Travel Bucketlist

I can't be the only one with major wanderlust, especially as its cold and Not snowy? I love winter and snow, but just cold and no snow just bums me out. 

So naturally I'm thinking of where ELSE we can be. I've had a mental bucket list forever, but I decided its time to put it down. Something about putting your goals and dreams out for the universe and they are more likely to happen? Is that a thing. Lets roll with it. 

(I should say theres really nowhere I Don't want to go, these are just currently further at the top of my list, but I want to see everything and everywhere!) 

North America

Prince Edward Island; I've always wanted to go since being in love with Anne of Green Gables way back in the way

San Diego

Oregon Coast

Forks Washington; Oh yes, you know why

Redwood Forest

Main

Banff

(Ive got a separate Colorado bucket list I'll share separately)

Europe

Italy

Amsterdam

Switzerland

Germany

Spain

Greece

Sweden (always on the list even if I go a million times) 

Iceland (only spent 1 day there, getting ready to cross this one off the list!!) 

The UK

South America

Nicaragua

Costa Rica

Belize

Asia

Maldives

Turkey

Jordan

Israel

UAE

Cyprus

India

Back to Indonesia haven't been since I was a child

Back to Thailand

Japan

Africa

Tanzania

South Africa

Morocco

Rwanda

Egypt

Australia

Kenya

 

I'm sure I've left off so much on this list....its overwhelming how much I want to see! Don't we all just wish we could be the Bucketlist Family and travel full time?!? 

Whats at the top of Your bucket list? 

Fall break in Vail

We had the Best fall break in Vail last month. We had the perfect weather. Cool crisp fall mountain air with lots of sun and one day of some snow. Weather wise it couldn't have been better!  

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The place we stayed (Drew's boss's condo he so generously loaned us) is the Perfect location. Right at the edge of Vail- surrounded by biking trails. So of course we had to bring up our bikes. It's about a 2.5 mile bike ride along the river into Vail Village, and riding those trails was one of my favorite parts of our vacation. It helps that the kids all love it too (maybe not Jasper Quite as much as the littlest since he actually has to work) but the bike rides were all a success! We need to go back in the summer! The bike rides will be even more enjoyable in 70 degree temps

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We spent the days biking, eating delicious food, playing at a few really cool parks, playing games, watching disney classics at night.. 

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The only day the weather was bad we decided to drive to Glenwood Springs (45-60 minutes away) and spend the day at the hot springs. This might have been the very best day there if I HAD to pick. This was our third time in Glenwood Springs and its always So magical. With the snow and fog in the morning it just added to the magic. We got there about 10:30 ish and spent a few hours at the hot springs, then showered and walked across the bridge to the BEST burger place. Seriously the best. We eat there every time we are there and are never ever disappointed. The kids were all a bit warn out from all the swimming that it ended up being the most relaxing lunch/dinner! And we were there for probably 75 ish minutes just eating and coloring and it was just the best. Seriously if you find yourself find yourself in the Glenwood Springs area, make sure you visit Grind, you WONT regret it! 

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After lunch we walked around town for a little bit hoping Soren would sleep but that didn't happen, and then back to the hot springs for a few more hours. After we got back in the hot springs a second time we actually ran into some people from our church! Small world huh, 3 hours away from home. They also have 3 kids close to the same age as ours so the kids had lots of fun playing with them. Their daughter is actually in Tindras sunday school class- our church is huge, i think 6K plus people? So thats pretty crazy! After the hot springs we went back and had hot chocolate and then BED! I think we all slept Really good that night. 

Theres just something about getting away from the city and up into the mountains. We live so close (well not SO close but you know, not that far) but we can go a couple months with out having a real reason to get up there, and after a certain amount of time I just feel this pull, this Need to get up there. Life is slower, up there. Calmer. The air purer. The smells clearer. If you aren't a mountain lover I can't explain it, but for those of you that are, you get it. 

Until next time Rockies. 

A look back at 2016

We had such a crazy, busy, but really good year!

We bought a house, moved to the suburbs, started new schools, went on the most amazing family vacation (visited THREE new countries in the process) went from having a baby to an almost TWO year old, and so so much more. 

Last year I put together a little slide show and loved looking back on it so much I needed to do it again. So heres our 2016 in a few pictures! 

