The humdrum time between the January 1st and the next major holiday may be one of the most dismal times of the year. When the bitter cold of the admittedly mild Vancouver winters is paired with the consistency of a daily routine, daydreams tend to take your mind on a fleeting journey to somewhere warm and relaxing. Perhaps you dream of the warm beaches of Mexico, or lounging in a hammock staring across the bright blues of Bali, sipping a frozen drink. Your fantasies are soon grounded by the realization that you spent way too much money and time off during the holiday season and the next long weekend is still months away.
Try foreign cuisine, the more authentic the better
A great way to get the experience of a foreign culture is through their cuisine. In most cultures around the world, people gather together for food and conversation as a way of bonding. If you can find an authentic spot to enjoy a foreign meal, you can learn about the culture from décor and hopefully from the staff. I have been to a number of restaurants where the owners enjoy being a part of the dining experience and provide their stories as insight into their culture. Large cities like Vancouver and Toronto have a very multicultural population, so you have the opportunity to learn about a different country simply by going for a meal. Avoid the large chains, as they are usually less authentic than small, individually owned restaurants.
Take a night out in a nice hotel
Sometimes all it takes to relax is the feeling that you are out of your own house. Break your routine and forget your worries for just one night by leaving the work to people who are actually employed to make you comfortable. Go to the spa, order room service, leave towels on the floor and don’t bother to clean up after yourself.
Plan a day-trip to a local attraction
I find that the part of the allure of being a tourist is the environment that gives way for wonder. There are probably many places within your own city that you have not yet discovered, no matter how long you have lived there. Give one of those locations a visit and surround yourself by tourists that are in wonder of your beautiful city.
Years ago, I took an Asian Literature course offered by my university as part of my English degree. Near the end of the semester, after studying a number of local Asian writers, the class took a tour on historical Chinatown. Now, it’s not like I had never been to Chinatown – on the contrary, my grandfather operated a small barbershop up until I was 14 – but the area had changed. The tour opened my eyes on some of the history of the Chinese in Vancouver that I had not known. Chinatown used to be the bustling center of commerce for many Asians, but now it had turned into one of the poorest areas of the city.
Take a Sunday off to do… absolutely nothing.
There is a mental aspect to vacationing that gives us pleasure and that includes a break in routine. Weekends are usually the time to do chores, catch up on work that we missed, and to deal with a number of problems that take time that we do not have on weekdays. But, if you set your mind to it, you can put down your phone, queue up your favorite show and shut off the world for a day. Okay, it’s not as great as zip lining through the jungles of Peru, but maybe you can watch a show about that!
The break that we all desperately need doesn’t always need to be filled by hopping on a plane and enjoying new sights. Sometimes we can find all the relaxation we need at home and for a fraction of the price.