A few years ago the husband and I went to Nice. We didn’t have any great desire to go to France specifically but it was a good place to be based to be able to also visit Monaco and take a day trip to Italy just to say we’ve been.
I planned the trip. I always plan our trips. I tried to engage the husband in the trip planning but he was dismissive. Anything I picked would be fine. But then, starting with the seats I chose for the plane ride, he had a negative comment on everything as it happened. He even wanted to do a day trip to Paris one day even though Paris is nowhere near Nice.
(“But they are in the same country!!!”
“If we were sitting in my parents’ living room in western Pennsylvania and you got an urge to go see the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, it would be a mighty undertaking even though they are in the same state.”
“Oh, yeah, I guess so.”)
Of course then we got home and he sung my praises for what a wonderful trip I planned. He really did have a good time. He frayed my enjoyment though with his nit-picking. So, armed with that experience and reading a bunch about how women do so much emotional labor in relationships, when he started talking about wanting to go on a river cruise in Europe I told him that he was in charge.
Turns out that planning a big vacation is hard work. Who knew? (I did.)
He talked about it for few years. Then he decided to start setting money aside for it. He would randomly ask me how much money I thought we would need to save. “I don’t know. You’ll have to check the prices on the website.”
“But it is really confusing.”
“Yes, it is.” Take that, buddy boy.
Another reason I wasn’t an enthusiastic helper is that I’m not a cruise fan. I want to fly to a city, dig in, and explore the place to death. The thought of cruising up to Vienna and having to pick one or two things to see before sailing off again stressed me right out. I also don’t want to be one of the ducklings following a tour guide with a flag. Also, eating meals at tables with strangers is awful. The husband is the person that introverts like me are horrified to be seated with. He will know everyone’s life story before the appetizers are cleared.
In the end the decision was pretty much made for us. Last week he looked at the Viking Cruise website and saw that for 8 day cruises there were only 2 cruises that weren’t sold out for 2018 and each of those only had one room on one trip available. If we were going to do it, we had to book then. Our choices were a Danube cruise stopping at Bucharest and Vienna and a French cruise. I still got anxious just thinking about trying to see as much as possible in those cities. The French trip is on the Rhone. It stops at places I don’t have strong feelings about. I thought that would be a lot more relaxing. I could spend a day happily wandering around a small French town and seeing the local cathedral and Roman ruins and not feel like I was missing out on several other amazing things to see. We chose to do that cruise. I reminded the husband that this was France. He was not a fan after our last trip. Actually, he thought it was a lovely place full of rude people who yelled at bumbling Americans a lot. He said he was going for the scenery.
To schedule a Viking cruise you have to make a phone call. He loves to talk to people. I don’t know how long it normally takes to make this booking on the phone but he was on with his new best friend for close to 1.5 hours. Things discussed:
- We can’t do any add on days because “they don’t like to let my wife out of the clinic that long.” It makes me sound like I live in a mental institution.
- His tendency to get harassed in airports because “I’m a lovely caramel color.”
- His experience trying to leave France where we got separated and he got pulled aside for extra screening on the jet way. “So they searched me in very rude ways while my wife was sitting on the plane marinating in her white privilege.”
- The cost of living in Ohio vs California
- Does the rep get free cruises? Does he get harassed in airports?
- The trip is over my birthday (by total coincidence, not planning) so the rep wanted to know about celebrating. He told him to keep it subtle while I was yelling, “I’m fine with fancy desserts in my honor.” I think keep it subtle means no singing to me at dinner.
The trip ended up costing several thousand dollars less than we expected. I think a lot of that is because we are going steerage. We’re the people at the bottom of the boat with windows you can only look out of if you stand on the bed. That’s fine though because there are a lot of seating areas available to watch the scenery go by. There is even a library. The room is tiny. Our hotel room on the last France trip was tiny too. This was an issue that some people felt it necessary to comment on repeatedly during that trip. This time since he booked the trip it is perfectly fine and normal. The cruise operator is setting up our airfare too. That’s nice because it isn’t a round trip cruise and figuring that kind of thing out hurts my head. The price is included in the trip as a ridiculously low add on. It isn’t booked yet but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that we will be strapped to the tail of the plane on the outside for the duration of the trip for that price. It will be nice to have them pick us up and take us to the boat. For some reason coordinating transportation from the airport to the hotel is always the thing that worries me the most in a new city.
The trip isn’t until winter so I have time to brush up on my Duolingo. I tried to review the other day and failed miserably. I also told the husband that he can spend the rest of the year sidling up to other husbands and asking, “What did you get your wife for her birthday? That’s nice. Me? I’m taking my wife to France for her birthday.” That don’t have to know it was a total accident.
Who plans the vacations in your world?