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European Bliss

Traveling around the globe isn't uncommon these days. Many of you love to travel, road trips, and cruising is on most people's cards. Following my passion for photography and traveling, I've now decided to write my Travel Blogs where Ill share my experiences and give some tips, and I hope you like it.

My family loves to travel places, gain different experiences, learn new cultures, and try authentic cuisines. I'm a vegetarian, and sometimes it gets a bit difficult to find good vegetarian delights, but since many people have been turning vegan recently, it's not a big deal anymore. After visiting Kenya, Tanzania, UAE, Oman, Nepal, Singapore, and Canada, we wanted to experience and explore Europe this time. Though it was a business trip initially, it turned out to be a pleasure later on. We planned a journey of 10 nights, 11 days in the middle of June when the weather is pleasant. Our first stop was Frankfurt (Germany), we took Lufthansa from Toronto to Frankfurt. We planned to get Rent A- Car from the airport and have a self-drive tour around Europe. Our trip included a visit to Frankfurt, Paris, Disneyland, Switzerland, and back to Frankfurt.

Our biggest challenge was to travel with an 18 months old baby who was a fussy eater and increase our trouble; he started vomiting in the car just before we were planning our vacation, he started getting car sick. It gave us nightmares; we have already done our flight tickets, hotels, car booking, etc. I read somewhere that keeping a DVD player in the car could be beneficial, we started trying this at home first, but this made him sicker. Our main aim was to make him sleep in the car while we drive; we downloaded plenty of his favorite songs in a flash to run in the car as well as stocked up with toddler-friendly DVDs.

As we landed in Frankfurt, we picked up a car from the airport and left for our hotel. We had everything planned; we chose hotels in the town center wherever we went. It was easier for us to park the car and walk with the stroller; we didn't want to be caught in the traffic or travel too much on public transport. After resting a while in the hotel, we left to visit Frankfurt city in the evening. Like every European city, Frankfurt has beautiful architecture and Cathedrals to offer its visitors. We saw the famous Love lock bridge; this little walking bridge gives you an easy walk to downtown Frankfurt. The view of the city and river is lovely. They have padlock locks all along the bridge from people worldwide telling their story, a great place to take pictures too. We also took an evening cruise, and it was terrific. After visiting the downtown and having dinner, we decided to go back to the hotel and rest; we had to start our Paris journey the next day. It would've been better if we stayed in Frankfurt for two nights instead of one as it gives more time to rest and fight jet lag.

On the second day, we left Frankfurt and visited beautiful Luxembourg, another country from Germany to France. It's a small but beautiful place, we stopped there to have lunch but were surprised to see it; I remember there was a beautiful street with plenty of hanging colorful umbrellas; it was like seeing another rainbow in the sky. Beautiful sight again for taking pictures, which I love. There were so many people enjoying lovely weather; ongoing musical events were another treat. We stayed there for around 2 hours, had a nice lunch, and left. Frankfurt's drive to Luxembourg was about two and a half hours; we realized that our toddler was happy watching DVD, and when he was tired, he would cry and wed stop videos from putting his favorite rhymes/songs in the player, hed listen and sleep slowly. It was just an experiment initially but started to work slowly; the other thing we did was not give him any liquid. We had also kept a waste box in the car to use if he puked in the car. Luckily, our 9-year-old was sitting behind and was very supportive. I want to go back in the middle a few times if the little one was too cranky and needed me while hubby was driving.

It's always better to make a plan before leaving and stick to it; we planned to leave Luxembourg at 2:30 pm and reach Paris after a 5-hour drive. We should have attached to it but made the terrible mistake of turning on Strasburg exit, another beautiful city in Germany. We heard it was beautiful; our car navigation showed the same distance from the current place to Paris as from Strasburg to Paris. When we reached Strasburg, it was already 7:30, we just checked how far Paris from there was, and it turned out to be the same distance from the highway when we took an exit. We took a route from the road, which was 165Kms each side, making it 330Kms extra. Forget city tours and photographs; we just rushed towards Paris again. It was another five and a half-hour drive for us now. From Frankfurt to our hotel in Paris made it a long 13-hour drive that day, exhausting for all of us!!!!! Remember always to stick to your plan from next time to avoid this kind of situation.

