I think my husband must have been a travel agent in some former lifetime. He is always on the lookout for a good travel bargain and seems to enjoy poking around online to compare and evaluate our various travel alternatives. In February, he appealed to my wunderlust by telling me about a repositioning cruise opportunity he had seen. Departing from Miami, it would stop in New York City, and then from Halifax, Nova Scotia, would trace the reverse of the Titanic’s route, stopping again in Cobh, Ireland, enroute to Harwich, England.
After some discussion, we decided to take advantage of the cruise but with a slight change in itinerary. We planned to disembark early, in Cobh, rather than remaining on the ship the rest of the way to England. We would catch a train or bus from nearby Cork to Dublin to pick up a coach tour around Ireland. This would provide us with relaxed transportation, a knowledgeable guide, excellent accommodations (though with less of the small-town local flavor than we seek when we travel independently), most of our meals, and a good overview of the island, which neither of us had ever previously seen.
I contacted a couple of online friends—colleagues from the Virtual Art Academy—one who lives in County Mayo and another who lives closer to Dublin. They both arranged to meet me on our tour’s one free day so we could become better acquainted and, weather permitting, perhaps enjoy some plein air painting together in Connemara.
After having spent a warm, comparatively dry winter amid the dense tropical foliage that surrounds us in Southwest Florida, while the rest of the United States was digging out from unusually heavy snow and frigid temperatures, I certainly had no grounds for complaint; but I was ready for a change and actually looked forward to the cooler temperatures, misting rains, and bright spring greens that I’d heard were typical of the Emerald Isle. I also looked forward, as always, to filling my camera with fresh images to inspire a new series of paintings.
Hanging over our heads was the ever-present, but largely ignored, question of whether our travel plans would move along as smoothly as we hoped. Or would we get tripped up? Would my friends and I be able to get together to canvass our painting opportunities?
A month before we were to leave, we received the unwelcome announcement that the coach tour we had booked had been cancelled. Ouch! That was a wrinkle we certainly hadn’t counted on. We scrambled to see if we could find an alternative tour that would suit us as well. Unfortunately, it meant that the planned get-together with my friends would probably fall by the wayside, which was most disappointing!
As you will have gathered if you have been following my blog, we did make it to Ireland. Next time I’ll tell you more.