After months and months of lockdowns and mobility restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year it seems as if summer holidays are back on the table, albeit in a still limited form. Last summer we looked at the situation and decided to give our annual holiday a miss - it just seemed like more trouble than it was worth.
Fortunately my wife doesn’t read this column so I can openly admit that it was actually a bit of a relief. Of course it’s important to get a change of scenery, to spend some quality time with the family and to see new places, but as we all know holidays can also be quite stressful and expensive.
I still bear the scars of those camping holidays when on arriving at the plot, the wife and kids would bugger off to the swimming pool, leaving me with my hands on hips staring at the car overflowing with equipment and wondering where to start.
Meanwhile, I still have nightmares about that day when, having already spent two hours in the airport with two small children who were quickly growing bored, the airline announced that there was a technical problem and we wouldn’t be able to board for another five hours.
With those types of memories in my mind, and given all the nervousness surrounding the pandemic, I was quite content last year to stay at home and dedicate some serious time to the hammock and a good book. Another advantage of skipping a year is that this summer I really am looking forward to getting out there and shaking off the cobwebs I’ve accumulated over months of staying at home.
So, what am I looking for in a summer holiday exactly? Well, a destination that offers a number of different options would be best, somewhere with countryside and mountains for walking, maybe with a beach not too far away so I can work on my tan. Good food is a must on holiday, and if I can eat outside in the open air in the evenings, that would be great. While lazing around is one of my main objectives when on holiday, it’s also nice to go on a few cultural visits, maybe to a castle or a museum. In my case, I’ve always liked a bit of birdwatching - yes, sad I know - so if there are any natural parks around then count me in. It also needs to be a destination that is affordable, and for me, relatively easy to get to and to get around.
I put all that data into my computer and hit ’enter’. While there are a number of destinations around the world that fit the description, one stands out: Catalonia.
I hope you had a look at the series of itineraries and routes in Catalonia we feature in this magazine on pages 18 to 31. It may be just a small selection of places to visit in Catalonia but it certainly gives an idea of the sheer range of options there are in this country when it comes to holidaying. There’s a reason why millions of foreign tourists choose to spend their summer holidays here every year.
And another thing is deciding to holiday closer to home this summer has an added advantage: there is absolutely no chance of having to spend seven hours in an airport with two small children!