Hitting the Road
We just returned from a few days in Vienna and Budapest, or, as we dubbed it "The Hot Chocolate Tour of the Habsburg Dynasty." Why so many warm beverages, you ask? Well, the most defining aspect of the trip was that we were cold. Not in a sissy, it's so warm in Turkey way, but in a, holy moly the temperature is -7C cold. Celsius or Fahrenheit, choose your favorite scale, that's cold. Lucas spent the first few hours with his mittens and hat stuffed in his pocket, complaining about how cold he was and Matt and I assuring him he wouldn't be so uncomfortable if he would just DRESS APPROPRIATELY and after finally acquiescing and bundling up, remarked "Gosh, it's not too cold if you wear a hat, is it Mama? Ugh!
I had a moment in the airport in Vienna where I was pulling up the rear of our little family tour group and I saw my kids each wearing their own carry-on backpack and pulling their small rolling suitcase behind them. Matt and I only had to carry our own luggage! I could scarcely believe it. For just a second I was so proud of my little ducklings and was so happy that the days of strollers and bottles, diapers and portable cribs were long gone. "This will be a great trip" I thought. They are so much more self-sufficient, now we can REALLY enjoy ourselves.
...why oh why do I allow myself these thoughts? Haven't I learned my lesson? Within minutes, Lucas began winding up some really textbook examples of cranky 5-year-old behavior. It's as if he knew Matt and I had let our guard down just momentarily and decided to go for the jugular. After a strained check-in at the hotel, a painful late lunch in a nearby restaurant and some amazing boundary-pushing and limit-testing, we remembered the first rule of traveling with children: flexibility. I sent Matt, who had completely run out of patience and Darcy, the human sponge and willing observer, out to explore and found some secret untapped reserves of patience. I took Lucas back to the hotel room, sat him through an excruciating time out, and never raised my voice. It was as if some super-human Wonder Mommy took over my body. It was a true test of wills, and I won. This battle, at least. I'm sure there's a rematch scheduled soon.
A trip to the indoor swimming pool and the hot tub to burn off some energy and everyone resumed their happy countenances and we continued on our merry, yet freezing, way.
The last morning of the trip we treated ourselves to the buffet breakfast at the hotel in Vienna. We were in Austria, so there was sausage and bacon to be consumed. I love breakfast and love to watch how different people approach buffets. All the usuals were in attendance: the couple in their late 50s/early 60s who will only eat a bowl of Corn Flakes and a banana (for God sakes people! One meal. C'mon!) The family that divides and conquers, each attacking a portion of the buffet and loading up plates to be carried back to their table, creating their own little mini-buffet, as if they haven't eaten for days (we were staying at a nice hotel in the middle of the tourist district so I felt fairly certain they had had a little something in the last 24 hours). As an aside, they left at least 6 pieces of bread and a huge platter of fruit untouched on their table when they left. I thought of my mom: "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!" Then there was the family of three, with two parents bringing plate after plate of food to their daughter, who wrinkled up her nose at everything they offered and finally deigned to pick at one pallid- looking bagel. I'm hoping she wasn't feeling well and wasn't being the amazingly spoiled child she appeared to be. None of them spoke English, yet they all looked so familiar to me. Haven't I seen you at a buffet table someplace before?
Despite the temperature, we had great fun, with a train trip to Budapest to see friends, some fantastic sledding on New Year's Day, and loads of snow to play in.
All in all, the kids did so well, maybe it's time to start planning for a summer 2008 Eurorail adventure. Family hostels anyone?