Round about this time of year, now that Christmas has passed and Easter is months away, folks in Ireland get to feeling antsy. We find ourselves daydreaming a bit over a cuppa tea as we gaze out the window across soggy hills and grey streets. Perhaps we’re wishing that Spring was closer, but more likely, we’re fantasizing about far off holiday destinations… call it the ‘Winter Doldrums,’ but a change of scenery from chilly Ireland – as much as we love her – would be welcome.
Irish (and often British) folks have a certain affinity for their Sun Holidays, saving up for months to fly off to Grand Canaria, Tenerife or Mallorca . There’s a running joke that if you take a vacation in this part of the world, you’ll hear a lot more British and Irish accents than Spanish, and you’ll probably get served more UK and Irish fare than anything local or strange. The travel agencies are constantly running good deals to these destinations year round, flying direct out of Irish airports, facilitating big groups if you like, and promoting handy all-in packages. Some people love the islands so much that they even buy second homes there and go several times a year.
The next most popular destination, I’d wager, would be the States, most often Florida and then New York. Obviously, Irish people flock to Florida to get the sun and hit all the theme parks, and again, you can get pretty good deals for the family because of the Sunshine State’s popularity. Further down the list would be Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston. You also see ads for flights to Eastern European destinations like Riga, Latvia and the Black Sea in Bulgaria, but I’m not sure how many of those are sold to Irish nationals or to the folks we have living here from that part of the world anyway. Or maybe they’re just Stag Night ideas (i.e. cheap booze)? I also think most Irish people I know dream of a “vacation of a lifetime” to Australia at some stage. Many go and never return! But for the average citizen on a budget, it’s Spain or Orlando.
You can’t really blame people for their choice of holiday – and in all actuality, travelling can be really stressful, especially if you don’t speak the language and even more if you have kids. So it makes sense to play it a bit safe.
As for me, personally, I have never been too predictable when it comes to vacations! When I lived in the States, I loved just getting in my car and ending up somewhere “off the beaten track.” I loved discovering the hidden attractions in places like Missouri, Maryland, Virginia and even South Dakota! Granted, a lot of my time spent on the road to these spots was not intentional, but I loved them just the same.
Now, we’re not in any way planning a vacation yet for this year, and if we do, it will be small, probably exploring some wonderful little nook of Ireland! So, instead of dieting and tanning to perfect my swimsuit bod, I am sitting here with a chocolate muffin pretending we have all the money in the world to see mainland Europe, the way we’ve always wanted to. Where would YOU go?
Here’s where the Kellys would travel this year, if given the chance.
Dream Vacation 1: Madrid in February
Besides having tapas, drinking fresh Tempranillo, visiting the world-renowned modern art galleries and stopping by the historic sites, we would have to get a coffee in Cafe de Oriente. I have been long wishing to see this fascinating cafe since reading about it in a book Frank bought me when we were still dating, “The Grand Literary Cafes of Europe,” by Noel Riley Fitch. We also have friends in Madrid who I would love to see.
Dream Vacation 2: Italy in April
I couldn’t pick one region – I just couldn’t do it. I have been to Italy before, in college, and saw Rome, Florence and Pompeii. Like most people who have been to Italy, I’ve been thinking about when I can get back since the day I left. Frank has never been, but would like to visit Venice. I would honestly be thrilled to bits if you dropped me anywhere in the country, even if it was the rock being kicked at the toe of the boot. I’m there.
Dream Vacation 3: Prague, Czech Republic, in June
Prague has always been high on Frank’s list for the history, mystique, arts and architecture. The oldest part of the city is meant to be stunning.
Dream Vacation 4: The Black Forest, Germany in August
Magnificent castles, towering green mountains and luke warm beer… what could be more magical? ;) The land of my heritage awaits.
Dream Vacation 5: The Rhone Valley, France, in October
The language barrier is definitely a bit daunting here, as it was when we went to Paris three years ago, but I just know seeing the French countryside in Autumn would make some magnificent memories. The Rhone region, including Lyon, is quite famous for its food and the extent to which the ancient heritage is maintained. It’s also closer to Switzerland and the towering French Alps. A bonus? Cotes du Rhone is some of my favourite wine.