America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe

International Women

International Women don’t you just love ’em? I even married one.

On today’s International Women’s Day a shout-out then to some of the international women who took me under their wing.

Of course, the international woman of mystery whose oxter always gives me shade is my own English rose.

Boss woman: Mum’s the word, and Sadie too

And there are many more women from our nearest neighbours in Travel who have guided me on my path than I have room here to mention.

Now if anything underscores this year’s message on International Women’s Day #BeattheBias it is the success of those who occupy the biggest positions in our trade.

And so ladies take a bow, I would be nothing without you… you are all worthy Bandanettes.

White knight

Power women: Bandanaman, Jo, Cathy and United Airlines’ Aoife

Organising my life is hard enough left to just one man which is why I leave that job to my aforementioned English rose.

But when you’re on your travels to the good old Oo Es of Eh you really do need someone on the ground.

And that someone is Jo White who heads up the UK & Ireland media delegation for the American Travel Fair.

I know I speak for all of us indulged travellers who have sought her out to help with dodgy dongles, accommodation and transfers.

And who have danced the night away to the best music acts put on by her American counterpart and fellow superstar Cathy Keefe Reynolds.

In return, all they ask is to promote America (you’re welcome) and in particular Washington DC, the Capital Region, Kissimmee, Florida, Oregon and Yukon chief among them.

Bates’ Hotel

Prize gal: Kate Bates

Now hosts have a right, nay an obligation, to enjoy the activities they put on for us.

And after Attraction Tickets’ Kate Bates had asked me for recommendations for our party to take on in Hollywood she’d have expected me to take part.

Alas, the generosity of a stranger (moi) to take a passenger’s ski bag meant I was out of commission.

For the day Kate, Jon, Helen and Heather trekked up to see the Hollywood sign, check out Warner Studios and go on a boat trip.

I did have more to write about my West Hollywood hotel though that day.

And I did bounce back to see old friends at Universal Studios the next day.

Ms Carter

Get Carter: Cheryl and Bim Jim

I love a strong woman, probably as I’m begotten of an Irish Mammy.

And in the Caribbean they don’t come much stronger than Cheryl Carter, Barbados’s Head of Global Markets.

One raised eyebrow will quickly remind you that there will be no going AWOL on her trip.

And so I was left in no doubt when I asked early leave from our dinner to hook up with my half-Scots/half-Trinidadian pal Jevan for Foreday Morning of my obligations.

To be ready for the next day’s activities.

Now what happens at Foreday Morning stays on Foreday Morning.

But when I turned up for our meeting with my leg gashed open I gritted my teeth… the rum through the day helped.

Cheryl is a Bajan through and through, firm, with a heart of gold and I was glad to be her patsy when the Bajans and Scots Travel trade met last year in Edinburgh.

Marsha law

Keep an eye on you: With SLM and Marsha in Tobago

If we’re honest no man likes to take orders (advice) from womenfolk.

But when that woman is the larger than life Marsha Patrick, of the Tobago Tourist board then you’re better just giving in to her.

And so when Marsha quizzed our little group on what occupied us outside work she found a real patsy in your Bandanaman.

Of course it was always going to be tough to follow proud Middlesbrough man and local football club archivist Anthony who only built his own house.

Marsha was less than impressed by my poetry prowess or goat racing ability.

‘Jim, you got no skills,’ she bellowed in her thick Tobagonian patois, rocking the mini-coach with her laughter.

A whole lotta Rosie

Toast of the Alps: Rosie Barcroft

One of the best qualities of women is how forgiving they can be.

And Rosie Barcroft has certainly led the way there after I almost brought the roof down in Switzerland.

Waking late, I’d taken a quick shower before hooking up with a by now impatient park for our trek through the Alps.

Trouble was ahead though when I got back to the hotel.

And I was greeted by a stern hotel owner who informed me that the water had seeped into the breakfast room.

Whether I’d be welcome back in that Interlaken hotel is another question but miraculously the Swiss still come calling.

And even when one wonderful ambassador departs (Sara Roloff for Japan) another old pal Vive La Fran Lambert decamps from Normandy.

Most importantly Rosie is still on side and we’ll be skiing in Val d’Isere later this month.

I’ll be showering outside this time.

Of course, all international women should be celebrated, and not least Daddy’s Little Girl.

And I’m happy to do so.. here’s to you International Women.

