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 Edward Colston in Bristol, Lord Nelson 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 in Dublin

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

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 am I: The Frauenkiche

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.

America, Countries, Culture, Food

The Sunday Sermon – Inner City America

Weeping may stay for the night But rejoicing comes in the morning – Psalm 30:5

Now we’ve been here before and will be again… racial tensions, police brutality, inner city riots and American cities in flames.

But as Dr Martin Luther King vows in his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech on the National Mall in Washington DC in 1963 the weeping will stop.

That we could do with someone of the status of Dr King now is undisputed.

But we have his words, his legacy and an example from history to guide us.

Memphis memorial

When Dr King was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee https://www.deep-south-usa.com https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org and The Promised Land there was a curfew.

It was put in place for the inner cities where the worst violence broke out.

Bur not in a certain diner on U Street in Washington DC www.washington.org and Easy DC which the authorities allowed to stay open.

U Street was the Black Broadway of its day popularised by the likes of Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday and…

Ben Ali.

Super Bowl

Trinidadian Ben and his social hub, Ben’s Chili Bowl was allowed to stay open as it provided the local community with somewhere to go.

And eat.

Ben’s Chili Half-Smoke is an institution in the American capital.

And it was here where Barack Obama dropped in a week before his inauguration.

When a local Mamma asked the Security brief who the VIP was for there to be such a fuss…

He turned and pointed at her pin on her coat… ‘Him’!

A cast of heroes

Ben’s is adorned with pictures of luminaries, Bono among them obviously, with Ben.

While the outside walls are a kaleidoscope of murals of famous people among them Dr King.

Ben’s is still at the heart of the community and as you would expect it is helping out frontline workers during this crisis.

Just follow https://www.toasttab.com/bens-chili-bowl-u-st/giftcards and enter heroes@benschilibowl.com.

A fine example

Dr King may be gone but Ben’s is still going strong.

Just sit on a stool at the diner and you’ll see why it’s called Ben’s Chilled Bowl.

Also see www.visitusa.ie and www.visitusa.co.uk.

America, Countries, Culture

Rainy Days and Songdays – Ban-ban-ban Bandaman

Ban-ban-ban-Bandanaman, Ban-ban-ban-Bandanaman, Take my hand, You got me rockin’ and a rollin’. Rockin’ and a rollin’. Bandanaman.

One of the most seminal pop bands in history, a California travel convention and the reunion of my Scottish poetry group and Edinburgh Festival faves.

It’s great when a Bandana plan comes together which is what happened when I channeled my alter ego for a Zoom meeting with my old poetry grouo.

And showcased my Beach Boys pastiche of their hit Barbara-Anne.

img_2143

Because it was nearly a year ago that the Beach Boys https://www.thebeachboys.com gave me and my Travel friends a private concert at the American Travel Fair in Anaheim, California www.ipw.com.

Touching times 

At the American Travel Fair in Anaheim, California http://www.ipw.com and  http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com and http://www.visitcalifornia.org.

Where I rushed to the stage after lunch between convention meetings.

img_3661

And the great man Mike Love touched my outreached hand… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y44BJgkdZs

The lunchtime entertainment at IPW is always the highlight of my Travel year… http://Stair Wars.

And while the identity of some acts was closely guarded others were released with fanfare which you would do with the Beach Boys.

It is my chance to destress from the year to date and I move heaven and Earth to make myself known to the act… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09dQmeB_NgU.

Which I did in my first year in Washington DC http://www.washington.org and http://Easy DC.

When Ne-Yo threw his towel into the crowd and I stretched out to garner it to my chest.

Killer tunes

Cathy Keefe Reynolds, who looks after all the Travel journalists with the care you would would your own children (and we often behaved as such), marked the moment.

On video.

This year in Las Vegas we were promised another cracker.

Vegas baby

Only for COVID-19, who in another lifetime might be a boyband, put paid to our Las Vegas gig… http://www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

I’d been holding out for Vegas’s favourite sons, The Killers.

Their new album Implode the Mirage is out on Friday.

So they’ll be honed to perfection for next year’s Travel Fair.

If you can make yourself available, boys. Visit http://www.thekillersmusic.com.

America, Culture, Europe

Virtual Pride in America

Say it loud and say it Pride, I may have been late in arriving but I love an LGBTQ+ party.

Which is why I’ll be rifling through the wife’s closet this year before coming out of it for Virtual Pride.

Queen Bey and Queen Jay

My first Pride was three years ago in Washington DC http://www.washington.org Easy DC where I had a Capitol time, darlings.

