Archive for March, 2016

March 28th, 2016

Travelling with Children — Near and Far

As mentioned a month ago, I had the pleasure of visiting DrupalCamp London with my two youngest children — Niilo (8y) and Seela (4y). My wife told me after I reserved the tickets that she wouldn’t go and wished me best of luck with my endeavour.

Fortunately, everything went really well. We woke up very early, at five o’clock, and got into our car in less than twenty minutes. The real trick was to eat the breakfast in the car. I made a few sandwiches on the previous evening and then we ate them on the road. Helsinki airport is very smooth and we were in a lounge in fifteen minutes after arriving to the airport. This included both security check and passport control, both with no queue.

In London, we took Heathrow Express to Paddington and then a cab to DrupalCamp that was hosted by London City University. We stayed the whole time in the same building and almost all the time on the same sofas. I had a few meetings and met acquitances while the children were busy watching videos. The lunch was on the house, so there was no need to leave the premises before starting the return journey. Luckily, we got a cab straight away and was again very quickly at the airport. There was only a short queue to the security check and then we were again in a lounge – that was so full that we needed to settle into children’s room. They were happy, for me it was a bit too crammed — fortunately, I found soon a decent place to sit with the rest of the adults.

The children felt asleep in the plane and I woke them up — surprisingly with no fuss or tantrum whatsoever — in Helsinki, blazed through the passport control and to the car park. At home, we just brushed our teeth and then to bed.

The next day started with an early football tournament for Niilo and went steadily downhill from that. The tensions from the day before surfaced and it ended as a very lousy day for everyone involved. But it was worth it, the previous day was so special for us.

A couple of weeks after that trip we spent nine days in Japan. We bought very cheap tickets from Stockmann Crazy Days, direct flights from Helsinki to Nagoya on Finnair. The accommodation was found on AirBNB — much recommended for families over four people.

We didn’t stay at all in Nagoya, it was the destination due to the cheap tickets only. After arriving there, we took the first Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto and spend three days there. Most of the time we spent visiting on different temples and eating excellent Japanese food. The days started later due to the time difference and thus it was good that we didn’t have any fixed ideas of destinations in Kyoto.

The city itself is quite mundane, found nothing spectacular there, but the surrounding areas are filled with magnificent old temples. Some of them are truly magical places, I tremendously enjoyed myself looking at the well manicured sceneries with ponds, small trees, and well though gravel paths.

We visited a Kaiten sushi restaurant on the first day — a conveyor belt with sushi portions travelling in front of the eaters. The boys loved that concept and wanted to go such restaurants every day. We ended up in four of them in total. One was a mistake, others were really good with an excellent price to quality ratio.

After three days in Tokyo, we rode Shinkansen again to Tokyo. We had accommodation for five nights and visited various Tokyo neighbourhoods — Akihabara, Ginza, Shibuya, and so forth. All of them have very different vibe and also different things to do. Again, we had no premade schedule, so we could stroll around on relaxed pace.

We used Lonely Planet guidebook to find the best stuff on each location and also sourced several restaurants from it. It helped a lot — all restaurants, for example, were top-notch for our needs.

Being on the road for several days took its toll on the children. They grew more and more agitated towards the end of the trip, as they grew homesick and missed home and their friends.

We flew back on Good Friday and have been enjoying the extended weekend, as both Friday and Monday are days off in Finland. Again, children have been acting up quite a lot due to cumulated excitement from the trip — but this trip was truly worth all the trouble.