 

Countries, Deals, Europe, UK

Strain of Britain’s trains

Holidos and don’ts goes off track (what’s new there?) with a vent on a national disgrace… the strain of Britain’s trains.

I mean it shouldn’t be this expensive to attend a Christmas party in London.

It’s not as if you’re circumventing the globe.

I mean, it’s only a 403-mile expedition between the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, and the English/British capital.

And just four hours, 40 minutes on the old hail and rain.

Train drain

Rail downer: It’s Bean and gone

But book a train for a fortnight’s time, Thursday, December 16, on LNER to go out midmorning (10am) and get an overnighter (12.05).

And it’ll set you back £145.10 if you’re lucky enough to get the few remaining special offer tickets before they’re swallowed up.

And your bed for the night for your 10hr 13mins trip Sir/Madam is a cramped seat.

Plane savings

Take it Easy: Easier by plane

Compare that with a flight out with EasyJet for those dates and you’ll get change out of £100.

Still dear, yes, but why cheaper than the train.

Alternatively you can take the coach.

Now a detour here down Memory Lane when I took an overnighter down to London and back.

I’ll reach you by coach

Coach me if you can: Topdeck

For a Topdeck Munich Beerfest reunion.

My sole motivation was to renew a holiday romance with a South Australian, Di.

Only she didn’t turn up at our Leicester Square rendezvous.

But did turn up on the night with her Scottish boyfriend.

Still, it wasn’t the coach’s fault… and I’d take it again.

There are, of course, new transport businesses on the road and new booking platforms.

Omio way to go

With Matteo in Bergamo Alto

Omio are now the way to go.

As I found out the last time I circumvented our politicians’ Travelstapo curbs on us going to the continent and visited Bergamo.

And I’ve done the homework for you here too for getting around the UK and brought you a return coach trip Edinburgh to London for £44.12.

And you’ll save in not having to book a hotel room with two nine-and-a-half hourer overnighters on the bus.

The train refrain

Bandanaman and the Bandanettes In Denver

So the bandana and the man stayed home while my Croatian friends had their Christmas party in the Embassy in London.

All within the restrictions too if our one- law-for-us government is watching.

So what then do I do with the sell from HolidayPirates survey.

It says that more than three in four Brits would travel by train if there were more direct destinations and connections.

Whether it’s some post-Brexit British is best loyalty to our trains or whether it’s always been a misplaced patriotism.

Swiss trains

Comfort: Swiss trains

But for anyone who has travelled on subsidised continental trains like in Switzerland will testify they’re cheaper, more efficient and faster.

Guess though we’ll keep buying our government sell and keep putting up with the strain of Britain’s trains.

America, Asia, Countries, Europe

Submariners and life under the sea

You been keeping Vigil these nights and got to thinking about abut submariners and life under the sea.

Well thankfully we don’t have to plunge the depths to get a sense of what submariners had to go through.

I’m sure there’s one sitting down in the port near you…. or somewhere in your country.

New York Up Periscope

Depth charge

I stumbled upon mine in New York as a ticket in my CityPass book.

And I spent a couple of hours out of the Manhattan heatwave at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

Walking through the cramped USS Growler with others.

And ducking your head through the doorways gives you a sense of the challenges these subterraneans faced.

Without of course seeing the sky for weeks on end and worrying that you could get blown up at any minute.

Of course Manhattan has the advantage of being an island surrounded by water.

Jordan jumps

Get back in: The Red Sea

But you can find submarine anywhere even landlocked countries as long as they’ve got a stretch of water.

And so in Jordan on my G Adventures trip they have the Dead and the Red Sea.

Now I’m no scientist but would the sub not float to the salty surface… this sub(editor) certainly did.

But the Jordanians did drop a submarine in the Red Sea to encourage marine life (and snorkelers) to swim through.

Now, while we’ve all been hibernating they’ve been up periscoping in places we wouldn’t expect.

Swiss subs

Swiss dip: On Lake Lucerne

Such as Switzerland, bang in the middle of Europe.

So let our Swiss friends take it away just like they took me away with Swiss Air.

‘Dive into the mystical darkness deep below the surface and glide weightlessly through adventure-filled underwater worlds..

‘Visitors can explore old wrecks in Lake Lucerne on an unforgettable dive.

‘Go to depths of up to 120 metres in Switzerland’s only passenger submarine.

The P-63

Tourist ahoy: In Lake Lucerne

The P-63 submarine is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and safety systems.

‘And it offers passenger trips for one to three people.’

