European Bliss

Traveling around the globe isn’t  uncommon these days. Many of you out there love to travel, road trips, cruising are on most people’s cards.Following my passion for photography and traveling, I’ve now decided to write my own “Travel Blogs” where I’ll share my experiences and give some tips, hope you like it.

My family loves to travel places, gain different experiences, learn new cultures and try on authentic cuisines. I’m a vegetarian and sometimes it gets a bit difficult to find good vegetarian delights but since many people have been turning vegan recently, it’s not a big deal anymore. After visiting Kenya, Tanzania, UAE, Oman, Nepal, Singapore and Canada, we wanted to experience and explore Europe this time. Though it was a business trip initially but it turned out to be pleasure later on.We planned a trip of 10 nights, 11 days in the middle of June when the weather is pleasant, our first stop was Frankfurt (Germany), we took Lufthansa from Toronto to Frankfurt. Our plan was to get Rent –A- Car from the airport and have a self- drive tour in and around Europe. Our trip included a visit to Frankfurt, Paris, Disneyland, Switzerland and back to Frankfurt.

Our biggest challenge was to travel with an 18 months old baby who was a fussy eater and to increase our trouble he started vomiting in the car just before we were planning our vacation, he started getting car sick. This was giving us nightmares; we’d already done our flight tickets, hotels and car booking etc. I read somewhere that keeping a DVD player in the car could be beneficial, we started trying this at home first but this was making him more sick. Our main aim was to make him sleep in car while we drive, we downloaded plenty of his favorite songs in a flash to run in the car as well as stocked up with toddler friendly DVDs.

As we landed in Frankfurt, picked up a car from the airport and left for our hotel. We had everything planned, we chose hotels in town center wherever we went. It was easier for us to park the car and walk with the stroller, we didn’t want to be caught in the traffic or travel too much in public transport either. After resting a while in the hotel, we left to visit Frankfurt city in the evening, like every European city, Frankfurt has beautiful architecture, and Cathedrals to offer its visitors. We visited the famous, “Love lock bridge”, this little walking bridge gives you an easy walk to downtown Frankfurt. The view of the city and river is wonderful. They have padlocks locks all along the bridge from people all over the world telling their story of why they were there. Great place to take pictures too. We also took an evening cruise and it was amazing. After visiting the downtown and having dinner, we decided to go back to the hotel and rest, we had to start our journey to Paris the very next day. It would’ve been better if we stayed in Frankfurt for 2 nights instead of one as it gives more time to rest and fight jet lag.

Frankfurt LockbridgeFrankfurt river cruiseFrankfurt downtownFrankfurt downtown

On Second day, we left Frankfurt and visited beautiful Luxembourg which is another country on the way from Germany to France. It’s a small but beautiful place, we stopped there to have lunch but were surprised to see it, I remember there was a beautiful street with plenty of hanging colorful umbrellas, it was like seeing another rainbow in the sky. Beautiful sight again for taking pictures which I love. There were so many people enjoying lovely weather; ongoing musical events were another treat. We stayed there for around 2 hours, had a nice lunch and left. The drive from Frankfurt to Luxembourg was around 2 and a half hour, we realized that our toddler was happy watching DVD and when he was tired he’d just cry and we’d stop videos to put his favorite rhymes/songs in the player, he’d listen and sleep slowly. It was just an experiment initially but started to work slowly, the other thing we did by not giving him any liquid. We had also kept a waste box in the car which could be used if he actually puked in the car. Luckily, our 9 year old was sitting behind and was very supportive. I’d to go back in the middle a few times if little one was too cranky and needed me while hubby was driving.

Luxembourg downtownLuxembourg DowntownLuxembourg DowntownIMG_2799

As I said, it’s always better to make a plan before leaving and stick to it, our plan was to leave Luxembourg at 2:30 pm and to reach Paris after 5 hour drive. We should have just stick to it but made a terrible mistake of taking a turn on Strasburg exit which is another beautiful city in Germany, we heard it was beautiful, our car navigation showed the same distance from the current place to Paris than from Strasburg to Paris. When we reached Strasburg it was already 7:30, we just checked how far Paris from there was and it turned out to be the same distance from the highway when we took an exit. We actually took a route from highway which was 165Kms each side which makes it 330Kms extra. Forget city tours and photographs,we just rushed towards Paris again. It was another 5 and a half hour drive for us now. From Frankfurt to our hotel in Paris made it a long 13 hour drive that day, exhausting for all of us!!!!!Remember always stick to your plan from next time to avoid this kind of situation.

Somewhere between Germany and FranceIMG_2790

Our 3rd day was in Paris, we decided to leave our car in hotel parking to avoid chaos and unnecessary traffic in the city. We took a day pass of Metro station which would cover train, buses, tram etc. People were helpful enough to guide if we needed any assistance about the directions, language was sometime a problem, and we knew a little bit broken French which really helped us that day. French is the main widely spoken language in France, people prefer to speak in their language rather than English and some of them do not even know English.

