COUNTRY 1 – FRANCE AND THE MANY FIRSTS!

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” – Paul Theroux

 

Rain in Paris, Rain in Nice – Highlight of our France Experience !

The memories of France for our family is not The Eiffel Tower. There is much to this country than what the Turknoy parents grew up daydreaming about.

We stayed in France for a total of 16 days and nights! That is more than half-month as a tourist! Yes, newbie tourist family for few weeks, it’s like few weeks of being in first year high school. We didn’t know any better.
We spent 8 days in Paris, devoted tourists as we are, very good tourists, enjoying all the famous touristic attractions in the city.

Lots of photos with the Eiffel Tower, explored the peak view of the Eiffel Tower, after spending lots of time queuing, waiting for our turn to climb the peak, went to Louvre Museum and checked out Mona Lisa (twice!), enjoyed the River Seine Tour on a cold, windy day, Open Bus Tour for several days, spent a considerable amount of time at the Arc De Triomphe, climb the stairs of Sacre Coeur Church and enjoyed its religious rituals and magnificent views and was awed with admiration exploring the Palace of Versailles.

Phew, it sounded as jampacked as it is written.
Going out of the City of Love, we enjoyed Nice and the French Riveria, again on cold, rainy days. The feel of elegance and posh French Mediterrean is simply too gorgeous for our cheap travel mode. We enjoyed the very classy places in Cote d’Azur, Paul de Vence, Gourdon, Eze, Antibes and Cannes!

Snow and Eiffel Tower fun!

 

It was all very fantastic and dreamlike, and not to be outshined was our three nights stay in Paris Disneyland Hotel. That meant three days of enjoying Disneyland Paris, including breakfasts and lunches with the Disney princesses and other Disney characters, of course, Mickey Mouse included. That also meant lots of Disney parades, Disney rides and Disney fireworks!

Paris Disneyland Highlights

 

It was indeed a magical holiday with family.

But, there is a big BUT, following that magical holiday statement. It was magical BUT there is a LOT more.
This is our first foreign country to explore together as family and there are a lot of “HOOPS!”, “Ohhh Myyy Godddd” moments.
Our top experiences may not be about France even, but hey… traveling is most of the time, not about the destination. We all know how the cliché goes – it’s about the journey, the memories, the mishaps, the memories!
I believe, when we are old, grumpy and grey and someone mentioned France to us, there will be lots of laughter in our head. It will not be because we walked the red carpet of Cannes with kids, it’ll probably because of our boohoo moments in the country.
Survived with rice cooker and lots of tuna. The first two days of Paris means lots of French bread and authentic French food like escargot (yuumm!) Then our Asian side won over our desire to explore new dishes, the rice cooker and tuna cans to rescue! The smell of tuna in our hotel room every meal, every day will make us vomit to this day. It was a lot cheaper, too. The image of my kids eating tuna straight to tuna cans or straight from the rice cooker while happily chatting away the days activities are simply too good an image to forget. Of course, we highly recommend to bring rice cooker and tuna cans when traveling with kids!
For sure, our Asian readers will understand.

 

Lost.  Everywhere. Missed metro stop. Missed bus stop. Missed boat stop. Missed street sign. Even got lost inside the Louvre museum. A lot of times. We swear, that Mona Lisa painting moved, when we tried to find the painting for the second time. We never ended up where we wanted to be, but most of the time, we ended up having fun. With new eyes and new places, everything is just amazing.

For what it is worth, France is really is one of the most beautiful city in the world.
Got Laid with Audience. Yes, that type of laid. We can’t really pass the chance of staying in France and not sneaking in “romantic” moments. Did you know that hotel rooms in France (and Europe in general) are really small and it’s hard to keep anything a secret when you share with three kids? Oh well, kids will figure out anyways. Better sooner than later. Example. Set an example.

Durex means I Love You and The Kids Enough Not to Want to Have More Kids

Enjoyed Rain and Snow A Lot. The kids enjoyed their first snow moments in France. Slip, fall, tumble, run, one snowball, colds and cough, happiness in snow.

