And then August hit. August was no different than July, weather wise, luke-cold, rainy, gray except for one thing: the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE CAME AND ATTACKED EVERY CITIZEN OF THE E.U. Or so you might think by the way the town looks.
The entire city of Brussels is gone. Restaurants are closed, doctors gone, schools locked, even retail shops: closed. And not just a gone fishing sign in the door. Closed for the ENTIRE month of Aout (August).
Since Seth's job is directly related to the entire city of Brussels and the entire population that has vanished, things were quiet. A little too quiet.
So we decided to join this party and go on our own vacation.
With less than two weeks time I found a cruise for our family of four and plane tickets to get us there.
The entire family, including the kiddos, went on a cruise of the Adriatic.
When I booked it I was less concerned with destinations than I was about price, rooms, and dates.
And so we went on a cruise.
We ended up going on Royal Caribbean. They were able to find us adjoining rooms, which is so much better than having our children in a bunk bed above us. However much I love my children, I love them more when we sleep in separate rooms. Especially since they go to bed 3 or 4 hours earlier than I do.
The room was great, mostly. There were two rooms each with a queen bed. There was a door that connected our rooms. This meant separate bathrooms, separate showers, and a lot more space for our kiddos to play. The one problem we had was that we were above the promenade and every parade and party they had, we heard it. This woke up the kids a few times and now that I have cruised I am wiser and will avoid an interior promenade room.
The cruise started in Venice. We flew RyanAir which as far as I can tell is about on par with the classiness of the NYC subway system. No frills but we got there and probably saved over $1500 by using this bus with wings.
|A street play and donkey in Koper.|
The cruise went to Koper, Slovenia which was gorgeous. The air was crisp and clean but the town was sleepy, it was August in Europe, and it was a town of 50,000 on its biggest day. I told Seth I was going to take notes for future bidding based on our land visits. The highlight of Koper was finding a playground and letting the kids run wild.
|Stella found a park in Koper.|
After Slovenia we went to Ravenna, Italy and spent the day at the beach. The water was clear and refreshing and it was nice to go to the beach after our cold cold wet summer.
We would usually spend the late morning to early afternoon out and about and then go home, give Tiger a nap, and one parent would rest while the other had a date with Stella.
After Ravenna we hit Bari, Italy. Bari was HOT. Super hot. We took a tour and I realized really quickly that I do not like having to stand and listen to a tour guide, I just like to wander. This may be influenced by my children having the same preferences and a lack of self-control. They just ran at each stop so even if I wanted to hear about the history I was chasing Stella and Tiger who were chasing pigeons.
|Stella runs in Bari, Italy.|
So C- on the Kids Club. Royal Babies, for Tiger, was not much better. They had a few toys on a mat in a bar gone playroom with a grand piano in it. I wonder who the genius was that thought a grand piano was a good idea for a toddler playroom. Use your imagination as to what kids would play with: toys or loud expensive piano.
So Royal Babies: D. If that. Not only were the playgroups weak they had NO swimming facilities for kids who aren't toilet trained. Ask any parent of two how one child would react being told their older sibling could swim but they couldn't. We fudged it (pun intended) and just let him swim anyhow with a swim diaper (which was against the rules). There were no accidents (nor did I think there would be) but it kept me on edge the whole time. I really wish they would have a small paddling pool for little ones.
My final complaint was the area around the kiddie pool area was a slippery as ice. Both my kids fell several times every day. Tiger gave up walking and started crawling because it was just too slippery. We are lucky the injuries were not more than pride. Once again who gets the genius award for choosing smooth and slick as the flooring near a kiddie pool.
There was a token pool guy sweeping water away but that did not solve the problem. Mats would have solved the problem but somehow they didn't get this memo yet.
I had a lot of anxiety about the two hour dining each night with strangers. We were told they tried to match you with similar families. Our children were the only ones at dinner, our dining partners were very gracious and understanding and British. It was like I was living the BBC. They were fantastic.
After Bari we went to my favorite stop by far: Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Dubrovnik was scenic and breathtaking historically and naturally. It was crisp, not too hot, not cold and just scenic. They haven't converted to the euro yet so prices were reasonable. The people spoke English and were really helpful and friendly. It was such a welcome surprise.
|Stella runs Dubrovnik|
|Tiger runs Dubrovnik|
|Venice was gorgeous and PACKED|
We loved cruising, had a great time as a family and despite my complaints I thought it was a great value and a good time. If I did it again I would bring another family to spread the joy/misery of traveling with kids.
Now we are back to Brussels, bring on the rain.