America, Countries

Seven Dwarfs go Florida

And as we look forward to next year’s remake of the Disney classic Snow White, what about Seven Dwarfs go Florida?

Suppose it makes sense with the Sunshine State being home to Mickey, The Donald and all our Disney faves.

Of course, hi-ho, hi-hard-working miners need a break too.

And where do they go?

Well, Gamble Place, Port Orange, an hour north of New Smyrna Beach and Orlando.

And which is as you all know is where I should be now.

Worth a Gamble

House about that: The Seven Dwarfs Cottage

Gamble is, of course, that Gamble, of Gamble & Procter fame.

Included in the National Register of Historic Places, Gamble Place was once a rural retreat owned by James N. Gamble.

Guests can step back in time to experience the same pristine environment he found so inviting during the late 1800s.

The 175-acre nature reserve features a “Florida cracker-style” house named “Egwanulti” (a Native American word meaning “by the water”).

And the Citrus Packing House, the only one currently in existence in its original location in Florida.

A mine of information

Ya dancer: Snow White and her pals

But I digress, you want to know about the replica of the Seven Dwarfs Cottage.

And a Witch’s Hut and Dwarfs’ Mine Shaft too.

Now the Snow White remake has illicited a bit of a Woke reaction, fronted by one of the world’s most vertically-challenged actors.

Peter Dinklage (Elf, Game of Thrones, Cyrano) called the producers ‘f****** backwards’ for including dwarfs in the remake.

I guess he would object too at them being forced too work well into their Nineties.

Not to mention the damage mining does to the climate.

And this from someone who built his career on his dwarf character in GoT.

Warwick’s world

We dig this: The dwarfs

I take my lead more from the likes of Warwick Davies who as a dwarf sent up the challenges of dwarfism in Ricky Gervais’s Life’s Too Short.

And who is a fixture around Universal Orlando.

And who the Orlandans remember fondly from when he and the supersized Robbie Coltrane visited at the construction of Harry Potter World.

Now that brings us all full circle back to Orlando and the American Travel Fair, IPW.

We’ll gloss over the fact that they went ahead with it at all when they knew I couldn’t make it.

Our American friends

A little bit of love: Snowy’s favourite

Still, we’ll all be together again next year, God willing, in San Antonio, Texas.

And some of us before then at the US Soiree in Dublin next month.

For now though, hi-ho, it’s off to work we all go, me at my desk, while The Seven Dwarfs go Florida.

 

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Food

One’s a pancake and the other’s crepe

So for the day that’s in it a deep dive into why one’s a pancake and the other’s crepe.

The infantile smirking of English-speaking schoolboys at the similarities between human refuse and the continental delicacy aside it’s worth restating.

That pancakes are made with a leavening/raising agent such as baking powder while crepes do not.

Crepes are traditionally made with buckwheat flour.

All of which is just a roundabout way of flagging up this old dosser’s favourite pancake places and the crepe de la crepe of their near cousins.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

Minnie break: With Minnie in Orlando

My, oh my, what a beautiful day that was, and is, in the Disney Four Seasons Resort Hotel in Orlando.

When Mickey, Minnie and Goofy bounce into breakfast.

And greet you over the top of the mountain of pancakes you are scaling.

And for snow effects you can go for icing sugar.

I prefer an avalanche of golden lava syrup.

Pancakes on the sea

You’re twisting my melons, man: Get me some pancakes

Flippin ‘eck, those cruise holiday buffets with Celebrity Cruises off Florida.

And the racks of pancakes you just can’t pass over.

Even if you have just hoovered up every cut of meat brought onto the ark.

And don’t be fooled by the fruit in the picture… that’s just for show.

A Dutch too much

Merci bien: The crepes

Now the Amsterdammers often have a special ingredient which lifts their crepes, and you, to a higher plane.

I don’t know what they had on theirs that freezing November day when the-then Miss F took me on a magical mystery tour.

After we found ourselves at a fork in the road and took the long way to Edam only to find it was their half day.

I reckon though I had cheese though maybe it was the sprinkles that made it a high old time in Old Amsterdam.

