Croissants and chaos: a family road trip in Europe

Deanna Kloosterboer shares her memories of travelling through Europe with two young children in tow, and only having to call an ambulance once!

Nothing could feel more exhilarating than hearing the words “While we are in Holland visiting family, why not road-trip around Europe a bit?”! Excitement filled the air, bags were packed and IT WAS ON! My dream of eating Belgian chocolate right from the source, making love in the city of love (…and going up the Eiffel Tower of course), then visiting medieval castles in Luxembourg… aah what a romantic getaway and the trip of a lifetime!

Now might be a good time to interject that we had two kids in tow. Not just any kids either, no, my kids are the kind that are skilled in the art of chaos, they are opportunists, they smell out even the faintest whiff of fear in us adults… and we just handed them a free pass at Europe!

While many a parent has successfully travelled with their doe-eyed angels, I am not quite sure where we went wrong. For the plane ride I had packed extra goodies, nibbles and new toys to entertain the kids, though somehow, Miss Two was more interested in breaking the shutter in the aeroplane’s window and pulling apart the headset while watching a movie. How on earth she managed to do that whilst I was sitting right next to her? Well, it just goes to show that my kid is a pro. She probably has a secret drawer at home with maps and plans and blueprints of all the different types of aircrafts so as to know exactly how to quickly and discreetly dismantle anything in-flight. Kid comes prepared!

Europe was beautiful. Even more than I imagined. Some amazing memories were made as we took canal rides, lived off of cheese and croissants, went up the Eiffel Tower, saw the stunning historic buildings and took a million photos at each location. As for momentos and souvenirs, well for every treasure that we brought home, my children may or may not have left behind some of their very own creative momentos. In the economy of my 2-year-old, it is a tit-for-tat transaction. Beautiful Belgium, thank you very much for your fine chocolate, in return my child has left behind an ‘artwork’ on your gorgeous antique hotel chair. To our accommodation in Holland, thanks for the use of the bungalow by the lake, my daughter wishes to express her gratitude by means of the fresh new stain on your couch. And to the amazing people who work for the emergency services in Holland, your job is very much appreciated by my child who decided to make use of your skills when she swallowed a toy and started choking on your motorway! (Turned out to be a marble and she pooped it out 5 days later on our flight home).

Driving was pretty straight forward with the help of our GPS. Just a shame that men will still be men and a GPS (even with their soothing tone) will never be able to save them from their inability to ask for help. Nothing quite like driving around Belgium desperately looking for a petrol station ‘cause an hour earlier, as we passed one, HE said “she’ll be right, there will be another one soon”.

For any thrill seekers, it turns out it’s quite easy to go ‘off-roading’ in the back blocks of Germany. All you have to do is ignore the ‘foreign’ road works signs and just keep going for a few kilometres on a bumpy dirt road filled with men working machinery and bewildered looks on their faces. Apparently we can get away with it because “we are tourists” and “they will understand”. Somehow they ‘didn’t mind’ when my hubby then asked them to move the road block at the end so that we could exit our ‘off-roading’ adventure. Good thing my husband’s antics never cause me any shame (note the sarcasm), so it really didn’t bother me at all when the middle-aged lady came and stood in the old church doorway and tut-tutted as we caused a commotion and made the whole town stop working in order for us to pass through on our oblivious scenic tour. In that moment I was almost tempted to claim we were Australians.

Now that we are home, life has somewhat returned to normal other than when Miss Two thought it was dinner time at 3 AM. I am just getting news in now though from the bathroom vicinity. The 5-year-old is shrieking and squealing something about a “code brown” (AKA, end of my story).

P.S. Holland, you might want to check your stove tops… I think my 2-year-old left it on AGAIN!



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