Monday, September 8, 2014

Vacations are Hard

Some say three weeks for a vacation is a long time. I say it's not long enough.

Three weeks may be long when you stay in one place, like when you stay at home to get some long-avoided chores or project accomplished. Three weeks at the cottage could seem like an eternity (for me, I'd literally have cabin fever). Even three weeks on a beach could seem long--I find a week in PEI sufficient, and after six days on Ko Pha Ngan, in Thailand, I was ready to move on.

But when you are constantly on the move, staying no more than a couple of days in one place, visiting a foreign country, trying to absorb the culture, the food, and the scenery, three weeks is a good start.

I could have used four weeks for my recent vacation: I could have used the nearly five weeks that I have for annual vacation for this one trip, taking the four weeks to travel and the four extra week days to recover.

This vacation was exhausting.

For the last three weeks of August, my family and I packed our bags and headed to France. It was the first time that our kids had been to this country and the first time that my wife and I had been in more than 23 years.

The last time I was in France, I didn't even venture outside of Paris. My wife and I, who had been travelling with friends, had planned a day at Versailles, but that morning I awoke with a bug and stayed in bed all day while they went to the palace.

So this trip was as much of a discovery vacation for me as it was for my kids. And in some of the regions, it was also new territory for my wife, who had been to France a few times before we started dating.

I'm hoping that in this blog post, you'll indulge me. In fact, over the course of this week and possibly into next week, I hope to share our experience. Many friends and family have asked us about our vacation, and so I'm hoping to get my thoughts about the trip down so that I can give them the basics up front, but if they want to know more and see photos, they can come here.

I'm hoping that you'll also be entertained by this recounting of our journey through France. My hope is that I can share some tips and insight so that if you've never been to France but have been thinking of going, I can help with the knowledge I have gained.

Our trip started in Paris and ended in Nice. In between, we travelled to the north, down through central and south-western France, and then over to Provence. We rented an apartment, camped, and shared a farmhouse with some friends. And through it all, we slowed very little.

Over the three weeks, we did a lot of walking, climbed many spiral staircases, hiked along trails, drove thousands of kilometres, danced on a famous bridge, and paddled peacefully down a picturesque river.

We also ate some great food: I'm surprised that I didn't gain any weight.

The sights we saw were breathtaking. And we journeyed back in history, from the past century to Medieval, and further, to prehistoric times.

The trip was exhausting, too, both physically and mentally. I returned to Canada needing to recover not only from jet lag but also from the pounding my feet and legs endured with all of that walking. My back needed a break after the days of carrying my camera equipment on it, and my neck was terribly stiff and sore from sleeping on the ground, in a tent.

Vacations are hard. Three weeks of being constantly on the move can wear down an old fart like me. But it was worth it.

Are you interested in learning about my family vacation?

We start tomorrow, in Paris.

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