I’m just back from vacation in Greece with my cousins, Titus and Sabine, and their two boys, Matthias and Sebastian. My cousins live in Germany and we try to meet up over the summer for a family vacation. This year we went to Greece, to a family resort on the Peloponnes coast in western Greece. We had a fantastic time and the week blitzed by. I love hanging out with Matthias and Sebastian on these vacations and watching them grow up. Matthias, who’s 12, had braces this year and just finished his first year in “Hochschule” (the German equivalent of middle school) and is deep into reading fantasy novels. Sebastian, 7, is the family charmer and has become soccer obsessed, and the highlight of his vacation was scoring 4 goals in the evening beach soccer game with the “big kids.” German families tend to spend a few weeks at the beach over the summer, often in one of these “all inclusive family resorts.”We went to a similar type resort last year in Turkey and I will admit I was a bit skeptical of the concept at first. The idea of staying put in one place for a week, roaming between pool and beach, is not my typical vacation, but I’ve come to love these vacations, where everything is planned and taken care of and there’s really nothing to think about other than finding your beach chair for the day and remembering to put on sunscreen. Since I arrived pretty exhausted from a really long flight and few very stressful weeks at work, I was definitely in need of a week of “doing nothing.”
We spent the week hanging out at the pool, swimming in the ocean, floating in the “lazy river” pool (I fell in love with the lazy river!), sleeping, reading, playing endless rounds of Uno. In the evenings, there was a music and entertainment program that ranged from family night, where the kids put together a dance and comedy show, to a Greek dancing show. There was never ending food and as much ice cream as one could eat, all day long. Sebastian amazed me with how much ice cream such a little guy could put away! Matthias convinced me to try SUP (standup paddleboarding for those, like me , who had no idea what SUP is!) which proved to be harder than anticipated. Matthias was a natural and was padding around like he had been doing it forever. I, however, quickly reverted to “sit down paddle boarding” (a new support SDP?) and regretted not going for the sea kayaking option. The humiliation of my complete lack of ability to get upright on the board was made up for by Matthias thrill and happiness that I went with him, when his Mom and Dad stayed on the beach. The kids brought me up to speed on the latest video game fads—-everyone was very into Pokemon Go, but sadly, Pokemons had not yet found their way to the resort. I finally managed to finish the 4th book of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series. I had started the series last year in Turkey. We took a day trip one day, to go to Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic games. Having come all this way, I did want to see some of the local cultural sites. We managed to catch our first Pokemon of the trip at Olympia. In between, I spent at an afternoon at the spa, for a round of relaxing Thalassotherapy which is a form of water massage where you do rounds in a pool with different water jets that massage different parts of your body (who knew this even existed…it’s like a water park for adults!).
The one part of being at a family resort that I’ll admit was a bit hard was that there were families and kids and babies everywhere, all so impossibly cute. In fact, there really wasn’t anyone there who didn’t have kids and the place was designed around kids. Not surprisingly, although for the most part I was in the moment and very happy to be there as the fun Aunt, every now and then, I couldn’t help but feeling a bit jealous and longing for a child of my own. But, all in all, it was a fantastic week and a much needed chance to unwind. I will say that “doing nothing” is tiring in its own way. We’re already starting to think about where our vacation next year will be. I’m hoping that by next year, I’ll be able to introduce everyone to a new baby cousin!