A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Arin MacDyer

Rating the Family Travelling Experience

We are back at home and life goes on. It has been wonderful to reconnect with friends and family. We get to experience the things we missed (perogies, more than one change of clothes, toys) and the things we didn't miss (alarm clocks, schedules, housework). Almost everyone asks us what our favourite places were and each of us has a slightly different answer. Below are our list of the top three places we enjoyed the most:

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Neve
1) Sumatra
2) New Zealand
3) England

James
1) Australia
2) Sumatra
3) France

Arin
1) Sumatra
2) New Zealand
3) France

Simon
1) Sumatra
2) New Caledonia
3) Malaysia

But really, our entire year was full of wonderful experiences. 13 countries in all, and to put it another way, we didn't have a single negative experience - no sickness, no theft, no dangerous situations. Part of that was traveling to safe countries, hand washing and careful food choices, and choosing more cautious transportation methods. We still lived it up - ate at street vendors, hiked in jungle, swam in the ocean with sharks and jellyfish, and even managed to routinely cross four lanes of crazy traffic without aid of a crosswalk. Homeschooling was hard, but I would still recommend this type of travel for other families. Our kids were adored and pandered to everywhere. For Canadians with cold winters it was 10 years (or more) worth of winter vacations rolled into one, in places just too far to travel for a two week stint. It was also quality time together as a family that was so needed in our busy lives. Our children are better global citizens and definitely more confident. It is unlikely we'll make this exact type of trip happen again but for sure our family is going to keep travelling!

Posted by Arin MacDyer 09:40 Archived in Canada Tagged arin Comments (0)

Portsmouth is Fun

overcast 25 °C

By James

The last place we went in England was Portsmouth. When we got to Portsmouth we checked in at our hotel and went for a walk along the South Sea prom. We walked along the prom until we got to the Portsmouth castle. Then we decided to take a detour through town to the city center to have dinner.

The next day Joseph and Nora came to visit us in Portsmouth and we went to the historic dock yard and went on the Victory, Warrior, and the Mary Rose. We also went in the action station and inside were two climbing walls, a shooting game and two helicopter simulators.

By Arin

Portsmouth is the largest naval base in Europe and a great place to take kids. Our lot turned up when all the British kids were in school (did you know that they fine parents for taking kids out of school?) and that meant no lines and unlimited goes on all the fun exhibits. What James didn't mention was how very cool the ships were.

The Mary Rose is the only 16th century warship on display anywhere in the world. Henry VIII’s favourite warship – raised from the depths of the Solent in 1982 and painstakingly conserved. The story of the Mary Rose is one of the most fascinating in naval history and the museum does a great job of telling the tale of battles fought against the French for over 30 years before it sunk off the coast of Portsmouth in 1545.

The HMS Victory was Nelson’s flagship from the 1860s. Best known for her role in the Battle of Trafalgar, the Victory currently has a dual role as the Flagship of the First Sea Lord and as a living museum to the Georgian Navy.

Finally, the HMS Warrior was Britain's first iron-hulled, armoured warship and pride of the fleet.

Of course, the kids only wanted to talk about the climbing wall...

Here are some generic pics, our photos will follow soon:
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Posted by Arin MacDyer 09:33 Archived in England Tagged boats james Comments (0)

A Year of Summer Ends in Iceland

all seasons in one day 15 °C

By Arin

Is it ironic to end a year of hot places in the chilliest destination yet? Maybe, but a free stopover on our way back home was too good to pass up!

My mom and I travelled separately from Simon and the kids. I thought travelling without the kids would be easier somehow, but they are so seasoned now that it is fairly effortless to travel along and sometimes they can act like pack monkeys and carry bags! Anyhow, my mom spent a busy four days touring as much of Iceland as we could. Tours lasted 10 to 12 hours and days on our own were packed with exploring Reykjavik, and we even managed a visit to the Blue Lagoon on our way to the airport.

We took a "Hot Golden Circle Tour" to see all the beautiful sights on the Golden Circle and finishing the day in a natural hot spring pool, relaxing the Viking way, before heading back to Reykjavik. If you haven't heard of the Golden Circle there are three impressive sights; Thingvellir, site of the World's first Parliament that met each year outdoors, beginning in 930 AD continuing until 1798; Gullfoss one of Europe's largest waterfalls; and the geothermal fields of Haukadalur to experience the original "Geyser" and the currently erupting geyser, Strokkur. The last stop was amazing, a hot spring natural bath which the locals named the Secret Lagoon because it was relatively unknown but recently renovated and opened to business. The use of geothermal energy for public pools, heating, and electricity was fascinating.

