In a matter of a few days we are going to be in the air on the way to Belgium, for the start of our next big overseas adventure. OK, so we just came back from Bali a few weeks ago, but it’s been a whole 10.5 months since we returned from our last European trip …………. have you noticed the trips are getting closer together?
We enjoyed our Spring-time European adventure so much last year that we thought we really should go back (even if it wasn’t that warm most of the time!!!)……..
Well, that and I might be having a significant birthday in a couple of weeks. Anto got a Hong Kong and Malaysia trip for the same milestone birthday. The kids were asked where they’d like to help me celebrate and they both independently voted for Paris! Who is going to argue with that, well-played kids. We certainly have a few awesome birthday celebrations planned……
I’ve been promising for ages to share the details of our upcoming trip and with (almost) all the bookings and organising now done (and least on the trip front, the house, garden and animals is a different matter), here is what we will be getting up to very shortly!
Where are we off to? Belgium, France, England (OK, it’s only a night, don’t get excited people), Iceland, Scotland and Romania. Another eclectic combination of countries, we like to keep it interesting!
How long is the trip? Just under 6 weeks, during March and April, 2018.
Why Europe again? Well, it’s been a whole 10.5 months since we returned from our last Spring adventure in Europe, and 6 weeks since our family holiday to Bali, so it’s clearly time to head overseas again! We have the usual travellers problem of the more you travel the more you want to see. We thoroughly enjoyed our Spring-time European adventure last year (OK so it was freezing the majority of the time, but we got to see lots of pretty flowers), and we figured we should celebrate my birthday……… and the kids DID vote for Paris!!!
Why those countries? We always end up with a slightly unusual combination of countries. Usually for a variety of reasons, flight and train connections, weather, season specific activities, or just plain fun! This time around we got a really great deal on flight to Europe on Qatar Airways. They have just started doing direct flights from Canberra to Europe (through Doha). Despite Canberra having an international airport in name for many years, only recently have there been non-chartered direct flights available from our airport. Qatar started flying direct out of Canberra just last month. The option of not having to do the annoying transfer between domestic and international airports in Sydney, or immigration and quarantine in Sydney, was very appealing. It cuts hours of our trip!
I’ll write a little more about why we picked each location below, but we are starting out in Belgium because the flight connections were conveniently timed and we haven’t been to Belgium since 2012 (with a 1-year-old Astrid) and Soren has never been.
So, this brings me to the plans for our next adventure……..
We ended up booking flights into Brussels due to the timing and because we have been there before it is an easy place to ‘de jet-lag’. We’ve seen a lot of the sights so we can just revisit the places we enjoyed and spend our time eating, drinking and wandering the streets taking photos. We land early in the morning and have a day and night in Brussels, to wander one of Europe great old towns, the Grand Place is indeed very grand! We will most likely also eat our body weight in chocolate, waffles and mussels for the kids and Anto.
We are then heading to Bruges for a couple of nights. We loved Bruges, during our 2012 trip. Such a beautiful city. It will also be our wedding anniversary, so a pretty awesome place to celebrate that! My camera got a work-out during our Bruges and Ghent visits in 2012 and I’m looking forward to wandering the canals again and seeing the same cities in Spring rather than (cold and snowy Winter, yes it actually snowed!). Lets face it, it’s going to be cold still but the streets literally smell of chocolate and freshly baked waffles.
A 1-year-old Astrid spent most of her time in Belgium in 2012 yelling out ‘choc, choc, choc’ as we wandered the streets. While we are staying in Bruges, we are planning to visit Ghent for a day trip and hope to see it not under a blizzard of snow and freezing rain this time!
While spending our wedding anniversary in Bruges seemed like a good plan, we promised the kids my birthday would be in Paris……….. so after a few days we are catching the train to Paris. This will be our 4th trip to Paris in 5 years. They are getting scarily closer, the kids are asking when we are moving there!
