The return of the family holiday…

It had been a while since we last travelled altogether as a family. If I’m perfectly honest, I wasn’t too thrilled about the thought of having to cope with everyone’s opinions and “I know it best” attitudes, but the “family holiday” made its return this year.

A history of the family holiday

A country I’d never thought of visiting, a wedding and the Vella’s. It sounds like a nightmare combination when you think about it… especially without dad around to have the final say and somehow or other keep the peace. Family trips were a regular part of life growing up, from as long as I can remember. Apparently, I got on planes and visited countries literally from a time before my memory serves me. I even had an elbow dislocated on a plane when I was around 2 or 3 years old, thanks to my beloved sister. That trip must not have been pleasant for me and anyone else on that plane, with my shrilling screams. I think my first memories of these trips are from when I was around 4 years old and our parents took us to Disney World, Florida for my sister’s 7th birthday. I don’t remember much, but I do remember a massive billboard of E.T. with his finger lit up; a shuttle/train that used to get us to the park; hugging the ninja turtle Raphael, who was always my favourite; and daddy buying me a stuffed toy of Donald Duck when I wouldn’t stop crying for one reason or another.

Naturally when we were young, we’d do whatever our parents would tell us, but as we got older and formed our own opinions about everything, the arguments would start… and never end! Someone would complain because someone else is never ready on time; another complaint would be that we’re waking up too early, and we’d never decide where to go because we all wanted to visit different places. Thinking back, I’m quite amazed at how calm my father used to remain most of the time and how patient he was with us. Whenever we’d go to theme parks or shopping, he’d just find a bench to sit on, and watch people passing by, perhaps take a short nap, but that was his way to relax. It might sound boring as hell, but he was content as long as he’d see us happy, and I guess he’d get a mental break from the daily stresses of work.

As boyfriends and girlfriends started coming into the picture, more opinions also started trickling in, together with more noise and eventually more arguments. Considering I tend to be the one who gives in because my opinion never seems to be good enough, my frustration would build up and my insides would be on the verge of exploding, but I’d try to keep my mouth shut because there never was a way of winning out against my siblings. Then if I’d be in a bad mood because they never listen to me, I’d get a whole telling off about that too. I could never get it right.

Due to… all the above, eventually, and to everyone’s relief I would think, the family trips started dwindling. One wish I had which never manifested, was going on a short trip alone with my dad, literally just to get some good quality time with my king. At least this year I got to do something similar with mum instead. But I have to say, I was incredibly sceptical of a family holiday. I promised myself that I’d shut up and ignore everyone as much as possible and hope for the best. Perhaps we all thought of doing the same because to my surprise, it was relatively peaceful.

Every country is a gem within itself…

I have a never-ending list of countries that I’d love to visit, which spans across every continent… well perhaps excluding Antarctica. I don’t think I’m brave enough to bear the cold without the possibility of getting toasty with a cup of hot chocolate, by a fireplace in a hotel after. I must admit though, Macedonia was never on that list. Not that I had anything against the country. It just never even came to mind. But when the opportunity presented itself because we were invited to a wedding, my only thought was, ‘Oooh a new country and a different culture…. I’m in!’ But boy did this country surprise me!

As we were flying over it, all I could see were mountains. It was almost like flying over the Alps with less snow, and these mountains were covered in trees. Endless forests for as far as the eye can see and beyond. As we got out of the plane, I literally did a 360 degree turn and everywhere I looked, all I could see were mountains. I eventually concluded that Skopje and the surrounding towns and villages must be in a massive valley that provided a little habitable land. Other than that, most of the land seems to be uninhabitable. But when you see all that greenery, which is obviously very lacking in our country, you automatically get lost in it, wind down and relax.

The wedding was incredibly fun. I mean these people really know how to party! They wouldn’t stop dancing! We got to taste some traditional food and listen to a lot of Macedonian music, which I must admit, I wish I could understand because songs are a lot more meaningful when you can understand the lyrics, especially when you see everyone around you singing along.

Getting lost in nature

The best part of the holiday for me though was our visit to Ohrid. Being away from city life, lost in a world of mountains, trees and a lake… and to make even more perfect, with a thunderstorm on the lake. Getting lost in the sounds of nature was the best way to relax. I didn’t even manage to get lost in a book because I was too busy staring at the clouds to try and pick out lightning bolts. My only issue with this was that it didn’t last long enough!

The next day, to my dismay, the weather had improved, so we went for a boat ride on the lake to see the old city from the water. The views were wonderful, but I must admit I was still longing for the storm to return. Perhaps I wished too much for it, because when we made our way back to Skopje, quite literally the second we stepped into the hotel, a freak hail storm started. It was so bad and so sudden that it caused a lot of damage and interruption in the city. The locals told us that they couldn’t remember such a bad storm in recent history. Walking around the city that evening and the next morning, we could see damaged light posts, restaurants and so on. We felt terrible.

This trip literally offered a little bit of everything and if there’s one regret from it is that it was way too short! On the other hand, I must admit that I didn’t mind spending time with my family. Perhaps I might have enjoyed it a little. Let’s be honest, my nephew (mini me) makes it all worthwhile. 😉

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