We arrived in Chicago when it was rainy! We underestimated the windy and chilly weather about the city so we decided to enjoy the city from the indoors. We planned for a quick stopover at the Chicago Children’s Museum for about 1-2 hours only yet we ended up staying until closing time!
Kids rule in play and learning in Chicago Children’s Museum. We have all raves and praises about this awesome kids place.
The staff were friendly, the place is ergonomically designed for kids to play and for parents to enjoy their kids play; or better yet, to enjoy playing with their kids.
Now, let’s talk about Mission. Obviously, our family is advocate of setting family goals linked to one own’s Mission Statement. With the mission statement, “to improve children’s lives by creating a community where play and learning connect”
“Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
We were welcomed by a 100% probability of rain on our first hour in the city! Actually, strong rain welcomed our train from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania we were scared to get out the Station Union.
Rain. Chilly and windy rain. Okay, that surprised us. A lot. Well, it’s Chicago is not called “The Windy City” for fun or pun. Windy the city really is.
Nothing can stop our family from enjoying the beauty and architecture of Chicago. Not even 100% certainty of bad weather.
Our first stop, to get equipped. We don’t like to shopping (window shopping specially nor shopping for fun — any kind if shopping for that matter. On the side note, this is actually obvious in all our family photos, we are always wearing the same clothes over and over and over and over….), but for necessity, we do what we need to. Off we went to get our traveling feet warm while we explore. Although we make sure we know the weather for days and weeks of the place we will explore, we were caught off guard by the winds of Chicago!
Armed with a lot of umbrellas and water proof shoes, we went to visit Cloud Gate Park and checked out “The Bean.” Oh boy, was it still crowded, amidst the rain.
We had a blast taking photos in this architectural wonder. Oh yeah, it seems that the phrase “architectural wonder” goes together with Chicago! The skyscrapers are extraodinaire when it comes to architecture design. Or it our visual description – fabulous and looks functional.
In addition to the Chicago skyscrapers, we visited the Chicago Cultural Center and checked out their extraordinaire biennial exhibition on Architecture! Arxhitects, designers and students everywhere socializing with our three traveling kids talking about design, construction and mine crafts. Minecrafts mainly from our Turknoys, of course. That counts.
Then comes the bronze cow in The Windy City.
The next day, we didn’t want to be overwhelmed with all the “must-sees” in Chicago, so we decided to visit the Chicago Children’s Museum. We didn’t realize we will be there for hours and hours of adult and kids fun!
There are also lots of things to see and enjoy at the Navy Pier!
Top of our list, Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza! A pizza which takes more than an hour wait to bake. Our verdic -calorific!
If you think that’s loaded, try the glazed and infused donuts, another Chicago born and raised idea of culinary speciality!
We went to Grant Park and enjoyed a nice sunny and cloudy (and windy!) stroll along the Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest in the world and one that resembles Versailles Fountain. That sounds familiar, yes, the one in France.
We spent our last day in the Water Tower Place – Dr. Seuss and Lego. Two things that these kids would want not to leave any place.
We’ve seen a little of the city but the kids did a whole lot of Chicago loving their way!
Someday, we’ll return and for sure we’ll enjoy this city more, especially the must-sees.
Have you been to Chicago? What did you love most? Do tell.
“To get such beauty from something that has been produced from the artists’ own imagination appealed to me enormously. ” – Solomon R. Guggenheim
Guggenheim Museum is modern art museum located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It’s a stone throw away from Metrolpolitan Museum of Art on the other side of the street. We were very impressed with the paintings we found in the museum. The museum was established by the Solomon R. Guggenheim, hence the name. He is a philanthropist and quite obviously, art lover.
The kids enjoyed the paintings we saw inside the museum and these are their favorite.
Woman With A Yellow Hair, Pablo Picasso, 1931. We read a lot about Pablo Picasso and one of our favorite is “The Girl With A Pony Tale.” Okay, the note about the painting is a little trolling because the little girl was only seventeen when she met Picasso and became the object of a lot of Picasso’s art works. Despite that fact, this painting our little fierce traveller’s favorite in the Guggenheim Museum.
The Palazzo Ducale, Seen from San Giorgio Maggiore. Claude Monet. Who loves Venice and Impressionism Paintings? Well, obviously our future scientist in the family. The one who loves Venice since he visited when he was three ( and of course, he remembers.)
Woman Ironing. Pablo Picasso.1904. Since our eldest traveler is the master of shades, she knows good art when she it. She’s happy being in the Guggenheim Museum.
Top of the cherry in this Museum is its architecture and design which the kids never got tired of looking… and climbing up and down.
