America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Disney opens its shop doors again

What do everyone’s favourite mouse and duck do during the COVID-19 crisis?

Well if you’ve missed Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Goofy and all their friends then here’s some good news.

The gang are back with the reopening of subcontracted shops at Disney Springs in Orlando tomorrow.

And the World of Disney Store and Disney eating places from next Wednesday.

Mouse in a mask

With The Three Caballeros In Anaheim

We might have to wait to wrap ourselves in the arms of our favourite characters at first but a wave goes a long way.

And our pals also know how to keep us all cheerful with their dances and japes.

And while we’ll all (employees and guests) be required to wear masks and have our temperatures taken.

There’s nothing that says we can’t smile from behind our masks or laugh.

A Minnie-hug: In Orlando

Of course what we all want to know is when the theme parks will reopen and there’s further good news on that front too.

Universal Orlando reopened its CityWalk shopping and dining areas last week with strict new measures in place

No more big queues

Homer run: With Homer and Bart at Universal

And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gave Disney and Universal Orlando the OK to submit their reopening plans… watch this space.

Our experience will be different and mine’s in the past with and has been well, for want of a better word, magical.

See Why I love The Donald and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and See off Voldemort, then for a beer at Moe’s.

But you can be sure that the great minds behind our animation favourites will be ahead of the curve.

And besides they already have some things already in place that can be applied to the ‘new normal.’

Such as the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue that will tell a guest when to return and join the physical line as guests with higher ‘boarding groups’ are processed.

In a theme park far, far away

And this will eliminate the need for long queues and who needs them? Certainly not me… http://Stair Wars

Our holiday providers are all facing a challenging time just now.

But remember they want nothing better than get us out to these, and again there’s no better word for it, magical places.

Magic Vacations, an Irish travel agent which is an official Disney partner, have come up with the bright idea of combining the magic of Ireland and that of Disney.

This deal is magic

To give clients who book a Magic Vacations holiday for 2021 to Disneyland Paris a one-night stay including breakfast in an equivalent 3 or 4-star hotel in Kinsale this Autumn.

So you’ll travel March 1-4 from Dublin/February 28-March 3 from Cork with flights from your nearest airport. (€55 supplement from Cork).

You’ll play €699pps with all meals included and flights, transfers, accommodation, €100 gift card, four days unlimited entry to Disneyland and a Meet & Greet.

With that night’s accommodation in Kinsale in November with full Irish breakfast for two guests included.

Contact (01) 40004433/(021) 4700568. See

America, Asia, Countries, Europe

Wuhoo Wuhan

It seems like a lifetime ago when we sat down for our annual Wendy Wu Chinese New Year dinner in Dublin.

You can read what you want into this year being the Year of the Rat.

And talked about what then seemed a distant (and Asian) threat… Coronavirus in China.

The city of Wuhan had been put in lockdown and our hosts, of course, were seeing the effects long before the rest of us.

The date, January 23, seemed insignificant other than I was long looking forward to one of my highlights of the year.

When the clock started ticking

And not just because it meant meeting up with old friends and the feast in front of us at Chai Yo Teppanyaki on Baggot Street Lower

But when we chronicle these times that date of January 23, 2020 will mark the day that Wuhan locked down.

And there’s even more…. Chinese New Year

Seventy-six days later, on April 7, the region emerged from lockdown.

And from this website’s perspective Travel began its fightback.

Chinese travel

With The Guardian reporting that China Eastern was operating 30 flights from Wuhan to other cities in China.

Like Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, with more than 1,600 trips booked.

Let’s get Shanghaied in Shanghai

More than 55,000 passengers were said to have booked tickets to leave the city, according to the railway operator.

And long-distance buses had also resumed service.

All of which had passed me by somewhat until my daily trawl as to what the rest of the world was doing brought me back to Wuhan.

And talk of further travel from the city on the Yangtze.

I’ve got The Donald’s ear

Because, and taking into account that no country is the same, 73 days takes Britain from March 23 to July 4.

Now the significance of such a date would not be lost on any of us and we all come from a different starting point.

The West is watching

But it would be great if all of us in the Western World can target that date to get going again.

And while it is unlikely that Donald Trump would follow anything that China does, we can but dream.

Palm trees everywhere: Florida

I know I am… I had planned the Florida Keys San Francisco and Dublin in the Tri-Valley outside San Fran. As well as Chicago

Alas the American Travel fair, IPW, bowed to the inevitable when the get-together, which was this year to be held in Las Vegas, was shelved.

Don’t Cancel Postpone

Those trade partners I visit (yes, and hug) every year are suffering just now.

Honest Abe and Honest Jim: In DC

And I can only reprise on how I found them and their venues, Washington DC, Denver and Anaheim in previous years…

At http://Easy DC,

And and and

And say, once again, as I will. Don’t Cancel Postpone

Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying, UK

Sweden, mooses and no lockdown

There’s a moose loose aboot this hoose – Lord Rockingham’s XI

Now what has ‘Hoots Mon’, a UK No.1 from 1958 to do with the price of Irn-Bru?

Only that the moose is considered a measure of distance in northern Sweden.

Which we’re all looking at enviously because there’s no lockdown there.

In the region of Norbotten locals are warned to stay ‘one moose length’ away from each other.

Check out the lights. Photo by Jonathan Petersson on

While in the rest of the country they’re still eating meatballs, smorgasbords and pickled herrings and highly-priced beer in bars and restaurants.

All the time following Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s guidance to keep social distance.

