It’s taken well over a year to finish the photo editing and blogs from our 2018 European adventure, an all-time record! In my defence not only did I have my usual problem of too many photos and stories, I grew a human being in that time and she apparently doesn’t like me to get too much sleep, or have much spare time. Hence it’s taken awhile to finish off last years trip blogs…….
The trip stats wrap up…..
Length of trip: 40 days (just shy of 6 weeks)
Countries visited: 6 – Belgium, France, England, Iceland, Scotland, Romania. We did also transit through Doha in Qatar both into and out of Europe, but didn’t leave the airport either time so it doesn’t count! We did only overnight in London on the way to Iceland, but given we left the airport for the night I’m claiming that one……
Iceland, Scotland and Romania were new countries (although Anto had been to Scotland before, the rest of us hadn’t). Belgium, France and England (well at least London) were return visits for Anto, Astrid and I. Soren hadn’t been to England or Belgium before so added some extra countries to his ever growing list.
Cities, towns, villages visited: I totally lost count due to wandering the countryside in Scotland and circumnavigating the country in Iceland but here are the main ones:
Belgium: Brussels, Brugge, Ghent
Iceland: Reykavik, Keflavik, Vik, Akureyri, Borgarnes, Breidalsvik, Eglisstadir, Hof, Hofn, Husavik, Myvatn
Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Pitlochry, Inverness, Lochinver, Brogaig, Staffin, Applecross, Dornie, Fort George, Fort William, Glencoe, Golspie, Uig, Ullapool
Flights: 10 – 8 of those International.
Distance travelled (as measured by Tripit): 44,200km
International/long distance trains: only 1 this trip ( from Belgium to Paris) but we did quite a few trains trips between Belgian cities and plenty of metros around Paris.
Days in a motor home: 9 – a totally fabulous experience but boy hotels felt luxurious after that!
Days driving (Iceland and Scotland): A total of 16, 9 in Iceland and 7 in Scotland, excluding the time we spent in Glasgow while Anto was working.
Kilometres driven: At total of at least 4,150km around Iceland and through the Scottish Highlands.
Iceland we circumnavigated the country (excluding the Westfjords), racking up around 2,600km in our 9 days. In Australia this is only a couple of good driving days but in snow and ice and on pretty terrible roads in the motor home it was a fair effort.
In Scotland we did at least 1,550km from Edinburgh to Glasgow, through the Highlands and up to the Isle of Skye and back to Glasgow. Again some of the driving conditions were terrible. Thankfully we were in a car rather than the motor home and there was less snow for this section but still plenty of single lane, dirt road up winding mountains to make it interesting! Not to mention the sheep and cattle often laying in the middle of the road…
Kilometres walked: 388km over the 5.5 weeks. Less than previous trips due to the amount of time we were driving. Still a good effort for a 4 and 6 year old though, who walked the whole lot! It was our first long trip without a stroller or ergo……. and there was even some walking through snow!
Temperature range: Again we managed a pretty big temperature range on this trip. It was rather cold in Belgium and France,being very early Spring. It was freezing in Iceland, where we recorded our lowest temperature of the trip at minus 11 degrees Celsius and a lot of time below zero.
Scotland taunted us with some initially quite pleasant temperatures and then predictably miserable Scottish grey, cold and rain. Then we cooked in Romania where it was in the high 20’s and we recorded our highest temperature of the trip with 29 degrees and an apparent of 34 degrees. Packing was again a challenge with a lot of cold, wet and snow gear needed.
Blog posts: 33 with a total word count of 81,400. Ironically, less than previous long trips, but still enough for a book…..
Photos taken: 4110
Luggage: Again we kept the luggage pretty light for 4 people in very cold conditions. We went over with only 3 checked bags, and in the range of 50ish kg of checked luggage. We returned with 4 bags but still under 60kg. I did have to offload some stuff to my Mum as we indulged in a little shopping in Paris!
Chips and fried food eaten in Scotland: ummmm too much to count, everything comes with chips and is deep-fried!
Memories and highlights
Again I have so many highlights from a wonderful trip. If I had to pick my favourite though it would have been Iceland! I’ve wanted to go there for a very long time and after all the research and planning my expectations were high and it didn’t disappoint. I loved all of it, but the iceberg glacial lagoon and seeing the Northern Lights were among the highlights. The whole country was a photographers dream.
I think I took some of my favourite photos ever there (a big call). I would love to go back one day and spend more time there and do some of the things we missed. I even enjoyed the motor home experience, despite me hating camping.
