America, Countries, Europe, UK

Madonna Holiday

If we took a holiday/Took some time to celebrate/Just one day out of life/It would be/It would be so nice Madonna Holiday

And that’s why I’m pushing for a public holiday for us all on Madonna‘s birthday which is as it happens is today.

And to mark The Queen of Pop’s 63rd birthday (really?) here’s five belters from her catalogue which transport us to magic worlds.

Matadoronna

Birthday girl: Madonna

La Isla BonitaAndalucia, Cuba, San Pedro, Belize: And this is where Madonna goes all Hispanic on us.

Or more specifically Andalucian.

Madge fans like to identify La Isla Bonita as San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize but she says it is generic.

Although it is heavily infused by Cuban rhythms.

Go-on-delier

Venice dancer: And no danger of falling in the Canal

Like A VirginVeniceAnd Madge certainly announced herself on the scene with this bells, whistles and Venice lions vid.

Of course, a nod here to Signorina Ciccione’s Italian heritage.

With her dancing around on a gondola in front of The Bridge of Sighs.

And well ducked La Madonna.

California Praying

Racy: Madonna

Like A Prayer – San Pedro, Los Angeles Mission Maria Stella Maris church: You might associate this with the Deep South.

But the church where all that Jesus being reborn as Madonna’s fantasy figure happened in this Latin Church in California.

And while LA is ahead of the times and trends it grew out of a small Spanish settlement… Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula.

Or Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula.

Oh what a circus

Miss American pie: But with an Argentinian twist

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina ~ And Madonna’s life’s dream, to play Eva Peron in a musical.

Naturally it’s shot in Buenos Aires but also Hollywood… and Budapest!

Time goes by so slowly

Raunchy: And with all the moves

Hung Up, London – And this was during Madge’s English phase of her life as she likes to call her marriage to Guy Ritchie.

London shows itself off with the Trocadero being used for the games arcade scenes and also approximating Paris, The Bronx in New York, and Chinatown for Shanghai.

All of which fits with Madonna’s status as a world icon.

And which is why we should all get the day off for a Madonna Holiday.

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Kitmastime

And for many a parent the go-to Christmas present for kids (and maybe vice-versa) was a football top.

My most memorable was, and this is pertinent in a week when we lost Diego Maradona, La Albiceleste.

Or the sky blue and white stripes.

Truth was that my attempts at long hair never came close to the chic cool of the hero of that year’s World Cup, Mario Kempes.

And physical evidence still exists in a picture album of a rather angst-ridden teen standing by the tree.

In truth I hadn’t asked for Argentina and would have preferred the Dutch shirt.

And I did rue the day I left the World Cup winners’ top behind in a changing room.

So in recognition of Diego and also to flag up a very good cause comedian Mark Watson’s Kitmas appeal for donations of old football tops here are my five faves.

Which will, of course, draw you to these countries.

Dutch of class

Argentina and the Netherlands in the World Cup final in 1978.

The Netherlands: And it was probably just as well that my parents didn’t give me the Dutch top in the Glasgow of the Seventies.

Because an orange top is identified in Scotland with King William of Orange and the Protestant team Rangers.

And that wouldn’t have gone down well in my Catholic school.

Thing was though that as an eight-year-old and uncluttered by such nonsense I was dazzled by that colour.

And the Netherlands of Cruyff and Krol.

And I did manage to blend in with the Oranje Army when I treated the-then Miss F to a night out.

Amsterdam to Rotterdam where the Dutch beat the Greeks 1-0.

Portuguese man of awe

Team of all talents: Portugal in 1986

Portugal: And while it’s mostly always the top you get sometimes you need the whole shirt and shorts ensemble.

So that Portugal‘s red top with the addition of green shorts becomes the Portugal flag.

Our guide Jose Madomis told us from the off that Portugal in the days of the dictator Salazar was run on Football, Fado and Fatima.

So much so that among all the stands of Our Lady merch in Fatima you’ll find the Portuguese shirt and Cristiano Ronaldo towel!

Moroccan roll

Green is the colour: Morocco

Morocco: And not just because they were Scotland’s last opponents in the finals of a major competition, a 3-0 defeat in 1998.

