Tuesday, 7 October 2014

My Best and Worst Holidays

Today's Blogtober prompt is best/worst vacation. Let me tell you, this has got me racking my brains! I've been really lucky in that my parents, particularly my dad, were really into travelling around and we usually had a couple of family holidays every year. We never left the UK, but it does mean I've seen more of this fair isle than most people I know - by a long way. As an adult, I've maintained this attitude to exploring new places and I've ventured a little further afield to do so.

Picking out one holiday as the best is really difficult, so I'm going to tell you about the worst first of all... Just to give myself some more time to think!

The one that jumps out as the worst would have to be one time I went to London with my parents. I would have been around 17 or 18 I think, and this was in the days before TripAdvisor was an essential tool when looking at accommodation. My mum had put a lot of time and effort into finding somewhere to stay that could accommodate the three of us in one room, and we ended up in a B&B on Great Cumberland Place, which is just north of Marble Arch.

I couldn't honestly tell you what we did during our stay in London on that occasion. The only thing that is memorable is the B&B - for all the wrong reasons. The room itself was a strange shape and layout - the main room was quite big, with a double bed in one corner for my parents, and a single bed diagonally across the room for me. Under a very sloping ceiling, which I couldn't avoid banging my head on a couple of times. There was a long, narrow corridor leading to the bathroom, which was bitterly cold. But, you know, this was obviously an old house that had been converted into a number of separate en suite rooms, so we could deal with it.

The first hint of bizarreness came when my dad decided to make a drink. He was a big fan of a cuppa, my dad, so he filled the kettle and switched it on. Then realised that we only had 2 mugs, for 3 people. And then realised there was no spoon at all. How does one make a tea or coffee without a spoon?? So he trundled off to reception to request an additional mug, and some spoons. He came back with one plastic disposable spoon. We were surprised to say the least, but it was enough to get the job done.

Breakfast was also interesting. Most B&Bs have a dining room... but not this one. We were served breakfast on a tray in our room. We had scrambled egg on toast, on paper plates but without any knives, and we were also given some cereal, real bowls, but no spoons. It really was laughable. Funnily enough, we never made a return visit!

So, now that I've had a bit longer to think about it, am I any further forward in deciding what my best holiday was? Honestly, no I'm not. How can I decide between a thoroughly relaxing two week stay in Mexico, our honeymoon in Kenya which was a perfect mix of relaxation and the experience of safari, a week in New York which was the realisation of a lifelong dream, and numerous trips to the south coast of England which is by far my favourite part of the country? It's an impossible choice.

That said, I think today I'll go with Mexico, purely for the reason that I've never really blogged about it. So, let's rewind to the end of April 2009...

You may remember this as the time the world was in a mass state of panic over the swine flu outbreak. The first we heard of it was on the news while we were sitting in the executive lounge at Manchester Airport, waiting for our flight to start boarding. I'll admit that we didn't pay a huge amount of attention to it - the TV was facing the wrong way for a start, and we were loading up on complimentary breakfast (priorities, people!)

The following morning we met with our holiday rep, and we were shocked to find that our flight was actually the last one to leave the UK for Mexico; all others had been stopped. Until that point, we had no idea that the situation was so serious. We were told that we weren't considered to be in any particular danger where we were, and that the Mexican government were doing whatever they could to contain the spread of the virus.

I bet by now you're wondering how on earth this turned out to be one of my best ever holidays, right? I will admit, there were drawbacks. The government closed a lot of tourist attractions as a precaution, which included Chichen Itza and we were disappointed not to be able to go there. Due to the lack of new arrivals, the hotel was exceptionally quiet and staff were being laid off left, right and centre.

On the flip side, the quietness was also a huge bonus. Almost all the Americans and Canadians in the resort had opted to go home, and as the hotel we had chosen was largely used by customers from North America this left the occupancy rate at only 15%. Terrible for the staff, but great for those customers who had stayed and could rock up to the pool as late in the morning as they liked and still have their pick of a couple of dozen sun loungers. It made for a very peaceful atmosphere, which was incredibly relaxing and meant we got a shed load of reading done.

We only had one trip to a tourist attraction, but that was seriously one of my favourite days in my life. We went to Xcaret; an ecological park only a short distance from Playa Del Carmen. We started the day by swimming with dolphins, and then wandered around the zoo areas and floated along one of the lazy rivers. It was a long and tiring day, but I recommend it to anyone I know that goes to the Riviera Maya and given the opportunity, I'd be back there in a heartbeat.
Helene in Between


  1. Oh no, your experience in London sounds like a bummer! I'm glad Mexico made up for it, though! :) I need to make it down there!

  2. I remember the swine flu! Thomas and I went to cancun for our honeymoon in August 2008. It might have been a blessing you missed out on Chichen Itza - we took that excursion and both were struck with food poisoning from the restaurant they stopped at on the way home... Memorable to say the least haha!


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