 

Countries, Culture, Europe

World Poetry Day and foreign fields

There was an award-winning editor Murty (and try to keep it clean) and while you’re at it I’ll give you some thoughts on World Poetry Day and corners of some foreign fields.

My own holiest of holies is Alloway in Scotland where our national bard Robert Burns, who inspired everyone from William Wordsworth to Bob Dylan, grew up.

For the world, there is to misquote Rupert Brooke a corner of some foreign field which is forever poetry.

War poetry

War memories: The Somme

I wish the sea were not so wide

that parts me from my love,

I wish the things men do below

were known to God above.

I wish that I were back again

in the Glens of Donegal;

they’ll call me coward if I return,

but a hero if I fall.’

PATRICK MACGILL – LONDON IRISH REGIMENT
(INSCRIPTION ON MEMORIAL STONE AT ISLAND OF IRELAND PEACE PARK, MESSINES)

And no Patrick MacGill hasn’t gone down in history and exam questions like Wilfred Owen for his thoughts on World War I.

But in their darkest hour soldiers have penned some of the most stirring words which will bring a lump to the throat of anyone who sees where they fell which of course you can see on a World War Battlefields Tour.

The Road to Rome

Soothe your feet: On the road to Rome

When silence falls, things start talking,
stones, animals, plants become brothers and sisters.
And they tell us what we cannot see.’

ERNST JUNGER, SIGN IN ETRUSCAN TOWER IN FORMELLO ON THE VIA FRANCIGENA

Not sure how it sounds in his native German or if it’s even poetry.

I’m a traditionalist who likes my poems to rhyme as those who will have seen me at the Edinburgh Fringe can testify.

But it struck the right note on the Via Francigena, on the 100km walk into Rome.

Byron’s Swiss lair

Byron’ back yard

 

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
A society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

LORD BYRON, CHILDE HAROLD

And it was to Interlaken and the Eiger in Switzerland where Lord Byron, who was up to his neck in society gossip over his private life, took exile.

Byron was considered ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ and was a real rock’n’roller of his time.

But his poetry was amongst the most beautiful of all time which is probably why he was such a hit with the ladies.

This passage though shows that Byron was a man ahead of his time with this love song to nature and appeal to protect our environment.

All of which I’ll reflect on as I read some of the best poetry around (mine) and think of World Poetry Day and corners of some foreign fields.

Culture, Europe

Frankenstein Day and a Swiss Miss

For the day that’s in it I’m scaring up a tale to do justice to Frankenstein Day and a Swiss Miss.

Or maybe not a Swiss Miss, more a very English lady.

Grand Swiss Miss: The ageless Brigitte

But one who made her mark on popular culture when penning Frankenstein in Geneva, Switzerland in 1816.

Mary emerged from her writer husband Percy Bysshe’s shadow.

With one of the greatest gothic horror histories of all.

Rainy day in Geneva

Will this rain never stop?

And all to fill a rainy day in the Swiss city.

When the television was obviously on the blink and they wrote ghostie stories.

It’s lost to the mists of time what Perce and Lord Byron, who were also there, wrote but Mary created a monster of a book and franchise.

The stunning backdrop of Geneva and indeed Switzerland is ideal to get the imagination going.

Chill: You can make your own Monster out of Lego

And it inspired Byron when he was exiled from polite society because he was ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’.

This being a family site we won’t go into why, only to say you can take sibling affection too far.

Laud Byron

Dr Frankenstein: Gene Wilder’s masterly portrayal

I followed old Byron out to Interlaken.

And the Eiger and dined where the great poet stayed.

Being a man of letters, I too came back inspired by the scenery, the mountains and the Swhiskey.

Heidi hi

Holy Cow: It’s beautiful

Another actual Swiss Miss, Heidi, ran around the mountains with goatherd Peter in the iconic Swiss book of them all.

And maybe it’s all that fresh air but you’ll find too that whatever their age the Swiss Misses can glide over those mountains at valley.

As I found when superannuated superhero Brigitte left me for dust on our hike through the Alps.

And all the time yodelling as she went.

So so for the day that’s in it, and all days, here’s to Frankenstein Day and a Swiss Miss.

 

Caribbean, Countries, Europe

Italia und Deutschland

They’ve been wanting to welcome us back, and now they can… bella bella et Wunderbar Italia und Deutschland.

Italy and Germany are heading up a tranche of countries green-listed for us to visit again.

That also includes two of my other go-to countries Austria and Switzerland.

