13 May 2013

Holidays 2013 - part two

After much thinking it was decided that it would be too complex going to Croatia this year.
Since the last addition will only be 2 months old at the end of August, half asked to keep it easy.

So the search moved to Tuscany, as it is close to family and where I grew up. There are the pine woods close to the sea there assuring decent temperature in the hot afternoons, and plenty to do in case of bad weather.
We chose to get a bungalow in a camping, made sure it had a swimming pool for kids and toys in the shadow to fill in the lazy after lunch.
That and the flight are booked, now only need to book the car rental.

And dream until we can get there, here in the cold and rainy days...

26 February 2013

Holidays for 2013

Just back from the long car trip, it is time to.... think about new holidays.
Where will we be going in 2013?
First of all we have to go around the event: no travelling after April and before September. We will be enjoying the cold-rainy-depressing Dutch summer.

Maybe in April we will see if we can go to the Peppa Pig park http://peppapigworld.co.uk/home. We need to see if we can fit it with the last preparations and stress, for sure it would be a big present for the kids knowing that in short they will  be constrained to tighter limits due to the new addition.

And then there is September, and so many warm places to go to.
This year I would prefer avoiding a 5 hours flight, so no Greek Islands, Cyprus, Canaries.
I have been looking around in Italy: in Tuscany prices are very high, let's go South as it is renowned that it is cheaper... and big surprise, whatever I could find responding to my long-long-long list of requirements was as expensive as Tuscany.
Remembering the past holidays the first idea went to Sicily, the swimming-pool style sea of Sciacca, or better closeby to Catania to add some visits to the Etna (too fantastic, is a place where for sure I will bring my family). Then thought mmmh maybe prices are better in Puglia, but since I have never been there nor I know anybody, really did not know where to look and got a bit lost. Between Sicily and Puglia there is also Calabria, so I asked one of my best friends and he said we absolutely have to go to Soverato or even better to Caminia. Try to google-image it and well, it is definitely worth.... but then again, very little choice of hotels, do not know anybody renting a house (and I would not know how to find one reliable), and prices comparable with Tuscany...
So unless my friend can come with some great offer in Soverato, I think I would go to another idea that I have never shared with the other half: Croatia. After a quick look I understood that September is still dry enough and with pleasant temperatures (around 20- 25 degrees) which should allow the three little ones to enjoy. Last, as my guru for Crete loves Croatia, and since Crete was so fantastic I am sure I can trust her again for advice, which is another big plus for this destination....

February 2013 around Europe

Finally decided to use again the car for a trip to the family.
The plan was made thanks to googlemaps, which allowed to see the route, travelling times and other interesting information (like hotels along the route).
After our two previous experiences, one travelling as a couple and one with a 1.5 year old, we decided to have maximum 4-5 hours car, split practically in a couple of hours in the morning (getting up at normal time, taking the time needed to prepare, to avoid the traffic of who goes to work), a lunch long enough for the kids to enjoy a bit, run around and get tired, and then another couple of hours of car.
Result: it worked excellently, not a single complaint of boredom or annoyance, all well enough rested to enjoy every single day.

To note: between Grenoble and Metz we stopped in Arlay for lunch time, but it is missing in the map as at the time of the planning was not sure yet

Days were organized as follows:

saturday 9 morning leave home -> lunch -> afternoon at friend -> evening at family
monday 11 morning leave family -> lunch -> afternoon arrive hotel 
thursday 14 morning leave hotel -> family
sunday 17 morning leave -> lunch at family -> evening at family
thursday 21 morning leave family -> lunch at family -> evening arrive hotel
friday 22 morning leave -> lunch at Quick with playground -> afternoon home

Now some info about the places were we lunched or slept

For the lunch we had on the way down, we stopped in a random village because the TomTom had indicated a McDonalds which however we could not find. The town was however very cute and we found a very good restaurant, I need to do some research to try to find it back.

The Hostellerie Am Schwarzsee was perfect on paper, while in reality there has been some issues
1) the indoor swimming pool is minimum 1.40m deep, which meant our kids could not be left playing at all. 
2) the playroom they mentioned was full of toys but: was in the basement (no windows), shared with hotel staff wardrobe (they were coming continuously to hang or pick up uniforms), dirty (the first two days was really horribly dirty and messy, then it was better but toys still looked quite aged)
3) there is a fantastic veranda where you could eat/drink and enjoy the view, however was very cold, was not being prepared (we did not ask to go there, but looked like it would not be allowed) and mostly: it tremendously smelled of dog, as apparently one is staying there even though we have never met him, while we saw his bowls for water and food
4) one waiter entered the room without knocking or anything. As she had to bring us some toiletry that had run out, she came back again entering without knocking...
5) as in other restaurants in the same country, food was unbelievably expensive compared to the quality. A dish with a small amount of meat and some frozen veggies for almost 40eur. We ate twice in a row pizza as they were cooked in a wooden oven and quite ok (for only 20eur each pizza)
6) contrary to what they claim in their hotel book (the one you find in the bedroom), they do not provide currency exchange at the reception. And they do not care of disappointing you by making an ugly face.
I believe I would not be going back to the place, even though the location was easily accessible and convenient for us, was way too expensive for the actual service.
The only positive note about the hotel, which however had not much to do with the hotel itself, was the ski-rental place located in the basement. Run by a very nice woman (and a man fixing skies in hte background, but he never talked to us), extremely available for our requests. As example we had rented equipment for three days and discovered that our son would not ski: she agreed in taking back the equipment and reimbursed the money.... which anyway we spent with her again to rent a sleigh ;)

