Virtual Ireland

One more week until Andi and I are off on our holiday to Ireland.  She’s excited about visiting a glass factory; I’m scouring library and internet for all things Irish, compiling a must-see, do, eat wish list.  Should we visit the Blarney Stone?  Which castles and historic gems would we both enjoy?  There will definitely be music.  Perhaps we’ll visit the sea.   A pony trek?

There are so many things to do and see it’s hard to choose.  The beauty of our travels is we aren’t bound to a single city or even region.  We can skip from north to south, east to west in a matter of minutes.  Visit Trinity College in the morning and Ulster in the afternoon – all from the comfort of our own home.

When Andi was young we traveled Europe with relative ease.  Where strollers weren’t viable, she was portable.  Baby foods were everywhere and people were generally unaware of her disability.  Now, confined to a wheelchair and requiring special meal preps, Andi has been stuck on US soil, unable to indulge her personal wanderlust.  At least that’s what we thought until a few years ago.

When Andi’s dad and his wife took her kids to Paris, Andi was crushed.  She knew she was being excluded and it brought her to tears.  I tried to console her but she would have none of it.  Until I had a flash of insight.  What if we took a “virtual” vacation?

I asked her, “Would you like to go to virtual France?”  She perked up a bit.  “We could eat French food, do French things, listen to French music…”  The tears slowed and she answered, “NO.”

“Well, how about somewhere else?” I asked.  “Is there somewhere you would like to go?”

“Japan!” came the answer.  That settled it.  Short notice for sure, but within days we were on our way to enjoying great Japanese adventures without language barriers or TSA check points.   That first trip was five days of eating and breathing all things Japanese.

Andi went to school.  I went to work.  When we were home and together, we retreated to Japan.

I cooked and we ate only Japanese foods.  We dined out at Japanese restaurants.  Took Japanese language lessons via the internet.  Watched Anime.  Read Japanese folktales.  Shopped at the Japanese market.  Caught a live performance of traditional Kabuki.  We both packed bento boxes for lunch.  And we toured.  Thanks to the internet and DVDs from the library, we visited gardens and temples, Tokyo and Kyoto, saw Mount Fuji in every season.  We made paper cranes (1000 in all – NOT all in those 5 days!) and visited the sculpture of Sadako holding her golden crane in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park.  It was a wonderful cultural immersion which we have since repeated.

One more week and we’re off to Ireland.  Shamrocks, Enya and bangers and mash here we come.

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

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