I’d like to start on a personal note and reveal that I haven’t actually taken a proper vacation for at least 30 years. As a travel writer, I always traveled for work and vacationed at home. I broke that routine for a woman who wanted regular vacations. It took her a few years to convince me, but this year, she finally succeeded and I flew with her to a holiday island where I wandered up and down the beach promenade with her. For ten long days. In vacation mode. Strolling. Now and again we stopped for a meal and drank wine in the evening. The alcohol lost its terrors because we always went for a swim first thing the next morning and were soon back on form. There were palm trees, a full moon and a two-master sailing ship in the bay. It was anchored there like a painting on the wall. My living room was the balcony.
We bought an air mattress on which I pushed her through the waves, and twice we took a ride on one of those small ships that operate a kind of bus service, once to visit the island’s capital and its maze of narrow streets, and once to the hippy market, where I bought myself a straw hat and treated her to a floral-print dress. That’s about all there was to do. The unbearable lightness of being proved to be better than bearable. Incidentally, I read a book while I was there. Which one didn’t matter as long as it was good. No television, no desk, no rain, and no discipline, either. Instead of self-optimization, nothing but dolce far niente – and it felt like the ideal life. Not once did I feel bored or think: That’s enough! It was only a few weeks ago but I still feel invigorated. The happiness of the past, but also the happiness of the future; that’s the great thing about a classic vacation. It comes around every year. And the moment it comes to mind, I slow my pace and begin to look around me.
Our columnist, Helge Timmerberg, an irrepressible globetrotter since 1969, writes travel books and contributes monthly to our magazine.