I apologise if my parents, my sister or her husband ever read this blog post.
I really enjoy going away with my family. I visited Slovenia two years ago and had a fantastic time. Likewise the year before that, when we visited Berlin for the Christmas markets. We are travelling to Spain next month, staying in Nerja. So why the apology?
Booking a four night break this time round turned out to be anything but simple…
The first conversation was the destination. A perfectly normal conversation, except it dragged out over a number of weeks and we never moved any closer to agreeing on where we wanted to visit. It finally took an evening up the pub, copious amounts of alcohol and spontaneously booking a villa and hotel with free cancellation on Booking.com. I had suggested Nerja, having been there before. It stuck. If I am being honest, it probably wasn’t so much Nerja itself but rather desperation all round to end the conversation and just pick somewhere.
Nerja it was.
The second conversation was the accommodation, the first decision being whether we stay in a villa or a hotel. After an initial conversation, we had decided on the following two criteria:-
- A villa would likely be cheaper, they generally feel more homely and we would be staying together as a family rather than in three separate hotel rooms.
- The preference was to stay in the centre of Nerja, ideally to be within walking distance of the beaches and restaurants.
Now I am more of a hotel person. I have very little experience booking and staying in villas, so I cannot comment on their typical proximity to town centres, beaches and the like. However, certainly in the case of Nerja, it was becoming increasingly clear that if we wanted to stay in the town centre it would have to be in a hotel. Now I do not advocate multiple free cancellation bookings, but we ended up booking two villas a few miles outside of Nerja and a hotel right in the centre.
A million WhatsApp messages, a few nights up the pub and nearly two months later, we were down to one villa and the hotel. There was an issue with the other villa, I cannot pretend we were any closer to actually making a decision. It took the day before we would have to pay for the hotel and another million WhatsApp messages to finally make a decision.
We cancelled the hotel and settled on the villa.
Next up was choosing the flights.
Naturally we wanted to balance cost with convenience and flight times, there is nothing unreasonable about that. The three initial options were Luton, Stansted and Southend. If my memory serves me, while Luton is closest to home it was the most expensive, Southend is a good two hours drive away and the flight from Stansted was at 6am. There was little agreement and by this point I had lost the will.
It took a semi-serious comment to just scrap the whole idea to force the issue. We booked flights from Stansted, deciding to stay in an airport hotel the night before at the Premier Inn.
The drama had not finished.
My mum read two recent reviews on TripAdvisor among the many hundreds, both mentioned bedbugs. The Premier Inn was swiftly cancelled and we had to make another decision, do we drive in the early hours of the morning or stay at either the Hilton or Radisson Blu. Driving would mean leaving home about 2am and both hotels were more expensive than the Premier Inn. By this point, I am surprised WhatsApp didn’t need to buy a new server just to host the messages in our family WhatsApp group. A 2am start didn’t sound too appealing, so the Hilton Hotel came out victorious.
It’s been exhausting, full of dramas and at times felt like harder work than spending 15 year in a chain gang, but we finally made it.
To finish on a happy note: I am genuinely really looking forward to it and I know we’ll have a great time as we always do.