Work is what you do in between vacations, right? I read an interesting NYTimes story in Tara Parker Pope's Well blog -- which I read religiously -- last winter about how vacations affect your happiness. She wrote about a study that set out to measure the effect vacations have on happiness levels, and how long it lasts.
So turns out, it's the run-up to a vacation -- the anticipation -- where people are really, really happy. After the vacation, happiness levels went back to normal. Woh-woh-woh. Back to life, back to reality.
I totally get that, and I think that's the same thing that happens when you get married -- planning is three-fourths the fun (well, of the actual wedding part). I've never been much of an over-planner, or over-scheduler. Before I go on vacation, I like to read up online, get a travel book or two and put some dog ears in the pages, jot down a few places I'd like to go (restaurants, especially) and that's it. Actually, I'm pretty lazy, and if I can get away with going on vacation with a friend who is a total itinerary tyrant I'm happy because I can just follow, relax and enjoy. The last thing I want is stress while I'm on vacation.
But silly me, I forget sometimes that I have a toddler now, and travel WILL NEVER BE THE SAME, AGAIN.
No matter, and no stopping this mama. We are going to Madrid in two weeks!!! I'm so friggin excited, I'm oozing joy and spitting happy. Last time I was there was, *cough, cough* a few years ago when I studied abroad there in college. It was a fabulous time of my life, and I met some of the most amazing people that I still call great friends today. We did a whole lot of babosadas together -- including drinking Calimochos in the plazas before going out to dance all night before getting churros y chocolate at 6 a.m. I'm pretty sure that's out for this trip, although I can probably swing the churros at 6 a.m. because that's when my delightful child's internal alarm goes off.
We've done one international trip with the toddler K so far -- down to Nicaragua and Honduras. Hey, if I can travel with my child to a country where they film Survivor, I'm pretty sure I can handle Spain. I've already bought a new light-fold-it-down-fast stroller a friend recommended -- yes, that Maclaren umbrella stroller that was chopping off kids fingers (the problem has been fixed, I hope). And a backpack to put my child in, so I can be all tacky American mochilera. That's about all I needed that I didn't have. The flight is what seems to stress a lot of parents out. I think we'll be fine, as long as I have some tricks up my sleeve planned. Really, this one isn't much longer than a cross-country trip to Cali.
My expectations aren't terribly high for this vacation. That's not to say they're low, but I just want to ensure I enjoy every day of vacation to its fullest, so I'm being a realist. And really, all I want is:
nice, crisp Fall weather,
some good food,
time to sit in a cafe or plaza, sip cafe and people/fashion watch,
to watch what's on local/national t.v. (i love this!),
to do some shopping for me (i've been holding myself back so that i can justify doing it here),
to get some children's books from the FNAC,
a toddler who doesn't turn into todzilla.
I want to do the museums, el parque Retiro, el Rastro and all the other standard stuff, too. But I've seen them all already, so I think that eases the pressure of this trip.
Right now, it's time to turn up the happiness and savor the run-up.