Adventure, Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

The Old World – a salute to Seventysomethings

I’ve always hung on the words of the old because they’ve got more, not less, life than the rest of us, and that is even more so abroad.

Where the elderly retain more respect than we give our senior citizens in the Ooo K.

And so as the UK wrestles with what to do with its Seventysomethings – and locking them away at home is being proposed…

Here are some of the older people who this energetic 54-year-old struggles to keep up with.

The Tobago touche

Auntie Ali and Uncle Kenneth: Tobagonians have more uncles and aunties than the rest of us on account that everyone who is old is… it’s a form of respect.

Auntie Ali and Uncle Kenneth run the Blue Crab in Robinson, Scarborough where Ali wiggles her bum-bum and Uncle Kenneth (and me) make the chicken curry.

For more on Tobago see www.visittobagogov.tt and here’s my take on it Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago.

The Barbados walkers

Geraldine and Betsy; The American sitcom King of Queens has Carrie’s pal Holly walk Arthur… for us it at Club Barbados it was Angela around the Platinum Coast.

That’s me and Betsy from the Virginia Ski Club of America.

An education on Virginia and Barbados and Angela even went the extra mile when she burnt a soca CD for me. See www.visitbarbados.org and My kiss with Rihanna.

Swiss seniors

Brigitte the yodeller, Switzerland: It was a stroll in the park on our summer walking trip around Interlaken.

Where 72-year-young Brigitte put us through our paces, stopping only to let us skim our stones and for her to yodel (no, honestly!)

Visit https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/ and Swhisskey on the rocks.

Prague pensioners

Czech your stride, Prague: I’m just getting feeling back in my legs after My guide had walked the bones off me and my colleague Elise in Prague.

She also had a typically Americanised and underplayed way of describing those who had left a trail of destruction through her city… Stalin, for example, was a ‘bad guy’.

See www.czechtourism.com. And Hope springs eternal.

Over the hill in Austria

Ehrwald Presley: And they’re off… the walking groups from Ireland I trekked with in Austria, bombing ahead up the hills as I was just limbering up.

Before settling down at night for some oompah music with Austria’s answer to Elvis Presley.

See https://topflightforschools.ie.

Vegas neon

Liberace’s pal: Well, it wouldn’t be Vegas without the bling.

And Beverley didn’t disappoint, sporting the jewels given to her when she worked at Li’s gaffe while also telling her lots of tales of Neon City.

See www.lvcva.com and https://www.neonmuseum.org and Strip… the light fantastic.

Dresden’s fraulein

A walk through history, Dresden: Schoolchildren wanting to know about history, and Dresden, would do better to talk to Greta.

Than dig out a history book… because Ingrid and her family straddle the Nazis and the Communists.

Visit https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php and Dresden’s renaissance.

Pioneering pensioners

Colorado: There’s a message on a blackboard at the white-water rafting centre near Boulder, Colorado which flags up a nonagenarian

Barbara was in already to go without that challenge… alas, in the churning rapids. And broke her ribs.

Visit www.colorado.com and here’s my ride through the Wild West… The New Frontiersmen.

Even African dictators

South Africa: And in Africa too where no matter who you are you deserve respect when you are an elder statesman, or woman.

Even when that elder statesman is Robert Mugabe.

Which was our big game drive ranger in South Africa Hewurt’s reasoning for why Robert Mugabe still held power.

While it is always worth stopping people in the course of their work, to ask them about themselves.

Like the charming old hotel worker Amos in Cradock in the Eastern Cape who had fought with the resistance and Nelson Mandela.

Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and here’s a nod to those South Africans who really do respect their elderly…. What’s new pussycat?

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe

Read a book and see the world

We all of us heard about the world, saw the world or were told about the world before we ever saw it… and for many of us we fell in love with the world through books.

I’m not talking about the holiday page-turners where Major Jeremy or Lord Montgomery crosses the class divide to elevate Mary the chambermaid.

A novel travel experience

Rather these are the books which mark out a country as somewhere we strive to visit and then do so:

The Story of an African farm girl (South Africa): Olive Schreiner unsurprisingly wasn’t on my school syllabus growing up in Scotland in the Seventies.

South Africa was completely off my radar until my best friend Thomas was taken out there to live with his family.

