It’s Your holiday, do it Your way

Mother and Daughter at Sacre Coeur
For my recent trip to Paris with Mum I made us an itinerary (which is proof that I can actually be organised if I want to be). I made it because there was so much we wanted to fit in that it actually needed to be planned to see if it was possible, and also because we were going over Christmas I wanted to look up all the holiday times for what we wanted to see. I made sure we weren’t rushed, scheduling in only 2 things a day, at the most 3. Which gave us plenty of leeway for standing in possible lines and shopping or just walking and enjoying the city.

On day 2 I had written ‘The Louvre’ and ‘l’Orangerie’.

We started with l’Orangerie and after the musee d’Orsay the day before, it was a breath of fresh air. It is small and manageable in just one dose. The d’Orsay had had beautiful art in it of course but there was just so much of it that after several hours you were dragging yourself to the next room, feeling obliged to look at every artist seeing as you were here now.
Musee d’Orsay
At l’Orangerie there were two levels with various artists and to look at all the paintings took us about 2 hours. When we walked out Mum asked what was next on the agenda and I told her ‘The Louvre’.

‘Hmmm’ she said. ‘I think I’ve had enough art today, lets go shopping.’

So we went to the Lafayette galleries and spent hours and hours marvelling at all the wonderful things money can buy you. And we had a really great time.
Galleries Lafayette
The next morning she asked me again, what was on our plans for today (it was a bit of a ritual). I said we had Versailles pencilled in but if she wanted to do the Louvre now instead we could shuffle things around. Her answer surprised me.

‘I’m really not fussed if we don’t go to the Louvre at all’

— Ummm, why not? You know that for some people, that is the ONLY thing they come to Paris for? You know that when you get home everyone will ask you, ‘did you go to the Louvre?’ And you will have to explain why not? —
‘Yes’ she said, ‘but there’s just so much in there that I would only get tired by it all and I’m much happier doing small, bite sized galleries, lets go to Versailles’. (not an example of a bite sized gallery).
And we went to Versailles, and had a great day.
At the Picasso Museum

And we didn’t go to the Louvre. At all. We went to Musee Rodin and the Picasso museum, we love art, don’t get us wrong. But mum knew what she wanted and didn’t need to succumb to something that people often do when travelling (or in general really). Namely, ‘this is what everyone else is doing, therefore, I should too’.

I love it.

Everyone goes to Venice and gets in a gondola, because that’s what you do. But it’s expensive, maybe you are by yourself and don’t feel comfortable or maybe you see it as a waste of time to go out in a circle in a boat. Just because what people are going to ask you when you get back is ‘did you go in a gondola?’ is not a good reason to go. If you genuinely want to, then of course go for it, but travel shouldn’t be about ticking things off the list that has been laid down by someone else.
My friend went to Albania for a holiday. Some people said ‘That’s weird, who goes to Albania, JUST Albania, for a holiday?’ Who cares? Not her. She loved every minute of it.
And at the same time, its not about being all ‘hipster’ whilst travelling.

‘I hate tourist attractions, I avoid them, I like to get to some place more real’ is something I’ve heard before

The Colosseum is really touristy, but do you know why? It’s because it is really really cool. Do you know why so many cruise ships pull up to Santorini? Because it really is even more beautiful than pictures can describe. It’s great to get off the beaten track and find something new and exciting, but don’t deny yourself some of the wonders of the world just because they are ‘touristy’.
Travel needs to be about you and what you want out of that experience. Mum didn’t care to tire herself out feeling obliged to visit every one of the thousands of pieces on display in the Louvre. So she didn’t. We didn’t get on a gondola in Venice either (It was stupidly cold) but we loved the Colosseum and seeing the David in Florence.
I still made her do fun/silly/touristy things
And when mum emailed a friend at home and said that she hadn’t gone to the Louvre, Chris replied saying that she hadn’t gone in either when she had visited Paris, but that yes, everyone would ask her if she had.

Maybe a good and easy reply would just be ‘I’m saving something for next time I go back’.

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