Paris CityEiffel Tower at nightParis CityParis CityNotre DameParis CityParis CityIMG_3036

City bus tours are always great; we’d done it once when we were in Singapore. Sightseeing bus took us to most of the must visit destinations. Paris a city of love, romance, architecture, famous Cathedrals, Museums, famous Opera, the famous “Moulin Rouge” and off course the main attractions the “Eiffel tower” which attracts a lot of visitors from all over the world; a beautiful iconic Iron lady is absolutely worth a visit. We stayed there during the day and came back again in the evening to see the night view. There was a newly wed couple who had come to take pictures in their wedding dress with the Eiffel tower, what a memory it’ll be in future!!!!!! Man was holding his lady’s long gown from back while lady had a bouquet of flowers. We took an evening dinner cruise, the magnificent Iron Lady was sparkling with yellow lights, what an amazing sight for visitors and us!!!!! I wish we had more time there and would definitely want to visit Paris again in life, this city has it’s own charm.

A French gentleman smiled at us while describing the address of “Moulin de Rouge” in Paris. A family of 4 with two young kids, couldn’t understand the reason behind his smile. “Moulin De Rouge” is one of the most visited places in Paris. We took a lot of efforts to reach this destination without having any idea of this place. My eyes were glazed with a shock on my face after seeing those hoardings and window display in boutiques. We must’ve only passed 4-5 boutiques, with a 9 year old who could now understand little bit if not everything, it seemed awful to move any further. What if he started inquiring???Quite astonished, I told my husband, “Let’s go back”. As soon as we got into the train again away from this place, I couldn’t stop laughing. Now, I could recall all the faces that were smiling while mentioning this place, they must’ve thought, “Are they crazy to visit with 2 young boys”??

Moulin de Rouge is a red light area of Paris as the name would only describe, “Red- Rouge, Moulin- Street” in French. Never thought about it while we’re so desperate to visit this location, as per the reviews of Paris on the internet, it was one of most visited destinations in capital city of France. They run cabaret shows which are quite popular and get booked very fast and cost more than 100 Euros. There are boutiques which sell Adult sex toys. Featured in many Hollywood and Bollywood movies, it could certainly be a destination for adults visiting the city but definitely not for the families with young kids.

Some tip here:- Please avoid visiting Moulin De Rouge with young kids. This place is not appropriate for them.

We had planned the next day filled with activities, adventure and fun which made my 9 year old boy so excited, we were visiting Disneyland Paris. We stayed another night inside Disney Resort in Paris, covered both the parks in 2 days and had good family time.I enjoyed most of the rides with my son, also got to enjoy some of them the whole family. it was just of the world experience. This place is never empty, huge lines to reach your favorite rides but worth the experience. Our day ended with Disney dreams, a show with animations and fireworks, not to be missed for sure, it runs till the midnight.

Disneyland ParisDisneyland ParisIMG_3186IMG_3209

After spending 1 night and 2 days in Disneyland, Paris, our next destination was Dijon in France for overnight stay. It was a small beautiful city between France and Switzerland. From Dijon we visited Bern (a day tour for lunch) on the way to Luzern in Switzerland, we stayed there overnight. We were shocked to see the surroundings and beautiful lake, this was not mentioned by anyone to us, glad we paid a visit; the pictures came out so nice. While in Switzerland Luzern is a must see.

Luzern, SwitzerlandIMG_3694

Next destination was Grinderwald, the curved roads, tunnels, sceneries, magnificent lake views, lake water is dark blue which looks so magnificent. After some breathtaking views we reached Grinderwald, I don’t have words to describe the beauty of this place, I’d say this place was like “Heaven on Earth” and we’re fortunate enough to witness it. My pictures mights describe it better,

IMG_3758Grinderwald First, SwitzerlandGrinderwald, SwitzerlandGrinderwald, SwitzerlandGrinderwald, SwitzerlandIMG_3747

We visited Grinderwald First, the longest cable car we’d taken, this is definitely the highlight while you’re there, to do with family and even babies and toddlers are allowed. It was a bit cold on top as it was middle of June. This town has many things to offer for all kind of people, includes biking, zip liners, skiing etc. We loved walking on those streets with gorgeous mountains surrounding us, there was small golf area where we spent our evening.

We stayed there for 2 nights and 3 days, our second day trip was “Top of Europe- Jungfrau”, the train takes us up about 9kms stretch over the mountain to the “Top of Europe”, hats off to those people who thought about this and actually created it. It takes 2 hours to go up and then another 2 hours to come down. The air pressure on the top was too high, my toddler wasn’t  really happy as it was cold and cause of pressure in his ears he kept crying. Luckily we’re able to cover as much as we could. Big snowy mountains, the fog, the valley, clouds on the top of mountains just as white candy floss, big chunks of snow made enough mesmerizing views for us to capture in our cameras. You’d  love this place believe me, i guarantee you, worth a visit for sure.

