America, Countries, Culture

California, the Golden Globes State

My preening, diffident waiter at Vanderpump’s will be ignoring another customer because they aren’t Golden Globes royalty.

But such is reality in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Hollywood www.visitcalifornia.com.

Home of the worst waiters in the world where your order will be late and wrong if it comes at all.

Unless you’re Lady Gaga, a regular at Vanderpump’s who is known to fall out of the eaterie, which I must confess I’m not.

Hello, sailor: La Peer Hotel, West Hollywood

Lisa’s food though is worth waiting for and obviously she was in the night we visited.

When we were staying as guests of Attraction Tickets www.attractiontickets.com and my favourite boutique hotel chain Kimpton’s.

Peerless

And their West Hollywood base, La Peer Hotel https://www.lapeerhotel.com/?utm_source=Google%20My%20Business&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=GMB&utm_term=lapeer.

And you’ll be able to roll up at the bar and then into the pool which I might just have tried out.

Celebrity spotting is an everyday pastime in SoCal, Southern California.

And I was fortunate enough to see and meet a host of them at the American Travel Fair www.ipw.com which was being hosted by Anaheim www.visitanaheim.org.

Natasha Bedingfield, Jason Derulo, the Beach Boys, Snoop Dogg…

The biggest stars for me though in La La Land are the living legends, those who will never die.

Such as Marilyn Monroe who still parades the Walk of Fame near her star and hand prints…

Lying with Marilyn

I spent a weekend with Marilyn: in Venice Beach and at her last resting place in LA where a very unwelcome neighbour moved in.

And the Walt Disney family… http://www.disneyland.disney.go.comMickey, the Donald, Goofy et al.

Mickey and The Donald

All of whom will throw their giant furry hands and paws open for you when you visit the Happiest Place on Earth https://disneyland.disney.go.com/?CMP=OKC-dlr_lodging_gmap_25.

Pleased to see you

Lurking though when we arrived though were some inhospitable Storm Troopers…

It was all part of the schtick with the showcasing of the new Star Wars world at Disney…

As well done as it was though I still come to Disney for a cuddle.

But maybe Princess Leia was hiding?

My Star Wars pals at Disney

Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com flies direct to LAX with pre-clearance from Dublin and Shannon.

The national airline carrier has a deal on for travel as part of a return trip between April 1 until June 15 from €249.61.

Book by January 21.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Adventure, Countries, Culture

This Sporting Weekend – Touchdown Vegas

Celtic relocate to Dublin, Liverpool to London… what madness?

But not in the Oo Es of Eh http://www.visitusa.ie where sports franchises up and move across the continent at the drop of a helmet.

The Brooklyn Dodgers’ flit from New York http://www.nycvb.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/ to LA in the Fifties will always remain the most controversial.

But who can blame them? Not me when I visited. http://www.visitcalifornia.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/.

But sports teams have been relocating since as far back as 1902 when the Milwaukee Brewers moved to St Louis.

To become the St Lous Browns.

While American Sports’ most famous team, the New York Yankees, started life as the Baltimore Orioles, the original iteration in 1903.

High-rollers have been coming and going out of Washington DC much like politicians. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/obama-washington-dc/

Before the Nationals took on Montreal Expos’ place in 2005… and went on last year to win the World Series.

Visit http://www.washington.org.

Although the fans didn’t feel in the mood to hail the chief Donald Trump, preferring to give him a slow handclap.

The Redskins aren’t figuring at the business end of the NFL season with the play-off games coming up.

Of course Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will win the whole thing again this year.

But next year?

There is much excitement about Vegas getting football for next season.

Because they hit the ground, or ice, running.

The puck stops here

When the Las Vegas Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season.https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/vegas-strip-the-light-fantastic/

Visit http://www.lvcva.com

Only to lose to the Washington Capitals.

And because you know that when I travel I go to where the locals play and pray then I’ve treated you to a few pics of me…

At Anaheim Angels’ ground where they like to get their Mickey out.Visit http://www.nhl.com.

With Elvis in Vegas,

Some thoroughbreds at Denver Broncos’s ground… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/go-west-denver-buffalo-bill/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/29/the-new-pioneers/

And http://www.denver.org.

