We’ve been traveling for a month now. Seems a bit hard to believe. But, we’re getting the hang of it. There are good days; there are great days; and there are days which could have been better. And, as we go along, there are traditions we’ve started and patterns we’re forming. So, in a nutshell, here’s what’s working for us as we make our way through Europe.
- Leader Days. Each day, we have a leader. That person gets to make decisions (within reason). So, the leader might pick the lunch or dinner restaurant. Or which site we visit first. It works well because while others do provide input, ultimately, we know who is deciding. And, if people aren’t happy with the choice, they know they get a chance to be in charge soon. Except that we keep forgetting the order and spend about 10 minutes going back through the month to figure out whose day it actually is by which time everyone is starving, and no one really cares which restaurant we go to as long as it serves food.
- Toasts. Someone started the tradition of making toasts at each meal. It evolved into the leader making a breakfast toast, the leader’s counterpart (kid or adult) making a lunch toast, and the leader making a dinner toast. Yep, nothing can be simple. And then, of course, if someone else has a toast to add, that’s ok as well. We did have to lay down a few ground rules involving toasts needing to be positive because “I am toasting to the fact that my brother wasn’t a jerk today” just didn’t cut it.
- Driving. I have been incredibly impressed with Hubs’ driving. I was a bit nervous with the fact that we have a manual car here, but it hasn’t phased him. Nor did it phase him when he and another person backed out at the same time and ran into each other. But, I guess we had the luck of the Irish because the other person didn’t care at all, and our car was hit in the same place that was already marked on the rental agreement. Actually, the car is so banged up that almost the entire thing is marked on the rental agreement, but that works in our favor.
- Old Friends. We have been incredibly lucky to meet up with old friends of mine, each from a different era of my life. It was pretty telling that Lisa, Martin, Hubs and I spent about 1/2 hour on our last night talking about how amazed we were that we had stayed with them for 10 days, yet we all thought it went really well. We even discussed politics and religion! Definitely people we would hang out with regularly if we lived
in the same cityon the same continent.
- New Friends. We have been meeting people everywhere we go. Missa B now has an artist she is writing to in Telford, England. Last night, the couple next to us gave us a dollar bill so we could sign it and put it on the pub wall. And, we had the joy of connecting with and staying with friends of our family. One night there were 12 of us sleeping in the house representing 4 nationalities.
- Lodging. So far, we have been really lucky. We’ve had a mix of simple hotel rooms, hostel family rooms, charming B&B’s, and amazing homes. I think this B&B in Windsor, England was my favorite. Gorgeous farmhouse — we were the only ones there the first night — King and Queen of the Manor! And amazing breakfasts. Cannot recommend The Farmhouse in Windsor enough!
- Weather. Every day I read the forecast, and every day it is supposed to rain. We can count on 2 fingers the times that we have been caught in the rain. Once for the changing of the guards at Windsor, and today when we went to the beach. Both were short showers, however, and we were able to get on with our day. And, we even tried to chase this to find the pot of gold at the end! But, the leprechaun must have arrived first.
- Letting The Kids Run Free. Even when they haven’t slept much, these kids, like most, need to run and jump. So finding places to do that has been critical to
theirour survival. Thanks to playgrounds, beaches, and ruins, it has been relatively easy to find places to let off steam!
- Getting Along as a Family. We get along perfectly. All the time. The kids never fight. Ever. Not in the car where one could cross into the other’s territory but doesn’t. Not walking on the sidewalk where they could push each other into the street but don’t. Not sitting at tables where they could kick each other under the table but wouldn’t dream of it. Not going to bed when they could annoy each other and wake up neighboring rooms but of course don’t. Ever. And Hubs and I never get frustrated with them. Or each other. Ever.
In all seriousness, we actually are doing really well for being together 24/7. And, when we’ve been with other people for longer stretches, we find it comforting to be just the 4 of us again. When you can’t really escape each other, you figure it out. And
threats bribes go a long way.