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a pleasant summer vacation

A Pleasant Summer Vacation

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What’s my idea of a perfect summer vacation? Ok, let’s not set our standards to perfection. Let’s say pleasant vacation. What’s my idea of a pleasant summer vacation? I’d like to go somewhere with a body of water, specifically a sea or a lake. It’d have to be a town or city, because I wouldn’t like to go to a place where nothing happens, where there are no fun events to go to and nothing to visit. Even on vacation, I prefer urban environments. 

You get up in the morning, you go to a nearby beach where ideally there’s no more than a handful of people, you can hear some pleasant, light music from the nearby beach bar, let’s say  some lighthearted jazz. You grab a sunbed and order your first coffee. Maybe you take a local newspaper with you, if you can read the language. Whenever I travel, I love reading the local newspapers and finding out about interesting events in the local area. After some time, you take a refreshing dip in the water, you go back to your sunbed and enjoy yourself some more, maybe reading an interesting book. That’s the ideal vacation morning for me.

In the afternoon, you meet friends in a restaurant or tavern near the shore. You order local seafood, local wine and spend a couple of hours socialising. After lunch, you can take a slow walk so that you familiarise yourself with the town and also to get some exercise after lunch. You go back to your apartment, rest for a while and then check if there are any cultural events in town, you get ready and meet friends again to attend these events. In Europe, during the summer, most towns have summer culture festivals, including concerts, plays, street mini-festivals etc. These events will also allow you to learn the history of the town you’re visiting. 

The problem is that if you pick out a well-known tourist location, you can’t have anything resembling this sort of vacation. If I were to spend my summer on the shores of the Mediterranean in any of the big tourist locations, I wouldn’t even come close to my ideal vacation experience. About 10 years ago, I visited the Croatian town of Makarska. The entire beach experience I described above was simply unattainable. The few times we even attempted to find a place on the beach, we could hardly set down our towels because of the huge crowd, so we just gave up on bathing. When my husband and I walked through the town, the crowd on the streets was so dense, that people couldn’t even walk past each other normally. Makarska is a truly beautiful town, but too full of people during the tourist season. Of course, Makarska is not a super famous tourist location, so I can imagine how bad the crowds are at the very famous destinations. If you’re like me and don’t enjoy large crowds, you must find other options for your vacation.

The first option is to go on vacation in the off-season. This usually means that it’s too cold to swim. However, as I mentioned before, there’s not much swimming during the summer either if you can’t find room at the beach. If you don’t mind large crowds or getting up very early to find a place (which I find exhausting. After all, I’m on vacation and I should get to sleep in) and if you really like swimming and are looking forward too it, then going on vacation in the off-season may be too great a sacrifice and not a worthwhile tradeoff. However, if you’d be content with other activities on vacation, such as for example trying the local food in restaurants without the inflated prices of the tourist season, getting to know the town without massive crowds, learning about the local customs, visiting museums without having your feet stepped on and so on, then this may be the way forward for you. 

Another option would be to visit a place that’s not well known and not often posted on social media, seeing as how social media are to blame for overcrowding so many places. For example, Venice, Barcelona, Santorini and many others are so famous that they’re overflowing with tourists, in the case of Venice and Barcelona year round. Tourism has hit these places so badly that Barcelona, for example, has many protests with the simple goal of making tourists go home. The lives of locals have become very difficult because of overtourism. It’s hard to find apartments to rent because most are geared towards short-term stays for tourists, which pay better, so born and raised Barcelonians have to move someplace else. Shops which service locals close down because it’s just so much more profitable to service tourists, for example by selling souvenirs. All of this leads to a loss of identity for the city as it become just another tourist trap, so there’s no point to visiting it. What’s the point of travelling abroad if all countries start looking like each other? There’s really no point to it anymore. If it’s going to be like that, then you’re better off just staying home and saving your money instead of spending on travel to a place that has lost its unique identity. You can avoid all this by travelling to a location that hasn’t been flooded with tourists and I’m certain you can have a more unique experience. 

If any of these two options sounds appealing to you, plan your trip and have your perfect vacation. But never forget that when we travel to a different country, we are guests in that land and must respect the local way of life. The beauty of travel includes the opportunity to learn of new cultures and experience something different from what we’re used to. If we insist on doing everything as we do at home, then we’re missing the magic of travelling and there’s really no point to going abroad. In that case, you’re better off staying home. 

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