Our next tour was something special - it came with our Inspired B&B package and saw as bouncing along in a Range Rover exploring the glacier valleys and black sand beaches of the south coast. We saw two magnificent waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss a tall thin beauty of 73 meters and were able to walk right behind (so fun!) and Skogafoss, a 60 meter roaring giant with beautiful rainbows. At the black sand Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland´s southern most point, we marvelled at the basalt rock columns and couldn't get enough pictures. We also saw puffins, but not as many as the next day when we took a ferry out to a breeding bird island. We like seeing the glacier Gigjökull up close and learning about the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in 2010 that melted a hole through the glacier and caused all kinds of infrastructure damage, not to mention the suspension of air travel over Europe. The Icelanders are a clever bunch, the house pictured in front the eruption ash cloud trademarked the image and was paid every time their photo was used in the media!

We liked Reykjavik, bought a nice icelandic sweater from the Red Cross charity shop but really couldn't afford anything else. Food was so expensive in restaurants -$16 for soup, really!???! And our trip to the Blue Lagoon was not worth $60 euros. I think there is some tourist gauging going on...

For fellow Canadians, I'm not sure you should spend your time or money in Iceland. The landscape was very much a cross between the Arctic and Newfoundland and the weather was marginal to poor (and that is mid-summer!). Volcanic tourism was better in NZ or Hawaii. Travel to these places in Canada and save your cash and your summer vacation.

Addendum:

Simon and the kids travelled to Reykjavik in June and had similar experiences. Except I will note that they found that kids were treated very well - free food, headphones and blankets on the flights (adults had to pay for all that), free entry into the Blue Lagoon, and coach tours were generally free for children. They loved the public hot pools and were happy to dine on $5 hotdogs and food packed in from England for the week.

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Posted by Arin MacDyer 08:46 Archived in Iceland Tagged arin Comments (0)

One day until my dads birthday!

sunny 21 °C

It is now one day until my dads birthday. When we first got back from Morroco we stayed one night at Uncle Andrew and Auntie Lizzies house and the next day went to a garden party with Angus, Lulu, Flora, and Bebe my second cousins. Then we went home with Grandma and Grandad. We stayed six days there then we went to Milnrow near Manchester.

Milnrow was where Grandma was born and where the most famous Dyer story takes place. The first thing we did whe we got there was look on the cellar steps for uncle Bobobs blood when he cracked open his head for the second time in five hours when he was a kid like me. Sadly there was no internet so we had to go to the library to get some. On our fourth day we went to go to see Wicked it was really good live performance and it was all about how the wicked witch of the west became wicked.

We spent six nights there but on our last day we saw a parade and went to the fun fair that was at the fun fair near the house. Then we stayed another 5 nights in Mayland. Now we are here at uncle andrews house and tomorrow is my dads 40th birthday all the family is going to be there but Joseph and Nora will not because they have chicken pox.

Posted by Arin MacDyer 03:48 Archived in England Comments (1)

The London

City of Clocks

sunny 17 °C

By James

When we first arrived in London we had to get on an underground train on the green line all the way to Green Park. Then we changed to the jubilee line and went all the way to St Johns Wood. Our flat was 1 minute from St Johns Wood underground station. Our flat was a nice four person condo with a fold out bed to accompany our grandma.

On our first day we had seen Big Bens clock tower Big Ben is the bell itself not the clock. We also saw Westminister abbey and the houses of Parliament. That after noon we went out to see Buckingham Palace or buck house. On our way back through St James Park we ran into a bunch of people giving out free bird seed and we got to hold pigeons while they pecked away at the seeds in our hands. The next day we went down to Green Park and then Liecster Square. We also bought tickets for my mom and grandma to go to a live theater. The next day we went to the Natural History Museam and the girls went to the V and A. The Natural History Museam had the fossils that triggererd the discovery of the dinosaurs. It also had the worlds biggest emerald and star saphirres.

The next day we went to the Tower of London and saw the crown jewels and the castle ravens, it is belived that if the ravens leave the castle England would fall. My favorite part of London was the Natural History Museam.

By Arin
London has changed a lot since we were here 5 years ago! Cleaner, shiny new skyscrapers have transformed the cityscape, and (wow) the trains were all on time. We nearly pounded our feet into bloody stumps as we covered the city end to end over four days. We ticked off all the tourist sites for my mom, made a whole day trip to Kew Gardens for me, and gave James hours to study the rocks at the NHM. Neve came along unhappily saying "I'm tired of history!". I think she's reached her museum/sight seeing maximum.

London was cleaner, greener and friendlier than we remembered It does seem that drinking and watching sports are the two most important hobbies over here. The kids enjoyed watching soccer fans boisterously celebrating their teams' trip to the finals outside a pub in Covent Garden then the next day crowds of celebrating the England cricket win over New Zealand up in St Johns Wood overtook us at dinner in the pub.
As we left London by bus (2 £ a person - thanks Andrew for the tip!) I noticed the the plethera of clocks in the financial district and then i loooked around and noticed clocks everywhere - from churches to shops have large time pieces. Simon tells me that the English conquered the world by showing up on time. I guess that explains the clocks.
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Posted by Arin MacDyer 10:20 Archived in England Tagged james Comments (1)

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