When my 2nd year University son came up to me in Feb this year, here’s what happened.
He walked towards me holding a scruffy looking piece of paper.
Me: What’s that in your hand?
Me: Then why are you coming to me when there’s nothing?
Son: Ah…. actually there’s something I want to tell you…
Me: Yes, go on…. I’m listening
Son: Me and my besties are going for a holiday this summer… to the Balkans, at least 5 or 6 countries..?
Me: What?!! That’s still 7 months down the road and your final exam’s in June. Shouldn’t we be discussing that first?
Son: Well, we’re in a planning stage ….
Me: That’s a good plan, son, and who’s going to pay for your holidays?
Son: Erm…..that’s what I’m here for ….
Me: OH-KAY! Then I know what’s best for you. If you don’t get through your exams, there will be no hols for you. If you get through your papers, papa or mama will not pay your hols, but you have to earn it yourself. Get a summer job! Okay?
Son: Ok, mama *big smiles*
And by the way, he got through all his papers and did his summer student job at the company I work with, but working at the most unaccomodating graveyard shift. You can read it all here: A Mother’s Insane Sacrifice
But hey, wait a minute! Isn’t this post about 7 girls? And why am I chewing over my son’s story?
Well, to be honest, there’re some similarities and dissimilarities on both sides of the narratives.
My son left for Skopje (their first stop) with 6 buddies, all boys, in September before the new semester began! The weather was a bummer, with some waterlogged days and some, sunny days. The boys were away for 2 weeks.
I left for Porto with 6 friends, all girls, recently in Oct. The weather was a bummer, with one day when we were completely soaked! We were away for only 3 days!
My son and his mates planned their holiday destination early this year and came to a unanimous consensus to visit the Balkan states plus Budapest since February. They met regularly at one of the boys’ houses to discuss the details of the trip, places of interests, budget, mode of payment etc.
My girlfriends and I talked and planned about an all-girl getaway via whatsApp, with several destinations mentioned, but no mutual consensus to any one location. It was just a plan, so it seemed …
Our girlie conversation started in March. One of the girls, AO, was pregnant with her second child. Her baby was due in May. For her – inititally – it was a no go as she said she would be in a breastfeeding mode, depending on the date of our trip.
So with the 6 remaining heads, the topic was cooled down for a while and was again brought up in April. That time, AO was in Kuching with the intention of having her baby delivered there. While AO was updating about news and foods in Kuching, the 6 of us decided to go on with the trip plan without AO, hence, on 26th April, C sent out a doodle poll to gather a unanimous and compromised date of our inaugural all-girl weekend getaway.
Lo and behold! We had a date!!! Amazing… considering it came from 6 double X-chromosomes Homo sapiens. LOL!
The weekend of 22nd October it was! Brilliant, and wait until you hear this…. because we wanted to stay 2 nights, those who’re working had to take a day off on either a Friday or a Monday. We all decided to take Friday off to fly to our chosen destination and came back on Sunday. Yup, it’s a short trip but for goodness’ sake, we are all married girls with and/ or without kids (yet).
Doing Our Own Things
Since the doodle poll in April to secure a date (which was brilliant), we went on to do our own things. Nothing was discussed anymore about our trip, except at fleeting moments when one of the girls, AM, brought up the subject but only to be swept under the rug or fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile, AO had given birth to gorgeous baby Z. Due to work, business trips, kids’ activities, football season, exams and the summer holidays, our intended all-girl getaway appeared to be just an ambitious and far-fetched idea/ plan.
Meanwhile, my son and his 6 buddies had settled some prepaid expenses of their pending trip and he was showing me the places and locations they would cover and visit. Mum could only admire…
August arrived. My family and I went for our ‘ritual’ South of France trip. While enjoying the sun, great food, sceneries and fresh air, I was showing my girlfriends some photos of our Provençal summer getaway, despite the sporadic internet connections at our holiday home in one of the remotest parts of South of France.
