America, Asia, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday… whiskies around the world

I’m indebted to my old pal Tony Flynn for this lockdown game… use the initials of your Christian name for what you need when you’re holed up at home.

But Tony, I know you better than that… Tea, Onions, Noodles, Yogurt?

And you know me better too… and that’s why I went for Johnnie Walker, Ardbeg, Mossburn, Elements of Islay, Springbank.

You must have known I’d have used my full Christian name… more whisky, you see.

It’ll put a smile on your face

And in this regular feature, ‘Hungry and Thursday’ that’s what it’s all about, and being in lockdown my whisky is my best friend.

And while punters snap up the cheap lager from the supermarket shelves I’m happy to report that there’s still plenty of uisce beatha, or water of life, to be had.

So here’s a trawl of whiskies around the world…

Smoky Scotch

For peat’s sake

Scotland: The original and the best, Scotland is the home of whisky.

It has five clearly defined regions, of which the smoky and peaty whisky from the isle of Islay is the best. Think an ashtray of water… no, seriously, it will grow on you.

See www.visitscotland.com and https://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk.

Irish highs

We’ve been drinking here since 1608

Ireland: Yes, the Irish dispute that Scotland is the home of whisky and with some justification.

Bushmills https://bushmills.com/distillery/on the Antrim coast is the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

King James, a Scot to his boots, had granted the Ulstermen a license as early as 1608.

The Kilbeggan, from 1757, is thought to be the second oldest althougb when it comes to quantity Scotland has seven of the top eight.

With Glen Garioch near my old stomping ground of Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north a particular favourite.

And Meldrum House where they keep adopted son of Aberdeen Sir Alex Ferguson’s whisky in a special locker for him…

And check out www.discovernorthernireland.com and www.tourismireland.com

The American dram

With my Portland pal Laura

USA: You might not expect to see the Oo Es of Eh third in a top ten of the oldest distilleries in the world.

But that is the claim of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, two years ahead of Scotland’s oldest, Glenturret.

I have my fave cousin Kath’s husband Mark, a native Kentuckian, to thank for introducing me to proper bourbon and rye.

And that’ll be Woodford Reserve and Bulleit Frontier Whisky.

I drank my way through the Deep South https://www.deep-south-usa.com. Sign up for the Civil War… it is Virginia

And my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

While I’ve let ‘er buck with my friends in Portland which has it’s very own distillery, House Spirits, in its airport www.travelportland.com.

Swiss swhisssky

Switzerland: Who’d have thought that you could get whisky at the top of the Alps?

In the Ice Bar, at the end of your Jungfraujoch train, the highest railway journey in Europe.

In a nod to Scotland too you can also have a game of curling up there too… www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks

Czech out the whisky

Fill ‘er ip

Czech Republic: I was too busy testing the beers… for research purposes obvs.

So I didn’t even know of Czech whisky.

Hammerhead is considered the Father of Czech Whisky, the Cold War whisky.

And I got a taste of Prague’s Cold War history on my recent trip to the Czech capital, a city I love… www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal.

Read more about how Vaclav Sitner fed the bourgeois tastes of wealthy Czech and Russian officials… www.scotchwhisky.com.

And back to the lockdown word game and the initials of your Christian name…

I bet you that Celtic player of yesteryear wishes it was a surnames game…

I mean your pantry would be packed if you were called Jan Venegoor of Hesselink.

Japanese (and Scottish) girl

Masataka Taketsuru, the Father of Japanese Whisky

Japan: When the Japanese put their minds to it they go all in.

Masataka Taketsuru, the third son of a sake brewer, switched to the Japanese elite fave whisky.

And even came over to Scotland to visit the distilleries, study science at Glasgow University and marry a Scot Rita.

And take his knowledge back to Japan and spawn the Japanese whisky industry. Visit https://www.japan.travel/en/

And while we’re in lockdown I’ll try to revive my Jocktails feature Jocktails – Whisky Sour particularly now the Son and Heir is home.

And he has taken over the shaker and improved on his Old Msn.

Slainté

Africa, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying

In defence of Travel people

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts – Mark Twain

Cathy’s clown: DC Easy DC and www.washington.org

The next time you see a cinema usher, a football steward.

