The perfect vacation for a single thirty-something?

I’ve been trying to figure out where to go on holiday for a while now. Yes, there’s that cooking trip around India in January I’ve got my eye on, but that’s AGES away, and I need a break ASAP. I want to go somewhere I’ve  not been before; somewhere a little exotic; not too far (i.e. 18 hour flights are not my cup of tea); and the kind of place where there will be plenty to occupy me (i.e. Zanzibar would be nice but I will get bored and quite possibly lonely sitting around the pool/on the beach (I don’t do sun anyway) for a week).

I spotted some great deals from Emirates in a travel newsletter I subscribe to and in a flash, inspiration hit me. So this week I will be booking a trip in early October to Istanbul, via Dubai. A good friend moved to Dubai earlier this year with her fiance who I haven’t met yet, so I am really looking forward to spending a few days with them and exploring the over-the-top weirdness that is the UAE.In an airconditioned environment, of course!

I’ve wanted to go to Istanbul for about 15 years and while I’ve been to the coastal regions of Turkey before, I’ve not been to the capital. I love the whole east-meets-west thing and the amazing history of the place. There are so many beautiful buildings (mosques, palaces, museums, etc.) to explore, and I’m looking forward to a day cruising the Bosphorous. I also can’t WAIT to hit the Grand Bazaar. I am a haggler of note and love the whole bargaining thing. It’s not about ripping off the stall holders, but engaging in friendly negotiations, all done with a smile and glass of apple tea. Stallholders will walk away from a sale – they never sell at a loss. I’ve had practice in Morocco, other parts of Turkey, Fiji and South-East Asia so I’m looking forward to practising my bargaining skills again in Istanbul.

Oh – and a few months ago I started a belly dance class (more on that in another post) so I shall be taking the opportunity of an Arabian adventure to stock up on jingly hip belts and maybe even attend a local class while I am away.

So… sights, beautiful buildings,  a touch of the exotic, jingles and shimmies, shopping and time with a good friend: doesn’t that sound like the perfect single thirty-something holiday to you? 🙂

Advertisements

A decadent weekend away

So following my post about where to go on holiday, I’ve decided on India in January. There’s a great company that does small group special interest tours and I’ve got my heart set on a cooking tour. I’m vegetarian, so India will be paradise for me! Can’t wait… must start saving…

In the meantime though I still need a bit of a break. So next week I’m going with a (pregnant) friend to a spa for the day. Hooray! But that’s just one day… I need something more to recharge my batteries.

A friend who was visiting from abroad last week suggested that I book myself into a lovely hotel in town for a couple of nights. Because I live about 50 min from town, I’m only ever there to dash from meeting to meeting – I never get to sit and have a coffee and watch the world go by, or potter around the shops. And I’ll be a lot closer to my friends, so will set up brunches/lunches/dinners over those couple of days and catch up with everyone.

So now I’m on a mission to find a  gorgeous little boutique hotel. Requirements: beautiful decor, big comfy bed, stunning bathroom with bath and shower, no traffic noise, big screen TV opposite the bed with cable/in-house DVD library. A pool or spa would be great too. Oh and room service of course! Google, here I come…

I need a holiday – but where to go?

I used to live in London and one of the best things about being there is that it’s SO easy to travel to somewhere exotic. It doesn’t take long and it usually didn’t cost too much.

Since I moved to Cape Town, my globetrotting has been curtailed – it’s a hell of a long way to get ANYwhere and I’m earning in the local currency, which doesn’t go very far against the dollar, pound and Euro. (I’ve already travelled extensively through South Africa.)

I am well overdue a holiday (the New Year road trip does not count!) and, with itchy feet, am really keen to go somewhere exotic for two weeks.

My idea places to go to are:
– Zanzibar – seriously exotic! Stone Town, spices, beautiful beaches…
– Madagascar – I’d love to see the lemurs and the other quirky species that abound there
– Buenos Aires – I’ve never been to South America and quite fancy and Argentinian excursion
– Japan – top of my wish list! The scenery, architecture, customs, pop culture, gadgets, food…

Any suggestions?

Recipe for conflict

Ingredients:

  • 3 single, independent, strong-willed (stubborn? 🙂 ) 30-something women
  • 7 day trip up the coast
  • 9,587,348,972 different interests
  • 2 x roosters and a hen who start their dawn welcome at 4am

Method

  • Mix all ingredients together well.

I’ve known Friend B for fifteen years and Friend A for about seven. They are two of my closest friends and they’ve known each other for around five years, through me. The three of us have lived on our own for quite a while; we’re all pretty independent and we know what we like and want. We are also quite different people, with differing interests. One of mine is sleeping in late during the holidays – a plan that was pretty stymied by our feathered neighbours*.

I’ve travelled with both of them (the girls, not the chickens) before and had no reservations about doing so again. So it was a bit of a surprise when we had some tension – although perhaps a little conflict was inevitable – on our trip last week. It ranged from going in super-tolerant ‘I don’t mind what we do – what do YOU want to do?’ circles to a little bossiness, thoughtless comments and (probably unintentional) obvious impatience.

Added to this, I had the worst PMS I’ve had in years, which makes me tearful, neurotic and pathetic. My two friends, who are lucky enough not to suffer from it, couldn’t understand that it was just the hormones talking and instead practically diagnosed depression and advised me to see a therapist. A little over-reactive, I thought.

Anyway, I’m home again now and loving the peace and tranquility of my own space, but a little sad that the perfect holiday I’d hoped for was a little fraught.

* The chickens were actually very funny. The roosters had the most comical wannabe crows ever (forget cock-a-doodle-do…) – accompanied by what could only be described as a ‘constipated look’.

Ten fab things about road tripping

1. Tiny towns that time forgot
2. Quirky decor (think country kitsch)
3. Farm stalls
4. Straight roads that stretch like ribbons over the countryside
5. Listening to CDs you forgot you had
6. Singing in the car
7. Buying things you’d never buy at home (for us it was fudge, a bumper sticker (?!) and earrings set with semi-precious stones)
8. Posing for very touristy photos
9. BEING a tourist!
10. Having a change of scenery – every few minutes.

Road trip!

I am sooo excited. Tomorrow I set off with two girl friends, SM and DV, for a week long trip up the coast. We’re taking the scenic route, which I’ve not done before, and are planning on stopping off at a number of quirky one-horse towns along the way.

I just booked our accommodation for tomorrow night in a quaint guest house in a town that is known for its port wine. Hmm – could be fun! Doing the accommodation research was so easy thanks to the Internet… what did we do before it?! The bit I like best is seeing what other visitors have said about the places. If only there were online reviews for everything (men? :-D).

So I’ll be getting up very early tomorrow, which is *not* my favourite thing, but it’s for a good reason this time. The two friends I am going with are good fun and we’ve planned a very relaxing week of visiting little towns, popping in at local organic markets, doing a little bit of sightseeing and a lot of reading, napping and chilling out. Not sure how we’ll be seeing in the New Year, but I’m sure something will come up.

One of the things I like best about road trips is farm stalls. I LOVE farm stalls. They always smell of home bakes and cabbages and dried fruit. There are always a few flies buzzing around but funnily enough that doesn’t put me off (as opposed to spotting one in my local supermarket). I’m always tempted by the jams and preserves and home-made rusks but usually never really buy much more than a snack and cold drink. Oh, and a bag of pistachios, which are the best nuts to eat on a road trip because they take so long to shell… keep you busy for miles.

I’m going to be unplugging and going offline for a week but watch this space for stories from the highway when I get back. Happy New Year!