 

Cozumel, Mexico

Our last port day during our cruise was Cozumel, Mexico. Its the only day we ventured away from the ship, and not gonna lie I was a liiiiittle nervous about leaving the ship area. But my brother told we just HAD to go to  Chankkanaab National Park    and after seeing pictures I agreed. But when our taxi started driving down a semi remote road and away from the ship I definitely had an 'oh shit, what are we doing' moment. 

My worries were completely unwarranted though. We had nothing to worry about, we were completely safe and when we got to the beach of the Dolfin Discovery we could actually see our ship! My biggest worry was that we weren't going to make it back to the ship in time, and we probably cut it a too closer for comfort this day, but it all ended up being completely fine, and we had probably the best day ever!

When we got there we immediately signed up to swim with the dolphins. We thought Soren was too young and Drew and I were going to take turns each with a big kid in the water while the other stayed with Soren on land, but we were pleasantly surprised that not only was he allowed to go with us in he was also free! Score. *If you go with young babies though, they did say they have to be one to get in with the dolphins so younger than that and you will have to have a different plan*

Our time with the dolphins wasn't till 11:30 so we had an hour first to go swimming. Theres a big beach at     but theres a little alcove on the side which was Perfect for the kiddos. No waves, and clear water. We saw so many fish! 

When it was time to go swim with the dolphins Soren had Just fallen asleep in the stroller, so when we had to wake him up to put a life vest on him he was Not a happy camper. The people we were in line with to get in were shooting us some daggers about our crying one year old. But luckily for everyone as soon as he spotted the dolphins he was probably as happy as I have ever see him. I wish SO badly I had this whole experience on video, but no go pros/cameras were allowed in the water. 

Im so glad Soren knows puss (kiss in swedish) because when it was his turn to give the dolphin a kiss all i had to say was give her a puss and he leaned over and wrapped his arms around her and gave kisses. We were in the water for maybe 30-40 minutes and he was squealing with laughter the entire time. Okay we all were!

Jasper and Tindra absolutely loved the experience also. Tindra seemed a little bit timid at first when we walked down the slippery steps into the pool area (which was really the ocean but they built dividers in between the different 'pools') but as soon as the dolphin kept swimming by she was super excited also. 

I've wanted to pet a dolphin for as long as I can remember, theres just something so magical about them isn't there? So it was amazing to be able to check that one off my bucket list. But having done it once makes me even more excited to do it again some day!

After we were with the dolphins we got to walk down and get in the water with the manatees also. This part Tindra did Not like, she had decided as soon as she even saw a picture of one earlier in the day that they were stinky (they weren't) and she wasn't going to touch them. And she stuck with that. She was fine standing there in the water on the ledge and clinging to me as they s l o w l y swam by, but she refused to touch them. Once that girl has made up her mind about something, thats it. Theres no changing her mind. 

After all that it was lunch time (which was to be honest just O K) and then more swimming in the alcove and the pool there. And we walked around the whole park and saw the crocodiles (not my favorite animal) and HUGe lizards just running around. To clarify, the crocodiles were in their big cages like at a zoo- they were NOT running around. 

We took one of the last taxis out of there to get back to the ship, and spent a little time in the shops right by the cruise port. Drew had decided he had to get a pair of cowboy boots, and bargained them down (a little bit) to get pairs for both of us, even though I kept saying they were Not going to fit in our luggage.

Heres the video we made of our trip if you want to just see the cancun portion, it starts right after 5 minutes 

Haiti

Haiti was our first stop on our cruise, and quite possibly our favorite. Its a toss up between Haiti and Cozumel. 

One of the reasons we loved our day in Haiti so much was because it was the most relaxing day of the whole week. As relaxing as three kids at a beach can be anyway!

When we got off the cruise ship we just walked maybe 10 minutes (probably felt like more because it was Really hot, and I was wearing Soren so I was a sticky mess) and went into the private beach area. The private beach area had chairs to lounge in, cabanas, floating mats to lay on, a tiki bar (the coco loco rum drink was pretty Amazing) and a delicious lunch buffet brought out by the ship. They really think of Everything!

I can't believe these are the only pictures we took of our day in Haiti! And they are just crappy cell phone pictures. I made a point to NOT bring any of my nice big cameras on this trip, just the cell phone and go pro and I don't regret it at all. It allowed us to be so much more in the moment than if we had been lugging the camera around. Plus I would have been worried about it getting sandy, dropped, lost, stolen etc. This was much more relaxing. 

