It has been, by my count, at least 18 months since I last had a holiday (aside from one weekend spent in Cardiff). It's getting to the point where I'm starting to feel that I really need a one. But what kind of holiday?
Having stopped to think about it, I've realised that most of the holidays I've taken have been of the package type. With the skiing holidays this isn't so bad, it's possibly even ideal. The rest of the time... not so much. It feels a little too much like being cattle, it feels very lowest common denominator (largely because it is) and you'll tend to spend a lot of time around British Tourists (if you know what I mean). The holidays I remember enjoying most are the other kind. The ad hoc ones. Three stand out.
Something like five years ago my friend Pete was living and working in Barcelona for the summer, staying with a friend he'd met while previously living in Switzerland. My friend Ruth and I made our way out there (slightly haphazardly, in my case) and spend a fantastic week, sleeping on Pete's floor and trying to spend as little money as possible, whilst also trying to see and drink as much as possible. Pete's friend also had a couple of friend's kipping on her floor, and they'd also befriended an Irish fella they'd found in the bar Pete worked in. It was a great time. When I think back on the seriously happy moments in my life, swimming in sea at 1 am on Barcelona beach while holding onto a bottle of white wine in an attempt to cool it down a little... yeah, that ranks pretty high up there.
A couple of years later I (English), together with my friends Mark (Scottish) and John (Irish) made another ad hoc trip, this time to Italy. We flew with Easy Jet, rented a cheap but very comfortable villa in the hills and drove our selves around in a rental Alpha Romeo. We ate some great food food, played some cards, looked at some very pretty cities (and some very pretty girls), and accidentally drove up the off ramp of an Italian motorway. I highly recommend it (except for the last one).
Lastly, and most recently, I spent a long weekend in a hostel in Berlin with 7 friends. We saw the sites, ate lots of pig and potato based products, probably drank too much, and wrapped up very, very warm. Only one of our number actually spoke German and he had to go elsewhere for the last night, leaving us to end up in what turned out to be an awesome and very cheap socialist bar. Though there was an tense few minutes when we were sure what kind of socialist bar it was (it was the good kind).
I would like to have more holidays like this. Now, if I could just figure out a good way of setting them up...
BUNAC appeals to me (and I only have two years left to try it, depending on the country), as does farm working my way a cross a (hot) country. Burning Man is also not without it's a appeal...