Jungfrau, Top of EuropeJungfrau, Top of EuropeJungfrau, Top of EuropeJungfrau, Top of Europe

We visited Interlaken the other day which is another wonderful city of Switzerland, bigger than Grinderwald for sure, most of the people visit and stay here while going to “Top of Europe” but I’d always suggest Grinderwald. This city offers city tours, Para gliding and a trip to “Mount Titlis”. After spending 2 nights and 3 wonderful days in Grinderwald and around, our next stop was Zurich. We were really sad to leave those snowy mountains and panoramic views, our journey was soon going to end.

Since Zurich is a business capital of Switzerland, it’s a pretty big city. Our hotel was in downtown so we’re able to roam around with our toddler in the stroller. We took an afternoon cruise for sightseeing. We could still see those mountains where we just came from but they were far away now, sad. It was our last night in Switzerland and we had to go to Frankfurt the next day where we spent a night and then take our flight back home. On our way to Frankfurt, we visited our family in Basel and had a delicious homemade meal.

Zurich, SwitzerlandZurich, Switzerland

Our trip to Europe was fantastic, we tried to keep our driving distance to maximum 3-4 hours each day, we drove in the morning, spent the day in the city, stayed overnight there and left for another city the next day except our horrible 13hours drive to Paris from Frankfurt due to miscalculations, remember to always stick with your plan and not change it.This trip was one of the best trips of our life and we made so many memories together as a family.

There was another mistake we had done as a new traveler and i wouldn’t want all of you to repeat that. If you’re heading to Switzerland from Paris, you can take a stop over at Dijon and then proceed straight to Grinderwald instead of Luzern. Our mistake was to drive to Luzern from Dijon first and then to Grinderwald. If we hadn’t done this, we could have avoided driving more than 150Kms and could save time, driving in hills takes much longer than on busy highways. Distance between Luzern and Zurich is hardly 60kms which you can do later.

Make sure to always plan ahead of your vacation when you are thinking of Road trip with kids, especially with a toddler, this will help save your time there, have a peace of mind and you could enjoy more. Backpacking and no plan vacation may not work with kids as their mood keeps changing.

Try to minimize the driving time with kids as sitting in Car seat for longer hours may not be good idea with them.
1.    Keep them entertained throughout the journey, music DVDs and favorite rhymes seems to do the trick. We bought 2 portable DVD players for each one of them with the microphone.
2.    Manage hotel bookings in advance, so you know where to retire after a busy and hectic schedule of sightseeing and driving.
3.    Make sure to keep food and drinks in the car to feed kids and yourself on the way.
4.    Make sure to give only fruits that can be peeled, banana, apple ,orange would be a good idea. I wouldn’t suggest giving grapes or strawberries, this may give your little one infections due to harmful chemical being used.
5.    Always keep time to rest, staying in the city you land from home for 2 days would always be better. European cities are adjacent so driving for 2-3 hours and taking a stop in another for a night could also be good. Keep more days for your favorite place to enjoy and explore the city.
6.    For flight, keep 2-3 extra pairs of clothes for the toddler and even for yourself, what if he pukes while in your lap. Keeping them busy with cartoons, songs works great; we also took small toys and books to entertain him. They would also sleep for some time. We have traveled with him for even 15 hours long flight and these things have always worked. Don’t forget to give them something to lick, chew or drink while take- off and landing to avoid earache. I have seen kids crying like hell, it does not look good to you or anybody.
7.    Don’t forget to make some lovely memories when you’re with family, take a lot of pictures. Our memory fades with time but these pictures will remind us of our happy days in future.
8.    You can keep Gravol for your child to give him before the flight or a longer car ride, it’ll help him sleep and avoid spoiling the car. Make sure your child is fed and napped in the middle, best is to feed them during lunch while you take stopovers and heavy meals at bedtime. You wouldn’t like a cranky and hungry child.

 

Hope you liked it and enjoyed our journey, also some got some information about traveling with toddlers and young kids. Will be back soon with another story!!!!

Lots of love ,

Vandana Bhatt

19 thoughts on “European Bliss

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  1. Veenu amazed to read your blog and of course like your talent shines out in the lucid, detailed and straight from the heart experience. It sure does depict your passion for travel and writing. Will look forward to read more and see the world with your eyes. You inspire me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fantastic Article by a fantastic person… It was indeed a great article… simply from the heart. I never saw you writing this kind of awesome article even in my wildest dream. It was definitely my mistake though. Waiting for more…!!!!

      Like

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