In mid-June we traveled to Europe. We flew on Iceland Air and stopped in Reykjavik for 3 days, before flying to England. It was great to see family in the UK and we had plenty of opportunity to do so, since we attend 2 family weddings. We felt so fortunate to share that special day with Lisa & James and James & Rachel.
The girls did amazingly well on the trip. Day 2 was a little rough, as we were all recovering from jet lag in Iceland (where the sun never set!) and the girls were both recovering from bad colds. Our first day there, we were greeted by glorious sunshine and we walked all over town. On day 2, it poured down rain and we had to cancel our plans for a boat tour, but we managed to get out and see more of town and hid away in a coffee shop, eating chocolate waffles with the girls asleep in our laps. We all agreed that Reykjavik is a charming coastal town with lots of great shops, cafe’s & playgrounds for the kids. On our last day in Iceland we had decent weather and we booked a tour of the “golden circle”. This route took us into central Iceland and back to Reykjavik, stopping at Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal active valley of Haukadalur and the National Park of Thingvellir, which was beautiful.
We also spent 5 days in Paris. What a wonderful city to see through the eyes of our kids. The carousels, crepes, pastries and beautiful architecture did not go unappreciated by the little ones. We bought Matea a disposable camera and she snapped away at all the things she thought were worthy. We had a mixture of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and ice-cream on that roll. The weather was perfect for picnics under the Eiffel Tower and walks along the river. We spent an entire morning at the Luxemburg Gardens – a haven for children, with a huge play area, marionette shows, pony rides, wooden boat races and of course, ice-cream & crepes. Since Brett & I had been there before, we were not under any pressure to see the major sites (although I think we managed to anyway), so we tried to keep a relaxed schedule. We shared a rented apartment with Chris & Tammie and while they were out taking in the city, it was quiet for the girls to nap in the afternoon. This allowed us to keep with European style and keep them up late at night.
In England, we rented a renovated barn, in the Surrey Hills. It was located in the quiet countryside, with meandering foot paths, leading to more rolling hills and also a charming village. It was in close proximity to where some of my cousins live, so we were able to hop in the car and meet them for a meal or a quick visit. We all spent a day in London and while the girls took the train back to Surrey with my parents, Brett & I stayed over-night with our friends, Sayoko & David. What a treat to go out to dinner, have adult conversation and spend the next morning leisurely walking the streets of London in search of a good breakfast. Ah, simple pleasures…
The entire trip was full of them. That is not to say there weren’t moments of chaos…waiting in a train station with nothing but some paper and broken crayons to occupy them. Or trying to get through a late dinner with a cranky 2-year-old. Or a diaper change in a less-than-desirable location with no changing table. Of course those things happened. But they happen here at home too. And those are never the things we remember, are they? I prefer to remember, Matea running to Buckingham Palace expecting to have tea with the Queen (and quite disappointed to find we couldn’t go inside)! I loved watching the girls meet their 2nd cousins for the 1st time and play together as if they have been friends for life. I like to remember the carousel rides, chocolate ice-cream-covered-faces and walking under the lights of the Eiffel Tower at 11pm with head-lamps on. Dancing at a wedding in twirly dresses and fancy shoes, exploring new playgrounds and discovering new foods and making memories that I hope they will remember. For Brett and I, they will last a life time.