Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine, UK

I belong to Glasgow

I belong to Glasgow

Dear Old Glasgow toon

And there’s nothing the matter with Glasgow

Even if you’re ball ain’t roon,

Murty’s take on the auld Glasgow music hall song.

Growing up just a Johnny Sexton (or back then more a Mike Gibson) kick over the stream (or burn, as we call them in Scotland) to the Glasgow High playing fields.

I would often jump over into the grounds and practise kicking over the posts.

Robbie Burns is watching: George Square


No, I didn’t become the next Andy Irvine (I am Scottish after all), but I did go onto play at school, report on the game, and become a lifelong fan.

For 51 weeks a year the oval ball game plays second fiddle to football in Glasgow but on May 25 it will have to share centre stage.

When Celtic Park will host the Pro 14 Final, Celtic will be contesting the Scottish Cup final with Hearts the same day at Hampden Park.

HOW TO GET THERE
Ryanair www.ryanair.com and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com both fly to Glasgow.

WHERE TO STAY
I found a standard room for two at the ibis Glasgow City Centre – Sauciehall Street (it’s actually just two minutes from Sauciehall Street on 220 West Regent Street).

For two nights from May 24-26 from €320. Visit www.booking.com.

And, of course, the chippier, the Chip Chik Inn in the West End https://www.chipchikinn.co.uk

Curry favour

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 the best place to go for a ‘Ruby’ is the West End. Try the Shish Mahal www.shishmahal.co.uk 60-68 Park Road or the Koh-I-Noor www.hoh-i-noor-glasgow.com on 235 North Street.

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.

Best value

Photo by Ratworks Media on Pexels.com


The Horse Shoe Bar, 17-19 Drury Street www.thehorseshoebarglasgow.co.uk, down an alleyway, or close.

Near to Glasgow Central Station, is where Rod Stewart goes to drink when he is in town.

Of course the island bar is why it’s called the Horse Shoe Bar. Upstairs you can get a three-course lunch for a fiver… you don’t believe me?

It’s all good wholesome stuff.

I’d opt for the soup of the day (tomato is a favourite) followed by the sausage and mash or Scotch pie, chips and beans.

While for dessert (get away, it’s called puddin’ in Glasgow) then it’s vanilla ice cream or a caramel apple betty for me.

Glasgow greetings

We belong to Glasgow

Slainte, enjoy the rugby if you’re there for that, or if you’re just in Glasgow for other reasons then have a rerr time.

Tell me how you get on and we can share.

And say hi to my maw!

America, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Old New York: Hamilton

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.

Where dreams are made of: Manhattan

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.

Messing about on the river: On the Hudson

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.

The city that Alexander built

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?

My relatives came by here

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.

But not on this ship: A submarine on the Hudson

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.

Hamilton history

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.

The McNultys, my mum’s people (Irish and American).

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.

Travel facts

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.

Where to stay: Kimpton Muse has an executive room, one king bed, two adults from the equivalent of €307.66 for the sample dates of Friday, August 4, to Saturday, August 5. See http://www.kimptonhotels.com. Also visit http://www.nycvb.com.

I’ll revisit New York, mine and my Irish family’s entry like so many others, to America in this blog.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in 2017.

It is part of a series America’s Capitals that also includes Washington DC http://Easy DC and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/philadelphia-freedom/

Africa, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying

In defence of Travel people

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts – Mark Twain

Cathy’s clown: DC Easy DC and www.washington.org

The next time you see a cinema usher, a football steward.

Ave Maria: www.CanariaWays.com In defence of Travel people

Or if you even run into a sports writer, then I trust you’ll pick them up on getting in for free!

Muriel, my pal: With Muriel Bolger

Only you won’t because you’ve got class.

King Louis: Friends of racing in Tobago, Louis, Nadine and Clem. www.visittobago.gov.tt Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

And you know that they’re doing their job.

Kythera: My Greek odyssey www.athensattica.com

And that they’re good at what they do or else they wouldn’t get asked.

