Ferien ohne Programm (engl. Originalversion der Kolumne in der htr vom 09.10.2014)
After settling me in the back seat, he proceeded to do his job, which was to drive, and I proceeded to do mine, which was to recover.
The twenty-four hours before a holiday are usually hell. Too much work, packing at 3 a.m. – and you collapse on the plane in a fragile state, desperately hoping the baby in 4C won’t open its mouth because you’ve forgotten your noise-cancelling headphones.
Lying half-comatose in the back of Fanis’s car, I was more than ever glad he was the strong and silent type. Over three hours, our conversation was limited to ‘Would you like some water?’ (him) and ‘Would you like a banana?’ (me). The rest, as Shakespeare said, was silence.
Approaching the resort, winding towards the Aegean, he became almost chatty, pointing out not one but two places that sold water and bananas. After this he closed his mouth again until we arrived.
‘Fanis,’ I said, ‘you’re a fine man.’ I gave him a large tip for being not-a-big-talker.
Hip holiday destinations used to be all about partying. But as the world gets faster and noisier, many hotels are focusing on that now-rare thing: Peace. There’s a resort in the Caribbean called Parrot Cay whose slogan is, ‘Silence is the new Luxury.’ And this was just what I was hoping to find at this remote hotel in Evia.
In the cool spacious lobby, a smiling blonde brought me a welcome drink. ‘It’s very quiet here,’ she said, ‘but don’t worry, there’s plenty to do, starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow with Yoga on the Beach.’
‘I’m not really a morning person,’ I said anxiously. ‘Don’t worry!’ she beamed. ‘We also offer Lunchtime Pilates on the Rooftop, and Sunset Stretching in the Forest.’
‘I’m not really a yoga person,’ I mumbled. ‘Don’t worry!’ she repeated, and she proceeded to reel off everything else on offer: bike-riding, horse-riding, hiking, waterfall excursions, quad trails, and Bouncing Beach Volleyball.
‘I’m not really a Bouncing Beach person –’ I began. But already she was thrusting a Programme into my hand and rushing off to supervise Zumba Toning by the Pool.
As the week went by and I did nothing but lie on my private balcony or lie on the beach, the staff became increasingly perturbed. I wasn’t participating, therefore I must not be enjoying myself. Occasionally they asked anxiously if I was okay. ‘Absolutely!’ I said – and it was true. As I saw other guests enthusiastically taking part in the Programme, I realised I was a fish out of water. But I was doing what I like doing best. Nothing.
The Nike mantra ‘Just Do It’ is perfect for real life. It gets you places; it helps you achieve. But when you’re on holiday, why not be a Non-Achiever for a little while? Why not enjoy being A Lazy Loser?
Next year I’ll be hunting for a hotel offering Sloth as well as Silence. A resort with the slogan ‘Don’t Even Think of Doing It!’ or ‘Lazy is the new Luxury!’ Somewhere you can opt out of everything and lie around in a bathrobe from morning till night, tended to by staff exactly like Fanis: smiling, wordless, offering nothing but bananas.