Monika and her family spend most of the school holidays travelling on a tight budget. Their motto- Dream it, do it! This year their plans include city break, surfing, sailing and, true to their form, a roadtrip to remember. These are their family mad adventure plans. They will be spending time on the West Coast of the USA, in Sweden, Finland and maybe even Russia, with trips planned to Portugal, Hungary and Greece too.
Well, we kicked off 2018 as we mean to go on: travelling. This year, hopefully holds lots of fun trips for us. Some already booked, some well into the planning phase and some more fluid.
1. Testing our travel legs in Poland and the Netherlands
January entailed trip to the Netherlands via a short stop-over in Warsaw, Poland. Nothing like having just an afternoon to explore a city in freezing foggy weather, right? However, when you can have so much fun looking up, looking down, hopscotching over crooked paving stones, jumping off walls, then that’s real family mad venture material!
2. Shall we ski or revel in Carnival fun?
For February we’re torn between skiing in the beautiful Dalarna region, maybe even returning to some family skiing in Klappen or having a Carnival in Tenerife.
We’ve always loved Carnivals, with our first expereince as a family was Carnival in the Netherlands. However, it’s generally a little cold there in February. We’d love to get a bit of winter sun in the Canary Islands.
Did you know, the Santa Cruz Carnival, in Tenerife’s capital city is considered the world’s second largest carnival after Rio?
The street party attracts large crowds who fill the city’s squares and streets to dance salsa and view the spectacularly put together parades, which are all free for visitors. The Carnival runs from the 7th till the 18th of February in 2018, with the 11th and 17th being Family Days. On the Family Days there will be daytime festivities. Groups of friends, children and families stream by in their finest costumes.
Guaranteed sunshine, diverse landscapes, idyllic beaches and charming villages make Tenerife an ideal holiday choice all year round. There are a vast array of fantastic activities, from year-round whale watching and stargazing on Spain’s tallest peak to caving adventures inside Europe’s largest lava tubes. So when we get bored of partying, there’s still plenty to do.
Read more about Tenerife: Are the Canaries your Guaranteed Dose of Winter Sun?, Issue 2
3. A roadtrip through the Deserts of California to the Grand Canyon
In March, we are going on a roadtrip through California to the Grand Canyon.
It all started with a great airfare deal and an invite from SoCal friend, Ciaran. We have a large bucketlist of things we want to fit into our 3 week roadtrip.
We land in Los Angeles and plan to spend a few days exploring and seeing the sights.
Read more about tips for family fun in and around Los Angeles, Issue 2
Then we hope to be off to Disneyland. It will be our first Disney expereince and we are all very excited.
photo credit: Travis Gergen
After Disneyland we should be ready to get away, into nature, with a campervan of course. We chose this time of year, because I’ve always wanted to visit visit the deserts of California and Nevada.
High on the list is Death Valley all its bleak, yet multicoloured glory. The famous Zabriskie Point, at sunrise or
sunset, should be easily accessible as it’s only a short walk from a large parking area.
photo credit: Meriç Dağlı
Joshua Tree National Park should be a hit with my star and rock loving brood. In this park the real stars are the rock formations: jumbled piles of outsized boulders that glitter with crystals in the southern Californian sun. Then at night, the stars themselves: with no humidity and skies devoid of light pollution, the Milky Way is overwhelmingly vivid.
photo credit: James Lee
A hike into the Grand Canyon has always been high on my bucketlist, but with knee problems I’ll settle for the Grand Canyon Railway.
photo credit: Art Markiv
Did you know….the Grand Canyon offers one of the most visible examples of a worldwide geological phenomenon known as the Great Unconformity, in which 250 million-year-old rock strata lie back-to-back with 1.2 billion-year-old rocks. The rock layers that once existed between the two formations are missing. Perhaps they never even formed. Regardless of the cause, the space of that paper-thin contact represents an enormous amount of time unaccounted for. That’s a quarter of the age of the Earth. Missing! Just imagine that. You can literally touch the gap of 1 billion years of lost time. Sounds incredible!
If time and weather allow we hope to loop back to Los Angeles via Yosemite National Park.
4. Tulips in Holland or Daffodils in England?
Easter is still fluid. We miss England so much, but I’m slightly reluctant to return with the kids, to tear up healing wounds of homesickness.
I’d love to be visiting stately homes in Kent and the South-East over the Easter holidays, while also catching up with friends.
On the other hand, the tulip fields in Holland will be in full bloom. A couple of years ago the kids went with their dad, while I was in Spain. They had a ball and ticked it off their bucketlist. The tulip fields and the Keukenhof is still high on my bucketlist.
Photo credit: Antoine Roozen
The Keukenhof this year has a “Romance in Flowers” theme. And we may be able to catch the end of the Mata Hari exhibition with Angelina (who is very much into spy stories) in Leeuwarden.
Mata Hari, Museum of Friesland, Leeuwarden until 2 April 2018
A century after her death, the Museum of Friesland hosts the largest exhibition ever to be devoted to the life of Mata Hari. Personal belongings, photographs, scrapbooks, letters and military records will introduce you to Margaretha Zelle, the girl behind the iconic Mata Hari. Travel with her from her hometown of Leeuwarden to the Dutch East Indies, where fate dealt her a different hand. Experience her glorious rise in Parisian dance theatres and discover the web of intrigue that ensnared her during the First World War, leading to her arrest on charges of espionage.