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Austrian Proverb
The easiest thing to do in Austria, based on our family opinion, is to appreciate beauty. The landscape all throughout the country is phenomenal. We meant it when we say, “jaw-dropping, inhale exhale majestic.”
During our first visit in the country back in 2013, we visited Vienna and Innsbruck and we were floored with amazement in every country landscape we saw during our train rides passing through towns from Vienna to Innsbruck. We can ride the train back and forth and we’ll never get tired of the nature, view and even houses with their happy cows grazing in the majestic field.
Never did a month pass that we didn’t talk about visiting again Austria. We wanted to go back to Innsbruck and leisurely enjoy the mountain peaks. However, this second time around, we enjoyed worldschooling our little travelers in Salzburg and discovered the UNESCO World Heritage Town, Hallstatt.
Salzburg is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birthplace, the city where legends are born. Kids noted that their mom was being “weird’ in the room where legend was born at No. 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg, Austria. Like any “typical” traveler, Mozart didn’t quite like Salzburg as much as he loved Vienna. That fact alone comforts our traveller’s hearts. The understanding of Mozart’s childhood, dreams and environment he grew up basically validates our family trails we seek for our three Mozarts.
We gave Salzburg landscape a chance to impress us like Innsbruck, but this traveling family somehow chases the fog, instead of the sun.
Oh Hallstatt! A small village by Lake Hallstatt in the moutainous region of Salzkammergut. We went to explore Hallstatt from Salzburg on a day trip taking two trains one way. It was well worth a day visit and probably more! We really didn’t want to leave. Would you leave a view like this?
We also enjoyed the Salt Mine which took more than 3-4 hours and we didn’t even notice! Definitely a recommended activity for kids in Europe – tourist mode or definitely event long term travel. How fantastic it would be to stay more than a month in this place, we can only imagine.
One of our favorite country to explore is definitely Austria. We have explored 30 countries to date across three continents. That makes us well travelled family, right? We say, yes! We set goals to live the life we imagined.
“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot
Since our family started our family adventures based on our family travel goals, we meet a lot of family travelers online and offline. Perhaps family travel will be the leading form of travel in the near future. Maybe (big maybe) that’s how Millennial will raise their families. Honestly, we see a lot of wins when kids travel early on with their family. It is our contention that family travel will pave the way to world peace.
That Big Family Traveler
More than big in number but more on big in ideas and big in luxury! Family travelers can aim for that one-time BIG adventure and they go all out. Disneyworld, Disneyland, Legoland, Atlantis – yes please! Mainly where commercial travel marketing go crazy at. Yes, after all, It’s A Small World After All!
That Hairy Family Traveler
Shun all the risks, these family traveler will visit exotic places in a heartbeat! But of course, exotic is a relative place, it could be Asia for North Americans or Africa for Asians, either ways it is a dangerous, out of comfort zone place for this type of family traveler.
That Audacious Family Traveler
Daring, bold and brave, adjectives we don’t normally use at the end of a fairytale like “happily ever after…” That’s boring because family fairy tale doesn’t have to have an ending. Long term family travelers life their life without borders, that audacious! It must be really fantastic to wake up to days and days of something new and different which turns to weeks and weeks which turns to years to years.. up to , who knows, decades even.
That Goal (keeper/oriented) Family Traveler
Of course, that cautious family traveler who are vigilant to source out travel deals, who master the itinerary to ensure productive travel days with family because of limited time, limited resources or any other limitations. They are the family who does not make excuses, yet makes end meet in their own creative ways.
Our family is that family who is a little bit of everything, who lives by the acronym BHAG, that Big Hairy Audacious Goal of traveling 100 countries in every continent, who appreciate every family travelers we meet.
Any type, any form, any reason, any rationale of family travel. We strongly believe, all families are unique, so their travels should be.
Kdo hledá, najde. “He who looks, finds.”- Czech Proverb
First, a disclaimer – we never explored all parts of the country, like what we attempt for other countries we explored , at the very least, two cities of the country. Our thirtieth (30th, baby!) was mainly spent enjoying the Renaissance, baroque and gothic architecture of its capital city, Prague. No matter, boy, did we get ourselves full of stories, facts, science and history in, arguably, the city with the most tourists.
We explored the city of Prague, mainly by foot. Yes, our 10 itchy, wanderlust-y feet, plus the three-wheel stroller, which turned 5 years in the family.
New Town or Old Town, all bridges crossing the River Vlatava, ornate castles , holy churches, monasteries and our family’s favorites, library and brewery!
The heart of Central Europe definitely left a mark in our hearts to come back. We want to know more about the Bohemian and other parts of the country.
