you to linger. Pride was on when we visited and the neighbourhood was jumping. €135 per room per night.
The Daughters of Reykjavík will be waiting for you off your Icelandair flight.
And Andy Svarthol. And your Dry Cleaning.
If that sounds quite a party it’s because it is… these are just some of the bands who will be playing.
At the 22nd edition of Iceland Airwaves from November 4-7.
Travel packages are available for 2020 and include festival pass. round-trip flights and hotel accommodation.
Packages with departures beginning November 2 are available, starting at €325pp for airfare from Dublin with festival pass.
Hotel inclusive packages are alsoavailable.
Icelandair www.icelandair.com also flies from Dublin via Iceland to 18 gateways in North America.
Including Anchorage, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Edmonton. Minneapolis. Montreal, New York (JFK & Newark), Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa. Toronto, Vancouver and Washington DC.
TAP Air Portugal tapairportugal carried 1.23 million passengers in January, 145,000 more than this month last year.
Its biggest destination is, of course, Portugal but it also flies to Europe, North America and South America.
Rio by the sea-o anyone?
Of course we’re all big fans of Portugal around here… Secret Portugal.
Women’s Day in Iceland
Isn’t it just typical, I went and missed Bondadagur, the start of the Porri season (on January 24), again.
Bondadawhat I hear those of you who are not either Icelanders or Icelandophiles ask.
Well it is Men’s Day and as luck would have it, for Herself, Women’s Day is still to come… on February 22.
That’s Konudagur then and it’s when men pamper their women and give them flowers.
Which maybe I’ll keep from The Scary One – she’s got Valentine’s Day coming.
And I’ve already taken her out for a night this year… and it wasn’t even her birthday either.
The good news (for me, heck and for you too) is that I’ll be back in Dublin in mid-March.
Don’t tell the Scary One but I’m hoping to be back a lot sooner.
I’ll be flying Stobart Air, partners of Aer Lingus from Edinburgh and Aer Lingus, from Dublin to Miami.
And when I can I always will.
I’m only hoping that as a loyal Aer Club member and a proud kiltie wearer I can rack up enough points to earn me one of their super-duper new crew skirts.
Anyhoos, back to their deals: London, Amsterdam and Paris from €27.99, Toulouse or Bordeaux and much more besides.
Usual conditions apply. Visit www.aerlingus.com.
And don’t you just know I’ve played and prayed all over these fab destinations… The London life, Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel. And The Lourdes prayer and The Boat D’Azur.
And not forgetting Ryanair
Ryanairwww.ryanair.com has just released its early bird summer fares.
MEET YOU IN THE SKIES