We took a family day trip out to Stevns Klint which is a UNESCO world heritage site. We explored the cliffs and natural chalk, including an old church which half fell into the sea about a hundred years ago. We then took a walk to an old lighthouse in the area which offered some magnificent views and afterwards we headed to a cold war museum as this area was once an active military base defending against any potential attack from the USSR. Elliot tried to avoid being detected by the radar, but was not as stealthy as he would have liked!
After another day of driving, another night at a hotel, and another morning of driving, we arrived at Brooke’s house in White Bear, Minnesota (Brooke is my amazing friend/roommate from NYC, she is married to Joe and they have a 3-year old son named Hawkins). We arrived just in time for the July 4th pool party and I was happy to learn that Zach, another old friend from our time in NYC, was also among the guests. Brooke is an amazing hostess and she made sure that everyone had plenty of great food and drinks throughout the day. Other than taking the time to eat, not a minute on dry land was wasted by the kids. They were in the pool for the most part of 2 days and Sienna broke a record for being in the pool for 6 hours straight. While we were in Minnesota, we stayed at Brooke’s parents house in Forest Lake. Every morning we woke up to a a feast, as Brooke’s mom was whipping up all kinds of yummy Minnesotan breakfast classics for us (thanks again for having us and for all the delicious food, Debbie and Mike). On our last day in Minnesota, we took a trip to White Bear lake and rented a pontoon boat. The weather was great as we toured around in the boat and had a picnic lunch. The kids were really excited to get some fishing in and they had more than they could ask for catching over 20 fish! After the pontoon boat, there was even more swimming, and then we went to a summer street festival with Brooke, Joe, and Hawkins to get some dinner. After 3 sun- and fun-filled days we were ready to head towards our next destination.
During our long drive we planned to make some strategic stops along the way to break up the trip. Since we were driving through Sudbury, we took a couple hours and visited the science center (we thought it was funny that it was located on 100 Ramsey Lake Road). The science center had a lot of cool stuff including some giant bugs from Malaysia which we got to hold. After the science museum we drove by the big nickel and snapped some touristic photos. Then it was a couple more hours driving. Midway between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie there is a city called Elliot Lake and while Elliot would have loved to make a pit stop here, we decided not to. It was too far off our route so instead, we hit a motel in a place called Blind River.
While camping we also did some visiting with Farmor in Copenhagen (i.e. the very little village in Ontario, Canada, not the capital city of Denmark). Farmor puts the kids to work painting concrete and they let their creativity loose making some unique paint jobs like Elliot turning an owl into a penguin, and Sienna painting a rainbow serpent (not featured). When they got tired of painting the cousins hung around inside, playing games and relaxing by the TV.
Sometimes you never know what you are getting yourself into when you take an iconic tourist excursion. Everyone has heard about the everglade boat trips where a huge propeller blows you through the mangroves. What you may not have heard about is the deafening noise and the crazy drivers doing stunts around the corners. While this might be OK for some adults, Elliot was having none of it and was pretty uncomfortable for the entire trip. Even though he was clearly dissatisfied, he hung in there for the whole thing and we made it back in one piece. Prior to the boat tour the kids got to handle a live baby alligator which they though was pretty cool. Afterwards on our way back to our hotel we stopped by a crocodile ranch where there were quite a few enormous gators basking in the sun.
As the weather was on the cool side with and it was a school day in the US, we basically had the entire Tampa zoo to ourselves. Along with the usual suspects, the zoo had a good collection of matinees which are Florida’s state marine mammal. They also had a large touching pond with lots of fish and rays. Elliot was a bit scared in the beginning but after a few minutes his courage took over and he had both hands in the pool. Lots of friendly colored birds, and some nice orangutans rounded out another great zoo experience.
In the beginning of February the family took another trip over the Atlantic ocean. While Shawn spent the first couple of days hanging out with some friends, Sienna, Elliot, and I seized the chance to visit Disney World. Other than Animal Kingdom, the park experience was very similar to the times we went to Disney Land in California and Paris. Same attractions, same stunt show, same ridiculously long line-ups, and same over-priced food. It was fun to experience, but at the same time we all agreed that now we have been there, done that with respect to all things Disney. In case you are wondering about the wheelchair, Sienna had a fever and was feeling pretty bad, but insisted on going nevertheless.
A nice and educational time spiced up with a couple of cool sailor tattoos at the Maritime Museum in Helsingør.
Shawn’s birthday gift to me this year was a weekend trip to southern Sweden through an area called Skåne/Scania (the part of Sweden that was once part of Denmark until around 1650). We had a couple of days to explore and relax and enjoy each other’s company while the kids were visiting my parents for a mini holiday of their own. We had great weather and stayed at a spa hotel the first night where we enjoyed a relaxing dinner, a refreshing spa treatment, and great views of the Baltic Sea. We drove around the coast taking in the sights to a small town called Kristianstad where we stayed another night before driving back in the morning to pick up the kids.
