Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vacation indecision

I need a vacation. One of the benefits of working in Old Europe is that I get plenty of paid vacation. Sure I may not make as much as I might in America - but I get a good amount of time off. Plus my work lets me bank leave days as well, and I carried over some time from last year. I've taken one day of leave this financial year (beginning 1 April) - so I have 31 days that I could use - and 21 that I must use. Plus I get about a week off between Christmas and New Year. (My three week trip to America over Christmas cost me about 9 days).

But I'm a hoarder. I hoard old magazines, bits of paper, lengths of string, clothes, shoes, random bits of crockery, etc. I might need it. I hoard leave, too. I might need it. Of course, what happens is that I hit my bankable limit and then struggle to take the time off in drippy, icky, dark cold March when the Vol-in-Law is busy, busy in the academic calendar.

Plus the Vol-in-Law has decided that I'm no fun to travel with. This might be true - actually, I'm fun enough when I get there, but the journey's not so great. I get a bit anxious about missing flights, trains or connections. I get anxious about not seeing enough while I'm there.

And then there's the fact that we have different expectations of a holiday. The Vol-in-Law would like to bask on a beach - and to me that sounds like hell. I could lie around at home with all my bits of string and crockery and shoes about me. When I go on vacation, I want to get up, see a museum, walk around a city aimlessly, drink a beer, eat a cheap meal, see a museum, have another beer and then maybe another one. I like city breaks packed with culture - visible culture I can see in a painting on wall - and beer. And not only that, I like to do it in emerging economies where the hotel and the beer and the food are cheap.

The Vol-in-Law abhors the stink and the chaos of the developing and post-communist world.

Now for the past couple of years, I've gone on vacation with VolBro, and this has worked out very well indeed. VolBro likes cheap beer. VolBro likes obscure developing places. VolBro tolerates my obsession with museums (though he drew the line when I wanted to take a special trip out into the wild suburbs of Budapest to visit a statue park of communist heroes now surplus to requirements). VolBro doesn't just tolerate my need to get to the airport early, he has to get there a full hour earlier than I do, which means that I get to seem like the sensible one.

But this year VolBro isn't coming to Europe. So my plan of a cheap flight to Vienna (for some culture and stuff) and then a boat ride down the Danube to Bratislava, Slovakia (for some more culture and cheap, cheap beer) and then a cheap flight back to London hasn't worked out. And now I'm casting around for a new idea that the Vol-in-Law will agree to.

Suggestions welcome.


Vol-in-Law said...

"...post-communist world..."

I liked post-communist Romania, albeit I was there with the Vol as a guest of the Romanians to teach them the wonders of Intellectual Property law; they were incredibly hospitable and we had a great time. Vol says we "benefitted from the structure of a working holiday" - where I was mostly the one working. :)
I'm really not a great traveller - I didn't much like Sweden or Norway (despite the fjords & the Norwegian Shed Museum), I didn't like Paris or Athens either. I didn't like Cuidad Juarez (*eek*). I mostly only like visiting English-speaking nations (UK, USA, Ireland - west coast only!), but I've enjoyed Germany both times I visited.

Vol-in-Law said...

I've been to Brussels, our Imperial Capital, a few times and not liked it much. I got severe food poisoning in Amsterdam. I really don't travel very well. My idea of a good holiday is going to a house in the country owned by family or relatives, walking a bit and chilling out. Maybe catch a local musueum (preferably not of sheds).

Anglofille said...

You only want to visit English-speaking countries? You don't like Paris? Egad. Are you sure you aren't American?

You might consider Nice. It's a good combination of beach culture and museum culture (Chagall, etc.). I'm sure there are other towns in France/Spain/Italy that fit that description as well, though you'd be insane to go there before September.

Anonymous said...

Portugal. Go to Portugal or the Swiss Alps. I'd go back to Spain in a minute. How about India, it smells so good. How about Dalmatia?
The Lake District? How about Tennessee? (I'll pitch in.)We could rent a house boat.

Vol Abroad said...

I'll not go to bloody Portugal. After two quarter-final defeats to those diving SOBs, they're dead to me now.

Vol-in-Law said...

BTW when The Vol says "I get a bit anxious", she means that recently she gets hysterical to the extent that I've had to dissuade the airport staff from calling security on her. Apparently one time travelling alone they gave her a free seat upgrade to calm her down, but if she'd been any worse they'd not have let her on the flight. By the time we get to the destination I'm shattered.