San Francisco – The Fun Bit
I arrived at San Francisco to warm winter sunshine and checked into The Westin Hotel. Sleep came easy that first night and I awoke early in the morning, ready for our briefing by Tourism Ireland. As we had the afternoon at leisure, it was suggested that we do the cycle trip to the famous Golden Gates of San Fran. I was quite reluctant to go, as somehow I am afraid of cycling. Having always felt at home on a horse, I had the notion that a bicycle has a mind of its own! But it’s true what they say that once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget, and so I found myself whizzing along the streets of San Francisco with a lovely group of industry colleagues from Ireland. It was an amazing experience, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of San Francisco. We stopped for a beer (of course) and then took the ferry back to base with a glorious sunset as a backdrop to the Golden Gates. Later we enjoyed a delicious dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant followed by (of course), a visit to an Irish bar! We had fun in Foleys!
Event 1 – Jump Into Ireland – San Francisco
Time to work. Suited and booted, we welcomed our travel and media guests who visited each stand and learned about our products, places and people. Later, we took to the stage to present the ‘Jump Into Ireland’ show. Rather than death by PowerPoint, the format was more relaxed and informal. It worked very well. More networking followed a buffet feast of Irish food. When the guests had departed, our group gathered for a chat and a well-deserved glass or two of fine Californian wine.
Event 2 – Los Angeles
An early morning flight to L.A and we arrived at the Beverly Hilton hotel, the venue for the Golden Globes. To be honest, I thought it would be more ‘posh’ with lots of celebrities hanging around but nevertheless it was a great experience to walk the corridors looking at photos of Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne and many other Hollywood stars. Once again, our event was deemed a great success and there certainly seemed to be strong interest and buying power amongst the travel agents that we met. There was also a good media presence of travel bloggers and writers for luxury lifestyle magazines.
Event 3 – Sleepy in Seattle
Another flight. Another airport. At times, I had to remind myself where I was and where I was going. Anyway, I somehow got on the right flight to the right destination and just as we prepared for the descent into Seattle, looking out the window, I saw the most magical sight of a big mountain towering above the clouds. Mount Rainier was bidding me welcome to Seattle. I checked into the lovely Fairmont hotel and there was little time to spare before getting ready for the third and final ‘Jump Into Ireland’ event. Between yawns, I looked longingly at the bed and instead had a cold shower to freshen up, and downstairs I went. During the event, there was a super traditional Irish band playing, and on hearing some beautiful, emotional ballads, I felt proud to be Irish and happy to be going home soon. The evening finished with a lovely poem:
“There are good ships,
There are tall ships,
There are ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships are friendships
And may they always be”
I would like to thank Tourism Ireland for inviting me to participate in ‘Jump Into Ireland’, especially Hillarie and all the team for organizing such a great trip. Many business contacts were made, many friendships and long lasting memories formed. Here’s to another record-breaking year in 2017.