America, Countries, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – slam dunk, the NBA

I was immediately marked out as a spectator and not a player.

When my cousin Maura threw me into a game of pick-up basketball with her boyfriend John in Queens, New York.

Basketball had always been a novelty game for milk bottle white Scotsmen whose only connection with the game was The Harlem Globetrotters.

A free throw anyone?

Until I got to America.

And saw the importance of the game on that visit to see my cousins in New York and then four years later in Boston.

Where I would pass by the statue of Boston Celtics’ legendary coach Red Auerbach.

Outside Quincy Market at Faneul Hall where I was a bus boy at GuadalaHarry’s and ice cream salesman at a parlour.

Anyhoos I had myself my basketball team.

And despite warming to all the teams in North American cities I’ve passed through in the years since.

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, LA Lakers and Clippers, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.

nba-orlando-magic-mickey-mouse-basketball.jpg

I was a Celtics fan. Which wasn’t a huge jump from my young days following a football team, Celtic in Glasgow.

This was my year for my long-awaited return to Boston 33 years but COVID has stalled that on the plate.

When I would also fulfil an ambition I didn’t even know I had.

The home of baseball: Fenway Park

To walk the Fenway Park Green Monster perimeter where I’d seen the Red Sox hit their home runs that 1987 season.

The NBA play-offs are playing out in a DisneyWorld bubble in Orlando.

And you should catch it on whichever channels you pick up.

MEET YOU ON THE COURT

Adventure, America, Countries, Flying

Space – the final travel fromtier

It sounds like a good idea just now – getting the hell off this planet.

So Godspeed Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken as they head off on Elon Musk’s 24-storey Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.

Walking on air

Last year as we all know was the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon.

While next year will be 60 years since Yuri Gagarin.

Waste not, want not

How many years before I, you, and everyone’s gone to the moon in the words of all the song depends on how we feel after COVID.

Space cadet… the one on the left

Space watchers like to congregate around Cape Canaveral, Florida.

But because of COVID they only got to see the first take-off from American soil for space in nine years on the TV.

All of which meanderings around the galaxy before getting to the subject brings me to a special night in Dublin with a real astronaut…

My cosmonaut from The Kennedy Space Center who told us of the myriad sunsets he saw up there.

Lend me your goldfish bowl

And how he felt the presence of a Divine Being.

Before he turned to the Holy Grail of Space Travel… a trip to Mars.

With the biggest challenge not the myriad years spent in space but the need to recycle.

Kennedy’s Space legacy

So that the spacecraft isn’t too heavy and eats up fuel they don’t have.

And our astronaut means everything!

Meet you in space

Just the jobbie for an astronaut!

But seeing we’ll have to wait for our seats on the ship why not visit https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com.

Where you can dine with an astronaut.

And this comes highly recommended by the passenger I met on the way to Orlando www.visitorlando.com on my Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com flight.

Quackers!

I was on my way to meet the Donald Why I love The Donald https://www.disneyworld.co.uk while he was off to see Buzz.

And at least one of these American icons is wired to the moon.

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 Pexels.com

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 http://www.flysas.com 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 http://www.msccruises.co.uk and http://www.msccruises.ie around Denmark http://www.visitdenmark.com.

And Norway http://www.visitnorway.com, getting within touching distance of Agnethaland http://www.visitsweden.com and http://www.visitstockholm.com.

Finnish forest huts

While I’m continuously being tempted by my old Finnish http://www.visitfinland.com and adopted Glaswegian Paula from our Disneyworld http://www.disneyworld.co.uk

And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/culture/disney-why-i-love-the-donald/ 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 http://www.icelandair.com and http://www.inspiredbyiceland.com.

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

Greenland in demand

Shifting plates

The Faroe Islands http://www.visitfaroeislands.com 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 https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/22/greenland-americas-51st-state/.

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

So we’ll just have to watch this space.

Adventure, Africa, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Los Lounges Story… and other word games

Don’t worry about me, I’m enjoying the Los Lounges life… in my boardies, pulling my surf stunt, with my Beach Boys music on, and a Strawberry Daiquiri waiting for me.