Again we have rented an apartment in the second arrondissement of Paris, our favourite place, with the wonderful streets around the Rue Montorgueil street market, quirky boutiques, awesome patiesseries and fromageries and being walking distance to so many places.
Unlike the last 2 trips to Paris, which have been only a few days at the end of a long trip, this time we are staying put for 10 days and it’s towards the start of the trip. Hopefully this means that we’ll have more energy (and more stomach room for all that delicious food).
During 2012 we had almost 2 months in a Parisian apartment, it was awesome. We relaxed and explored and ate. We don’t have quite as much time during this trip but it will be far less rushed than previous trips.
We’ve done all the major sites of Paris (often more than once, no kids we are not going up the Eiffel Tower, again!) but we have plans to revisit a few we haven’t done in a while – like Sacré Cœur, Musée d’Orsay and Les passages couverts (awesome shopping arcades).
We also have a few special activities planned. We have booked a family friendly walking chocolate and pastry walking tour of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés region of Paris. An area we haven’t yet spent a huge amount of time in.
It’s also Easter during our Parisian stay, so we have managed to get tickets for the kids to the Easter egg hunt at the Eiffel Tower on Easter Sunday. With 40,000 eggs, they are going to have a fabulous time. We have tickets for all of us booked to an Easter concert at La Madeleine. It’s at a kid-friendly time so we thought it would be pretty cool to listen to some classical music in Paris on the Easter weekend.
My mum happens to be in Paris (on a separate holiday) during some of the time we are so she will be staying with us in our Parisian apartment and joining us on some of our adventures. This also means that Anto and I can go out at night with out the kids, together!!! This has never happened before in Paris, so we jumped at the opportunity. So here is the pièce de résistance………. we have ballet tickets for Orphée et Eurydice at the magnificent Palais Garnier. We loved our visit to the theatre so we are very excited to be seeing a ballet there. A pretty awesome birthday treat, which won’t be on my actual birthday but it’s close enough!
Then, to top off the Paris excitement, we have promised the kids a trip to Disneyland Paris. With all these Paris trips, we haven’t yet made it. This time it’s going to happen. The kids enjoyed Disneyland Hong Kong, it was well in the 40 degrees Celsius though, we won’t have that problem in Paris!
I’m very excited about the next part of our trip. After our 10 days of eating our way through Paris we are off to London for a night, then Iceland. We just happened to get business class flights on points to Reykjavik, Iceland, via London. The flight is split overnight, so we have a quick overnight at Heathrow, so yet again poor Soren will see none of London. He might leave the airport this time but won’t see anything other than a hotel.
The next morning we are off to the land of fire and ice. I’ve wanted to go to Iceland for a really long time but it’s never fitted in with our other plans, now I’m getting to go!
We have 9 nights and 10 days in Iceland and we plan to see as much of Iceland as possible. The only way to really see Iceland is drive, so we have booked a motorhome and are hitting the famous Ring Road or Route 1, which circles the island.
Despite it being Spring during our Iceland visit it will be very much Winter-like conditions and the off-peak tourist season. Not much opens until June or July, including many of the roads. This means no getting through the centre of the country, so once we leave Reykjavik we are committed to going around, no shortcuts, just plenty of amazing scenery.
The weather is going to be ferocious, you need wind insurance for your vehicle (motorhomes get blown over and doors blown off), apps on your phone to check the weather so you don’t get stuck in a storm, and plenty of warm clothes.
I’ve just finished the detailed itinerary for our 10 days and if we even get to see half of it I’m going to be one happy lady. The waterfalls are amazing, there are black sand beaches, glaciers, craters, volcanoes, stunning cliffs, basalt columns, icebergs floating in lagoons, geysirs, thermal springs and epic landscapes.
Oh and if we are really lucky we might even get to see the Northern Lights. The timing may be right and we’ll be out in the middle of nowhere, so fingers crossed.
Either way, I’m beyond excited. It’s going to be freezing, we may kill each other living in a motorhome for 9 days (I don’t like to camp) but hey it will be an adventure. The kids are rather excited about the motorhome, then again they thought the 17 hour train from Venice to Paris was the best thing ever, sleeping on tiny bunk beds. Me, not so much, but I’m excited for the hiking and the photos………. The camera is getting a serious workout!
