• Gabrielle Sander

My Favourite Holiday

Catchy title, eh?

I often get asked (and ask others), "what's the best holiday you've been on?"

I've been lucky enough to rack up quite a travel list over the last decade or so (making up for the fact that until I was 20, I'd only been on holiday once* #gettheviolinsout). I could say the Maldives, because it is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been (go. don't save it for a honeymoon). There's Puglia (the best mozzarella I've tasted), South of France; that spa town in Austria; the time we camped in Champagne - literally living the champagne life on a lemonade budget. Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Toronto, Las Vegas. Or Cornwall - oh, how I love Cornwall (I'm talking about you specifically, Mousehole and Penzance). Snorkelling in Thailand, learning to kite surf in Mauritius, or exploring the whisky distilleries on the Scottish island of Islay.

“So it was back to the pretty lake, with the pretty mountain views, for another pretty awful night in our seven quid, pretty shitty tent...”

But you know what springs to mind as soon as that question is posed? A should-be failure of a camping holiday in Germany, my boyfriend Adam and I went on about ten years ago. By day we soaked up the sun, the beautiful Bavarian landscape, the lakes, the fairy tale castles (Neuschwanstein, particularly). We drank giant glasses of weissbier, tucked into sausages and pretzels the size of our head. Oh, how we laughed at the place sign called, Wank - and stood on the side of the road taking pictures of ourselves next to it (I think I planned to send them to the now defunct Loaded Magazine, hoping to win a crate of beer or something). There was the beautiful 'Romantic Road' route, along which we stopped off to visit waterfalls. It was a trip that kicked off in Munich - where we stumbled upon the artificial wave next to a bridge that a queue of people surf on for hours on end - and discovered the delicious, simple combo of boiled weiss wieners (sausages) and a honey and mustard dip. A lunch, we still have regularly (you can get the sausages in Aldi).

By day, it was a dream.

But, by night. And what felt like almost every night, though probably wasn't, it would pour with rain. Tucked up inside our tent, all warm and cosy like, it could have been very romantic. But, my dear beau decided a £7 tent from Tesco was the sensible choice to house us for the week. Bargain! More money for beer, he likely thought in his Del Boy way. Aside from being tiny (a two-man tent is not actually big enough for two anybody), it leaked. It leaked so much, we had to shove towels and clothes down the sides to stop it spreading and making a little indoor pool. We barely slept. It was miserable. So miserable, half way through the trip, we decided to splash out and buy a proper tent at a shop somewhere in the depths of Bavaria.

We were so excited when we started unpacking said tent (a four man with porch!) in a picturesque spot we'd found next to a lake. We were still excited about an hour and half in, as we worked together to construct it, thinking it might've been fun to do the Duke of Edinburgh Award at school, after all. By hour four, we were starting to feel a bit 'fuck this, let's get a cold beer', but we persevered. And by hour five, we headed back to the shop, so they could show us how to put it together. The shop keeper spent a good hour or so himself, trying to get this tent up, before concluding there must be a vital pole missing and giving us a refund. The only other tents were monstrous and out of our budget, so it was back to the pretty lake, with the pretty mountain views, for another pretty awful night in our seven quid, pretty shitty tent.

It came to the end of the week and our final night in another campsite (I've no idea where, but I know there was a lake. Our whole focus for the trip, was to look at the map, find a lake - of which there are many in Bavaria - and head to the nearest campsite there). Of course it rained that night (how they keep the countryside so lush and green, I suppose). About four o'clock in the morning, we decided finally, enough was enough. We would start our drive back to the ferry home a few hours early. So, we abandoned our good for nothing shelter, which was barely standing  by this point; jumped in the car and parked outside the campsite gate for a few hours until 7am when someone came to open it and let us out. THE END.

I don't know what it is about that holiday that makes it such a fond memory, but for some reason, above all the others, I always think of this, when I think about my favourite trip.

So, tell me, what's the best holiday you've been on?

*aged 12. Kos. With my best friend Jemma and her family. Feral cats; accidentally pressing the alarm button in the plane toilet (it was my first time on a plane. I thought it might do something cool), and seeing a whole lamb being spit-roasted on someone's doorstep are my memories from the trip.