Friday, July 25, 2014

Stockholm Part 1: Skansen

As I mentioned before, the first 5 days of our trip we spent in Stockholm, staying at the J Hotel. The first few days we are were all so exhausted and jet lagged that it would take us a while to get up and going. I had to wake Drew and the kids up every morning (first time Ever I have had to wake the kids up I think) and they probably would have been content to sleep the day away, but I wasn't going to let that happen! 


Each morning we would wake up, eat a HUGE delicious breakfast at the hotel and then walk the 3 minutes to the boat. One day we were in more of a rush so we took the bus into down which only took 10 minutes where as the boat took us about 20. 


The day after we arrived there was a big midsummer celebration at skansen, an open air museum/zoo and it was the highest thing on my MUST DO list for Stockholm. I haven't spent midsummer in Sweden since I was probably 10 and it was something I couldn't wait to share with the kids! Jasper especially had so much fun running around, playing at the park there, seeing the animals and just being outside after our long traveling.
 ^First picture I took in Sweden except for one of the kids in the taxi sleeping. View from our hotel at 10-11PM. That midnight sun is something else^
 ^Enjoying delicious coffee on the dock waiting for the boat to arriver to take us to Skansen^

 ^On the boat! All the boats we took quickly became Tindra's favorite mode of public transportation^
 ^Midsummer pole at Skansen^




 ^Amazing views around the whole park/zoo/museum^





^Of course we had to be like the real Swedes and get flowers for our hair (don't mind the tired, jet lagged toddler. They did So well for being exhausted^

 ^Drew and I couldn't wait to have these hot dogs again. I don't know What it is about Swedish hot dogs but they are SO so good. I promise. I rarely eat hot dogs in America but there I could (and sometimes did..) eat them twice a day!^
^Once we got the kids to sleep in the hotel room, fairly easy considering how little sleep we were going on..Drew and I enjoyed a few ciders out on our balcony. The perfect ending to the perfect day^
*All of these pictures were taken with my or Drew's iphone*
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where to Stay in Stockholm: J Hotel

I'm going to sneak a travel tip number 2 into this post.

When booking a hotel for your vacation, choose one that is family friendly. That can mean a lot of different things, but for us that meant looking for a hotel with a balcony for our first stay in Stockholm. We were going to be staying there for 5 nights and we wanted a place we could sit out on a little balcony of our own after the kids fell asleep at night. 


When we arrived Friday night at Arlanda Airport we were exhausted after our travels and one day stop over in Iceland. We hadn't slept in about 28 hrs (minus a few short naps for the kids, and maybe a 20 min doze for Drew and I) so we were in a hurry to get to our hotel. The front desk had been very accommodating about how to get to the hotel using public transportation, but when we saw the taxis lined up outside, all of our luggage and our two overly tired children we decided to spend the extra money of a taxi out to our hotel. Best decision ever. 


From Arlanda (Stockholm's international airport) it's about a 45 minute taxi ride to the J hotel, and the price was only about $110 which seemed really fair considering the time and distance. And considering  you are going to spend almost half that on the airport shuttle into town and then a bus it was more than worth it.


We had a late arrival at the hotel, and from the second we arrived to when we left everyone there was more than accommodating. Such amazing service! The staff was extremely friendly, helpful and we just felt like they went above and beyond what we expected! The morning we left, they had called a taxi for us and knowing we had to leave before breakfast was served to catch a train, they had packed us delicious sandwiches for our train ride! That was such a fantastic gesture! 
 
Besides the Amazing service, they served a phenomenal breakfast every morning overlooking the water and the most stunning views I have ever had from a hotel. Apparently this is a Swedish hotel thing: out of this world good breakfast buffets! A whole room full of different cheeses (like 5 different kind) vegetables and fruits, eggs and bacon, different kinds of yoghurts, oatmeals, different granolas and fruits for the yoghurt, more types of breads than I could count, not to mention delicious coffee and teas that we couldn't get enough of. And these amazing little danishes that were almost too good to be served with breakfast, it felt like dessert! This is where Jasper fell in love with hard boiled eggs! He couldn't get enough. I bet over our vacation Jasper alone ate a few dozen hard boiled eggs. 


