Tag Archives: Europe

360 Degrees of Longitude: Memories and Philosophy

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I just finished a book that I originally really didn’t want to read, ‘360 Degrees Longitude’ by John Higham.  Traveling? Awesome! Other people’s travel memoirs? Not my thing.  But, my best friend said “read it” and, well, actually I ignored her for over a year but when she said “Seriously, read it!” for the 5th or 6th time, I caved and ordered it.  I then carried it around for months and finally opened the front cover a week or two ago.  And, guess what? I enjoyed every page!

Longitude CoverIt’s the story of a family traveling around the world.  As they plunge from Silicone Valley into Europe and then Asia and finally into the remote Amazonian jungle and over the Inca Trail, I started remembering travel details, travel lessons, and feelings.  By the end of the book, I was sharing in their vision of just how small and fascinating the world can be and spending a lot of time thinking about the value of travel.

The Highams apparently designed the first part of their itinerary around our past travel destinations – England, Prague, Krakow, Denmark, The Vatican City, Thailand.  In each of these locations, I could see the place with fresh eyes and yet remember funny anecdotes or similar experiences.  For example, I first visited Prague as a refuge from the high prices of Scandinavia.  The Highams fled there to avoid high prices as well.  In Krakow, they searched medical facilities for a wheelchair.  In Krakow, I developed a raging fever Read more »

Blast from the Past

There really are windmills in The Netherlands.

There really are windmills in The Netherlands.

The whole third section of our book is devoted to reinforcing the memories of a trip well taken and exploring the cultural diversity offered in your own hometown.  But what I neglected to include in those chapters is the memory boost offered by electronic blasts from the past.  Every couple of months I get an e-mail message from Nederlands Openluchtmuseum.  Even before I open it, it brings me a little smile.

Making paper at the Openluchtmuseum.

Making paper at the Openluchtmuseum.

Back in 2007, when the kids were seven and four, we took the whole family to The Netherlands for a scientific conference.  On an off day we took a train and a bus to a museum that was supposed to be fun for kids while documenting the everyday cultural heritage of the region.  We had a great afternoon walking through the period buildings of the “Open Air Museum” and interacting with people in period costumes doing traditional labor like milling grain or smithing. Read more »

Vienna ist fur Kinder

Vienna ist für kinder!  Vienna, Austria boasts castles, boat rides, music history, gorgeous Hapsburg-yellow buildings, and fantastic parks.  We lived in the 19th district of Vienna for six months with two young kids and we fell in love. Many activities and museums are designed specifically für kinder (for children) and others are just naturally fun für kinder. Here are a few of our favorite hidden family hotspots. Read more »

In defense of the worksheet

Teachers use worksheets all the time.  Why?  Because kids love them!  Then teachers overuse them and worksheets get a bad wrap.  But, trust us, take our worksheet (call it a scavenger hunt) to a museum and set your kids loose.  It’ll be you begging to sit down or go to the gift shop while your kids are still roaming around, looking at art.

No one can get bored in this museum! Museum Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunt is currently sized to fit on one page but you can enlarge and print on two pages for smaller hands.

Postcard from Austria

Life is great.  I know this is the least interesting part for everyone else.  Who really wants to get a postcard from Hawaii saying ‘It’s beautiful here!”  I should begin anyway with what a big success our Austrian Adventure has been so far.  We’ve seen opera and ballet, visited Eastern European countries, gone skiing in the Alps, and eaten an enormous number of pastries.  An unexpected bonus has been the family time.  Since we are somewhat isolated here, we spend a lot of time just the four of us and this is wonderful.  We have some new family traditions now – heading to a “heurigan” (wine house) after school on Fridays if we are in town or taking the tram whichever direction comes first.  We’ve maintained the weekend pancake tradition but it has metamorphosed into Swedish pancake/crepes with Nutella and “schlag”(whipped cream).  The girls are growing and learning so fast it’s hard to keep up.  Logan goes on exciting field trips for school, is loving piano lessons, and can say “fart” in several languages (I know I know).  She plans to be reading before we leave Austria.  Zoey can ride the public bus, transfer to the Read more »

Culture in Threes

About a month ago Ashley went down to the main opera hall to see about some cheap tickets.  She was figuring that we might as well expose the kids to some high culture here in the heart of high-culture land, now that we have two balls in our dancing shoes and our composer of the month is about to change from Beethoven to Mozart.  As she was in the process of purchasing some cheap seats (for 9 euros apiece) for Madame Butterfly, supposing it an appropriate beginner opera for the girls (and me too), she was offered an even better deal for a ballet.  It seems that in a promotion to allow kids access to the ballet they offer some kid’s seats for 15 euros apiece.  And knowing that kids don’t usually come alone, they offer accompanying adult tickets for only 7 euros apiece.  The deal sealer is that they have kid’s seats in the front row of a box, with the parent’s seats just behind. Read more »