COUNTRY 6: Austria’s Perfect Landscape Country With That 80-Year-Old Woman Biking Uphill Quite Passionately

“The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.” – Alfred Adler, Austrian medical doctor and psychotherapist
 

As a travelling family, we never NOT get lost. Getting lost is part of our traveling strategy that IF, in rare circumstance, we didn’t get lost, there will be a lot of Oohhhhss and Wooowwws. We even started to enjoy getting lost!

When we travel, there is no rule but “hold hands when we cross the street.” We basically wing it all from there. A little bit of caution and disclaimer though, our free-range kids and relaxed parenting method while traveling is not for everyone! We have bruises and cuts to prove minor dangers in family travel.

Our main focus when we travel is curiosity. We believe that when we are driven by our desire to learn and explore, the risks mitigate themselves allowing us to enjoy the benefits of travel to the fullest.

Austria is a country where we never really went to any actual tourists-to-see list by purpose! We followed a rough itinerary of what we should see in Vienna and Innsbruck but we ended up just roaming around, observing people, eating, observing people and actually talking to them.

The beauty of Vienna is imbued with a perfect mixture of intellectual and emotional spirit. The architecture, the art, the people, it’s artistic, puzzling and electrifying all at the same time.

The Oldest Working Ferris Wheel in the World
Our family photos in Vienna -lost, wet, under construction!

While Innsbruck! It’s true love between Innsbruck and the Turknoys really! Oh my, how our hearts crave to go back to Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen , the panorama and the funicular ride! As much as those things are memorable, we will always equate Innsbruck (and the country Austria in general) with that very agile and healthy grandmother who was biking uphill and passed us by in a flash (no exaggeration!) while we were panting, sweating and almost climbing the hill with our very healthy kids!

#turknoys #turknoytravels100 #country6 Innsbruck, Austria enjoying 2012 meter height spring weather! “Traveling leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller… “

Our love for healthy lifestyle was sparked right there and then. We wanted to become that woman, when we are that old. We equated it to the activities and habits of the people in the country. Who wouldn’t be inspired to walk, bike, be active in such as a beautiful scenery, we wonder.

This we lesson is instilled in all of us – from Innsbruck, Austria:

Life is short indeed. However, we don’t have to make it shorter. Live to the fullest for longer beautiful years by being healthy and happy.

If there is a country perfect for wandering and getting lost, it is definitely Austria! Throw your precautions away, pack the bags and learn life’s lessons in a beautiful landscape. Who knows, you’ll find an inspiration to the old lady (or old man) who had lived their life to the fullest and by the looks of how healthy they are, is barely done living!

 
What do you first do when you learn to swim? You make mistakes, do you not? And what happens? You make other mistakes, and when you have made all the mistakes you possibly can without drowning – and some of them many times over – what do you find? That you can swim? Well – life is just the same as learning to swim! Do not be afraid of making mistakes, for there is no other way of learning how to live! – More from Alfred Adler
 

COUNTRY 5 – Germany, Castles of the Fairy Tale King, UNESCO Churches, German Sausages and Solo Travel

“Rund is die Welt, drum Brüder laßt uns reisen.” (The world is round, so let’s travel, brothers!)

Germany will always be that another world to explore for our family which we will consider very special to our hearts. This country is our first travel for almost free, no plane tickets, no guides, a lots of German sausages with pretzels and cheese as a meal. 

That experience of waking up in a different country as a complete stranger is awesome! Well, not really a complete stranger, since we are family traveling. It’s even better. The kids looking up to us to see how we behave when everything else is new and strange, how we adapt to new challenges and environment spontaneously. The thought that those scenes will fill up their memory banks of us is scary, challenging and great fun.
 

Several months after our family adventure to the country, this country is also the first solo travel of our eldest kid explorer. She went to two cities of Germany with the Doha Youth Choir having their performance in Berlin and Hamburg. She had a great time exploring the cities despite being shy and awkward with the people with her. How different would she have reacted if she hasn’t been in the country before, we won’t really know. It wasn’t easier for the parents to be apart with her. We suppose, exploring together or not, it will always difficult for the mother hen to part with the chicks, so to speak. 

 
How our first Turknoy enjoyed her Germany travel is her story to tell, if or when she wants it to be told. We, as family, had a blast in the Bavaria region. Our visit to the country is definitely a spur-of-the-moment decision for all of us. Two months after our first Europe trip, we were first so hung up with the beauty of Europe. It’s really hard to get over Europe once you’ve been there. So, our family didn’t even attempt to let the memory of Europe fade before we get on the next plane.