That was probably the photo that Midas touched. Suddenly a trail of chatty girls started to re-open the conversation that was held back frozen some 4 months before ….
Thursday, 11th August … Full Steam Ahead!
After the girls saw the photos I shared in our group chat, the conversation went full steam ahead …
And here’s how 7 girls made the decision in one evening ! It was a vivacious and animated conversation…. but darn the internet connnection!!
AO: Yup … we really should plan a trip next time
X: We have our trip in October!!
AO: Where you girls going again?
D (with very limited internet connection): Our trip in Oct? Not even planned anything yet! (suddenly, no internet connection/ out of conversation)
AO: Oct will be pretty cold already, unless we head South… Spain/ Portugal
X: That’s the plan, somewhere South. Corsica?
AO: I wanna go, but baby Z has to tag along
X: Where’s AM, our organiser?!!
AM: My questions: Are you still keen on our all-ladies’ trip? If yes (in Oct), (1) where? (2) flying or taking the train? (3) who are still keen to go?
AO: Yes (1) anywhere (2) anything (3) me
C: If weekend, we fly
X: Corsica? Flying… if Corsica. Me
C: We talked about Porto. Corsica is also OK. Flying is best if long weekend. Me, depending on date.
X: C, we had the doodle poll, remember? We had a date… the weekend of 22/10
AO: Are we doing Fri-Sun or Sat – Mon?
AM: First, how many of us going or rather who are confirmed going?
AO: Me, you, X. C maybe. G? O? D?
AM: Also need to confirm if 21/10 to 23/10 or 22/10 to 24/10 or 20/10 to 24/10
X: Let’s wait for G, O and D to respond
AO (deflecting her thoughts): If we go to Pisa from there, train to La Spezia and then Cinque Terre! It’s soooooo gorgeous!
C: I have been there but don’t mind going again. Very beautiful. Italy’s always a good destination. Pisa/ Verona/ Bologna
AM: Are we going for food, sight-seeing, walking or shopping or all three?
AO: I don’t really shop. For me it’s food and views (preferably ocean/ sea)
C: If it’s a long drive to Cinque Terre, then we will need an extra day …
AO: Plus anywhere next to the ocean, is bound to offer fresh seafood
X: It is a short trip, so I would recommend to keep it simple
AO: You’re right…. just saw Pisa’s airfare was soooo cheap, I lost my mind
AM: We go for all – sightseeing, walking, some fun/ excitement, food and some shopping
AO: Ryanair is pissing me off. Their website is ridiculous; no matter which destination I clicked on, it always directs me to Berlin!!! Easyjet is having a sale now…. lemme search..
AM: If I’m not mistaken, D has mentioned no France trip for her
G (just joining in the conversation): I’m going to Napoli on the cruise after our all-girls trip, so no Napoli, please
AO: Grrrr…. OK no Easyjet
G: Milan, I don’t mind
AO: OK, I don’t either. Any destination for me is good. I haven’t been many new places, always the same few drivable cities
AM: Before we look at air tickets, we still have to decide 1-2 destinations and the 3 dates I mentioned that we are all OK with. Only then can we talk about air tickets
C: I stick with Porto. I don’t think we should spend too much time again on destination. We know we do not want to go too far and make it too complicated. Italy or Portugal. No one mentioned Spain but that is also good. Alternatively, Edinburgh? Or Ireland? Please be quick as some of us need to apply for leave. And make sure kids are taken care of
G: I agree with C on this matter. Ireland is pretty boring. I have been there a few times and no Edinburgh please ‘cos I plan to go there to see my sis in Glasgow.
AM: Does D have wifi or internet access at her holiday villa?
D (back in the conversation): Argghhhh!! Issues with internet connection. So slow. It was fine when we arrived but not anymore.
X: So ladies (1) Porto (2) Bologna (3) Naples
AM and AO: Porto looks OK to me
D: OK with location (I assumed, Porto?), but no France please. Have we booked the hotel yet and what’s our budget?