They are memories and pictures that I can pull up to transfer myself to a favourite place.

And just one of the distractions to being holed up indefinitely.

Surf’s up: In Surf City, Huntington Beach http://www.surcityusa.com

Which has at times happened on my travels.

West is best… West Hollywood

Obviously when I’ve been struck down like the time when I got food poisoning on my LA break https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and www.visitcalifornia.com and www.ticketsdirect.com and had to stay in bed for a day.

Peerless: Kimpton La Peer Hotel, West Hollywood

With diversions to the toilet.

Still if you are forced to remain in barracks then I’d recommend the Kimpton La Peer Hotel https://www.lapeerhotel.com/?utm_source=Google%20My%20Business&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=GMB&utm_term=lapeer. In West Hollywood https://www.weho.org.

While, yes. I missed that day’s itinerary which had involved a trip to the Warner Bros Studios and their sets https://www.wbstudiotour.com.

Budge up Sheldon

And the chance to sit in Sheldon’s spot but I did get to do just that when Hollywood My Weekend With Marilyn came to Anaheim for the American Travel Fair, IPW.

And to check out Disneyland’s https://disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disney-california-adventure/hollywood-land/ newest residents Stair Wars.

Formidable Four: With Mark, Issy ad Rachel in South Africa http://www.southafrica.net

It won’t surprise you that today’s conversation has gone off on a tangent… a bit like Alan, one of our coach drivers snd guides in the Eastern Cape in South Africa… http://mobi.alantours.co.za.

Alan’s magical mystery tour

Of course with five wordsmiths in the coach we were never short of a word game or two to while away the time we spent lost in the South African national park…

And enjoyed the delights of South Africa What’s new pussycat?. And Day in the life of a township

Those arrows should point upwards: In Tenerife https://www.visitingtenerife.com

While in Tenerife A walk through the ages… Tenerife we ratcheted it up after stumbling upon a Franco-themed pub in Afur.

Franco and the dictator grocery game

At the end of a particularly challenging climb on our CanariaWays.com trip…. www.CanariaWays.com.

And started a game of ‘supermarket dictator’ after I’d suggested somebody ask the owner of the Franco pun is he had any Tito crisps.

By hook or by crook: In Tenerife

The best of our offerings came from our friend and host Maria with… Lennoncello.

So let me know your suggestions for our parlour game of destinations around the house.

My Finnish pal Paula from our trip to Orlando Why I love The Donald and https://www.disneyworld.co.uk got us going on this one… with Los Lounges.

I weighed in with Ayia Crapper..

Now it’s over to you. Tell me your favourites.

Adventure, America, Countries, Deals

Holidos and don’ts – Rollercoasters

Every holiday has its ups and downs and rollercoaster holidays have more than most.

Of course you’re probably a big fan of the corkscrews otherwise you wouldn’t have booked this type of holiday.

Well, maybe, but then it could be a family holiday and Himself or Junior are the rollercoaster junkies.

Me, I’m a nervous rollercoaster but I will put myself forward.

Well, someone has to make a dent in it

But as tempting as it is may be you ought to miss out on the bacons, sausages, eggs, omelettes, pancakes and muffins.

Particularly if you’ve been down at the Irish duelling piano bar Pat O’Brien’s in Orlando https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/dining/pat-o-briens.

And CityWalk’s Rising Star karaoke club. https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/entertainment/rising-star-karaoke Doing giant Hurricane cocktails and shots.

Been there, done that

In my unforgettable trips Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and Why I love The Donald with https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us and https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_GB/.

Don’t overdo the Duff at Moe’s

Motion sickness tablets: Right you get to the rollercoasters and your tummy starts doing somersaults.

You want to go on but you worry that you’ll bring up your breakfast over that cute excited little girl in front of you.

And that’s where motion sickness tablets come in handy.

Choose your rollercoaster: Don’t be a hero.

My old pal Colin is as tough a bloke as you’ll meet and will run through brick walls on a football field.

But he doesn’t like big dippers. That’s fine, there are plenty of attractions, funky characters and food… on the ground!

While some of us love a corkscrew or a loop the loop while others (me) like a vertical drop.