We spent our whole time in Haiti swimming (it was really to hot to Not be in the water, in the water it was perfect) playing with the few sand toys we brought, and using the goggles to look for fish under water. Oh what I wouldn't give to relive that day over and over again..

If you want to see some of the Haiti footage we got from the go pro heres the video we made of the whole week, it starts at :40 in the video!

Allure of the Seas

 

First off here's a little go pro video we made of our week long cruise if you want to just skip all the reading :) 

I'm going to have to break up this post into several posts or it will be a novel. And not a short one. There just too much to say about this trip and I don't want to forget any of it! So this post will be about the actual sea days, and I'll go into more details about this different ports we visited later. 

Sunday is the day Allure leaves and returns to Fort Lauderdale, and since everyone has to get off the ship before anyone is allowed back on, it can get hectic. We left our hotel around 11:30 ish and got to the ship and ready to board around 1 (we met my dad first.) Before getting on the ship you have to go through security, so the whole process was about 90 minutes from walking up to the ship before we were Actually on. 

Until a few months ago Allure of the Seas was the biggest cruise ship in the world...freaking HUGE. For at least 3-4 hours after we were on board Tindra kept asking 'So when are we getting on the boat?', she literally didn't even believe us when we kept telling her over and over again that we Were in fact already on the boat. Not till we were standing on the 15th (out of 17) floor, standing on the back as we were sailing away and Fort Lauderdale was getting smaller and smaller did she realize that the floating city we were in, Was the boat. 

I think there are 24 restaurants on board, and we only had time to visit maybe 6-7 of them? SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD. (And I'm not just saying that because my dad is the executive chef) We didn't have a mediocre meal the entire time vacation (except in cozumel, but that one doesn't count.) We ate at Windjammer, their huge buffet most of the time, just because its easiest with kids. But this buffet is unlike any other buffet I've ever eaten from. They had every type of food for every meal. Want Chinese food? Sure. The rice chips I used to eat daily in Bali and haven't seen since? Yep got those. Gluten free? TONS of options. All the kid friendly food you could ever want? Yep, burgers, fries, chicken, soups, fruit, desserts, literally I can't think of any kind of food that wasn't available up there. We all got in ruts though and started eating the same thing for breakfasts and lunch because there were so many choices it would get over whelming. I stuck with my mini croissants with fresh cheese and cucumber slices most mornings. And of course the hot sticky cinnamon rolls they were walking around with. Mouth. Watering.

SO besides eating SO much food. Probably too much food, we kept ourselves insanely busy. Every morning after breakfast we would head to the pool on sea days. If that was the Only thing we did the entire trip, the kids would have had the best time of their lives. Thats literally the only thing they needed. The pool for the big kids and the little splash park for Soren. Drew and I would take turns in the pool and crawling around with Soren. 

The kids slept insanely good on the cruise. We are blessed with amazing sleepers! But also, they were just exhausted when it was nap/bed time, so that helped also! After naps every day we would walk around and find other things to do, like rock climbing, mini golf, cooking shows, meeting different Madagascar (the kids movie) cast members, carousel rides (every single day Im pretty sure.) There are SO many kid friendly things to do on the boat and we didn't have time for even half of it! Guess we need to go back...

At night we would try different restaurants, all kid friendly. Even the formal dinners catered to kids, though I did have to go walk around with Soren once during the formal lobster dinner. His food came first and by the time mine came he was over sitting at a table. One night my dad ordered us a bunch of different entres to try and we ate that on our 10th floor balcony. 

We kept the kids on Colorado time, so they were up till 10-10:30 most nights (8 in colorado) so that gave us lots of time to do all the things we wanted to do, vs just having them to go to bed at 8. PLUS it meant they 'slept in' till 8 most mornings. 

A few nights after the kid were in bed we left them with my dad and went to do some of the 'adult' things. They have a casino on board (Drew might have loved this the most) water shows, Mama Mia performance, comedy clubs, piano lounge, more  bars than I even know...really SO much to do! Walking back to our room at midnight one night I couldn't believe how many people and even kids were up walking around! It was like a mini city that never slept. 

One of the amazing things we got to do (it pays knowing one of the executives on board!) was go up to 'the bridge'. Thats where they steer the ship, and all of that. The kids thought it was Super amazing to get to hang out up there and steer the ship. And ask all sorts of questions to the captains right hand man. Mom and dad might have also thought that was freakin awesome.