Ciao now Bergamo

Buon Giorno Bergamo

That Italy should be leading the way is reward for the efforts they have made in the last year and a half.

The good people of Bergamo have a claim to the title of huggiest people you’ll meet.

Having got into the Guinness Book of Records just five years ago.

When 11,460 Bergamaschi embraced each other, and that’s 5730 couples.

Huggy bears

Atalanta fans: With Matteo in Betgamo

All of which is revealed in the council offices, an antidote to the heavy subject of Covid, which I was there to discuss with the Tourism Minister.

And isn’t it refreshing to count in cuddles than casualties?

It is, of course, what we miss in these days of restricted engagement when we travel.

And so when I wanted to hug my host Matteo for his friendship after we said Ciao we knew we could only elbow.

Give us a cuddle

My Swiss Miss: In Interlaken

Which used to be what you did when you wanted to get rid of somebody.

Now the peoples of some countries seem to be able to get by without the need for physical contact.

My hugginess then is probably more my Irish than my Scottish half.

Sometimes a smile a clink of glasses and a Prost with your eyes fixed on each other.. a la Germany, the Austrians and the Swiss.

Caribbean dreams

My Tobagonian pals: Auntie Ali, Uncle Kenneth

But quite how my Bajan and Tobagonian pals will get by without enfolding each other in their arms…

I haven’t had the chance to see for myself.

For now I have my sights set again on Italia und Deutschland.

I’ll be back then as soon as I can to throw my arms around Bergamo.

 

 

America, Countries, Culture

A flight of fancy on Superman’s Day

And doesn’t he still look good for 87… it’s a flight of fancy on Superman’s Day.

This day in 1934 The Man of Steel burst into public consciousness in DC Comics’ Action Comics Series issue #1.

As we all know Kryptonite Kal-El exploded into the Mid-American wheat fields if Smallsville.

Only it wasn’t Kansas in the Oo Es of Eh but Beynon, near Calgary in Alberta in Canada.

A man can fly

Top man: Superman

The Beynon Canyon is pivotal in the Clark Kent story.

It is here that Martha and Clark bury his adopted father Jonathan and the young Kent decides to leave for Metropolis.

Another better-known canyon, the Grand Canyon, hoves into view when Superman saves the day.

And Daily Planet photographer Jimmie Olsen from the crumbling Hoover Dam. And trust me a good Press photographer is hard to find.

On the right track

The Rail Thing http://www.imdb.com

We all know too that Superman flew through the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

While Metropolis we all automatically associate with New York.

How could we not when Clark and Lois go for a night-time spin around the Statue of Liberty?

And we would be right to see NY as Supes’ town… in parts.

Dam impressive

The Hoover Dan set up. http://www.superman1978.com

The Daily Planet where Clark works can be found at the art deco News Building, 220 East 42nd Street.

Moved, though, from the Los Angeles City Hall, 200 North Spring Street. Yes, La La Land.

Lex Luthor’s lair we are led to believe is below the Grand Central Station although whisper it it is Pinewood Studios, Berkshire in England.

Superman’s origins may lie somewhere entirely different, the Eiger in Switzerland and Friedrich Neitzsche’s imagination.

Man of Letters

Is it a Bird? No, it’s Bandanaman in Orlando

Of course we have all channeled our own Superman on the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride at Universal Orlando.

Before back to work as the pictures show.

And as then as now… of course Superman is a man of letters too, a journalist.

So I’ll continue to be inspired by The Man of Steel and enjoy a flight of fancy on Superman’s Day.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Alps, Autry and America

High on a hill was a lonely goatherd, Lae Ee Od Lay Ee Od Lay Hee Hoo – The Sound of Music

And who hasn’t yodelled when they’ve found themselves in the foothills of the Alps? I know I hodelay-hodelay-hodelayhee-have.

Although we couldn’t get superstar septuagenarian and amateur yodeller Brigitte to clear her throat when she took us walking above Interlaken in Switzerland.

Yodel eh? In Austria

We did though get awesome octogenarian Arthut, or Ehrwald Presley as I coined him, doing his verbal gymnastics last year on our Top Flight for Schools trip.

Before the night ascended into an Irish wedding-type hooley.

Now your favourite music on our travels column has been over yodelling before in this series.

But on the occasion of 60 years of the Irish Austrian Society which we’ll celebrate tonight let’s explore how yodelling was carried on the wind around the world.

