America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Our world is ever changing

Our world is ever changing but not according to the cork map I’ve been sent.

OIt has taken me, in truth, the best part of a week to realise that this world at my fingertips was the one of my schooldays.

When Britain was still in denial about the loss of Empire.

Pin sharp

A different world

It was only after I’d stuck the pins in (I’d expected them to include them as in the picture) that I’d realised.

I’d covered Western Europe in red, blue and a spot of Irish green.

And adapted as your sticky pins only seem to come in the primary colours.

Red, white and blue

Don’t tell the Indians

So you end up pinning the Oranje Netherlands in red which to be fair is one-third of their flag.

And Italia in verde green the same, though Il Bel Paese is more associated with sporting azzurro.

Some countries have spent generations fighting not to go red so it seemed wrong to pin Germany red, but hey ho.

Red, of course, means different things, in different places and America and the Arab World proudly flashes red.

We will pin them on the beaches

And it can’t be a Beijing Duck

Of course it’s not just travel-longing Travel Editors who pin stickers to an atlas.

And world leaders are probably doing the same as we speak.

I’ve seen it too first hand at Winston Churchill’s War Rooms in Whitehall in London.

Now I’m thinking that I must have been delivered one of Winnie’s maps when I turned my attentions to Asia.

It can’t be a Mumbai mix

It’s not Queenstown any more: Cork

And saw that my mapmakers are still clinging to old British names of Bombay (Mumbai) and Peking (Beijing).

Before scanning back to Ireland to check that the names were correct.

It truly would not have surprised me if their cartographers were working to a 20th Century template.

I should have known when they insisted that my purchase was for a Queenstown map of the world.

Rather than a Cork one.

Our world is changing for sure, it’s just some are stuck in the past.

 

 

 

 

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, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

The 12th of July – some myths debunked

Every day is the 12th of July I was reminded every Saturday growing up in religiously divided Glasgow.

This was how fans of the city’s Protestant club Rangers mark King William’s victory over Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne.

It turns out though that they got their dates wrong and that it should be July 1 they should be marking.

On the white charger; The Orange Heritage Museum

The calendars were reset in the 18th Century and The Boyne got July 12 when that date had belonged to the Battle of Aughrim.

Beyond these castle walls

I gleaned much of the true story from Malahide Castle https://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/ in north Co. Dublin.

I learned that the sitting family back in 1690 settled down for lunch before heading for battle only never to return.

Charge: But is it William? www.laganhistory.com

An impressive painting hangs in the Castle dining room of the battle.

And the guide informed us that the figure on canvas that we know and love/hate could not have been King Billy.

What’s missing?

No garter you see.

Wall, what is it good for? www.extramuralactivity.com

And he was on a white horse too which would have made him easier to spot and kill.

And one of those ubiquitous Belfast black taxi tour drivers verified this very fact.

On the excellent Lucy Worsley’s BBC series British History’s Biggest Fibs https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08cgp55 verified.

Northern Exposure

The Irish Problem as it was called morphed into The Troubles in the North, or Northern Ireland as it’s officially known.

Keep the orange flag flying high

And one constant throughout has been the symbolism of King Billy whose murals and drapes proliferate throughout the province.

But in truth King Billy’s story stretches throughout the island of Ireland.

And the three countries of the island of Britain.

And his home country of Holland.

Flying Dutchman

For those keenest of Orangemen retracing King Billy’s footsteps here’s an itinerary.

Begin your journey in the Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoom north of Amsterdam https://www.paleishetloo.nl/ and Pictures of Amsterdam.

I’ve landed: William of Orange of Devon

Land in Brixham, Torbay in Devon like William did www.devonguide.com. It’s a pretty seaside town in England.

And then make your way over by ferry with Stena Line https://www.stenaline.co.uk to Ireland.

There you’ll want to visit the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre http://battleoftheboyne.ie/ in Co. Louth equidistant between Belfast and Dublin in modern Republic of Ireland.

Before heading for Belfast and the Museum of Orange Heritage https://visitbelfast.com/partners/museum-of-orange-heritage/#&gid=1&pid=5.

A dash of Orange

Just a thought if you’d never heard of King William of Orange might you inadvertently venture in thinking it was a celebration of fruit.

History all around us

And you might be surprised to hear that King William’s place in the Irish cultural landscape isn’t recognised by everyone on the island.

An old colleague I’ll call Simone because that was her name even wrote that King James won the Battle of the Boyne.

Just as well that she had a good editor to stop Irish (and British) history being rewritten for ever.

And for a glimmer of Northern Irish life see Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

Edam good cycle in Holland

Men left, women always right as the old sign says… except, of course, when left means going back on yourself to Edam and right means returning to Amsterdam.

It was the one and only time I signalled correctly which is probably why SHE ignored me.

And we cycled around for another 10km in the twilight before returning to the crossroads.

By the time we got back and had our crepes and Amstel beers I was feeling it.

The top table: The Dylan Amsterdam

And I was cramped up the next day.

And did I say that we had only got the wrong day to go out to Edam as it was their half day?

Still we did manage to get a cheeseboard, garlic Edam cheese and one of those slicers with a delft pattern before they closed their shutters.

Slice of the action: Edam www.holland.com

The cheese might have got a bot smelly in my backpack on the ride home too but I wasn’t telling my parents for whom it was a souvenir.