I am, of course, self-censoring here and won’t be bringing you pictures of myself sticking dollar bills into the male dancer’s trunks on the podiums.

Frockie and Jocky in the Rockies

But I like the girls:With the Bandanettes at Denver’s Mile High Stadium

I climbed on to the pedestal myself when they were off on my break but with my body… all I got were nickels and dimes.

I was back for more in Denver http://www.denver.org http://Go West where myself and the multi award-winning and shots-drinking Isabel Conway and Portland’s finest Laura Guilmond formed the rock trio to beat all trios.

With rubber mics and guitars. And a warning here… there was sax too.

Marilyn and Murty

Some like it hot

This time last year and it was West Hollywood http://www.visitwesthollywood.com and My Weekend With Marilyn where they had rainbow up the zebra crossing.

And then Anaheim where at last my man has come along… the jazz and old standards singer in the side bar to the main dance floor.

Lying with Mari

And I also managed to fit in a European Pride too in Barcelona before I went cruising… Steady I was a guest of Royal Caribbean and hopped on their ship for a bit of surfing.

That’s why it’s called the Strip

With Cami in Vegas

Now my friends in America where I should be now, Las Vegas to be more precise http://www.lvcva.com Strip… the light fantastic and already have Florida from just after the lockdown under my belt have been in touch.

And they have put more flesh on the bones of Virtual Pride from these great American cities.

Dogs in Drag, you say

Denver PrideFest, June 20-21 – Colorado: It is recognised as one of the top ten Pride events in the US, and I can believe that of Denver PrideFest.

It is a free, two-day festival that (usually) takes place in Denver’s Civic Center Park with the pick-out the Dogs in Drag Parade.

While there is also a Gay Pride Parade and a Big Gay 5K.

This year’s virtual event will include digital versions of the parade, 5Ks, concerts, dance parties and more. www.colorado.com

Say it big

Frothy Seattle

Flag day

2020 Seattle Pride Parade and Trans Pride Celebrations, 26-28 June – Washington: Seattle Pride is working with PrideFest and Trans Pride to put on the best show they can in late summer. Keep up-to-date here for the June Virtual spectacular. www.visitseattle.org

Man Diego

The bras and stripes

San Diego Pride, 11-18 Juy – California: And this way your Pride fun can go on and on.

San Diego Pride runs across a week in July with a burst of activities. Using the #TogetherWeRise, She Fest launches it all off recognising the talents and contributions of women, followed by Light Up the Cathedral with a ceremonial rainbow lighting.

There’s a Spirit of Stonewall Rally and a a 5K too. sdpride.org. www.sandiego.org 

West Jollywood

Sailors in port? West Hollywood

50th Anniversary Celebrations to Kick Off via Digital Platforms, West Hollywood: And I’ve saved my best for last.

This is the 50th Anniversary of LA Pride.

And nothing will be underplayed.

Rainbow Letter Day

As CSW Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore said: ‘Pride is not just about a specific month or weekend in June. Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community lives and breathes Pride every day’ and therefore, celebrations will span through to 2021. www.visitwesthollywood.com

So Vogue… let your body move to the music.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Hat’s the way to do it

We’ve long forgotten that it was milliners Dunn & Co who came up with the brand ‘If you want to get ahead get a hat’ in the 1940s.

But it’s the enduring appeal of the power of a slogan that it endures,

It has also become something of an unconscious personal mantra.

I’d even go as far as to coin my own slant: ‘put on a new hat, put on a new you.’

Hatta boy!

So an entirely unscientific trawl through five hats on my travels and why when I put them on I’m transported right back there.

The tail of Denver

Remember the Jimbo

Davy Crockett hats, Denver, Colorado: And a reacquaintance two years ago with an old friend, a raccoon hat in Denver www.denver.org and Go West.

I got a reputation for myself in my alma mater, chilly Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north for wearing said hat.

Forward fast to San Antonio, Texas, and the Alamo town www.visitsantonio.com hosts the US Travel fair www.ipw.com in 2023.

And I’ll blend in with all the other Davy Crockett impersonators.

Does this car look big in me? The Cote d’Azur

In the Cannes

Trilby hat, Cote d’Azur: Well it is Cannes and it’s what they’ve come to expect of me out there.

A classic Fiat 500 is obligatory too. Visit www.mandelieu.com and The Boat D’Azur.

Sailor boy: In West Hollywood

Sail away in California

Hello sailor, West Hollywood: It’s nautical but nice and in Pride Week in camp WeHo you have to make an effort.