Ahh, the rain! It almost didn’t stop raining when we were in Nice. The park, the beach, the no crowd day. Just us, the crazy Turknoy family with wet feet and warm hearts.

Noisy Kids Reported. We were almost thrown our of our first hotel. Two old European couple complained about the kids being noisy. Uuuggh! Who does that? And we found out the answer, two retired grumpy couple! We were given a warning, luckily, we were supposed to check out day after. We just stayed out of the couple’s way. The kids will always remember how we defended them, and how diplomatic we were (promise, we were, just a little bit sarcastic.)
France is glamorous. Our first family travel in France, glamorous as we wanted it to be, was definitely not.

Fond first memories together for all family members @ ages 37,35,7,4,1.

 

 

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Life is Pilgrim for All, Kids Included

“To journey without being changed is to be nomad; to change without journeying is to be a chameleon; to journey and be transformed by the journey is to be pilgrim.” – Mark Nepo

The picture of traveling with kids used to give me images of whining, crying, outbursts and lots of kicks at the backseat of the plane (oh that poor passenger!) Not to mention the screams of “I am tired.”, “My feet hurt really bad, we are walking for hours!” and “We are starving.”, shouts of suffering like we subjected them to the huge amounts of torture while traveling.

And yes, that look of fellow travelers, and locals in the area… The – “What are these parents thinking?”-look. And the “Some people should not be parents!”-look, joined with “Oh these poor starving, tired kids, being dragged by their parents to foreign, scary places.” – look.

Side note: We don’t like judging the people we meet on the road when our family travel but we like to judge ourselves through the eyes of these people. That is a bad habit and we are working on that.

But, yes. Traveling with kids are these images, looks and judgments. Not going to sugar-coat that. Traveling with kids is not easy. Traveling with kids is sometimes a form of torture to all family members and people surround us (especially that fellow airplane passenger.)

#turknoys #turknoytravels100 #country4 another rainy day at the Vatican City! “To journey without being changed, is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and to be transformed by the journeying is to be a pilgrim.”–Mark Nepo Cheers to all of us finding our pilgrim! 🦄🦄#unicornvibes #travel #travelblog #familygoals #travelgoals #travelwithkids #familytravel #unschooling

Yet, we are advocates of family travel. We are passionate about packing our bags times five not because it’s fun at all times (it is fun most of the time.) nor we like to torture ourselves (notice, how many times the word torture appears on this blog post!)

We like traveling with kids because of the golden moments.

Kids are pretty good at being in the moment, enjoying the moments.

Experience people, places and events in their wholeness. To be mindful of the moment. To be a child again with no worries. This is our golden take away from life’s experiences, what we always observe when we travel with our turknoy kids.

We constantly move places to evolve, to travel. Yet when we are in certain place, we let the place evolve us. Enjoying the place, the people in their wholeness, that is what makes traveling a pilgrim.

#turknoys #turknoytravels100 #nepal #country9 Getting cozy with the holy people! “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller #unicornvibes #travel #travelblog #travelwithkids #travelgoals #familytravel

It’s so easy with kids to identify what they appreciate and what they don’t. When we take them to museums, their body languages tell us what they love to see. It doesn’t matter if it’s a famous painting or sculpture. They are not influenced by the preconceived notion or majority’s view of what is great and what is awesome. Their eyes know and seeing that spark every time they see something new for the first time, and they love it, that’s appreciating something in their wholeness.

What is not easy however, is for us, “molded” adults to let them choose and enjoy their own moments.

When all the kids didn’t like to be among the crowd who wanted to see Mona Lisa in the Louvre, Mom and Dad were like.. “Uhm, what the?! We took you to Paris and Louvre so you can see the magnificence of this painting, world-class, timeless masterpiece and.. you don’t want to wait your turn to take a picture with Mona Lisa?! Are you all kidding? (or in our mind – are you f*&%ing kidding us?!) A million kids would want to have your place and see this once in a lifetime opportunity and you want to pick your sister’s nose?! (True story!) – to which they replied: But, Mom, she has something in her nose!.. and it seems illogical at that time. And truly a waste of time and lots of euros!