Herr for the beer: Hamburgers and ships and www.hamburg.com

My friends

I ran a gauntlet of abuse on my way to becoming Ireland’s Travel Editor of the Year – and from the very people I was helping, my own staff.

Aer we go: With Paula and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com

Who would, and to be fair it wasn’t all of them, put me down when I was on my Travels (in my own time).

Oo Es of Eh: www.visitusa.ie and www.kennedyspacecenter.com

And snidely refer to my trips which always produced articles, written on time and to the brief I was given, as…

Wooah. Barbados: www.visitbarbados.org Let’s rumba in Barbados My kiss with Rihanna

Junkets, Jollies, Beanos, freebies.

Of course it didn’t apply when I sent them.

Fab Four: With Maria www.spain.info/en Eoghan www.travelextra.ie and Sharon www.ttc.com

And they would be the ones who would be late with their copy.

Petra time: With Zuhair… www.vistjordan.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time

Sometimes even embarrassing themselves and a host.

Your Onur: And www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

While their articles would often have to rewritten..

Your USA: With www.visitusa.ie

And all because it was a ‘junket’ and not given the same attention as any other article.

I would then have to apologise profusely to the providers who thankfully and very generously considered me worthy of the ultimate accolade…

Your South Africa www.southafrica.net: With Siseko in Dublin What’s new pussycat?

Their Pleasure To Work With award which was sneered at when I got back to the office.

LA story: Universal Studios’ www.universalstudioshollywood.comJon, The Scottish Sun’s Heather and Tickets Direct’s www.ticketsdirect.com Kate. And My Weekend With Marilyn and Stair Wars.

Back then, and it’s only a year ago, I would call on the services of the finest freelancers who never let me down.

Star women: The Irish at IPW

On the other side

Now I’m on the other side of the fence I have been glad to say that the holiday providers I cultivated then and many writers and editors remain the best of friends.

Zach the lad: My old pal Zach from my Deep South The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings odyssey www.deep-south-usa.com,

And you always know who your friends are in your time of need.

Give it a twirl: At Pic du Midi. www.hautes-pyrenees.com and The Lourdes prayer

Don’t Cancel

So that’s why I’ll not rest in promoting our industry which, like Twain, I believe is vital to the human condition.

Live like a Royal: Messi around on the water In Barcelona www.barcelonatourisme.com withPaula and www.royalcaribbean.com.

And that’s why I’ve been sprinkling this polemic with pictures of us around the world.

Grand oul tome: With BA’s Tara and Queen of Vegas Tryphavana. And www.lvcva.com and www.ba.com. And Strip… the light fantastic and The grandest canyon.

So join me to support #DontCancelPostpone and #tourismstrong.

Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Messi around on the water

Only one man walks on water in Barcelona.

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.

TRAVEL FACTS

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.

How to get there: Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair www.ryanair.com.

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.

Adventure, America, Caribbean, Food, Food & Wine

Fort Lauderdale and Miami – a tale of two sittings

Early morning deep midwinter and the rest of the rest of the world is huddling under the duvet.

The rest of the world can go whistle! I’m up with the larks.

Because of the jetlag, yes, but also because rate are the chances to see winter in Technicolour.

It’s 32C outside, the sunny Miss America weathergirl on the box cheerfully tells us and the light streaming in through the curtains is beckoning me outside.

Fort Lauderdale in December

5.45am. Time to hit the Fort Lauderdale beach I fall out of bed and onto the Strip. It’s that close.

Nothing is open, obviously, well the 24/7 store, but you’ll not find one of those on Fort Lauderdale’s showpiece front.

What you will find is a stretch of untrodden glistening sand and sea and barely a soul to break the peace.

Out there on the horizon, cruise ships are bound for the Bahamas and the Caribbean (Fort Lauderdale is a cruise hub), and down the road in Miami the party people are just tuning in.

Here in Fort Lauderdale though they are more retiring.

Everyone’s fit

Fort Lauderdale does, it’s true, attract its fair share of senior citizens who choose the Sunshine State for their autumn years.