I strutted like a peacock after getting a compliment from a queen.

I was on my morning constitutional www.visitwesthollywood.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/

Buen Camino

Camino hat, Santiago de Compostella, Rome, Tenerife, the Austrian Tyrol: And if you’ve walked the Camino then it’s important to tell everyone after.

It also keeps the sun off your head but that’s secondary.

Visit www.CaminoWays.com, www.FrancigenaWays.com. www.CanariaWays.com and www.tyrol.com. www.topflight.ie and www.topflightforschools.ie.

And A pilgrim’s prayer, Small roads lead to Rome, A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

If the hat fits

Cowboy Jimmy

Cowboy hat, Washington DC: Like a Greystones cowboy, riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo.

It was given to me by my Portland, Oregon https://www.travelportland.com friends and I showcased it with a glittery beard in DC https://washington.org and Easy DC.

And on the hottest day of the year carting luggage around New York https://www.nycvb.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/old-new-york-hamilton/amp/.

MEET YOU IN A HAT

America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe

Covid-day Snaps – Canarian ‘safe’ passports

Nobody likes their passport pic, particularly now we can’t even smile.

Mine’s looks like it could have been taken more than 100 years ago when they were first introduced.

But we don’t even flinch at being asked now for it and I suspect we’ll quickly get used to the technology being rolled out by the Canary Islands to get us back travelling.

The Canary Islands (Spain) and the World Tourism Organisation have agreed a flight in July for the world’s first ‘safe’ flight using the Digital Health Passport, developed by Canarian firm Hi + Card

I can just taste that Tenerife Shakespearean wine Malvasia.

CanariaWays www.CanariaWays.com will make you earn it with their walking holidays but it’s worth it. Also see https://www.hellocanaryislands.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5dWNgOam6QIVCLLtCh2C-AsBEAAYASAAEgLfaPD_BwE

My other family

Family business:: I feel I know these LA folk

If your family is driving you up the wall you may be taking sanctuary in a TV family… me, I’ve been a fly on the wall at the Pritchards and the Dunphys in LA.

Our first introduction to American cities was througb the gogglebox… The Streets of San Francisco https://www.sftravel.com, Cheers in Boston https://www.bostonusa.com, Miami Vice https://www.miamiandbeaches.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/23/fort-lauderdale-and-miami-a-tale-of-two-sittings/.

Colorado rocks

Denver’s Dynasty www.denver.org Go West and Mork and Mindy in Colorado www.colorado.com and The New Frontiersmen Pawn Stars in Las Vegas www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic and House of Cards in Washington www.washington.org and Easy DC.

And New York www.nycvb.com where my Uncle Petie became a superstar in my eyes when Kojak filmed in his bar.

From Missouri to happiness today: Cam and Mitch

I always make a point of annoying the Scary One by pointing out that I’ve been there which is probably why she doesn’t watch Modern Family…

The climax of which is playing out in a two-parter.

Gay parents Mitch Pritchard, an uptight lawyer and Cam Tucker, a hillbilly football coach steal the show.

Hello sailor: In West Hollywood

But it is time for them to move to Cam’s Missouri and leave behind LA https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and I dare say to West Hollywood, the chillest, gayest part of LA https://www.visitwesthollywood.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/.

Where I was complimented on my sailor’s hat and bandana combo.

And if we you feel like the only news you’re getting out of the Oo Es of A is bad then I’ll redress the balance.

So hold on and I’ll let you know how among others my Native American and my Deep South pals are meeting the challenges and prevailing.

We’ll wait for you, Princess

Cruise liners were a sitting target for their critics when the virus first visited.

But they have shown a self-sacrificing responsibility and a willingness to change and I believe they will come back stronger.

Princess www.princess.com has announced the cancellation of select 2020 summer sailings.

And this is a reminder of what we’re all missing and will enjoy again https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/30/cruiseday-tuesday-the-princesss-medallion-man/amp/.

We stayed open

Health is wealth: At the Buchinger Wilhelmi

Our European friends pride themselves on their spas and scientific holiday retreats.

And the Buchinger Wilhelmi http://www.buchinger-wilhelmi.com medi-spa, which overlooks Lake Constance and the Alps and prides itself.

On its therapeutic fasting and integrative medicine, has stayed open through this crisis.

They have a ten-day fasting programme from £2340pp.

And it includes two consultations with a doctor, daily nurse, check-ups, food/drink, fasting provisions and daily activities.

Now, I love an oul’ spa and retreat and my friends, the Czechs know them better than most… www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

America, Countries, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – Broccoli: in or out?

