TRUE OR FALSE:
In the past 30 days, you have:
1. ‘Accidentally’ elbow checked 5 or more fellow morning commuters in one 20 minute period.
2. Purposely umbrella-jousted a wandering sightseer to spite her for interrupting your morning commute, damn her tourist-idiot-who-gets-to-be-on-vacation…while you are stuck in flourescent lit basement office.
3. Submitted yourself to that recent Craigslist ad to become the poster child for the 2009 CACTS (Campaign Against Carpel Tunnel Syndrome).
4. Wished yourself away to an exotic beach and/or a vast expanse of desolate countryside.
5. Subsequently checked your bank statement and audibly cursed the ‘credit crunch’, Jesus, and your boss’s mother (in the middle of a conference meeting).
6. Gone and checked Craigslist—or Googled ‘CACTS’—after reading number 3.
If you answered TRUE to one or more of the above statements, particularly #6, I pity you. And I think it’s safe to say that you need a vacation (- holiday!).
Did you know that approximately 31% of employed US adults and 23% of employed UK adults will not use all of their vacation days this year? (See Expedia ‘Vacation Deprivation’ Survey, 2008.)
There’s something wrong here, people.
What’s the deal? ¿Que pasa?
¿Porque no nos vamos de vacaciones?
Why don’t you get out of that office and see some of the world?
Oh, right, because the world suddenly got a bit, er, A LOT expensive. But it is important that you break free from your ‘daily grind’ every once in a while, even if only for a few days…and even if you’re not going far. And EVEN if you think you can’t afford it. Because believe me, you can. Stop it with the grande lattes, walk/cycle to work, and pack your lunches. It’s time to plan your (affordable! nearby!) vacation.
…are great if you live in Maui, San Diego, West Palm Beach, Aspen, Savannah…Cornwall, Devon (…or even Thanet?). But what about those of us who are stuck in congested, landlocked metropolises? Who wants to join the tourists in museum queues (- especially the ones that you’ve been stabbing with your umbrella?) Not I…
Sometimes, all that you really need to recharge your batteries is a change of scenery and a bit of small town charm. When’s the last time you visited a mom and pop grocery store? A kite festival? A bog snorkelling championship? A craft show?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s time to abandon the city chaos, and get rural.
small town getaways with Big Time Charm:
1. Saugatuck, Michigan, USA
Nationally renowned beaches? Check.
Thirty plus art galleries ? Check.
Music? Theatre? Internationally acclaimed film festival?
Check. Check. Check…
Midwestern village, population 1,000?
Having spent a large chunk of my childhood locked in ‘the middle’ (of Missouri, specifically), I can empathize with those who long to dip their toes in something other than the local chlorine pond. How to solve this without spending your annual bonus on gasoline/airfare? You’ll have to make do with the lakes (as in Great. Though we went to the Ozarks when I was a kid.)
Chi-towners: you’ve got options (and loads of them!). I know, I know, the urban backdrop of North Ave Beach is no Cinque Terre village. So then try something new: cruise up the coast of Lake Michigan for a bit of sun, fun and culture…in Saugatuck! This harbour town is the hub of Michigan’s ‘Art Coast’—apparently a culture vulture’s ‘seaside’ heaven—boasting Victorian B&Bs, steamboat cruises, outdoor exhibitions, fairs, festivals, nightly shows and, of course, a do-it-yourself ‘Art Barn’.
Distance? 127 miles from Chicago, 193 miles from Detroit.
During? Summer for beaches (though they claim to have ‘six seasons’)
2. Lewes, Delaware, USA:
Lewes, Delaware (pronounced like the name ‘Lewis’) is actually my hometown, so I can vouch for its loveliness…with about 12 years of experience to draw upon. This quaint, beachside gem’s claim to fame: it is, officially, the ‘First Town in the First State’, having been settled by the Dutch in 1631. Beyond the easily accessible beaches: Lewes Beach on the Delaware Bay ( = no waves!) and Cape Henlopen State Park on the Atlantic Ocean ( = waves!), the historic downtown area boasts a range of high quality, locally-owned shops and cafes, alongside fantastic eateries, canal front accommodation, and a handful of interesting, historic landmarks (including ‘The Cannonball House’, named for a British ‘gift’ that has been lodged into its foundation since the War of 1812…).
Tips: go outlet shopping (Delaware is one of two states with no sales tax), and check out the Kite Festival if you visit in March.
(If you want to know about specific restaurants, hotels, nearby bar scenes for young people, etc, post a message below, and I will get back to you with loads of info!)
Distance? 119 miles from D.C., 120 miles from Philadelphia, 203 miles from New York.
During? May, early June, or mid-late September (less people, less jellyfish).
3. Lewes, England, UK:
Okay, we’ve pond hopped to the ‘original’ Lewes! (not surprisingly, Lewes, Sussex County, Delaware was named after Lewes, East Sussex, England…oh, what a transnational blog this is…)
Right…so Londoners, have you ever sipped a pint of Harveys Old Ale on a Sunday afternoon?
Lewes, home of Harveys Pub and Brewery, is a lovely little market town that can be reached by train from London in under two hours. A welcoming bunch, the chirpy Lewesians take pride in their local and national culture, identifying with a range of historic sights (- including a castle!) and, famously, the most debaucherous Guy Fawkes Day celebration in the country, which they host each year on November 5th.
The canal-front town is set against picturesque, chalky white cliffs: catch a ride to the top for some amazing views. And don’t forget to take a tour—and a taste—of Harveys Brewery!
Distance: Under two hours from London by train.
During: …predict British weather? Your guess is as good as mine. I would avoid Guy Fawkes Day (but if you really want to go, you should find a local to stay with).
4. Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, UK
Fancy a bog snorkel? In Wales’s, um ‘wildest’ peat bog?
Take an amusing—and last minute—break from the humdrum of city life by discovering the smallest town in Britain! Llanwrtyd Wells is known for its quirky annual festivals, the most popular being the annual Bog Snorkelling Competition, which will draw in competitors from all over the world and is happening THIS BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY AUGUST 25th.
If I didn’t already have plans to go to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, I would so be there.
Distance? 104 miles from Birmingham, 202 miles from London.
May you escape the big city madness for one last summer adventure!
Cheers to small towns, quirkiness, and last minute whims…..