EASTBOUND AND DOWN, CROSSING A FEW MORE OFF THE BUCKET LIST.

As time tics over, I find myself asking more and more questions.  Questions about what I have done and where I have been.  Though I should consider myself blessed for the experiences I have had to date, I sense that we got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

Those of you born in the last century will recognize the blatant theft of lyrical gold from your favourite Smokey and the Bandit theme tune.  Unlike Burt Reynolds I don’t crave a balls out drive across Texarkana, but I certainly fancy another trip abroad to several more classic and hopefully challenging destinations.

I think my focus has a lot to do with getting to places that are doable now but perhaps a bridge too far as I advance in years.  I foresee a time that my ability and resilience will dissipate to the point where I would actually entertain a Carnival Cruise with 2000 other witless drones (many of whom I assume will be adorned in camo ball caps).  Each drone competing for the shore excursions with the “best guided bus tour”.  Don’t get me wrong, I am well known for my love of an all you can eat dessert bar longer than the straightaway at the Daytona 500.  I just don’t think its time to go full Ricky Bobby quite yet.

With all of this in mind, today I find myself in the throws of trying to make some headway with AirBnB reservations for the early fall.  This years annual buddy trip has been a long time in the making.  Yes it was just over a year ago that Dale and I returned home from London, Munich, Salzburg, Venice, Sicily and Barcelona.  And so the use of the phrase “long time” may not be the best choice of words, however this year’s final destinations came together after a smidge of negotiation.

As usual, I often start off a bit too big for my britches.  I look at 17 days of travel and immediately try to figure out how to better Phileas Fogg in every conceivable way.  Several planning meetings in and we are going to achieve travel fame & notoriety for the experiences accomplished in the time provided.  So what started out as India, Nepal and several other sub-continental destinations has now been reworked and massaged into an altogether fantastic adventure with the chances of a little less Delhi belly along the way.

This year’s Grand Tour will be an excellent opportunity to visit places that I have always dreamt of going.  Since the first time I heard of them mentioned by Sean Connery in Bond films of yore, my intentions of getting to all of them has never faltered.  As England is an awesome first stop to avail yourself of dozens of European discount airlines, this is where we kick off proceedings. 

Luckily we have the opportunity to include a couple days in the Lake District of Northern England first before we continue on to the continent.  In 2019 we are using Manchester as our gateway to Budapest.  Hungary is described as a beautiful country and its capital represents its history and hospitality in spades from what I gather.

From Budapest we continue on to Athens and all that the ancient Cradle of Western Civilization provides.  I assume that we will have to pick and choose our arrival times at the big tourist destinations wisely.  I intend to be at the Acropolis before sun up and hope that everyone else needs a good lie in.  There are so many things to see and do in Athens, and I am hopeful it all works out with our limited time to enjoy the city.

From Athens we travel to Istanbul or Constantinople if you please.  The Mosques and Cathedrals.  The Bazaars and cafes.  The hustle and bustle of the countries biggest city.  I cant wait to cross the Bosporus into Asia and genuinely experience the life of a Turk (minus any nasty scenes from Midnight Express or a visit to the Saudi Embassy).  Of course we are mindful of the local tensions and plan to limit our exposure in potentially iffy environments.

From Istanbul we continue on to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  I know only about Israel and the West Bank by what I have read and seen in the news over the years.  I look forward to being exposed to life in the Holy land.  My hope is to meet local people from both the Jewish and Muslim faith with a view to making friends along the way. Our intentions are to learn as much as we can about the lay of the land and the daily challenges to both sides of the wall.

It is at this point we change directions and fly to the fashion capital of the world.  Most of you are assuming that my chances of landing gainful employment as a runway model for Versace or Armani are limited.  Not so hasty now!  If we were honest, we have all eaten a sandwich that might have been a little past its best before date.  Dale however is the king of repurposed or “vintage clothing retail”.  I expect great things from Dale as we wander the stradas and piazzas of Milano.  There is a very good chance I have to leave Dale behind as he happily assumes a new identity (Gian Lucca) in order to appear “Italiano” on the cover of GQ for possibly months and years to come.  Hauling business be damned!

Lucky for you I now bring this rambling post to an end.  There are many fine details to iron out for this trip but the most important ones are a fait accompli.  I have a few more posts in me prior to take off but for those who have no interest in photography, photography gear or my substandard writing skills, I suggest you give them a miss no matter how much I woefully try to add comedic value.

Don’t miss this link!

Cheers!

Mark

3 thoughts on “EASTBOUND AND DOWN, CROSSING A FEW MORE OFF THE BUCKET LIST.

  1. Another amazing trip planned.

    Planning is always a challenge and no doubt a lot of fun seeing what makes the final cut. As always look forward to your photos

    Like

  2. Really excited for you and Gian Lucca and to follow this trip. Love the itinerary. Very cool that your trip includes Turkey and Holy Land. Can’t wait for your pics and your observations. Walk across it all brother.

    Liked by 1 person

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