The Diva Returns

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>The greatest problem of going away for a month-long holiday is that you have to return home when the vacation is over – back to reality and all its demands. to-moi.html” target=”_blank”>My August vacation, a short driving tour through Italy before taking a 20 day Mediterranean Cruise, was heaven! The return, a week ago today, has been hell. Loads of laundry and unopened email aside, life looms large before me. As demands on my time outweigh the hours in the day, I’ve found I’m in a post-vacation funk. Apparently this is a fairly normal occurrence, as torial.cfm?Ed=322″ target=”_blank”>Performance and Profits newsletter writes:

“Post-vacation blues are such a common malady, even His Holiness has had something to say on the matter. ‘I try to imagine what passes through the spirit of one who comes back after a period of relaxation, perhaps long desired and now already over,’ the late Pope John Paul II once said, adding that some people often dread ‘daily reality, with its concreteness, its problems, its heaviness’.”

The Pope’s words ring true as I face this post-vacation hang-over. August was a month at sea with no worries, not a care in the world, and no responsibilities or looming deadlines. The vacation was excellent. I’ve returned sun-tanned, a solid 5 pounds fatter than when I departed, and full of glorious memories of a month spent side by side with my husband, renewing our energies and relationship.

While this vacation was among the best we’ve ever had, I must admit I have mixed feelings about the actual process of cruising. One part of me loved the cruise – the glamour of going to bed at sea and waking in a new location each day in the heat of the Mediterranean, with the sun slowly teasing me awake each day. I loved the 16 destinations, 8 countries, 6 formal nights full of ball gowns and tuxedos, nightly 5 course dinners, and room service breakfasts.

Yet, another part of me mildly hated the lack of authenticity one experiences when contained in the cultural cruise bubble. When traveling in the Med, I want to taste the local culture, to wake up to Turkish coffee or a perfectly frothed Italian cappuccino. Instead, I found myself surrounded by taco bars and hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza by the poolside while eavesdropping on people saying “Well, we’ve done Greece”, as if a 4 hour tour in Corfu constitutes a check mark.

What we did find was that cruising was an excellent way to test-drive a country. Our desired future vacation “to do” list has grown with comments such as, “We must return to Dubrovnik, Croatia someday – a day wasn’t nearly enough!” And research has already begun on low cost airlines for a return to Ephesus for a long weekend around Easter next year. Weaving through the alleyways of Sicily, we stumbled into La Vucciria, one of Italy’s greatest markets with its crowded souk-like passage ways. We loaded our arms with vacuum packed sundried tomatoes, capers and olives as fat and ripe as mandarins, knowing that we’d just done the grocery shopping for our next cocktail party.

Cruising was also an excellent way to recall past trips, returning to Barcelona to recall everything toni_Gaud%C3%AD” target=”_blank”>Gaudi, or to torini.net/” target=”_blank”>Santorini, climbing to the top of the caldera on donkey-back, an experience we’d missed on our last trip and swear we would never repeat again. We tasted Tunisia and loved bartering in French with the locals who exclaimed in delight that we couldn’t possibly be from the cruise, giving us an extra discount because we spoke French. We finally entered the magnificent St John’s Co-Cathedral in town” target=”_blank”>Valletta that we had missed seeing on our first trip to Malta and realized that for the last 7 years we had missed out on seeing one of the most interesting cathedrals in the world.

Days at sea found us bidding at art auctions, taking cooking courses and passing hours gazing out at a still blue sea over the top of a Truman Capote novella. For perhaps my first time on vacation, I entirely forgot about the life I’d left behind at shore as I lost track of the days of the week or the hours in the day. Upon filling our first tank of gas on a 2 day drive home from Rome, my husband realized that in the absence of responsibility the month before he had forgotten the code to his gas card. Days after I returned home I went to call my sister and couldn’t remember her phone number. Given that I usually call her weekly, this lapse in memory was just a small example of how far removed from reality we’d been while at sea. Having not had a care in the world for an entire month, it’s no wonder I’ve returned from vacation a little blue… but it’s a deep Mediterranean blue, the color of a church roof in Santorini or the sea when the sun is setting and you’re sailing away from the rising rocky coastline of Croatia…

The Antiques Diva™