Hitting it out of the park at the Washington Nationals’ stadium.

Icing with Wild Wing at the Anaheim Ducks’ Honda Arena,https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/

Visit http://www.visitanaheim.org

And getting ready to dunk it with the Memphis Grizzlies… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/elvispresley-the-king-of-kings/

Visit http://www.memphistravel.com.

MEET YOU AT THE GROUND

 

Uncategorized

The faces of 2019 – Marilyn, Natasha and Donald

The stars aligned in 2019 and I got me the walk-on I deserve.

When Natasha Bedingfield, fresh from wowing us at the American Travel Fair http://www.ipw.com, with a particularly stirring version of Prince’s Purple Rain, introduced me.

She pointed out my purple beard from the stage in the plaza in Anaheim http://www.visitanaheim.org.

You see I got purpled up in Huntingdon Beach http://www.surfcityusa.com the previous night when we had been entertained by Snoop Dogg https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/18/snoop-and-me-acting-the-goat-in-california/.

Well this is Southern California where the stars come out to shine.

We starspotted from the off in West Hollywood where we dined in Lisa Vanderpump’s PUMP Restaurant Lodge http://www.pumprestaurant.com and http://www.weho.org.

And Lisa herself graced us with her presence.

Walk of Fame

Sometimes, of course, you just want to be on your own and she was good enough not to come autograph-hunting.

Greta Garbo, of course, made a name for herself for ‘vanting to be alone’.

But, alas, she has to share the Walk of Fame with hundreds of other Hollywood stars.

There’s Donald Duck too and a host of Asian picture clickers have gathered around Michael Jackson’s star.

But it is Marilyn Monroe’s tribute that I’m here to see… we’ve been inseparable the last couple of days https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/.

In Venice Beach http://www.venicebeach.com, at her last resting place and now here in Hollywood.

This being Southern California the Beach Boys obviously wanted to turf up and surf up.

And here they are at lunch during the American Travel Fair. And I made Mike Love’s day by holding out my hand to touch him.

Jason Derulo also swayed his stuff while the best of Broadway also trod the boards for us.

So what could possibly bring down the curtain on such a show. We’d had Harry Potter and a light show at Universal http://www.universalhollywoodstudios.com.

While Jimmy Fallon on an audio gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the sets.

And we were also enthralled at the special effects show with stunt actors setting each other on fire.

But it was the Happiest Place on Earth for the finale… with Mickey in Da House with his Disney pals… http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com.

Oh, I’m the king of swingers… I don’t want this party ever to stop.

Uncategorized

Forget the Fairytale… my Christmas song

Now this qualifies as treason here in Ireland, and it’s probably because I’m a contrarian but…

The Fairytale of New York is not the best Christmas song of all time.

In fact it doesn’t represent New York City https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/ and http://www.nycvb.com.

There is no NYPD choir, for example.

And the ‘Irish’ pipe band didn’t know Galway Bay (obviously) so did the ‘Mickey Mouse Club March’ instead.

Now I love Da Mouse and Da Minnie Why I love The Donald and Stair Wars. And http://www.visitorlando.com and http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com and http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com .

Enough Fairytale already… here’s what I call a Christmas song.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gjYWYJudTPE

Yes, Johnny Mathis’s When A Child Is Born.

Talk the talk

Too scmaltzy for you, the lyics, particularly Johnny’s spoken lyics?

But I love it and I love a talky interjection.

So hit it

And all this happens because the world is waiting,

Waiting for one child

Black, white, yellow, no one knows,

But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter,

Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone’s neighbour

And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten for ever

The Christmas Office Party Bore

Now you’ve probably met the office bore at your Christmas party who gives out about Jesus being wrongly portrayed as white.

When he was born in the Middle East.

And how the whole Christmas story is wrong.

But what really matters is not what Jesus was: white, black, yellow, red, but that he WAS.

Bah, humbug, white liberal intellectuals should just see how the Christmas story is celebrated in the Caribbean….

The ‘other’ Jesus

I should cocoa – Christmas in Tobago and www.visittobago.gov.tt.

