Our First Day in Bangkok

Bangkok

I was firmly against going to Southeast Asia with young kids. Then we went there with a 3 year old and a 6 month old.

Bangkok

I have historically been totally pro-travel with young kids, but I drew the line at SE Asia. Something about more hot and humid weather, lots of young well-to-do Westerners looking to lose themselves – then find themselves or something – and the seeming general chaos of getting around, I was kind of like…ehhh, maybe later. But I’ll be damned, we decided to go.

Backing up a bit, Eid Al Adha was coming up (September 2016) and Matt found out he had time off work. I got a phone call one morning asking how crazy I wanted to get, and I love those phone calls because it always means adventures.

So it starts out like this: “Where does Etihad fly direct?” We look and decide on a city (Bangkok). Then we check for cheaper tickets. This time, Oman air offered far less expensive tickets, and only a quick stopover in Muscat. If you ever get the opportunity to fly into Muscat right at sunset, book a window seat and DO IT. So beautiful, it really reinvigorated our desire to visit Muscat, which we did a few months later.

Then the question of where to stay. Initially, we thought to use hotel perks and stay in the middle of downtown Bangkok, but then were advised to look into a resort and ended up booking a suite for the same price + significantly more perks. Done and done.

Pulling up to the Anantara Riverside Resort early in the morning was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had, like the biggest sigh of relief. Our entire stay there was (mostly) like that, and it was awesome.

The night before we flew out of Abu Dhabi, the 3-year-old came down with a horrid cough. Noooooooo! So, we put the kids to bed early and prayed it would be nothing but a distant memory by morning. Then both boys woke up sick. Since I was already nervous about going to Bangkok with young kids, I was thinking this was a *sign* that we just shouldn’t go, bad idea, cancel everything. We hauled them off to the doctor first thing that morning and asked her opinion.

completely normal

She was like, “No. Bad idea. Can you cancel everything?” I was like, I knew it. But then we did a round or two of nebulizer treatment, and after examining them again, she told us they were OK to go, just don’t tax them too much. A nebulizer was purchased plus the entire pharmacy, and all packed up by late that afternoon. We headed to the airport. In hindsight, they weren’t terribly ill, but I was already hesitant and you know how it goes.

The flight to Muscat was short, thank god, because there was no air conditioning on our plane, which was a version of 727 that I haven’t seen since the mid-90’s.

HOT

Luckily, the flight to Bangkok was on a brand new Dreamliner which was gorgeous! My only complaint for that overnight flight was that they kept on the lights that can only be described as: “Surgical Operating Theatre.” I didn’t know airplanes had those. Thankfully they dimmed them for landing and the kids got 5-10 minutes of restful sleep before having to wake up again.

Bangkok Airport

We sprung for the Anantara airport shuttle and that was a great decision. The flight actually landed early and we found our driver already there, so we promptly set off at sunrise through Bangkok to our hotel resort.

Bangkok Chao Praya

Bangkok

When we arrived (and I finally released a tense breath I didn’t know I was holding) we were treated to a warm Thai welcome, hot towels, mango juice, and overall rock star treatment. We were escorted to our little suite which had a view of the pool and a wrap around balcony.

Anantara Riverside Bangkok

After cleaning up, we gave the kids whatever doses of medicine they needed, and promptly took a multiple-hour family nap in the middle of the day. Basically heaven.

Upon waking, we moseyed over to their Trader Vic’s for a great brunch.

Anantara Riverside Bangkok

Anantara Riverside Bangkok
legit water dinosaur

We were just settling in to our food when Porter ate something spicy, asked to use the loo, and then proceeded to demonstrate that his stomach was upset. Luckily it was well out of the way of anyone eating; however, we were quickly reminded that no matter where we go, we’re firmly seated on the Hot Mess Express. Hotel staff instructed me to keep him hydrated and other basic parent knowledge, which led me to question if I didn’t come across as being a capable parent? How was I supposed to know the simple side fried rice had death pepper juice included in it this time? Then again it could have just been my youthful looks and they thought I was a babysitter. In any case, our poor child was congested, jet lagged, and now sick from spicy food like the tiny Swede he is. This did not feel like successful parenting. In all seriousness, the staff actually took great care of us, sending us upstairs with help and a nice plate of food and sweets.

After a bit of recovery from that we then walked next door to check out a little mall. There’s a Boots, Starbucks, Coffee Club, Gap, tons of restaurants, some more boutique clothing shops, and touristy shops, too. Really great! By this time Porter was fine, ate a bit of dinner, and seemed to find his 3 year old energy again. Alright! Since the Anantara has a ferry that goes directly to Asiatique – a newer, kind of touristy, outdoor market, right across the Chao Praya – we decided to give that a go. At this point, Henry was just barely six months old, so he was still easily portable, slept a lot, and could be satiated by breastfeeding on the go…just in case anyone forgot he was on the trip, too. He wasn’t really sick, just a bit congested, and doing much better by this point anyway.

this little gifted car is getting around!

As soon as we got on the ferry, which would take no more than 5-10 minutes to get across the river, Porter passed out. So, we just stayed on the ferry and turned around with it to head home. It was nice to be out at night, on the water, with the city lights twinkling all around… Basically a date for us.