But it is also a magnet for American families also here to escape the northern chill… snowbirds.

Meanwhile, off the Strip and you’ll find condos and holiday homes, all with swimming pools and community programmes.

The Stars and Stripes flutter in what little wind there is.

George HW Bush has passed on when I visit and flags are at half-mast.

Florida has been kind to the Bushes. It was here that the 2000 Presidential election swung in George W’s favour and here that his brother Jeb was Governor.

Reflections of Miami

Every news bulletin and morning conversation references ‘this man of honour’.

To gauge how Floridians feel about the Bushes, weather, sport, the traffic and any other topic under the sun the best place is the diner.

And the best is the Primanti Brothers Pizza & Grill, just off the Strip.

Bluff it and ask for over easy eggs or sunny side up, spitball with the server who refills your coffee mug…

And let the night owl on the next stool tell you his life story.

This is the America you’ve seen in every road movie.

Only for the wall of heat outside, and the palm trees.

Breakfast in Fort Lauderdale… it must be lunch in Miami then.

Haven for seniors

Which means Little Havana.

The thing is though that our concept of size is rather different to the Americans.

While navigating all those double-digit street names scramble your brain in the December heat.

And so what looks like a brisk walk is in fact never tackled by any American on foot, other than perhaps Forrest Gump.

The Marriott on Biscayne Boulevard to Little Havana, I’m told is 7km though I’m sure I walked just that to get to Downtown.

All this, of course, after giving up on ever getting to South Beach.

Miami architecture

I guess the huge causeway between us and the Beautiful People should have been a clue.

The answer is a hop-on, hop-off bus, believe me!

The thing though about being an accidental tourist is that you stumble upon hidden treasures.

Take, for example, Caja Caliente on 2634 NE 2nd Avenue… see what I mean about the numbers.

I’d rather presumed that this was Little Havana although it looked an awful lot littler than I had imagined… just a stall and a yard and a couple of bars.

Floridians, though, and most Americans I’ve met on my travels, even in the big cities, are very polite to visitors.

And are devoid of our sarky gene.

The signora was very welcoming, the tacos were fabulous, there were all kinds of chilli sauces.

Golden skies

And sombreros and ponchos scattered around, guitars on tables and a makeshift sand pit.

And a Cuban flag.

A holiday and a city isn’t always what you expect. Make of that what you will.

The Caja Caliente is my Little Havana though.

Now. It’s yours too. Heck, I don’t mind sharing.

Areeba, Areeba, Areeba!

And Herself gets in in the act

TRAVEL FACTS

How to get there: Multiple airlines fly Dublin-Miami return. Aer Lingus flies to Miami from €227.99 each way as part of a return trip.

Where to stay: I stayed in W Fort Lauderdale (www.marriott.com). The Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay (www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/miabb-miami-marriott-biscayne-bay)

Where to eat: Primanti Brothers, Fort Lauderdake Caja Caliente.

Adventure, America, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Stair Wars

I wonder what Mickey thinks of this Science Fantasia.

The Galaxy’s Edge is far, far away from Walt Disney’s vision.

And its centre-point, Millennium Falcon even further from my standpoint.

Which is at the back of a snaking queue in the bowels of the new 14-acre €1bn Star Wars section of Disneyland in Anaheim, California on the very weekend it opens.

Stars align

It has taken me half an hour to get even this far.

I have passed by the inviting diversions of Walt’s Main Street USA, a jazz band on an island next to the Mark Twain Riverboat.

Something to chew on

And a host of our favourite smiling, singing, hugging Disney favourites before arriving in this dark place.

Chewbacca does envelop a middle-aged Asian woman in his arms but I am too slow off the mark to get my picture taken.

While the Storm Troopers brush me aside.

Rasta Masta

Personally, I’d have a welcoming party of Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, Princesses Leia and R2-D2 instead.

Still I persevere and hang on the words of those in the line, a grown man with a light saber among them, who have been waiting light years for this moment.

