Friday, September 25, 2015

Biking Through Munich with Kids

Getting from point A to point B when sightseeing through a city with kids can be exhausting, exhilarating and exciting (how's that for alliteration!) My kids have delighted in various subways, trains, buses, etc. as we've traveled around European cities. And we've withstood a few epic tantrums on public transit also. But in Munich, we found our new favorite way to get around: bikes!

Truth be told, we love to ride bikes as a family, but we almost always head to places with dedicated bike paths. I'm not very comfortable riding my bike through city streets, in and out of traffic, especially with the boys, so we've never rented bikes during city visits. Until Munich, when after our first day there, we realized it was relatively flat and had bike lanes on almost every major street (often protected by a curb away from vehicle traffic). It was the type of biking that seemed both safe and fun, and we knew the boys would love it.

The weather forecast was glorious on the morning of our second day in Munich. After a quick game of footie in a nearby park (and coffee for mom and dad, naturally), we headed straight to Mike's Bikes rental office. (They offer organized tours that leave from the Marienplatz, but we wanted the flexibility to go wherever we wanted that day.)

We had a route in mind, but the staff there provided us with a helpful map that showed good streets for biking. They got us fitted with bikes and helmets (and a tandem tag-a-long for Big Arrow and a seat for Little Arrow), and off we went. (I'll break down our exact route at the end of the post for those wishing to re-create our day.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

3 Days in Munich with Kids

I'll admit that Munich, and Germany in general, wasn't high on my list of places to travel around Europe. I don't know why. I really don't. It just never had the appeal that other destinations have had for me. But my husband has persistently put it on the top of his travel wish list for years. And so when we began mapping out a week-long summer trip, he finally got me to commit to going.

We were going to kick the week off in Munich for three days. When I began reading about the city, I realized it was going to be a great fit for our family. Plenty of culture, sightseeing, and yet a fun, family-friendly feel to it. Indeed, it lived up to this and then some. It's one of the most laid back European cities I've been to. Maybe it's all the beer and pretzels.

Beer and pretzels. What's not to love about Munich?

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Stories Behind Those Vacation Photos

Like many people, I spent a portion of the last few months drooling over the photos friends posted of their summer travels on Facebook and Instagram. It's probably my favorite aspect of being active on social media: the chance to window shop all sorts of destinations and get a glimpse into what everyone else's vacations were like. I suspect I receive "likes" and comments on my own travel photos for similar reasons.

But anyone who has traveled knows that these brief glimpses don't always tell the full story. Especially when you add kids in the mix.

I don't think there's anything wrong with sharing wonderful vacation photos. I post hundreds each year myself. But I hope it doesn't set an unrealistic expectation for others when they embark on their own journeys.

Our May trip to Scotland is the perfect example. My photos suggested gorgeous scenery, interesting historical places, and 24/7 smiles. But had you traveled with us that week, you'd know there was much more to it than what friends saw on Facebook. Let me give you a few examples, from just one day of our travels there that week.

We started the day in Stirling with a brief stop at the castle there. As we were walking through the very quiet parking lot toward the wall where you could admire the view of the town and surrounding countryside, a car veered away from its lane and over to the walking path we were on. An older American woman rolled down her window and yelled at us for not holding the hand of our 3-year-old, saying he was certain to get hit by a car. A few things to note: He was walking on a pedestrian path. There were hardly any cars around. And the only car that came near him was HER car. Also? Mind your own business, lady.

We shrugged it off although it really rubbed me the wrong way. But this was the photo I posted on social media, taken a few seconds after that irritating interaction: