Stay at home for the holidays? Bert Wagendorp is adamant: No way!

The English working class was set free from the major industrial areas in the north of the country for one day a year – that’s how it began. Usually that day was spent in Blackpool, on the Irish Sea. At least, if one could afford the train fare for the entire family. The average subscriber to De Volkskrant has surpassed that point by far and sets out on a journey three or four times per annum. So, if you limit yourself to once a year, a fellow subscriber has to scramble through five or six trips – the poor devil.

Holiday trips have something tragic, especially for those who regard the working periods in between as boring intervals. Therefore I strongly advise to avoid them, they are a breeding ground for discontent.

The holiday trip is all the same the annual journey towards an unattainable goal called Happiness. The crux of the matter is not the vacation itself, but the prospect. In less than a week I shall be sat on the terrace of an apartment in a former medieval hospital. I often go there and I am looking forward to the panoramic view of the Ventoux, to the stone staircase that leads to the baker’s and Café Le Sport, where I shall be reading meticulously l’Equipe, especially through the Tour section, while enjoying a dubious café au lait.

I am really looking forward to that, though it is a legitimate question to ask why I would want to drive almost thousand miles to the Provence for such a simple sense of happiness. At home I have a terrace with a pretty view as well, albeit without the Ventoux. l’Équipe is also available, as well as an establishment where the coffee tastes like dishwater. Moreover, the Provence climate has meanwhile reached these regions.

One might easily think: Why not make it a staycation? Stay at home, you fool, leave the killing fields of the southbound traffic be and seek the temporary oblivion, the lazy life of silence, simply here at home – where the heart is. It is all within your reach, if you want it. Just make a decision, silly twit, you’re a spineless victim of the tourist industry, which ceaselessly pleads that paradise is yondernever where you happen to be. And, by the way, make a brief calculation what it costs, paradise.

But as far as I’m concerned there’s no discussion. For it is not merely the illusion of great carelessness that lures me to yonder, it is also the sweet memories of previous journeys that make me pack the car and breeze down the Route du Soleil. Those memories are coloured, I know, stripped of any negative experience – idealisation has effectively filtered them out. Even car trouble and the long wait for the Road Service to arrive have wonderful romantic aspects. The moment you spot the silhouette of the tow truck on the horizon is simply… priceless.

I can still picture ourselves sitting on the roof of a house in Rome – life could not be more perfect (except for the horrible heat and the excruciating noise from the Piazza Santa Maria; but they were actually very romantic… in retrospect). Just like it was not half crowded in Venice later on.

The main thing is, I find, one has to visit the places one has already come to know. One wants to avoid the unpleasant surprises and the unhealthy stress that unexplored territory may provide. Believe you me, you don’t want that. When the holidays are over the travel editorial staff of De Volkskrant are going to focus on detourism – spreading out tourism flows. The motto is: Go somewhere else.
No way, José! It ruins the illusion and endangers the idealisation seriously. Before you know it you regret your alternative choice for months in a row.

No rational argument can match the beautiful illusion in advance and the lovely idealisation afterwards. Okay, one has to drive or fly a bit in order to set the two wheels in motion and enjoy it to the full for months, but that’s a negligible sacrifice in comparison with the benefits.

I do wish you the best holidays ever. Before, after and – if at all possible – during your stay at your dream resort.

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