It’s getting really hot again. Now it really feels like holidays. We are not leaving on our summer holidays for a couple of days yet but I have already started to wind down. Because most of my customers are away on holiday themselves, I have caught up with all the stuff I needed to at work and am definitely feeling more relaxed. Combine that with the heat, the quiet roads and a general sense of slowing down and you can’t fail to get into the holiday feeling. Today I went into work but the girls went to one of the larger “Freibäder” (open air pools) in the area and had a great day with some friends.
In a couple of days we will be loading our holiday gear into a rented bus and heading up to Rotterdam to catch the North Sea Ferry to England for a week in the Lake District. I am glad the girls are getting the sunshine and swimming done here because the forecast is looking “mixed” for the Lake District. Still, we’re looking forward to it. I enjoy going somewhere which is not on the German holiday radar even if it is well-known to the Brits. We went to the Lakes last year and everyone loved our photos, but they won’t risk going there. So where do the Germans go on holiday? I’m not going to google it and give you a list but I will give you my guess at the top destinations based on half-listening to people I know saying where they went this year.
Number one must be Majorca. The Germans write it as Mallorca and pronounce it as “Mayorca”, or use the affectionate slang term “Malle”. Any Brit who has been to Mallorca will already know that it is overrun by Germans. They love it. Germany has its own booze-soaked ghettoes in El Arenal just like the Brits, but the posh people we know will go to the East coast or the North coast to somewhere not quite so brash. I can’t begin to tell you how often I’ve heard people explain to me that despite the image, “Mallorca is a beautiful island”. Then they go on about the drive they did around the island in the rental car and the charming little places they passed through in the middle of the island. Now if anyone mentions to me that they are going to Majorca I feign surprise that they, as middle-aged people, would spend a week drinking buckets of sangria out of straws on the beach. They will then go into the usual “beautiful island” monologue so I can switch off.
Another favourite destination, especially for people who live in the South of the country like us, is Italy. From our front door to the Italian border at the Brenner Pass it is only a three hour drive (without traffic and going as fast as you can). But if you get the timing just a little wrong it can turn into a 12 hour traffic jam – as I have found out once or twice. Everybody heads down through the Alps and then stop either at one of the lakes or fan out further South to the Adriatic coast. Back in the 1970s when the economy was really booming and lots of people started taking foreign holidays, the Adriatic coast East of Venice (Lignagno, Jesolo, Bibbione) was particularly popular as were the resorts further south (Rimini). They are still popular today. A few years ago we visited Lignano, where Ariane had spent many happy summer holidays as a child. We did enjoy ourselves. Well, the kids did. I wonder if Germans like the well-ordered beaches and the insane rules. There is literally a sun-lounger every half a metre and if you try and just pitch up with a towel and sit in the sand you get in trouble. You have to pay for your bit of sand with a couple of sun-loungers. It was boiling hot all the time, the water was shallow and lukewarm with a film of sun-oil making rainbows on the surface. The split was about 50/50 Italians and Germans. In retrospect it was torture, but as I mentioned, the kids loved it. As any parent knows, when the kids are happy on holiday the grown-ups are happy so I still look back on that holiday with some fondness.
The further North you go in Germany, the more likely people will spend their summer holidays on the German “Ostsee” or North Sea coasts. I have never been there in summer but by all accounts it is really pretty and fairly unspoiled. We are toying with the idea for next year. There are a few people who will fly to the States, or Mauritius or somewhere else exotic but around here people basically go to Malle or Italy. One place they don’t go, is France. This is a bit strange because France is the most visited country in Europe and it is less than an hour to the border from here. I don’t really know why that is. Probably historical. The wars probably didn’t help. In general I find that Germans and French stay apart. I know that Merkel and Hollande are making a show of solidarity at the moment desparately trying to convince us that the EU is going to stay strong. But even though the two countries are neighbours, they are culturally miles apart. Maybe we should break the mold and go on holiday there next year.
Well, no need to worry about that now. In just a couple of days I shall be tucked up in a cabin on the North Sea Ferry heading for, as far as Germans are concerned, an exotic paradise across the sea. Yes, you guessed, we’re taking the Hull route.