Tag Archives: around the world

Around the World 2016: Day 1

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17 June 2016

The family was up early with the nervous anticipation of starting this long holiday. The kids will be out of school for two weeks before school holidays and two weeks after school holidays so they are thrilled with our decision to pull them out of school. We spent a few hours finalising packing, refereeing the big kids, keeping baby Serafina happy, fed, and feeling loved as well as attempting to get everyone ready for the day. 

We attempted to pack light. With five of us travelling it isn’t easy, especially since we have a week in Australian winter. Our winters are mild in comparison to some, but we still needed warmish clothes as wind and rain was forecast. We also had to worry about Scotland; who ever knows what sort of weather you are going to get up in the Highlands, even in summer. Most of the other places we will visit need warm weather clothing. Our main luggage consisted of two medium-sized roll-aboards. Along with our luggage we have Serafina’s car seat with base and pram as well as a booster for Alex. Three backpacks and a carry on for spare clothes, nappies, etc rounds out our haul. 

Our taxi van arrived to pick us up around 11. After the standard drive to the airport with two very talkative and loud children and very quiet baby we unloaded at Qantas domestic and checked in for our Business Class flight to Perth. Once the rest of our luggage was offloaded in oversized luggage we were off to the Business lounge for some lunch and drinks before taking off.

All in all our flight was uneventful. We were downgraded to an older plane instead of the nice business class seats we had expected. It was all good, though. There was a bassinet for Serafina (she spent very little time in there). Alex and Tom sat together by the window and Sofia and I sat together in the middle section. All three kids were very good on the flight. The big kids glued themselves to iPads and Serafina did her part to catnap and be cute. Several flight attendants had a cuddle with her so I could have a break. She only made a little bit of noise when she was hungry. She had a very successful first ever flight.

Out flight was slightly delayed on departure but that time was made up in the air. We landed in Perth, collected our luggage and then picked up our Nissan Pathfinder. Arguments happened because both kids wanted the third row of seats. Ultimately Sofia won out because there were no Isofix points for his booster seat. Poor Alex was not happy. It took ages to get everything arranged in the car, car seats installed, etc. Our accommodation for the night was a 3-bedroom Big4 cabin in the Swan Valley. It worked out to be a decent place to stay. We were all pretty exhausted and soon got off to sleep trying to adjust ourselves to the two hour time change from Sydney. 

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Day 1: Sydney to Singapore

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We managed to finish packing our bags at a reasonable hour last night. Things almost went too smoothly. I slept terribly with my nose running and tickling all night. Both kids were up once and then I was up for the day at 6.

We managed to pack one large hard-sided Samsonite, one duffel bag with warm jackets and shoes, two cat seats, two backpacks and a smaller rolling suitcase for carry-on. Not bad for 4 people and several climates.

We are having a bite to eat in the Silver Kris Lounge while we wait to board our Singapore Airlines A380.

Around the World

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Thursday morning we depart on a round the world trip with the kids. On the itinerary: Depart Sydney for Singapore; Bodø, Norway; Lofoten Islands (Moskenes to Tromsø), Norway; Longyearbyen (Svalbard/Spitsbergen), Norway; Hamburg, Germany; Charlotte, North Carolina; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and San Francisco, California.

Come along and see what we are up to…

Here is what our organized chaos looks like right now. Not anywhere near organized, but moving in the right direction. I am coming down with some terrible sickness and I am struggling with clear thinking!

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One day glimpse of our travels in Norway

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I am about four days behind doing Norway posts but I have to share our day on Monday. It was a long, tiring day but so much packed in.

Monday was one of those days that had grand vistas, glorious views and memorable experiences.

The day started off with this view:

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Then a drive through the world’s longest tunnel, the The Lærdal Tunnel which is 24.5km long. It has three lighted cathedral/cave areas:

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From here we crossed a fjord by ferry and then drove by some mirror-like fjords.

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After more and more tunnels we made it to the glacier area.

We visited a Bøyabreen glacier. It has retreated so much that the terminal end is high up the mountainside now. There was still a large piece down at sea level that we managed, just, to walk to. We had to walk along a rocky shoreline and then cross a river (which we managed to get around on the way back). The river was very shallow here but was full of fine glacial silt. I went first….and nearly lost my shoes! Oops. Too wet and muddy, find another way. Once we got up to the glacier we clamoured up rocks to have a look and feel of the ice. It was a good learning experience for the kids.

