The first 12 weeks
This week marks 12 weeks since we decided to leave the states and explore the world. The idea was simple: shed as much physical clutter as possible in exchange for experiences and time with one another. We planned this whole trip for years and years and it took many forms along the way. The things we anticipated would have been simple, have become complicated and the things we never thought about have become front burner. It’s funny how that works. I’ve avoided publishing the tough parts of this trip, and I thought now would be a fair point in our journey to talk about the curated and the chaos totally transparently.
Today I woke up in an unbelievably gorgeous master suit. I looked out the window just before 8 am and saw people walking their dogs through a golden field whose cows grazed and birds flew by in a fashion akin to that Snow White scene where the birds help her clean while they sing a sweet song. Atlas and Joey were still sleeping and I was able to sneak away for some quiet time to catch up on work before the day officially started. Down the flight of stairs through the antique tile hallway, I made my way to another front facing room with the view of the field, which somehow was more beautiful on the ground level. The house was silent, clean, and more of a mansion to be honest. These are 10 days of our lives in Holland. We will feed bunnies in the back yard, play soccer, ride bikes, cuddle in a hammock, bounce on a trampoline and enjoy the chilly air and beautiful scenery and be grateful every second of it, because we have learned not every trip is guaranteed to be so comfortable. The owners of the house have left of a beautiful gift basket of snacks, a card, and even a face mask with the intention of me finding some down time. Some places are like this, often it’s like this, but sometimes it’s the complete opposite.
I know people saying they are “authentic” and “transparent” is both relevant and yet redundant while sharing their lives online and I am not looking to come off as the martyr when I share the not-some-awesome-manion moments. I just want to show both ends of what has happened over the last 12 weeks because I suspect as we continue on things will be up and down and the down always has a lesson in it.
In totally juxtaposition to our Holland experience so far, Paris was a complete nightmare. A real, we-did-it-all-wrong moment that lasted an entire week. Things in Paris didn’t get good/comfortable/safe until the very last day where we met some worldschool friends and had a magical play date and the once-resident showed us around.
If you recall, we booked an airbnb last minute, never got let in and spent two days fighting for a refund. We panic booked a Hotel (which was lovely) in the absolute most scary neighborhood. I never witnessed someone doing crack, and Paris changed that for me with kid in tow. This was dark alley, squatting on the floor, two junkies looking up at me holding Atlas’s hand and we bolting into a security Gard flanked grocery store. We had to take a car everywhere, walking was royally unsafe. We didn’t get to experience Pacrs at the ground level. It was our first time, and the way we like to get to know a place is buy walking, a lot. We couldn’t find the good stuff, and we just felt scattered. Most places we wanted to go were closed. Most people were rude. We couldn’t wait to leave. We went to the same cafe three times, and just stuck to ourselves until we finally took a train to London.
London was a warm hug. We spent the weekend with an old friend exploring, went to Legoland, and then stayed in Fulham for a week. Everything was lovely, safe, simple and easy. We spent time in my old neighborhood doing familiar things. Not a single complaint. I believe peppering in friends to see has been a huge part of having the strange places feel like home immediately and the familiar places feel like we never left int he first place.
The places we have been have all been really great (with the exception of Paris) and our drama has stemmed more from the act of traveling to them than anything. If you rewind way back to the day we left, our flight never actually made it to our first destination, Florence. We had to maneuver that ourselves by saying “no” to the airline and there 20+ hour “solution” for our missed connection and just hopping on a train and then driving the rest of the way (saving us many, many hours). They also lost our luggage, flight one. Week one. In the middle of the heatwave. It wasn’t the best way to get this trip going, but it’s how it happened. I just kept reminding myself that there will be bumps and that goal was to have the experience and work through it so we could get to the next shiny fun thing.
And that’s exactly what happened. Right after the congestion and heat of Florence, being reunited with our luggage, and becoming flexible with how we travel, Lucca and Norther Italy were a dream. Maybe they were so good because getting to Italy was so bad. That’s not to say we weren’t met with any more bumps. Somehow anything to do with France has been difficult. As nice and easy as it was to ferry from Dover, England to Calais, France (the whole process took 95% of the stress away a flight would have given me) when we rented our car for a month in France it was dukes up again. They gave us a car which was in iffy shape and was also equipped with a single non-functioning USB. Not ideal when you plan to road trip around Europe using your phone as your GPS. They wouldn’t replace it. They were so rude and snippy with us, and they said it’s not required to make the car “go” so they don’t need to do anything about it. This is after location A sent us to location B (an hour away) to pick up a new car. Another whole day trying to fix something on France, down the drain. About two weeks later the car would just not start! Another whole day trying to get help on what to do. This was super stressful because we were leaving Copenhagen for Antwerp the next morning and we had our last full day of Copenhagen planned and couldn’t do any of it because we had to manage getting the car towed. So in total, France and France alone has left us with four full days of dealing with customer service issues if you don’t count our flight to Europe. We see a pattern and are done with France for a little bit.
Needless to say, there have been ups and downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs. I would take a fussy French interaction a hundred times over to see the look on Atlas’s face when he’s found a forgotten giant in the woods of Denmark, biked through a field of flowers in Holland, and cooked and eaten and liked spinach in Italy. His growth has been undeniable and unbelievably rewarding to witness and that it why it’s worth the bumps.
Now, logistically, our lives have changed A LOT since we planned this new way of doing live and even since we left. Originally we planned on traveling for a year and moving to Porto to expand our business, but, if you read this post, you know that plan has changed, at least for now. We are currently planning to move to London temporarily while we map out what our options are, catch up on work, and plan our next travel paths. This couldn’t be further from what I thought was going to happen, but it’s what makes sense for now. And that’s kind of the thing - we meticulously planned, but only about 50% has gone as planned. Same as any other day, before we left!
PPS Want to check out all our travel videos and posts? Here is a shortcut.
Family Trips to Date: 47
Countries: w/o Atlas: 13 with Atlas: 10
States with Atlas: 16
Carousels Ridden: 10
Roller Coasters Ridden: 3
Atlas Rope Course: 2
Atlas Zip Line: 2