I was a little nervous about going on a week long cruise with three young children (everyone that I know who has been on one has only gone with kids that are older) but it went so smooth, and everyone had SO much fun. There are so many great programs though for the older kids, that it made me Really excited to plan a cruise for when the kids are older, and Drew and I can relax a little more. I saw parents with older kids send them off with the friends they had met in kid/teenage club sit and relax at one of the many small tables playing a card game, or reading a book, or even napping! That was obviously not in the cards for us, but we just had a different kind of amazing vacation. 

So the big questions we kept getting, would we do another cruise? And the answer is absolutely! But we will probably wait till the kids are a bit older. At least maybe at the point they are all done napping? We kept saying the days were flying SO fast, because by the time you factor in the time for eating out three meals a day with kids, and the time it takes to get dressed/changed into swimsuits/ready for dinner etc and then plus a 2.5-3 hour nap every afternoon. it didn't feel like it left a whole lot of time to relax/play/explore. But those kinds of vacations will come, and we will have the rest of our lives to vacation like that. For now we have young children, and even though it can be crazy/hectic/stressful traveling/vacationing with them, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thank you Royal Caribbean (and my dad!) for such an unforgettable week!

 

My 30th Birthday and Fort Lauderdale

So when we decided to go on a week long cruise we quickly decided we wanted to get down there a few days before the cruise. One just for logistics of making sure plane delays/cancelations didn't make us miss the ship, and two just to add in a few extra days of vacation. We have actually Never done a beach vacation where we don't Do anything. Not as a family anyway. I did a week on the beach in NC last summer with my family, but never with just Drew and the kids. Are vacations are usually busy exploring and go go go the whole time. I honestly have never even Wanted a beach vacation with nothing planned.

Till now. I thought it would get old/boring just being on the beach/pool with nothing planned. OH how wrong was I. Turns out, its Amazing. Im sure most of you aren't as shocked as I was. 

 In between flights, we left our house at 3 AM (ENTIRELY too late and almost missed our flight because of it....) so we were all just a little bit tired. 

In between flights, we left our house at 3 AM (ENTIRELY too late and almost missed our flight because of it....) so we were all just a little bit tired. 

We flew in 4 days before getting on the ship, and decided to stay a little bit outside of Fort Lauderdale for a couple of reasons, One we wanted less crows and Two I was able to find better hotel deals a little ways out. It didn't make a difference to us since we weren't planning on really leaving the area anyway. We were able to get a great hotel with a suite (which was actually really big and had two separate bathrooms!) that was right on the beach and had a great pool for the kiddos. Another bonus which we didn't realize when we booked, the pool area had a happy hour every night with free drinks (!!) and snacks, so you can guess where we were every night from 5-7...

Every day in Fort Lauderdale was spent pretty similarly. We would wake up, head downstairs to breakfast by the pool, then we would head up and change and either go to the pool or the beach. Even if we went to the beach we would head to the pool to swim after the beach and most days had lunch right there by the pool. Then we would do naps and swim some more/happy hour and get ready and go to dinner. Once we had dinner at the restaurant at the hotel because we were too tired and hot to walk to dinner, once we were super tired and just ordered pizza, and a couple of the nights we walked the 3/4 of a mile to the pier area where there were lots of restaurants. 

I turned the big 3 0 while in Florida and it was the best day! We went to the beach and then during nap time I went and got a facial at the hotel spa followed by a delicious dinner right on the beach outside. Soren fell asleep on the walk to dinner so he slept through most of it. A sleeping baby makes for a pretty relaxing dinner!

Turning 30, on vacation with my family sure made it nice and relaxing! I had been dreading 30 for a while, till the last couple of months. Im thinking a vacation for every birthday should be the standard! One can wish!

Another super special thing happened while we were in Fort Lauderdale. A friend I met online in a What to Expect group while were were pregnant, so like back in 2011, moved to Florida a year or so ago and when she found out we were going to be in the area she drove the 1.5 hours to come hang out with us one afternoon/evening! It was so amazing to see the babies together (now 4.5) Its so crazy meeting someone you have only known online, but it felt completely normal at the same time, like were were just old friends getting together. Kiddos and husbands all got along great too! Thanks for meeting us Nadine! We Definitely have to do it again!

