Eurovision 2018 – preview

I’ve treated myself to the CD of this year’s songs in advance of watching any of the contest.  It came with free coasters!

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I —pressganged-– persuaded cuz-in-law Karen to listen to them on the way to and from Coleraine for a dancing weekend, where we were undoubtedly the belles of the ball!

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Her comments are marked K, and have marks out of 10.

So here’s our thoughts on each one.

Bingo Card Squares this year: 

Award yourself a shot of the European tipple of your choice (and a Baileys in memory of Sir Terry) when you hear:

A song in waltz time, something about canonballs, breathy whispery female vocals, a brass instrument played in a jaunty fashion, something about storms,  anything “featuring” someone else. Oh, and the once compulsory keychange is in short supply this year too, so feel free to down a slivovitz when you hear one.  Last year’s Portugese winner seems to have influenced this year’s entries – there’s more being sung in own language rather than English, and quite a few understated and emotionally charged deliveries.  But it’s a wide menu, including country rock, rap, reggae, opera, and jazz.  Lots of one word titles and a darker Game of Thrones feel with Bones, Stones, Storm, Monsters and Taboo.

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In alphabetical order (as per the CD):

1. Albania “Mall” Eugent Bushpepa

That name is from a kid’s cartoon character, surely! First of the songs in triple time. Male singer with a decent voice, comfortable at both soft and loud volumes.  Acoustic guitar. No idea what it’s about.

K: Happy, hold your lighters up song. 6

 

2. Armenia “Qami” Sevak Khanagyan

A slow and wistful ballad, with inventive backing twiddles. Instantly forgettable.

K: Boring, but would be a great Scrabble score. 2

3. Australia “We Got Love” Jessica Mauboy

This is a perky enough tune, but I don’t feel it’s as strong as its Aussie predecessors. There are some very trite lyrics such as “at the end of the day, we’ve only got ourselves to blame”.   There are many Twitter comments on the dress.

K: Good beat, very Kylie-y.  Needs a wind machine, but catchy hook. 7

4. Austria “Nobody but You” Cesar Sampson

Smoky jazzy, piano ballad, segue-ing into a gospel choir number. Favourite lyric “Don’t make me tear my heart out, I’m shaking till I fall down”.

K: Is this Rag’n’Bone Man? 6

5. Azerbaijan “X My Heart” Aisel

“Every night you fill the sky with new revelations”.   I’m Stronger than canonballs! But tear down the firewalls.  Interesting mix of time periods there.

K: Generic 2

6. Belgium “A Matter of Time” Sennek

Smoky jazz, breathy female vocal, Kylie’s Confide In Me, crossed with a James Bond theme tune.  Some very forced rhymes – station, combination, imagination, sensation.

K: Jazzy Bond theme, I can see the opening credits now… 5

7. Bulgaria “Bones” Equinox

Sparse and atmospheric opening, bit like Rag’n’Bone Man’s Human.  A capella Bridge to the more rocky chorus.  Second vocal is very different, and sounds a bit auto-tuned, don’t know if they blend well.

K: Very atmospheric, I’m expecting a lot of grey on stage. 4

8. Belarus “Forever” Alekseev

Breathy male vocal. Sparse piano.  God this plods along, is it only 1 minute gone?  It’s living up to its name.

K: Samey, a bit “cut’n’paste” 4

9. Switzerland “Stones” ZIBBZ

6/8 time, builds to a throaty raucous chorus “think different is the enemy”  Oooh, something about canonballs!

K: Canonballs! 6

10. Cyprus “Fuego” Eleni Foueira

One of my early favourites on first listen, and one that I replay frequently.  I can definitely hear this being played at beach bars at cocktail hour on a Mediterranean island this summer. Favourite lyric:  “you got me pelican fly-fly-flying”

K: Rhianna-like, good dance rhythym. 7

11. Czech Republic “Lie to me” Mikolas Josef

Remember J Lo’s squeaky bike wheel song from a while back?  Add in a sleazy trumpet motif, and a bit of rappy style delivery,  a nod to Robin Thicke, and a wee bit of indistinct scat singing.

