Turn vacation time into ‘figure-out-your-life’ time

May 1, 2011

Ahhhh... "Beachfront Bliss," indeed! Here's the view from the Riviera Experience flat I stayed in during my recent solo trip to the South of France. Don't I wish I could sit here forever and contemplate life....

Ahhhh... "Beachfront Bliss," indeed! Here's the view from the Riviera Experience flat I stayed in during my recent solo trip to the South of France. Don't I wish I could sit here forever and contemplate life....

I like to think of vacations—especially those that take me abroad—as more than a chance to check out museums, sleep late, and struggle through whatever language is spoken in the country I’ve chosen to visit. Rather, I see them as fundamental to helping me work through “life issues” I’m wrestling with at the time.

I like to spend the hours on long overseas flights—whether to South America, someplace in Europe, or beyond—in the company of my trusty, well-worn journals. I absolutely cherish the time spent hurtling through the sky at hundreds of miles an hour. FINALLY—I’m not under pressure to immediately return e-mails or answer a mobile phone call I’d rather not take, anyway. So instead of mindlessly wasting time on some second-rate film, I pontificate. About WHO I want to be when I grow up. WHERE I want to be. And WHAT I want to do when I get there.

Then, once I arrive at my destination, I make it a point to spend at least SOME of my “holiday time” contemplating ME. And I like to do this in beautiful places. I know some folks think that the ambience of a hotel room or other lodging isn’t that big a deal, claiming that all you really need is a bed for sleep. I totally disagree, as surrounding myself with comfortable, aesthetically pleasing spaces boosts my creativity. And I like to visit locales that do the same. Take my recent solo trip to the south of France.

Thanks to the generosity of a vacation rental apartment-owning friend in the French Riviera town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, I spent several days in “Beachfront Bliss,” a gorgeous studio flat my friend Shelley calls “the ultimate beach pad.” With a seven-foot-wide window that sits RIGHT on the picturesque Bay of Villefranche—and that “disappears” into the wall, making you feel as if you’re sitting on the edge of the sea—it’s the PERFECT spot for contemplation. When I wasn’t working on freelance assignments from back home, I’d sit and happily stare out the window, a glass of chilled rosé in my hand, and THINK. I’d look at the gorgeous sailboats moored in the bay, wishing some dashing Frenchman would see me perched in the window and invite me out for a sail. (Of course, as someone who can barely swim, I’d probably need to take a boat safety course before I accepted such an invitation, no matter how fine the homme was!)

There’s something about water that’s restorative, something soothing that seems to inspire reflection and regeneration, no matter where you find it. That’s why after leaving the gorgeous Riviera Experience apartment, I reserved a waterfront room down the quay at the idyllic Hotel Welcome in Villefranche. I savored an early-morning breakfast, complete with flaky croissants and coffee served with warm milk, on my fifth-floor balcony while staring out at the blue sea and pondering my next life moves.

Talk about a treat -- an early-morning breakfast on the waterfront balcony at Villefranche's Hotel Welcome. Nothing like a view of the Mediterranean Sea to help put life in perspective!

Talk about a treat -- an early-morning breakfast on the waterfront balcony at Villefranche's Hotel Welcome. Nothing like a view of the Mediterranean Sea to help put life in perspective!

Watching tenders ferry day trippers from the massive cruise ships that dock in the deep waters of the Bay, I reminisced about my OWN visit to this port city with my mom Gloria just a couple years ago. And wow, has my life experienced wild changes since then—some due in large part to my desire to see the world. Believe me, there are some more big ones on the horizon! You UrbanTravelGirl readers will hear about them in due time.

But tell me—where have you gone (or DO you go) to rediscover yourself, your dreams, your desires? And do you find it easier to do this when you’re far away from home? Do share!

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2 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Latoya  |  May 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I find that it is much easier to think abroad than at home. Like you said, at home you have obligations, but abroad you know that you have intentionally gotten away from it.

    I often think about my adventures abroad and how I’m adventurous and on the go while there, but I can’t seem to muster up that same excitement here in the States. I believe that because the work load in the States poses a hinderance to thinking beyond the point of working.

  • 2. urbantravelgirl  |  May 1, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Ciao, Latoya –
    Yes, there’s something about being away from your typical life rhythms that gives you the emotional and mental room to think and contemplate. I guess this just means I need to be on a “permanent vacation!”

    Maureen

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