As we were driving in the car service to the cruise port from the hotel we were talking about how this was probably the first time in our adult lives that we have spent 4 whole days within a mile radius. Crazy huh? We literally never left the blocks surrounding our hotel, which is So not how we normally do things. Next time we are in this area we definitely need to rent a car because I know there is SO much to do, but not having any plans was the perfect way to start this vacation, as our week on the ship was much more the go go go we are used to. 

 

Back again!

Ive said that a few times lately haven't I? This time we are back from our 11 day vacation in Fort Lauderdale and caribbean cruise. We got back at 1:30 Sunday night, or rather Monday morning, and Jasper started school 7 hours later...I hope his teacher realizes that first day was the quietest/calmest he will be all year, from pure exhaustion. 

By now the kids are back to their normal crazy and wild selves, while Drew and I are still exhausted. Oh to have the energy of a 4 or 9 year old. 

Oh yeah, NINE year old. Jasper turned 9 in Jamaica while on vacation (and I turned the big 3 0) more on both of those later!

I'l be back to share a bunch pictures from our trip (though surprisingly i didn't take That many) and a fun go pro video thats in the works, and I'll leave this picture, I believe the only picture of all five of us from the entire trip..typical! 

Wanderlust; YMCA of the Rockies, Snow Mountain Ranch

Last month,before our big move, we had the opportunity to escape the city and head into the mountains for a weekend of fun at YMCA of the Rockies, Snow Mountain Ranch. It ended up being the perfect time to go because Denver reached triple digits the entire weekend we were away..no thanks!

We arrived Friday evening just in time to roast marshmallows by the campfire and play some mini golf in the dusk before it was time to head to our room for bed. We stayed at one of the lodge rooms (they also have yurts and cabins and camping!) which was really good sized with two queen beds, a couch, table/chairs and plenty of room to move around. Perfect size for our family of 5! Plus it had a balcony! We try to get rooms with balconies when we are traveling, its so nice to have a little place to escape to once the kids are in bed to have a drink, talk, watch netflix on the iPad...

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the cafeteria on sight and then had a busy day filled with zip lining (so much fun!!) tubing (also a blast, probably our favorite activity we did) archery shooting for Jasper and Drew, more mini golf and rock climbing. The kids were basically in outdoor heaven. 

We went into Winter Park to grab some medicine for Soren who had a slight fever and was teething so we got back to late to have dinner at the cafeteria, which ended up being a good thing because it made us try the grill on sight. We enjoyed delicious pizza and french fries (why is this the best combination!?!) while enjoying the best views out on their patio. Perfect ending to the busy day. After ice cream and playing at one of the many play grounds on site, we all passed out hard! Something about that mountain air! We all slept in (which never happens in every day life and certainly NEVER happens while we are all sleeping in a room together) so we rushed to eat at the cafeteria and then went to the lake where they were having a fathers day fishing derby, where Jasper caught his very first fish! I think its time to find a lake around here for him to go fishing, because he hasn't stopped talking about it since! 

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After a morning filled with fishing it was time to pack up and head back home. No one wanted to leave! The weekend went way too fast and we didn't have a chance to try so many of the activities! I guess that just means we HAVE to go back. For an entire week next time! There's also mountain biking, an indoor pool, horse back riding, a craft room (which looked Amazing) organized activities like kickball/ hungry hungry hippo (kicking myself for not making it there in time for that) and so many more activities we wanted to try! When traveling with three kids I'm learning to lower my expectations. My instinct is to PACK AS MUCH FUN and activities into our days. I want to DO ALL THE THINGS, but that just doesnt work when you have three kiddos, nap times to deal with and all that, so I am learning to try to stop trying to fit it all in. So hard to do in a place filled with so many fun things to do! We are definitely going to need to plan a trip for the winter also, they have out door activities then too, like snow shoeing and cross country skiing!

Thank you so much YMCA of the Rockies for hosting our family for the weekend! We can't wait to come back again! 

We made a little gopro video of some of the footage from our trip! 

Cruising With Kids

Have you done it? 

We are super excited to be taking a family cruise this summer. But I'm also a little nervous never having done it with kids! My sister and I went on an Hawaiian cruise the spring break of my Senior year of high school. It was obviously so much fun, but I know cruising with three young children will be a very different experience!