We spent our miles getting tickets to Munich and our first goal is to explore Bavaria! Following our Disneyland Paris trip, we wanted to check out the inspiration of the castle, the Schloss Neuschwanstein. The real castle is way more fabulous, of course! The architecture, the landscape around it. Truly, a magnificent infrastructure from the 19th century!

This started our non-fascination towards Disneyland and other commercialized Disney adventures. We all realized as a family that the world is too beautiful and too diverse to focus our travel goals toward making the greatest businessman in the world, richer!

We visited the Fairy Tale Castle of Neuschwanstein and supposedly enjoyed the breathtaking view from the Marienbridge to the castle, but the foggy weather didn’t allow us to enjoy the view.

This is our reality of the view of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke Bridge, a family photo to treasure still

This is our expectation of the view of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke Bridge ❤️❤️

Here then we realized that being in an awesome and surreal place is always better than in pictures. I know it’s ironic but spending the day in and around the his castle in a foggy weather is indeed more amazing than in photos. Either than or we should bring a better camera than our smart phones. (We have yet to learn this bit of lesson as we still go explore countries armed only with our iPhones!)

One fun fact we learned during this trip is that King Ludwig II has the same birthday as our only Turknoy son. Known as the Real Fairy Tale King, we got interested in getting to know King Ludwig II as it may give us a glimpse of the future personality of our boy.

Not to be outdone, the Linderholf Castle is our favorite castle really. More so than the Neuschwanstein Castle. Here we really appreciated the weirdness and uniqueness of King Luwig II. It’s amazing how much we can tell about someone based on how he lived his last months or moments of his life. There’s that honesty and bluntlesss that they can’t really hide.

With our points of view about life and how to live about it, Kind Ludwig II will always have a place in our family discussions.

Our top favorite family photos in Germany @Linderholf Castle of King Ludwig Ii
And hoops, the Bavarian cheese farm with lots of sausage platters with fresh baked bread. Plus that 360-view of the mountain is one for our books as well. Yeah, lots of memories to cherish as family!

We explored the Church of Wieskirch built in the 17th century, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage and we enjoyed staring at the biggest and most beautiful bamboo organ inside the church. The same enjoyment we experienced when we went inside the St. Peter’s Church in Marienplatz and climb the gazillion steps (exaggeration, of course, but it was a long and challenging climb with three kids in tow!) to enjoy the view of Munich.
Last and definitely the least (in setting the good example for the kids), the beer! Oh my the beer! It was not Octoberfest but the overflowing fresh beer early morning is a memory the parents will cherish.
                                                               

Someday, we wish to go back to Germany. There are lots of reasons to go back. Months or years of exploring the country may not be enough. The art, the culture, the food, the history, the local’s friendly yet formal attitude, the future possibilities. Hopefully, one of the kids will consider this as a country to live in. For now, we move on exploring.

Marienplatz at München
 

Cheap Family Globetrotting is Possible, If It’s A Priority

“Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage.” – Paolo Coelho

Travel is cheap depends on the comfort you want! 😍
If you think travel is expensive, then most probably, you never really had an adventure just yet. Our family can say that with conviction because we have been there.

The family who follows routine and “saves for the kid’s future.” The family who doesn’t define what is important for the family members, but tries very hard to “fit in,” such as attending birthday parties and then throwing birthday parties or play groups with lots of freebies!

In no way, we are claiming that these parties are bad or waste of time. It’s just that, at birthday parties, you always see that one awkward group of people who look like they are trying to have fun, but can’t because it’s not in their DNA to be around people. When we attend parties, that’s how our introvert family looks like.

Parties make some extrovert people happy and contented. Throwing lots of parties is awesome if it is your priority in life and if that makes your family happy.

That’s our main point really. Do what makes you feel alive. Know your priorities. Make sure it’s what matters to you and your family. Not the routine priorities of our lives.

The moment our family said our priorities out loud (or through this blog!), we started to experience realization of our travel goals in no way we thought possible, most of them for free. It’s because our eyes are laser-focused on what’s out there to make our priorities our realities.

To name a few examples:

· Our Qatar Airways family ticket to Munich is free-of-charge using Qmiles.
· We got Qatar Airways return trip for free, again using Qmiles for our trip to The Netherlands.
· We got free upgrade from economy to business class from Istanbul to Doha.
· We always stay in the business lounge at any airport, even we always travel economy. For free.
· We always have room upgrade at any hotel/ hostel we stay in because we always book for two adults only (and yes, we are actually five!) Again, free of charge, because we have a “business class” status in the online travel booking community.