Ave Maria: www.CanariaWays.com In defence of Travel people

Or if you even run into a sports writer, then I trust you’ll pick them up on getting in for free!

Muriel, my pal: With Muriel Bolger

Only you won’t because you’ve got class.

King Louis: Friends of racing in Tobago, Louis, Nadine and Clem. www.visittobago.gov.tt Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

And you know that they’re doing their job.

Kythera: My Greek odyssey www.athensattica.com

And that they’re good at what they do or else they wouldn’t get asked.

Herr for the beer: Hamburgers and ships and www.hamburg.com

My friends

I ran a gauntlet of abuse on my way to becoming Ireland’s Travel Editor of the Year – and from the very people I was helping, my own staff.

Aer we go: With Paula and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com

Who would, and to be fair it wasn’t all of them, put me down when I was on my Travels (in my own time).

Oo Es of Eh: www.visitusa.ie and www.kennedyspacecenter.com

And snidely refer to my trips which always produced articles, written on time and to the brief I was given, as…

Wooah. Barbados: www.visitbarbados.org Let’s rumba in Barbados My kiss with Rihanna

Junkets, Jollies, Beanos, freebies.

Of course it didn’t apply when I sent them.

Fab Four: With Maria www.spain.info/en Eoghan www.travelextra.ie and Sharon www.ttc.com

And they would be the ones who would be late with their copy.

Petra time: With Zuhair… www.vistjordan.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time

Sometimes even embarrassing themselves and a host.

Your Onur: And www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

While their articles would often have to rewritten..

Your USA: With www.visitusa.ie

And all because it was a ‘junket’ and not given the same attention as any other article.

I would then have to apologise profusely to the providers who thankfully and very generously considered me worthy of the ultimate accolade…

Your South Africa www.southafrica.net: With Siseko in Dublin What’s new pussycat?

Their Pleasure To Work With award which was sneered at when I got back to the office.

LA story: Universal Studios’ www.universalstudioshollywood.comJon, The Scottish Sun’s Heather and Tickets Direct’s www.ticketsdirect.com Kate. And My Weekend With Marilyn and Stair Wars.

Back then, and it’s only a year ago, I would call on the services of the finest freelancers who never let me down.

Star women: The Irish at IPW

On the other side

Now I’m on the other side of the fence I have been glad to say that the holiday providers I cultivated then and many writers and editors remain the best of friends.

Zach the lad: My old pal Zach from my Deep South The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings odyssey www.deep-south-usa.com,

And you always know who your friends are in your time of need.

Give it a twirl: At Pic du Midi. www.hautes-pyrenees.com and The Lourdes prayer

Don’t Cancel

So that’s why I’ll not rest in promoting our industry which, like Twain, I believe is vital to the human condition.

Live like a Royal: Messi around on the water In Barcelona www.barcelonatourisme.com withPaula and www.royalcaribbean.com.

And that’s why I’ve been sprinkling this polemic with pictures of us around the world.

Grand oul tome: With BA’s Tara and Queen of Vegas Tryphavana. And www.lvcva.com and www.ba.com. And Strip… the light fantastic and The grandest canyon.

So join me to support #DontCancelPostpone and #tourismstrong.

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Bring us your tempest-tost to America

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door

Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, 1883

And earlier in the poem dedicated for the new Statue of Liberty which would sit on the Hudson Bay, a gift from America’s old allies France…

‘Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand. Glows worldwide welcome.’

Today those same French must wait at least 30 days along with the rest of the European Union, or those in the Shengen free-travel zone.

Before they can re-enter America.

The UK, now out of the European Union, is exempt.

While Ireland is a special case.

Which will allow me (for now) to visit the Florida Keys in a week and a half… https://fla-keys.com.

But what will be when the American Travel fair, IPW, throws open its doors in Las Vegas I’ll just have to wait and see.

And hope that my friends who I meet up with every year in an American city will be there.

Swede Agnetha, who I first met in the Czech Republic www.visitczechrepublic.com and was the first journalist I met in Washington Easy DC and have seen every year since.

There was the coachload in Colorado The New Frontiersmen and https://www.colorado.com.