They point out the fine details of the futuristic world we are passing through in hushed, reverential tones.

Apparently, we are in the middle of the Black Spire Outpost which is on the Outer Rim planet of Batuu.

They could be speaking Yoda for all I know.

And on and on we go, scaling the ramps. Whole battles don’t last this long.

Screen time

Star Wars? This is more like Stair Wars.

And finally we are ushered through to a holding area, a hangar where a rasta dude intergalactic pirate. Honda Ohnaka, clues us in on our mission.

With a reprise from Chewbacca.

Smugglers’ Run

And informs us that the more we succeed the more rewards he gets. I bet.

The idea is that Chewy needs some supplies for the Resistance but Rasta Dude has borrowed the craft and is using the opportunity…

To get us to smuggle some coaxium from Corellia for him which is hyperfuel from Han’s homeland obviously.

Thanks Brad from Texas for that.

But still the anticipation and the exhaustion (it’s now been an hour and a half) builds as we have to trudge further.

Before finally being given our briefs for the starship’s mission, Smugglers’ Run.

Who put those meteors there?

A little more about this 114ft hulk of flying saucer which has grown men and women clicking away…

It was manned by Han Solo and Chewy….

And was the second fastest in the Star Ward pantheon at 105kph and is a highly modified YT-1300.

But then, you know that yourself.

The action is set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker and played out on a video screen before us.

Poetry in Motion

Myself and Hiro are gunners and Jill and Lesley are the pilots.

I can’t remember the names of the two engineers at the back of the cockpit but one had to be Scotty…

Or is that the other Star one?

And finally we are hurtling through space, dipping and swooping, dodging enemy battleships and giant asteroids.

Mine’s and Hiro’s job is simple, press square and round buttons to fire laser beams at the foe until the light goes out.

It is an interactive experience but I’d be surprised if my efforts are making a blind bit of difference.

And this is what I spent five years at Space University for.

And then our ten minutes on the motion simulator are over.

Donald and the Mexicans

I guess it’ll all make more sense when I actually watch the movies – I was never going to admit that in the queue.

I know how privileged I am and that there are millions who would gladly climb over me.

And queue a whole day to get to see Millennium Falcon and play Smugglers’ Run and the Rise of the Resistance.

Which will follow hard on its heels later this year.

And that it will be a huge success particularly when they space out the waiting times.

But it’s just that get I don’t Stars Wars.

I retreat instead to simpler pleasures and a star who never lets me down, the original, and still the best, The Donald.

My pal The Donald

I find him outside the Golden Horseshoe saloon with Jose and Panchito, the Three Caballeros, playing it for laughs.

And I’m sure The Donald remembers me from Orlando a couple of years ago, he even wrote to me when I got back and signed it too.

And when your ask… yes, he really does love Mexicans.

My Travel Buddies

In this part of Disneyland there are only smiles.

The Jazz band are belting out ‘Everybody Wants to be a Cat’.

I am nibbling on my fried chicken, corn and rice. I’m truly at my happiest.

This is one place where a middle-aged hiply won’t be glowered at.

Here. And on the Pirates of the Caribbean water ride where I’m almost mistaken for Jack Sparrow.

The ride is gentle, more my style but if you want seat-of-the-pants thrills.

Fireworks

Disneyland has no shortages.

Splash Mountain, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones… too many to mention.

But in your cart, going through Jack’s world, you’ll get just gentle drops.

I’m all right, Jack

What really makes a ripple on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride through caves and coves are the intricate fun sets which immerse you in Jack’s world.

Look out for the old rogue popping up on the islands, semi-hidden from view.

Keen eyes will see him in a vat of rum though and I want to join him.

Harking back to the Star Wars section of Disneyland that really is the best thing about it – Disneyland, which has rightly prided itself on its family-friendly image.

And kept alcohol outside its doors for 60 years for the general public, is now allowing you to have a snifter in Oga’s Cantina.

I could have used my time more profitably.

This being a corporate launch, I took a rum punch earlier from the tray of a passing waitress to settle my nerves for the simulator.

