Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On the banks of Loch Lomond

I think one of the reasons we enjoy balancing city breaks with time in the countryside when we travel is because of the need to plan vs. wing it. Our trip to Scotland is a great example. In Edinburgh, we had a pretty good sense of how we might fill our time there. Certainly, it had its unexpected moments (who could have anticipated a swim in the Scottish Parliament, after all), but for the most part, we saw and did the things we had intended to do. And it was gloriously busy and exciting and memorable.

But as we drove toward Loch Lomond, at the very southern end of the Scottish Highlands, it became clear we could roll down our window and throw itineraries and guidebooks out into the fields. This wasn't a place where you check sightseeing boxes, unless that list includes shaggy cattle, mountains bleeding into deep blue waters, cozy shops selling wool blankets, and trails that lead you into forests. In which case, check, check, check and check.

This was a place where you want to maximize your time. Not the way Frommer's or Rick Steves might suggest, but instead to simply embrace each ray of sunshine, each passing cloud, each amazing viewpoint.

And so we did.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Swimming (?!) at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

There's a bit of a ying and yang when you travel with young kids. Want to see what a city is like after about 7:30 p.m.? Tough going when you've got little ones already tucked away in bed. Interested in dining at fancy restaurants that you read about in guidebooks? Probably not going to happen very often. Magical moments as you see the world through your kids eyes? Now we're talking.

It is easy to get hung up on the way traveling Europe with young children can limit you. In fact, sometimes when I mention the places we've been to other families around here, I'm met with strange stares and "what exactly did you do with little kids there?" and "did anyone have any fun?" comments.

However... on a daily basis, on each and every trip we've taken, I'm reminded of the ways traveling WITH my kids actually enhances our travels. Experiences that can only happen when you've got a toddler who dawdles or a 6-year-old who asks 8 million questions. Moments that those so-called "fortunate travelers" without little ones in tow miss out on.

Take our evening at the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. We spotted it earlier in the day on an open-top bus tour and my husband and I gave each other "the eye," as in "that would be a good place to let the boys run around later." Big reflecting pools, open areas of grass, gently sloping concrete perfect for running up and down (and skinned knees). To be honest, I'm certain we wouldn't have visited this area if we were in Edinburgh without our children.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Activities in Snowdonia, Wales for Families

I made it no secret in my last post that it wasn't any one activity or site we saw that I'd remember forever about our weekend in Wales. Rather it was the pace of the weekend, the beauty of our surroundings, and the quality time together. But that doesn't mean families will find themselves with a lack of things to do when visiting Snowdonia. Indeed the list of what we wanted to do far exceeded the limitations of our 2 1/2 day trip.