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So why do Spanish parties only get going at about 2am?

MONDAY: The travel junkies of the world converge on Madrid each January for Fitur, a babel of travel talk where the Hispanic world shows off its wares for the new year.

TUESDAY: Madrid did well out of the Iberian tiger. The entire city was transformed into an architectural treasure.

The Museo del Prado is not just one of Europe's best museums, but now an artwork in itself, thanks to a new Rafael Moneo designed wing added in October 2007.

A former slaughterhouse turned cultural centre, Matadero Madrid over in edgier Legazpi in the south of city, is worth a trek.

WEDNESDAY: There is lots of activity at Tourism Ireland Stand 4A02 in Pavilion 4 at Fitur. Inbound tourism from Spain has been a recent success story.

All those extra routes we opened during the boom flying both directions. The best party at Fitur is the Basque party, and it is not only because of the Rioja.

The party doesn't end, it merely spills over into a nearby taverna.

What is it about the Spaniards, that the real party only ever seems to start at 2am?

THURSDAY: Back in Dublin to do a news interview on Ryanair's ash-tax setback. FRIDAY: Everyone complained when they moved Kildare's "home" match against Donegal to Croke Park.

You miss the conviviality of Newbridge but it was a great atmosphere and a sense that the sporting year has begun in earnest.

SATURDAY: Travel writer and music magazine founder John Coughlan passed away at noon.

He was a great companion in the skies or on the ground – forever poking fun at the pomposity that stalks the aviation sector and the bureaucracy-heavy tourism boards.

Not everyone got it about John, especially the Cypriots who were asked if Turkish soldiers come over for a little R&R or the Israelis that were asked for pork at mealtimes.

He will be missed.


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