I had it all envisioned. Later, in a distant future, when arthritis and asthma would prevent me from any active vacations, I would book myself a hotelroom on the bank of some Swiss or Italian lake. I would sit in the garden, overlooking the lake and the mountains, read a book, and drinks would be brought to me in my deck chair. When it would rain, I'd sit in the spacious lobby, and have interesting talks with people far more interesting than me. Every now and then I'd stroll along the waterfront to the center of town to look at the shops and have coffee at a cafe. No organized trips for me, but just the soothing relaxation of quiet days in in a lovely scenery.
Then it is 2014. And I am suddenly confronted with situation where my days and life are cut in half. No activity, no walks, not the usual 24 hours days divided in 8 hours of sleep and 16 hours of whatever else, but predominantly making a living. Only working for a few hours every day. Not being able to drive more than 1.5 or 2 hours at the most. Hardly any social life during evenings. Can't bare fast and loud speaking voices, can't cope with fast moving objects or images. My range is limited. I feel like driving an electric vehicle, not knowing if you have enough juice to reach your destination, if you can recharge and how long that will take you. In short, post concussion syndrome (PCS), a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI), all a result of a silly collision with a door post last April. I do not want to dramatize things here. There are people who suffer far more from TBI. But it more or less turned my working and social life upside down. Good days and bad days follow each other and there's just little noticeable progress the past few months.
Now, what do you do with a vacation? Basicly, it should do me good. But there's a problem, usually associated with elderly people. The trip. Travel is a challenge, even for me now, the fine young man I am. No matter by car, train or plane – it would be too tiring. The only reasonable option would be a short trip by car to a destination not too far away from home. Mind you, just as a second driver of course. So, off to the German Sauerland mountain region it was, if only for five days. A 4.5 hour trip, provided traffic would not show its ugly face. And luckily, it didn’t. Still, before setting off, it felt to me that I was about to leave for a flight to Bali, but I had to get over it.
The choice for the Sauerland Mountains was actually quite rational, apart for the relatively short distance. The village of Willingen, 3,000 people living there and 30,000 hotel beds, does have a lot to offer. But most important to me in my present situation, there are a couple of nice pools and spas in the area, a recipe for perfect relaxation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in a walking aid condition, but mountain hikes are just not my cup of tea right now. Nor do I see myself racing down the Ettelsberg on a rented ATB with rented gear to match, like so many men seem to be doing there, usually accompanied by their sons. Just too bad that there were no so called 'sole baths' – pools with salt water – since those are just the best amenities when you reach a certain age and if you just want to float around. However, a detour on the return trip with a stay over in Bad Bentheim solved that issue.
For me, right now, there's nothing better to give myself an energy boost than a visit to a spa. Here at home as well, and luckily people close around me give me company. You know, the post concussion brain can not deal with a lot of impulses. It performs best with a clear and empty mind. Sitting in a warm environment, floating in warm water, listening to the stories your company tells, drink a coffee, sip a Trappist beer, have lunch. Just that lovely nothingness, only the present, no past, no future. Total blankness.