Thomas was addicted to the Commando wartime comics from the DC Thomson stable which includes the Beano and the Dandy, and who I am working for now.

But I digress. Olive, as I discovered on my trip to the Karoo in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, was a feminist pioneer.

And her homeland looks as if it hasn’t changed very much since it was written in the 1880s. Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

Deep South

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (USA): Arguably one of the most influential books in the history of the modern world

With Abraham Lincoln purportedly greeting Harriet Beacher Stowe with the salutation: ‘So this is the little woman who started this great (American Civil) war.’

Tom was based on a real-life slave, Josiah Henson who lived and worked on a plantation in Bethesda, Maryland.

Much changed and much gentrified as an exclusive suburb of Washington DC where I always receive the best of welcomes from my cousin… www.washington.org and Easy DC.

While learn more about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman, above, in my American Trilogy trawl through the Deep South… The Promised Land, The story of the Blues, The King of Kings. And https://www.deep-south-usa.com.

Time Travel

SlaughterhouseFive (Dresden, Germany): War revisionism hadn’t reached my Glasgow school but Kurt Vonnegut seeped into my consciousness a few years later at Aberdeen University.

The cult Sixties novelist placed his time-travelling hero Billy Pilgrim in and around the Allies’ firebombing of Dresden

And it infused this student to seek out the city, the Florence of the Elbe, 30 odd years later… https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php and Dresden’s renaissance.

The castaway

Robinson Crusoe (Tobago): Where I clambered onto the very beach the castaway found himself on.

And raced with the goats, the descendants of the ones Crusoe had raised 300 years before.

See https://www.visittobago.gov.tt.

All Greek to me

The Odyssey (Athens); As a student of ancient Greek (private school, you see) I studied excerpts from Odysseus’s (or Ulysses) journey home from Troy.

And just to get into part I had an odyssey of my own through Munich Airport onto Athens and around the island of Kythera where he ventured.

See https://athensattica.com and https://visitkythera.com.

The Good Book

The Bible (Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Heaven and Hell): The first place names that we learn of other than our home addresses are the Holy Lands.

And where John the Baptist is reputed to have baptised Jesus at ‘Bethabara beyond Jordan’, or Bethany.

Which the Jordanians claim as Al-Maghtas.

But the Israelis say is where they are on their side, actually in the place where the River Jordan now flows.

And these Orthodox Christians repeated the ceremony.

See https://www.baptismsite.com, www.visitjordan.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

So which books transport you to a far-flung place? Tell me and we’ll share…

Countries, Culture, Europe

Thirteen years an Irishman – five top cities

For fear of causing an international diplomatic incident, here’s five more of my favourite cities.

In Northern Europe although, in truth, they stand comparison with any in the world.

So let’s get started with some of that rock’n’roll music… and…

Hamburger city

Hamburg (https://www.hamburg.com/visitors/): The Rieperbahn obviously but also the Elbphilormonie, or Elbe https://www.elbphilharmonie.de/en/… it’s not just for the stuffed shirts.

Then there’s Stefanie Hempell’s Early Beatles-Tour, her infectious smile, Der Fab Four anecdotes and songs on her ukulele… http://www.hempels-musictour.de

And, of course, eating hamburgers like a local in Dulf’s Burger https://m.facebook.com/dulfsburger/. Hamburgers and ships.

And a model railway museum which could seriously turn me… Why German trains always run on time.

I Amsterdam

Pictures everywhere

Amsterdam: Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Breughel, the tulip museum and the story of the world’s best flower… and cheese, and a cheese not a cheesy museum.

The Ann Frank Museum and a stirring reminder of how we need to remain vigilant against racism.

Canals, narrow bars and Middle Eastern food… who even needs to visit the Red Light District.

Visit www.iamsterdam.com and read Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Prague springs

Give peace a chance

Prague: Lennon’s wall and the Astronomical Church, obviously, but also the Castle which is really a district.

The Charles Bridge with its sculptures and jazz musicians.

The world’s second ugliest attraction, from Communist days, and they’re very proud of it. And one of my favourite statues ‘Piss’.

Visit https://discover-prague.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuJH_8KCz5wIVRrTtCh0ofAEHEAAYAyAAEgKhOvD_BwE and https://www.czechtourism.com/home/. And read Holiday Snaps – Prague for under €100.

Bergen’s charms

A lager is how much?

