Stockholm Adventures – Day 1

The kids woke us up about 7:30 this morning. We lazed around a bit till we left the house about 9am. Fun fact, there are still some very cool keys to be found in Europe.

Cute kids ready for breakfast.

We saw lots of good looking bakery’s and cafes around our house. So we were excited to find something good. What we didn’t expect was that not many places would be open. Ty spotted a woman placing her menu boards outside so we went to her cafe. The signs all pointed to a good meal, pancakes, Belgian waffles, hot coffee, and chai! But what we found was decidedly less. She didn’t have any pancakes. She hadn’t made the coffee yet. She could really only offer us the Belgian waffles. So we ordered two for the kids only after seeing the prices! We ordered two waffles and three drinks, it was $40! These weren’t homemade waffles either. She pulled premade waffles out of individual plastic bags and heated them in the microwave. 🙄 The adults couldn’t believe it. So Ty walked to the 7-11 down the street and found us large yogurts with granola, and fresh yummy rolls for like $15. The kids even got some Pez candy for free!

We’re so glad we came here but we can’t figure out why the cost is so high. Is it the area we are in? Is this just the prices of the region? We’re from Alaska. Nothing is cheap there. We haven’t really been thrown by prices anywhere else in Europe. So we’re also glad we’re only here for three days.

So after our expensive lesson in breakfast foods we walked down to the ferry terminal to go over to the Vasa Museum.

Ty had read that the Vasa Museum was THE museum to go to in Sweden. All we knew what we were going to see a Viking ship. This was so much more! It was incredible! This warship sank in 1628 on its maiden voyage. It never actually got out of the harbor because it was poorly designed. It tipped right over! It stayed buried in the harbor for 333 years until they located it in the 50s. It took two years to raise it from the ocean floor. The statistic that got me was they sprayed it polyethylene glycol for 17 years! To preserve the wood. Can you believe that?! This ship is incredible and the museum presentations were wonderful. Excessive number of pictures to follow

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The kids finally dragged us away and Ty had read a good review about the cafe at the Nordic Museum and they mentioned a kid play area right next door to the cafe. Perfect!

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However, upon arriving there we find out we have to pay full admission to enter the museum. We had understood the kid area was separate, but adults must be present in the kid area so they charge them full admission. Sneaky! The kids and I went right to the play area while Ty and Papa went to scope out the food situation. Unfortunately again, the food wasn’t as reviewed, much more limited selection and very expensive!

But the bright note is that the kids LOVED the play area. It was set up like a farm house, with chickens, pigs, cows, and a horse hitched up to a wagon. There was a stream they could pull themselves across on a ferry boat thing. There was also a store where you could your necessary items. The details were amazing and the kids played here for hours. It was like stepping into the Little House on the Prairie books. The kids even pretended to load up the wagon, with everything that wasn’t nailed down, as Papa put it. They were going on a journey, ‘across all the states in every country’ according to L. 😆

They also had a giant Christmas tree and clothes so you could dress up like Santa.

The rest of the museum was so-so. It was a history of the people of Sweden. But an entire floor was focused on the fashion of the people. The furniture and house exhibits were interesting to see but the displays on lighting were a bit dull.

We dragged the kids out of there about 4:30 and decided to walk the mile and a half back to the apartment. The adults needed to stretch their legs. The air was crisp but not freezing.

Oh, R thought it was hilarious to take my hat and have me wear hers.

There was this tree full of gnomes right outside the museum. Some of them even moved!

A few photos of the harbor from our evening walk.

L totally passed out. The carrier gets him every time!

We were hoping for another yummy Indian dinner but the restaurants Ty had found weren’t actually there. Weird. So we ended up at a burger joint again. But the food was delicious and for once not quite as expensive.

We got the kids Home and threw them in the tub.

Papa wanted to do bedtime since we’re all going our separate ways home tomorrow. He spoils them by reading the whole entire long book we got on the Vasa ship. We finally get everyone settled for bed when Ty yells, We’ve got puke! Ugh no words you ever want to hear.

L is usually so good about when he’s going to be sick. He gets up and goes right to the bathroom. But this time I guess he couldn’t. All over the bed, himself, his jammies, his foxy, and his blanket. Poor kid and poor us.

