Call me a detective, but I have picked up on a number of little signs that winter is approaching. Firstly, I’m sick. Secondly, I bought a massive military-style black coat on the weekend because it suddenly got very cold.
Also, each day on the walk to work another tree turns golden. This weirds me out because it seems to happen overnight and in a wholly uniform way. One morning the entire tree is mostly green (a little faded, maybe) and the next day every single leaf has turned golden. It’s not like the graying of hair that happens a little bit at a time… It’s like bleaching your hair. Bam. All at once.
Something else is troubling me about the onset of autumn; there are far fewer squirrels this year. Granted, the ones I am most likely to see are an introduced species that is driving the indigenous red squirrel into extinction so perhaps this is supposed to be good news. But it isn’t. For what other awesome animal can do this?
Quite a few, actually. Check out Animals with Lightsabers for more.
Because I was poor and passport-less. squirrels were going to be my natural signifier that it was time for another holiday. Sort of like an ancient prophecy or curse. “When the squirrels return, you will journey to an ancient land and take clumsy, amateur photographs.” Surely by autumn life will have stabilised and we’ll be off on many a vacation?
But it appears the squirrels have all killed each other in frantic lightsaber duels so my prophecy has hit a snag.
Prophecy or no, I’m still stuck with a whole bunch of annual leave that I need to soak up before December in one big chunk.
Where summer destinations have an advantage is that you can just pick one, carve out seven to ten days, pack some books and you’re done. You know how much you’re going to spend, you know what you’re going to be doing. No surprises, just fun and relaxation.
This is not the case in autumn. I need to pick a Euro destination in which to spend seven days. Why does this sound difficult, you ask? Well, while it is true that you can spend a lifetime exploring Europe and still not feel like you’ve uncovered all its wonders, it’s actually very difficult to pick one place/city to spend more than a week without having an insane amount of free time leftover (say three or four days) at the end of the trip that you will just spend drinking. Example: you can’t really spend nine days in Amsterdam without feeling that you could have planned your holiday a bit better…This is the same for most cities of the world, when you think about it. You’d be fine doing nine days somewhere like New York. Ironically the closest thing Europe has to a New York is London. (Yes, I thought about New York. Don’t suggest it. Or Berlin. It’s not the same.)
The thing is… Multi-destination trips quickly get prohibitively expensive. And like the banks, we’re still nowhere near sufficiently recapitalised for this. I don’t want our own personal economic recovery to be ‘W’-shaped.
So there is in my head a spectrum with all-inclusive single destination summer holidays at one end and a multi-destination, super-expensive European Grand Tour at the other end. We need to be about a third of the way along this spectrum.
I was going over this connundrum with the boss yesterday and he asked me a particularly insightful question; “growing up in Australia, what was the one thing that interested you most about any potential holiday to Europe?”
Ancient history. No question.
So we arrived at an autumnal holiday shortlist:
- See a bunch of ancient Roman crap
- Day trip to Hadrian’s Summer Palace (I’m a fan.)
- Overnight trip to Pompeii
See now, Pompeii throws open the possibility of a night or two in Napoli (closest big city) which I would like to see because apparently it’s pretty ghetto but then we start sliding back up that spectrum toward grand tour. You see? You see?!
- Athens for ancient crap
- Thera for Minoan crap and relaxation.
Food has me leaning toward Italy, but penny-pinching has me leaning toward Greece. (Thera is quite affordable off-peak, the internets tell me.)
Luckily, James has a day off today so I don’t have to brave the cold in my unwell state because I think it’s finally time to cough up for some guidebooks.