Our 3rd day was in Paris; we decided to leave our car in hotel parking to avoid chaos and unnecessary traffic. We took a day pass of Metro station which would cover train, buses, tram, etc. People were helpful enough to guide us if we needed any assistance with the directions, the language was sometimes a problem, and we knew a little bit of broken French, which helped us that day. French is the primary widely spoken language in France, people prefer to talk in their language rather than English, and some do not even know English.

City bus tours are always great; we did it once when we were in Singapore. The sightseeing bus took us to most of the must-visit destinations. Paris is a city of love, romance, architecture, famous Cathedrals, Museums, famous Opera, the famous Moulin Rouge, and the main attractions, the Eiffel tower, which attracts many visitors from all over the world; a beautiful iconic Iron lady is worth a visit. We stayed there during the day and came back again in the evening to see the night view. There was a newlywed couple who had come to take pictures in their wedding dress with the Eiffel tower, what a memory it'll be in the future!!!!!! The man held his lady's long gown from the back while the lady had a bouquet. We took an evening dinner cruise; the magnificent Iron Lady was sparkling with yellow lights, what a fantastic sight for visitors and us!!!!! I wish we had more time there and would want to revisit Paris in life; this city has its charm.

A French gentleman smiled at us while describing the address of Moulin de Rouge in Paris. A family of 4 with two young kids couldn't understand the reason behind his smile. Moulin De Rouge is one of the most visited places in Paris. We took a lot of effort to reach this destination without having any idea of this place. My eyes glazed with a shock on my face after seeing those hoardings and window displays in boutiques. We must've only passed 4-5 boutiques, with a 9-year-old who could now understand a little bit if not everything, it seemed awful to move any further. What if he started inquiring??? Quite astonished, I told my husband, let's go back. As soon as we got on the train again away from this place, I couldn't stop laughing. Now, I could recall all the smiling faces while mentioning this place. They must've thought, are they crazy to visit with two young boys??

Moulin de Rouge is a red light area of Paris as the name would only describe, Red- Rouge, Moulin- Street in French. I never thought about it while we were so desperate to visit this location, as per the reviews of Paris on the internet, it was one of the most visited destinations in France's capital city. They run cabaret shows which are quite famous and get booked very fast and cost more than 100 Euros. Some boutiques sell Adult sex toys. Featured in many Hollywood and Bollywood movies, it could certainly be a destination for adults visiting the city but not for families with young kids.
Some tips here:- Please avoid visiting Moulin De Rouge with young kids. This place is not appropriate for them.
We had planned the next day filled with activities, adventure, and fun, which made my 9-year-old boy so excited that we visited Disneyland Paris. We stayed another night at Disney Resort in Paris, covered both the parks in 2 days, and had good family time. I enjoyed most of the rides with my son and enjoyed some of them with the whole family. It was just a world experience. This place is never empty, with multiple lines to reach your favorite rides but worth the experience. Our day ended with Disney dreams, a show with animations and fireworks, not to be missed for sure, it runs till midnight.

After spending one night and two days in Disneyland, Paris, our next destination was Dijon in France for an overnight stay. It was a beautiful small city between France and Switzerland. From Dijon, we visited Bern (a day tour for lunch) on the way to Luzern in Switzerland, we stayed there overnight. We were shocked to see the surroundings and beautiful lake, no one mentioned this to us, glad we paid a visit; the pictures came out so lovely. While in Switzerland, Luzern is a must-see.

The next destination was Grindelwald, the curved roads, tunnels, sceneries, magnificent lake views, lake water is dark blue which looks so magnificent. After some breathtaking views, we reached Grindelwald; I don't have words to describe the beauty of this place, I'd say this place was like Heaven on Earth, and we were fortunate enough to witness it. My pictures might explain it better,

We visited Grindelwald; first, the longest cable car wed taken, this is the highlight while you're there, to do with family and even babies and toddlers are allowed. It was a bit cold on top as it was the middle of June. This town has many things to offer for all kinds of people, including biking, zip liners, skiing, etc. We loved walking on winding streets with gorgeous mountains surrounding us, a small golf area where we spent our evening.
We stayed there for two nights and three days; our second-day trip was Top of Europe- Jungfrau, the train takes us up about 9kms stretch over the mountain to the Top of Europe, hats off to those people who thought about this and created it. It takes 2 hours to go up and then another 2 hours to come down. The air pressure on the top was too high, my toddler wasn't thrilled as it was cold, and cause of tension in his ears, he kept crying. Luckily we're able to cover as much as we could. Big snowy mountains, the fog, the valley, clouds on the top of mountains just as white candy floss, big chunks of snow made enough mesmerizing views for us to capture in our cameras. You love this place, believe me, I guarantee you, worth a visit for sure.

