With an interestingly titled song about the Prime Minister vying for top spot in the race for Christmas number one, it seems like an apt week for me to stage a little Christmas countdown of my own. Full disclosure though, from here on in there will be no mention of politics or it will all end in tiers. There’s our satire out of the way, now why don’t I tell you about my bucket list?
The Death Railway – Asia
As per my last post, following in my great grandad’s wartime footsteps has been firmly installed at the top of my bucket list. This is a little bit of a unique item to include in many ways as I’m not even sure exactly where I will be going yet. From the information I already have it will involve travelling through at least three countries, Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar.
As my research and planning develops I will dedicate more blog time to the subject so I won’t shoot my bolt here. The planning process itself could take some time but I am hopeful of being able to have boots on the ground in Asia in 2022 at the latest.
The one that got away in 2020. I bought tickets for the entire weekend and then spent it in much the same state as I have watched most past Wrestlemania events. On the sofa with an oven pizza, copious cups of tea and a bag of Haribo. It stings a little bit more when you’re supposed to be there though. Wrestlemania has been on my bucket list since a time before bucket lists were even a thing. I’m an unashamed Pro-Wrestling fan and since I first flew a few years back I’ve always sat and watched Wrestlemania with my internal monologue repeating the mantra, “next year.” The year I bit the bullet and drew some confidence to travel across the world on my own naturally turned into 2020.
Wrestlemania is a separate entry on the bucket list because it moves every year. Broadly, my Wrestlemania plans will always include further travel within the USA. The plan for 2020 was to work my way down the east coast from Boston, finishing up in Florida. Wrestlemania 2021 is likely to be staged in Hollywood, ruling out my east coast adventure. This could however tie in with another of my bucket list items which you will have to read on to discover. Realistically a trip to America in April 2021 is unlikely. This one could be pushed back a year or two depending on when I have my Death Railway experience.
I’ve never pushed myself as much as other people, or as much as perhaps I should have. But Machu Picchu has always fascinated me. For that reason it is on the bucket list because, just look at it, also as an opportunity for me to challenge myself a little.
When I visited Edinburgh earlier this year I struggled up Arthur’s Seat, Machu Picchu is a different ballgame altogether in terms of elevation. That’s before we’ve even factored in the altitude. Actually, ignore this. I’m not going. I’ve talked myself out of it now.
Another motivation for me is that expeditions to Machu Picchu can be made as part of a charity trek.
Meaning I don’t have to pay for my own holiday. Taking a challenge on would mean a whole lot more to me if I knew in doing so I was doing something positive for others too, namely raising money for charity. My friends Matt and Millie took on the Great Wall of China earlier this year, raising money for Mind in the process. Their fundraising and adventure planted the seed for me to add something similar to my bucket list.
San Sebastián and Riding the FEVE from Bilbao to Ferrol
Now this entry is possibly the least cliched on the list. A marriage of a long held bucket list destination and the fact that I bloody love train travel. My expectations for San Sebastián are high. I’ve been attracted to it since I first set eyes on it. But there is always the potential for it to end up a Tinder date gone wrong. I don’t think it is using filters on its pictures to make itself look better. I’ve certainly never seen a pair of dog ears and a tongue popping up over a vista of the stunning bay. But personality is key. She says the right things, offers you blue waters, plentiful beer and copious amounts of Pinxtos. But you know you’re paying the bill and she’s seeing other guys and girls behind your back. But you accept that for the beauty. If San Sebastián is catfishing me however I will be heartbroken. It’s been on my bucket list for too long now.
Let’s not worry about San Sebastián potentially doing the dirty though. Because I’ve got another date lined up. As Elvis once said, “you give me FEVE.” Why he was singing about the longest narrow gauge railway in Europe I’m unsure but each to their own. The FEVE (I don’t know what the abbreviation means either) is the local train running from Bilbao to Ferrol. With over 100 stops this is a chance to see rural Spain along the country’s north coast offering opportunities to explore the Picos de Europa mountain range and head away from the train line to visit coastal towns.
While last year I travelled from Ljubljana to Amsterdam via train across three weeks, I would love to dedicate a similar amount of time to a more leisurely trip across the top of Spain. This is the most realistic trip on my bucket list to achieve in 2021, one I can explore in further posts as I make plans to take the trip.
Is that the Cliche Klaxon I hear? What bucket list is complete without the inclusion of a road trip across America? While Route 66 doesn’t exist as a complete entity these days it is still possible to grab a slice of the American dream and set out on the open road from east to west or vice versa.
There is something captivating about the thought of being able to stop wherever and whenever you like and dip into some American culture that you may not come across in the major cities. Nights spent in motels (don’t use the shower) and meals in traditional diners. Inject it into my veins. Taking a leaf out of a Jack Reacher or Jack Kerouac book appeals to me greatly, minus the excessive violence and drug use, delete as appropriate.
The Route 66 plan is one that could tie in with a Wrestlemania event and this is something I will factor in when planning to tick both of these items off of the list. While everything in the world is up in the air with regard to Covid-19, we aren’t. I’d love to put a timescale on achieving this goal but I feel as if I may only end up changing the plan three times in the space of a week and still not knowing whether I was coming or going. But I promised no political undertones didn’t I…
Up Helly Aa
Not the sound made when a goalkeeper takes a goal kick but a festival held once a year in Shetland. My desire to travel to Shetland was kindled in the usual way people are inspired to travel. Crime fiction. I first heard of Up Helly Aa while reading Black and Blue, a book in the Rebus series by Ian Rankin. The event was mentioned fleetingly in a piece of dialogue and I had to do some more research. On the last Tuesday in January every year Guizers (not geezers) dress up for a torch lit procession which culminates in the burning of a Viking longship which has been built specifically for the event. There is also a lot of drinking involved. With these festivities played out against the backdrop of Shetland, Up Helly Aa immediately found a home on my bucket list. Sadly the 2021 event has been postponed for obvious reasons. This is the closest entry on my bucket list to home and could be achieved in the same year as one of the the further flung jaunts. Due to it taking place on a single day each year it will still take some advanced planning. With a bit of luck I may be able to tick this one off in 2022.
One thought on “The Bucket List”
Solid list here, Ben. I hope you keep updating this one! You can borrow my copy of Turn Right @ Machu Picchu after I’m finished 😉 So many different ways to get there, and I expedited mine due to time & money, but it truly is a sight to see. You will not be disappointed. I thought I didn’t have a bucket list, but this post made me re-think putting one together.