I would LOVE to hear if you have any tips and tricks for a successful cruise vacation with kids! We will be flying to Fort Lauderdale, spending a few days there (my 30th birthday!!) and then hopping onboard with Royal Caribbean .

We will be sailing to Cozumel, Haiti and Jamaica, I have never been do either of those locations and would love to hear tips for there as well! 

I'm a planner and I already have a list going in my phone of everything we will need so please feel free to help me add to that list!

 Image from cruiseline.com

Image from cruiseline.com

Travel Tuesday; Karlstad Sweden

Travel Tuesday on Wednesday..lets just roll with it. 

When we were in Sweden last we knew we wanted to spend one day in Karlstad, where we used to live. *Drew and I studied abroad there for 7 months in 2009 when Jasper was just 1* We wanted to take Jasper back and show him where he used to live. We have so many amazing memories from this town and period in our lives.

We took the train to Karlstad and we were supposed to arrive at like 2-3, something like that..well there was a major train delay, there was one broken on the tracks so we had to wait for like 2 hours not moving and then elbow our way onto a bus to take us the last hour to Karlstad. They announced that a bunch of busses were going to be coming to get us and anyone traveling with small children should take the first bus- naturally that was us with a 2 and 6 year old. But people were sick of waiting and not following that 'rule' so the bus was completely packed and Drew was helping a mom traveling by herself with a baby and almost missed the bus. I had to shove my way to the front of the bus and beg them to let Drew on after they had already closed the doors saying they were full. NOT a fun traveling moment. 

Anyway we made it to Karlstad hours late after a full day of traveling and had to make our way to our hotel to drop our bags off.

Heres where I have to take a moment to talk about how amazing blogging is. 

Years ago, I'm talking like 4 years ago? A mom in Sweden found my blog through Early Mama and emailed me. We emailed back and forth and had so much in common. Fast forward two years and we are heading to Sweden and when she found out we were going to be in Karlstad she said she would come and meet us! I think it was about an hour or 1.5 hour train ride for her.

So back to our horrible train/bus ordeal. We get off the bus, and there is Sarah! So amazing to finally get to meet in person after being 'online friends' for a couple of years. She was a saint and helped us get ours bags to the hotel, and then we took the kids to a park while Drew went and picked up pizza. Since we were so delayed in getting there, she moved her return trip to later that night, and after Drew took the kids back to the hotel for bed we just got to talk and talk till her train came. It was so much fun to get to meet her, and I'm hoping we will get to again some day! And next time get all the kiddos together! Between the two of us we have added 3 kiddos to the mix since we 'met' online and I know the 7 of them would have so much fun together!

 This was our old apartment building. That little top balcony to the left is where I would spent nap time, reading/blogging. 

This was our old apartment building. That little top balcony to the left is where I would spent nap time, reading/blogging. 

The next day we were heading to Oslo to visit more friends, but we spent the morning walking o our favorite spots, showing the kiddos our old apartment in the town square and just reminiscing. 

 Karlstad has some of the best parks in the world. This one, Mariebergskogen especially. Playgrounds, petting zoo, forest, trails, beach, ice skating, ice cream, it truly has it all. 

Karlstad has some of the best parks in the world. This one, Mariebergskogen especially. Playgrounds, petting zoo, forest, trails, beach, ice skating, ice cream, it truly has it all. 

I can't wait to be able to take the kids back there again some day! 

Travel Tuesday; What to do in Stockholm on a rainy day

If you have spent any amount of time in Scandinavia during the summer, you know that you are going to get some rain. It's the kind of rain that doesn't bother me though! I actually find it super cozy. And it's not usually all day, it can be gorgeous out, rain for a little bit, and then back to sun. Kind of like Colorado in that way.

Last time we were in Stockholm we found ourselves with forecast that called for rain all day so we needed to find some fun things to do indoors.  Not hard at all!

We ended up taking the ferry from where we were staying (J Hotel|) to djurgarden, one of the islands that make up the city of Stockholm. This island has several amazing museums, an open air museum/zoo and even an amusement park. We got off the boat, in the rain of course, and walked down to Junibacken, probably the worlds most amazing Children's museum. It's only a 5-7 min walk along the water from the boat, and on a nice day it's such a gorgeous little walk. In the rain we walked quickly and didn't stop and stare at the views too much! 