K: Bruno Mars, but needs more cowbell. 7

12. Germany “You Let Me Walk Alone” Michael Schulte

Sounds a bit likeThe Script, but I’m confused as to what it’s about.  Is it a tribute to single Moms?  A complaint about an absent father?

K: Depressing as. 3

13. Denmark “Higher Ground” Rasmussen

Heavy influence from the Game of Thrones theme tune, this evokes Viking longships, and horned helmets.  Waltz time points! One of my faves, but I’m not sure it’s a winner.

K: The drums! Edinburgh Tattoo! 8

14. Spain “Tu Cancion” Amaia y Alfred

A sweet love song performed by two genuine and adorable young lovers.  This has been getting quite a lot of attention, but it doesn’t move me much.

K: Booooo-ring. 2

15. Estonia “La Forza” Elina Nechayeva

Opera, finishing with a note that only dogs can hear.  Mozart’s Queen of the Night aria comes to mind.

K: Operatic, slow and high.  Very very high. 4

16. Finland “Monsters” Saara Aalto

Saara got some UK coverage when whe appeared on the X Factor, and is a belter of a singer. The kiddies nursery rhymish “I aint scared no more” will have wide appeal.

K: Good singer! 6

17. France “Mercy” Madame Monsieur

Sultry jazzy female voice to open it – I was born this morning and my name is Mercy.

K:  Je m’ennui. 4

18. UK “Storm” SuRie

I voted for this one at the “You Decide” rounds, and I still think it’s a great song.  SuRie is a veteran Eurovizer, having been involved in 2 previous entries.  So I think she will be a stong contender, and has a lovely self-deprecating manner.  It’s the kind of song that would have done well 5-10 years ago, but I’m not so confident about it this year.  I’m going to stick my neck out and say it’ll be in the top ten.

K: She looks – and sounds – a bit like Annie Lennox. 5

19. Georgia “For You” Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao.

This is that song from near the end of the first act of the musical, where the two main protagonists both independently realise that they were wrong, and sing on a balcony, or under a tree, while the audience wonders if they have time to get a choc ice as well as go to the loo during the interval. There’s jazz in the name of the band, but very little in the music.

K: Jazz, what? Linda says she will eat her hat if this gets through the semis. 3

20. Greece “Oniro Mou” Yianna Terzi

Atmospheric opening, with deep and meaningful female vocal, there’s some sort of ethnic wind instrument thing going on there with orchestration.  Sounds very ominous.  No clue what it’s about, could be the difficulty in obtaining decent feta these days.

K:  It’s about how great Greece is, obvs. 3

21. Croatia “Crazy” Franka

Reminds me of Sam Brown and Stop. But with a rap insert referencing Bonnie and Clyde, for extra cool pointz.  Favourite lyric “I will remember roses and horses in the rain.” Jazzy trumpet.

K: Looks like Shania Twain.  Please can we stop with the rap! 4

22. Hungary “Viszlat Nyar” AWS

Bit of a rocking tune, Foo Fighters. Highly unlikely to trouble the juries, but I’ll smile when I hear it on my running playlist.

K: Go the Foo Fighters! 7

23. Ireland “Together” Ryan O’Shaughnessy.

I’m trying to like this one, but it’s a bit insipid.  He sounds very like his high pitched mentor and former Irish entrant Brian Kennedy, but the song is just a bit too slow tempo and forgettable.

K: It’s a bit meh.  Ireland have lost their magic touch. 3

24. Iceland “Our Choice” Ari Olafsson

And we’re back in the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical.  This time it’s the male lead,  half way through the second act showing off his range and prompting the upper circle to reach for their tissues, and the male audience members cross their legs at those high notes.