Nutty about Nutella

Spread it on: Nutella on your crepe

And for many the go-to spread for a crepe is Nutella but did you know that it is from Alba in Piedmont in the north of Italy.

It is, of course, a hazelnut spread but it also has 20 per cent palm oil.

You’re never far from either in Italy particularly when you’re hiking through the Lazio region on your way to Rome.

On your Via Francigena pilgrimage and you get stuck in an olive grove looking for small sticker signposts to La Citta Eterna.

Pancakes and crepes

Sweet: Pour the syrup on

So today being Shrove Tuesday, it is of course about pancakes.

Because that was the day back when we were all holier that you used up your eggs, milk, and sugar before your Lenten fast.

And around the world people will be munching, flipping, racing, getting dressed up and dancing (Mardi Gras in New Orleans).

I can’t vouch how good crepes are for flipping or racing but they are celebrated too on February.

La Chandeleur

Cut to the chase: The pancakes

 

By the French (you didn’t think we’d get through this without them).

National Crepe Day, or La Chandeleur, is a celebration that originated in the Land of the Gauls.

And it also originated in the Catholic church, landing exactly 40 days after the celebration of Christmas.

So yes, we are celebrating Pancake Tuesday today, but a word too for the not-so-humble crepe.

Yes, one’s a pancake and the other’s crepe.

 

Caribbean, Cruising, Europe

Royal Caribbean wonders never cease

It’s one of the most common questions I’m asked… what are cruise ships really like, and of course they’re wonderful and Royal Caribbean wonders never cease.

And now that we’re all getting back on the water the most exciting news of all is that RC has taken possession of the world’s largest cruise ship Wonder of the Seas.

From the building yard of Chantiers d l’Atlantique shipyard in France, where the big ships are built.

Seeing the wood and the trees

Everything in the cruise garden is… Royal Caribbean

Among the stat attack that is obligatory with cruise ships, it can sometimes be difficult to see the wood for the trees.

And yes they have trees too as I found out a few years ago in Barcelona with Oasis.

The ship that is, not the band, though I dare say RC could get them to reform.

But there are eight neighbourhoods!

Some might sea

Riding the waves: With Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas is the fifth instalment of RC’s Oasis class (where has the time gone?)

Now what’s 8,000 gross registered tonnes between ships when you get to 236,857 which is the weight of Wonder?

It’s 1,188ft long and 210ft wide, and as with most long distances I compare them with athletics distances.

And that means nearly a mile long and more than half a track broad.

Plenty of space then for the near 7.000 passengers the 2,300 crew cater for which by my reckoning is three staff for every person on board.

Florida sun

The future’s bright: Fort Lauderdale

Now from one cruise capital to another and RC will make its official sailing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where you can forget about north Europe’s Storm Malik, and soak in the sun.

All of which I did, of course, on RC’s sister Celebrity Cruises and Celebrity Edge.

Where every guest is treated just like that, a Celebrity.

I did though take some of the attention off Alesha Dixon, Julien Macdonald and Malala on that maiden journey.

Wonder sails out of FL in March, starting with seven-night cruises to the Caribbean.

Fun on the seas: With Wonder of the Sea

Before heading to Barcelona and later Rome with its summer cruises season.

Yes, we’re all getting back on the seas… and you should too as Royal Caribbean wonders never cease.

America, Countries, Ireland

An American-Irish Thanksgiving in Dublin

It probably wasn’t like this for the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1421… but I’ll more than take An American-Irish Thanksgiving in Dublin.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, masks, double dose certificates at the Radisson Blu Royal.

And certainly not what the Pilgrims laid before the natives…

Dried meat and fish, grains and flour, dried foot, cheese and hard biscuits.

Chow on chowder

Catch of the day: chowder

Thankfully culinary fashions have changed and we dined on New England chowder, mini burgers and wings.

All the time listening to the band belting out American standards.

And taking a tour of America, around the stands, from New England, Washington DC, Georgia and Florida.

Right across the Mid-West (Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah).

And over to my old friends in California.