All of which reminisces have been prompted by an itinerary suggestion from the now reopened Dylan Amsterdam… www.dylanamsterdam.com.

Where I took the by now Mrs M nearly 30 years after our first visit to Amsterdam.

Another power couple

Safe to say we were moving in far different circles and hotels in 1999 than now with the Dylan being George and Amal’s Dutch hotel of choice… George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

One of the distinguishing features of the Dylan (and there are many) is the fabulous concierge service.

And here it’s almost as if they can read our minds.

Because among their alternative excursions is the Kroller Muller Museum which houses the world’s second largest collections of Van Goghs.

Blooming marvellous: The Dylan Amsterdam

And they are tempting us with a cycle around the Hoge Veluwe National Park afterwards.

When I’ll be sure to be giving the directions.

Like all great cities Amsterdam just leaves you wanting to come back for more www.iamsterdam.com and Pictures of Amsterdam.

Not least to get round the plethora of funky museums. And yes, of course, there is a cheese museum… http://www.cheesemuseumamsterdam.com/.

Check out the Dylan Amsterdam for best rates and conditions and be assured that your concierge will take great care of you.

My little flower: At the Tulip Museum

And help you with directions although some of us need them more than others.

We flew with the national airline carrier www.klm.com and would recommend them highly.

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Green for go to these countries

And I’m already swotting up on New Zealand www.newzealand.com Thailand https://www.tourismthailand.org/landing and Vietnam https://vietnam.travel/home.

The UK is putting in a traffic light system for countries as we ease out of lockdown.

Greece is the answer to our prayers

And my favourites are all green-lighted for return:

Austria https://www.austria.info/en Barbados https://www.visitbarbados.org Croatia www.croatia.ie Germany https://www.germany.travel/en-mobile/index.html and Greece http://www.visitgreece.gr and https://athensattica.com are all go.

Out of quarantine

Translated that means returning travellers need not quarantine for 14 days.

I’m just glad Home Secretary Priti Patel finally listened to me.

Just swimmingly In Tenerife

You won’t have to be an amber gamblers either if you’re visiting a country on this list:

Australia, Belgium, Canada and Denmark France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Spain.

Or cycling in the French Pyrenees

The hit list

And there’s been more than a sprinkling of love from most of them… https://visitbelgium.com, https://visit-canada.ca, https://www.visitdenmark.com, https://about-france.com/visit-france.htm, http://www.italia.it/en/home.html, https://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm, www.visitportugal.com, www.myswitzerland.com and https://www.spain.info/en_GB/ https://www.spain.info/en/informacion-practica/oficinas-turismo-embajadas/turismo-exterior/oficina_de_turismo_en_dublin.html.

Bad luck though if you’re stopped at red:

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, India, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa and the US.

With the last two turning my clown into a frown.

Having set in train all my trips this year around these countries I’m having to make do with North Berwick beach these past couple of months.

Barbados hotpots

You see I don’t fancy much being one of half a million on Bournemouth beach.

Give me one of Barbados’s beaches, and I’m reminded now of a tub of chicken stew and bottles of Banks beers in Bathsheba, St Joseph East… Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Of course the beach is a Bajan’s dining room where the locals put up bars like we do brollies.

And where the flying fish jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

Fish of the day

There are many different varieties of cutters including liver, cheese, ham, egg and more.

Clubbing together: Club Barbados on the Platinum Coast

Or even easier are their fish cakes… do like a local and order a ‘bread and two’. On a bun.

The Bajans will be only too happy to show you how to cook up a treat…

And if you like it hot then here’s how they scare up a Pepper Pot… https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCUwplS8uhaieGiL_50XhJCg.

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying

Rainy Days and Songdays – Dancing Ian in Istanbul

A boat, a boogie, the Bosphorus and Bloomfield all came together a year ago.

I was reminded of that outing on the Bosphorus with Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com, www.visitistanbul.com and a group of Irish Travel’s finest.

Our host ramped up ABBA on the sound system and the strains of Dancing Queen carried all the way from Europe to Asia.

It makes you wonder how often Dancing Queen gets played around the world in the way a Beatles song is (every 30 seconds).

But I’d say it’s a lot… and even more in Eurovision Weekend https://eurovision.tv.

The Biz

All of which brings me to my good friends at Travel Biz www.travelbiz.ie.

The Biz kicked it all off with a Zoom Trade danceathon on Friday.

Before they handed it all over to Graham Norton.

And, of course, Graham did his usual sterling job as the BBC presenter with the link to the Netherlands https://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm www.iamsterdam.com.

It’s a country I love Pictures of Amsterdam and where the Contest would have been held.

The only thing missing on a digital night of celebration of all things Eurovision was the scoring.

And to cap it all off Bjorn shared the love in a live link.

If only he had seen Ian Bloomfield of Irish Travel Trade News www.ittn.ie strut his stuff!

And, of course, your favourite Bandanaman doing his Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy (A Man After Mudnight).

Abba Days are here again

And for the ultimate Abba experience see https://abbasite.com and https://abbathemuseum.com/en/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-Nrf1vi66QIV24BQBh1-XAfIEAAYASAAEgJEBfD_BwE. With Scandinavian Airlines https://www.flysas.com/en/.