After filling up on a Huge breakfast every morning we would walk down to the dock and catch a 20-30 minutes boat into town, or walk up to the street and take a bus if we were in more of a hurry, but starting the mornings with a boat ride into Stockholm was definitely the perfect way to start the day!


When we were trying to decide between staying in the city or a little bit out of the city for our first days in Sweden, we ultimately decided that having some space for the kiddos to run around in the grass and play by the water and then having a balcony to relax on in the evening midnight sun was the way for us. I could not recommend this hotel more! For couples on a romantic getaway (because romantic it definitely was!) for families, even for a girls only trip- this is a hotel for everyone!


Another super cozy thing I have to mention, they have these huge wooden chairs every out facing the water, and a big stack of fleece blankets inside that you are welcome to take out on a chilly evening. We definitely utilized that as our first few days in Sweden it was on the chillier/rainy side! And speaking of rainy they also had big umbrellas you could borrow for the day! 


I'm already planning for the day we can go back to Stockholm and the J Hotel!





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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Iowa!

I was planning on leaving Sunday for Iowa but Friday I changed my plans to leave Saturday (long story!) so since Saturday night I have been at my moms in Iowa for a little vacation! I was exhausted Saturday night after the 11 hr car trip and tindra's consistent 3-4 am wake up since we got back from Sweden but luckily tindra decided Saturday night she would sleep through the night and till 8:30! And now we are back on schedule! We have been spending the last few days hanging out with family and just relaxing! The perfect kind of vacation after our crazy three week European vacation! I still have 2000 pictures to go through from our trip and soon I will start sharing those! For now, a couple Iowa pictures! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Traveling with Children Tip #1


I get so many questions about traveling with children advice, so I'm going to be sharing some of the tips I have as I think of them here! When I run out of ideas/tips (Drew will be helping me brain storm some of the things that worked really well for us as well) I will compile them all into one big post. But for today, and the biggest one on my mind right now:

Bring a car seat for younger children


I know many people will disagree with this one, but I can't tell you how many times during this past European vacation that Drew and I looked at each other and said "Thank god we brought the car seat" or "I'm So glad we decided to bring the car seat." 

We only rode in a car a hand full of times up in northern Sweden visiting my family and friends and then again in Oslo when we visited friends. We could have probably been fine without bringing a car seat but besides the few times we used it in a car, we used in on the plane (life saver, seriously) and on the many trains we took and the two bus trips we took (one which was unexpected because of a train problem and I'm SO thankful we had it then especially). On the trains we took (4 trips total anywhere from 3 hrs to 8 hrs) we just put Tindras car seat in one of the regular train seats. I had booked seats facing a table so we had four seats with a table in the middle. There aren't seat belts on the trains so it's not necessarily any safer, but there is just No way she would have sat still if she would have had free roam, but she knows that she has to sit still, buckled in while sitting in a car seat so she did Perfect in her seat. Plus its more comfortable for her little body. And when it was time for naps we just turned her rear facing against the wall behind us so she couldn't see anyone and that helped her fall asleep without all the commotion. 

We bought a special travel seat that was cheap and super light weight (both of which our regular car seats are not!) and it wasn't a big hassle at all to have that to lug around. We already traveled with so much gear, what was one more thing. Often times we even used a bungee cord to strap her car seat to our stroller and she sat in there while we navigated our way through train stations and airports. 

On top of it being SUPER convenient to always be able to strap two year old Tindra in, I also learned recently that small children really should be in a car seat buckled properly while flying. We ended up having a really, really horrible landing in Denver and I'm so thankful she was fastened safely in her car seat (sleeping actually, no clue how as I thought we were going to die) and felt really bad for the mom sitting across the isle who was holding her infant. She honestly looked like she could have dropped the baby any second.  The turbulence was so bad due to wind sheer (a term I hope to never hear again while in an airplane) that we kept dropping suddenly, and then would bounce back up before dropping again. I was gripping my hands so tightly to the arm rests to keep from bumping around too much, I honestly have no idea what tiny 25 lb Tindra would have done had she not been strapped in tightly to her 5 point harness. 

She did not ride in a car seat when we took public transportation around Stockholm and Oslo like the subway, city busses, boats ( I know, right?) etc, for that she just sat in her stroller.

So that's my first travel tip, if possible, bring a car seat for a baby or toddler! For Jasper we just brought a long a bubble bum, which is an inflatable booster and it worked perfect for the few short car rides we had. 