Flying time

Fly the flag: Aer Lingus

And you’ve got it… Aer Lingus and British Airways were there (are there) to take us back.

Now that the borders are open again.

Now like a kid in a candy shop the difficult thing is what to choose first.

Our American Travel Fair resumes in Florida in May.

Orlando, woah, woah, woah

Minnie brwak: Minnie and me

So all roads lead there… to Orlando.

Now if the Pilgrims thought that New England was a good enough starting point to explore the New World who am I to disagree.

The eastern seaboard collection of states and commonwealths I know well from a summer in Boston after university and day trips to New Hampshire.

Connect with Connecticut

Making his Mark: Mark Twain

But I’m grateful here to Sue from Connecticut for clueing me in on her state.

You might be familiar with Mark Twain name-checking it in his time-travelling tome A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur.

And you’ll find everything you want to know about the Great American and his great creations Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in his museum here.

And also take in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house and get a glimpse of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

She’d be known today as HBS but back in the day to Abraham Lincoln she was ‘the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.’

It’s a rich old history and one I can’t wait to add to in 2022.

But for now it’s enough to acknowledge my dear old friends and embrace (with an elbow nudge) my new ones.

With an American-Irish Thanksgiving in Dublin.

 

Adventure, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, UK

Craig Sera Sera

Craig Sera Sera, that’s a wrap from the 12th Bond.. and he’ll sure miss those exotic missions.

So which countries has 007 visited most, other than England where he works?

Well of the 50 he’s been to, Italia would seem to have been his favourite with the spy having touched down in Il Bel Paese eight times. 

Pasta Master

Venice: And let’s catch a gondola back to Padova

Rome, Venice and Como have inevitably been stick-on locations for any filmmaker and international man of mystery.

And this time it’s the European City of Culture for 2019, Matera, which is getting its place in the sun this time. 

With its houses. built into caves, cobbled streets and high arches a dramatic backdrop for the opening scenes.

And Felice Giorni for Matera with the town’s mayor, Raffaello De Ruggieri, predicting its association with Bond will be worth $20 million to the local economy.

In truth this is probably the highpoint of the movie, and all before the credits and Billie Eilish’s disappointing dirge of a soundtrack.

As Daddy’s Little Girl rightly pointed out the best bits were the locales. 

Live and Let Spy

Love a duck: At Epcot Centre, Florida

With Britain and America enjoying that much feted special relationship it is unsurprising that The Oo Es of Eh is his next favourite stop-off.

And we particularly enjoy his forays into Florida and its keys… whose pleasures I had to put off on the outbreak of Covid but where I intend to fulfil just as soon as.

Ski another day

Like an Alpine skier: In the Austrian Tyrol

Next up might be less predictable, Austria, but then we have to remember its stunning snowscapes and Bond’s love of winter sports which of course we share.

Although we have never seen him on the slopes of Soll while we have enjoyed skiing alongside some dapper fancied-dressed folks.

And we look forward to seeing a penguin-suited Bond on the piste some time soon.

For Bond anoraks it’s an easy question but which is the only country in a film title?

The spy who came in from the Red

Dance away: Russia

Yes, the old Soviet Union, or Russia as we knew it in shorthand.

And as well as the titular film From Russia With Love, Bond turns up in Fabergeland another three times.

Turkish crossroads

Hamam bam: Istanbul

It has been the crossroads for espionage since first the first looked out over each other at either side of the Bosphorus.

And, of course, Istanbul, has been an ideal backdrop for Bond’s adventures… and yours, and mine with three films taking in Turkey’s biggest city.

Three’s a charm

Limber up: The next Bond?

And among those countries where Bond has a trio of visits is Hong Kong, Spain, the Bahamas, Scotland, his homeland and Jamaica where Ian Fleming penned the books.

And the West Indies’ biggest island is where we first fell in love with Bond on the Laughing Waters beach in Ocho Rios.

Or Sean Connery to be more precise, even if you were a red-blooded bloke, you actually wanted to be him.

Wear a swimsuit: Craig as Bond

And be with Ursula Andress.

There was much fuss too about Daniel Craig with his take on coming out of the water, ripped and in a pair of budgie smugglers.