These kids chose picking Kayra’s nose over oogling and admiring Mona Lisa. And when we forced them, they turned cranky and grumpy followed by a lot of whining!

Our younges Turknoy and Mona Lisa 😜😜

That doesn’t sound like a “pilgrim” to anyone. Well, it certainly didn’t sound like a pilgrim for us then and now. Just a making a point here. No judgment, remember?

The hardest part of traveling with kids, and parenting kids, in general is when we take them to certain places where we want them to look at what we think are awesome, magnificent masterpieces and they choose to look elsewhere, to what they think are awesome, magnificent, masterpieces.

Traveling with kids doesn’t not mean they are going with the flow and itinerary of the parents. Traveling with kids, as difficult and inflexible it may sound, means five different minds and hearts each finding their moments and wanting to be transformed by the journey.

After exploring several countries, we are slowly learning to let go and have the kids enjoy their own journey leading to their own pilgrims. It didn’t even bother us when they chose hanging out with the pilots instead of looking at how great and magnificent Mount Everest peak is. We had to emphasized to ourselves that the peak of the highest mountain in the world is magnificent for us, what is awesome for the kids are the pilot and co-pilot navigating the plane. There is nothing wrong there.

Our Turknoy enjoying hanging out with the plane co-pilot instead of enjoying the peak of Mt. Everest!

Kids are pretty good at being in the moment, enjoying the moments. Moments important for them, not by dictated by anyone or anything.

That’s how kids evolve. That’s how people evolve and learn from places and experiences.

Now, our picture of traveling with kids give us images of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, images of three cheeky monkeys transforming into three awesome, strong willed adults equipped with passion and memories to change the world.

That’s an image worth the torture, uhhm….Yeah, I mean challenges when trading  with kids.

Why 100? 

 “All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” – Paul Fussell 

Our family’s first hot air balloon ride! First for all of us, exploring Cappadocia, Turkey! #turknoys #turknoytravels100 #travel #travelblog #travelwithkids #unicornvibes #travelgoals #turkey #cappadocia #hotairballoon

There are 196 independent countries in our world today. So, why 100 countries by 2023? 

Our primary reason why 100 countries is because we want to provide the kids our best milestones for our available resources in a limited time. 

Doing some simple math, that is more than 50% of the total countries. This means that if (when! – we are the optimistic bunch, right?!) we achieve our travel goals before the kids turn legal age, we have taken them for the first time to more countries than they will visit for the first time when they grow up.

Come to think of it, isn’t that how good parenting goes nowadays? We, parents, tend to give the children more resources than they would actually need to cope in their adult life? 

Pick up and drop to extracurricular activities, after school – don’t we know how that felt. Those swimming, soccer, choir practice, add in the dance, voice, musical instrument lessons.

Parents used to complain about this, in our family. When we pick up our kids from these classes or practice, we rant about how “Our parents never pick us up from swimming classes, or taken us to any classes… “ or how “My life is passing by right in front of us while waiting for you to practice choir…” or “My tombstone will read.. Here lies Mom and Dad, driver of the kids…” 

We can really get more creative whining and the complaining until the kids ears fell off.

Obviously, we  don’t like this particular task, but we perform  it diligently  anyways. And someday, our kids, for sure, will not consider this huge effort, that time when they strongly believe that we have ruined their lives for good for being the worst parents ever in the entire world!

Happens to the best of parent , we think! Our personal opinion. This is the cycle of parenthood: 

Parents try the very best within all the available resources. Children want more. Parents try harder. Children elevate their needs and desires. Parents unable to give more. Children blame parents. Children work for their own or they become parents themselves. The cycle carries on.

Indeed, the cycle can happen to any parent. It happened to our parents. And our parents’ parents. Well, remember our parents nagging how we have the better of things? 