I strip him and the bed. Then thankful for spare beds, we settle him into a clean bed. I try and get as many sheets, blankets and towels as I can into the tiny European wash machine. Since every load takes an hour and a half on the fastest setting and every dry cycle is at least two hours. Why?!? We have to be out by 10am tomorrow so seriously hoping not to leave puke laundry.

About 9pm I hear the familiar sound of retching again. Poor lil man, but thank goodness this time he made it into the trash can by his bed this time. No extra laundry!

No idea why he’s puking. Fingers crossed, prayers said this is just a random ordeal and he is fine tomorrow. Since of course we fly out in the afternoon and are basically homeless as of 10am. Nothing to stress about right?!

Wish us luck!

London Travel & Day 1 Adventures

So we left New York City bright and early. Got to JFK airport just fine. We had two hours before our flight so we went to the lounge. Ty’s got that system figured out with the right credit card that gets us into about 80% of the lounges out there. It’s a life saver when traveling with kids to have a quiet space to get away to. The free food and drinks are also a huge plus!

We boarded our flight just fine and took off for London. Now this was our first time flying Norwegian Airlines. Ty gave me a heads up before our flight that unless you pay for it you won’t get any food. Which was fine since it was a 5.5 hour flight and we grabbed a bunch of snacks and some cans of juice from the lounge. 😉 But what I didn’t expect was that they practically ignore you if you haven’t paid for food service. No water, or any drink is offered. They basically wouldn’t pick up our trash unless it was shoved at them or we placed it in their trash bags ourselves! I found that part totally bizarre. Why would you not want to maintain the cleanliness of your airlines? But other than that odd bit, the seats were nice, they had built in screens and chargers, with plenty of leg room.

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With a five hour time change we didn’t get into London till 11:30pm. We knew it would be late night so Ty had booked us a hotel that was a 10 minute walk from the airport. We grabbed some food at a grocery store in the airport, so convenient! Then made it to the hotel and had the kids fed and in bed by 1am. Seems late but didn’t feel quite that bad due to the time change.

So I was of course awake at 6:30am but Ty and the kids, I had to wake them up at 10:30! We packed up and headed back to the airport about 11:30, to catch the train into the city. Again, grabbed some breakfast from the airport grocery store before figuring out the train system. This beginning our long drawn out ordeal of getting to our next hotel.

We made it to the right platform but got on the wrong train. Not figuring that out till it had already pulled away. Ty being the map reader extraordinaire that he is, had a new route planned out in no time. We got off at the London Bridge stop took a short walk from the train station to the tube and also got to see a few sights.

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We made it to the tube and got on the train headed in the right direction. Got off one stop too early and found out from a nice gentleman they’re doing line maintenance right on the end of the line we wanted. So we hopped back on the train and got off again at the next stop. Talked with the local workers and figured out it was easier to walk to the hotel then try and mess with the local bus.

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This was right outside the tube trying to make sure we were going to right way to the hotel. This was at 2:30pm, so it’s been three hours and we’re still trying to find our hotel. Everyone was a bit over it by this point. Not exactly the most efficient use of our time in London but this is real life travel. At least the views were nice!

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About 20 more minutes of walking, including an extra five past our hotel. Thank goodness Ty spotted it behind us! Even traveling as light as we are it’s still tiring pulling a suitcase or carrying a 40 pound kid on your back. It was very nice to finally check in and unload all the unnecessarys.

It was getting late and we’d hoped to have high tea and make it to the Transportation Museum today. However, we ran out of time and had to choose one. Hoping we will have time for the museum later we went for high tea at The Delaunay . I had found it online and it had reasonable prices compared to everywhere else I had researched. Knowing our kids were a bit young to fully enjoy either the tea or the finger foods. I still really wanted that experience with them and R is so into everything fancy I knew she’d really enjoy it.

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Hot chocolate for the boys.

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Right before she spilled tea down the front of herself. I told her to raise her pinky and she tipped the whole cup instead. 😬

The food was so pretty! The kids liked about half the desserts. The scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam were my favorite! It was completely fun to try but the kids didn’t really enjoy the food and it was way to fancy for real life. But really we went for the experience, and I’m so glad we tried. No one broke anything, and we didn’t seem to bother anyone around us. SUCCESS!

Afterwards we walked around the Covent Garden Market.

