Sunday, December 29, 2013

Exploring Bern, Switzerland

We arrived into Bern by train late on the night of December 22. 

The trip from Paris had been fraught, I was expecting the boys to sleep but their overly-exhausted post-Disney minds and bodies didn't agree. And when we woke up the next morning it was obvious that L wasn't well. Amazingly, until then, I was the only one of us who had been officially 'sick' (a truly God-awful 24 hours in Copenhagen) so I hoped he would improve after a day of rest.

Which suited everyone really. Our airbnb apartment was lovely, even nicer than I had expected and we'd all worn ourselves a little thin. But in the end one day turned into two and it was Christmas Eve, and then it was Christmas Day and we had barely left the house! 

Poor Lovely wasn't truly better until we left Switzerland - despite some frolicking in the snow! - and it was only on our last day that we got to wander and explore the city centre. 

Doesn't Bern just look fairytale picture-perfect with those snow-capped peaks behind it!Bundeshaus. The Federal Palace of Switzerland.

Walking along the Bundesgasse we discovered an oversized chess set. 

I'm pretty sure no one else in my family noticed it was -1 Celsius. Outdoor chess really? Apparently the answer was Yes! 

They played THREE games. 3. In sub-zero temperatures. I watched and shivered :)

Luckily I had a sweet view of the Gurtenbahn funicular where we had snow-balled the two days previous to keep me company.

Post-chess we were cold enough to skip the free ice-skating in the Bundesplatz (hard to believe in retrospect!) and hunt down some lunch. We decided on the Einstein Kaffee on the devastating realization that the Einsteinhaus really had closed for the holidays the day before we had arrived in Bern. Grrrr... It had been one of our key sights to visit. Luckily this cafe downstairs was beautiful... post to come!

Gratuitous clock photo. Or, more officially, the medieval Zytglogge astronomical clock.

Walking along the Spitalgrasse, and then the Kramgrasse, we played spot-the-water-fountain. This was my favourite one. Also, I love that you can see the beautiful real Christmas trees that lined the main streets of Bern in this photo. Stunning.

Something that Bern is well-known for is bears. The bear has long served as symbol of Bern. Legend has it that, in 1191, Duke Berthold V of Zähringen vowed to choose as namesake the first animal his hunt met in the wood that was to be chopped down for his new city. As Konrad Justingers chronicle puts it "Then they caught a bear first, which is why the city was called Bern; and so the citizens had their coat and shield, which was a black bear in a white shield, going upright".

Once you find yourself at the end of the Kramgasse and cross the Aare River you reach the Bärengraben, or Bear Pits. Understandably, being late-December the bears were hibernating but it was a shame to miss them.

We did however get a little aquaited with the Russian-born Mischance and Mascha via a bear-pit exhibition. They are obviously super-cute and happy that the bear-pit was updated in 2009.

Fake bear-wrestling ;)

And that's Bern! Okay, Bern-in-a-day at the speed that you travel with an almost-well 8 year old. 

Have you been to Bern?

Friday, December 20, 2013

The French Tooth Fairy

Someone decided to pull their own wobbly tooth out on our last night in Paris before we left for Disneyland the next morning!
Lucky for them the French Tooth Fairy had a few Euros handy for this Australian kid with a gappy smile :) Disney spending money, tick.

Look at these gorgeous faces.

6am. Still dreamy.
But about to hit the road again...

Disneyland Paris here we come!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Natural History Museum | London

I would love this to be a post about all the cool things kids can see and do at the London Natural History Museum. 

But it isn't.

Because, really, no matter how much you plan - or how far you travel - some things don't work out as planned. 

In the lead up to our trip, I'd poured over the website and romanticised all of the wonderful learning that would take place... Ahhhhhh! Sweet, educational bliss ;)

What I didn't factor in was life.
And jetlag.
And that one child who gets grumpy.
And the other one who doesn't like having to be in the same room as stuffed animals.
And everyone being hungry when we arrived.
Parents included.


You know those days that make you feel like old Atlas here? ;)

So, all I can tell you is that there is a really cool escalator at the entrance to the Red Zone. (There are also Blue, Green and Orange zones but we didn't get to them) and a lot of taxidermy downstairs * See above note re. stuffed animals.

And that there is lots of information about rocks upstairs and then what I personally thought was a cool timeline of the History of Earth from the Big Bang onwards.

Buuuuut - that's about it.

I can't say that it was a complete loss...
I'm sure they learnt something? Maybe.

Oh - and we like trilobites so that was cool.

But button-pushing was probably the favourite activity *smile*

So we did the best thing...
We left. We abandoned ship and headed for a park :)

Wide spaces.
Green grass.

We talked about getting back to see the rest while we were still in London but it never did happen. Maybe one day when my boys are taller than me they'll take me back (a mother can dream ;)

Have you abandoned any outings recently? Please share in the comments.

p.s. I read this article in the Huffington Post yesterday: 'To Parents of small children: Let me be the one who says it out loud' and could totally relate. One thing T and I realised when we first took our kids traveling was that life goes on no matter where you are. You will still have good days. And you will still have bad days. Life is never perfect. Maybe you can relate too. x

Friday, November 15, 2013

Adventures of a (London Ritz) Mama

It was a 5:30am start.

We were in the car by 6. A two hour drive and 3 hour check in for a 12-something departure.

A stopover in Singapore. Another in Abu Dhabi.

It's 7am-ish when we finally land in London.

But there is still the Underground to negotiate...

We have been on-the-road for about 37 hours when we arrive at our hotel (bless my children!!) but it's still only 9am and not time to check in yet. Oh-my-God.

So we head out. We play. We investigate. And as the rain starts to fall and the afternoon chill sets in... we see the Ritz Hotel, like a shiny-warm-snug mirage right there on the London street.

We bundle in. And head towards the bar for tea and hot chocolates and other yummy delights!! Hurray!
STOP. Huh? T and the boys are in Converse trainers and they won't allow you in without dress shoes. Boo. We go to leave and then my wonderful husband - who knows how much I love drinking tea in beautiful hotels and tells me to stay.

The offer is too good to refuse :)

T whisks the boys off to Starbucks or one of the other coffee houses further along the street and I get to relish some mama-time - bliss! - even my camera battery dying a few minutes after I sat down couldn't stop me smiling...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Where In The World Is... Big Ben?

London. Day 1. 

Our mission is set: find Big Ben.

Hmmmmm, let's see....

Maybe this friendly fellow can help! No?

Ahhhhhh, this is better! Bobbies!! Surely they will know.

No? Really?

Hmmm, I think this guy might be telling us to look up...

Hang on... what's that we spy? 

Yes! Big Ben.


Mystery solved. Adventure complete.

We rock :)

* P.S. The boys are SO excited to see Bobbies! & Nikkis - their name for female Bobbies in honor of our neighbors Bobby & Nikki :) 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Press Play! The London Edition.

The day we arrived in London, we steadied ourselves with airport coffee, embraced the tube, dropped off our bags to our too-early-to-check-in hotel and went looking for somewhere to PLAY.

Across the bridge and a little way along the Thames, tucked in beneath the shadows of Alfred Nobel, we discovered this sweet jewel...

And eventually, we were off... Hello Houses of Parliament! 

Helloooooo London!!

{p.s. In case you are lucky enough to be in London and would like to play here too, it is within Victoria Tower Gardens which are part of The Royal Parks } Have fun! XO

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