AO: Take an apartment from AirBNB? Much more fun? Can cook too…
AM: Hah … we are on holidays. Also wanna try the local foods.
D: We all need a holiday! No cooking please. I wanna see places. Move around.. a bit of shopping (souvenirs) and Port wine!!!
AO: Agree! Agree! No cooking …
D: Need to check location to/from airport. Is the place too remote? Walking distance to city centre? Places of interest?
X: Single room or twin sharing? Best to stay around city centre
AM: Twin or triple sharing? Do we need to rent a car?
X: I don’t think we need a car
AM (summarizing): Destination = Porto. Meals = No cooking. Transport = no rental of car. Accom = Hotel
D: Please book accomodation first before booking air tix
C (suddently sidetracking): My initial idea was to go and book into a spa in Germany!! We drive there in 2 cars, then save on flying cost and just spoil ourselves and baby Z in a spa
AO: I would love to be pampered!
C: No need to buy air tickets. Then go out eating in the Mosel area and have a great time
X: I’m easy …
C: Not sure about Germany as well …. Heard some good ones in Austria but that is too far
AO: Aiyah, me anything anywhere anytime OK
C : Are we back to Lisbon??
AO: No, I’m exploring German Spa hotels now …. cos I do love German food
C: I can drive and take 3 more persons. Driving there is approx 3 hours
AM: Please no Germany or Austria, please, please !!!!
C: Why not???
AO: Ok ok AM …. let’s find a spa hotel in Porto?
X: Ladies, are we going to Porto to stay in a spa?
AM: I do not necessarily need a spa hotel in Porto. Depending on the rest, I go with the flow
X: We go there for sightseeing so let’s get a decent hotel
AO: I definitely wanna go out sightseeing, eat local food, then go back spa a bit before sleep
D: Are you sure all of us want spa hotel? To be honest, I don’t like to be cooped up in the hotel. I want to walk and see places …
AM: We really need to come to a certain decision …
X: I’m with D
AM: I’m with D and X
AO: I think it’s safe to say we’ve settled on a destination
X: Let’s park the spa trip another time, ok?
D: Brilliant! (and suddenly no connection …)
AM: How many of us for Hotel? Apartment?
X: AM, D, are you into hotel or Air BNB?
AO: I’m still pinning on AirBNB because much cheaper and allows more camaraderie. With the savings, can splurge on food, shopping …
AM: Hotel and in the city, if possible. I’m not much of a spa person – does not work for me
AO: Ok lets do hotel
C: Best hotel in the city …
AO: Yay! Let’s book
X: Lets wait for G and D. For D, it’s definitely no cooking, I know …
AO: Cooking is for future trips that are weeks long
C: I’m a light sleeper, so can’t share room
AO: Ooooh… are we all taking single rooms? I’m OK with sharing or single
AM: I guess it depends. If anyone wants to share rooms, can share, otherwise, she can also decide on a single room
AO (feeling excited): I’m just excited we agreed on a destination. LOL … And I’ve not been to Portugal, so extra chuffed
D (back in the conversation): Just reading your messages. Catching up. So hotel, OK for me ..
X: We need to book the flights to enjoy the rate
AO: Yes, agree,must get flights asap
D: Once we have agreed on location and place, only then can we proceed to book the flight. But must be unanimous
X: How do we manage the flight booking? Book individually?
D: Not heard from G or O ..
G: Sorry ladies, my phone battery died last night when I was out so only saw messages now. Yeah, I’m fine with Porto. Twin sharing is fine with me. Think I can share with AM since she asked me. As for flights, best we book ourselves, no? Just send the appropriate itinerary to all and we book ourselves
X: I have the flight itinerary. SN Brussels
G: Email or in this whatsApp? So many messages, I will need to read through …
C: Email the definitive is best
G: So Fri to Sun, I’m OK with that
AO: Its only G who needs to get home before Monday is it? Would anyone mind if I stayed one extra night on my own (anyone is welcome to join me, of course). If I’m alone for extension, I can visit my friends in Faro
G: Anyone can stay as long as she wants. I can still come back on Sunday
AO: I understand that majority needs to work Monday. The non-workers are welcome to spend an extra day there with me, optional.