Of Chinese, German, Jordanian and a very annoying Australian Alpha Male although in the spirit of the New Colossus I’d let him back in

While I always look forward to seeing Dutch Martin, my Blues-loving pal from our Deep South odyssey… The Promised Land, The story of the Blues, The King of Kings.

Who I met in Los Angeles https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and www.visitcalifornia.com last year.

I know Lady Liberty has her arms outstretched for us all and let’s hope the 30-day suspension achieves its aim.

And that this tempest-tost traveller, and those like me, will all be toasting our favourite country with our favourite people…

In Vegas https://www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic, in June.

America, Countries, Food & Wine, Uncategorized

Flipping marvellous – best pancake places

There is no evidence that Jesus ate a round of pancakes before going on to fast for 40 days… but there’s no evidence that he didn’t.

Today we’ll all tuck into our pancakes with the Son and Heir the flipper in our family.

God being good I’ll be on my way to Prague today.

Where I’m sure that being Central Europe there will be a big plate of pancakes a-waiting.

On-flight, British Airways: I’ve never lost the wonder of eating on an airplane since first peeling back the tinfoil as a kid.

In the years since I’ve found that it’s usually beef or salmon, with a vegetarian option.

While now that I’ve enjoyed business class on occasions on long-hauls there are breakfasts too… which obvs means pancakes.

Mine’s were on my flight to Jordan www.visitjordan.com with www.gadventures.com. Read on The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Pile ‘em high

Everything is bigger in America

The big breakfast, America: It’s funny how certain foods and drinks taste better in the countries of their origin.

Guinness in Ireland, risotto in Italy and pancakes in the Oo Es of Eh.

Yes, I know that pancakes are from France because, of course, they invented food.

It’s just that Americans do it bigger and better... pile ’em high at breakfast and make sure you take in a diner.

And sweeter in Barbados

Watch out for predators

Life sweet in Barbados: The first thing you need to know about Barbados is that this is the home of rum.

So that when you come down for your breakfast at Turtle Beach https://www.eleganthotels.com/turtle-beach and Sandals https://www.sandals.co.uk/sandals-barbados/ in St Laurence Gap you’ll get rum pancakes.

Irie as they say in Bim which is why I went back a second time… Let’s rumba in Barbados and A kiss from Rihanna.

Adventure, America, Countries

Like a Greystones cowboy… in Texas

I’ve seen five-a-side footballers (of whom I am one again) dribbling the ball under the table in the bar afterwards… but I didn’t expect the rodeo show when it came.

But that’s what they do for fun in Cleveland, Mississippi https://www.deep-south-usa.com and where myself and my Travel colleague Issy stayed back after our party had left.

The locals were watching the rodeo on the TV and one guy was lassoing the barmaid into him.

I think her name was Daisy although that’s maybe my fevered imagination.

But that trip to mark the Martin Luther King 50 commemorations of the Great Man’s passing The Promised Land, and this diversion got me hankering to go to the rodeo.

Giddy up

And if you’re going to throw yourself into it then you’re best going big… which means Trxas.

RodeoHouston, www.rodeohouston.com, the world’s biggest rodeo, takes place from March 3-22 in Houston.

Where 70,000 will attend daily.

And you’ll get to see 17 acts, among them Willie Nelson, Gwen Stefani and Keith Urban.

The latter, who graced us in Dublin when he visited with Nashville’s Country & Western https://www.visitmusiccity.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=why_nashville&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0KjnmMnq5wIVgrHtCh0AZw74EAAYASAAEgLynvD_BwE weekend from at the RDS is particularly worth seeing.

Of course you’ll know that this former son of Greystones, Co. Wicklow is made for rodeo from his adventures in Corado… The New Frontiersmen.

Rodeo rider Jim

Now you’ve got a taste for Houston then what about the Apollo Mission Control Center, the Houston Museum District and the Holocaust Museum Houston?

Are you sitting comfortably then I’ll begin

And the best way to get around it all? Our friends at www.VisitHouston.com tell us that Houston’s Experience Marketplace is the ticket.

Because they will send you tickets via text and email for among other top things… the Houston Museum Pass, the Houston Brew Pass and the Space Center General Admission.

All major airlines fly out of the UK and Ireland to Houston.

Houston…. I have no problem!