K: Belongs in a musical. 3

25. Israel “TOY” Netta

Nikki Minaj in a toyshop.  Favourite lyric “I’m taking my pikachu home”.  Is it scat singing or just beat boxing or some other form of singing that we haven’t yet come across. Or possibly a guest vocal by a passing chicken.  Astonishingly this has good odds.

K: Quirky, got a good beat! 7

26. Italy “Non Mi Aveta Fatto Niente” Ermai Meta and Fabrizio Moro

It’s very Italian, innit. Music to play while driving your soft top Alfa round the winding wine growing regions of Tuscany.

K: I’m singing “If Iwere a rich man……yabbadabba dabba dabba” 6

27. Lithuania “When We’re Old” Ieva Zasimauskaita

Breathy female vocal. Song about growing old together. “These are the reasons, I want you to know, you made this place feel like home”.

K: This is so boring even she’s yawning during the chorus.2

28. Latvia “Funny Girl” Laura Rizzotto

Another 3/4 song.  “Tell me what you’re looking for, I promise you I got it all”.  Drippy ending.

K: so-so.5

29. Moldova “My Lucky Day” DoReDps

Polka dot polka dot afro circus!

K: Very upbeat!7

30. FYROM “Lost and Found” Eye Cue

This was clearly written by 3 different composers who didn’t communicate during the composition process.  Intro: contemporary pop Verse: reggae Bridge : sparse contemporary Chorus: chanty Ibiza clubby.  I will eat (one of my ) hats if this gets through the semis.

K: Disjointed.4

31. Malta “Taboo” Christabelle

Spooky intro (got the memo, check) .  Build into Taylor Swift-esque refrain, which – pet hate of mine – puts the emphasis on the word THE. Break THE taboo.

K: no comments recorded.5

32. Montenegro “Inje” Vanja Radovanovic

Smoky piano bar crooning. Very sparse notes-of-the-scale tune in the chorus.  You know on Pointless when they have LockDown, and Xander starts the old chaning monks thing.  I want there to be candle-bearing chanting monks in this.  Big finish!

K: BORING!2

33. The Netherlands “Outlaw In’em” Waylon

This was love at first hear for me, and it’ll be a permanent feature on my  running playlist.  Very Guns’n’Roses/ Aerosmith, but I’m not sure if it’ll have Europe-wide appeal.  Favourite lyric ”  everybody got a little front man swagger, stone cold-rollin’ like a young Mick Jagger”. And awwww, leopardskin-jacketed Waylon’s girlfriend has announced they are expecting, so she does have a little outlaw in her.  Song should really have a “yeeehaw!” to finish.  My line dancing sis will enjoy it.

K: Yeeehaw!9

 

34. Norway “That’s How You Write a Song” Alexander Rybak

Euroviz royalty and former winner Alexander is an engaging and infectious performer.  Includes jazz violin and some scat singing, and puts me in mind of Jamiroquai. “Enjoy the small things, in time they will get big”.   But I’m pretty sure there are more than two steps to writing a song.   Aren’t there tune and words and copyright and musical scoring aspects to consider? Ach I know, bless my naievity for expecting lyrics to make some sort of sense.

K: Up town funk you up, with a smidge of Minnie the Moocher.7

35. Poland “Light Me Up” Gromee feat Lukas Meijor

Does he need someone to strike a match for his ciggie? There’s hints of Take That in the tune, with a club friendly middle 8. Help me to ignite…

K: I really hope that the stage show includes his suit lighting up in different colours.5

36. Portugal “O Jardim” Claudia Pascoal feat Isaura

Breathy female vocal, reminscent of Dido, with hints of Ray of Light.  I might sneak this into my top ten.

K: very slow.5

37. Romania “Goodbye” the Humans

Deep and meaningful preachiness  moving into Pat Benetar.

K: Sounds like Pink.4

38. Russia “I wont Break” Julia Samoylova

When it comes to emotions from the deepest of oceans, I won’t give in to the notion

K: I’m going to give this 5, in case Putin reads this blog.

