All Arts and Parts, an Arts Diary: Hitting the High Spots in Search of the Sun
Hill, Ian, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
The Belfast to Dublin Enterprise plus carriages are agreeably busy, not too many on their mobile phones dissembling about their destinations.
Indeed most, sipping their complimentary orange juice, reading their complimentary Dublin papers, scanning the menu, ordering Black Bush, or deep in conversation are, like the Diary, bound for the southern section of the Holiday World Experience at Simmon's Court, adjoining the RDS, just past the new Bewley's Hotel and opposite the soon-to-be-completed Four Seasons.
A sparkling new MVP taxi - the driver informing me that all new Dublin hackney cabs must be, by legislation, wheelchair accessible - whisks me to the comfort of the Burlington, and his fare, at the current exchange, is admirably low.
At the Press and trade evening a flurry of Northern Ireland counsellors crowd Kitchen Bar owner Pat Catney's excellent City Council Belfast Bar with its live fiddlers. The Press room is jammed with Dublin's finest - Gerry O'Hare and Tony Barry, of Travel Extra, John Coughlan, of Holiday Magazine, while Pembroke PR John Butterly orders the finishing touches to the private bar.
Outside every stand offers its traditional wines, even Wales, which furnishes the quite acceptable Caridad, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Seyral grape grown in one of the Principality's 15 vineyards, plus laver bread on toast.
But it's the Hungarians, with racks of Soma Pince vintages, who win the wine stakes for the evening while the foodie honours fall to the enterprising Cypriots - Orestes Rossides at the helm - with a complement of dolmades and such.
On the Portuguese stand Jorge Bothelo Moniz, the catalyst for the Diary's recent Alentejo adventure, offers white port, while over in Spain - as it were - Agustin Garcia breaks open the Rioja. In a pause from all this merriment, and avoiding the 6ft-plus blonde and fur- bikined Vikingess promoting Blackpool, Don Kim, UK director of the Korean National Tourism organisation, is concerned that the Diary hasn't seen Seoul for 15 years.
l Samia Kfayaga, councillor at the Egyptian Tourism Authority, is anxious that a Jesus Trail (tracing Biblical history) should sell in Northern Ireland.
John Moxley, of Garuda Indonesia Airlines Executive, hopes Northern Ireland's citizens have experienced putting Troubles headlines in perspective and will recognise that, while there are disturbances in Indonesia, many of the islands are still tourist paradises.
Dr Samarakoon, Ireland director of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board, speaks warmly of his country's multi-ethnic archaeology, jungles and beaches.
Nearer home, Cathy Harrison, of Birmingham Marketing Partnership, talks optimistically of a cooperative venture to market Walsall's new Art Gallery, whose architecture, like that of Salford's Lowry, is the talk of the European broadsheets.
Across the corridor, Manchester's marketing executive Paul Bamber, ready with a brochure on the Lowry Centre, advises the Diary's readers that this is one, with its twin theatres, galleries, cafes and extraordinary architecture, that they can't afford to miss.
Virginia Linehan, of the new Maersk Air Service from Dublin to Denmark, lobbies on behalf of its Legoland destination and its onward flights, while Anne Madsden, of the Danish Tourist Board, brings greetings from ex-Bangor television holidays producer Richard Lightbody's wife, Britt, her colleague in their London office, and there is much talk of the new Danish cinema. …