Yes, we do spend money for traveling. The value for the money we spent is sky-rocking-high and that’s what makes it cheap.

Way back 2009, we spent the same amount of money for our first daughter’s 4th birthday party at Chili’s and our second Europe trip. Add in the birthday gifts we gave to the birthday parties we attended for that same year and that would be the same as our trip to Nepal.

When we didn’t travel last year over Eid holidays, we ended up spending more than when we travelled to Denmark and Sweden for the second time over the 11-day holiday. Living costs is relative. We just need to decide which (and where) perspective to look at!

It takes courage to define our priorities in life. It also takes courage to say “No” to things that doesn’t make us as happy. It does cost us financially and before we knew it, it will give us lots of should-have beens.

Travel is not expensive. Not having goals is.

“We are all part of the free world! Free to dream, free to travel, free to live!” – Turknoys ‘ Mum

COUNTRY 4 – Vatican City State “The Holy See,” Papal Conclave  and way more!

“Dear Young People, Do not bury your talents, the gifts God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things!” – Pope Francis

The smallest state in the world both in area and population has lots of tourists visiting due to very diverse yet related purposes.

Christian pilgrimage.

Pope Francis. Papal Mass.

The history, beauty and art of its famous architecture – St. Peter’s Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel. The art of Michelangelo.

The home to world’s only ATM that gives instruction in Latin.

Veni. Vidi. Amavi. 

We came. We saw. We loved.

on top of St. Peter’s Basilica, 350 steps up!
Our Turknoy family has been to Vatican City State. Twice.
We’ve seen all this and witnessed the Papal Conclave.

Turknoy Mum has been raised a Roman Catholic, by default, and going to the Vatican City is a pilgrimage for her. It was a holy and awakening experience yet there were more questions than answers. More unraveling than confirmation.

Our family, Catholic or not, are God-believers. Yet, we were awakened with the need for deeper understanding of God in its entire sense, outside the walled area of Vatican City. One does not need world class and elegant architecture, ancient or modern, to find a connection with God. It may be an unpopular view but that’s one strong opinion (note: opinion, subjective, based on our own personal perspective) our family really believes in.

That belief gave us wide open eyes to explore the Vatican City. In addition, we had an amazing instant 5-minute fame. Well, at least for Turknoy Mum. As for the kids, it was their chance to see how awesome their mum is! (Again, our family’s opinion.)

We were on our way to the Vatican City, add the rain for more melodramatic effect, when a journalist/ reporter/ TV personality from AL Jazeera Channel approached our family and was “hijacked” for interview. Turknoy Mum was fabulous in answering the questions live. Kids and Turknoy Dad were very impressed.

Hijacked Turknoy Mum Interview at the Vatican City!
Two main questions which she can recall:

Question: Who do you think will be the next Pope?

Her Answer: I have high confidence on Cardinal Tagle from the Philippines. It’s high time to have the Roman Catholic choose another Asian Pope, a minority race, to represent the real issues in that part of the world. Philippines is a Roman Catholic country….Insert more intelligent words why.. (can’t recall them now really, probably it was half-meant due to the pressure of TV camera rolling live…) until the reporter asked another question.

Question: That’s a fresh view on this papal conclave. What you think is the most challenging issue that the new pope will face?

Answer: Lack of faith.. Lack of faith in God. Faith in religion, not so much. It’s the diversity of the religions and practices that divides humanity. The new pope should focus on strengthening the faith in God.
 

Turknoy Mum blushed and blushed while the world waited for the election of the new pope. After several days and three thick black smoke , at exactly7:06pm ,13th March 2013, white smoke appeared and Pope Francis was elected.

Habemus Papam! We have a new Pope! 

Veni. Vidi. Amavi. 

That’s one of the greatest gift of traveling. We’ll never know what adventure is next, what we will be part of. This country adventure led us to something historical to a religion close to our hearts. Memory that will last for a long time in our hearts, mind and itchy feet! 

Pope Francis said it, do not be afraid to dream of great things and go for it. Opportunities happen when we attempt to use our given talents, even if we are unaware what talents we have. 

Yes, even as trivial yet historical as being part of the Papal conclave on international television. 

Veni. Vidi. Amavi. 

The after fame glow! Veni. Vidi. Amavi.