We visited Interlaken the other day, which is another beautiful city in Switzerland, bigger than Grindelwald for sure. Most people stay here while going to the Top of Europe, but I'd always suggest Grindelwald. This city offers city tours, Paragliding, and a trip to Mount Titlis. After spending two nights and three beautiful days in Grindelwald and around, our next stop was Zurich. We were unfortunate to leave those snowy mountains and panoramic views; our journey was soon going to end.
Since Zurich is the business capital of Switzerland, it's a pretty big city. Our hotel was downtown, so we're able to roam around with our toddler in the stroller. We took an afternoon cruise for sightseeing. We could still see those mountains where we just came from, but they were far away now, sad. It was our last night in Switzerland, and we had to go to Frankfurt the next day, where we spent a night and then take our flight back home. On our way to Frankfurt, we visited our family in Basel and had a delicious homemade meal.

Our trip to Europe was fantastic; we tried to keep our driving distance to a maximum of 3-4 hours each day. We started in the morning, spent the day in the city, stayed overnight there, and left for another city the next day except for our horrible 13 hours drive to Paris from Frankfurt due to miscalculations. Remember to always stick with your plan and not change it. It was one of the best trips of our lives, and we made so many memories together as a family.
There was another mistake we had made as a new traveler, and I wouldn't want all of you to repeat that. If you're heading to Switzerland from Paris, you can take a stopover at Dijon and then proceed straight to Grindelwald instead of Luzern. Our mistake was to drive to Luzern from Dijon first and then to Grindelwald. If we hadn't done this, we could have avoided going more than 150Kms and could save time; driving in hills takes much longer than on busy highways. The distance between Luzern and Zurich is hardly 60kms, which you can do later.

Make sure to plan ahead of your vacation when you are thinking of a Road trip with kids, especially with a toddler; this will help save your time there, have peace of mind, and enjoy more. Backpacking and no plan vacation may not work with kids as their mood keeps changing.
Try to minimize the driving time with kids as sitting in a Car seat for long hours may not be a good idea.
1. Keep them entertained throughout the journey; music DVDs and favorite rhymes seem to do the trick. We bought two portable DVD players for each one of them with a microphone.
2. Manage hotel bookings in advance, so you know where to retire after busy and hectic sightseeing and driving schedule.
3. Make sure to keep food and drinks in the car to feed kids and yourself on the way.
4. Ensure only fruits to use are bananas, apples, or oranges would be a good idea. I wouldn't suggest giving grapes or strawberries; this may give your little one infections due to harmful chemicals used.
5. Always keep time to rest, staying in the city you land from home for two days would always be better. European cities are adjacent, so driving for 2-3 hours and stopping in another for a night could also be profitable. Keep more days for your favorite place to enjoy and explore the city.
6. Keep 2-3 extra pairs of clothes for the toddler and even yourself on the flight; there are chances for kids to vomit. Keep them busy with cartoons; songs work great; we also took small toys and books to entertain him. They would again sleep for some time. We have traveled with him for even 15 hours long flight, and these things have always worked. Don't forget to give them something to lick, chew, or drink while taking- off and landing to avoid an earache. I have seen kids crying like hell; it does not look useful to you or anybody.
7. Don't forget to make some lovely memories when you're with family, take a lot of pictures. Our memory fades with time, but these pictures will remind us of our happy days in the future.
8. You can keep Gravol for your child to give him before the flight or a long car ride; it'll help him sleep and avoid spoiling the car. Ensure your child is fed and napped in the middle; the best is to provide them during lunch while you take stopovers and heavy meals at bedtime. You wouldn't like a cranky and hungry child.

I hope you liked it and enjoyed our journey; also some got some information about traveling with toddlers and young kids. I will be back soon with another story!!!!

Lots of love,

Vandana Bhatt