Where do I begin?
Our trip already seems like a dream. It was so fun, but I’m also so glad it’s over. It was long, tiring, expensive, jam packed, and in so many ways, oh so amazing.
While our mixed up flight could’ve started things out on the wrong foot, it really wasn’t that bad. Lance has a way of letting things go quickly, so I was able to work through those emotions and frustrations in the 12+ hours it took us to get there. Vienna was kind of a bust, but we’ll chalk that up to jet lag and the fact that we don’t really love big cities anyway. Luckily experience has taught me to diversify our itinerary, so the rest of the time we had a mix of big cities and museums, small town sight seeing and spending time in the great outdoors hiking, biking and appreciating nature.
Lila, that sweet little girl, didn’t hold us back — I felt like we did everything we would’ve done without her, just not as easily or quickly. She was such a trooper riding in her car seat on drive days, in the backpack on hiking days and in her stroller on city and sight seeing days. Expectantly, she’d get to the point where she had had enough, so there were moments when Lance and I would look at each other and wonder “what have we done?!” One day, later in the trip, I recall angrily saying “traveling with a baby sucks!” (and totally meaning it) but overall, it really was pretty easy and enjoyable. We got to see and experience things we otherwise wouldn’t have, like city parks and toy stores. People were generally nice or at least courteous to us — it also helped that I’m pregnant — and Lila got many sweet smiles and friendly hellos from strangers.
We did quickly turn into the parents we always thought we wouldn’t become, though — We gave Lila fruit snacks left and right, Skittles were kept in my purse 24/7, and her paci and monkey were not restricted to bedtime, as usual. It’s funny how great of a teacher experience is. And how much compassion, understanding and forgiveness you feel for others when you experience something yourself. We tried to strike a balance between not spoiling her and recognizing that she’s a baby tagging along on an adult-oriented European adventure. I feel like we did a pretty good job. I worried a bit about breaking the bad habits, but I’m writing this a week after we got home and she’s easily adjusted.
As will show in future posts, we tried to allow Lila to nap on schedule (about 1 pm) every day. Sometimes that meant in the baby carrier while hiking, other times that meant in the car, and on city days it meant going back to the AirBNB for a few hours so she could rest peacefully in her crib. In that way, bringing a baby was (unexpectedly) the best. Usually when traveling I have a serious fear of missing out, so we spend the entire day out and about and never get any real down time to recharge. But with Lila needing regular naps, we were able to eat lunch at home (saving $$) and chill on the couch for an hour or two resting, writing emails, researching future destinations or uploading photos from our cameras.
Lila’s schedule also meant that we were usually up and out of the house pretty early, avoiding crowds and catching great light before it got too bright and busy. We’d also come in about dark, which we generally would do anyway just for safety reasons.
If the trip had a theme song, for Lila it was “Be Still My Soul.” She would regularly burst out singing it — sometimes softly, sometimes on tune, but usually in a full blown yell. It often accompanied her whines or other signs of sleepiness, but not exclusively. It would make me laugh when we’d be kind of stressed (driving in the car in the wrong direction, lost in the city, agitated in a museum) and she’d start singing “Be still my soul!” (Lance has almost nightly sung that song to her, as well as “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy,” since she was born. She’d also periodically sing the latter song as well.)
Overall, I’m so so glad we brought her with us. We made such fun memories! And with it being two against one, it was in some ways easier than my day-to-day life, because Lance was ALWAYS there to help! But, I doubt we’ll bring her (or baby brother) with us again, at least not until they are older. Our next trip abroad will be just the two of us, granted Grammy and Grandpa C are up for babysitting!
Lastly, side note, 16 days was too long. By the time we left Innbruck (Day 12) we were satisfied and could’ve been happy coming home. Granted, we’re glad we got to visit the Czech Republic and now won’t have to make a special trip back. But, for future reference, a 10-12 day trip is totally enough time. (We only booked 16 days because those dates offered the best deal using our air miles.)
Now, let the documentation of the trip begin!