Hey-O! Completed 30% of our goals. You can be like our family, too! Whatever your families’ priorities are, just go for it!
“One cannot fight the wind. ” – Hungarian Proverb
We got very inspired to write about our family travels when we were in Budapest, Hungary. We arrived at a conclusion that kids travel in Europe with Beauty and The Beast for two very obvious reasons , the continent’s natural beauty and it’s beastly barbaric history. Both great topics for worldschooling.
For Country 28 of our 100 Countries travel goal, we explored Buda and Pest in great detail. We have walked both sides of Danube River admiring the landscapes and history of the country. We are very much aware that the country offers a lot of many diverse destinations, but this particular trip, we decided to simplify our country visit and get to know one of the most beautiful capital city in the world, Budapest.
Getting to know the Danube River , the second longest river in Europe, serves a gateway for discussion of other countries the river runs through… and yes, more bucketlist and travel goals for the our worldschooling family – Black Forest, Romania, Belgrade. Oh the places we want to go when we visited places we’ve already been. Do you experience that as travellers? The more we know, the more we want!
The diversity of the metropolitan city is very evident. We were exploring St. Stephen’s Basilica one morning and the next morning, we were learning something new about Jewish faith inside the Great Synagogue, second largest synagogue in the world.
The Great Synagogue not only features learning about the Jewish faith but an introduction to the holocaust memorial for Jews. A little heavy discussion for the kids. Maybe next year , there will be more serious discussions about this topic.
For this moment, in this country, is perfect. Not fighting the kids playful attitude in all sacred places we visited, not fighting the wind of change, trusting God’s will, going with the flow of the river.. Danube it may be. 😂
There are lessons in every country we visit. We are not traveling with kids because of photos, but of moments we try to capture with our phone cameras.
Just most of the time, we capture it so well, the memory of that certain place and certain time with kids melts our hearts. All the time.
Budapest, Hungary is one for our books. The rest of the country… kids will decide . If Atlas is a myth, Hungary definitely is not.
Promised berries will not fill the basket.- Latvian Proverb
There are no promises for family satisfaction. Only commitment and lots of goal setting. In this case, plans how to get berries to fill our basket! It’s either we want baskets full of berries or not. No half hearted berry lover, right!
There is however, best way to enjoy life… Slowly or quick and dirty… hoops, family blog… uhhmm quick and dreamy!
With this in mind, Latvia! A very musical, creative, artistic, spectacularly cold country.
First.. enjoy slowly. Get to know the country.
Latvia is a not-so-big country by the the Baltic Sea . Come on, check it out. It’s really a country! Oh the occupation regimes seems endless… In early times, it was occupied by Balts, and was later ruled by Vikings, Germans, Poland, Sweden, and Russia. It only became an independent country in 1918. (Corrected by our favorite Rebel Travel Family from Latvia, so this should be accurate. – Advanced Happy 100 Years of Independence, Latvia! Exciting year ahead.) That’s barely like a person who discovered traveling to new places and enjoying new found freedom after series of boarding schools after schools after school after 8-to-5 corporate slavery.
We stayed in Riga, the capital city, for ten days. Our eldest traveller stayed with a host family for a Youth Choir trip while we stayed in the heart of the Old Town of Riga. She had a lot of fun with her host family she didn’t want to leave. They are all so musically inclined, something missing from her real family. We were sure that if they offered her to stay for a longer time even after the scheduled choir concerts, she would have said stayed. Sending all gratitude and love to this fantastic Latvian family
We didn’t see nor appreciate how green the city was. We visited March, beginning of spring. Hence, our desire to go back during summer season. Another wish list in our growing travel to do list with family.
We did however stayed indoors a lot a experienced a taste of Riga, literally and figuratively.
The more we stay in Latvia, the more we were hooked. Off we got on the trains and enjoyed this super affordable public transportation.
Out of Riga, maybe our quick and dreamy version of Latvia. We head on to Jumarla for three days to freeze our beautiful .. faces.. by the Baltic Sea. Such a shame we didn’t get to swim and see the beach crowded with hot bodies. There still saw lot of tourists walking by the beach.
We took more trains and visited more quiet towns, we have enjoyed the serenity and silence of empty streets. The kids definitely has their share of echoing screams. We felt like we were in the opening credits of a country movie, eerie silence, solitude. We’ll, it was fun, cold experience.
Oh the food, wine, cheese and coffee! Let’s not elaborate on that in this blog or we might go booking a ticket to Latvia for a hot wine and salmon. We ate a lot of meat, too. It might be not politically correct to post photos of them, you know…. pork.
