It was once a dream, now it’s come true. We’re at the place that was allocated months ago for preprogrammed, enforced holiday fun time. We’ve put on some cargo shorts, slipped on some of those flip-flops that hurt your toes after a few yards, and we’re all pretending to be happy. What d’you mean, “pretending”, Mr Miserable? OK, not everyone is pretending, there are a few exceptions. Rich people who can afford decent holidays, but then again, not even money can buy happiness. It can help, though. The only people who are close to some sort of happiness are the ones like me who anticipate boredom and who bring along a suitcase stuffed with horse tranquillisers, and mainly see life through a narcotic haze. The rest are in denial. Going through all the trouble of travelling across the country or the globe, spending a small fortune in the process, just to end up in a different place, albeit a pretty one, but with the same neurosis and gastric irritations is just bizarre. “Who really benefits from all this?”, he said in a serious TV news reporter’s voice.
(The campsite's quality may differ from what was promised on the brochure)
Travelling isn't the hardest part, you also have to endure the time served on site. Never ending days that seemed ages away last February when you were booking them on the Internet, a credit card in your trembling hand after having glimpsed at the misleading photos on the travel agent's website. But now you've arrived. And it's crap. It smells of rotting seaweed. The toilets and showers are a long way away, and hygiene levels are barely above truck stop quality. The camp site neighbours have small, noisy children and they also seem to have some sort of trumpet sticking out of their tent. Lord knows what sort of sound it makes... Oh, now they're playing it. Great. Just great. Sounds like a dying moose. By now, you're glad you packed that box of rosé wine into the fridge and are now contemplating death by barbecue.
Today, my boyfriend and I are on camping vacation. On my way out of the tent, I stepped in a pile of shit. When I told him, he said, "Oh, I couldn't make it to the bathroom last night." The bathroom was a minute walk from our tent. FML
Whether you vacation at the beach, in the mountains or if you just want to leave society behind and go and meditate in a monastery in the middle of nowhere, you have to choose wisely when picking an unknown destination. Many people go back to the same place to vacation, year after year, and it's a bit of a shame. It's understandable, though, it's like going to McDonald's, you know what's going to be on the menu, and what it's going to taste like. It's the easy solution, a quiet vacation in a familiar place. But you might as well go on vacation in your own garden, pitch a tent in your living room and take dumps in your bathtub. It's better to take calculated risks, and to continue with the bad McDonald's analogy, I mean something more exotic than having a Quarterpounder instead or your usual Big Mac. I mean going somewhere totally different. Like a Burger King. In space. It's the only way to disconnect your overworked brain from day-to-day life and get finally get the feeling that time has stood still. Otherwise, when you come home, you'll still be in the same pathetic state as when you left, and people will annoy you by saying stuff like, "What? You went back to that same place you've been to for the last 10 years? Why? Are you my grandad?"
Today, my friend and I went for a late night walk along the beach. We decided to sit down on a log. It was a dead seal. FML
(Summer at the beach, I can't wait)
Being on vacation is about getting some rest, but you can also find time for your hobbies. Yes, well, while on vacation, hobbies are probably always the same: throwing a Frisbee about, cheap racket-and-ball things, kites and being a bit of an alcoholic. When you're at home, you'd never dream of entertaining yourself by throwing a Frisbee around your house, due to it being quite a tedious pastime. But once you reach the beach, it's like your standards start to drop. I like to do Sudoku on vacation. Not actually finish them properly, just fill in the boxes randomly. It's not like anyone is actually going to check what I've put in the boxes, even if I go up to people and say, "Look, I've finished the whole book". I tested this theory once at night, in the pouring rain, and it's true, no one wants to look at my Sudoku. As for being a budding alcoholic while on vacation, I don't mean like an idiot on Spring Break, chugging down beers through a plastic pipe, beers with such a low alcohol content that I don't understand the point of their existence, I mean bottles of rosé wine in a cooler that you break out around 5pm, sitting on the beach. This sort of behaviour seems normal when you're on vacation. If you try breaking out a bottle of rosé wine on a subway at 5pm, people just think you're a homeless dude with very low self-esteem. It's just not fair. Double standards.
(Vacationing in the countryside, as seen here in Ireland, can be full of surprises)
Some people spend their summers in the mountains or the countryside. They don't like the beach. They're "different". They like to commune with nature, and by that I mean insects, mosquitoes and snakes. We must respect these people. A cabin in the woods can be a very nice place to be. Somewhere to hang out, far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Get together with a bunch of friends, around a big oak table and drink chamomile tea and talk about the deconstruction of the soul in modern Russian cinema while the kids play in a paddling pool. Sounds like heaven. Or, to put it another way, I never get invited to this sort of getaway because I think I'd probably turn into a fat, angry owl with spinning head if I ever got trapped in anything like it.
Today, I arrived at the beach for a week's vacation. I walk on the beach only to find they are "rebuilding" it. They have heavy machinery all over the place, they work 24/7, and this only happens every 15 years. Glad I picked this week. FML
(The only elections that really mean anything anymore)
Near the beach, there's a flyposter on the supermarket door that says that there's an election tomorrow to determine who the cutest guy in the campsite is. Mister Camping will be proclaimed at 9pm. Oh goody, that's what was needed, some cultural relaxation. If that doesn't tempt you, there's the night market to stroll around, with a Nutella-covered waffle. All along the sea front, you may be be tempted to buy a cheap plastic toy for a large lump of money, or even get a terrible painting of a clown made in a sweat shop. The atmosphere will be electric; the neon lights burning up the same electrical current that would be required to power a small village. A fight will probably break out down by the fun fair, near the go karts, between either two groups of teenagers who've had too many vodka and Red Bull shots and who are now trying to impress some spotty girls from Luxembourg, or between two soccer moms squabbling like seagulls over one parking space near the ice cream van while their gormless husbands and 26 bored kids look on. The empty car park several hundred yards up the road is clearly visible to all, of course. This is what vacations are all about, the atmosphere. I love it. People think I'm nuts when I mention it, but it's true. I've already heard "Last Christmas" by Wham come blaring out of a beach sound system on a hot August day, and it was so out of place, it was just perfect, like wearing a Hawaiian shirt to a baptism. You've got to embrace your inner love for trashy stuff to be able to enjoy your vacation. Otherwise, you'll spend all your time chasing perfection, end up depressed and sucking on horse tranquilliser-flavoured ice-cream cones.
Today, at the beach, I noticed a plastic bag in the water. I wanted to do something good for a change, help protect the environment and get it out. It wasn't a bag; it was a jellyfish. FML
Take this as some sort of warning: By trying to do the right thing all the time, more often than not you end up coved in jellyfish. That'll be my crap saying of the day. Let things happen, go with the flow and have fun. Take care.