Well, our parents did try our best to give us all the resources they could ever afford. None from any side, think it was enough. There is always something out there in a different generation to elevate the needs and wants.

Awareness and acknowledgement of this cycle made us set expectations with the children. Open discussions with little bit of negotiations work wonders all the time.

Especially for our travel goals.

“Your parents want to travel, want to come along?”

“Yes?”

“Okay. You can come to 100 countries we will go to as family.”
“Only until 2023. By then, if you want to see other countries with us, you will have to pay for your own travel expenses.”

Expectations set. No harm feelings, kiddos, we’re off to couple cruising in few years.

And this goes to not just traveling. In all aspects of parenting. 

We should give our children the resources we can give as parents, BUT (that’s a big B-U-T)  not to the point of disabling them to do greater things in life. 

And definitely not to the point of sacrificing everything we have parents as human beings so that we are left with no identity the minute our kids are adult enough to stand (preferably travel) on their own two feet. 

The secondary reason is just the number itself! 

We tend to associate the number 100 to perfection. To great and awesome exam grades, 100% effort in studying for exam, competing for something.
We want our turknoys to associate 100 to the 100% love and adventure we want to offer them. Then someday, to that 100 times we step on foreign soil and felt happy, scared, excited, all those rush of emotions while looking at each other’s’ reactions. One hundred times we felt happier than we ever could.
100 first times. 100 first steps. 100 milestones. 

God-willing.

Turknoy Family Trail

“Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Prior to being bitten by travel bugs, our family are advocates of customized education even when our kids were attending their early years of ‘education” in schools. We believe that every individual is unique and every kid has their own preference and phase of learning depending on their inherent talents and capabilities. We believe it so strongly that we even think it is commonsensical. Think evening gown, tailor made vs. store bought. Kind of obvious, right?
However, the Turknoy parents were educated in a traditional fashion. Our minds were molded to have the mindset that if we enroll our kids to the best school available, then we are doing what every parents should do. That we are good parents.

And we wanted to be good parents.

We paid exorbitant amount of tuitions for several school terms. Imagine this, one school term for one kid is equivalent to one parent’s lifetime education, including the graduate school, in our home countries. No worries, we used to say. We are trying our best to be good parents.

We picked up and dropped our school diligently to school, on time, every day. We got off work to attend parent-teacher meetings to discuss about the school curriculum which our kids probably learned at home already. We wanted to good parents.
We required our kids to do their tons of homework (starting at age 3!) and nagged the kids about studying hard and forced the kids to learn something they didn’t want to know, that some of them are not yet capable of learning, because of standard curriculum and have-to learning milestones. We wanted to be good parents.

We accepted explanations and letter of apologies from kid bullies who punched our natural-born leader kiddos so they can conform to the kids’ standards of friendship and compliance. We wanted to be good parents.

Settling into the routine of wanting to good parents, we booked a holiday, because that’s what some good parents do. They take their kids to holiday adventures. On a school term break, of course! 
We travel with three kids in tow to France and Italy. Our first two countries to explore together. Awesome magic happened. Imagine how they describe that first kiss, that first love? Multiply that by five thousand! That’s how the parents felt when they see the kids mingling with fellow tourists, talking to locals, enjoying the magnificent sceneries and landscapes, enjoying the art, the culture, the architecture of these fabulous countries.

Rain or shine, our family explore! #turknoys #turknoytravels100 “A rainy day is the perfect time to walk in the woods.” – Rachel Carson #unicornvibes #travel #travelgoals #travelwithkids #travelblog #france #nicefrance #country1
Family of five , 2 boys and 3 girls… crossing the travel bridge while ranting and raving to each other! #unicornvibes #travelgoals #turknoys #travelwithkids #turknoytravels100 #travelgoals #country2 #italy #florence

Things did not go to plan. We experienced being left behind by trains, we cancelled hotel bookings, we made impossible hotel re-bookings, we got lost, a lot of times, took the wrong train a lot of times, almost starved to death (using the kids’ words), a lot of times.. and we observed how the kids were more than just going along with the flow. They were discussing and making decisions with us. Yes, there are a lot of whining and complaining, but sorting things out with all family members, despite the helplessness of the situations, those moments are the eureka moments for us! We wanted to travel more together.

