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Diary of a travel writer: Trouble at the border on the way to the wild west

Thursday

"I don't do chips and burgers," says Knut of Knut's mountain cafe at the back of Kvitfjell in Norway. "I don't do fast food. I do good food fast." A fan of Ireland, Knot taught Kell Ryan from Tipperary how to ski. People come to Kvitfjell for the food and stay for the scary black slope home.

Friday

There is the prospect of fresh snow and a third resort to see, but, alas, the early morning train has arrived at Lillehammer Station. Lillehammer is an hour and a half from Oslo airport and flight SK4603 home. It is the easiest transfer in the ski industry and, if you go on to Kvitfjell, right to the chairlift.

Saturday

There is a €2bn order book in Dublin this weekend -- 241 foreign tour operators are in town to sign deals to bring tourists to the country. It is big business and always a delight to watch. New tourism minister Leo Varadkar spoke at the dinner in their honour. "It's a bit like speed dating," he said, "and as someone who tried speed dating, I hope it works."

Sunday

This is my first census night at home in 15 years. When it gets put on the archive (as the 1911 was and as Jimmy Deenihan hopes to do with 1936) the researchers of the future will be convinced I didn't exist.

Monday

Flight C023Y to Newark to connect with flight CO61Y to Houston, Texas. Continental say its Boeing 757-200 aircraft now have flat-bed seats in business class. I am on a t57-200 (always weird to fly single aisle across the Atlantic, must be my age).

Terminal 2's immigration set-up is sleeker than the old cattle pen on Pier B, but some things don't change.

The immigration officer is not just sternly inquisitorial (which she is entitled to) but goes beyond (which she is not). She takes great interest in the page that was torn from my passport when an official was removing the stapled visa-slip in 1998. Immigration officials always do, but then accept my explanation with good grace. Not this time.

Just one comment went beyond the boundaries, but it was enough.

The culture of the US Customs and Borders Protection is bullying. Superiors bully the officers in the booths, and they bully the passengers. Thousands of people have their holiday ruined, but what does one say in these situations? Nothing.

Tuesday

Texas Farm Life is a ranch-alike an hour outside of Houston with real steers and horses, and an attempt to recreate the world of the western we remember from our Sunday afternoon black and white matinees.

Wednesday

Owner John Elick and his cowboys drive 150 cattle under the low morning sun and I am a small child again at the Sunday afternoon matinees and dreaming of Texas

>Savvy Traveller by Eoghan Corry, How the Travel Industry Works and How to Make it Work for You, €15


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