Bergen: The old wharf and traditional Norwegian buildings of Bryggen where you can always find a wooden (or real) troll.

The Floyen mountain with funicular and breathtaking views of the fjord and your ship.

And the Kode museum http://www.kodebergen.no with its Munch and Dahl (the landscape artist whose paintings drew the first 19th century cruises) exhibitions.

Visit https://en.visitbergen.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiM-726Wz5wIVSrDtCh3vLQROEAAYASAAEgJIZvD_BwE and The call of the fjords.

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Putting these statues on a pedestal

All joking aside about Zlatan ‘The Ego’ Ibramovich being cut down to size.

But is it right that the Sweden soccer superstar should befall the same fate as Lord Nelson here in Dublin and Saddam Hussein in Baghdad?

The fallen Zlatan. www.abc.go.com

Now I’m all for sportspeople, celebrities, actors and even, and particularly, animals to be put on a pedestal.

Because haven’t the aristocracy and the war leaders had their day in our affection and deference?

So here are is my unscientific list of my favourite statues.

And please let me know who I’ve missed out.

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh

Bobby’s boy: Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh

Well, if Bobby’s tale was good enough for Walt Disney then it’s good enough for me.

Bobby is buried not far from here in Greyfriars Kirk next to his master John Gray on whose grave he slept every night.

And he was then awarded the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.

You’re advised though not to kiss his nose for luck as many started doing… it’s not lucky for Bobby as it’s wearing away.

For more on Edinburgh and Scotland visit http://www.edinburgh.org and http://www.visitscotland.com.

And, of course, I always like to flag up ma wee hame country. And here’s a wee sample of what we eat and drink…

With https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/12/19/hungry-and-thursday-whisky-and-the-water-of-long-life/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/12/26/hungry-and-thursday-curried-christmas-turkey/

Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruleville, Mississippi

A little big woman: Fannie Lou Hamer in Mississippi

Sometimes it’s the design that catches you and stops you in your tracks.

And so it is with this remarkable little woman,

The President of the USA, Lydon Baines, Johnson took extraordinary measures in stopping her saying her piece at the Democratic Convention by having television change its schedule.

Fannie Lou Hamer’s life was extraordinary, born into a sharecropping family and picking cotton from the age of six, she was later forced out of her home, threatened with her very life and beaten.

All because she wanted to sign on on the voting register.

She summed up her struggle in the Civil Rights Movement thus, and of course nobody could say it better: ‘I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.’

Visit www.visitmississippi.org

And why not read my American Trilogy… 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/?

Anne Frank, Amsterdam

The flower of youth: Anne Frank in Amsterdam

Us journalists like to think of ourselves as hard-bitten but I had to choke back the tears walking through the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam…. http://www.annefrank.org.

The audio narrative dwelt on a passage in her diary where she mentions that she wants to become a journalist when she’s older.

And what a journalist she would have been… ethical (yes, some of us are), prying and fearless.

Amsterdam is one of the world’s great cities and Anne one of history’s greatest figures… http://www.iamsterdam.com.

And here is proof of that… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/george-and-amal-hotel/

Piss, Prague

Splash

Statues should be provocative and the Czechs have this one down to a T.

‘Piss’ is the good people of Prague’s commentary on the politicians who have urinated all over their country.

You’ll not see it here but once the water gets flowing they pee all over the map of the country.

The Czechs as well as being the world’s biggest lager drinkers, per population, with some of the world’s best beers, are wonderfully anti-establishmentarian.

Visit http://www.czechtourism.com and here’s some other musings on the Czech Republic https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/24/czech-it-out-2/

Phil Lynott, Dublin

The boys are back in town: With my old pal Paul

There are statues to musical giants all over the world but while former Thin Lizzy lead singer Phil Lynott isn’t the best or most famous singer of them all, try telling that to Dubliners.

It is a tradition now for visitors to Dublin to have their photo taken outside Philo’s statue off the main Grafton Street shopping thoroughfare.

That other statue, the Tart with the Cart, Molly Malone? Well you can leave that to the uninitiated.

And seeing you’ll be in town here is where you want to stay… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-intercontinental-what-a-ledge/

And this site will point you in the direction of other goodies… http://www.visitdublin.com.

Nelson, Bridgetown, Barbados

You can stay: Nelson in Bridgetown

He’s obviously not the only Horatio or the biggest, and as I’ve alluded to already some not too far from here even blew him up.

