Preparing for the Trip
Lots going on right now. As we are only spending about 6 days in London, Paris, Istanbul and Dubai, we want to make the most of it and not spend too much time while there looking up what we should be doing; I am therefore doing a ton of research online now. It is incredible to see how things have changed in the dozen years since our last big Trip. Last time, we went to the store or library and bought or borrowed books on traveling. Mostly Lonely Plannet or Fodors books. Of course as soon as the books went to print they were out of date so the information we gleamed from them was not always as accurate as we would have hoped. Further, the opinions on the various things to do and see, sleep and eat etc were that of one or two writers/travelers. Now with the Internet, the information is current and with sites like tripadvisor.com you can benefit from thousands of opinions.
We plan to make most of our accommodation arrangements just before arriving at each non-SE Asia destination via the Internet and plan to stay at flats or apartments as much as possible because this seems to be the best value, and you get more than one room as well as the benefit of a kitchen and often laundry facilities.
Traveling with kids is not something we are that use to, at least not for this type of trip so we have lots to learn and figure out as we go. It will likely be a bit of give and take with what we see while on the road.
General comments made:
July 10, 2013
We are now on Flores Island, Indonesia and have been here for a little over a week. Our trip has changed so much since arriving here from the fast paced, no time, get it all done before we have to move on, to the relaxed pace one would expect in the tropics when one has 6 months and no definitive plans. Ahhhhh.
Europe was fantastic. We loved it and we maximized and enjoyed every waking minute. In fact it was so busy, we didn’t have any time to write any updates as we were hoping we would. 6 weeks into the trip, it has been quite nice not writing and the thought up catching up on six activity and experience filled weeks is a bit daunting. With daunting comes procrastination, which of course makes it more daunting etc. So time to sit down and put to paper some of the highlights of the trip. Of course, I know that once, I start I will enjoy the process of sharing with you what we have done and knowing I will have a record to reflect upon in the years to come.
So here goes:
The last week in Revelstoke was crazy. Packing a house for moving is difficult, packing for the move and for an around the world seven month trip is, hellish. After what seemed like eternity, we managed to get all of our worldly belongings into two 20-foot storage containers, clean the house, fill the cars with all that was left including three kayaks, too many bikes and hit the road for Vancouver.
After some last minute shopping for the trip in Vancouver and seeing family, we were off to Salt Spring Island to spend a few days at Jim and Fran’s (Tracey’s parents). We LOVE Salt Spring Island and the McLennan cottage! We knew we were on vacation the moment we arrived. Trace and I have been fortunate and have traveled to over 45 countries and we still consider Vancouver, the Gulf Islands and the rest of BC as the best place on earth. We are so fortunate to live where we do and to have so many wonderful friends and loving family (and visa versa).
It was great to have some chill time at SSI as we felt like we needed a rest after the past few weeks and especially the last few days of moving. The Kaul’s ran over in their boat from their home on Piers Island for a day. What a wonderful time we had; kids playing in boats on the water and catching up.
May 5 – 10, 2013
The flight to London was fantastic. We flew Air Transat. Last time I flew Air Transat to London, I was not so keen on the airline, however they blew us away this time. They have a wonderful kids program, allowing us preferred check in lines, free snacks, priority baggage etc. Also, the airplane was brand-new with the latest and gratest entertainment system, we each got caught up on about 3 new movies. So much for getting homework done as per the plan.
We arrived in London at 8:00am their time, midnight our time. Our first day was a big one. We made our way from Gatwick to our flat, about a 2 hour journey all in, dropped our bags, got changed and headed out to explore.
Last time I traveled to London, it took me the better part of 6 days to get adjusted to the time difference. Our plan was to stay up as late as possible to reset our clocks and I have to hand it to the kids, they were troopers. We had a full day of exploring the sites of London. We didn’t go to any attractions that day, but we still had a very eye opening first day for the kids in London. From riding the Tube, a double-decker bus, Victoria station and the train, British Pounds, money exchanging, grocery shopping with mostly unfamiliar brands, large crowds of people, a London taxi and more. We all loved our first day as for Trace and I it was so wonderful to finally be traveling with the kids and seeing them experience another country half way around the world. And for the kids it was simply a new world.
As we were all pretty darned tuckered out, we headed back to our flat around 5:00pm and had front row seats on the upper level of a classic red double-decker. On the way back, James was nodding off, so to keep him from sleeping too early, we had to do our best to keep him awake by pointing out with great vigor, the wonderful new sights he would otherwise miss.
After some grocery shopping and dinner in our flat, we hit the hay a bit early, hoping we would all sleep through the night. With a little help from Melatonin (a natural sleep-aid) we all slept right through and utterly amazed as I was, other than a tired first day in London, we had no jet-lag! Yahoo.
Note, I always suffer from jet lag. This is the fist time I have used Melatonin. Melatonin coupled with sleeping and waking at the new normal times, I am convinced virtually eliminates jet lag.
Our days in London were jam-packed. We literally would be out all day, heading out early and not back to our flat until around 10:00pm on average. The best part is we all loved it. The kids were just as keen as we were to do it all and we loved it. We would often get home and chat about the day, realizing that some of the things we thought we did the day before were actually the same morning. The days were so full and experience-packed; it often felt like two days in one. (In fact, that seems to be a fairly reoccurring theme and we have been loving it).
As I am writing this a few weeks later and I don’t want to bore you, I will mention the highlights in point form:
(For more images, see the photo gallery)
Things we did in London:
May 10, 2013 London to Paris:
Wow. Where do I start? London has been absolutely wonderful. We have not had time to update the site because since we landed we have been going at break-neck speed. We have been leaving our lovely flat early and not back until around 11:00pm.
The kids have been incredible and have completely impressed Trace and I as they have not only been intrepid travelers, keen for all we have been doing, but also very helpful.
We are now on the Eurostar, fast train to Paris. I will update on London when we have some time in Paris.