So when we first arrived at Covent Garden station everyone was queuing up for the lift. We couldn’t figure out why everyone was waiting for the elevator?! So we passed them all and headed for the stairs. Then we saw this sign which explained it.

This station was WAY underground and you had to climb up 193 steps to exit the underground. It was a hoot, Ty carrying the stroller, myself, and our two rather young kids were passing up quite a few people on the way up those stairs! Was fun to experience but we definitely took the lifts on the way back down.

So after arriving back to our closest station we head back to the hotel and Linc starts fussing about wanting to get in the stroller. This starts an epic fit he threw for about 30 minutes. All the way through the station, down the street, over a bridge and through the town till we got to our hotel. We wouldn’t let him get into the stroller till he stopped fussing. Well he never managed to calm himself so he walked the entire way.

This was one of a few stops to pout and pretend he wasn’t coming with me. There was yelling, threats and tears. It was quite an event.

Ty and R stopped to get some crepes for dinner but there was no way I was taking L into a restaurant. So he and I went back to the hotel. Where he was promptly fine and dropped all attitude.

Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart! It can be so rewarding and amazing. Ryder had a wonderful conversation with a young man from Vietnam on the train today. She learned he speaks 5 languages and how that she could do the same if she wanted. On the other hand, you have to be tough enough to handle stares from strangers wondering why your child is throwing themselves on the ground screaming. Or the embarrassment from your child loudly announcing they just wiped their booger on the grab bar on the metro. And that’s just what happened today!

Flying to Brisbane – Kind of

Today was our travel day. Leaving Cairns on our afternoon flight to Brisbane for our last week of vacation. We got up, packed up and left Clifton Beach for Cairns. The plan was to spend some time in Muddy’s Playground on the Esplanade before having lunch and catching our flight at 2.

The playground was amazing! Spread out over a large area with different activities for the kids.

Our only downside was it started to rain while we were there. But even that was a light warm mist.

We left the playground and Chinese food was requested so we ended up at the mall food court. Surprisingly really yummy and cheap food! Then off to the airport.

I’ll note now that L had coughed a bit yesterday but we didn’t pay much attention to it. R and L have asthma that is activated anytime they get a cold. So we travel with an inhaler. We gave him a few puffs yesterday but he seemed fine. Well he seemed a bit wheezier today so we started him on his inhaler right way in the morning and throughout our time at the playground. By the time we got to the airport he was coughing almost nonstop. I alternated between wearing him or Nana pushing him in a wheelchair just so he wouldn’t exert himself too much.

We go through security after much baggage shuffling. (Tiger Air, ugh) L was really struggling to get enough air now and my mom alarms were going off big time. If we were at home I would have been headed to the doctors but here we are an hour or so from boarding a flight. We have reservations waiting on us, all the cost ramifications. But I asked Nana to try and find out if the airport had any medical services. I was hoping a doctor could check him out and give me some sort of advice. Well next thing I know, while I’m in the ladies room helping L get cleaned up. (He’d choke vomited twice.) I hear a man’s voice say, Police! Then in come two security guards asking about a boy in respiratory distress. Oh geez!

So we leave the ladies room and head over to our terminal. All Ty sees is us surrounded by 3 security guards. They’ve called the paramedics and the airport rescue firemen are on their way as well. Trying to stay calm, hoping we haven’t blown this asthma attack out of proportions but at the same time L is crying, coughing, and really struggling.

The security and firemen really have no medical supplies to help by they stay with us till the paramedics come. They also give L a special fire rescue stuffed bear. So thoughtful! Meanwhile an airport staff member has come over and ensures our luggage is pulled and is watching over our situation.

The paramedics arrive and begin to assess L. His oxygen levels are quite low, so they administer oxygen, albuterol, and a steroid. L shows immediate improvement! They also advise against traveling and want to take him into the Emergency Department. At this point there’s no way I’m arguing with the medical professionals. Do whatever we need to get L breathing easily.

I’m smiling so I don’t freak out!

They continued to give L medicine on the ambulance ride. His breathing eased so much he was finally able to relax and he passed right out in the ambulance. This scared the paramedic a bit. But it made perfect sense to me, since he’d been struggling to breath for hours his body was exhausted.

