Relaxing holidays

It seems ages since I last wrote my blog, but I don’t suppose it has been.  It’s been a very busy few days and finally today, Sunday, is quiet and tranquil.  I have spent all day sitting around the pool, writing my book. I know it’s work but the story is in full flow and I want to get in down in black and white while I can.  It has become more of a passion than a chore of late, and when I look back on previous chapters, I know I am going to do lots of  editing to get it to the standard of the writing I am producing now.

I have joined a couple of writers sites and finding  truth in the words, the more you write, the faster you become and the easier it flows.  It’s true.

This evening we have decided to look at our holiday.  Originally, we were going to go to Venice.  My husband likes to look at all the options, so a short holiday there became a cruise from Venice, going to Greece and surrounding islands, Dubrovnik and many more destinations.  Growing tired of waiting for replies from companies that don’t seem to want the business, we decided to stay in mainland Spain and visit Cordoba, Seville, Granada and then onto Portugal.  Having looked at those options, my husband has decided that 3 cities and sightseeing is a bit too much as he wants to spend some time relaxing, but doesn’t feel cities are conducive to that state.  I agree with him so now we have reverted to the cruise.

Maybe that is the best option for us because then we won’t have to spend hours and heated discussions about which hotels to stay in.  We will have a hotel on the sea, daytime trips as we want them but we can’t relax around the pool because it will be November.  No, scratch that, I want warmth. I want to go in September but there’s nothing available in September.  Ok back to the drawing board.

How difficult can this really be.  What happened to walking into a travel agent, flicking through some magazines and saying, “we want to stay there.”  The internet has made choosing you holiday so much more interactive and, dare I say, difficult.  The choices are vast and more varied and you can’t possibly stay in any resort until you have checked out the reviews on Trip Advisor.  Whereas we used to rely on the recommendations of a travel company, now we read with interest the opinions of the people who can be bothered to report their findings.

I can’t help but feel a little distrustful of those.  The people who complain bitterly seem to do so for insignificant reasons.  Obviously, there things that go wrong, but the main problems seem small in the great scheme of things.  Then there are the amazing reviews, which I find equally worrying.  I have stayed at some amazing places in my time, but never yet found one that is perfect.  Perhaps we just have people who are on the opposite ends of the optimist/pessimist scale.

Whichever it it is, our holidays remain stressful to book, always more expensive than we plan for, but once we get there, it is our attitude that makes it.  I ignore the niggles,  chose to have a great time, become culturally more educated and return home enriched.

Oh yes, where did we choose?  We’re touring.  Cordoba, Portugal and Granada.   Happy vacation everyone.


The move to utopia

Spain is such a transient country unless you are Spanish.  When we moved here in 2005, the expat community welcomed us with open arms.  We were invited out to dinner by everyone and our circle of friends expanded quickly.

Many people think that moving to a holiday destination is like finding utopia, but that ideal is dashed quite quickly.  People are people wherever you go and there are the same ups and downs because life always brings it’s challenges. We too thought that we had moved to paradise, but were soon confronted with evidence to the contrary.

My daughter was taken into hospital within a few days of us moving out and having to deal with doctors, nurses and medical jargon in a different language was trying, to say the least.  It hurried us to Spanish lessons and the realisation that it wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought to learn.  We now “get by” but are by no means fluent.

My greatest trial though is when friends announce they are moving away.  We all develop friendships.  Some are closer than others and in your home country there are more people to chose from.  Still, we tend to gel with people with similar outlooks and interests.  As an expat, you develop friendships with people that you wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to otherwise, but you are thrown together by circumstance.  Maybe the friendships are more intense because of our need to belong.  We are, after all, a pack animal and being away from our family herd, makes us rely on the people around us for support.

Expats come from different parts of the Uk and all walks of life.  My northern accent is probably stronger now than when I lived in the south because I know so many more northern people here.  I have friends from Scotland, Wales, the West Country, Norfolk, Liverpool, Birmingham, in fact I know a much greater diversity of people here than anywhere I have lived before.

So when someone announces their imminent departure, not only does your friendship group lessen, but you also know that it will be a permanent loss because they will probably be going to an area of the Uk that you will have no cause to go.  When we travel back to our home country, it is usually to spend time with our families.  We race from one home to another, trying to see everyone and making sure no one is left out.  Visits to friends are not even considered in the race to pacify relatives, so the removal of these people from our lives is a great loss.

We have shared fantastic memories, cajoled, supported, cried with and cried on, laughed and truly shared our lives with these people.  I feel their loss deeply and I don’t want them to go or I want to follow them back.

I know I am blessed to have the experience of their company and to have walked beside them, but the absence of their presence leaves a hole and with each departure, our lives become more insular.  To invite more people in also invites the possibility that if they leave, the cycle of making and losing friends carries on.  Maybe it’s tougher to stay in paradise than to leave it.