39. San Marino “Who we Are” Jessika feat Jennifer Brening

One of my favourites this year, though I think it’s too similar to Heroes to get away with winning. I like the message about being yourself, bit worried that her voice isn’t going to be strong enough live.  “In the middle of the storm we’re standing tall”. Rap section.

K: Spice Girls, I’ll tell you what I want what I really really want.7

40. Serbia “Nova Deca” Sanja Illic and Balkanika

Oh good some classic Euroviz warbling and obscure instrument blowing! I’ll be astonished if this survives the semis.

K: Warbling and hymn like, Greek like.5

41. Slovenia “Hvala Me” Lea Sirk

Soundtrack by that cymbal playing toy monkey, and the budget clearly didn’t stretch to a tune, as it seems to be just the one note.

K: She sounds really upset about something.2

42. Sweden “Dance You Off” Benjamin Ingresso

Can’t decide if its Timberlake or Beiber, but it’s one of the Justins, innit.  I’m not clear how you “dance someone off”, but it’s a nice song, and he’s an attractive guy.

K: He sounds like a girl.4

43. Ukraine “Under the Ladder” MELOVIN

Sounds like a Money Supermarket insurance advert.  Maybe it is – offering protection for accidents caused by ignoring superstitions.  Bit of a slowed-down section, then speeds up again for the big finish. Maniac, maniac on the floor….

K: Will there be ladders on stage, though?  Has someone done a risk assessment? 5

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MY FAVOURITES

I’m notoriously rubbish at predicitng the winer, but I’d love to see in the Top Ten:  UK, Cyprus, San Marino, Denmark, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Moldova, Austria, with the Netherlands to win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runner of the Week

It’s been quite a week in the world of running.  Even though I did precious little ACTUAL running, I did manage to get to a Body Pump class, and strength work is very important in improving performance.

Firstly, I changed my car.  The little yellow Fiat 500 (Travis was its name) was very cute, and lots of people remarked that it was very “me”, but it was just too small to fit 2 large dogs in any way comfortably.  Minnie could fit in the boot, but it was a tight squeeze, and she had recently discovered that she could climb over into the back seat and beyond, which is just not safe.  Max could fit in the back seat with a seatbelt attachement, but it was a real palaver to get everybody in and out.

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Room for everyone!

My main criterion when looking at a replacement car was the height of the sill into the boot area.  Many cars that would otherwise be great canine-friendly vehicles failed on this test.  And it was almost by chance that I happened upon the Nissan Note, but after taking it for a test drive I was pretty sure this was the car for me!

Both dogs fit comfortably in the back, and even Max jumps in without too much cajoling.  Little dog usually lives up to her nickname of “Moaning Minnie” in the car, but the whinging is definitely at a lower level, now that she has room to turn around and find a good spot.  As it is a blue Note, its name is Harold Melvin.

Next, I was featured in the parkrun UK weekly magazine, as “parkrunner of the week”.  I have to thank one of the Wallace run directors, Michael Harris, for nominating me, and the feature was spotted by parkrun chums on Mumsnet, h2g2, and Twitter.  My Mum was of course enormously proud, and is showing it to everyone.

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During Monday night’s training run, my headphone batteries died, so I had to resort to other distraction techniques.  I like playing with numbers in my head (I loved the Irish Eurovision entry last year of this name – shame it didn’t do better!) and I started working out how many parkruns Minnie has done with me.  Some were obvious – she hasn’t done the far flung ones like Derry or Limavady, and she hasn’t done any in Scotland or England.  MUSA is a no-dog run, and I knew there was one Bangor run I’d been without her as I was doing my sighted guide training.  The only question mark was Wallace.  She’s done MOST of the 72 runs that I’ve clocked up there, but not all.  I reckoned a generous estimate was that she’d missed 10 of them.  So she’s done over 90 in total.  I will be making her a 100 vest when the time comes, but meanwhile, I reckoned I could turn the purple T shirt she wore last week to Liz’s 100th run into a club vest.