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After our little adventure I washed my shoes in the river and we were packing up we heard a rumbling noise. I heard it earlier and thought it was an airplane I couldn’t see. Then we saw it, the glacier high up on the mountain was calving, sending heaps of ice flowing down the mountainside. It was all very exciting.

We had been adventuring all day and we really needed to get to our hotel in Geiranger. There were a few viewpoints to see along the way, but Dalsnibba came highly recommended. It is a toll road and is 5km up the mountainside on switchbacks.

Here are a couple of the views from Dalsnibba looking down to the Geirangerfjord. Magnificent, majestic, these are two of the words to describe the view from up here. 1500m up above the valley. The kids played in snow and got dirty. It was so much fun. Of course my shoes were wet so I was standing up at this viewpoint with my summer shoes on. Brrrrr.

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We finally arrived at Hotel Union which was a last minute change. We were booked into a hotel in Ålesund but realised it was going to be far too much driving for one day. Hotel Union sat up on the hill overlooking the Geirangerfjord which was fine by us. We had a beautiful buffet dinner and stopped to see the pool area before retreating to our room for the night. It was deserted and inviting so off we went to change. There was a kids area, a sauna, warm pool with crackling fire on one end and the best part was the outdoor heated pool. It was cold out there but jumping in the heated outdoor pool was heavenly. It was 10:00 before we all collapsed into bed for the night.

What a wonderful day! And more to come.

Yorkshire visit

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I shared some photos of our visit to England but didn’t really talk about what we did. This is the abbreviated version and no time to refine the text so it actually sounds nice.

We flew from Bangkok to Zürich with a very short stopover and then on to Manchester where we picked up our rental car (a Passat just like ours at home). We took long, winding roads through West and East Yorkshire. It was past lunchtime so we found an old favourite, fish and chips in Wetwang, East Yorkshire. The name seems to have changed a few times since we first moved there, now called Harpers, but the quality has stayed the same. We went from there to Market Weighton where we used to live to have a quick look at our old rental house. It was newly refurbished when we moved in there back in 2005. It is showing signs of wear and the colours have changed, but I loved seeing it anyway. We also stopped by the grand Beverley Minster on the way. I used to work at the police station in Beverley so I have a real soft spot for the town. Beautiful as ever!

After our touring we went to check in to our farm cottage near Walkington. This cottage was one of the best self-catering places we have stayed in ever. I am having trouble coming up with anything worth complaining about. The only thing I can think of is the fridge. Every time you used it, the door had to be pushed in extra hard. If you didn’t it would beep until you did. And, no dryer. Washing was a breeze, but in damp conditions things don’t dry well. The owner, who was ever so helpful and friendly, did offer to put our things in her tumble dryer which we didn’t need in the end. See? Everything else was perfect. Broadgate Farm Cottages near Walkington, The Stables. Two large bedrooms, two bathrooms, large dining room/kitchen/lounge. Animals. Fresh farm eggs. Rural. Spacious. Perfection. We spent three nights here and will go back next time we are in the area. Broadgate Farm Cottages

Both kids were showing signs of urinary tract infections on our flights. I only mention this because it impacts things later.

Monday morning we got going and decided to drive out to the seaside. Due to time shortages we ended up going out near Hornsea. The kids had a wonderful time playing on the rocky beach and picking up rocks to throw. I had asked my friend Rachel to make doctor appointments for the kids at the surgery in Market Weighton and they were set for Monday afternoon just after 2:30. I also had plans to meet with my friend Pauline at 1:30. And Tom needed to be in Goole (his old workplace) by 1 to work and then have dinner. We suddenly realised that we were not going to make anything on time so I had to rearrange time with Pauline and drop Tom off late. I was hoping we would make it to our appointments on time.

After dropping Tom in Goole I drove to Market Weighton to meet Pauline and break the news that I needed to go see the doc so she joined us and chatted while my jet lagged, miserable children acted like wild animals. They were crawling under the chairs and running around the waiting room. I did a temporary registration at our old surgery in Market Weighton. I didn’t have to show any ID for myself or kids. They registered us and we were seen by the NP for testing. Preliminary tests showed nothing so they would have to be sent off for further examination. We would be in Norway by the time they came back. At least we would know what is wrong. This ended up costing us nothing for our visit to the surgery.

The kids were still being horrible but we needed a drink and a snack so we went to the old Bradley’s cafe which had a new name due to recent acquisition. We had a coffee and cake with Pauline fairly quickly then decided a park visit was necessary. We found Rachel and Elliot at the park near the preschool. Sofia and Elliot became reacquainted after nearly four years and went off to play. Lilliana then finished preschool and she joined the other kids to play while I chatted with Pauline and Rachel.