I also loved having my 40th birthday in Paris, a city we’ve visited a lot recently but is always wonderful. This time it was great having my mum there for some of the time so we could show her some of our favourite places. Fabulous food and a special trip to the ballet (kid-free) made for an awesome way to celebrate a birthday. We’ve spent a lot of time in Paris but done very little at night due to having small kids so it was nice to do something different.
Among my other highlights are were revisiting Belgium, especially Brugge, where we spent our wedding anniversary. It’s such a beautiful city and I’d love to return again as I could spend many days wandering the streets and eating the food.
It was my first trip to Scotland and I had a wonderful time. I could definitely spend more time in both Edinburgh and Glasgow but I adored the Highlands and would love to return to the farm at Lochinver and explore the area some more. Second only to Iceland, is the wonderful Isle of Skye. It’s definitely on the list for a return visit, I feel like we didn’t even scratch the surface of the scenery and hikes there.
As it’s taken me almost a year to get these trip blogs wrapped up I thought the kids might have forgotten a lot of their trip highlights but no, they gave me lengthy lists.
Soren was 4.5 during this trip but has excellent memories of all of it. His favourite thing was Iceland, for getting to play in the snow and staying in the motor home. He also loved eating his Dad’s porridge in the morning before plays in the snow. He was particularly fond of the time his dad got us bogged! Not either parents favourite experience…..
He also rates his visit to Belgium for the waffles and all the smells of chocolate. It was his first time to Belgium and he made the most of the delicious food, waffles, chocolate and his favourite dinner of mussels!
He also mentioned his beloved Paris. While he wasn’t allowed up the Eiffel Tower this trip, he loved Disneyland and getting to celebrate my birthday there with lovely pastries and a souffle lunch.
One of his other highlights was Scotland, particularly Glasgow for all the parks and fun museums (he loved the transport museum which was excellent) and we spent a lot of time in parks while Anto worked. He also liked the Highland Coos, well they are pretty cute!
Astrid’s stand-out favourite place was Iceland. Apparently all of it. She just loved everything about our time there, but particularly the snow, the outdoor thermally heated swimming pools (it’s fun swimming in hot water when it’s below zero and you are surrounded by snow) and the beautiful waterfalls. She also loved the motor home experience.
Astrid also loved the horse and carriage ride in Brugge and all the delicious food. Particular favourites were all the free chocolate samples she scored, the delicious rich hot chocolate from Dumon and the copious amounts of waffles.
Her other highlight was Paris ‘for the pastries and being just being Paris, mum’. Of course! It might have been her 4th trip to Paris (at 6 years of age) but she loves the place. She loved the Easter egg hunt we did on Easter Sunday, an Easter to remember!
She also loved the Scottish Highlands, particularly staying on the farms at Lochinver and Brogaig (Isle of Skye) and the gorgeous hairy coo! She was also a fan of getting to ride Laddie the horse when we visited friends in Stirling, her first horse ride.
Apparently, unlike his son, one of Anto’s highlights was not digging the motor home out of the freezing mud and ice for several hours on our second last night in Iceland. He did, however, rate swimming in the thermal pools in Iceland, where we could soak in hot water while it was below zero outside and drink hot (free coffee). In Iceland it seemed common to provide coffee, which we noticed kids would bring their parents – even better as we didn’t have to get out in the cold!
As we didn’t have enough water for showers or open campsites most nights, we ended up using swimming pools to get our showers and a lovely relax after a long day. Unfortunately most of them we weren’t allowed to take photos but we did make the most of the secret lagoon visit towards the end of the trip, where you could both take photos and even order food and drink.
One of Anto’s other highlights was the food in Romania, some of the best we had during the whole trip. I think we were all rather tired by the time we got there and were ready to go home but the fabulous (and cheap) food was a highlight along with some sunny weather to warm us up. We only had 2 days in Bucharest but we ate our way through many meals…..
…… and finally it’s the end!
It might have taken me a year to finish these blogs but when I went back through the photos to choose just a small number to include in this post it brought back all the memories of the fun we had…… and some of the not so fun and slightly tiring times too!
I have way too many favourite images yet again for them to all end up all walls but I hope those reading the many posts enjoyed the stories and pictures and got some useful information along the way.
The kids (well at least the big 2) have been bugging us about when the next big trip will be. We’ve been away at this time the past 2 years but with a 4 month old Zinnia any big trips have been put on hold for the next little bit, but I’m sure we’ll be off somewhere soon. She has already been on a couple of short domestic trips and I may be soon silly enough to contemplate flying long hauls with the 3 kids, 1 an infant. In the meantime there is plenty of time to make plans for our next adventure and I might even have to do a few jobs around the house and catch up on some of the other photo editing!