I have no idea where the term “bucket list” came from because it makes absolutely no sense. Luckily everyone understands what it is. Most of us of a certain age have something like this – sort of a checklist for our bucket – places we want to go, things we want to do before we croak. It would be interesting to see the success percentages of this bucket.
Life gets in the way for many of us until we are too old or frail or still too broke to fill the bucket. I try not to regret anything in this regard. If you saw my credit card statement you would know what I mean.
We wanted to visit Garth Brooks, one of the greatest showmen in the world, or so they say, not to mention the musician. He played in Arkansas – but the tickets were obscenely high. You can also go to Europe for that, I thought to myself!
At the time, my daughter was feeling a bit down about her workout, physical well being and more. I thought a dangling carrot would be in order. “Hey, when you graduate do you want to visit Garth Brooks in Dublin? A birthday present?” I asked and got a huge and effusive response.
Oddly, the tickets were considerably cheaper than their American counterparts, so the seeds were sown for piling a little more grain in our buckets. Somehow her boyfriend got invited for the ride too and a damn journey grew around the nugget of the promised concert. “If we go to Ireland, we have to visit dad,” she tells me. Well of course we’ll see dad – that’s just a stone’s throw from Dublin.
So those were two stages of the planned adventure. From San Francisco via Paris to Dublin to the Isle of Man. Then, by sheer coincidence, I discover that the route from San Fran to Paris has been cancelled. If you booked a flight in the chaotic days of post-Covid flying, chances are you’ve encountered something similar. I thought I’d better check and lo and behold, the blessed flight was gone. After hours of phoning, the problem was resolved and we flew via London instead of Paris.
It was quite a long flight and an extremely long day getting to Clondarf Castle in Dublin. Any of you frequent flyers out there know how delicious that feeling is when you shed your travel clothes, take a long shower and sip a cold beer. The Castle didn’t disappoint one bit and we enjoyed a large pint of Guinness (tastes so much better there) and some appetizers before settling down for a lovely dinner.
The general consensus was that we should have decompressed two nights at the castle and not just the one; but it was time to go. We took a taxi to our next stop – Jury’s Inn in downtown Dublin. It was time to get ready for showtime. I have never been to Ireland let alone Dublin and was so pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the people. They were so hospitable and fun!
We geared up and headed to the stadium where Garth would be entertaining us that evening. Being used to American stadiums, I had my clear law-abiding bag ready for some high-security shenanigans, but there really weren’t any, and I could probably have lugged a suitcase if I’d been so inclined. The atmosphere was electric, a full stadium. We happened to secure a few great seats and the top-class showman put on a fantastic show.
He filled the house for almost three hours and more than once happily raised his arms and teary eyes to the sky. He was so happy to be there. He told the story that when he struggled as an artist with so little material of his own that he had to fill his set with covers, Dublin embraced him as their own and as a result he had always grown very fond of the city. He played four gigs there in one week and filled the house every night.
As I exited the stadium with the busy crowd filling the streets, I realized we were quite a distance from the hotel and it would be difficult to find a taxi. Doesn’t matter! The streets were full of horses and carts, so it was a horse-drawn chariot. What an incredible feeling to be trotting across the bridges of Dublin with a fine black steed named Big Romeo at the wheel. I didn’t realize this was on my bucket list, but now I had to add it so I can check it off. We ate the best Italian pizza known to man, accompanied by Irish coffee and fell into bed just before sunrise.
The next day we had a delicious breakfast at the judges’ hotel with the prospect of a good day ahead of us, exploring the city and supporting their economy in the shops. We also took a guided tour of Dublin’s dark history which gave us a good sense of the city and prompted us to visit a few places we would otherwise have missed.
Sunday was flight day so we made our way to the airport for our short hop to the Isle of Man and sister and dad’s house. Again, we could have used another day in Dublin’s beautiful city, probably just to recover from the three days we’d already spent there. A delightful place – I hope to return.
The Isle of Man is a beautiful little island that I’ve gotten to know well since my father moved there during the pandemic. It is very unspoilt with lush forests, rolling hills and the most beautiful rugged coastline, especially when the weather is good; and we were very lucky in that regard.
I have friends I brought there in November who still tell me they never got colder than the Isle of Man. It was so nice to see all those friendly faces over there again. Not to change the routine at all, we still only had three days to recover from our previous trip.
“Mom, next time we travel, can we stay in one place for five days instead of three?” asked my child’s pale face as we drove to another airport.
“This is unique, Chica!” I reminded her. “If you’re traveling alone, you can easily spend five days in one place.”
On this bucket-listed adventure, we only had two weeks to visit quite a few locations, so our schedule was a bit tight. It was now time to go to London City. We had to go and pay our respects to the queen.
(Continued next week.)