In 2012, I was asked to write a travel blog of my family’s adventures on wonderful holiday we had in Europe for three months. This is the first in a series of 33 articles which have been published in 5 newspapers and on various sites around the world. The articles work because they intrinsically link fun with the family to the education gained from travel. It’s a winning combination that has inspired many others to take a big adventure.
Two adults and two kids travelling in Europe for three months? With the Smiths, it can only go one way – to Funville! The kids are off school, she’s tossed in her job and he, well… he’s not right.
Blog!? I don’t blog. But Audrey said, “It’s a good way to communicate with people who might want to read about our adventures.” Well, maybe. But people who blog are angry and live in apartments on the ninth floor. They eat Pringles and drink Mountain Dew. They think the world is interested in what they think about the Eurozone debt crisis, alternate sources of energy, maintenance of the space station and other, like, stuff. No one gives a toss what I think about that. I’m not unstable enough. “Well, if it’s not a blog, you will have to email everyone directly.” Me? “Yes, and postcards. I don’t work anymore!” I stumbled a bit before replying… So, you’re telling me, a blog is a cost effective, time effective, opt-in, method of information transfer. “Yes.” But, can I be myself or does it have to be some informative travelogue full of interesting and insightful observations that uses flowery language? “Good God no. You’re incapable of that! Be your over-familiar self and have fun with it!” And the kids? “Yes?” Well, I like to be able to joke about everything. “So joke about them too.” Phew. And, this ‘not working’ thing, surely that would be a, how shall I say, a temporary state of affairs? You know, nothing permanent? And while I believe you shouldn’t rush into another job, you’ll need something to occupy your time after three months away with the family. Have you considered part-time work? The milk bar? They are always looking for ex-executive types who have lost their way. “Sam, you’re babbling. How about you start on that blog?” All right, but no chips and fizzy kid drinks for me! I’m doing it on foie gras and a devilish Bordeaux. That way you’ll have to go back to work to afford me!
So here I am – blogging. Now, I know a forty-year-old blogger sounds like a victim of a mid-life crisis but my incentive is quite, well, quite selfish really – if I don’t blog she may never go back to work! Forgive me and let the blog begin…
Yesterday was the fruition of a promise we made to our kids about four weeks ago. We said there would be no Christmas or birthday presents for either of them in the next cycle and in return they would get a day at Disneyland during our LA stopover. The naïve little lovelies agreed. I love this age. You can convince them about anything. Tee hee. There we were laughing, laughing all the way to the bank thinking about how much we had saved. Then it came time to hand over the money at the gate, then we bought food, then we bought more food, some water and coffee. Well, needless to say, I think the little buggers got the better of us!
Regardless, Disneyland was designed for these 10 and 8 year olds. All the rides their mother had been going on for years during her work trips suddenly became more than fanciful descriptions to Harry and Kate. And she doubled as a tour guide to direct us about. However, in answering Harry’s question, “Mum, how many times have you been here?” she sheepishly responded, “Less than 15.” It was then that the true nature of those ‘work’ trips became apparent. Soon after, we found out she knows the names of the older attendants on Thunder Mountain. She was greeted with a hearty, “Well, how do, Audrey? So nice to have you back,” by the gatekeeper on Space Mountain. The Splash Mountain guys formed a guard of honour for her. I was coming to grips with the sensation that I wasn’t in the Alps (is every ride here a Mountain?) when Goofy exited the parade and gave her flowers. That was all fine but when Prince Charming started winking at her I got the feeling she was leading a double life. The seven dwarfs calling her ‘mummy’ sealed the deal. The kids, her real ones, and I were silent all the way home in the car while she casually explained about how exhausting work trips can be and how she and her colleagues needed some place to run about like children after a day of high-level negotiations. That’s nice, dear.
One of the rides we went on was the Mickey to the Rescue Rollercoaster. In response to the question, “Who are we trying to rescue?” the over-confident, pimply attendant replied, “That’s a good question. I’ve never been asked that before. I’ll try to think of a witty answer for next time.” How can you work on a ride named Mickey to the Rescue and not wonder who is in danger?
I had just bought some ice-creams and the lady serving us asked, “Are you all having a magical day?” I told her ‘magical’ didn’t cover it as I waited in queues up to an hour for rides that lasted a minute and payed inflated prices for fat-encrusted-in-salt delights designed to make America the heart disease capital of the world. “See, you are having a great day!” Was it my accent?
We went on a ride called ‘It’s a Small World’. It had a Christmas theme going covering how the yuletide spirit may affect dolls in national dress from around the globe. We floated through a wonderland of Asians, Africans, Europeans and many minority groups all singing a rousing chorus of It’s a Small World followed by We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The ride lasted 6 minutes and left an indelible impression. Now I can’t get the damn tune out of my head! I may sing it to a Neo Nazi in Frankfurt airport.
Next we ate chocolate coated ice-cream next to something resembling a chocolate coated banana all coated with whipped cream and chocolate fudge and sprinkled with millions of hundreds and thousands. Then we spun around on those pesky colourful teacups. They were very nearly more colourful.
Ah Disneyland… motion sickness, queasy tummies and general disorientation. And the most fun we’ve had as a family for a long time.
http://www.quirkyquests.com.au/ if you want to read more…