With autumn firmly settling in The Hague and Christmas plans being finalised, I thought it was high time to close the gaps in this blog by reporting back just a little bit from our summer holiday. This is particularly important given that it was one of our best family holidays ever although it involved no long-distance flights or five-star-hotels or infinity pools. It also did not involve any iPads or much TV at that. And for some reason, I believe that this absence of screen-time-escape made this holiday so special. We communicated more, saw more, discussed more, had more fun, played more, rested more, enjoyed more.
Of course, it was also the wonderful mix of places we visited, starting with a day at Europapark with our good friends Moegi, Iwao and Misaki. Nila and Maya love that place and I find it a lot more tolerable than Disneyland ever was. It’s down-to-earth, authentic fun with rides and I am still blessed to be able to stay with Nila, who is not at all into all the crazy rides – phew.
From there, we drove to Italy, spending a week in the Dolomites – our first Italian hiking holiday. Despite a bit of rain, we found it to be truly beautiful there, quite different to the French Alps, again a bit simpler somehow and with some very different, quite spectacular rock formations. It’s become a kind of addiction for me and Raj and the kids too – that one week in the mountains, the best way of all to switch off and relax, to literally see this world from a different perspective. I love the peace, the crisp air, the sense of strength you feel up there. It’s magical.
Just two hours drive from that scenery was Venice, a first for the girls and a great place to return to civilisation, pizza and ice cream. We walked and walked and walked, from our little hotel right next to St. Marks square to the Guggenheim Collection, through the Jewish quarter, across uncountable bridges, through narrow alleyways and past lots of little markets, millions of shops, massive cruise ships and… tourists. And we ended up buying some laser souvenir on St. Marks on the last evening – amazingly enough, it’s still Nila’s favourite toy.
While this had already been a rich and relaxing break, it was even more wonderful to realise that we were only half-way through. From Venice we headed to Croatia, driving hours along an amazing coastline – it really is quite special! – and finally locating our little apartement in a pretty remote bay just north of Split. Villa Lavanda was a beautiful find, we had the most amazing view from our balcony. For a whole week, we simply enjoyed the views, the sea – the water was spectacularly warm and clear – the towns and the sunshine. Although the girls are swimmers, the open sea is quite a different experience and it took a little while for them to feel comfortable in the deep, amongst fish and sea urchins and algae. One thing is for sure, as holiday near the sea, this was our best ever. I guess, it was just so relaxing to not have to worry about big waves and currents…
After a week of maximum chilling, we drove to Germany. It was a long trip, but as with all our trips up to then, we kept ourselves entertained with audio books, endless talking, singing, drawing, quizzes and games – it was fun! We stopped over in Landshut for a few nights with Angelika and family and for Raj, sadly, the holiday was over and he headed back to The Hague. The girls enjoyed playing with other kids again and we loved cycling and spending our time with friends in between delicious German food. A few hours of driving later, we arrived in Weimar, spent one night washing our laundry and stepped in the car again – this time with my parents – in the direction of Berlin, where we were going to be for a week visiting friends and my grandmother. This time, the weather was less favourable, it was actually cold, so the plan of spending days at the lakes didn’t really work out. Still, we walked and ate and walked and ate and took a dip in the water and ate again and enjoyed memories and stories from different generations of my family. Oh, I almost forgot: we also went to see the European swimming championships, a super important experience in the run-up to our upcoming new life with Albion.
As you can imagine, we took hundreds of pictures of this fantastic holiday – you can see a selection of them here, in our smugmug gallery. Enjoy!