To Dwingeloo

mama and son playing in the hot tub

Going on vacation is no joke. Every year, when the time comes to start planning the when and where to go, we need to be really careful not to make our relationship (family) implode under the weight of this crucial decision. When you think that, in the 365 days that a year has, we can normally afford to spend 14 of those on our only vacation, you understand we really don’t want to fuck it up.

So many things we need to discuss – do we wanna fly, do we wanna drive, do we want to stay in a cheap accommodation, but for a longer time, or should we choose a better hotel and thus need to come home sooner? Do we want the beach, historic cities, museums, attractions for toddlers, decent ice-creams, or cheap booze? Also, do we want to be there with my parents, with friends, my sister and her two kids, random people we could find online in order to cut the costs and make our vacation so much more spectacular?

Because going on vacation IS a spectacle, and it IS a public matter. Once upon a time there were postcards sent back to your closest relatives and friends, but now almost no-one can escape having to post detailed photo-diaries of their entire vacation on at least two separate social media platforms. And, as you need to get likes and make your relatives back home proud, you better choose a picturesque destination and take some good shots. Nothing like an image of you and your pre-schooler, barefoot on a candid beach, sipping juice from a straw stuck in a coconut somewhere in Bali to show everyone you are winning at life. Right?

Since we had a child and became a family, it seems almost automatic that we have to spend every possible scrap of a free day in Italy with our son’s grandparents! We made this mistake already last year, and the year before that, and this year we had to go to Italy anyway to meet our newborn nephew. But we stood our ground and refused to call that our vacation.

Last summer we promised each other we would not go on vacation to please others any more. Starting this year, we would treat our vacation as a private, intimate experience only for the three of us, as a family. No grandparents, aunts or cousins involved, no endless discussions every night about what and where should we eat, no queues for the bathroom. And we kept our word – when the time to plan our vacation came around, we looked for something that would fit our taste, our needs, our budget, and our own idea of fun. And this is why, this year, we chose to go to Dwingeloo.

Dwingeloo!? – you might wonder. What can there possibly be in such a tiny village less than two hours drive from home that attracted us? Nothing much, really, except a wonderful countryside, endless bicycle paths, fresh air and silence. Also, we found these lovely vacation houses there which had a sauna, a fireplace, a fully furnished kitchen, and an open-air hot tub. Tender landscapes of green and quiet, cornfields, horses, sheep and cows, we rented bicycles and rode for hours wherever the wind would take us. We did morning yoga on the wooden patio, played ball on the field just outside the kitchen, cuddled a lot in front of the lit fireplace, watched movies, drank gallons of Prosecco (excellent for after a long session of sauna).

It was great and almost uneventful, off-beat and definitely unspectacular, but we loved it and we even wrote a song about it – the chorus of which goes something like this:

Oh oh oh oh! Ooooh ohhohhoh oh! This is the best place you’ll ever know!

Oh oh oh oh! Ooooh ohhohhoh oh! We want to come back to Dwingeloo!



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