It’s July in Chicago, sunny, warm, & beautiful. Food and music festivals abound, along with great concerts, no school- work and a bevy of entertaining friends. But it’s vacation time in the Buckley household. I’m told to pack a rain- coat, umbrella, waterproof shoes, hoodies & sweaters. What’s up? I’m told we are taking a family vacation throughout Ireland….on a bus! I can’t imagine that being on a 10 day bus trip with my mother, father, older sister and 20 other strangers can be anything but the things nightmares are made of! I am envisioning my grandma’s senior citizen bus trips to local all you can eat buffets, artificial knee factories, and big band extravaganzas. In Ireland I am guessing this equates to all you can eat Lucky Charms, leprechaun memorabilia centers and 100 different versions of “Oh, Danny Boy!” How wrong one can be!
Taking a guided coach tour is amazing. It begins when the tour guide picks you up at the airport like an old friend. There are no family disagreements about the trip because all the travel arrangements and itineraries have been planned well in advance. I learn on my tour that Ireland is a relatively new and exceptionally beautiful country. We have a terrific driver who can maneuver winding, narrow roads while driving on the opposite side of the road. Best of all he never gets lost! We stay at top class modern hotels that look like castles surrounded by lavish countryside and fascinating history. Every morning after a delicious Irish breakfast we begin our tour of cities, small towns, castles, thatched pubs, and historical sites way too numerous to mention. But there is no stress, no bother. Our tour guide has everything lined up for our perfect day. Surprisingly enough, the weather is quite nice here as well. With temperatures in the 70’s, and only 2 days out of 10 with a little rain, I have no need for all the gear I packed for the major inclement forecast. I also discover that the Irish people love Americans and are super friendly. We do hear traditional Irish music in the pubs but it is also mixed with modern American music and is really quite good. Our trip mates on the bus are of all ages, come from both the U.S. and Canada and really become good friends before the end of our trip. We are able to share experiences exploring the similarities and differences of a foreign country that really unite us and open our eyes to new cultural diversity.
Ah! I did hear “Danny Boy” once. It was on the way home at the Dublin airport and I must say, it almost brought a tear to my eye. Was I missing Ireland already, or simply rejoicing in the fact that my travel experience was so much better than I could ever have imagined!
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