But because of the lengths I went to to get myself a Morocco top

On my travels in Marrakech. I picked the green one rather than the red.

Where I got roped in by a trader after some pointless bartering.

To buy his threadbare top off his stall for more than its worth.

Which set in motion a tragical mystery tour from Jemaa el-Fna around the souks.

And that was just the start of my rocky Moroccan roll.

Roman holiday

Hotti Totti: Roma legend Francesco Totti

Roma: And we’re still waiting to get to see the Gods of calcio after Dad here promised the Son and Heir a match only to forget his passport.

But we did get a Giallorossi (red, more of a maroon, and yellow piping) top snd pencil case.

Calcio too is a religion in Rome

And as you come out of the Vatican you’ll find the shops on one side of the street bedecked in yellow and white, the other in Roma red.

Dynamic Zagreb

Blue for you: Dynamo Zagreb

Medjugorje: And, no, you didn’t read that wrongly…. the Balkans Wars just across the Croatian border in Bosnia & Herzegovina is solidly Croat.

Particularly in the Irish Centre, the focal point for your Marian tour.

Where your barman cranks up the volume when his faves Dynamo Zagreb play.

And with my Croatia friends on World Cup final day in 2018

And will accompany it with a tape of his best supporters’ songs.

Outside on the stands and in the shops and the only thing competing for space with Our Lady is…

Yes, you guessed it Croatia’s distinctive red and white checked tops.

And one just for me

Put your shirt on me

Quinta do Murto; And a postscript here… before I was invited out to Quinta do Lago to visit the hi-tec Campus.

I was asked my shirt size.

And when I was taken into the changing rooms where English Premier League sides set up camp there on the peg was…

My own black top with white sleeves with my name on the back.

Countries, Ireland, UK

Scotland-Ireland – Other bridges of highs

Blowhardery from Boris Johnson or another feat of Scottish engineering to match the Forth Road and Rail Bridges?

The proposed £40billion bridge between Portpatrick in Scotland and Larne, all 20 miles of it.

Above Beaufort’s Dyke which was a munitions dump from the Second World War.

Is this all being blown out of all proportions… let me know.

In the meantime, here are five bridges which connect countries.

Svinesund Bridge

Sweden to Norway: The Svinsund is more straightforward, connecting Norway with Sweden.

Opened in 2005, its total length is 2310ft.

Sweden felt tantalisingly within reach when we cruised from Kiel in Germany to Copenhagen and up the Norwegian fjords The call of the fjords.

See www.visitsweden.com and www.visitnorway.com.

The Oresund Bridge

Sweden to Denmark: These Scandinavians really do love their bridges.

Opened in the Millennium year 2000 the Oresund is a bridge that turns into a tunnel.

The idea is that it runs nearly five miles to the artificial island Peberholm in the middle of the strait.

Before it transfers to the two-and-a-half-mile Drogden Tunnel to the Danish island of Amager.

Also see www.visitdenmark.com.

Guadiana International Bridge

Spain to Portugal: Or more precisely from Ayamonte to Castro Marim.

Opened in 1991, there’s more of it on the Portuguese than Spanish side. All in it’s 2185ft.

And, of course it’s the oldest continuous border in continental Europe.,. Secret Portugal.

And see www.visitportugal.com and https://www.spain.info/en_GB/.

Libertador General San Martín Bridge

Argentina to Uruguay: And this one runs between Puerto Unzué snd Fray Bentos.

Opened in 1972, it spans 3.7 miles and means you get your Fray Bentos meat pie all the quicker.

See https://www.argentina.travel/#!/global/home?lang=en and https://turismo.gub.uy/index.php/en/.

Tancredo Neves Bridge

Brazil to Argentina: Another that bridges two South American rivals… and is better known as the Fraternity Bridge.

Crossing the Iguassu River it stretched 1604ft and was opened in 1985.

And was inspired by the construction of the Friendship Bridge between Brazil https://www.visitbrasil.com and Paraguay in 1965.

And back to an Ireland-Scotland bridge, don’t tell Stena https://www.stenaline.co.uk, a Swedish firm remember, who are my bridge between my two countries.