And have gone back to stock up long after I got off the ride.

There is no shortage of choice of diners to line your stomach for those hairy rides if you don’t want a rumbly tumbly, and alternative entertainment if you want to take a weight off.

Duelling pianos meld in well with the Classical surroundings of Olde Worlde buildings and the open spaces simplify the sound.

The Castle

Nowhere is this better evidenced than the Disney Castle.

We sit down on the benches and grassy banks off Main Street to watch Mickey’s Music Extravaganza flash up on the Castle.

Mickey introduces his pals, Aladdin, King Louis. Elsa from Frozen among them, and they take over.

Light show

You can’t take your eyes off this light show or your hands from clapping along.

It is a kaleidoscope of colour and crescendo, of sound, a Mickey Mix of Magic.

All the standards are there but for a younger audience.

It has been sassed up with modern tunes getting us all up on our feet.

Of course, it’s all about Da Mouse in Da House though and he brings the party to a spectacular climax.

The fireworks pop off into the night sky and all eyes shoot upwards.

While in a galaxy far, far away – or across the park at least – the lights have long gone out.

Get your Mickey out

TRAVEL FACTS

How to get there: I flew Dublin to Los Angeles LAX with Aer Lingus with Aer Lingus, Ireland’s only 4-star airline. It operates a daily service from Dublin direct to LA.

With fares starting from €259 each way including taxes and charges when booked as a return trip.

The year-round service reduces to five times weekly during the winter season.

Where to stay: I stayed at the Hilton Anaheim, a 15-minute walk from Disneyland Resort. King bed Disneyview for the sample dates of June 28-July 1 from $347 (€281).

Where to go: Attraction Tickets offers a range of offers and discounts and help with pre-booking which will save precious time and money.

Its two-day Disneyland California 1 Park Per Day Ticket is from €198 per adult and €186 for a child including Star Wats: Galaxy’s Edge.

The three-day Disneyland California 1 Park Per Day Ticket including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is from €266 for an adult and €249 for a child.

America, Countries, Deals, Europe, UK, Uncategorized

Flyday Friday – Iceland rocks

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.

Turn the lights on: Iceland

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 also available.

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.

And here’s a reminder of a couple of them… Go West. Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and Easy DC.

Hamburgers and Londoners

Tuck in

Not that Londoners are any bigger fans of hamburgers than anywhere else… more that they are both great port cities.

And that our friends at Aer Lingus have up to 25% off deals.

So that’s Hamburg at €34.99 one-way from Dublin.

And London from Dublin at €25.99 one-way, from Cork at €34.99, Shannon €39.99 and Knock €25.99.

Book by March 2 and travel before April 20.

And here’s why I love these port cities so much… The London life and Hamburgers and ships.

Countries, Europe, Flying

Holidos and don’ts – know your airport

Now, it would be silly to suggesr an airport is as familiar as a train or bus station while it is considerably more complicated.

But knowing your airport can take the stress out of your holiday: start badly and it’ll set your break off wrongly.

And as I begin a new journey from a new (old) airport here in Edinburgh www.edinburghairport.com my first thought is that this does save the legs.

An old fave, Turkish Airport, at Edinburgh Airport

Anybody who has been through Dublin Airport (www.dublinairport.com) knows the long hike to your airplane.

It almost feels like you are taking the strain off the plane by walking halfway to your holiday destination yourself.

So leave yourself plenty of time. while it’s easy to mix up your Ryanairs and Aer Linguses.

Flyinair

So don’t leave yourself having to sprint between terminals: Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) Terminal 1 and Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com).

Apply this logic too to even bigger airports where it might involve buses between terminals, or even trains.

And ALWAYS read the small print on your information… you may be flying with an auxiliary airline from Munich to Athens.

And the main airline where you are is in another terminal in the airport.

Yes, guilty, and I am forever grateful and still terrified of the Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com) reservations manager I had to break the news to… My Greek odyssey.