G: I prefer to come back earlier cos Thursday early morning we are leaving on an 11-day cruise. A lot of travelling…
AM: I do not mind coming back on Monday, too
AO: Great AM, we stay an extra day, k?
X: O, are you joining?
O (just got a new job and busy with her work, just joined in the conversation): Read through all the messages… Yes, joining! Sorry, can’t chat long. Need to work. I go with the flow …
X: Are you going to take with you hand baggage or check in?
AO: One small luggage
X: Please note tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable
D: Hand baggage. Check and go. I’m doing that. Faster.
C: Me, too. Pack light …
D: Wear something warm on and carry light. October will be quite cool
C: Agree with D
AO (the first to book): Wow, me plus baby only Eur xxx total. Cheap cheap cheap! Booked and paid…
AM: Air tix and hotel booked! Yay … our tour begins…
D: Did we all book flying the same hour?
X, C, G, AO: Yup!
AM: Thanks to X who had us speeding up with our booking
AO (sidetracking again …): I’m going to get dining tips! I want that portuguese egg tart …pasteis de nata!!! Seafood!
G: Re the rooms, we have 2 twin sharings and one triple. Since I will be sharing with AM, my guess is that D, X and C will take the triple, right? The extra nights, those who will stay behind can bunk in together. Then rooms issue settled
AM: I have 3 sizes hand carry luggages at home, all Samsonites. Which is the standard size??
D: Check Brussels Airlines website. Allowable carry-on baggage Check&Go is 1 piece, max dimensions 55x40x23 cm with max total weight of 12kg. Note Size and weight apply hand in hand. If size is OK but weighs a ton, you cannot hand carry
X: AM, check the dimensions of your baggage. We are taking the Airbus, so it should not be an issue if you sticked to the dimensions as per D‘s guidelines. I do face issues at times when on biz trips, where they put your luggage away because of the size of the plane but it’s rare..
AM: Thanks X, so far I got checked before because my carry on looked bulky but it fitted to their measurement basket.
D: Again, suggest you carry light and wear warm clothings on with good walking pair of shoes. That should solve the carry & go baggage dilemma. Read its cold in Porto even in the Summer esp at night !!
All Settled and Ready to Go?
Phew!!! The double X-chromosomes managed to agree in record time … in one evening’s conversation!! One summer photo snowballed the effect with X speeding things up. Thanks, X! Note, there was no face-to-face communication, but only text conversation via WhatsApp. Thanks to cyberspace and 7 thinking heads ‘brainstormed’ by a Marketing & Sales Manager, a Communications Manager, a Lawyer, a Business Finance Controller, a former Nurse, a Food & Beverage Expert and a former Flight Stewardess cum Restaurant Manager. We were such diversed personalities, and strong-headed, too, that we even managed to come to a decision, was utterly amazing!
Oh by the way, did you manage to count the number of cities and locations in our conversation?
In case you lost count, at least 13 destinations were hinted at! Corsica, Lisbon, Pisa, Porto, Verona, Bologna, Naples, Edinburgh, Mosel, Nice, spa in Germany, Ireland, Austria… It was a LOOOOONNG list. But Porto was the winner!
Meanwhile, my son and his 6 buddies returned home from their trip from the Balkan Peninsula plus Budapest on 20th September before the new University Semester started. Their 2 weeks hols saw their friendship grew even more. The group was made up of the following students: 2 Civil Engineering and 1 Business Engineering students, 1 Sports Science student, 1 Business Management student, 1 student of Architect and 1 IT student.
We shall see…
Stay tuned *wink*
Porto, here we come!
While waiting for the next part, please hop over to this post: When 7 girls decided to meet …