Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bag of Illusions

Travel is a great way to tweak first and only impressions.
“I’m going to Ireland for work,” my husband announces.

I can’t help it.  My lower lip automatically protrudes and I glower.

You don’t even like Guinness or Smithwicks, or steamed mussels or jigs or - -

“Want to come along?” he asks.

I’m just about to scream “yes,” but then I realize I’m tight on cash and I have appointments.  My car needs some repair work and we don’t have a dog sitter who lives close by anymore.  Such is the price of modern married finances.  Separate is not equal – although it keeps spending arguments to a minimum.

My lip starts to quiver.

“I figure since it’s our 15 year anniversary, we can relive our honeymoon,” he continues.  “It can be our anniversary gift.”


My lip pops back in and the glower turns into a grin.  My husband laughs.

“I guess that means, ‘yes?’”


I find a dog sitter.

I pull up the old edition of what needs to be done, emergency contacts, and maps. Much has changed over the couple years since we last traveled together.  I’m adding, adjusting … and deleting.  My finger pauses, hovering over the delete button each time it’s something that relates to Uber Hund.  I feel guilty about erasing him, declaring him irrelevant. Is it foolish that I save the old copy?

I clean house like a madwoman.  Nothing makes me realize my lax cleaning habits more than having guests over, and having someone living in our house while we’re gone makes me even more aware.  I even vacuum the box springs.

I get the Euros.  I haven’t seen them before.  I spread them out and my husband and I study the various denominations.  We hold them up to the light, looking for “secret” watermarks.  We gripe about how dull our monochrome money is, despite the portraits getting their facelifts.  I still have Irish coin from when we went to Ireland for our honeymoon. I kept it in hopes we’d go back someday.  Who knew they’d completely change currency?  They’ll make nice charms.

Now the fun part.

I look up things to do in Dublin, make a list and add restaurants.  I probably won’t go to any of them, preferring to be inspired by serendipity, but it provides a good starting point.

And then, there’s the “travel wardrobe.”  My husband doesn’t understand, but I’m pretty sure most women do.  It’s like preparing for the first day of school. A fresh travel wardrobe is about making a good impression, putting a best foot forward, creating a fantasy.

“You’re not going to see these people again, in fact, you’re not even going to really be meeting anyone at all,” my husband says. 
There's more to Ireland than Guinness and craic.  At least,
that's what people tell me.

“True, but that makes it all the more important to make a good impression,” I say.

In a strange way, because I know I won’t be seeing any of these people again, a vacation wardrobe grants creative leeway in my sartorial selection.  Vacation attire (not to be confused with “resort wear”) allows me to project a fantasy image of who I would like to be during that time – someone who doesn’t have to worry about muddy paws, potential dog bites, and dog treat bags. 

I check the weather for Dublin.  Not surprisingly, it’s cold and rainy.

I opt for the spending-the-week-at-the-country-manor look:  sweaters, boots, my overcoat, scarves, tweed and cashmere.  I don’t want to scream tourist, but it’s not like I can blend with the native population any way.  Still, I’ve traveled enough to know that tennis shoes, especially white tennis shoes, baseball caps and shorts are typically American. I can also spot German tourists, especially male German tourists. 

“What you should do is pack really old stuff,” my husband says.  “That way you can throw it out after you’ve worn it so it you’ll have more room in your luggage for souvenirs on the way back.”

I stare at him.  It makes complete sense, but it’s a disturbing image.  Somehow, borderline homeless never figured into the wardrobe fantasy.

That’s really what vacation is about, isn’t it?  Fantasy?  It’s not just the clothing, but the lifestyle as well, staying in hotels, eating out, exploring, living a life of leisure.  In a way, vacations also give our imagination a break.  That’s what makes vacations magical.  They  make our dreams reality.


  1. Borderline Homeless, borderline hopeless. I get the wardrobe fantasy.
    Now I want to see pictures of who you are when you aren't you.


  2. What makes you think you've seen pictures of me when I am me? ;0)

  3. You bet there's more than Guinness & craic! There's Bailey's, Irish whiskey . . . Anybody? Anybody?

  4. You got me there. And I can't forget mussels and soda bread. LOVE the soda bread, especially for breakfast (but I'll pass on the black and white pudding).

  5. Ruling with an unquestionable authority over the taste buds of many, it is an upshot of this that at present there is no dearth of Dublin Restaurants globally. In fact it won’t be wrong to say that they exist in cornucopia. Proliferated throughout, searching for eateries specializing in Italian serve requires not much effort. Hence, getting a taste of the much awaited pasts or a polenta is possible with Italian bistros all over the world like Dublin.

  6. Apparently,my tongue-in-cheek comment was a bit misleading. I found food in Ireland,even 15 years ago, to be quite delicious, unlike in England (Scotland had good food as well). The Irish have put in a great deal of effort into their cuisine, knowing that many tourists are also gastromes, and with great success. They are currently great advocates of unprocessed foods and buying locally. This last trip, aside from yummy pub fare (the aforementioned mussels and soda bread), we dined at The Green Hen( and twice at The Winding Stair ( which had food to easily rival anything offered at Chez Panisse or French Laundry (they share similar cooking philosophies). Even the cafe at Avoca(, a store simlar to Anthropologie here, had a FABULOUS crab salad that also focused on freshness and quality ingredients,not to mention a perfectly charming waiter who strongly resembled a young blond version of Pierce Brosnan.

    I have to say, I can't speak to any meat dishes, although my husband loved the Guinness stew with lamb the first trip, but they smelled and looked fantastic as they went by and fellow diners raved. If you haven't ventured into Irish restaurants in Ireland (let's not discuss the Americanized versions), I do strongly recommend a gastronomic tour. You'll be well pleased, and I'd be more than glad to accompany you. ;0)


Creative Commons License
The Cranky Cow by Kou K. Nelson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at