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February 4, 2023

Window on the World Column | Bucket Listed

I’ve no idea where the term “bucket list” came from because it makes absolutely no sense. Fortunately, everyone understands what it is. Most of us of a certain age have such a thing — a checklist of sorts for our bucket — places we want to go, things we want to do before we croak. It would be interesting to see the achievement percentages of said bucket.

For many of us, life gets in the way, until we are too old or infirm, or still too broke to be able to fill the bucket. I try not to have any regrets in that regard. If you saw my credit card statement, you’d know what I mean.

We wanted to go and see Garth Brooks, one of the world’s greatest showmen, or so they say, not to mention musician. He was playing in Arkansas — but the tickets were obscenely high. Might as well go to Europe for that, I thought to myself!

At the time, my daughter was feeling a bit despondent about her training, her physical well-being and more. I thought a carrot dangling might be in order. “Hey, when you’ve graduated, do you want to go and see Garth Brooks in Dublin? A birthday-graduation present?” I enquired and received a huge and effusive response in return.

The tickets were, oddly, considerably more affordable than their American counterparts, and so the seed was sown for stacking up a bit more grain in our buckets. Somehow her boyfriend also got invited along for the ride and, around the nugget of the promised concert, grew one heck of a trip. “If we’re going to Ireland, we have to go and see Papa,” she tells me. Well, of course we are going to see Papa — that’s just a skip away from Dublin.

So that was two legs of the adventure planned. San Francisco to Paris to Dublin to the Isle of Man. Then, by sheer chance, I discover that the San Fran to Paris leg had been canceled. If you booked a flight during the chaotic days of post-Covid flying, then you have likely come across something similar. I thought I had better check on things and lo and behold, the blessed flight had evaporated. After hours spent on the phone, the sitch was resolved and we were flying via London instead of Paris.

It was quite a long flight and an extremely long day by the time we rocked up at the Clondarf Castle in Dublin. For any of you frequent flyers out there, you know how delicious that feeling is when you strip off your travel clothes, take a long shower and drink a cold beer. The castle did not disappoint one bit, and we enjoyed a large pint of Guinness (tastes so much better over there) and some appetizers, before settling down to a lovely dinner.

The general consensus was that we should have decompressed for two nights at the castle and not just the one; but it was time to go. We caught a cab to our next locale — the Jury’s Inn in downtown Dublin. It was time to get ready for showtime. I had never been to Ireland, let alone Dublin before, and I was so pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the people. They were so hospitable and funny!

We primped and made our way to the stadium where Garth would be entertaining us that evening. Being used to American stadiums, I had my clear law-abiding bag with me ready for some high-security shenanigans, but there really wasn’t any and I could likely have lugged a suitcase along with me if I had been so inclined. The atmosphere was electric, a full stadium. We had, by chance, secured some great seats and the showman extraordinaire put on a fantastic show.

He packed the house for nearly three hours, joyously raising his arms and teary eyes to the heavens on more than one occasion. That’s how happy he was to be there. He related the tale that when he was a struggling artist with so little of his own material that he had to fill his set with covers, Dublin embraced him as their own and consequently the city had always been dear to his heart. He played four gigs there in one week and filled the house each night.

Leaving the stadium with the buzzing crowd filling up the roads, I realized that we were quite some distance from the hotel and were going to have a hard time finding a taxi. No matter! The streets were full of horses and carts, so a horse-drawn chariot it was. What an amazing feeling to be trotting over the bridges of Dublin with a fine black steed called Big Romeo at our helm. I didn’t know that was part of my bucket list, but now I’ve had to add it so that I can check it off. We ate the best Italian pizza known to man, accompanied by Irish coffee and fell into bed close to dawn.

The next day we had a delicious breakfast in the Jury’s hotel with the prospect of a good day ahead, exploring the city and assisting their economy in the shops. We also took a guided tour of Dublin’s dark history, which gave us a good flavor for the city, plus prompted us to visit a few locales that we would otherwise have missed.

Sunday was fly day, so we were off to the airport for our short hop to the Isle of Man and the home of sister and father. Again, we could have used another day in Dublin’s fair city, probably even just to recover from the three days we had already spent there. A delightful place — I hope to return.

The Isle of Man is a beautiful little island I have got to know quite well, since father moved there during the pandemic. It is very unspoiled with lush woods, rolling hills and the most lovely, craggy coastline, especially when the weather is good; and we were very fortunate in that regard.

I have friends who I took over there one November and still relate that they have never felt colder anywhere than they did on the Isle of Man. It was so nice to see all those friendly faces over there again. Not to switch up the routine at all, we still only had three days to recover from our previous trip.

“Mum, the next time we travel, can we stay five days in one place, instead of three?” the pale face of my kid queried, as we headed off to yet another airport.

“This is a one-off, chica!” I reminded her. “When you are traveling by yourselves, you can certainly spend five days in one place.”

On this bucket-listed adventure, we only had two weeks to visit a whole bunch of places, so our schedule was a tad tight. It was now time to head to London town. We needed to go and pay our respects to the Queen.

(To be continued next week.)

Lucy Jensen
Soledad Columnist

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