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It’s fun to run at the Wa—-llace parkrun!

So I ordered the letters DOG LISBURN from Amazon, and they arrived in time for me to iron them in place.

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Club T shirt

So now we had the attire, and the right mode of transport, where would we go?  Ecos and Bangor (both high on my list of “events where I’m sure I could run faster than last time”) were having birthdays, complete with cake.  Wallace was having its monthly pacer session, but it was the news that Stormont had re-measured its course, and it was now a good 100m shorter, that proved the most persuasive.

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Where shall we go?

The weather was not kind, and it was damp and miserable.  As we parked up in the hotel’s capacious car-park, and elderly gent joined us, admiring Minnie’s outfit.  He was pretty new to parkrun, so I gave him a rough idea of the course, but took him to say hi to the volunteers.  A few people recognized me from the parkrun newsletter, and I recognized a few people and dogs from other events.

stormont purple ladies

All the purple ladies, all the purple ladies, now put your hands UP!

The run itself went smoothly – I felt my pacing was pretty good, I wasn’t over-pushing myself too early, and Minnie’s impetus up the few hills was working well.  My previous best time here was 26.40, so I was hopeful that the shorter course would see me in the 25s.  As it was, I even managed to break 25, and came in as 4th lady in 24.56, with the 3rd best aged-graded percentage of the day.  Gotta love age-grading: as with many things in life, the trick is just to keep going.

Fellow Waggy-racers Claire and Cash (named after Johnny…) were first female finisher -well done!

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Well done Claire and Cash!

Strangely-appropriate-song on shuffle was “C-lebrity” by Queen with Paul Rogers, with the line “I wanna get my features in magazines” making me smile.

 

 

All the parkruns I’ve done

 

 

 

 

 

 

EuroViennaSlava

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I’ve long been a fan of Eurovision, ever since Dana, who went to the same ballet school as me, won with All Kinds of Everything. But would I ever get the chance to attend an actual contest?
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When Austria won last year, thanks to the lovely Conchita with her Bond-theme “Rise Like A Phoenix”, there was an inkling of possibility. Phoenixes are very significant to me, and I knew not one but two people living in Vienna. I made tentative enquires about flights, and discovered that Ryanair fly Dublin-Bratislava, only an hour away, and that the cost for the dates I needed was very affordable. All I needed was a ticket. The online sales were impossible to use, but thankfully one of my Viennese peeps popped round to the Stadthalle in their lunch hour and managed to get 2 tickets for the Thursday semi-final, at which Ireland would be performing.
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As May approached I was getting very excited. Not only was all this going to be a reality, I was also going to manage to tick off two more European capitals!
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The flight from Dublin was leaving at an early hour, so I opted to stay on the Tuesday night with a friend in Donabate, where we watched the Tuesday semi-final (most of which was pronounced “shoite” by another companion.)

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The flight itself was very pleasant, Ryanair have upped their game and it shows.
The bus to Vienna (via Brat centre and Vienna airport) was late, but I got chatting to a few other Euroviz fans. The cost one way is €7, which is remarkable value. For travellers wishing just to go into the Slovakian capital, there’s a no 61 bus which costs 90 cents and operates a very frequent service.

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1hr 20 mins later I alighted in Erdberg, where the main bus terminal is. G, my man in Vienna, texted that he’d meet me there in 20 mins, so I found a little bar and enjoyed a white wine for €2, all the while double-taking the smokers around me. It seems so odd, these days, but the Viennese are stubborn about giving up their rights to smoke wherever they please.