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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Back!


I figured if I said it with a !! I could fool myself into thinking I was excited to be back. I'm not. Not in the slightest. I could spend every day of the summer in Scandinavia, walking around Stockholm with an ice-cream in my hand, spending cozy evenings up north at our friends or in Oslo with our other friends, sipping coffee and playing games. I'm not going to lie, traveling children, especially internationally is exhausting and not super relaxing, but it's such an adventure. One I hope to relive over and over and over again! If I learned just one thing from this trip (spoiler, I learned more than just one thing!) about myself is that I really need more travel. I knew that about myself in theory, but actually doing it? Different story. A part of me that I don't think even exists when I'm at home seems to wake up when we travel. Almost like I feel more alive? Does that make sense? Not sure, but thats the best I can describe it. 


Now I'm off to go find a job that can just keep me traveling (with my family!) all the time. Does such a job exist? 

I'm going through our billion pictures so I'll be sharing more soon, but I couldn't post with out a least one picture :)



 
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Saturday, July 5, 2014

We don't have much time here left and I'm already dreading leaving next week, but for now here is a picture or two from our trip! Can't wait to share more later! 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Meet Sarah


I'm thrilled to introduce you guys to my 'blogging friend turned into real life friend' Sarah. Sarah and her sweet family just moved away from Denver (sob!) to New York City so make sure you check our her blog and all of her adventures!


Travel has always been this outrageous component of my life. There have been times when the stars aligned and it felt like I had time and the means to be flitting all over the world, from place to place, seeing it all, taking it in. There have been times when circumstances have kept me home, almost buried underground I felt so rooted; but in those moments my heart longs to get back out. 

My greatest transformations, my little life epiphanies, and my deepest self-understanding have always come to me when Im in a place totally out of the ordinary. Something about taking my well-known soul out of a well-known place makes all of itthe place and the personcompletely fresh and new again. I love the clash of history and awe and fun and discovery that comes with traveling. These are the things that struck me when I was young and set out into the world on my own.

When my husband and I first got married, in those first months when we were excited and in love and poor, we would spend almost every evening in a coffee shop, planning a backpacking trip while sipping cups of coffee. The trip was nearly a year away, and we booked it in small chunks so that we could pay for things as we went. All we cared about was that, for three weeks, Europe would be ours. And I learned that, having a hand to hold when youre exploring only intensifies those feelings of history and awe and fun and discovery. 

I used to think that when I had children, Id keep the big trips for when they were old enough to make the most of it. Theres probably some wisdom in that. But still, as Ive learned what traveling can do to a person and as Ive felt opened up to the world just by seeing it, Ive decided that I want that for my girls. I want them to see all parts of the world at all parts of life, as much as I possibly can. It would be wonderful to bring them up knowing the world; but more than that, I think it will bring them up to know themselves. 

As much as a grown-up heart can be struck with wonder at the sight of something new, I get chills thinking about how it all must seem to those big eyes on their little bodies. What do they think and feel as they explore the earth with their pure hearts and innocent, imaginative minds. I think thats what drives us to travelthe lust for something new, yes; but also for something awe-inspiring, something that strikes a chord in our hearts. 

Sweden is definitely that place for Darlene. I think its incredible how she gets around with both her kids; and I think its incredible that theyre across the ocean right now. Its special for them to see it; and its special for Darlene to share a place so dear to her heart with her little ones. Its a part of her and now shes giving it to them. Its like a legacy. 

Weve just moved from Denver to New York City, and though Ive spent so much time here, a move is completely different. There have been days Im fumbling through it, just willing us to feel settled already. On these days, to shift my thinking, I pretend Im on vacation. Theres much to see, much to do, much to learn! I want this to be the transition and experience for my kids. Theres no reason this cant be a perfect example of what travel can mean to them. 

I expect there will be times coming up where we feel free to travel much. And there will probably be even more times that life will tie us down or restrict us momentarily. So travel,the way I feel when I do it, is a feeling and a mentality that I try to bottle up in my heart. How can I be awe-inspired today, even if all I have to do is laundry? And better yet, how can I make that a legacy that I give to my girls today?


Have a wonderful trip, Darlene! I know your kids wont forget or take for granted this wonderful opportunity that youve made for them!