Only thing is a budgie has more charisma.

Craig Sera Sera… whatever will be, will be.

 

 

 

America, Countries, Ireland, Music, UK

Donald Duck Day is a quacker

Eider expect your party is in full swing already because… Donald Duck Day is a quacker.

Our beloved Donald first waddled onto our screens on this day back in The Wise Little Hen.

And oh boy, oh boy, oh boy… we’ve been loving his company ever since.

The Four Cabbaleros

I first met The Original Donald when another was trying to steal his shade back in November 2018.

He Disney half look good

Donald was wintering where we all want to make for, Florida.

While, of course, Donald has homes all over the world.

I am not worthy

And I followed him from Orlando to Anaheim.

And danced away with the Three Caballeros.

Of course while today is about the Donald I’ve taken my duck fun wherever I find it.

The Duckmaster

So when the Duckmeister invited us to the Duck Parade in Memphis, well I was there in double quack time.

Rib a dub duck

I’ve been hooting my quacker today, lining up my Northern Ireland Hastings ducks in a row and getting ready for my party.

So don that duck suit, waddle around the house and watch your Donald Duck films.

Me? Being of the Scottish variety be celebrating with my people, the McDuck clan.

The McDucks are, of course, from a rich lineage going back to the ancestral home of Dismal Downs.

Near the village of MacDuich somewhere in Rannoch Moor.

The McDucks

With the main duck on The Walk of Fame

We owe it all to the union of Hortense McDuck and Quackmore Duck and gave us the genius creation of Scrooge McDuck.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I’ll get a smile out of old Scrooge.

On this day because Donald Duck Day is a quacker.

 

America, Countries, Cruising

Edging closer to getting back on the seas

For some it’s the fanciest hotel, for others an exclusive resort, for us it’s a ship on the ocean…. we’re edging closer to getting back on the seas.

Our friends at Celebrity Cruises have brought us joyous news with this teaser about their flagship Celebrity Edge.

Edge will be the first Celebrity ship to sail from the US since March 2020.

Happy Days

We’ll be in the capable hands of Captain Kate departing on June 26.

And Europe too

Now we’ll take any shores just now and if you’re European then Celebrity have got this continent covered too.

Celebrity Apex is sailing to the Greek islands from Athens.

Tortoises anyone?

While further afield those giant Galapagos tortoises aren’t going anywhere but you could be.

On Celebrity Cruises’ Edge

There are three expedition ships all scheduled to resume services in the coming months.

So we’re edging closer to getting back on the seas.

Next question, what gives Edge, well the Edge?

Well in a word ‘luxury’. And in another couple its unique moving tender.

Let’s play on the tender slide

A memory stick in the shape of the ship sits on my terminal so that I can drift off to my days and nights on the inaugural cruise.

From Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas.

A touch of Scotland

Here are the unprofessional pics taken by your unprofessional cruiser (well, you have to)!

Mind you, I was the one who turned in early while the rest of our party took to the dance floor on our last night.

The cruise gang

There were some sights the next morning although the gorgeous Alesha Dixon didn’t have a hair out of place.

And I got the benefits as I was ship-shape for my day in Miami before I flew home… to get lost.

But that’s another story.

Edging closer to getting back on the seas? I’m already there in my head.

 

America, Countries, Culture, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – Reagan, The Gipper and the Super Bowl

Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush will be watching the Super Bowl on a cloud up there shouting ‘One more win for the Gipper’.

Ronnie’s most famous acting role, other than as the 40th President of the USA, was as Notre Dame great George ‘The Gipper’ Gipp in the 1940 film Knucke Rockne, All American.

And like all the best method actors he even took it into his own life off the screen, adopting the persona in his political campaigning.

As we mark Reagan’s birthday today (he would have been 110) we can look forward too to the Super Bowl tomorrow too.

It features the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

And while nobody is saying Ronnie was a Patrick Mahomes nor Tom Brady, he had some American football acumen having turned out as a lineman for Eureka College in his native Illinois.

And like both he boasted Irish heritage.