But he was a survivor, except when he was killed obvs, and he lost an eye and an arm.

Death might even have been a better gig too as he was transported home in a vat of rum… a good way to go and one that the Bajans would have approved of.

Until, of course, his old shipmates drilled a hole in the vat and drunk the rum!

Statues are a controversial subject but my Bajan hosts were keen to tell me that Nelson was part of their story too.

And so ignore the white liberals who like to speak for black people, they’re glad to have him keeping his one eye open on what’s going on in Bim.

For more on Barbados see http://www.visitbarbados.org. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

Martin Luther, Dresden

Closer to God: Martin Luther in Dresden

Some statues can withstand anything.

Martin Luther stood as a defiant symbol of Dresdeners refusal to see their city disappear after the Allies’ firebombing at the end of the Second World War.

The Dresdeners rebuilt the obliterated Frauenkirche sixty years later, after they had got rid of the Communists.

Using as the plans photographs they had asked the public to send in from their weddings.

Dresden was known as the Florence of the Elbe and it is one of the great architectural stories of our age, or any age, to see how the Dresdeners have rebuilt their city to the same grandeur of its renaissance days.

For more information on Dresden http://www.dresden.de and also take a trip through the ages with me with https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/

Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen

With Tom and My Little Princess in Copenhagen

Yes, the Little Mermaid is more visited, but personally I prefer the top-hatted Hans in the heart of Copenhagen.

Hans was an eccentric all right and once decamped on Charles Dickens, walked around the house in the starkers, and made it difficult for Charlie to show him the door.

Very Scandinavian and it just makes me want to revisit Denmark… http://www.visitingcopenhagen.com and digging out my Scandinavian wanderings https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/

Nelson Mandela Voting Line, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

March to Freedom: In Port Elizabeth

Statues shouldn’t just stand there. No, really. And this is a moving symbolic Voting Line which sums up South African democracy.

This is our host Sisseko and beside him a kid as he would have been back in 1995 when South Africa had its historic vote.

It is also immersive and you don’t have to climb up a plinth to get next to it as they do in Glasgow when they put police cones on the Duke of Wellington.

It is the way I should imagine that Nelson, a native of the Eastern Cape, would have wanted it.

And for more on South Africa’s Eastern Cape visit http://www.meetyoursouthafrica.net and http://www.southafrica.net. And this is how I tries to do it justice… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/homemyoffice/whats-new-pussycat/

Martin Luther King, Washington DC

Unfinished business: Martin Luther King in Washington DC

We’ll never stop building statues, of course, and I expect a Bandanaman up in my name when my Travelling days are done.

This statue of Dr Martin Luther King is never meant to be finished though.

Until the Civil Rights struggle has been finally met which, of course, it never will be, alas.

But what genius and how moving. For more on my favourite capital city visit http://Easy DC and http://www.washington.org.

Uncategorized

Give us this day – holy water fonts

You get a name for yourself… just by going to Mass.

And before you know it people are referring to you by that awful definition ‘religious’.

Then you’ve been approached to be a reader at your church.

And to give out the host.

It all culminates in being bought a holy water fount for Christmas.

Oh, well, She had waited 25 years to get her own back.

After I’d bought her a non-stick frying pan, bacon, sausages, eggs and black pudding for our first Christmas.

This holy water fount is from Lough Derg, St Patrick’s sanctuary.

In my Dear Old Mum’s homestead of Co. Donegal in Ireland…. https://www.loughderg.org.

So what of the history of the bénitier?

Well, it’s a fancier and Frenchier way to describe a holy water font.

So you’ll not be surprised to know that it’s… found all over Gaul-land http://www.atout-france.fr in very ostentatious style.

It is often adorned with, say, Our Lady.

In olden days too rosary beads were often draped around the fonts.

Although in Marian sites Fatima https://www.fatima.pt/en and https://www.visitportugal.com/en/content/the-best-of-portugal?gclsrc=aw.ds&ds_rl=1258950&ds_rl=1252939&gclid=CjwKCAiA9JbwBRAAEiwAnWa4Q0nu0ByiGL2UMA94MnpCYcRAgaCRJQGmKM10FZv5yTiIEiAU8YjfzRoCym8QAvD_BwE, Lourdes https://www.lourdes-france.org/en/Medjugorje https://medjugorjelive.org you would do well to prise them out of the hands of the pilgrims.