Apologies to Pauline. Thanks for trailing along with us to the doctors and putting up with my wild animals. Next time we will go somewhere nice and have a proper visit.

We said goodbye to Pauline and headed over to Tescos to pick up some pizza, salad and fruit since Rachel, Dave, Elliot and Lilliana were coming for dinner. They came over later that night for dinner, chatting and then the kids playing. The kids had an awesome time playing together. It was like they had known each other for ages. Hide and Seek was the winner of the night with Alex falling asleep on the sofa in the middle of all of it. Overall a lovey visit but I wish I had more time to spend with Rach, Dave and family.

Tuesday. This was family day. We got going late which was fine, still getting used to time being nearly halfway around the world from where we started. First stop, South Dalton. For years and years we drove by this church and admired it from afar since it is so tall. Tom went it it a while back when his mother was visiting but not me. It was as lovely as I imagined it would be. Stained glass, wood carving, and the glorious Hotham chapel with monument to Sir John Hotham, 2nd Baronet who died in 1689. After a visit here we drove up to another favourite area in North Yorkshire–Thornton-le-Dale and Pickering. In Thornton we stopped to feed the ducks in the large pond and in the beck. From there we sat down to eat lunch at Lavender Cafe and then chocolates from The Chocolate Factory. After a stroll around Tom decided he wanted to take the kids in the North York Moors Railway from Pickering. I dropped them there and drove over to Lavisham to pick them up. Of course after allow that we were running late so we changed our booking for The Star in Sancton to 6:30 instead of 6 and I let Rachel know we would be late.

We dropped by the cottage and got ourselves organised before taking the kids to Market Weighton. Rachel bravely looked after my two kids and her own two kids since her husband was stuck at work. The kids had such a great time jumping on the trampoline, playing in the garden and watching Peter Pan. Tom and I were able to escape to eat at The Star. We hadn’t been back since it was refurbished a few years back. It is so much bigger, and I think it lost some of its charm. That said, the food was amazing as always. We didn’t linger since the kids were tired and we had to drive to London the next morning. After a starter and main there was absolutely no room for dessert.

Wednesday morning we spent ages getting reorganised to drive down to London and fly out the following morning to Bergen, Norway. Once everything was packed away into the car we hit the road. It should have been about three and a half hours down to Heathrow but we made a stop in Lincoln for lunch and a peek at Lincoln Cathedral. These picky kids can be very difficult when it comes to eating in a cafe or restaurant. We did manage to find a cafe in the cathedral area with sandwiches sort of to their liking. With the promise of a macaron to follow some sandwich did get eaten. We didn’t pay to go into the cathedral since we had visited a couple of times before. I just wanted Sofia to see how huge and ornate it is inside.

Ah, the M25, how I haven’t missed you. Overall traffic was light and it wasn’t too treacherous driving around to Heathrow. Dinner came from an M&S Simply Foods shop. Half of it didn’t get eaten. Our Holiday Inn Express was cramped after staying in some larger places, but it was only for one night and a very early start the next morning.

Thursday morning. Up way before light. Kids dressed and ready to go with a bite to eat by 6am. The word Heathrow can throw some people into a fright, but we flew BA Business out of the beautiful new Terminal 5. I couldn’t believe how nice it was compared to prior Heathrow experiences. Seamless, quick, efficient service from car rental drop to landing in Norway. We all had some breakfast in the BA lounge before boarding our A319 flight to Bergen. Alex only started potty training a few weeks before we left so I had to make sure we used the toilet at every opportunity. I took him up to use the toilet and when we came out I could see the pilots preparing for push-back. They invited the kids up to the cockpit and they even got to sit in the co-pilot’s seat! They were so excited.

I can’t add any more new photos to this post since Tom took the photos from the camera and put them on his computer. Tomorrow morning we have a very long drive (6-8 hours) to get to Ålesund. I have no idea when I will have Wi-Fi next. We have been in Norway for four nights now so I had better get caught up before we are off to Germany. We have one night in Ålesund, one night on the Hertigruten ferry and one night in Trondheim before we leave Norway.

Highlights of East and North Yorkshire, Part 2

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There were so many things to see and do! We visited Thornton-le-Dale where we went to the handmade chocolate shop, fed ducks along the beck, ate lunch and looked at old cars. I dropped Tom and the kids at the North York Moors steam train in Pickering and picked the up in Levisham. We visited the seaside near Hornsea. I finally got to inside of the lovely church at South Dalton, East Yorkshire. So much more we wanted to do!

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