Ronald Reagan’s Irish heritage remembered in his Library

The Great Communicator made California his home, of course.

And that’s where you’ll find him now, and where everything Reagan related is kept at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. in Simi Valley 40 miles from Downtown Los Angeles.

Keepers of the Reagan flame

Just like Ronnie himself, the keepers of the Reagan flame are charm personified as I soon discovered at the American Travel fair, IPW.

And like the best friends they always stay in touch.

The good folk at the Library have put on a virtual event which does justice to the Great Man, livestreamed on YouTube at 12.30pm Pacific/3.30pm Eastern.

Portrait of the Great Man

The commemoration includes brief remarks, a three-volley salute, musical entertainment, and the laying of the Presidential Wreath on President Reagan’s gravesite.

A word or two from Ronnie

Of course as it should be Ronnie, his life, achievements (and remember he oversaw an economic boom and helped end the Cold War), and words are to the fore.

His old office: A replica of the Oval Office

True to the wit of the man, the Library has adapted a famous story from his life to mark the 110th in their spiel for the Big Day.

‘President Reagan would have joked that it is the 71st anniversary of his 39th birthday. As President Reagan quipped on his 73rd birthday ”Even though this is the 34th anniversary of my 39th birthday, those numbers don’t faze me at all. I believe Moses was 80 when God first commissioned him for public service. And I also remember something that Thomas Jefferson once said. He said, ”We should never judge a President by his age, only by his works.” And ever since he told me that, I’ve stopped worrying.’

And someone else who fills out the seat of office

Ronnie’s distinguished Vice President and a future President himself, George HW Bush spoke emotionally at the Republic Convention in honour of his great friend in 2004.

He’s up there somewhere

When he exorted the audience by saying ‘this time we can truly win one for the Gipper.’

George HW Bush passed away a couple of years ago when I was in his adopted state of Florida.

I saw then the affection then in which he, and ex-Presidents, are held there and across the country.

So tomorrow, whoever wins, let’s here the clarion call: ‘Just one more win for the Gipper.’

 

 

 

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

WTM Holiday Snaps and a beautiful wrap Donald

And the last word is from Donald, a bit of a scoop from your favourite Travel blog.

While the rest of the world has been trying to talk to the Big Mouth we got him… well, we are old pals.

And Donald has a message for the world: ‘I love you all and I want you all to come and see me again soon in America.’

The Happiest Place on Earth is now also the Safest on Earth with reservations, social distancing, alternate rollercoast carts and new hospitality measures.

While Mickey, Minnie, Donald and the Gang aren’t about to let the virus turn their smile into a smell.

And are dancing, waving and welcoming us all in their own inimitable way.

Watch this space for new Disney features coming along soon.

While Visit Orlando also flagged up what’s happening up at Universal Orlando and particularly their Jurassic World feature.

All of which, and SeaWorld and Busch Gardens I’ll give you a taster of what’s in store… in my rollercoaster whizz around Florida.

Golden vision: Florida Kets

I had all planned to take a whizz around the Florida Keys before the other Donald closed America off in March but hope to put that right when I get the chance.

And it’s those areas with natural distancing like the Keys and island nations (and yes a lesson here to the UK and Ireland too) who have an advantage.

Sail away in Croatia

Water wonderland

And when you’ve got 1200 islands then there’s ‘one for everyone in the audience.’

As they like to say in the world’s longest-running TV chat show, Ireland’s The Late Late Show, or whatever the Croatian equivalent is.

But here is a country which, as a Balkans state, dealt better than the rest of Europe with the virus.

And which is perfectly placed to host the tourist’s new requirements during and post-Covid.

One area is in small boat holidays and yachting around the islands, another adventure in the Great Outdoors.

Kayak attack: In Croatia

My go-to people in Ireland for Croatia are Croatia Tours, and I went on pilgrimage with them to neighbouring Bosnia & Herzegovina where I started out on the road to Dubrovnik.

They have a seven-days Rivers by the Sea package, making the most of where the area where the Krka River enters the Adriatic, on June 26 £1255pp.

Where you’ll get to sea kayak, cycle, canoe, rock climb, hike and raft.

