Wowed by the grandeur of Lillafüred, we continued on our way towards the town of Diósgyőr, now part of the northern Hungarian city of Miskolc. Himself had gotten wind of a castle-castle this time and since it was sort of on our way back to Budapest, we thought: Why not? Read more

Leaving the wine cellars and treehouses of Noszvaj behind, we set off reasonably early for the resort town of Lillafüred. On a hike recently in Zala, himself had heard someone mention it and talk about a castle. The castle turned out to be the Hotel Palota, now at the top of the list of places I want to stay in Hungary. Read more

About six months ago, we got a present of an overnight stay in the treehouses of Nozsvaj in northern Hungary. The first available date that suited was the first Monday in September. That says something about how popular the place is. Read more

I went unprepared. I’d heard the bumf: biggest shopping mall in America, has its own amusement park … inside, would take 86 hours to spend just 10 minutes in each store. I didn’t believe it. I thought they were exaggerating. But Mall of America is all that, and more. Read more

We were on holidays in St Joseph’s Hotel in Fethard-on-Sea in Co. Wexford when Elvis Presley died. I didn’t realise what the big deal was until a Dublin girl of my age who I’d been hanging out with appeared one morning in tears. Elvis? Elvis who? Sadly, my musical literacy hasn’t improved much since. But when Laura Ingalls (Melissa Gilbert) and Almonzo Wilder (Dean Butler) were getting it together on the TV series Little House on the Prairie, that rocked my world. Read more

It’s strange going back to a place you haven’t seen in 25 years. There’s a weird sense of sameness and yet everything is so different. Size has been contorted by memory. Things seem smaller or bigger; farther or nearer. So it was in Longview, WA, on the banks of the Columbia River. Read more

There’s a metro stop in Budapest named Astoria. It’s right by the Astoria Hotel, a lovely French-Empire-style building that first opened to guests in March 1914. I wondered briefly if there was a connection between it and Astoria, OR, but sadly not. The hotel got its name because Mihály Gellér, the first General Manager of the hotel, had worked in the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Astoria, OR was named after America’s first millionaire, John Jacob Astor. No story there. Read more

“Wait, what was that? Did I hear something in the attic? There it is again. Oh wait, never mind. It was probably my imagination.” After giving the nod to Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis, how could I not look up The Fonz when in Milwaukee? Fonzie and his catchphrases were part of what made the TV show Happy Days last 11 seasons.

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That’s it. I’m converted. My preferred mode of transport in America is now the train. Yes, Amtrak has its detractors but I’m certainly not one of them. Read more

I’d be hard pushed to tell you where Minneapolis ends and St Paul begins. My geography and sense of place, never good at the best of times, totally let me down in the Twin Cities. Read more