And in Mississippi… http://www.visitmississippi.org and The Promised LandThe story of the Blues and http://the king of kings

Though I’d be flabbergasted to think Jesus was an earlier incarnation of Phil Collins.

The West Indians have their own slant on the Christmas songs and put a calypso or Soca rhythm to it.

Put the two together with just the right amount of sauce and you get parang, an example of which is….

Scrunter’s ‘Want ah piece ah pork’ https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FLpEvkj9jTc.

Now Christmas can be a challenging time for many.

And although it was never written as a Christmas song, it has entered the pantheon for its lines:

Wish I was at home for Christmas

No more war

Jona Lewie’s anthem was, of course, an anti-war song. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2HkJHApgKqw

And as we move further away from the centennial of the end of the First World War In Flanders fields and http://www.visitflanders.com

Lest we forget amid the commercial gluttony of a 2019 Christmas those for whom an extra mince pie and some grog.

A peaceful Christmas

And some respite from being bombed and shot at.

And the chance to have a kick-about with the opposition on a muddy battlefield was Christmas gift enough.

Let me know what your favourite Christmas song is… mmmm mmmm mmmm!

A CHILD IS BORN… MERRY CHRISTMAS

Uncategorized

Cruiseday Tuesday – Disney on water

What’s the difference between Walt Disney and Bing Crosby? Bing sings but Walt Disney.

That’s just one of the jokes you’ll hopefully not hear on this Disney cruise.

Forgive me for trotting out a Dad Joke but it’s just that Daddy’s Little Girl gave me a box of them for my birthday… and some of them aren’t even mine.

Being the big kid I am I’m one of those who still believes that Disney is the Happiest Place on Earth…. http://www.disneyparks.disney.go.com, http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com, http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com.

Both when I visited Disneyworld and Disneyland https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/.

So what better match-up than my favourite holiday hosts and my favourite form of travel… a Disney cruise?

Cassidy Travel http://www.cassidytravel.ie is offering a seven-night cruise on Disney Fantasy from €7661 for a family of four of the Western Caribbean.

Visiting Mexico, Grand Cayman and Jamaica from Cape Canaveral.

There will be daily shows and activities, dress-up themed nights, fireworks display and kids’ clubs.

There is even a private island, Castaway Cay, with water sports and sandy beaches. 

And, of course, you’ll be sharing the ship with these guys…

Corphew

That water looks so still you could walk on it… the Aegean Sea that is.

So I tried, in Corfu, and ended up swallowing half of it, adding water skiing to a list of water sport calamities.

Which can only grow next week out in Tobago.

But I won’t have the Scary One to burp me like a new-born baby or like Jerry does to Tom.

Corfu is best admired from aboard a cruise ship with a stop-off.

And luckily enough TUI http://www.tuiie has just the thing.

They have a seven-night Marella all-inclusive cruise from €1339pps on June 26.

You’ll be staying in an inside cabin on the Marella Explorer as part of an Idyllic Italy tour. Buon Vacanza. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie

And for more couples’ frolics on the high seas here’s when I stopped the Scary One from ‘falling overboard!!! http://The Call of the fjords.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

Uncategorized

A picture of Diana

It was another layer of poignancy to the death of Princess Diana that she should have lost her life in another country.

Because the Princess of Wales was an avid traveller, obviously in her official capacity, but as a wide-eyed adventurer.

The images of the royal on Dodi Fayed’s yacht off the French Riviera are reminders of that late summer of 1997, her last.

Our own summer holidays with The Son and Heir had been planned for Bulgaria for that first week in September.

A Diana fan: Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Pexels.com

In truth, I was glad to get away from the mass hysteria and national meltdown following her death.

I, of course, never knew the woman or met her. But the Irrepressible Miss F did have cause to take her picture and that of the other royals.

It was part of her job as a photo-journalist and with us working in the Royal County of Berkshire they were on our doorstep.

Winning smile: The Queen

And so it wasn’t an atypical day for Sarah to find herself photographing the Queen or Prince Philip while I might be covering the courts, council or a fete opening.

But she always approached these jobs with respect, the ways of the paparazzi were not then nor ever have been her modus operandi.

