The traditional vacation, full of sight seeing and rushing around to tourist attractions may have its appeal to some, but to me, it’s a big headache that in the long run is not worth it.

The Traditional Vacation
What is this so-called traditional vacation? I’ve been on a few of them, have been encouraged to go on more, and don’t really care to. The traditional vacation entails going somewhere with a grand scheme, a plan of things to do, places to visit, monuments to have pictures of yourself near, museums to visit, boat rides to take, and of course, tours to take. Lots and lots of tours.

The problem that I see with the traditional vacation is that it doesn’t quite seem like a vacation at all. If you’re always rushed to do something else, and are constantly going from one place to another, how can you possibly enjoy each place? Moreover, if you spend so little time at each place due to wanting to get as many places in as possible in a short period of time, are you even going to remember all of the places when you get home and it’s time to tell stories to your friends? My bet is that the memories will not be so strong.

Is there an alternative to this? Of course there is. There are other sorts of vacationing, in which you are still going away to other countries or other parts of your own country, but you are not rushing around like a crowd of gerbils faced with a snake.

Puerto Vallarta vacationing
For the third time since 1997, I have visited Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and have done essentially the same thing that I have done the other two times: Not Much. Not much involving tourist activities, though they were offered constantly. I didn’t go parasailing, go on a tour boat, go fishing, rent a jeep to visit some other beach, or do anything else the sales people were offering every ten feet or so while walking on the main road going into the town.

I did a lot of reading. For one, I read Gustave Flaubert’s Sentimental Education. The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, by Douglas Adams, (which by the way was a hilarious read). The Infinity Doctors, by Lance Parkins. The Drama of the Gifted Child, by Alice Miller.  I read all those wonderful books in the course of two weeks. While I am at school, I am usually so overwhelmed with school related things, working, or writing that I could never read so much, so quickly. I was thrilled to be able to read all of them.

I got the opportunity to sit by the beach and write, write, write. I wrote a few poems, and a few chapters to a book. At some point, some annoying sales person who wanted to sell a cruise to my mother and I mentioned that we should do something so that we do not look back and think that we wasted our time there. In retrospect, I chortle heartily. He said this as if going on a boat and getting ridiculously drunk while looking at the ocean would somehow make the vacation more valuable than, say, writing a few chapters to a book, a few poems, and of course love letters to the woman I will marry.

There was more that I did while in Mexico. I also went out with my mother just about every night and ate at good restaurants. We went to a place called Archie’s Wok, visited the somewhat well known Cafe des Artistes (where we were delighted to find that an affordable meal could be found if one would be willing to be vegetarian), Roberto’s, the Charisma Cafe, and others.

I found fun in the fact that my friend Matt visited me for a few days, and that he joined us every morning in walking on the beach. Walking on the beach, turning down offers to buy fake jewelry, not wanting to go parasailing (although Matt did go, and I have pictures to prove it), and looking at the ocean while getting a little bit of exercise. I found it a pleasure to take long showers in the morning, and to watch films with Spanish subtitles. Of course, I also found it a pleasure to go to one of the Internet Cafes there and to write to the love of my life. That was one less than fun part of being in Mexico, really missing Andrea.

The London Anti-Vacation
I went to London in the summer of 1999 and defied everyone’s expectations of what a person does when visiting London by doing nothing that anyone thought I was going to do. Curiously, I had stated my intentions prior to going.

I stayed in London with close friends of my family. It was a small flat, in the middle of what one might call "everything." That was one of the first great pleasures of being there. On the first night that I was there, my mother’s friend took me to see a play. Feeling somewhat ironic, I decided the play I most wanted to see was Rent. I say this is ironic because I live a forty minute train ride away from New York City, where one can see Rent, and where it is based. What was I doing in London watching it? Well, for one, I was enjoying myself.

I didn’t see the tower of London. I didn’t go to any tourist sites, for that matter. I didn’t do all that much while in London, but I did it slowly and savored it all. I went to Harrod’s, bought a blue apron with tea pots on it, had a cup of tea and a scone with clotted cream, and I got to use the executive washroom. I went to an art film house and watched “Celebrity” while sitting on a leather couch type seat. I watched a film called "Tango" in a fairly full cinema and smiled as everyone sat through the credits. I went to a pub and had a good pint of Guinness. I wrote the outline to a play which I am presently working on, albeit slowly. I had the pleasure of eating an egg and mayo sandwich. I went to Chelsea’s of Whittard and sampled tea. I sat in parks and watched couples walk by. In short, I had a wonderful, memorable vacation.

Do these vacations necessarily work for everyone? Of course not. Some people might like rushing around, and seeing things that are well known and that they can brag to their friends about. Maybe an egg and mayo isn’t something to write home about. It made for a pleasant, relaxing vacation, though.

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