A couple of months ago, I received a comment on an old post. The comment was something like, do you guys ever have time to just have fun on your vacations? I had to laugh a little when I saw it, because everything we do on our vacations is fun to us! But I think maybe what that person was meaning to say was, do you guys ever have any downtime on your vacations? And the answer to that is yes! But it’s probably not what most would consider typical vacation downtime.
We all have different travel styles. I know people who like to chase the summer sun and escape to the beach every vacation day they get. I also know people who travel to new cities just to drink coffee. There’s no right or wrong way to travel, unless you’re trying to travel in a way that doesn’t feel natural for you. For us, going to a new place and then spending three hours in a cafe watching the world pass by just wouldn’t feel natural. We like to stay occupied. So even when we’re not checking out the tourist sights, trying to experience a bit of the culture, or seeking out new foods to gorge ourselves on, we’re almost always doing something. And now that we all have our own cameras, that something is usually related to photography.
I would never be so bold as to claim myself a photographer, but I am a person who loves to take pictures, and I am constantly practicing to improve my eye for a good shot and my skills to capture it. I have found that, for myself, there is no better time to do this than when I’m on vacation in a place I am unfamiliar with. So when there’s nowhere else we need to be, we let ourselves wander away from the places we’ve already been, or intend to go later, and look for unusual things to photograph. In a way, I enjoy photographing these locations and subjects more than the major sights because there’s no pressure behind it. If I don’t get any good photos, it’s no great loss; the important part is trying. Sometimes I end up surprising myself, though.
For instance, in Copenhagen, my best shot was not of the Little Mermaid or Nyhavn – it was of a bicycle, propped up against an office building, with fresh raindrops on the seat. I love that picture, and quite a few others I got walking through a residential area of the city. Most of the time I’m drawn to natural-looking colors and subjects, but Cory has a completely different style, so this means I get to practice on subjects I wouldn’t even normally attempt to photograph.
This guy is known as ‘The Global Visionary’ and is one of the newest sculptures on the scene in Copenhagen. Designed by Zinkglobal and located in the harbor near the Little Mermaid, this metal man is made up of 8,500 pieces of old machinery and used car parts. If there was ever something that would attract a dude with a camera… (By the way, my husband is turning into quite a talented picture-taker himself. Check him out on Instagram if you like, @cory.shumate.)
Besides practicing our photography skills, sometimes when we have a little extra time, we try to check out things that aren’t always a permanent fixture in whatever city we are in. In Copenhagen, this was the Christmas Markets. Saying this out loud will probably make me kind of unpopular in Europe, but I just don’t see what all the fuss is about surrounding Christmas Markets. We walked through these and it was – Candles, check. Wood-carved trinkets, check. Glühwein, check. Giant bratwurst, check. It’s always the same. What am I missing? Why do people go crazy over these at Christmas?
I was much more interested in getting a good spot to watch Jerry Garcia, Adam Lambert, and Bon Jovi come together to play Christmas songs in the square. I kid, but these guys were really good, actually. They put a rock & roll spin on traditional Christmas songs and I could have listened to them all day. But, alas, it’s not always about what I want to do, or what Cory wants to do, for that matter.
Lexie also gets her say, which is how we found ourselves leaving messages at the Happy Wall in Copenhagen at least three different times, and the Lego Store where we tried, unsuccessfully, to create Lego people that resembled ourselves. (If you were thinking the one with impressive cleavage is the one I made, you’d be wrong. Lexie apparently has high hopes for herself.)
So maybe we aren’t the most relaxed of travelers, but we also aren’t the type to schedule ourselves so tightly that there isn’t any freedom to change our minds or have any downtime. We learned the hard way that this wasn’t our travel style in Paris. So how does one figure out their travel style? Trial and error, of course. And I think the way you are in your day-to-day life can predict how you’ll want to spend your vacations, too. For me, I know I’m getting sick when all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch television. I am a restless person by nature, and if I don’t stay active, I get cranky. But for others, it’s the opposite, and that’s totally okay, too! From now on, I’ll try to share the less-structured side of our trips more often on the blog, too, because they do happen, I swear!
So what’s your travel style? Do you prefer to chill out or stay busy on vacation?