The Tuscan Islands

And Firenze too

We’ll also be spreading our wings more next year even when we do visit our favourite cities.

And that’ll help hotspots like Firenze breathe as we explore greater Tuscany, its adventure trails, cycling opportunities and thermal waters.

And its seven islands, chief among them Elba, the first island of exile for Napoleon, and Montecristo, it of Alexandre Dumas’ Count.

Able was I ere I saw Elba.

As every schoolchild, well, at least those of  certain age and lexical bent, will tell you.

And Tuscany was, and is, ere able to thrive in ‘il novo normal’.

And, of course, the Caribbean

Daddy’s Little Girl, as all our little girls do these days, is wont to show me amusing things she finds on the internetty thing.

And one we both find funny is a Jamaican tour guide who extols the benefits of inhaling the island’s plants.

I grab every chance to hook up with my Caribbean friends, Barbados, Tobago, Anguilla (heck, all of them) albeit these days over Zoom, if only to hope that I can draw some sun out from the screen.

And as usual their warmth came flowing us out as they reminded us that in their island their neighbourliness has helped them through this crisis and referred in passing to London where ‘people don’t know their neighbours but had been getting to know each other this year.’

Los Filipinos

For those of us too who in the second half of the century of years some of us are blessed to live, our cultural touchpoint for the Phillipines is the Thrilla in Manila, the nation’s capital which hosted Ali-Frazier III.

And of course the Philippines are knockout and our old friends at G Adventures are all over it.

Manila is on the island of Luzon, one of 7,641 in the archipelago.

And you’ll not be surprised to learn then that out of 7,641 islands that it should have boasted the world’s most beautiful island, courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler in 2016.

The exotically-named Atty. Maria Anthonette C.Velasco-Allones, the Tourism Promotions Board’s COO has an equally lyrical way about her.

As she described her islands and what they have to offer.

‘When the dark night is over and the sun rises, wake up in the Philippines.

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Europe

Bitchin’ Beaches… five around the world

The reopening of beaches in Europe has got us all talking about our own favourites.

And I guess I’m luckier than most in that I live on the coast – in North Berwick in Scotland.

And as we all slowly get back on the beaches here are my five faves on foreign shores.

Caribbean at last

Made it: Doing my best Robinson Crusoe

Englishman’s Bay, Tobago: The great thing about Tobago is, that all the beaches are public.

And its most famous adopted son Robinson Crusoe climbed up this very beach.

Before kindly leaving a hammock there for me.

See www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/02/09/on-your-marks-get-set-goat/.

Der beach

Strand Pauli, Hamburg: This is not what you expected, right?

In the heart of Hamburg, near the Rieperbahn, by the River Elbe they have put up a beach bar. Das ist Gut.

See www.hamburg.com, Hamburgers and ships and Why German trains always run on time.

Fort’s worth it

Fort Lauderdale, Florida: This is what jet lag is made for.

And the best time to get out on the palm tree-lined beach is early, early in the morning when it is deserted.

See https://www.fortlauderdale.gov/visitors and https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html. And https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/23/fort-lauderdale-and-miami-a-tale-of-two-sittings/amp/.

Sea plane

Kuramathi, The Maldives: The perfect place to fall asleep in a slumber when you’ve flown 18 hours by two planes and a seaplane www.turkishairlines.ie.

There is a smaller island still, 200m x 200m, Kandolhu.

Visit http://www.kuramathi.ie, and https://www.kandolhu.com. And https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/04/04/atoll-tale-the-maldives-2/amp/

Eau you beauty

Twirl power

Cannes, France: Where the Fast Set go but the pace is slow particularly in neighbouring Mandelieu La Napoule.

There you’ll see jet propellers and skiers and impossibly primped poodles. You belong!

See https://www.cannes-destination.com/discover, https://cotedazurfrance.fr/en/to-do/art-and-culture/visit-the-chateau-de-la-napoule-in-mandelieu/ and The Boat D’Azur.

Where is your favourite beach? Let me know and we’ll share a sandcastle.

MEET YOU ON THE BEACH