Recently, I was thinking a lot of how we used to spend our holidays when I was a child. It seemed so easy. No social media, no pressure to make it to the most exotic destination, the best hotel or the most adventurous tours. Airplane tickets were way too expensive, even within Europe and especially for a family. The norm was to pack your car and off you went to the mediterranean coastline. Some of my friends went to France or Italy, we went to Spain. Camping was what most families did. We had an uncle, well my mom’s uncle actually, who owned an apartment in a small village just outside Barcelona. Sometimes family or family friends joined. Sometimes it was just the 3 of us, later the 4 of us.
So, every year in July since from when I was 3 to 8 (I think…), we packed the car and drove 12 hours or so all the way to Barcelona. We left in the evening and arrived the next morning. It was such an adventure for me as a child. Once my little brother was born and we had to share the backseat, which was fun, a mattress was put over the backseat, covering the leg room and there you had a bed. Definitely much less stressful than going to the airport, checking in, going through the security checks etc. When I travel today, I am usually already exhausted when I arrive at my destination.
Once at your destination you did what holidays are there for. Nothing! Going to the beach, soaking in the mediterranean sun, chilling at the beach. Exactly how the Oxford dictionary defines the word “holidays”: “An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling” Not only for a few days, but for 4 whole weeks. Today, it seems like people spend their holidays scattered. More destinations. Each for a lesser amount of time. Well, I guess cheaper airfares make it possible. On the other side, usually total relaxation and wind down modus only sets in after a week or even longer into the holidays.
Now, that I am living in South Africa, I decided not to leave Johannesburg for the Christmas holidays this year. Down here, in the southern hemisphere this is when it is summer and everyone is on leave from the middle of December till the middle of January. Some people go to Europe to ski, but most spend their break at the South African coastline. Jo’burg to Cape Town is roughly the same distance as from my hometown to Barcelona. A good 12 hours drive. The coast and coastal towns are busy during this four weeks period. Locals and foreign tourists enjoying the beauty this country has to offer (or the parties that Cape Town has to offer). Which also means, traffic, queues everywhere, no parking anywhere… That was exactly the reason I decided to stay here. We have a beautiful and sunny climate up here, I have a swimming pool where I stay and wasn’t under any pressure to post my holiday experience on Instagram or Facebook simply because no one would have been interested in my home. It was relaxation-time, tanning-time, friends-time, me-time, indulgence-time. Almost as much relaxing and tanning as when I was a child in Spain.