Living like a local; the perfect vacation

Published 12:08 pm Saturday, July 3, 2021

The time has finally come. Vacation time. There was a period of time over the last year and a half when we thought we would never get to go anywhere. Not to the grocery, not to parties, not to the next door neighbor’s backyard. Just when we thought the coast was clear, some ugliness would rear its scary head and we were back at square one.

We were teased several times with possibilities. We had plotted and planned. Ultimately, our dreams were dashed.

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Dare I tempt fate? We have thrown caution to the wind, followed up on a suggestion for a destination which has been living a pretty clean life, and booked it.

We made the reservations and solidified the necessary details. And waited. Each day we mark off the calendar brings us closer to departure. In the grand scheme of vacation planning, we have only been at it for a few weeks, really less than two months. That’s nothing. In a regular year, we would be pondering options and making payments for months. There is always so much to be negotiated for a vacation. People and schedules to be considered. This time, we carved the days practically out of thin air and willed the details to cooperate.

Each day that passes doesn’t seem real. Could it be? We are afraid to believe it. Are we really going on this adventure?

This vacation is a bucket list trip. Our destination has all the elements of a perfect spot. There is plenty of sunshine in the summer – hot even. A condition which does not deter as the humidity is quite low and the location is coastal.

Even for the seasoned traveler, which I am not, this is a spot which offers more than a tourist could possibly want. There is incomparable history, a cultural environment worthy of the most studious individual, scenery to tempt the greatest of artists; travel enticements which have drawn visitors for the ages.

They also have amazing food. The cuisine is not only delicious, it is beautiful, and generally healthy. There is even a diet named after the geographic area.

We are going to cook.

Our criteria for living accommodations were quite simple. There must be places to sleep and a reasonable number of bathrooms, of course. But very important was a well equipped kitchen and an elevator if the rooms were more than two stories above street level. The location must be within walking distance of the city’s main market as no one wants to haul groceries up stairs.

Because, we are really going to cook.

This cooking thing was essential from the get go.

We are after soaking up the essence of the place. A convenient cheese sandwich, bag of chips, and an apple is not what we are after.

This desire to cook like we live there became so important that I researched bookstores in the area of our accommodations. I decided on one and forthwith sent an email through their “contact us” form on their website. Truly, a stab in the dark.

Forthwith comes a reply. We exchanged a brief bit about my philosophy. He replied with two suggested books, recommending one as it sounded like what we were after. I trusted his judgment. He will have the book waiting upon our arrival. No prepayment required.

I like this bookstore already. He doesn’t know me from Adam, or Eve.

Here is how our day will go. We will get up in the morning and enjoy our coffee and breakfast. Our accommodations include a rather sizable terrace which is well furnished. Nice. Our central topic of conversation will be what we will do that day.

We truly have absolutely no plans beyond this.

After months and months of nothing unusual beyond our regular atmosphere, we have no plans for this much anticipated vacation beyond our daily coffee and breakfast.

I have read that a popular breakfast in the culture is coffee, bread, honey and oranges. No, I do not plan to bake my own bread. I will sample the local offerings and trust there is a good recipe in the book for home.

While we are eating breakfast, we will contemplate lunch. We think lunch will be at a local spot which looks like the locals are hanging out. Lunch is where we will do our research for dinner. Remember, the market is within walking distance. The cycle will be repeated as desired.

The local cuisine of our destination, as in many places, boasts some intriguing dishes not common to my cooking repertoire. I am game for most dishes, at least on a trial basis. The “when in Rome…” philosophy, in some cases, applies to experimentation, not incorporation. Thus, lunch dollars may be spent on the wild and wooly, leaving the dinner hour for playing around with concepts repeatable at home.

So, don’t look for social media posts of exotic dinner plates. I plan to have folks over later in the summer for a special menu of dishes the regular people have eaten for centuries made with ingredients I can sort out at my local market.

The best souvenir of all: a meal which takes me back to a vacation where I lived like a local.