Gene genie

Gene’s gaffe: The Angels at Anaheim

If you’re of a certain age, or if you’re versed in cowboy movies, you’ll know all about Gene Autry.

The Singing Cowboy, who hit the heights from the Thirties through to the Sixties.

And became such a big star that he even bought himself a baseball team in 1961, the Angels, who in their current iteration are the LA Angels.

Playing for the jersey: Gene Autry, the Angel

Gene may be 22 years gone (an angel for ever now) this month.

But not, nor will he ever be forgotten, in Anaheim

There is a shrine to him at Angels stadium which you can visit ahead of a game.

The Angels held Gene in such high regard that they added him to the roster and then retired the No.26 number.

Hodelayhee-Home Run.

Yodelling meets Blues

Jimmie, Jimmie: Jimmie Rogers. www.countrymusichalloffame.org

Yodelling may have its roots in the Alps but the Americans bluesed it up with the likes of Jimmie Rogers.

And as we all know America, and particularly the Deep South us where music went into a big melting pot.

It gave us, Jazz, Blues, Country, Elvis and Soul.

And, to think it all started with a lonely goatherd, hee-hoo.

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Music, UK

Cuba – Viva La Evolucion

Were the Vandals and the Pariahs really as bad as we’ve turned them into?

The Vandals, who hailed from the Danube area of Central Europe have been blackened by history.

But were these well-dressed military men really any more destructive than the others who invaded Classic Rome?

Outcasts or misunderstood?

While the Pariahs used to beat the drum from which they got their name and had magical powers before things turned.

All of which ramblings brings me onto how modern outcast states can be pilloried by being tagged a pariah state.

Mind you, while a country can be rubbished with this mantle there can also be retribution.

In the pink: Cuba

And in these crazy days the British Government has given the thumbs-up to Cuba in its latest national profiling exercise.

Otherwise known as the exempt list.

And so more of my favourites, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Jamaica are outah here and Cuba are in.

Music everywhere

Now like us all I have my preconceptions of Cuba, their Fifties classic cars, rumba, cigars and Castro.

And my friends have been urged by all I know who tell me I must continue my Caribbean education there.

Unmistakably Havana

And with my projected next destinations, the Czech Republic and Switzerland (doncha just know it?) now made pariah states by the UK it’s time for a rethink.

I’m reminded too that I have got close to Havana in that I visited San Cristobal de La Laguna in Tenerife on which Havana was based.

And check out these guys for best deals… https://www.audleytravel.com/cuba?

So Cuba, I’m swaying my hips here… quiero bailar la salsa.

Now are you listening out there?

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, UK

Flyday Friday: Tobago no-go and what a Swiss swizz!

Any Port in a storm… and the UK’s newscasters are all aflutter now Portugal has earned a place on the exempt list.

Although my old pals in Tobago are now off limits as are the Croatians (flagged here) while the Greeks thankfully have had a stay of execution.

Quite what the Swiss have done to annoy the Scots who have unilaterally shut the country down is anybody’s guess…

As welcome as getting Portugal back (and not a moment too soon) it begs the question why not the others too?

Testing times

The answer is here

And this is where airport testing would open up our borders again.

Our Travel Agents association here in Scotland, the SPAA (Scottish Passenger Agents Association) which is the oldest in the world, are pushing for its introduction.

But they, and airports, seem to be pushing against a closed door

Our airlines thankfully are continuing to keep routes open and are leaving the decision up to us adults.

Not so splendid isolation

And you’ll have a whole coastline to yourself

Whether we want to self-isolate when we get back.

Although for many who can’t remote work then that will mean a loss of earnings.

Spare a thought too for holidaymakers stuck out in one of the newly banned countries.

Who are having to pay inflated air prices to get home in time before the quarantine kicks in.

One traveller told of his experience in trying to get back to the UK from Croatia.

They won’t be stopped

Ryanair cut to the chase

Which would have involved him making his way across to Italy first and shelling out £450.

In the middle of all this madness Ryanair are still offering cut-price single deals.

Including Pula in Croatia and at a bunch of destinations across Spain from €9.99.

Aer Lingus go green (naturally)

And my friends, the Aer Lingus crew

Ireland’s national airline Aer Lingus carrier knows what sacrifices the public are making.

Which is why they’re making green list countries Greece and Italy even more attractive… if that’s possible.

And so they offer Athens, Rome, Venice and a host of other Italian delights and Greek gifts from €39.99 from Dublin.