Home > Olympos, The Lazy Olive, Uncategorized > Holidays versus Holiday Homes

Holidays versus Holiday Homes

Back at work in Brussels this week, trying to bottle up my few last rays of Turkey’s summer sun, I took time out with a nice Economist article on why we go on holiday. It made me question my own holidays, which seem to have little in common with this normality.

The Economist’s correspondent, vacationing in Venice, juggled museum-to-gelato ratios, hedged lovely places to visit against saw-you-coming tourist traps and hunted for the occasional ten memorable minutes to treasure – for instance, watching La Traviata in a Venetian palazzo. This kind of destination vacation, the article’s headline said, widens our world.

I too love a horizon-expanding visit to an unknown capital or beauty spot. But, perversely, I rarely do it. For the past 17 years, almost every holiday has meant one thing: visiting The Lazy Olive, the house my wife Jessica and I built from scratch on the flanks of Turkey’s Mount Olympos, near the Mediterranean coast. There we do have fun with beaches, boats and delicious food. But we can also find ourselves caught up in manic days, weeks, even months of our never-ending struggle to finish the project.

The Lazy Olive catches the early morning sun.

We know we are slightly mad and are missing out on ‘normal’ escapist holidays. But the gradual improvements, even if they can take several attempts to perfect, do make us proud. And we know that we absolutely have to make them, since we now have a steady stream of guests who rent it as a holiday home through AirBNB or Vrbo. (We hope you’ll join them, do check out the links).

Jessica enjoys this summer of 2022’s (now completed) rebuild of the natural pool’s east wall. She added five stone seats on which to soak up the sun while cool in the water.

All that work seems to be paying off at last. This year, at last, staying at the Lazy Olive felt like a holiday for me too. The work seemed less onerous, I had more time to read and relax, and the property seemed settled. Jessica moved just a ton or two of stones to make new in-water sitting places along the east wall of the natural pool. I satisfied myself with refitting a door, changing a tap and surviving some complex wiring work in the main fuse boxes.

Country retreat maintenance is certainly not what the Economist meant by “the explorer’s delusion, whereby people set out to discover what they already expect to find.” Each day at the Lazy Olive, we have little idea what fate will throw at us. I’ve written a whole book about our adventures, but I can’t finish it because the story never seems to end. Still, I can feel the narrative slowing to a more comfortable pace.

Given how much work it’s all been, it’s not surprising how important our guests’ reviews can be. It gave real joy to read Tiffini, who stayed this year. “The pool is the real gem,” she said, “the perfect place to cool off and watch the fish, frogs and dragonflies.” Or Katya, also here in 2022, who said she found “the place was perfect. It’s definitely not the usual type of vacation home, because the owners created it for themselves with heart and soul.”

For us, such endorsements is how we get our version of those treasured ten minutes to savour over the rest of the year. It’s not the Economist’s mind-widening experience of refreshing touristic novelty, perhaps. But it definitely gives some long-lasting satisfaction and a sense of ever-more deeply rooted connection to an alternative world.

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