Holiday! Oh yeah, oh yeah!

Holiday season is upon us, and what a great season it is! Having just returned from a wonderful holiday in Croatia, I wish I could have stayed longer, and I am hoping to keep some of that holiday feeling back here in the fast paced London life. Most people only go on one summer holiday a year, so it is necessary to pick wisely. For me, one of the most important things on holiday is picking a peaceful spot, free of annoying tourists and having good food. I like to eat good quality fresh food, and that is sometimes hard to find, especially if you are not willing to spend a fortune in restaurants.
I often recall fondly the way Czech tourists used to make sandwiches at breakfast to take with them for lunch and the hotels often got frustrated with this and put up signs forbidding this, but we still kept doing it. And I also couldn’t resist this tradition at times!
We visited a small island called Kolocep near Dubrovnik. It is only about 2.5 kilometres long, has 150 permanent inhabitants, and there are no cars on the island. Consequently there is no noise, just the occasional roar of a motorbike, which even seems very disruptive amongst the general peace and quiet. Otherwise people seem to use bicycles or golf buggies to get around. But mostly everyone seems to travel on foot.
The view from our hotel terrace where food was served
There is only one hotel in Kolocep and otherwise there are only apartments to rent in beautiful old stone houses. We stayed at the hotel, which luckily had nice food and we had paid for half board and ate loads at the breakfast and dinner buffets. For lunch we would sometimes walk across the island, through the unspoilt nature, passing old houses and churches and beautiful views of the coastline to reach the only restaurant on the other side of the island which served tasty calamari and fish dishes. 
Our lunch at the fish restaurant
When we first arrived the island had only a few visitors as it was still before the main season had fully began, and we enjoyed having the sandy beaches mostly to ourselves as well as the 6 restaurants on the island. However towards the end of our stay the hotel started getting very busy, but it was still very peaceful.
Another spot in Kolocep – the view from our  fish restaurant
Kolocep is only 20 minutes boat ride to Dubrovnik, which has the most amazing Old Town that I have ever seen. It is an entire town, founded in the 7th century, completely intact with stone houses and surrounded by a high castle wall, which you can walk along and view the town from above. Ordinary people still live in the town and it is full of restaurants, cafes and shops, making it feel like almost going back in time. And to think we almost didn’t go there because we were so happily lazing on the beach!
Me at the Old Town of Dubrovnik
Kolocep is also 20 – 40 minutes ride on the ferry (which serves as a kind of public transport from the islands to the main land) to other islands, one of which we also visited and it was equally nice, but a bit bigger then ‘our’ island and had two ugly hotel complexes which spoilt the atmosphere of the generally old grand architecture.
The ‘other’ island – Lopud
After a week of peace, hot sunny weather, swimming, beautiful seaside and surroundings and continuous service, it was hard returning to reality and having to commute to work on the busy tube, hear and smell the London traffic and start cooking and cleaning the flat.
I realised that taking a holiday is so important to unwind and just relax, something I haven’t been able to do properly for a while. Then today, I stumbled upon an article in (my favourite magazine) Psychologies about how to keep that holiday feeling and I thought that is what I need! The article by Sarah Maber (Psychologies, August 2011 issue), says that before a holiday, we should wind down, take lunch time walks and say no to extra work, so we can slowly unwind and be ready  to relax when we arrive at our destination. During the holiday, we should just take time out to think about our life, as this is the perfect opportunity to reorganise our priorities and see what is important to us when we get back. And when we do get back from holiday, we should make a commitment to take a step towards our goal every day and to do that thing we want to achieve – be it starting up a new hobby, writing a novel, starting our own business, retraining or looking for a new job.
The Villas where we stayed are behind me
 I also found that during my holiday, it felt great to be able to disconnect from technology. I spent almost no time online and only once made the mistake of opening my work email and got stressed straight away, and so vowed to not do it again. It made me realise how much time I waste on Facebook and so I have decided to just go online and do my essential things, instead of wasting time idly browsing. Watching TV is also another thing which I did not miss and I have been so out of touch with technology and the news that I didn’t even know who won the Wimbledon today until my auntie phone me to tell me the news!
When getting back from holiday, Maber advises to take at least 10 minutes out every day to meditate or spend time alone just walking, to give yourself a chance to think and see where your thoughts take you. To spend as much time as possible outside as the open air is a huge mood booster.
Sometimes you don’t even have to go somewhere else to be on holiday. You can just take time out and stay at home. Being in comfortable and familiar surroundings is sometimes just as good or even better then the stress of travelling into the unknown.
Another nice view in Kolocep
And start exploring! While away on holiday we’re open to discovery and research our location’s history and things to do. We can take the same approach while at home – wandering around unfamiliar areas in your town and finding out about the local history. Allow yourself to get lost, take some pictures and who knows you might discover something interesting, or find a new favourite cafe, park or shop when you venture out. Recently I went on guided walk around my local area and found out that some really interesting things were just on my doorstep. Also today, I just took some time out to go for a short walk alone to the shops and discovered a library I have never registered before and a free writing group in that library which would be interesting to join. And I also discovered a new natural perfume in a local organic shop, so I think exploring is the way to go.

Our last evening at the hotel…we were sad to go

So I wish you a happy holiday wherever you go, or even if you are taking time off and staying at home. I hope you enjoy just doing nothing and get a chance to do some proper relaxation. I am soon off to another holiday, this time in very familiar surroundings – Habr!
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About Maia

My name is Maia, I live in London, UK, and I originally come from the Czech Republic. Maia's World is my blog where I write about life in general, personal development, and about ideas, beliefs and discoveries on how to live a fuller life.
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