We went through quite the assessment upon arriving at the Emergency Department. Since it was a small child in respiratory distress he was considered a level 5 trauma. After a bit we were moved to the Pediatric Emergency Department. He started using a handheld albuterol inhaler, they monitored his oxygen levels, was he struggling to breath, how much abdominal breathing he was doing, and he had to go three hours in between treatment before we could be excused.

During this time Ty was getting our luggage, trying to research flight options, find a place to stay for 5 people, and whether or not to rent a car for the day. Thank goodness for our god send airport employee Helen. She gave him her number, said to call when L was cleared to fly and that we had two flight options available to the next day.

Ty got it all sorted and then the rest of the crew joined L and I in the Emergency Department.

After a bit we realized L was going to need to stay late for continued observation. He didn’t meet that first 3 hour deadline. So I sent everyone off to find dinner and sleep. L and I would join them as soon as we could, or they were going to admit him.

After way too much bad TV and games on my phone around 8pm the doctor finally said he’d finally met the 3 hour deadline and his oxygen levels looked good!!! Like all hospitals it was after 9pm before we got out of there. Everyone single staff member we met that day was extremely wonderful and kind!

L and I taxied to our hotel and we threw him into bed so we could get up early in the morning and hopefully catch a flight.

* Few things to note, we do not buy travel insurance, nor do the kids and I have health coverage. So we paid for this stay out of pocket. However, we do maintain credit cards that provide a certain dollar amount for travel emergencies. We will be submitting our hospital stay and our hotel room charge in hopes of reimbursement.

Also, I was the only one that had an international plan on their phone. We put it on one phone so we can text and make limited phone calls if necessary. But with no internet access at the hospital and no real way to communicate between Ty and I that was an additional stress. We ended up just texting and will see how much that costs us when we get home.

How do you say ‘Help!’ in Italian?

These are the types of stories that I want to remember from our family travels. The hilarious and not so glamorous side of traveling with kids.

We were traveling last Christmas/New Year through Europe with my father in law. We had just gotten off the train in Milan and we were trying to find our hotel. I had L in the carrier on my back but I needed to use the bathroom so I headed for the nearest McDonalds. Feeling like a savvy traveler I peaked at a receipt on a table, got the code for the bathroom door and let myself in. Why do they even bother with these precautions?!

The bathroom stalls were the fully enclosed kind, about 3 Ft by 4 Ft maybe, with a floor to ceiling door. I managed to get myself with my 35 pound, 3 year old strapped to my back and a roller suitcase wedged into the stall and locked the door. It wasn’t until I tried to leave this coffin like room that I realized the door wouldn’t unlock. We were stuck!! I tried everything for a few moments, trying not to panic and scare the kiddo. But finally I realized, I would need some help. No idea how to say help in Italian I just started saying, Hello? Of course, there was no one else in the bathroom. So I started shouting, HELLO! HELP! HELP! After what felt like forever, finally a woman comes in and starts talking to me in Italian. I have no idea what she’s saying but I’m able to get across the fact I’m stuck. So she leaves, brings in several more people, someone finally speaks very broken English and we try to figure out how to open the door. They’re working on it from their side. I’m occasionally trying the knob to no avail. At this point, I’m envisioning how they’re going to get food to us from the little crack at the bottom of the door. I’m chatting with L, trying to keep him calm, singing songs, whatever it takes to make this seem like no big deal. Meanwhile, I’m sweating like a pig, stressing out, and silently freaking out!

After about 20 minutes they finally say, try the knob, and the door opens right up. Alleluia!! Cue the singing angels, we’re free! There are about 5 people on the other side of our stall, all looking at me like I’m an idiot that didn’t know how to turn a door knob. Then someone spots L on my back and starts saying, Bambino! Bambino! They didn’t know I had him with me. So they must have thought I was some nutter, talking to myself, who couldn’t work a door knob.

I walk out of the restaurant, past everyone staring at me because they’d heard all the commotion and stumble out into the street, nearly in tears from relief. There on the corner stands my husband, R, and father in law, asking what took us so long. I on the other hand was flabbergasted, they think I needed half an hour in the bathroom and didn’t check on me! Turns out, hubby did come into the restaurant, but since he couldn’t come into the ladies room, didn’t realize anything was amiss. Some calvary huh?!

 

Typical family photo of us. Kids on backs, long arm selfie from hubs.