You see I have seen it too first hand.

Stoups, of course, are most likely to be found in churches.

But did you know that they can sometimes be found above the bed? Passion killer, n’est ce pas?

I make a habit of seeking out places of worship wherever I go.

They have the best art in Rome http://www.rome.netand sometimes also the best craic… Give us this Day – Sunday School, Tobago https://www.visittobago.gov.tt

But while I like to pray I love to play.

And no saint me. I have been known to fill bottles.

Vatican rules

With holy water from St Paul’s Basilica at the end of my Via Francigena pilgrimage… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/

And in St James’s Cathedral in Santiago de Compostella http://www.caminoways.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/ after walking 100km from Sarria on the Camino.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I’ve also taken holy water from.

Water, water everywhere

A font by the River Jordan… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/ and http://www.visitjordan.com.

A Greek Orthodox church on Mt Hybanthus… http://www.athensattica.com and Give us this Day – The Iconic Greek Orthodox

The Frauenkirche in Dresden http://www.dresden.de and Dresden’s renaissance under the eye of Martin Luther.

The cathedral in La Laguna in Tenerife… http://www.visitingtenerife.com and A walk through the ages… Tenerife

And these are just the sample charges.

I’d better get some prayers in then… maybe Our Lady will intercede on my behalf!

Uncategorized

My Sporting Weekend – racism and bigotry

World Cup winner Paul Pogba’s personal gesture against racism in wearing a black and white wristband commends him.

Which is something you don’t often hear many people say about Manchester United’s mercurial Frenchman…

The wearing of rubber bands denoting charitable or political campaigns seemed to kick in in the Noughties.

And I’m a fan www.kickitout.org although it’s more to do with destinations I’ve visited.

Band of gold

To remind me on a wet and dank day in Ireland of sunnier climes.

So I have California http://www.visitcalifonria.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/at hand.

Denver http://www.denver.org and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/go-west-denver-buffalo-bill/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/29/the-new-pioneers/too.

And Portugal http://www.visitportugal.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/

While there’s Dresden http://www.dresden.de and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/ as well.

My link with the Maldives https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/ and http://www.kuramathi.com and http://www.kandolhu.com was broken.

When the band snapped over the Christmas season.

Although my memories never will.

Glasgow belongs to who?

Symbols have always been at the very heart of sport:

The colours and designs of strips or uniforms, club badges or crests and buttons.

Although sometimes they can land you in trouble.

And the players in the Celtic and Rangers Catholic and Protestant divide know it.

Whether they grew up in the West of Scotland or bought into it.

Mo Johnston controversially crossed the divide and himself (well at least when he was at Celtic, the Catholic gesture particularly provocative to Rangers fans).

While Paul Gascoigne gullibly responded to the egging-on from Rangers fans by mocking a flute player.

Another incendiary action in Glasgow’s religious tribalism, conjuring up the Protestant King William of Orange’s victory over the Catholic King James II.

That flute is OK

Sometimes even the football forces its way into the argument.

The debate du jour in English football is whether players and teams should walk off if they are racially abused from the crowd.

I never had to encounter being either physically or verbally abused over the colour of my skin.

But I was spat at on a bus by religious bigots in Glasgow as a child because of the colour of my uniform.

Which is why I was so drawn to Rosa Parks’ sit-down protest on the bus in the Deep South.

And was so humbled by the sacrifices made by black (and white) Civil Rights protesters.

On my trip through Memphis, Tennessee www.memphistravel.com and www.deep-south-tourism-com Mississippi. And www.visittheusa.ie.

Not our problem

No such discussion is had regarding religious bigotry in Glasgow despite they’re being on average one murder surrounding the Old Firm game every time the two meet.

Which they do tomorrow.

Worthy words will be expressed in Glasgow, my home city http://www.peoplemakeglasgow.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/.

And when (and it’s almost always when, not if) it kicks off there will be no end of head-shaking.

It’s only a kids’ game

But no talk of partial ground closures, playing behind closed doors, walk-offs, fines or points deductions.

It’s not for nothing Celtic and Rangers are called The Old Firm. The religious divide fuels their economy.

So the answer is in Glasgow vernacular: Nae Chance.