I watched a YouTube video yesterday of a guy on a jetski and thought “I’d like to try that – I should add it to my bucket list.” My bucket list is more of a concept than a thing. There is no list in either analog or digital form – it’s in my head. Sometimes I add things to it, sometimes I forget what’s on it but there are a few things that are always in ‘the bucket’. I have always loved air travel…well, I used to love it a lot more. Now I tend to just look forward to arriving at the destination and being able to use a normal bathroom, stretch my legs and have some personal space. But I used to travel a lot more than I do now and I have experienced a lot of different aircraft. There are 2 that I’d still like to experience – Virgin’s Space Travel isn’t one and wasn’t even before this weekends fatal accident. I used to dream of travelling on the Concorde and was so excited to one day see one fly over me in London, but these days I am keen on a slower kind of air travel and want to experience flight on a flying boat and a glider. The only airworthy flying boat in New Zealand that I’m aware of is a Catalina that is currently out of service and undergoing restoration work in New Plymouth. Perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to fly in her one day. A glider flight is going to be way easier to achieve – I can take a 15-20 minute flight here in the Manawatu for less than $100. One day!!
Thinking about bucket lists has got me thinking of all of the amazing things I’ve already achieved in life. In air travel alone I’ve been a passenger in many commercial planes – small and large, a Cessna at Katherine in the Northern Territory, a Britten-Norman Islander to and from Stewart Island, a Sikorsky S-61 19-seat helicopter from Penzance to the Scilly Isles and back and a tiny helicopter that took the pilot, 2 other passengers and myself over Kakadu National Park. I experienced a hot air balloon flight in Alice Springs and enjoyed a microlight flight in Zambia. So those are my aeronautical achievements. I have experienced so many other amazing things during my travels. Some examples: Europe
- enjoyed a Boshoi Ballet Company performance of Gazelle in the Kremlin Theatre.
- seen the body of Vladimir Lenin (why I did that tour I’ll never know)
- taken a gondola ride through Venice
- visited the Picasso Museum in Barcelona
- walked through Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam (and visited the red light district)
- been in an IRA explosion in London (don’t add that to your bucket list)
- kissed the Blarney Stone
- drank Kilkenny Irish Ale for the first time in Kilkenny (and Guinness in Dublin)
- spent St Patrick’s Day in Dublin (it was FREEZING)
- watched the All Blacks win a rugby game in Paris
- seen the sun at midnight at Nordkapp at the very top of Norway
- walked on a glacier
- visited Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria, Pawiak Prison and the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland
- stood in the Commonwealth War Grave at Cassino, 49 years after my grandfather stood on a Schu mine and lost his leg there.
- parasailed on a Greek island
- bought glass in Venice, crystal in Prague, a cuckoo clock in Austria and a gold watch in Switzerland (yes and a Swiss Army Knife)
- touched part of the Berlin Wall
- admired the Lillehammer Winter Olympics site and the Barcelona Summer Olympics site
- went on a river cruise in St Petersberg
- eaten kangaroo, crocodile and possibly camel (now vegetarian)
- held a baby crocodile and had snakes draped around my neck
- rode a camel
- climbed Ayers Rock (wouldn’t do it now out of respect for the Aboriginal people) and ridden around it on the back of a Harley Davidson
- swum with fresh water crocodiles in the Katherine River
- got lost in Maun, Botswana (and found again)
- pitched a tent on a salt lake in the Makgadikgadi Pan
- eaten ostrich
- rolled down a massive sand dune in Namibia
- come face to face with a bull elephant in the Okavango Delta
- traveled through the Rocky Mountains by train (stunning)
- seen beautiful Beluga Whales in Vancouver
- visited the Apple Company Store, Facebook and Google in Silicon Valley (very very cool)
- Cruised on Lake Tahoe
- got mild altitude sickness in Denver, the Mile High City
Home Sweet Home …and then there is New Zealand…with incredible wildlife, stunning scenery and incredibly talented performers. I’ve travelled from the very top to the very bottom as well as west and east on the North and South Islands. I’ve spotted kiwi on Stewart Island, weka on the West Coast, hihi on Tiritiri Matangi and Takahe in the Wairarapa and Wellington. I’ve fallen in love with Lake Matheson, Wanaka, Hokitika and Lake Tekapo. I’ve soaked up the sun in the Coromandel, East Coast and Hawkes Bay. I’ve laughed at and sung along with the Topp Twins in many towns, listened in awe at young opera singers in the Auckland Town Hall, listened to the NZ Symphony Orchestra in the Michael Fowler Centre and enjoyed The Sound of Music in Auckland’s stunning Civic Theatre.
I’ve only been filling my bucket for 44 years and already, thinking of travel experiences alone, my bucket spilleth over.