Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Iceland Inspired: Traveling with Kids and the beauty of a guesthouse

I know you want pictures, but it is my series and I am writing as things bubble forth, it will be worth the wait, I promise.

So L is almost 9 and E is 6. We have not stopped traveling but traveling is harder with young children. They have sleep schedules, nap times, grumpy times and short attention spans. There are limitations in terms of how much walking, looking, trekking and the like they are willing and frankly capable of in any given day. H and I spent many an afternoon in our hotel bathroom when we went to Germany the first time with L in tow, when she was 20 months old, in an effort to get her to take a nap. It was not fun, it made H very grumpy.

I will admit kids have crimped H and I's wanderlust just a bit. Or so I had thought. This trip, we all traveled well, managed to be sweet and even tempered and we had a great time. Part of this is the kids are older and I have learned how to manage them a bit better. One has to be realistic.

I knew I was in trouble on our honeymoon, when after weeks of stress, a long ass flight, lost luggage and some wacky timezone insomnia, we sit down by the pool, for a day of relaxation and tranquility pool side, H, five minutes in says to me, "I am going to go check out the other pool." Then 5 minutes later, "Maybe I will go for a swim." Five minutes later, "Are you really going to sit here all morning? Don't you want to go for a walk on the beach?" I finally said, "Do you want to go for a drive." That was the last time, the entire trip we sat by the pool. H is not a sitter. He is a doer. He likes to trek.

H treks with the strength and determination of a bull. This is a great thing really. One of the things I really love about him. Give him a map, point him in a direction and he can find anything. He is ready and willing to adventure. We did this on our first trip to Europe. We had some beginning points and end points and we made up the rest as we went along. We ask locals what they like, what do they think is worth seeing. We look through the guidebooks and free local papers. We are urban adventurers.

Little kids can make this sort of wandering harder. They want to eat at certain times, sleep at certain times and can be picky about food, sleeping conditions and the like.

For a while this was a confounding muddle, now I think I have worked some of the kinks, again some of it is the natural aging process and some of it is proper planning.

Sleep, I have found is the key ingredient to happy and manageable, agreeable children.

Behold the power of a suite. Sleep is also the key ingredient to happy and patient and unfrazzled parents.

My advice, spring for a suite.

(Also, I have to say, for me, given my food issues, a kitchen or access to a kitchen is a must. I jut cannot eat in a restaurant night after night, playing roulette with my tummy.  Also I find that the kiddos do better with lunch out and dinner in.)

In Iceland, I found a Guest house with an apartment, which was like a suite. I found this by letting google do the searching. It was a total score.

Butterfly Guesthouse, centrally located, clean and breakfast is included. It was exactly what we needed and the owners were super friendly and helpful. There was absolutely nothing we did not like about this guesthouse. I would happily stay there again in a heart beat.

 (this is from their website, in all 405 pictures I took, it never occurred to me to photograph the Guesthouse.)

I had a feeling going in, that this would be the best bet. Why you say? Because I got a good vibe from the email exchanges and the telephone call. I went with my gut and it was right on. It helps that H and I have stayed in many European guesthouses and we know what to expect.

I really cannot say enough nice things about Thuridur and Jon's charming guesthouse. It was super clean, there advice was top notch and they have a car available for rental also.

The kids felt at home and comfortable and it really was worth every penny.

We arrived late Monday night and their son met us, guided us upstairs and to my surprise and delight, there was milk in the fridge, a selection of cereals and teas. Perfect. The kids needed something in their tummies before we crashed after a long day of travel. This had been my concern about arriving late, but it turned out well.

We took Tuesday easy, allowing the kids to "sleep in" and then just had an unstructured day of grocery shopping and wandering. We were early to bed Tuesday night, thus getting ourselves easily on Iceland time. Sure we "lost" a day of trekking time, BUT the kids were manageable because they were well rested for the balance of the trip. H chaffs at this notion. He wants to see it all. With kids however - one must balance seeing it all with enjoying that which you do see. At least I think so.

Next Up - How we spent our amazing Wednesday!

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