COUNTRY 3 Monaco: A Surreal Paradise

My dream is to have a beautiful old house in Monaco.” – Eva Herzigova

Our family infront of one of those old beautiful houses in Monaco!
Imagine a country only five times the size of Mall of Asia, one of the biggest malls in the world, located in our family’s home country, the Philippines. Yet, the modern comfort and elegance all around looks like straight from the luxury fashion magazines, fancy big yachts, majestic mansions and structures, Ferrari cars and French Riviera included.

It is a dream for celebrities to live there. Uhh, so for our family, it’s beyond dreams. It’s that part of dreams dreaming about surreal dreams!

Just look at Turknoy Dad’s happy and serene expression! ❤️❤️
We spent the entire day strolling through the elegant country. The people are friendly yet their posture suggests money and status Turkoy parents could never have. Our family looked so out-of-place in the public bus where everyone seemed to dress up like they’ll be walking down the red carpet of Cannes Festival.

“PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIVE THIS WAY?!” We can’t remember how many times the kids heard the parents said this to each other.

The kids played at the playground close to the Palace where the country’s monarch live. Watching the kids enjoy the place without any inferiorities made us comfortable in the luxurious environment. Turknoy Dad was on high, Turknoy Mum was on high. Never did the day passed so quickly without any worries of where we should be going next. The landscapes, the view, the people passing by created such a dreamlike scenery.

the grass is greener in Monaco.. literally!
Believe us when we say, we are not materialistic bunch. Yet, cliché as it may sound, we left little bits of hearts and mind in Monaco. We walked, had great fun together in a very fancy place for the entire day but we didn’t mind going back to our shabby, barely 1-star hostel in Nice, France where we ate canned tuna and rice for dinner.

Kids really loved the day, but the memories of what is out there, what our family can’t afford at the moment (or any moment in their parents’ lives) and being able to enjoy the environment, surreal as it is, will leave a memory for kids which they could hang on to, if they want to dream of such a place for themselves.

Or to NOT dream about it. Kids also overheard us talking about the high maintenance of living in such a place, imagine the huge houses, yachts to upkeep! Not to mention, the effort to dress up and keep updated with fashion for clothes or home and yacht decors! Oh the priorities! There is definitely a price to pay to for any status in life.

We may not have fully experienced the country as much as we want to, but we have a tiny idea that somewhere along the beautiful French Riviera, there is a country where elegance is normal.

“I want to be rich..” is such a common intangible dream for almost everyone, yet nobody can even visualize being rich looks like except the image of tons and tons of money bills. Well, Monaco is how the “ I want to be rich” looks like. Kids, at the very least, can visualize their dreams, if they want to be rich. Although parents’ instincts tell us that our Turknoy kids will not dream about mainly about being rich. They have witnessed a lot of dreams in our travels, that being rich doesn’t top their bucket list.

Experience is a great teacher, because it teaches knowledge through all the different faculties of our mind, the power of choice and the power of not choosing.

Family photos in Monaco

COUNTRY 2 – Italy and Dreams

“Italy is dream… That keeps returning for the rest of your life.”– Anna Akhmatova

Magical. Beyond romantic. More than majestic.

Oh-my-God-jaw-dropping-landscapes! That basically sums up what we think of Italy. Nobody can have enough of Italy. A very beautiful and delicious country!

Together as family, we spent seven days exploring five of its famous cities – Rome, Florence, Pisa, Torino and Venice! One country, different cities all of which left  different tastes of varying dreams to our subconscious!

We don’t think we will have enough of Italy. The country opened up different layers of our inner passions, provoking different reactions for our senses.

All Senses Ready for Italy!


Italy is delicious. Uhhmm, pizza, pasta, gelato! No wonder Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray and Love, ate and ate in this country! The kids enjoyed gelato in basically all the streets we went to! Aldente pasta? Yes please! Two orders of pizza for one each?! Yes please! If we didn’t attempt to walk the entire city of Rome and get lost from one bus to another, we wouldn’t have gained so much weight that the plane back home would refuse to take us!

Italy is wet and warm. It was raining every single day during one month of March when Turknoy family was there. Yet the people are accommodating and welcoming.

We were in the overnight train from France to Rome , newbie traveler with three kids in tow, we shared the cabin with an Italian drunk woman! She speak no English and commending our kids for being all so well-behaved. Honestly, it was scary for all of us , her stinky shoes, drunk breath and Italian murmurs for 4-hour train ride is what we will remember about Italy as family! Yet when the drunk Italian woman bid her goodbye at the train station with so much warmth and hospitality,  it was more enough for us to fondly remember her and forget about the terror we felt inside the cabin train.