We took a day trip on our Easter holiday just across the water to Sweden where we visited Helsingborg and Landskrona. Landskrona does not have much to offer but it is directly across the water on the Swedish side from where we live and it has an old Danish castle (from when that part of Sweden was Danish) from the 1500’s which is in fairly good condition. I played a trick on the kids and pretended to give Shawn a text from the Easter bunny which said they had to go out and hunt for some Easter treats which I had hid in the cannons by the water. From Landskrona we went to Helsingborg and visited the old part of town where there was another old Danish castle on top of the hill in the city center. Sienna and Shawn climbed to the while Elliot and I enjoyed the nice Spring weather on a bench below. Finally, we then went to visit an outdoor air museum with some old farm buildings and other Swedish heritage buildings from a few hundred years ago.
I managed to get seriously behind on the blog again due to all kinds of different reasons which I will not mention. The good news is that although I stopped updating the blog I did not stop taking pictures. Since my last post at the end of 2013 I have snapped exactly 6617 pictures. Seeing that only around 10% of those pictures will make it to the blog it implies that I have to delete around 6000 pictures before I start editing and putting them together. Normally I wouldn’t make this update until I had deleted all of the 6000 pictures and could post everything in chronologically order. I have however decided to refrain from this rigid rule for once so that I can slowly make my way through the missing months during the next couple of weeks. I’ll still be backdating so that everything is located in the right months and I’m not sure how this will effect the news update that some people are signed up to, but you will just have to scroll down from time to time to see if you missed anything.
To give a little background about the pictures above, the first one is from 30 years ago when I went to a small Swedish island called Hven with my family. The island is located between the Eastern coastline of Zealand (where we live) and the southwestern coast of Sweden. In the 16th century the island used to be a mecca for scientists, in particular the famous Danish astronomer Tyco Brahe, who build an observatory here and spent two decades mapping in great detail the sky and its constellations. I had only been on the Island that one time 30 years ago until recently when Shawn and I decided to bring the kids for a day trip. It is a total coincidence that Sienna is the same age and height as I was and that she is standing in the exact same spot in front of the statue of Tyco as I was 30 years ago.
We took a weekend trip to the island Hven, which lies between Denmark and Sweden, not far from where we live. We can see it from the beach where we go to swim but the kids and Shawn had never been there before. The island is famous for being the residence of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe who is famous for some work he did back in the 1500’s. We took a boat from the Copenhagen harbor and sailed to the island where we rented bikes. The island is only 2km by 4km so we were able to bicycle around the whole island quite easily. We visited the Tycho Brahe museum along the way and stopped for a picnic lunch at the beach.
Last stop before heading back to Zealand was the town of Nyborg. Nyborg is the old capital of Denmark before it moved to Copenhagen around 1400. There is still a castle there from that time which is the scene of an annual summer festival that celebrates the Middle Ages. There are many people roll playing and you can try different activities and buy things in the market. We were also able to take a tour of the castle complete with some skeleton cats which supposedly used to roam the castle kitchen.
On our way home from the summerhouse we stopped by the small town Faaborg which has a very well maintained old part of town from medieval times.
One of the day trips we took while at the summer house was to an old village depicting farm life a few hundred years ago. One of the biggest hits was a litter of kittens in one of the old farmhouses.
We love it when we are the only tourists visiting a museum so that we get to have the whole place to ourselves. This was the scene at the Danish Railway museum in Odense where we were able to ride a fun little mini train as well as a very old real train. Inside the museum there were lots of interesting facts to be learned and many more trains from the last couple hundred years to explore. All in all, a very recommendable museum for all ages and genders.
The South Fyn Archipelago consists of 55 islands and islets. During our visit to the summerhouse on Fyn we took a day trip to one of the very small islands called Skarø, which measures less than one square mile. Only a few cars could fit on the ferry and once on the island there were only a couple small roads to drive on. The island’s claim to fame is its own brand of ice cream which we sampled while enjoying a nice summer day.
The summerhouse we rented on Fyn (Funen) was very close to the beach and although the weather was not warm enough for swimming we got a lot of use out of the beach going for walks and hunting for rocks. My mom and dad came to visit for a few days and we took them to see some surrounding museums in the city of Svendborg. The rest of the time we relaxed, played games, and enjoyed each other’s company.
While at the summer house we took a day trip to a well preserved Renaissance castle called Egeskov which means Oak Forest. The castle is located on some very nice park like grounds and there were a lot of different activities to try out. It was a very nice summer day when we were there and the kids had a blast climbing through the trees and playing in the playground. In one of the pictures the kids are standing in front of an oak tree which is around 700 years old. The castle museum was also very interesting giving a glimpse of what life was like a few hundred years ago.