I have just come back from a fabulous holiday in Europe, or at least I think it was a holiday! A good friend of mine, who is an energetic dynamo, organized 8 of her friends to got on a “Multi-sport” holiday to Croatia & France. If your idea of a perfect holiday is lazing by a large pool sipping a cocktail all day, then perhaps this trip is not for you! I can tell you though, being active all day, amongst beautiful scenery makes you feel that you’ve earned that dessert or extra glass of wine at the end of the day!
The “Energetic Holiday for Oldies” consisted of a walk in Croatia, then cycling and multi-sports in France.
The “Thrill-seekers” [self-named, of course] set off on a 6-day walk in the Istrian Pensinsular of Croatia. We took the comfortable version of the walk, staying in hotels, which provided breakfast and dinner and the mandatory comfortable bed, with our luggage being transported to our next hotel, while we walked. Luxury indeed! The days of carrying a 20kg pack on my back, while bushwalking are long gone, my spine and my desire for comfort made this decision years ago!
Each morning, we shopped at the local markets for a picnic lunch, then, armed with our guide-book and map, we set off each day walking from 1 charming medieval village to another! Each day of walking was different, some days the terrain was steep, other days rolling hills, some days spent in incredibly beautiful forest & the last day, walking up a little mountain to find an amazing view of the Croatian coastline & then walking down to a fishing village! The days were long, between 4-7 hours walking, at a relaxed pace. The day ended with a walk around the village admiring all the incredible historic buildings, a nice cold beer & then a delicious dinner that we definitely earned!
Leg two of the trip was in the Dordogne Valley in France, the home of foie gras, impressive wine, amazing Chateaus and ancient ruins and artifacts. A travel company organized great quality bikes, GPS assisted maps, guide-books and again, gorgeous accommodation in historic villages. This time we also canoed one afternoon and did a ropes course [well I didn’t, I opted to visit an amazing 5th century village built in a cave system instead].
Each day consisted of visiting the incredible French markets, which abounded with cheeses, pates, terrines, summer fruits and salads and the obligatory, baguettes. Armed with lunch and cameras, we cycled on tiny countryside roads with very little traffic, up and down hills, stopping to take in the sights and the spectacular views and of course, inhaling our delicious picnics. Some days were tougher than others effort wise, but all very achievable. One of the group, had an injured leg, so an electric bike was organized for her and with the extra power uphill, the hills were a no-brainer! The electric bike was so successful, that with the help of the battery powered bike, I am planning that these active holidays will continue until well into my 70s! The French people are very respectful of the bike and we NEVER felt unsafe on the road and without exception, cars gave way to bikes. Perhaps Perth could learn from that!
This holiday was fabulous, great friends, beautiful scenery, delicious food and a good rest. What was most striking though, was the stillness and lack of bustle on the trip and that time slowed down. There was plenty of time to ponder where we were at in our lives, make a few resolutions and solve the problems of the world, all while we were walking and cycling. At the end of the trip, we felt like we had rejuvenated the mind and spirit, and of course, the body felt great too. What’s more with all this gentle exercise, everyone’s normal aches and pains vanished without exception, this reinforces that our bodies are built to move, and we don’t do enough of it normally!
It sounds clichéd I know, but we all live in busy worlds and taking time out, makes you realize that this is an important part of staying healthy and happy!