We spent about 2 hrs there and we could have easily spent even longer time there but the kiddos were getting hungry (okay we all were) and we didn't have cash for the cafe in the museum (which looked amazing), so if you go make sure you bring cash!

Backing up, when you first get into the play area, you are in a little village. Theres a movie theater to play in, a bakery, a church, hill with a slide, a boat, castle and so much more. Drew and I split up, and each took a kid to watch/play with. It was busy in there and so many little rooms to slip into and they were each going at different speeds so this is what worked best for us! 

When you get into the museum you are assigned a train time, and the time on your ticket is when you go get in line to get on the train that takes you through the rest of the museum. I wish I would have known before going in line that we could have gone into that second area earlier because the 'waiting' room for the train was really amazing also. There were little houses with slides, a plane to fly, and again so much more. It made waiting in line a complete blast for the kids! I stood in line, and Drew walked around and let them play. When it was our turn for the train, we climbed into a little cart and picked a language to listen to the narrator. The train was by far my favorite part of musem. It took us through different Astrid Lindgren stories that I and every other Swede grew up watching/reading. Emil, Pippi Longstocking etc. Even if you didn't know these characters growing up (like Drew) its still so much fun. It felt like a Disney World ride. 

At the end of the train ride you end up at Pippi's house to play in. The kids could have spent hours alone here! I have all the old Pippi movies in Swedish so my kids absolutely loved playing in her 'real house'. And of course, there was a slide that took you down the two story house that Jasper couldn't get enough of. 

 

After we left Junibacken, in the rain again of course we needed to find food Stat. Drew wanted hot dogs from the hot dog stand, and the kids and I grabbed shelter at an outdoor bar that had an awning and ordered Swedish meatballs and cheese sandwiches. It doesn't get much more 'Swedish' that meatballs and cheese sandwiches. 

After lunch we headed next door the Vasa Musem. If you have any boat lovers, this is definitely the place to be. Even if you aren't a boat lover, you should still go, it's pretty amazing. Its an old ship that sank on it's maiden voyage out of the harbor, and then hundreds of years later, (in the 60's I think?) it was brought up, whole and restored. It's so crazy something was under water for so long and in such amazing condition. 

I was hoping Tindra would sleep because it's dark in there and it was her nap time. She was out within minutes of, so Drew offered to push her around on the first floor (theres 7-8 floors I think?) so he could slowly read all the signs under there and I could take Jasper around to all the different floors since he doesn't have the patience for hrs of sign reading. Understandably so! Jasper and I had a lot of fun exploring the different levels and he loved having a little bit of 'freedom' with mom letting him walk a little ahead at times. 

Our kids were 2 and almost 7 when we visited Junibacken and Vasa but I would highly HIGHLY recommend either one for kids of almost all ages, Juniback newborn through at least 10, but maybe older? Jasper is almost 9 and I know he would be thrilled to go again. Vasa is probably better for kids a little older, maybe 5 and up. 

Have you been to either? I would love to hear your experience! 

 

*Please excuse the crappy cell phone pictures! The iPhone 4 wasn't quite up to par with cell phones now! 

-Darlene 

 

 

Travel Tuesday; Iceland and the Blue Lagoon

Since we love traveling so much, on Tuesdays we are going to share different travels and adventures we have been on. Hopefully it sparks some Wanderlust in you as well! 

On our last trip to Sweden we decided to do a layover in Iceland. Iceland air now offers for free, layovers in most European cities for days even, without it changing the price of your ticket. 

My only complaint I have is that we didn't do a longer stay in Iceland. That will be on the agenda next time for sure. 

We had a 5 PM flight from Denver and landed in Reykjavik at about 7 AM. (Which was midnight Denver time.)

When traveling with kids I highly recommend traveling at night time if possible (at least for long flights!) Even if they don't get amazing sleep, just a few hours to break up an 8 hour flight of having to keep them occupied is a big life saver. 

After a couple of hours into the flight I told the kids as soon as it got dark it was time to sleep. And then Drew reminded me we were flying so far North that it wasn't going to get dark. That certainly made it a bit harder to get them to sleep, but they did dim the lights on the plane, and we made a little 'tent' for Tindra and got her some milk and told her it was bed time. It took longer than normal to get them asleep (naturally) but they did sleep for about 3 hours of the flight. Better than nothing! Some sleep was crucial since we were going to be arriving in the morning and had some exciting things planned that they would obviously need to be awake for!

