K is for Komodo Dragon
I’ve had a travel list – mostly in my head – for a long as I can remember. Like all meaningful travel lists, its constantly evolving and never shortens. There are destinations on it now that literally did not exist for me as a traveler even a decade ago. In particular, I’m now looking forward to visiting some of the ‘Stans’, Ethiopia and Persepolis in Iran over the next few years.
But doors also close. Sometimes an opportunity is missed. It may be due to natural disasters- hurricanes, tsunamis, etc. or medical warnings – Zika, measles…. And of course, there is civil unrest and political upheaval. Being ever mindful and respectful of the residents of such places who are left dealing with terrible situations, it’s disappointing when somewhere you dreamed of visiting is no longer accessible. For me, it’s happened twice in recent years. We were considering visiting Aleppo and Palmyra in Syria when the war began in March, 2011. Myanmar was at an advanced planning stage when news of the Rohingya crisis broke.
Of all the animals on earth, the one I most want to see in the ‘wild’ is the Komodo Dragon. I really want to go to Komodo Island. Now it seems that authorities are going to close the island to visitors for at least a year. Compared to Syria and Myanmar, this is trivial stuff – this is not a humanitarian crisis and nothing has been destroyed. It seems to be part of the tourism backlash – too many visitors – which coincided with the bust up of a smuggling ring. Not all of the 6000 dragons living in the wild are on Komodo Island itself – they are also found on other islands that make up the national park …. but that’s not the same thing is it!!!
I hope its only for a year – I can wait a year!
(K – first published June 5th, 2019)
L is for Landscape
So what do Morocco, Jordan, Oman, Namibia, Utah, Arizona and Mexico have in common?
Answer – I love them!
And why do I love them?
Answer – Because they’re not exactly very green!
Don’t get me wrong – I love green. I’m surrounded by it. Ireland is famous in poetry and song for its 40 shades of green. Well I’m looking out my window as I type ( I know – so skilled!) and I reckon I can see about 38 of them – and I live in a housing estate!!
When travelling, its semi arid regions that appeal to me the most. I love the landscape itself – rock formations, dry river beds, salt flats, cracked earth. I love the colours – the browns, yellows, pinks, greys. I love the scrub vegetation that has adapted to the harsh environment. And I love the dry heat (within reason!).
Of course, its said that we travel so that we can come back and see our own place with fresh eyes and extra colours. Who knows what lies outside my window – maybe I’ll have a shade of green called after me one day!!!
(L – first published June 12th, 2019)
M is for Matinee
Yesterday, I went to a Wednesday matinee in London. Not exactly an earth shattering announcement I know but I went with 3 pals as a day trip from Dublin. It had never occurred to us before but was easily done: Ryanair €44 return to Gatwick – top up the Oyster cards and get the train to Victoria – tube to Convent Garden for a perfect Prosecco lunch – walk to Wyndhams Theatre and spend a few hours with Matthew Broderick and Elizabeth McGovern in Starry Messenger – back to Convent Garden for coffee and cake in a lovely tea room – back to Victoria and on to Gatwick for the 9.35pm flight to Dublin.
How’s that for a day out!
So doable and perfect for a special birthday or celebration.
(I’d better not spoil the moment by telling you all that we arrived back to Gatwick’s beautifully designated ‘gold emergency’. Chaos! To cut a long airport ‘story’ short, we were the lucky ones and were eventually bussed to Stansted (1 hr 50 mins!) and put on a plane that departed at 1.10am.!)
(M – first published July 11th, 2019)
N is for NYC
New York has to be my favourite city (after Dublin of course!). My first visit was in the height of summer, 1983. As a teacher, living in temperate climes, I remember totally glamorising and envying those office workers sitting with their packed lunches in Central Park. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the city on many summers since then and I still love getting something from a food truck or deli and finding a bench or piece of grass – no NYC lunchtime restaurants for me!
I’ve just recently realised that I always visit NYC in extreme weather. If not dealing with August heat then its the mid winter challenge of freezing temperatures at best and probably snow. Yes, its a wonderful city at holiday time – checking Macy’s window, making a show of myself on the ice-skating rink in Central Park and squeezing into Time Square to ring in a new year. But there’s little pleasure to be reaped on Brooklyn Bridge at -10℃ in January or heading off to Jersey Gardens in the snow, knowing we won’t get back if they pull the buses off the streets.
Then there’s the clothes thing! I always seem to be laden with something. In summer, I’m in the lightest of clothes but freezing when I go into air conditioned buildings – so I have to leave the hotel in the morning prepared for that. In winter I’m wrapped up when outdoors and practically melt as soon as I go inside, peeling off layers and dropping hats, scarves and gloves in my haste to avoid passing out! New Yorkers seem to manage OK …I guess practice makes perfect.
I think NYC should go back on my wish list – twice!
It must be an amazing city in Springtime and Autumn!
(N – first published July 27th, 2019)
O is for Omelette Man!
So what do you fancy? – Spanish, Masala, Ali Baba or just plain cheese? Open since 1974, The Omelette Shop is an institution in Jodhpur and the man himself has been joined by his sons in the business of producing about 400 omelettes every day!
He’s not hard to find – just inside the main gate, close to the clock tower. All you have to do is look for a place with stacks of eggs and a Lonely Planet sign! Make your choice, grab a stool and sit in the street. Your omelette is served in bread as a sandwich and, as you sip your chai, you can watch the pandemonium around you while chatting with fellow travellers.
(I bet I know what’s going through your mind – hygiene, eggs, heat, street ….. well, I broke a lot of travel rules on this one too. If it helps – and I have to say I must have one of the worst holiday tummies on the planet – the omelette was fresh, delicious and incident free!!)
If you’re looking for an escape from the chaos of the city – perhaps an elegant premises with plush seating and controlled temperatures – well this mightn’t be the place for you. Oh – and yes – you’d probably need to like eggs!!
(O – first published Aug 11th, 2019)
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