I'm glad that I'm fairly certain, at the age of 30, of the professional direction my life will take in the future. I know I'm a writer, I know I want to be a writer. There's not much else that I want to do - or that I'm good at.
I'm also very relieved that by now I have figured out what professions are definitely NOT for me. One of these is definitely "vacation organizer" or whatever it may be called, the person that plans and organizes trips. Because, as it turns out, I can't even put together a holiday for myself.
What is it with the holiday industry these days? The word "low cost" is so abused it has lost the little meaning it once had. Are you still allowed to call yourself a "low cost" airline if you charge me £145 to come home from my holiday in the South of Europe? Mind you, this is not including the luggage charges and the "check-in fee" (whatever that means). Low cost my butt.
Searching for a summer getaway, I had my heart set on discovering a new place: somewhere I'd never been before in Greece, Spain, Malta, Cyprus or Portugal. I knew I wanted to go in September, when most tourists had headed back home and the prices were calming down a bit.
My mother had the - brilliant, I now realize - idea of an all-inclusive holiday. "It's the only way to go, darling, you'll see! Anything else is way too expensive." So, on I go to Thomascook.co.uk, confidently typing "All Greece" into the search box. Lots of £199/person offers pop up...for something called Club 18-30. Now, even if I were 23, I doubt I'd consider a holiday surrounded by people whose top priority is getting drunk - and getting everyone else drunk, too. As much as I may love vodka shots, right now I'd rather hang on the beach all day and then sit out at a bar with a glass of wine by night, without getting assaulted by a sweaty rep dragging me into bars by my hands. Having said that, there's something slightly tragic about the fact that, at 30, I'm on the hunt for a holiday with drunken-student prices.
So. Let's not get discouraged. I take a deep breath and type "All Cyprus" instead.
Oh my GOD. Why did I do that? What do you mean, £1135/person? Get that out of my sight. Now.
"All Portugal". Aah. Here we go. I flick through the listings of Algarve, Madeira and other places with seductive names that taste like sunshine.
"Quiet...residential...ideal for families..."
No. Okay, I don't want drunk teenagers throwing up on my shoes, granted, but as soon as I read the words "very quiet", I start having visions of someone's grandparents banging on our hotel room door to tell us to stop talking so loudly at nine p.m. While we're getting ready to go out. No, thanks.
The search continues: "All Malta".
"Very nice hotel, right next to the airport!" Wait a minute - is this not East London? Didn't I go and see a really dingy flat here once? Moving on...man, Malta is not for the weak of wallet. The hotels look lovely, but the flights all have It Girl price tags. Even the "low cost" ones (there's that word again). And what's with the "beautiful hillside location" thing? Why would they think people would ever come here if there isn't a beach nearby?
I give up. I log out of Thomascook feeling drained and wondering where other thirtysomethings with no money go on holiday. Maybe we should all rally together and drive a bus to the south of France.
In a moment I may regret blogging about, I type "very cheap all inclusive holidays" in Google. Something called OnTheBeach.co.uk comes up. By now I'm so over it that I put "I don't mind" in the Destination field. It really doesn't matter. There's no chance that a site called OnTheBeach offers up that "hillside" crap, now is there? Indeed, a bevy of sun-drenched beachy images flashes up on my screen. Beautiful, inviting places, promising white sand and crashing waves and sparkling white wine in the sunset. And just the right amount of tan. And the same words sign off every image: Costa Brava, Spain.
I hadn't much considered Spain before, mainly because I've already been there and was looking to add another country to my collection of places. But I've only visited Barcelona, whereas David went to Costa Brava with friends when he was younger and still muses about how amazing it was. And the more I look at it, the more it looks like a place where I can see myself do absolutely nothing for a week.
And...the holiday costs £544. I kid you not. A week. For two people. Flight, hotel and breakfast.
I'll let that sink in for a while.
Still not kidding.
We're leaving on August 29 for a glorious, sun-drenched week. Thank you, OnTheBeach.co.uk - my credit card loves you.
Pictures, all of Costa Brava, and namely Tossa De Mar where we're going, from Pinterest