And we adapted to the German ways pretty fast.
As it is (you can almost say) "common practice" in Germany to book your summer vacation well in advance, we too got several travel catalogs from TUI, Quelle, ADAC, etc. in the beginning of the year and looked for affordable summer vacation packages.
Our very first trip was to Spain. We actually coordinated it with our best friend, who had moved to Liverpool. He and his sweet wife booked the same hotel and we met in Santa Susanna, not far from Barcelona.
I can't quite remember how we coordinated this without email or cell phones. I do remember that our friend, who did not speak German, would call my grandmother's phone and introduce himself with one sentence which we had taught him. To this day, he still calls (via Facebook or Skype) and says the same German sentence. (Ich bin M.. aus England). It puts a smile on my face every time.
It was our very first vacation to a different country and we enjoyed it so very much. Looking back, the hotel was really not that great and the beach was small and pebbly, but we had a blast. While there, we actually switched to the British tour guide because that group was much more fun. If you want to party 24 hours, travel with the British.
Over the years, we booked several vacations to Italy. Starting off with a small hotel in Cesenatico, close to Rimini, on the Adriatic coast. This was a favorite of ours. Maybe because it was so crowded?
It was a small family run hotel right at the beach. A great place to vacation with a toddler. We took day trips to San Marino, a small republic, a few miles inland, with great historical sites and views. Once, we took a train to the south to meet with a friend who lived in Pescara. She was going to university there, but in the summer time her landlord rented out the apartment to tourists at a much higher rate and she moved into the garage, which had a small kitchenette and shower. That's where we stayed with her, bringing along a bag of pampers and a potty as it was training time. She had friends over as well, so I think we were 6 in the garage and slept there like sardines on the floor. It was one of the best times we had with old friends from Iran.
And one year we added a few days in Rome. Driving from Cesenatico to Rome (350 km/217 miles) and then after a few days, back to Berlin (1500 km/ 930 miles), was a long car ride, but our son was a trooper. He also walked through Rome with us and we saw almost all of the attractions. The Inter.Continental Hotel Rome at that time was located on top of the Spanish steps on Via Sistina, in a former old monastery. It was a perfect central location. Unfortunately, I can't find the hotel today on the map.
In the early 90s we switched to Tuscany. The Hotel Bacco in Lido di Camaiore is located on the opposite west-coast at the Ligurian Sea. This hotel is also family run and the kitchen is amazing. I still dream about the food, the ocean, the air, and it brings tears to my eyes remembering the wonderful times we spent there with friends and family. I hope to visit again some time.