The very real battle between expectation and reality: Europe in summer.

We’ve all seen the expectation VS reality memes. We’ve all experienced disappointment when no matter how hard we try, our latest recipe or craft project looks absolutely nothing like the illustration. Expectation VS reality is a constant battle we have to deal with in everyday life. Sometimes reality meets expectation or even exceeds it, but let’s face it, often it simply doesn’t.

I’m as guilty of perpetuating the expectation myths as anyone. A recent instagram post showed my legs alongside one of France’s beautiful calanques. What it didn’t show was my sweaty beetroot-red face after hiking in there for forty minutes on a very hot day. There was no photo of that, because although it is reality, it’s not worth sharing, or is it?

To even up the score, I thought I’d share some recent holiday experiences where reality failed to meet my personal expectations:

Palace of Versailles

I’d visited here twice before, so knew what to expect, right? So wrong!

Expectation 1: gliding through the shaded groves, admiring the fountains, hand-in-hand with my beloved husband.

Reality 1: desperately seeking shade and a breeze on a 35’C day, sweating profusely and arguing with my husband about the most efficient route from point A to point B.

Expectation 2: wandering slowly through the palace’s beautiful rooms, watching my husband’s reactions to his first experience of them.

Reality 2: being pushed along by the crowd, barely able to breathe in stifling rooms which inexplicably had all windows closed, although unairconditioned, on a 35’C day. My husband even dared to tease me by telling me the Hall of Mirrors “looked better in pictures.” Luckily, his initial reaction told me otherwise, as he gasped audibly and commented, “Wow!” on entering the room.

Hot and sweaty in the Hall of Mirrors.

La Tour Eiffel

Expectation: riding the elevators to the top to enjoy a romantic glass of champagne with hubby.

Reality: Hubby – “I don’t need to go to the top or get a photo at the bottom. Let’s just look at it.” We then trekked around the boarded-off area at the base, eventually arriving at Champ de Mars, where we shared a water bottle and snapped a rather unflattering selfie. It was not even a good hair day.

Not quite my imagined glass of bubbly at the top.

Lavender and sunflower fields

Expectation: wandering through the fields, taking photos and getting a few photos of me walking amongst the flowers.

Reality: quickly jumping out of the car, snapping a few shots whilst hubby refuses to leave the air-conditioned car, claiming he is too hot and tired, not interested in flowers and refusing to photograph me amongst them. I got my photos, but none with me in them. [By the way, he experienced a miraculous recovery and was soon wide awake and enthusiastically watching the world cup soccer grand final, then joining in with local celebrations afterwards.]

Hiking Cinque Terre

Expectation: arrive at destination after a leisurely hike to enjoy a lovely lunch with wine before another hike in the afternoon.

Reality: arrive a lather of sweat, too hot to contemplate eating and collapse into a chair to enjoy a not-so-icy-cold Coke overlooking a harbour full of other tourists. Decide it’s too hot for an afternoon hike and catch an air-conditioned train instead.

Dinner after a day of sightseeing

Expectation: shower, straighten hair, apply makeup, enjoy a relaxed dinner looking and feeling my best.

Reality: After being on my feet for too many hours, too exhausted to be bothered, too hot for hair straightening, makeup immediately sweats off, so instead have a cool shower, change and head out without makeup and with uncontrollable hair. Lucky no-one knows me around here!

[Don’t get me wrong, we’ve seen incredible sights, had a lovely time and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to finally experience parts of France and Italy. This post is very much tongue-in-cheek but also serves to burst the bubble on those Insta-perfect holiday photos.]

Anna xo

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