The Swedish hinterland

So what is it that Sweden is doing right?

Well, in a nutshell, they believe it is not sustainable to keep its people in open-ended lockdown.

A night out in Sweden

And that they are prepared to accept certain restrictions on movement and interaction over a prolonged period.

Rather than to take the pain today for jam tomorrow.

She and her fellow Swedish politicians recommended this on internal travel at Easter.

The government exhorted Swedes not to travel to their summer cottages or relatives but did not ban them from doing so.

Which was 90 per cent lower than in previous years.

The Abba Museum

All of which progress and good husbandry focuses our attentions rightly on Sweden…

And talking about husbandry I’m reminded of what a good husband I would have been to Agnetha Faltstog, my first love.

Alas her husband Bjorn Ulvaeus was on the scene… and I was only 11.

ABBA’s Greatest Hits was the first album I ever bought.

And it was my love of Abba that got me innocently into trouble in my Jesuit Catholic all-boys school when I brought copies in of The Sun newspaper.

The ABBA Story

All because they were serialising The ABBA Story… I even used my lunch money to pay for the newspapers.

Easy ahopping

However my teacher suspected that I was ogling the bare-breasted Page 3 girls instead. All of which landed me with a belting.

I will continue to make it one of my life’s missions to track down Agnetha in her retreat.

And the best starting point is to actually get out to Sweden.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines is your best bet, and they fly out of Dublin, and in the UK from London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.

A tour around Scandinavia

Now I dipped my toe into Scandinavia when I cruised with MSC and around Denmark

And Norway, getting within touching distance of Agnethaland and

Finnish forest huts

While I’m continuously being tempted by my old Finnish and adopted Glaswegian Paula from our Disneyworld

And to go our to her home country, which is more culturally Scandinavian than geographically.

But the UN named it the happiest place on earth so the Scandinavians will claim it gladly.

Iceland for geezers

Ah, those Northern Lights

Heck, so that I’m not accused of not including the other Scandinavian countries, I’ll flag up Iceland here.

With Iceland Airlines and

Although again it is probably more culturally Scandinavian than geographically traditionally so.

Greenland in demand

Shifting plates

The Faroe Islands is a self-governing Danish territory and Greenland which is a Danish territory will also qualify.

Mind you Donald Trump has had his eyes on buying the world’s biggest island

In what he would probably tag a beautiful, beautiful deal.

So we’ll just have to watch this space.

America, Countries, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – your adopted team

And when I dunked that foam ball into the desk basketball hoop this week I channeled my inner Curly Neal.

Curly having just passed to the great court in the sky.

For many Fiftysomethings on our shores, Curly, Meadowlark and his Harlem Globetrotters pals were our first introduction to basketball.

The Globetrotters had a virtual monopoly in the Sixties and Seventies here before we got the NBA on our TVs.

Not a hair out of place

And it wasn’t just excitable schoolboys the Globetrotters had in their thrall with their antics.

Pope Paul VI got the full routine with tricks, tickertape and holy water sprinkled on him in a private game back in the day.

All of which fun you can replicate from your home office… if you don’t have a desk hoop then you can adapt.

Of course as a schoolboy I wasted many an hour sinking balls of paper into a bucket when I should have been learning my trigonometry.

All of which stuff and nonsense is a replacement for the real thing.

Having a ball: In Memphis

And isn’t it often the case that the game isn’t on when you get to town in your travels across America?

And you are left larking about in Memphis when the Grizzlies are supposed to be playing The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

American dream

Which brings us to the thorny question of which American sports team to adopt.

Because when you land up in town the quickest way to learn about how things are done is to find out about the local sports teams.

My sporting buddy: Mickey Mouse

Orlando FC were in their infancy when I first met up with Harry Potter, Homer and Bart Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and

Taking the Mickey

And The Donald, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy Why I love The Donald and

While Memphis saw me picking up their love of basketball, I was pitched straight into the Eastern seaboard’s love of all the Big Four American sports on another occasion.

Sports-mad Philly

I got to learn about The Curse of Billy Penn’s peak in Philadelphia Philadelphia Freedom and

I was already aware of the rivalries between the Eastern cities and my New York cousins had tried to foist their teams on me.

Kings of Queens

But again there was a schism there which I settled by plumping for the Queens teams, the New York Mets and Jets.

And I picked up the odd souvenir on my peregrinations and Old New York: Hamilton.

Which have come in handy for the desk and house games just now.

Capital stuff

Of course the best place to be, even if you can’t catch a game, is the ball park.

A Nationals institution: In Washington

And I got to try out for the Washington Nationals Easy DC and

And hang out with the Bandanettes in Denver at the Broncos’ Mile High stadium … Go West and

Now if you do get to a game then I guess that’s the biggest motivator.

Wild horses wouldn’t… At Denver Broncos’ Mile High Stadium

And so the Anaheim Angels and are in contention for my vote.

Go Angels: In Anaheim

But so too then are the Toronto Blue Jays

But while all of these cities have left their mark you never forget your first love.

Boston is full of beans

And that was Reggie Clemens and the Boston Red Sox on my summer working trip to Beantown after university.

I was in the midst of planning a visit out to Boston and New England for later this year with my hosts suggesting a tour of Fenway Park.

And a walk along the Green Monster left field wall.

My sports town: Boston Photo by Kristin Vogt on

Home run! Visit

And tell me which American sports team you support. Is it because you’ve been to see them, have relatives there, like the name of the team or the colour.

Let me know and we’ll share.