Countries, Culture, Europe

Crocus gold… Valentine’s in Amsterdam and Ireland

When it’s Spring again we’ll sing again ‘Crocuses from Co. Waterford’.

Yes, I would and, when I can afford it, do cover my flower beds with tulips from Amsterdam.

And one we enjoyed on our visit to Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Dylan promise: At the Dylan in Amsterdam

Where we also took home ice cream tulips (think raspberry ripple colours) from the Amsterdam Museum https://amsterdamtulipmuseum.com.

And got a Spring out of them before we handed over the keys of chez notre maison in Ireland.

To someone we can only hope appreciates the opportunities as we did.

My wee flower in Amsterdam

The history of the crocus is also captivating.

We can date the crocus back to the Egyptians, Greeks and Menoans.

With a few pounds of corn served as a loan of gold and jewels.

The best place to see crocuses in Ireland is the Mount Congreve Gardens in Co. Waterford.

Purple reigns… in Co. Waterford

The gardens will open early this year on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

To showcase more than 20,000 crocuses in flower at the beautiful gardens located just ten minutes from Waterford City.

Which is a two-hour drive south of Dublin.

Which we all know is served regularly by our friends at Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com and Ryanair www.ryanair.com.

For more on what the gardens have to offer throughout the year visit www.mountcongrevegardens.com.

The crocus story doesn’t finish there.

The Crocus Project from Ireland

The Crocus Project was launched in Ireland in 2005 by the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland.

Intended for pupils aged 11 and over it provides schools with yellow crocus bulbs.

To plant in memory of the one million and a half Jewish children.

And thousands of other children who died in the Holocaust.

The yellow flowers recall the yellow Star of David all Jews were forced to wear under Nazi rule.

Which Anne Frank had up on her wall of the attic house she, her family and friends hid away in from the Nazis during the War.

A giant: Anne Frank in Amsterdam. http://www.twitter.com

On this the 75th anniversary year of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, where Anne and her sister Margot died, and Auschwitz were liberated, pay tribute…

By either visiting those sites or the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam… https://www.annefrank.org/nl/.

And also make use of the wonderful city pass https://www.iamsterdam.com/en.

While all major airlines fly to Amsterdam I like to promote national airline carriers and recommend KLM www.klm.com.

Me, I’m off to buy crocuses and tulips for someone who deserves them… and also The Scary One.

And I’ll get back to you on Friday, Valentine’s Day, with more blooming marvellous places to visit for gardens and flowers.

America, Countries, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland

Flyday Friday – Shannon’s Irish Coffee?

I’m indebted to one of my Bandaninis, (as I’ve Christened this site’s followers) Michael Kelly.

For raising the rival claim of Shannon Airport to Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal as the birthplace of Irish Coffee.

Forger the coffee, Just whiskey for me

After reading Thirteen years an Irishman – My five Irish homes my farewell to Ireland as I return to Scotland.

The Shannon story, which is said to date from 1942, goes that a woman arrived in the middle of Ireland on a wintry night needing warmed up.

And chef Joe Sheridan came up with the bright idea of putting whiskey in her coffee.

The Jackson’s tale dates also from the War years and surrounds a merchant seaman, Joe Jackson.

Joe’s corner says he adapted a Mediterranean recipe and was already making it in 1946 after buying the hotel.

A last look at Belfast… hope it’s not an omen

And that an article in a Scottish newspaper, which hung in the hotel, backed this up.

So I’m happy to give both claims their due, particularly as it bigs up Shannon Airport.

And the excellent work Declan Power and his staff are doing there.

Shannon www.shannonairport.ie has two new routes for 2020, to Paris and Barcelona.

And you can check out some thoughts here on the Catalan city… Smooth sailing around the Western Med.

TAP into this

And there are boats too
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

Light up

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.
Bobble hats compulsory

Icelandair http://www.icelandair.com flies daily to Iceland while it also has 18 gateways to North America.

Aer we went

Fly the flag

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

Ryanair www.ryanair.com has just released its early bird summer fares. MEET YOU IN THE SKIES