herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Off to the Costa Daurada for all the fun of the fair

THE Italians are in town to tell us about their offerings for 2012. Italy was our original sun holiday destination when Santa Ponsa was in short pants.

We have become more sophisticated in the 50 years since and the offerings of Como, Tuscany, Abruzzo and the beautiful mountains of Trentino are what the Italians are showcasing.

THURSDAY Niall Gibbons, of Tourism Ireland, tells me about the plans for next year: a new slogan for Ireland and a new TV campaign to try to keep brand Ireland performing. The Kiwis have had "New Zealand 100pc Pure" for 15 years. Maybe they have the right idea.

FRIDAY A terrific day in Killeen Castle. Ireland is back, briefly, at the heart of the golfing universe. Close your eyes and it might be Straffan 2006. It will be a long time before we stage a big golf tournament again. Which begs the question -- why did we hold all our big golf tournaments on parkland courses? We need the Ryder Cup to come back, and stage it in Doonbeg next time.

SATURDAY An early morning drive to Clare for a month's mind for Paddy King, the man who made tea for referees in Croke Park and the most amazing set dancer you could wish to see.

He had asked to apply for another passport on his deathbed. He wanted to go to Australia.

SUNDAY The Solheim Cup could not have worked out better for Ireland. An amazing finish, as good as any in this history of inter-continental golf, and a European win. The castle at Killeen might be a veneer, but the drama outshone the backdrop.

MONDAY Dinner with some visiting South Carolina representatives. Amy Blinson and Dolly Chewning tell me SC has more than its 300 golf courses and the honeypots of Myrtle Beach and Charleston. Hilton Head is the real SC, they say.

TUESDAY Flight EI562 to Barcelona and the Daurada coast. For a long time we have had excellent services to three airports in the region, counting distant Girona. The problem with Girona is they believed Michael O'Leary when he promised to be faithful.

WEDNESDAY Portaventura is one of the world's best theme parks, now out-performing its Yankee cousins with aplomb.

A skinful of wine the night before is no preparation for Dragon Khan, a rollercoaster with the best view on the Daurada coast from the top, before you drop and loop and loop again, and try to hold your stomach contents.

Furius Baco is still furious and Hurakan Condor, which I also attended the opening of in 2006, is still dropping people in it. Love it, love it, love it.

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