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The metro system is pretty straightforward, and there is a stop very close to G’s rather lovely apartment – big rooms, wooden floors, plenty of space. Dropped my bags and we went on a short orientation tour, past the Stephansdom and the main square. Had a pizza in the cafe opposite, and an early night.
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On Thursday, I strolled back to Stephansplatz, and had a coffee in Do & Co overlooking the Dom, very civilised, a stunning view and only €4.
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There were little wooden stalls around the platz, one even selling Eurovision wine. To be honest, Eurovision fever had taken over the whole city – there were cakes…..

20150521_121159 rainbow flags…..

20150521_105208Conchita advertising banks…..

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taxis…..

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flags on the trams…..

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special green and red lights at pedestrian crossings…..

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and posters on the metro showing how to get to the hall.
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A Eurovision village had set up shop in front of the Rathaus. There were stalls from most of the participating countries, and I entered a few competitions and picked up a pink Union flag from the UK tent. A large screen was showing related programmes, and a multi-national chilled party ambiance pervaded.
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It was rainy and wet, and Vienna’s wide tree-lined avenues do nothing to protect one from inclement weather, the trees and colonnades facades merely acting as repeater stations for the raindrops. So I boarded a hop-on-hop-off bus and let it show me the sights.
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We dined in on ham and salad, before dressing for the semi-final show. I opted for burgundy leather trousers and a multi coloured top, while G declared his allegiances in a Munster rugby shirt. We had acquired a tricolour from the Embassy offices, and suitably geared up we set out for the Stadthalle! The atmosphere was electric, crowds from every competing nation waving their flags and cheering, some singing the songs they already knew. There was no big queue for the metro, for security, for ticket check, for the loos, or for the bar (though I had to content myself with white wine spritzers, as there was limited choice).
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The Irish entry was very gentle compared to the other songs, and didn’t get a great reception from the crowd. THAT was reserved for Mans from Sweden, with the upbeat David Guetta- styled “Heroes”, and the very clever technical light projection. The crowd went wild.

We were standing quite close to the green room area, where all the acts waited before and after their performances, being interviewed by Conchita. I couldn’t believe how tiny she is.
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The results were announced, and Ireland hadn’t made the cut. No surprises. We found ourselves joining in with the Swedish fans on the metro on the way home.
On Friday, the weather was still miserable, but my bus ticket was for 24 hours, so I continued to explore. I rode the Riesenrad wheel at the Prater pleasure park, and had lunch in the revolving restaurant up the Donauturm, watching the not-very-blue Danube glide serenely below me.
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I had sachertorte in the oldest coffee house in Vienna,

20150522_141424 where a compulsorily brusque waiter spoke only in German, and I was glad I had revised the basics.
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Went out for dinner so I could try the other must-have culinary delight, Wiener schnitzel. And as it was that time of year, I had it mit spargel. It had been a big day for Ireland with the gay marriage referendum results coming in.
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Saturday morning – there’s no parkrun in Vienna, but I ran along the side of the canal almost to the point where it joins the main river, crossed over and ran back the other side. A beautiful space to walk, cycle, exercise dogs etc, and apparently there are beavers and other wildlife surviving on the banks.
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As Vienna is famous for its museums and galleries, I thought I’d better visit one, and chose the Albertina, full of lovely Klees and Picassos. Also a moving exhibition of Lee Miller’s photographs, showing stark images of the concentration camps just after liberation.
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On my way home I stopped by the Eurovision village to see if I could find a hat, since we’d be outdoors watching the final via big screen. I had a selfie taken with Conchita….and bought an EDR cowboy hat.
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Dinner was salmon and salad, and then a troop to the Rathaus to join the massive crowd for the final. It was like the best party ever, everyone was very good natured, and there was no booing of rival countries. Australia was taking part this year, as a special 60th anniversary gesture. No, don’t try to make sense of it, it’s Eurovision.

20150523_215833 The crowd thinned out after all the performances and the voting started. It was pretty intense : Russia took an early lead – nice song, many agreed, but they didn’t want Russia to win. Laughs and guesses at the usual political voting for neighbours – but it doesn’t affect the overall result. The contest has been won by 10 different countries in as many years, and last year’s runaway winner, Austria, this year scored the ignominious nul points.
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But as the voting continued, our man Mans moved into first place and stayed that way till the finish. Hurrah!
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We walked home in a state of elation.

