Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bohemian Rhapsody

As a student, I was fortunate enough to spend many of my summers in Europe. First we travelled with my parents, then I was at boarding school, then my sister went to university in London. Every other year or so, my best friend and I would fly out to London (sans parents by the time we hit 18) to stay at my family's Sloane Square flat for six weeks and, with my sister, gallivant to one European city courtesy of the airline's free stopover policy.

We toured Italy this way, stopping at Rome, Pisa, Florence and Venice. Two years later, we visited Austria (Vienna and Salzburg). Then we all settled down to our jobs, married and had kids, and the group trips stopped.

Now, we three travel with our own families, but I look back fondly on the days we spent in Europe together. Perhaps one day, when the children are big enough and we can be spared for two weeks, we can do a repeat trip.

Shortly after I met Big A, we visited Paris and London together. He flew to Europe to see a friend matriculate from graduate school (and drive from Paris to Spain and back again), while I visited my sister in her last year of London uni and we spent a weekend in Paris.

Big A was joined in Paris, then London, and since then we've not gone anywhere outside of Asia together. Until this year.

Our ninth wedding anniversary coincided with the annual Spring Trade Fairs in Frankfurt and Birmingham. As I was attending this year in place of my mum, Big A came along and we added another city to the itinerary.

Prague had long been on my visit wish list, and it was a delight. Pretty, historic, and without any of the hustle and bustle of a business city, it was well worth the two day visit. We saw all the main tourist spots, took in a concert, and enjoyed some delicious meals.

Frankfurt was drab and businesslike as expected, but London, my favourite city in the world, was thrilling as always. It was our second time there together, Big A and I, but we went to very different areas than we had the first time round, excepting Covent Garden, and did many different things. We discovered neighborhoods that had changed greatly since I last saw them, and saw many more signs of change to come.

It was wonderful to travel, despite the freezing weather, and we hope to do it again in another two years, budget allowing. Still feeling the wanderlust, Big A wanted to book another, Asian, trip as soon as we got back. And so he did. In April, we're going to Tokyo!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sleepover Saturdays

On Christmas Day, quite by accident, Little A had his first ever "sleepover" at my parents' house. I wondered if that might be a one off or if we were marking another milestone, quietly.

One month later, Big A and I were off to Europe for a whirlwind twelve days. Our ninth wedding anniversary, two trade fairs, and three cities. We started off midweek in wintry Prague, where we stayed in a gorgeous hotel, but did not get a fast enough Internet connection to complete any video calls with Little A.

Come the weekend, we arrived in Frankfurt for the first of the trade fairs. The internet was quick and efficient, just like its host nation. We discovered that Little A had spent Saturday night at my parents' and Sunday morning sitting in church (not quite still and perfectly quietly, but well enough, considering it was a children's mass). The following Saturday night, by which time we were at the tail end of our trip and leaving London after three days' holiday post-trade fair, Little A again slept at my parents' house, all the night through on a large mattress on the floor normally shared by my two nieces whose parents travel for work much more frequently.

Two weeks back home, and there was a school holiday. It was a friend's 40th birthday quite near my parents' house the night before, so I asked Little A if he wanted to sleep at his grandparents'. He certainly did! The minute I dropped him off, it was as if I was no longer there. He got right into the routine, begging my dad to play the piano. 

The following morning, as I rushed around doing work and bank errands, Little A rode my dad's golf cart, went swimming amd visited the town centre to ride the children's train. He had a full, eventful, fun day, by the sounds of it.

Big A and I now feel slightly less guilty about long weekends spent away, just the two of us. Little A seems to enjoy sleepovers, so perhaps this will be the start of a new weekend tradition.