Family Vacation - My Family Travels

               Did you remember the passports? Mom, I forgot to pack my toothbrush.  Are we there yet?

These phrases all bring to mind the two words in the English language that somehow epitomize familial discord, and compassion: family vacation.

First, family. That one word alone can bring out many different emotions in a person.  Whether it be love or dread, family are the ones you’re stuck with, and for better or for worse, you love them.

Now, vacation.  The root word of vacation is to vacate, meaning simply to leave home, empty and far behind.  The fun, however is optional. A bit of luck thrown in by fate, that you will board your plane on time, that your hotel will have your reservations, and that you will reach your final destination with your luggage, rather than without all the essentials that you somehow remembered in the first place.  If all these things go as planned, your chances of having fun are heightened. If not, you can always laugh about it later.

My family’s favorite time to travel has always been the holidays, and we often spend Christmas away from home.  We pretty much only have one requirement, other than affordability. Where we are going has to be colder than where we are.  Where we are is always Corpus Christi, which has two seasons: hot and humid, or extremely hot and unbearably humid.

Of all our escapades, our trip to Europe stands out the most in my mind.   Now before you start imagining these grand scenes of going to the opera in Paris, or cruising along the French Riviera, you should know: my mother is a middle school teacher, my father a community college professor. So instead, imagine sleeping in a train compartment with strangers, and Christmas in a Swiss village on top of a mountain that had no restaurants and no grocery stores, so our Christmas dinner consisted of bread and cheese left over from the last train stop.

We flew into Paris because I had persuaded my reluctant parents to let me see the city of lights.  After three fabulous days, we took the train to Freiburg, Germany, where my sister was living at the time.  Never heard of it? Don’t worry, very few people have.  We then took the train to Gimmelwald, Switzerland.  This was the town with no food.  The only way to get to or from Gimmelwald was on a gondola. While this may sound very romantic or exotic, this was truly the only way to get to or from Gimmelwald. Whether you are a tourist, like we were, or a farmer taking a cow to market, the gondola was the only way to go.  On Christmas Day, we rented sleds and careened down the side of an Alp from one village to another.  It was like Heidi gone wild, my best Christmas ever.  We then took the train – we always took the train – to Munich, where we stayed in a hostel that was so dirty and grungy that we were afraid to touch anything, and there was one bare light bulb above the bare walls and bare concrete floor.

So, though our vacations might not sound like the type that travel magazines would award five stars to for being the most relaxing, exotic, delightful or all around favorite, they have ghelped us become the loving, tight-knit family that we are today.  We have found that going through miserable conditions together bring us closer, and I wouldn’t trade that for any five star resort in the world.


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