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Next morning I packed and we wandered down to the boat terminal,

20150521_125849 where I’d booked my return trip to Brat by river. I was thrilled to discover that I’d actually booked the superfast hydrofoil, which was a wonderful experience. The elegant modern craft sped along the huge waterway, under bridges, and past countless little fishing huts, until we reached the Slovakian capital.
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At the port, I asked for a quote from a waiting taxi driver who wanted 15 euros to go to my hotel, the Austria Trend. I knew that sounded way too expensive, so I set off towards the old town myself, knowing it was pretty close to there. Found another taxi rank in the square who quoted me 12-13, so I thought sod it. As I entered the hotel, I recognised another pair of Euroviz fans from the boat, who were asking the receptionist if she thought that 15 euros from the port was a rip off. I laughed and said if I’d known they were coming here we could have shared, and that yes, I’d been quoted the same figure, and only saved a couple of euro by walking to the centre. So they calmed down a little after that. Turns out they were with the Portuguese press, and we compared our experiences of the contest.

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I was most impressed with the hotel, which at £40 for one night was a bargain. It’s right on the edge of old town, which is small enough to explore on foot. I found a place for lunch, and to my delight discovered my favourite fish, Zander, on the menu. Of course, it’s a river fish, and that’s what all those fishing huts were doing! With a glass of wine, and the annoyingly unnecessary cover charge, it came to 24 euros, but I WAS sitting in the main square, and I HAD ordered one of the most expensive dishes on the menu.
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I was aware there were several options for tourist buses, and asked at the “wee train” stop if I needed to buy tickets somewhere else, or if they could be bought on board. She ushered my into the one remaining seat, beside another party of Irish tourists, and 10 euros lighter we set off on one of the maddest wee train tours I’ve ever taken. The narrow streets are barely big enough to let the machine past, and tourists had to flatten themselves against the wall or find a doorway to avoid being run down. In retrospect I really should have continued my search and gone for a bus that went further afield, there’s no need to take a train round the very small old town.
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The sun was shining, and decided to walk up to the castle, Hrad, to enjoy the view. It’s a steep enough climb, if you weren’t very fit I’d suggest an alternative method to shanks mare. Not a taxi, though. 80 cents to use the loo seemed a bit extortionate as well, but the view was spectacular. (Not from the loos). As I rounded the back of the castle I discovered that a sort of local food festival was underway, with stalls offering wine and local food delicacies in exchange for tokens (doxx). I duly bought 10 doxx, and proceeded to work my way along the stalls, enjoying olive tapenade, cheese, and the rather lovely Slovakian white wine.
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I wisely avoided the palinka, from experience.

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For dinner, I went a bit away from the main square, and enjoyed a cocktail, veggie burger, chips and white wine for a mere 15 euro. I found that the tourist office was open to 7 pm, even on a Sunday, and decided to check with them about my journey to the airport the next day. They showed me where the bus went from, and did say “you could take a cab, but you know what Bratislavan taxi drivers are like”.
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The breakfast buffet selection was superb, any amount of cheese, meats and bread, as well as a special muesli-yoghurt dish. I walked through the gardens behind the Presidential palace up to the main station, where it was pretty simple to work out what ticket I needed. 90 cents is a single, make sure you validate the ticket on the bus.
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Bratislava airport is a gleaming glass cavern, with (currently) very few flights each day. Signs of its stag-party status were clear – the group of blokes taking selfies enjoying a beer with breakfast, the poor chap asleep on the chairs by the boarding gate.
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My journey home was uneventful – flight on time, bit of a wait for the bus at Dublin, but was picked up by my wonderful husband at Sprucefield just after 6, and he had dinner waiting for me.
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