In Murano Island, Venice, where expensive Murano glass shops abound, we had to seek refuge in one of the shop, where we were politely and warmly shoo-ed away because kids might break the glasses and we obviously, can’t afford such exquisite, elegant and authentic home glass decor. How could anyone be so beautiful, posh, polite and rude at the same time? 

We believe, only Italians can!

And  of course, riding around Venice in a gondola with chatty handsome Italian gondolier cum historian cum actor (albeit, extra character as gondolier!)  Best one-hour ride for the family ever!


Italy smells anciently magnificent. Well, the landscape, the history, the architecture, the art. It is everywhere, you can really smell the magnificence in all periods of time. From The Colosseum, to Accademia Gallery  where David is to the contemporary museums of Florence everywhere top with the City of Venice!  We were always left speechless any point in time during our stay in Italy, we can only smell our environment.


Italy is music to the ears. Every restaurant we went to, there were loud Italians passing orders, streets filled with music, again mixed with all the Italian accents. Can’t say anything more. We can stay in cafe and just listen to their loud conversations we can’t comprehend.

Add in the pigeons flipping their winds in 

Piazza De Marco mixed in the waves of Adriatic Sea with the tapping of the rain while busy tourists talking and sipping their warm drinks.

Italy is bliss. Our senses said so.

 

Italy is bliss.

 

Family Satisfaction

“Knowing your own family and having a purpose makes the unit live and love their lives on your own family’s terms. You know you have your own family lifestyle when the family members “need to do” is defined by its own members not by anyone else telling them. “ – Turknoys

In her previous life, Turknoy Mum was a quality assurance guru in her field (subtly emphasizing here that she knows the theories of sound management in business and in life!). She used to facilitate training about “Customer Satisfaction.” Her training purpose would be to define ways how to achieve customer satisfaction in business settings. For management to be able to do that, the organization needs to articulate what the customers really need. Satisfaction comes from having the customer requirements fulfilled. Hence, the obvious challenge lies on how to define what the customers really need, directly or indirectly, stated or implied.

However, the real challenge and less obvious to most organizations before achieving customer satisfaction, prior to being fluent with defining what the customers really need is identifying who their real customers are, their target niche, who they want to satisfy in the first place.

Well, it should be obvious. Organizations can’t please everybody and they don’t have do. Their purpose is really to make money, not customer satisfaction (newsflash!). Organizations are concerned about customer satisfaction because they want to have more profit. Satisfied customers tend to be repeat customers. Plain truth, commercial businesses are not focused about how customers are treated or served, they want customers to come again for more business or want their customers to tell good things about their business to attract more customers.

Organizations have mission, purpose-driven. It should be the same for individuals. It definitely should be the same for families.

Mission and purpose which drives a unique individual should be unique.

Mission and purpose which drives a unique family unit should be, duh, unique! Every family has different requirements for their satisfaction.

Yeah, let’s talk about Family Satisfaction, traditionally known as Happily Ever After. It’s so happily ever after, it’s considered an end-game for all single eligible, smart, independent people.

Our strong and high opinion about Family Satisfaction – It’s not an end-game. It’s that “Other Level – not mandatory next level, not higher level, a different level!

It’s a choice we have to make, if we want it. Everybody can be qualified to have a family but not everyone should build a family! Not everybody wants it, we need the world to acknowledge this! Sometimes a person is destined to not have family or kids, but a lot of times, a person may not want to have family or kids! 

How do we know who wants to have a family? There, there you go!! KNOW THYSELF! Like, deep-from-the-gut, straight-from-the-heart know yourself hard! If family life is not something for an individual, no amount of activities, goals or mission with the future family can satisfy or be enough to obtain happiness in life.

Finding yoursef is not similar to finding a lifetime partner!

And if we do want to have a family, how do we know how we can satisfy every member of family, how we do get family satisfaction? There, there you go!! KNOW THY FAMILY! Like, deep-from-the-gut, straight-from-the-heart know every member of the family hard! 

Knowing our own self, and our own family is not an easy task. It means acknowledging our deepest desires in life, we were often instructed by almost every “superior” human beings and ancient institutions to hide and contain.

Finding ourselves is not a one-off process. As our family home educate, unschool, explore with kids and live our lives without worrying about non conformities, every day is a learning opportunity to get to know our passion and desires.

We are allowing our curiosity guide our way to find ourselves. So far, it has taken us to places we only imagined before.

Maybe it involves continued traveling, or maybe it involves something else. 

Our family. Our terms. 

We CANNNNNN GET …. OUR satisfaction. Oh, oh oh!

A family that sets goals together, stays satisfied together!