Anto just happens to need to be in Glasgow for work in April, so we are all tagging along. The kids and I have not been to Scotland before. We will be flying into Edinburgh and spending a short amount of time there (with a hope to return later in the week with the kids). There is so much of Edinburgh I’d love to see – the castle, the palace, Arthur’s seat, the Royal Mile…… so we will tick off a few bits and pieces and hope for the best.
Glasgow with be some down time for the kids and I, while Anto works. With some time to wander the city, check out some well-regarded museums and great parks (some have Highland coo!)
Once the work commitments are over, we are high-tailing it off to the Scottish highlands, and the camera is going to get a work out again. We are heading North past Pitlochry, to Inverness, and past Loch Ness. We are also hoping to check out Fort George, Rannoch Moor and Dunrobin Castle.
Then we’ll head West to Applecross and drive the Bealach na Bà – a winding, single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula for some hopefully stunning views.
Everyone who goes to Scotland says you MUST visit the Isle of Skye. So the Isle of Skye it is. Time and weather permitting there are some amazing sights to see – Quiraing, The Old Man of Storr, Neist Point, the Fairy Pools and Kilt Rock are just a few on our list.
After a couple of days in the Isle of Skye we are heading South East, past Glen Coe and Loch Lommond, for a little more scenery and hiking before hopefully making it back to Glasgow to defrost, dry out and escape the midges!
We are staying in some really awesome little Airbnbs, some with their own Highland Coo, and reportedly awesome views! The kids are excited.
From Glasgow we wing our way to Bucharest in Romania. Why Romania you ask? Why not, we say! Well we’ve never been there, and there were convenient flight connections on Qatar airways back to Australia. It is also in the right direction for reducing our flight time back to Australia and our potential jet lag.
We have a few days in Bucharest to explore and eat, after a several weeks in pricey Iceland and Scotland the cheap Eastern European food and beer will be appealing! Bucharest is an up and coming travel hot spot. We have loved our other Eastern European destinations so we figured we’d check it out.
There is meant to be some interesting architecture, fantastic food and the worlds newest old town (which has largely been rebuilt in the last 30 years). Bucharest also has the worlds largest building, it’s Palace of Parliament, it’s bigger than the Pentagon! We might just have to check that out……. oh and eat lots and lots of food.
From Bucharest we are winging our way back to Australia, for the final bit of a Canberra Autumn. With hopefully another exciting adventure behind us.
Of course there will be many stories of our adventures and about a million photos to share. There was once a time (long, long ago) I actually kept up with the travel blogging while we were away, I now take way too many photos and write too much! The blogs and photos from last years trip were finished in October….. I fear this trip will be the same, possibly worse. Given my trip research, the volume of photos in Iceland and Scotland is going to epic!
I love sharing our travel stories (the good, the bad and the ugly) and of course lots of pretty pictures. Blogs of our adventures will appear from time to time during the next 6 weeks so keep an eye out for them. I often stay up in the wee-hours getting some photos edited and blogs written, and usually battling some intermittent WiFi.
I know I’ll be hopelessly behind on blogging from about a week in, and I’ll be collapsing on a bed or having a well-deserved wine at the end of a long day of exploring. Eventually all the blogs will appear but in the meantime I will do my best to share a few stories and photos here and there!
I will also be posting a few of my favourite photos from our current location on Instagram, you can follow me here camelidcastle.
That’s the wrap-up of the plans for our European adventure, the 2018 version. I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on our plans. If you’ve been to any of these places and have a favourite restaurant, cafe, park or coffee spot, let me know! I always love hearing your comments and thoughts on any posts and if you have any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure you stop by from time to time and see what we’ve been up to. I love hearing from everyone back home. I’m sure there will be plenty of stories (and photos) of food, fun and adventure over the next 6 or so weeks!!!