Lockdown has empowered foodies to bore us with their hobby and talk down to us like we’re kids.

So I wasn’t surprised when one radio presenter patronised a guest when he told him he had cooked broccoli for the first time.

Before then confessing that he thought you just microwaved it.

A head of broccoli

All of which gives me an excuse to praise the late US President George HW Bush, Dubya’s Dad.

By George

George Herbert Walker (the W is a doff to his in-law who gave his name to golf’s Walker Cup) was a World War II hero.

Before, as Commander-in-Chief, leading his country to victory against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Gulf War.

Fort Lauderdale and Florida loves George

But it was George’s Mom who was boss in the Bush home.

Aww, Mom!

As he revealed in an early press conference after he moved into the White House.

When a reporter asked him a ‘soft’ question.

About what he might want to ban now he had become the most powerful man on Earth.

And he shot back… ‘Broccoli’.

Did Dubya dislike broccoli too?

The President went onto explain that his Mom had insisted that the children ate broccoli when they were children.

And that had led to his lifetime’s distaste for the vegetable.

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the broccoli growers were up in arms.

Broccoli goes to Washington

And marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in protest.

Only in America.

Multicultural hotpot: Miami

Now George W Bush was considered the Grand Old Statesman of the US.

And I saw first-hand in what high regard he was held.

When his passing corresponded with my visit to Fort Lauderdale https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html and Fort Lauderdale and Miami – a tale of two sittings.

Florida’s adopted sons

In Florida, the state where his son Jeb was Governor and George W. got over the line in the 2000 election.

I don’t know where The Donald sits on broccoli as he works his way through the COVID-19 crisis in Washington.

My favourite American city Easy DC and www.washington.org

Well, who else would you want in charge?

Saving the world

But broccoli growers naturally are keen to promote their little tree-looking cabbagey foods as health-enhancing.

And I’m thankful here to www.healthline.com for their tips.

Broccoli are, they tell us, full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

And can help in the fight of everything from Cancer to heart disease, can slow the ageing process and even stop constipation.

All of which falls on deaf ears for children though, be they a pauper or a future President.

And how best to make broccoli. Check out www.thekitchn.com for ways to blanch, boil, steam, sautée or steam.

America, Countries, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – your adopted team

And when I dunked that foam ball into the desk basketball hoop this week I channeled my inner Curly Neal.

Curly having just passed to the great court in the sky.

For many Fiftysomethings on our shores, Curly, Meadowlark and his Harlem Globetrotters pals were our first introduction to basketball.

The Globetrotters had a virtual monopoly in the Sixties and Seventies here before we got the NBA on our TVs.

Not a hair out of place

And it wasn’t just excitable schoolboys the Globetrotters had in their thrall with their antics.

Pope Paul VI got the full routine with tricks, tickertape and holy water sprinkled on him in a private game back in the day.

All of which fun you can replicate from your home office… if you don’t have a desk hoop then you can adapt.

Of course as a schoolboy I wasted many an hour sinking balls of paper into a bucket when I should have been learning my trigonometry.

All of which stuff and nonsense is a replacement for the real thing.

Having a ball: In Memphis

And isn’t it often the case that the game isn’t on when you get to town in your travels across America?

And you are left larking about in Memphis when the Grizzlies are supposed to be playing The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings. https://www.deep-south-usa.com

American dream

Which brings us to the thorny question of which American sports team to adopt.

Because when you land up in town the quickest way to learn about how things are done is to find out about the local sports teams.

My sporting buddy: Mickey Mouse

Orlando FC were in their infancy when I first met up with Harry Potter, Homer and Bart Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/theme-parks/universal-studios-florida.

Taking the Mickey

And The Donald, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy Why I love The Donald and https://www.disneyworld.co.uk.

While Memphis saw me picking up their love of basketball, I was pitched straight into the Eastern seaboard’s love of all the Big Four American sports on another occasion.

Sports-mad Philly

I got to learn about The Curse of Billy Penn’s peak in Philadelphia Philadelphia Freedom and https://www.discoverphl.com/visit/plan-your-trip/visitors-guide/.

I was already aware of the rivalries between the Eastern cities and my New York cousins had tried to foist their teams on me.

Kings of Queens

But again there was a schism there which I settled by plumping for the Queens teams, the New York Mets and Jets.

And I picked up the odd souvenir on my peregrinations www.nycvb.com and Old New York: Hamilton.

Which have come in handy for the desk and house games just now.

Capital stuff

Of course the best place to be, even if you can’t catch a game, is the ball park.

