Holidays really are a microcosm of life in general. Everything that would normally happen is so sped up because of all the decisions we make, which would normally take weeks. Hence a week is a long time in holidays! Whilst away we faced a number of dilemmas which I suppose in many ways are just the run of the mill kind but something you never quite sit down and think about.
Dilemma No. 1 : Why doesn’t it look anything like the pictures?
I’m sure I’m not alone in this one. I sit at home on booking.com or a hotel’s website and I wonder at the pictures of the room I’m about to book and the lifestyle I’m going to lead because of this amazing room. Years of staying in hotels after booking them has brought me to the conclusion that whenever you go, the hotel never ever lives up to your expectation. I’m not entirely sure what the reason is for this, I guess the very wide angled lens they use to take pictures of the rooms to make them look massive, all the amenities they have (which they don’t when you arrive) or maybe it’s just that feeling of stepping off a flight which has taken hours, arriving at the hotel and feeling thoroughly miserable as you open the door and wonder why you booked this.
Interestingly, for the first time for a long time, I was actually not disappointed at this place. A few things came to light after a few days (some electrical tape round one of the lamp leads and the towel holder precariously attached to the wall) however the first impression was amazing. An apartment the size of our house, a second bedroom we didn’t expect (or use), a balcony overlooking a serenity pool with tables, chairs, outside fridge and BBQ.
Dilemma No. 2: We have to fit sooo much in!
Well you know what, you don’t really? Often the reason people state for going on holiday is to relax, only to get there and fill every moment of every day with things to do and see. Maybe this comes from the finiteness of our lives and the popular FOMO (fear of missing out ). Sometimes though isn’t it nice just to do absolutely nothing? Probably one of my greatest pleasures from the holiday we just went on was I had a 30-minute run in the humid tropical heat followed by a swim in one of the hotel’s pool (they had three) all before breakfast. It’s nothing amazing, or nothing I couldn’t recreate in Melbourne (bar the tropical heat and serenity pool)
I knew it was special, when I was walking back from the pool I felt that glow and calmness come over me and the very unusual human feeling of just being in the moment and enjoying it for what it is. I can’t claim I feel that a lot of the time, but when I do it’s always nice to pause, reflect and acknowledge it.
Dilemma No 3: Ethics and Values
Ethics and values are an interesting topic but particularly in relation to holidays, I’d like to pose a question, do we apply the same ethics and values when we’re on holiday as we do in our everyday lives? In reference to dilemma 2, I think the need to fit in so many things in might just lead us to doing things we wouldn’t normally do.
For us, our particular dilemma was about going to a popular crocodile farm. We were in FNQ and let’s face it crocodiles are a big attraction and everyone wants to see one. The day before we’d taken a trip down the river from Port Douglas and saw one on our whole cruise. That funnily enough was in the marina as we returned. I mean we didn’t really need to leave the marina. The next day we decided to go to a crocodile farm to see a few more. It’s not a widely advertised point but this crocodile farm kills most of its crocodiles and sells them on through another company to make high end handbags and shoes. Would I buy one of these handbags or shoes, nope. So why would I visit the crocodile farm. Well to see crocodiles. To be fair the place does do a lot of good work, rescuing crocodiles that are problems in the areas and housing them (and it’s not these crocs they kill) and there is something amazing about seeing a 4 metre crocodile jump out of the water to catch a piece of dangling meat but do I wish I hadn’t gone? I’m not quite sure would be my honest answer. Would I go to a crocodile farm in Victoria, probably not. I think it speaks a lot to how fluid our morals actually are depending on the situation.
Dilemma No 4: Not looking forward to things but actually enjoying them
This really isn’t just a holiday dilemma if you ask me. And maybe it’s really just a me dilemma. But there are some things which I arrange to do and coming up to the actual event, I have a feeling that I really am not going to enjoy them and I don’t want to go. I rarely act on this and I must admit, Claire is incredibly supportive in listening to my concerns and then just dragging me along anyway which I’m always quite grateful for because it’s very rare I don’t enjoy them.
In this instance it was a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve done a couple of days of snorkeling on reefs, once on the Great Barrier Reef and another in Fiji. I enjoyed the Great Barrier Reef one but the Fiji one, the operators just decided to drop people near the reef shelf by the deep ocean and drive the boat off and come back later. This can kind of freak you out although I’m a relatively strong swimmer. I guess I was carrying that memory in the run up to this trip.
However, I loved it. We had marine biologists on board and a really nice crew who remembered everyone’s names and I even got to tell my story about what had happened in Fiji. It was a relatively small group (about 25) and the reef was gentle and flat. I found the snorkeling pretty easy and really enjoyed it.
Dilemma No 5: To complain or not complain?
I must say I don’t often get bad restaurant service in Melbourne, in fact I can’t think of the last time I have really. There are maybe a few examples when things have taken longer than I wish they had but all in all I’ve been happy.
Fast forward to our latest holiday. One of the nights we decided we’d head out for a quick meal at a restaurant a few minutes’ walk away from us. I wasn’t requiring anything fancy, just a pizza and some Saganaki. What more does anyone need? As we walked in we noticed the restaurant was relatively busy however a seat was found for us after separating a couple of tables. We thought considering the busyness of the restaurant and our want to eat quick that we’d order everything at once, ignoring the popular convention of ordering drinks, waiting for the drinks then ordering food.
Order was taken by a waitress who appeared to be new. But she took our order, read it back and it was correct. After about 15 minutes the drinks hadn’t arrived so Claire inquired at the bar to be told they hadn’t been ordered. Cue our drinks being poured quickly and the waitress being berated in the background. Next our Saganaki arrived in good time and we both jumped on that, maybe me more than Claire. The final piece of the meal was a large pizza and a salad. The pizza came out, we started eating thinking the salad would come anytime. It hadn’t appeared after 10 minutes, we caught the waitresses eye and she came over. After asking about the salad we were told, she hadn’t ordered it and it was her fault. Not really what we were expecting, in most cases, the wait staff would have rushed to the kitchen and got the chef to rustle up a few leaves on a plate.
Pizzas finished we got up to leave and our waitress rushed over to the till before anyone else could get there, apologized again, produced the bill and nearly gave me the machine for a tip but thought better of it. We paid and left. We thought afterwards should we go back and complain, but never did. My Englishness means it has to be pretty appalling for me to complain and I much prefer to facelessly complain on social media nowadays but this service was close to the limit and part of why I generally feel a lot less anxiety going to a pub and ordering my drinks and meal at the bar, because it takes, in my opinion, an unnecessary transaction out of the experience.
All of this may in some ways suggest I had a bad holiday but in fact these are everyday events I face day in day out and I genuinely enjoyed my week away in the hot tropical sunshine.