Paris: Day 7 - the Two Types of Vacation

It’s almost a week after the events of this post happened. The last day in Paris was mostly spent not in Paris though. There wasn’t a lot of time in the city on the last day because of various travel concerns. We woke up at our “normal” time and did our last bit of packing and a sweep of the room before we checked out. We went straight to the RER, because Diana was rightfully worried about getting to the airport on time with the addition of the train travel and all the stuff surrounding that.

We got to the airport on time, and then there was the big line at the gate (apparently there were a lot of people flying Iceland Air that day). We got to skip the line thanks to us checking in the day before - even though we couldn’t print the boarding passes, we could still skip and just check in bags. CDG Terminal 1 is really nice once you get to the final gates, and it seems to be set up in a nice way, where there are a lot of little nodes of nice plush areas which have about five gates each. Once we finally found our gate, we sat down and had breakfast, a croissant and apple pastry, which weren’t as good as the other patisserie stuff that we had, but I can’t expect much from airport food anyway.

The flight was mostly full, but we did a good job of selecting our seats in order to maximize the possibility to have a row to ourselves - I chose the aisle and the window seat in a single row which left the unhappy middle seat, and there wasn’t anyone there after the plane filled up. One thing that has been nice in both directions is the plane seats. It is probably slightly because of my weight loss over the last year, but also it seems like the Iceland Air over-seas flights have more room between the seats. At any rate we got our own row for the flight.

The layover in at Keflavik Airport was pretty short, but we had to go through a whole maze of gates and stuff. It is interesting because they have to corral the people who are headed out of the EU, but they still have all of the gates on the upper levels, so they end up making us go downstairs just to have us climb up the stairs again, and walk in the same hallway except separated by a glass partition. It could be very disorienting, making the airport seem larger than it is. We picked up some dinner while we were there though, just packaged sandwiches from the café, and our last calorie-laden drinks that wouldn’t have any corn syrup for a while.

On the second flight, I managed to snag an exit row near the front of the plane, but miraculously it still had the normal non-stationary seat armrests, which meant it was easy to fit into and not uncomfortable for either of us. I think that they just crammed these two seats in row 8 when they discovered that they had the space. There wasn’t any reading light or air though, so they would be pretty bad for someone who couldn’t sleep on a overnight flight. The entertainment on Iceland Air was not bad in either direction. I watched The Adjustment Bureau on the way out and What Happens in Vegas on the way back, as well as some random TV shows. Mostly I ended up reading books on the Kindle though, which has increased it’s value in my eyes after reading on a plane - it really is so much easier to read and bring on travel, I recommend it if you take at least a couple flights a year and normally read, because there is no page turning and the page is nice and big but it is very light. I would seriously consider one of those DVD rental service type of things where you rent them for the flight, but kindles with books loaded up instead. That’s probably not allowed by the Kindle user agreement and DRM though.

In the last couple of days of the trip and over the last few days, I was thinking about how I seem to be taking two different types of vacations lately. The first type is the kind that we took here, and has a similarity to the trip to Portland last year. They are the type of destination trip where we want to see a bunch of things. Paris was very much a busy vacation, with so much to see that it was impossible to see everything in the same trip even given the six full days that we had. The second type of vacation is the type like when we went to Kauai for our honeymoon, where we want to really just get out of town, go somewhere beautiful, and then relax in a chateau or on a beach for some time.

The different destinations are telling of the type of vacation that most people are taking to that locale, including the types of activities available. Paris is in some ways the ultimate “busy” vacation – it seems like it would be possible to take an entire year of vacation there and still never see everything that there is to see. There is something about the city that makes it just have so much to take in. Most cities would qualify for a good location for a “busy” vacation. Most of the “relax” vacation areas are geography-dependent in some way, because they are in a tropical locale, where it’s just that much easier to relax and enjoy the weather. They are also more situated towards coasts than other places, because it’s just that much more relaxing, I guess. The types of things that you would do on the “relax” vacations are more likely to be physical, like swimming, surfing, snorkeling, hiking. The types of things on “busy” locations are more likely to be cerebral in nature, looking at museums, visiting historic sites, and taking in art and culture.

While some people seem to take more of one kind of vacation than the other, I am thinking that I might want to try to even them out for a while. Paris was definitely a relaxing vacation, because it was different from the ordinary and a joy to see and experience a foreign country, but I can’t say that it was more relaxing than a beach for a week, or hiking around some foothills. It is hard to say that I like one more than the other. Another thing is that both of the types of vacations tend to have a time limit for me. I don’t think that I would enjoy staying in Paris for two weeks for example, because I would just not be able to process it all. At the same time, I end up getting antsy and wanting to get some stuff done when I stay too long at a relaxing locale.

I’m thinking that this dichotomy between vacation types is the reason that sometimes people can get to the point where they need the “vacation from the vacation”. Maybe the best way would be to schedule something busy for the first half of a trip, and then relaxing for the second half? When I travelled to Greece, the first half of the week was in Athens, which is definitely a “busy” location, and the second half on the island of Kos, which is beach-laden and mostly a relaxing locale. It might have been the perfect combination.

For now though, I am working back into the swing of things, and almost catching up on the work that all needs to be done since I have been gone. The next vacation I think will be “relax” though.