And she proved that she could capture the royals at their most relaxed and respect distances at the same time.

A different side: To Prince Philip

Of course these pictures taken from our scrapbook can never do justice to the real prints, but then that’s a hard screen and a blog for you.

Just a big kid

The pictures, of course that Diana most enjoyed were when she was with her beloved boys, Prince William and Harry.

Disney was a particular favourite and I dare say she would have loved what they are doing with Star Wars now https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/.

While she was a big kid at heart and shared that with William, Harry, Mickey and Donald. Everybody should be, I certainly am http://Why I love the Donald. http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com and

The Mouse. Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Diana was pure Hollywood and they loved her and were she alive today I could imagine that she might have had a second home out there.

And perhaps a second husband.

Rest in peace

Often compared with Marilyn, not least through Elton John’s Candle in the Wind I’m thinking now of their similarities too.

I saw the impact such iconoclastic figures have when I visited Marilyn’s last resting place http://My Weekend With Marilyn.

Of course Diana’s is on her family’s estate which gives her in death the peace she latterly could not find in life.

Adventure, America, Deals

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 centrepoint Millennium Falcon even further from my standpoint.

Which is at the back of a snaking queue in the bowels of the new 14-acre €1billion Star Wars section of Disneyland in Anaheim, California on the very weekend it opens. It has taken me half an hour to even get 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

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

Chewbacca does envelope 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.

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

Shaky all over

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.

Rasta masta

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

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.

Hondo Ohnaka, clues us in our mission with a reprise from Chewbacca, 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 Ohnaka has borrowed the craft and is using the opportunity to get us to smuggle some coaxium from Corellia for him.

It’s 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.

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 Wars pantheon at 1050kph and is a highly modified YT-1300. But then, you knew that yourself.

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

I’m gonna be a gunner

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.

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

The lucky one

I know how privileged I am though 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 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 Star Wars I don’t it get.

I retreat instead to simpler pleasures and a star who never lets me down, the original, and still the best, 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 he 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 friends ask… yes, he really does love Mexicans.

I want to be a cat too

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, bandana-wearing hippy won’t be glowered at. Here, and on the Pirates of 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, Disneyland has no shortage: 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.

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

Look out too for the old rogue popping up on the islands semi-hidden from view. Keen eyes will see him in a vat of rum though. 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 been going 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 tummy, and alternative entertainment if you want to take a weight off.

Disney Castle

Duelling pianos meld in well with the classical surroundings of Olde World buildings and the open spaces amplify the sound.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than the Disney Castle. We sit down in benches and grassy banks off Main Street to watch Mickey’s music extravaganza flash up on the castle.

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

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 toons getting us all up on our feet.

Fireworks

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.

TRAVEL FACTS

How to get there: Dublin-Los Angeles LAX with Aer Lingus with pre-clearance.

It operates a daily service from Dublin direct with fares starting from €259 each way when booked as a return trip. The year-round service reduces to five times weekly during the winter season. Visit www.aerlingus.com.

Where to stay: 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). Visit www.hilton.com.

Where to go: Attraction Tickets http://www.attractiontickets.com has a range of offers and discounts which will save precious time and money.

The deal

Its two-day Disneyland California 1 Park Per Day Ticket is from €198 for an adult and €186 for a child including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is from €266 for an adult and €249 for a child. Visit www.disneyland.disney.go.com. www.starwars.com.

And for more duck-related fun… Why I love The Donald.

Uncategorized

Blown away by Disney

Disney is good, clean fun, and how many things can you say that about?

And it’s got even cleaner and without me even noticing.

Disney has banned smoking (it’s been in place since May) which is probably why the air felt fresher when I visited Disneyland Resort in Anaheim recently.

Now if you like a puff then you can always go to the new designated smoking areas outside the entrances of the park.

The only smoke you’ll see inside is special effects and the light and magic show Mickey puts on at the end of the night up at the Castle.

Look out for my review of Star Wars and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in my old stomping ground of the Irish Daily Mail and reprised in this blog this Saturday. Visit /disneyland.disney.go.com/

Why I love The Donald