A Nationals institution: In Washington

And I got to try out for the Washington Nationals Easy DC and https://washington.org

And hang out with the Bandanettes in Denver at the Broncos’ Mile High stadium … Go West and https://www.denver.org.

Now if you do get to a game then I guess that’s the biggest motivator.

Wild horses wouldn’t… At Denver Broncos’ Mile High Stadium

And so the Anaheim Angels https://visitanaheim.org and https://disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disneyland/ are in contention for my vote.

Go Angels: In Anaheim

But so too then are the Toronto Blue Jays https://www.seetorontonow.com.

But while all of these cities have left their mark you never forget your first love.

Boston is full of beans

And that was Reggie Clemens and the Boston Red Sox on my summer working trip to Beantown after university.

I was in the midst of planning a visit out to Boston and New England for later this year with my hosts suggesting a tour of Fenway Park.

And a walk along the Green Monster left field wall.

My sports town: Boston Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Home run! Visit https://www.boston.gov/visiting-boston.

And tell me which American sports team you support. Is it because you’ve been to see them, have relatives there, like the name of the team or the colour.

Let me know and we’ll share.

MEET YOU AT THE BALL GAME

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.

Adventure, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Look before you Leap – where to propose

I had been planning it for a year since Miss F’s best pal had got married – and it ended up being Malta.

I had a vision that it would have been Istanbul on the Bosphorus but that wasn’t to be but there’s water around Malta. Right?

Only as we traipsed around Bugibba I couldn’t find the restaurant with a piano on the front which I’d been looking for.

Miss F being fair was getting tetchy in the beating sun and the atmos wasn’t conducive for a proposal.

But I went ahead anyway (I still maintain I was only down on one knee to tie my shoelace) and she yelled yes.

The sands of time

I’ve been back (without her, but I hasten to say not with someone else) Malta easer.

If I was to do it all over again, and in this a Leap Year here’s where I’d hope she’d ask the question.

Turkish delight (obviously!)

Istanbul: I fulfilled a lifetime‘s ambition last year by visiting the majestic Turkish city which straddles Europe and Asia… Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

And it surpassed even my wildest expectations.

Yes, Herself knows I like the flesh of an animal and Sultanahmet Koftecisi http://www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com does the best kofti meatballs in the city.

But if she really wants to romance me she’ll take me on the Bosphorus with TTG Travel (Turkish Travel Group) www.turkeytravelgroup.com.

And we’ll have a boogie…

For more on Istanbul visit https://visit.istanbul and, of course, when I head east it’s always my pals at Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com.

The heart of America

He’s lent me his desk

Washington DC: My favourite US city although I’m open to have my mind changed.

Seeing that DC’s most famous resident is half-Scottish I’d say he’d lend us a room.

But where I’d really like to have my romantic moment is at Robert E Lee’s house in Arlington.

Where the National Guard never miss a Passing of the Guard.

And where John F Kennedy told an aide, in perhaps a prescient moment, that when he died he would want to be buried looking down on DC.

Visit www.washington.org.

I love you too Tobago

Wetting my whistle

Tobago: With apologies to Barbados but Id be worried the Scary One would run into Dee-Dee.

I can’t think of many more romantic places to get a proposal than Nylon Beach where Princess Margaret said the sea was as clear as her stockings.

And where you can stand in a sand bank in the middle of the Caribbean with a glass of bubbly or Carib lager in your hand.

Dee-Dee and Me-Me

Still, maybe best that the 5ft 5ins Mrs M doesn’t get down on one knee there.

Visit www.tobagogov.tt and read On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago.

All ring roads lead to Rome

I’ll be back for change later

Rome: Because it’s here where She took me for my 40th as a surprise and we returned as a family.

And I, eventually, found the Eternal City, at the end of my Via Francigena pilgrimage www.viafrancigena.ie.

If only there was some roads that lead to Rome!

On my perfect day we’d take in an AS Roma match at the Olympic Stadium, visit the Pantheon where it would rain and she would pop the question.

Visit www.rome.net, http://www.italia.it/en/home.html and read my misadventures Small roads lead to Rome.

Malta and the altar

Valletta, you betcha

Malta: Of course nothing beat that moment we got engaged… she told me to say that.

And our place is still there. Malta remains one of the gems right under our nose.

English-speaking. English-friendly (and Scottish, Irish, et al) you can also day-trip to Sicily.

And beautiful Gozo and Comino. Visit www.visitmalta.com.

Just a few romantic spots I’m proposingtell me yours.

MEET YOU ON ONE KNEE