Digging for clams is hard.
First you look for the “clam shows” – the air holes in the sand that show where a clam might be. Once you find a nice, big hole, you dig the wet, heavy sand around it, pushing your shovel as deep as you can. Then you bend, squat, or kneel to look through the pile of sand you just turned over, or plunge your hand in the hole feeling for clam shells. And then you stand up again, and move to dig in another place.
Dig. Squat. Stand up. Repeat.
Cleaning and opening the clams is no small feat either.
Once you think you have caught enough clams for your meal, you need to soak them for a while. The clams filter water as they breathe, and push out the sand that might be in their shells. You may want to change water a couple of times, to make sure the clams have pushed out all the sand and salt water.
And then you have to open them, one by one, and rinse them again. With luck, someone else had the task of peeling and chopping the potatoes at the same time.
You may end up with just a small pile of clams for your chowder, after all that hard work, but digging for clams turned out to be a great family activity during our vacation on Prince Edward Island in 2012.
We were staying at a nice, big vacation rental then – a house with four bedrooms, right on the water, and since my husband’s brother and his wife were on a road trip in the area, we invited them to stay with us for a couple of days, which they gladly accepted.
That was when we went clam digging – four adults and two children, digging and squatting for a few hours in the muddy sand of St. Mary’s Bay.
It was all worth it, though. There’s something extremely satisfying about eating a meal that you not only prepared from scratch, but also partly harvested yourself.
I haven’t taken any photos of the meal, but I still remember my sister-in-law directing everyone what to do in that large kitchen, with plenty of counter space. She was the only one who knew how to make clam chowder from scratch.
We had fun that evening, sitting at the large, round dining table, talking and joking, taking all the time we needed to finish our supper.
Had we stayed at a hotel, even if we did vacation together, our family would never would have had that experience.
It was not the first time we vacationed with extended family.
We try to go on vacation with either my parents or my husband’s parents every year, if we can, and sometimes we have additional family members join us, like when we went to Saco, Maine for the long weekend in 2010.
At that time, in addition to my husband’s parents, we also had the same brother-in-law with his wife and their son join us, but since we rented a whole house, with a big living room and a dining room that could seat nine, space was not a problem.
When we vacationed in southern Spain with my parents in 2013, my Dad’s cousin and his wife joined us. To accommodate all of us we rented two two-bedroom suites at Marriott’s Playa Andaluza, right across the hall from each other, so we had enough room for the whole family as well.
In the mornings, we planned our trips at the small coffee table on the balcony.
In the evenings, we gathered around the dining table, “just” the eight of us, and after supper played UNO for hours.
There was also the time when my sister joined us in London in 2013 for a few days, and again, even though some days we went our separate ways when sightseeing, the five of us had fun hanging around in the dining- family-room area.
That place wasn’t exactly cheap, but it was in a fantastic location.
That’s what I love about vacation rentals or staying at hotels with suites – it’s not just about the space, and the separate bedrooms, though it’s nice that everyone has a private place to unwind.
It’s about the big dining table that can fit the whole family and more, where you can be as loud and as messy as you want to, and not have to hurry to finish your meal because other patrons are waiting for the table.
Of course having a nice, big living room with a comfy couch and a couple of arm chairs where you can just chill is no small bonus.
Throw in a deck, or even just a balcony with a nice view, and you have the perfect family vacation.
But even small places, with a tiny table just big enough for the four of us, like this place in Madrid we rented last year, are better than having to eat out all the time.
Living like locals is part of the adventure – we find the closest grocery store, and load up on food, sometimes guessing from the photos what we’re buying.
That way we can have our favorite food for breakfast, in our PJs if we so wish, and a nice, tasty dinner without having to spend big bucks for restaurants. And since the rentals we choose are usually (though not always) just about the same price or slightly more expensive per night than nearby hotels, overall we save quite a bit of money by choosing vacation rentals over hotels.
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We’re going on another family vacation this year – my sister will be joining us in Vienna, I hope, and my parents will be joining us in Krakow. And where are we staying? You guessed it – vacation rentals, because they’re actually cheaper in both cities than the nearby hotels. Trust me, I checked.
We don’t stay at regular hotels much any more when we travel.
The last time we all slept in the same room was when we just returned to Madrid from a road trip around Spain and Portugal, and chose to stay at a hotel, because they had shuttles to the airport.
It was all right for one night, but it felt cramped, despite the sofa and the armchair squeezed in between our master bed and the bunk beds for the kids. And yes, it was more expensive – this one room cost $128 US for the night.
The two-bedroom apartment in the center of Madrid, with the red kitchen above was 80 Euro, which last year was around $108 US. (It’s around $90 US this year, because of the difference in exchange rates.)
So here’s my advice to you – next time you’re going on vacation, instead of cramming the whole family into one tiny room, do yourself a favor and also check out vacation rentals available in the area. You might be pleasantly surprised at the selection.
Invitation to #WeekendWanderlust Link Up
#WeekendWanderlust, hosted by Chris & Heather from A Brit and a Southerner, Jessi & Tara from Outbound Adventurer, Ashley from A Southern Gypsy, Justin and Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren, and yours truly, is a collaborative effort to share travel blog posts, and to discuss all travel-related things.
The hosts organize each week a link up through which travel bloggers from around the world can promote their posts, in exchange for a promise to give some attention to other travel bloggers. (One of the rules for linking up is to comment on three linked up posts.)
If the link up is still open, feel free to add a link to one of your posts below, then comment on three linked up posts. I welcome comments as well, of course, and will reciprocate as soon as I can.