We wanted to travel more together so the parents can witness the shine and joy in the kids eyes every time they see something new for the first time. Every time they contribute to the travel decisions and get to say “See, Mom and Dad that was a nice call. Aren’t you glad we got down on this metro stop? ”

We wanted to travel more together so the kids can witness the shine and joy in their parents eyes every time they see their dreams realized. “Wow, Mommy, you are teary-eyed. How long have you wanted to see the Eiffel Tower? And then attempted to answer without sobbing too much… “All my life, babies. All my life.” We didn’t need to tell them that dreams do come true. We showed them what reactions we had when dreams do come true. 

We wanted to travel more together so we can share more awkward moments, like that time when we almost got thrown out of the hotel because of the noise the kids made and their parents handled that really diplomatically with the hotel receptionist. (At least, when in front of the kids!)

We wanted to travel more together so we can share more scary moments like that time when our baby almost got left behind in the airport (true story!) and survive to tell it!

All those moments, moody, grumpy, scary, fun!

Mum, remember that time when we were in Paris on top of the Eiffel Tower?… “ Of course, darling, I do remember, vividly. 

And the great part is, we will hear that kind of phrase for a long time since the kids started traveling now that they are still young.

We wanted to be good parents. We wanted to travel more together. You know that decision tree, when you are face with gain-gain choices, we choose the gain that feels right.

Traveling together feels right for our family. We took the kids out of school, stopped paying tuition fees, stopped waking up wee hours every school day, stopped stressing out the kids to finish their homework, said good byes to bullies and started enrollment to airline mileage points.
Baby steps. To a path with not so much trail.

Three days exploring the Louvre with kids and several years to get over the memories (maybe never! Hopefully never!)

Dreaming of France No More!

I believe that everybody dreams of going to Paris, France and seeing the Eiffel Tower.

There are enough movies, soap operas, news, marketing publicities about France being the most romantic country in the world to make everyone wants to go there.

Including me.  And to think that I came from a very (very) remote town of an archipelago country.  I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower ever since I saw the movie French Kiss. I was almost 17.  (I did tell you I am a remote country girl, right?)

To see  the Eiffel Tower for me was one of those goals that you have to have in the list but totally okay not to achieve; right there in the group of “to marry my prince charming” list.  These goals I thought would never actually happen.

Eventually, I did marry my prince charming and we did live happily ever after. Then it hit me – dreams could come true. Why not go to Paris?

But part of living happily ever after is having kids. We had three. Yes – prince charming can’t keep his hands off his princess.

Later on,  my prince charming and I realized, that since we have kids, it would be almost impossible to travel. So they told us.

According to our happily-ever experts, there are a lot of reasons why we can’t travel. Period. Much more travel to France. The most popular one is that kids will not appreciate France and the baby won’t even remember. Bottom line, almost everyone around us thinks that it is not just worth it.

That same reason why we can’t travel to France just yet, fueled my desire to go to France more .  We went to France March 2013. This is my happy-ever-after. This is not my kids’ dream. This is MY DREAM. I want to explore France.  I want to travel with my family. I don’t want to wait until they are “older” to appreciate the place same as I would. I definitely don’t want to wait until we are retired and kids are all grown up.

My happy-ever -after is now.

For seven beautiful days we explored Paris, France.  On top of that, we stayed in Disneyland, Paris for three awesome nights. We explored further and went to South of France: Nice and Provence France for additional week.

I am dreaming of France no more!  I am happy; ready to move on to other dreams.

If the kids want to come back later on, it will be their dream to be conquered. I have achieved my life-long dream, they should follow their mother’s lead.

Have you been to France? Do you want to visit the country sometime? What’s keeping you? 

 

Arc De Triomphe
Disneyland, Paris
Disneyland, Paris