5. Sailing in the Baltic
The summer months promises to be exciting, as we try out our sailing boat, a 28 foot, 35 year old Maxi Fenix and then embark on a 2.5-3 month voyage.
photo credit: Atte Grönlund
Daytrips and cruising through the Stockholm Archipelago with the ferry have sold us on the beauty of the Baltic and magic of the archipelagos of the region. Pictures of Åland and the archipelago of Turku, with it’s thousands of islands, crystal clear waters are very appealing.
We want spend time with the kids, away from technology and the daily grind, just going with the flow of nature, fishing, playing, sharing chores and generally enjoying each other’s company. We were planning an epic roadtrip with the ferry and Campy Van, but decided that Baltic could be a perfect sailing adventure playground.
photo credit: Visit Åland and Ingmar Mr Eriksson
First stop, Åland.
Situated in a strategic location between Finland and Sweden, Åland is at one end of the Archipelago Sea, which has 20,000 islands and skerries, of which about 6,700 have names and 60 are inhabited, stretching to Turku in Finland.
photo credit: Visit Åland and Dan Sjunnesson – Studio CA
From 5500 BC people came from a long way away to hunt seal and to fish in and around Åland. The Vikings were here before Åland first came under Swedish rule in the 1100s and Russian rule in the 1800s. It has been an autonomous island realm within the republic of Finland since 1921. Ålanders have their own government and parliament, their own budget and the right to legislate within education and training, healthcare, trade and industry, municipal administration and traffic and transport. They also have their own flag, their own stamps and car registration plates. Åland also boasts with the highest sunshine hours in the Baltics. Nothing compared to heading South, but we’ll take it!
Can we make it by 9 June, Åland autonomy day celebrations?
photo credit: Visit Turku
Next, Turku, by island-hopping through the Archipelago National Park.
Photo credit: Visit Turku
Turku is the oldest town in Finland, founded in 1229. Today it is a pleasant mix of old and new.
photo credit: Tim Bird via Visit Turku
Just outside live the Moomins, in Moomin World.
photo credit: ©2017 Moomin Characters™ & Dennis Livson
These delightful characters were created in the midst of the war-torn world by Swedish-speaking Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson. Her first book, “The Moomins and the Great Flood”, was published in 1945. Jansson’s third Moomin book, “Finn Family Moomintroll” (1948), made an international breakthrough. Moomins are loved by people of all ages and nationalities.
Cruise into Helsinki, the capital of Finland.
photo credit: visit Helsinki
A small capital of just 620,982 people, but spread over 300+ islands, with 1 sea fortress. Apparently a laid-back city with lots to offer.
photo credit: Visit Helsinki
Then…if we have the right weather and time we want to sail all the way to St Petersburg, Russia arriving after the 2018 Football World Cup.
photo credit: ©2012-2018 iconicarchive
How’s that for an epic summer adventure?
6. Learning to surf in Portugal
For a couple of years now, Hugo has been asking to go to Portugual, where his best friend is from. He’s also been asking us to let him learn to surf. (He’s an awesome snowboarder and a sleek waterpolo player, so I reckon he’d rock this) The autumn school break should have waters still warm enough and pleasant temperatures to enjoy some beach time, maybe in wetsuits.
photo credit: Thomas Ashlock
I’d love to visit Lisbon and then scoot off down the coast to a surf school for the kids and a bit of rest and relaxation for us… or maybe while the kids try surf school, I go out paddling – either on our SUP or on a sea kayak.
Do you have any suggestions for surf schools, paddling in Portugal?
7. Step into Greek mythology in Athens
photo credit: AussieActive
Our Warsaw stopover has inspired us to travel more, biting the bullet and flying out even for a long weekend.
The kids are so interested in Greek mythology and I remember visiting places in Turkey and Greece which really made those myths come alive. A visit to Athens and the Attica region would be so fun and educational! Angelina has been keen to get into running. Imagine what a visit to the original marathon site could do!
8. Soaking in thermal hot baths in Budapest
photo credit: Weronika Marcińczyk
With family living near Budapest, we never really visit the sights. This year we’ve vowed to see more of this beautiful city. I want to take all 3 kids on the public transport adventure and this time try to do all 12 different modes of public transport available in Budapest. We will finish the adventure off by soaking and playing in one of the fabulous thermal baths in Budapest.
Watch our daytrip with Max, when he was just 3 years old, taking 8 different modes of public transport to see Budapest. It’s such a cool way to see the city and it takes you to some off-the-beaten track places, where you see how Hungarians live.
Then, if we had all the time in the world we have a dream list too, but I’ll leave that to another post.
What are your travel plans for the year? What are your travel dreams for 2018?
“Dream it, do it!”
Some other inspirational wishlists you might want to dip into:
For new motorhome adventures and a bucketlist to fit, read Tanya’s 2018 plans for adventure
The Ice Hotel in Sweden is a place Jennifer has written about her Winter Travel Wish List
Sam at Memories and Mayhem has tropical desires in her 2018 Travel Bucket List
Last year Nickie at I Am Typecast went to Corfu and tells us about 7 things to do in Roda, Corfu
Kara has great ideas for on Are we nearly there yet.
and Lizzie has written about her trip to Paris that is now making us want to add that to the list too
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