Diary of a travel writer: Happy holidays depend on the warmth of the welcome
THURSDAY I feel like Goldilocks in reverse. There is a bear in my bed in the Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon.
I'm not sure whether this toy bear is a gift or something they are trying to sell to me. I find the price tag: $35 (€24). Hotels have started taking goodies out of minibars and leaving them on the table to tempt us. Now it's a bear rather than a beer.
A last call of duty in Portland -- the grave of a great Kildare man. I stop by Mount Cavalry Catholic cemetery outside the town and ask the grave tender for the headstone of John E Dempsey. Here lies the first world middleweight champion, in a quiet cemetery on the west coast of America.
FRIDAY United's flight from Portland to Chicago is packed. Oregon's attitude makes the difference. Dubliner David Moore, who manages Andina restaurant, sums it up: "Here the weather is colder and the people are warmer, a bit like Ireland."
In Aer Lingus's Gold Star lounge in T5 in Chicago, accents are a variety of Irish, American and the increasing number of transfer passengers. Aer Lingus has trebled its transfer traffic through Dublin in the past 12 months.
SATURDAY Dublin is warm and sunny for a neighbour's party. Most people there are looking for a good bargain in the holiday stakes. South-west Turkey remains the mantra.
SUNDAY Nature explodes in June in Ireland and everything rushes into bloom. It should be a time of happiness. Instead, I am driving to Donegal for a month's mind mass for my brother, Ciaran.
MONDAY Etihad spent ¤1m on their lounge in Dublin Airport T2 and it shows. It is next-generation hospitality at its best: showers, a children's play area, and, as well as the full bar, a full meal service. It is one of the best lounges I have been in.
TUESDAY I'm on flight EY48 to connect with EY408 to Bangkok and the fastest change-over I have ever had at Abu Dhabi. Etihad regularly win the awards for business class and it is easy to see why.
There is a function in the Blue Sky bar on the 24th floor of the Sofitel, newest of the Bangkok rooftop bars. The most famous is the Sirocco in the Lebua hotel, which features in The Hangover 2, a movie as unfair to Bangkok as its predecessor was an endorsement of Vegas.
WEDNESDAY Everything is tepid here, even the swimming pool at the Amari Atrium hotel.
At Thailand Travel Mart I wanted to talk to deputy tourism governor Juthaporn Rerngronasa about sex. If they shut down their explicit sex districts, tourist numbers would double, I argue. Most people at TTM agree. But will anything be done?