About the surroundings of the Schwarzsee: the frozen lake was covered with snow, and the skating ring in contrast with what advertised was not maintained, therefore no skating, which had been quite a big disappointment.
We have not tried much of the ski slopes for various reasons, also we wanted our son to follow a course in the ski-school but they were fully booked the whole week.

The Novotel close to Metz was another big disappointment. Rated 4 stars had a quadruple bedroom that was like a double, the toilet supersmall (could hardly close the door when entering, unless by climbing on the wc), bath-tub also tiny (only enough to bath a kid), smelling of smoke quite badly, and when we entered the room the ventilation was off, which is probably why the smell of smoke was so strong, and the temperature was very very low (had to keep the jacket, then luckily we had to leave the room for dinner and could leave the heating on, which actually made the smell of smoke even worse). They had locked the minibar so could not use the content of the fridge (nor store the milk for our little one). I need to verify how stars are assigned to understand how this one could have 4.

The last lunch on the way back was perfect, at Quick in the town of Jambes in Belgium (not far from Namur). It has a fantastic new, clean, big play structure for the kids, so was really nice cooling there during the last 4 hours trips. If we will do again such a log trip in Europe, we will come back here for the last (or first if on the way down) lunch!

08 July 2012


Soon our rhythms are going to change.... and we can start thinking of sports, lessons, etc

Had a quick look this morning, and found

some music:

- starting August 2013, BplusC Spelen met muziek (voor kinderen uit groep 1 en 2) 
- starting january 2013 BplusC Baby- en peutermuziek 1 - 2,5 jaar (maandag Rapenburg) 
and nothing else, all possible instruments lessons start at around 6 years
I also heard about Taiko kids, but could not find much info at this point, may be if I try later I will have more luck

some sports... starting at 4 only judo
- on fridays,  4  t/m  6 jaar 17:45 - 18:30 uur http://www.judoeendracht.nl/page8.html
- on saturdays, 4 t/m 6 jaar 10:00 - 11:00  http://www.budokan.nl/budokan/
- on almost every day!  http://www.aadvanpolanen.nl/lesrooster

23 June 2012

Hot and cold

Now that I feel a bit the summer... I start thinking of next winter holiday.
Yes, it has been decided that each year we will make a family sea holiday and a winter-time holiday only me and my half.
This morning I had a quick look around, a chat with a colleague about her dream to go to Antartica made me think of going north north north. My husband reminded me of the idea of going to Iceland though. Since it will last only 1 week or 10 days, travelling time is important to be sure we enjoy enough. And to my surprise, Iceland is closer than Svalbard.... so it is very likely going to be Iceland! Will be short but will leave space for a second visit :)
Then, I started to feel guilty that I am letting the planning of the Crete holiday lag behind. So I had a quick look on Tripadvisor for best places to visit, here is a short list
- Falasarna beach: there are for rent chairs and umbrellas, and there are bars.... so we can go there without much load from the house
- Gramvousa and Balos lagoon , better (for us) if reached from a boat that you can take in Kissamos. In fact the car trip requires to go on a white road for quite a stretch, plus walk once parked to get to the beach.

More searches will follow soon :)

18 June 2012

Seek and enjoy

After lots of searching, came the part where we enjoy...

Note: the beach is in Pesaro, the pizzafritta in Cattolica

21 May 2012


These days I am not looking for anything.

All holidays for 2012 are sorted out (sob), also from shopping point of view we are fine (we have the latest useless gadgets)...
So I do not know what to do!!!
Actually there are a few things to be done, but they are boring.... like
- start thinking/preparing the bags for the upcoming sea holiday
- pay the bakfiets
- book the car for Crete (with all the problems around Greece, I am just waiting and watching the events)
- find excursions to be done in Crete... this is normally fun, but it has the drawback of making me feel miserable when I look outside and it is raining

Then... I also would like to go camping coming weekend, but I have the feeling half of myself is planning a surprise and so I need to be patient....
and just in case that same half needs some help, I found a camping in our favourite seaside location in the Netherlands, Vlissingen. Or we could also try a new destination on the sea...
Enough dreaming for now!!!