No matter how you travel Latvia or any country in particular , slow or quick, night or day, fast food or fine dining, herbivore or carnivore, medium rare or well done, train or bus, music or story, travel it your own unique busy way! Just be alive. Let’s be busy being alive.
“He who does not jump into water will not learn to swim.” – Estonian Proverb
Our family stayed right in the middle of Tallinn’s Old Town. Needless to say, we were deeply fascinated. We can almost hear and feel the stories of Tallinn’s Old Town, one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and, it seems like another super awesome tick in our UNESCO World Heritage Sites family bucketlist.
We would, however, highlight what makes our family travel memorable. After all, this blog, at the very least, is a testament that we can travel to places we’ve never imagined if we set our goals together as family.
When we travel, we are inclined to be biased to cities or countries who have the culture of reading. Reading is a symptom of desire to learn and innovate. That’s really important to develop anyone or any place.
So, guess what we think of Tallinn, Estonia. We stayed one full day at the Estonian Children Literature Centre, with lots of reading and creative activities for our kids, for free! Yes, not every kid can travel like our kids do (that’s why our kids are very grateful day in, day out… gratitude is our top family value, right next to faith.) But, every kid should have access to this kind of learning environment. How we wish every city, province, state or territory would provide this to every kid, free read, free to play, free to imagine! The world would be a way better place.
I guess, what we are saying, check out what this Literature Centre is about.
After having stimulating medieval lessons in Tallinn, we had quite an impression of Estonia. Much more when we visited Tartu, the second largest city of the country and known as the intellectual centre of the country!
We breezed through walking around Old Town, University of Tartu, Toomemagi Park among others. It’s not another town in Europe for us. We enjoyed staring at famous people’s statues and reading the history behind them.
Again for us, our family travel adventure highlight is the modern Science Centre AHHAA, full hands-on exhibits and the 4D cinema.
Epic Estonia has been viewed by the some travel blogs to be the worst tourism slogan because of how the small the country is. But hey, we’ve been to Estonia and it’s not the country’s size which decides how epic the country could be. He possibilities, the intellectual and creative opportunities, exactly epic!
“Happiness does not come from happiness itself, but from the journey towards achieving it.” – Finnish Proverb
Our gateway to Eastern Europe from Middle East is Helsinki, Finland. Making Finland, our 23rd country to explore as family. If you know our family up close and really personal (which will be the case if you read all our blogs because that’s really us! – read on! ), then you’ll know that NO. 23 is a huge life sign for us. Not in a Michael Jordan kind of way. But that huge and enormous impact. We guarantee, that Finland will play part of our family life’s future. We’ll do all efforts, of course, and God wills will pay the wave. Anyway, we are a happy bunch because we are loving our journey.
That moment we landed in Helsinki… it’s like taking a huge breathe of fresh air! Inhale, exhale. We felt we were home in a strange land. Actially, we always feel at ease in Scandinavia countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Although some geography experts will claim that Finland is not part of Scandinavian Region. Oh well, either way, these countries are our true north. (Literally and figuratively!)
Unique Christian churches, busy people going on their business, convenient transportation system, artistic places everywhere and of course, playground of big and small kids abound.
We stayed in memorable accommodations in this capital city – cabin by the sea and an apartment owned by an awesome artist. You know those phrases we, as traveling parents often say during our holidays, became more surreal —-“People live this way?! Day in and day out? What a spectacular way to live.” Of course, the optimistic family family members will rave and say with conviction – We can live like this, too!”
With this energy and vibes, we started the first day of spring with the biggest bon fire our family has ever seen! And yes, spring coincided with Easter festivities, oh what fun. Easter bonfires in Seurasaari is a Finnish Tradition during Holy Saturdays . According to Finnish folklore, evil spirits, witches and trolls are particularly busy on that day and bonfires are believed to scare them away.
For our family, this actually makes sense more than Easter bunnies, don’t you think? Since Jesus Christ is yet to rise, the Black Saturday is like a fun day for evil spirits, hence, bonfires can help! That’s how our family interpret this tradition. Anyhow, it’s really cool to witness world traditions especially one that we can relate to.
Another highlot of our Finland adventure will be life’s celebrations! I ur eldest kid traveller celebrated her 11th birthday in Helsinki at Linnanmaki, an amusement park we enjoyed way better than Disneyland.
Oh yes, she’s feisty , courageous, determined, gorgeous, visionary and eleven! Her talents, wits, beauty and brain will sure change the world we live in. What better way to celebrate this by pumping the adrelin with adventure and sugar in a very metropolitan city?
We definitely made family memories in this country. True to our vision of living up to the uniqueness and individuality of our family members, up to paving our own family trails. It’s just really fantastic exploring a new place while kids grow… by age and by number of countries visited.