Harry’s game

And then there are those 4D carts like you get in Harry Potter which tilt and play with your senses.

To give the illusion that you are riding on your broomstick around Hogwarts Castle.

And playing quidditch with Ron Weasley.

The feeling of disorientation will pass, the memories never will.

 

All that was left were the glasses

For many of us (me) we feel safer if we have water to cushion the fall.

And so for me it was Wet ‘n Wild Orlando which alas closed in 2016.

Dropping down through a trap door down the chute and round some loops

Before thundering into the final splash was one of the most exhilarating rides of my life.

So, Wet ‘n Wild has gone, you’ve still got Aquatica.

And in California

Disneyland Park, Anaheim https://disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disneyland/?CMP=OKC-dlr_themeparks_gmap_38 has it all.

And now something else again which for you Star Wars fans is something else again… Stair Wars

The way to do any of these theme parks, of course, is priority booking.

And the people to do it with are Attraction Tickets www.attractiontickets.com.

MEET YOU ON THE BIG DIPPER

America, Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – funny food

Food should be fun and taken out of the hands of foodies… and chefs.

I’m writing this while eating my Swedish ‘vacuum cleaners’ or dammsugare for fika. These are named after the tube-shaped vacuum cleaners of the Fifties.

I had been given them in my godispase, or goody bag.

Clean sweep

Let’s break bread

The godispase had come courtesy of the Stena Estrid, Swedish ferry cruise company‘s http://www.stenaline.ie.

And www.stenaline.co.uk maiden journey between Holyhead and Dublin.

It is, in truth, the closest I will get to a vacuum cleaner but it shows the Swedes’ sense of fun.

Star in Stripe

To name this sweet after a common household gadget.

And it’s good to see that the world has been watching because it’s not for nothing that Jim Henson looked to Scandinavia for his madcap Swedish Chef.

The dammsugare got me thinking about other funny food you can pick up around the world.

Every city with a well-known red light district obvs like Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Where they also have Middle Eastern food skewered on an actual scimitar in Bazaar.

It’s a remodelled old mosque in fashionable De Pijp http://www.hotelbazar.nl/en/restaurant-bazar-amsterdam/ And www.iamsterdam.com.

Get a grip

But also unexpectedly in Portugal Centro Secret Portugal and www.visitportugal.com where I found a shop selling chocolate penises.

While this mug gives a new spin on your hot chocolate.

Get a handle on this

What else is out there I hear you ask.

And where are the sweetie cigarette, cigars and pipes we used to have as children?

Probably replaced with chocolate joints.

And, of course, any excuse to plug this fun for food fixture from my trip on Celebrity Edge around the Bahamas… www.celebritycruises.ie.

With I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here.

The Germans are funny… full stop. Which gives a lie to the myth that they have no sense of humour.

That’ll all fir in

And there is no elegant way to eat a hamburger… ich bin ein Hamburger Hamburgers and ships and www.hamburg-tourism.de.

While the Norwegians have a playful relationship with their trolls… The call of the fjords and www.visitnorway.com.

With my very own Scary One… and MSC Cruises www.msccruises.ie.

While I love the taste of the sea too and few do it better than my own wee country Scotland and my adopted one Ireland, north and south…

That’s www.visitscotland.com, www.discovernorthernireland.com and www.tourismireland.com.

With a tasting menu of the best of Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

With Catherine Fulvio at Ballyknocken

America http://www.visitusa.ie and http://visitflorida.com and is the country who put fun and funk into dysfunction and my safari food out with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com in Florida brought me this nature feast below… it’s all natural.

And seeing we’re talking food then let’s finish on the country that leads the way on food… Italy.

Italia!

And pasta making

With Italy specialists Top Flight www.topflight.ie and Catherine Fulvio at her cookery school in Ballyknocken, Co. Wicklow www.ballyknocken.ie

And some amateur cuoco…

OK, OK… mes amis in France http://www.atoutfrance.fr will disagree. And I don’t know what I was eating here but I was smokin’…

Send in your Fun With Food, what’s amusing to eat and where.

MEET YOU AROUND THE TABLE

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

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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.