Since we were only doing a one day layover in Iceland (and heading on to Stockholm in the evening) we either had time to head into Reyjkavik and explore there or go to the Blue Lagoon. I really wanted to go into the city, but I knew we were all going to be tired from traveling (and still not done traveling) so we decided the Blue Lagoon was the best option for us. And it did Not disappoint. 

Right inside the airport (and its a small airport so super easy to find) theres little desks with information about booking a trip to the Blue Lagoon. Everyone spoke English and were really helpful. We booked our trip right there (bus fair to the Blue Lagoon and back to the airport is included in the price) and grabbed a snack, and 30 minutes later we were on a bus on our way.

The bus ride there was only about 25 minutes and it takes you right to the lagoon. Right as you get off the bus there is a building where you can store luggage/strollers if you are traveling, for a small price. All of our checked luggage went on to Stockholm so we didn't have to deal with that thankfully, but we still had several carry on bags plus a stroller and carseat that we checked. I had packed all of our swimsuits in one small bag so we brought that in with us and left the rest.

Once you get inside, the magic begins. You get a wrist band that is connected to your 'account' so you don't have to bring anything else into the pools. The wrist band opens up your locker and can even be used to buy drinks at the 'swim up bar' in the lagoon. Amazing right? 

The locker rooms at the Blue Lagoon are amazing, so modern and with really nice showers. Theres actually something standing there making sure you get in the shower before you get in the pools. And you are recommended to wash your hair with their special shampoo before hand..heres where I made the mistake and didn't follow that recommendation. It apparently coats your hair or something before getting in, and since Tindra and I didn't we dealt with some gross hair for a few days after. Hashtag worth it. 

Guys, I can't even think remember our time at the Blue Lagoon without getting a serious serious case of wanderlust to go back. It was one of those once in a life time opportunities that we just Have to experience again.

We were in the pool for a few hours. It's Huge! We drank amazing smoothies from the swim up bar, hid under the bridges when it would randomly start raining for 5-10 minutes at a time, took turns sitting in the sauna sans kids, sat at the edge in the shallow part and just let the kids play, truly an incredibly experience. They even have these big wooden buckets in different parts of the pool where you can slather some sort of volcanic mud clay thats supposed to be amazing for your skin. My skin really did feel soft and moisturized for days after so I'm thinking it worked! 

 

Before going we were worried about whether or not it would be child friendly as we were traveling with a just turned 2 year old and almost 7 year old. There weren't many kids when we went, but it was still definitely family friendly (though I probably wouldn't take them at night, I heard it can get a little rowdy then) and there were arm floaties for all the children. Actually it was required for them, which Jasper wasn't thrilled about. 

 

We didn't get many pictures as our phones/cameras were in the lockers, so just a few cell phone pictures. But now that I have a waterproof go pro I think I need to go back. Wouldn't that make the best video? 

 

After a few yours of swimming we went and showered and got ready for lunch. After soaking a few hours in the pool and having been awake for about 24 hours I was really grateful for the nice showers and real shampoo and conditioner to clean off with. 

They have a 'real' restaurant at the Blue Lagoon and also a little deli, which is what we ate. We tried a few different sandwiches and Icelandic donuts. The donuts were Amazing. They also had them on the flight over, I  made have had like 4..

The bus back to the airport came every 30 minutes and we thought we needed at least 2 hours at the airport like here in the US so we gave ourselves plenty of time to get back, but it really wasn't needed and we made it through security in less than 15 minutes and had a couple of hours to kill there. Luckily the airport is so family friendly with great kids areas to play at. 

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Another thing that impressed me with Iceland is just how friendly everyone was. I feel like airports don't usually have the friendliest employees, definitely not the case for Iceland. Tindra fell asleep while waiting for the bus and was still sleeping in her car seat (strapped to the stroller) and I started unbuckling her thinking of course we would need to take her out to get through security, but they said it was fine, not to wake a sleeping baby (smart men) and just waived their wand over her to scan her and let us go through. So nice right? 

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If you are planning a trip to Europe, definitely consider stopping in Rejyyavik, even only for a day! But next time we are absolutely going to have to stay a few days, it's such a magical country and I can't wait to explore more of it.

 

Have you been to Iceland? Have any must sees? 

-Darlene