Then we went to sleep. That was our first day in Bangkok. Have I convinced you to have and travel with kids yet?

Vienna, AUSTRIA – July 2016 : PART ONE

We traveled to Vienna, Austria in July 2016! It was our first trip as a family of four!

As if through divine intervention, a few factors miraculously came together in the final days of nursery school before summer which allowed us to make last-minute travel plans: Henry’s passport finally came in; at the same time, we found someone willing to watch our dogs when all kennel facilities were booked; and we had enough miles and points for “free” flights and a hotel room. Score! Matt and I threw around a few ideas, then spontaneously booked a trip to Vienna, Austria.

Why Vienna? I mean, why not, right? Matt had had an interest in visiting for awhile, and we’d had friends who recently travelled there, piquing our interest.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1

So, the first week of July, we took off on our first vacation as a family of four. It was lovely to return to Europe; as if coming back home, which it was in a way.

We flew in on Qatar Airlines, passing through Doha on our way to and from. It was an easy, comfortable experience and the airline took great care of us as a family. So appreciated! Checking in, they always put us at the bulkhead seats where we were provided with a baby bassinet each flight – first that’s ever happened. They also gave out little activity kits and stuffed Mr. Potato Heads for the boys to stay busy. I have nothing but great things to say about Qatar Airlines.

look at all of us moms taking pictures of our boys here! i love it!

Since we had built up enough Marriott points to use on a hotel stay, we had a few places to choose from. Deciding on the Renaissance was actually a really great idea, in hindsight. The hotel itself, in the old Imperial Riding School, was great! The breakfast each morning had a nice variety of food, to include what I can only describe as “crack waffles” (so delicious). We also had access to the lounge, which we crashed in each afternoon for coffee (or wine…) after a long day out.

The hotel is ideally located right next to a train line, so we were able to buy cheaper tickets on a regular train into the city from the airport, rather than take the airport express train, which is not only more expensive but, if taken, would’ve been a further walk to the hotel. Each Vienna train/metro ride costs €2.20/adult (€1.10/child) no matter where you’re going, and is valid for all transfers. This made getting around the city easy and inexpensively.

Our first afternoon in, we just walked around the neighborhood to get our bearings. There is a grocery store, pharmacy, launderers, and a big park all within a mile – really convenient for traveling families. The neighborhood – Landstrasse – is (much like the rest of Vienna) beautiful to just walk around and enjoy what you see. One of my friends who had already been to Vienna told us it was enjoyable to just walk the city. I couldn’t agree more.

Stadtpark

Day 1 – Innere Stadt

Early the next morning we set out, again on foot, and as per usual for us, with no real plan. I have a hard time making a firm itinerary because I don’t know how easy a new city is to navigate and I can’t predict how the boys will be each day. So, we decided to just walk toward Innere Stadt – Stephansplatz to be exact – and see where we could go from there.

Mozart's House
Mozart’s House

Mozart's House

St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St. Stephan's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral

From the impressive St. Stephan’s Cathedral, we moseyed down Kärntner Straße, and over to Albertinaplatz. We popped into a cafe right there for a coffee + nursing session. Very important break for all members of the family.

Once satiated, we moved along towards Michaelerplatz to Hofberg Palace. Then we found ourselves winding through the streets, in a bit of a roundabout way, until we found Rathaus.

Austrian National Library
Austrian National Library
Hofburg Palace
Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace

Michaelerplatz
Michaelerplatz

Stopped in a few stores as well…

Vienna Starbucks
A Starbucks! For our mug.

Before continuing on…

Wiener Minoritenkirche
Wiener Minoritenkirche
Ferstal Passage Vienna
Ferstal Passage Vienna
Ferstal Passage Vienna
Ferstal Passage

Ferstal Passage Vienna

Ferstal Passage Vienna

Palais Liechtenstein
Palais Liechtenstein
Palais Liechtenstein
Palais Liechtenstein

Our visit happened to coincide with Rathausplatz being transformed into the Gastronomie/Vienna Film Festival event. Which…was amazing! Food stalls everywhere. Beer and wine on tap. Outdoor seating on a beautiful day in a beautiful setting?! Heaven.

Vienna Rathaus
Vienna Rathaus

We had left the Middle East during the final days of Ramadan. During this time there is no eating in public during the daylight hours, for about a month. There is also not much alcohol around at any time, anyway. Here in Vienna, all of a sudden, we found ourselves picking out local craft beers at a stall in a public park, and faced with the decision: What food shall we try today? I’m not going to lie, it felt a little thrilling. It’s funny how quickly we adapted to being in Ramadan mode (not practicing, but being respectfully mindful), and how it felt weird going back to what is “normal” for us.

Of course given the option we choose to sample Viennese foods.

spaetzle in Vienna
spaetzle

Making ourselves at home in a secluded gazebo, I was able to nurse Henry while Porter freely played around. Matt ferried food and drink for us to imbibe in. It was perfect. The epitome of vacation.

Viennese Food

Vienna Rathaus
Vienna Rathaus

Once lunch was over, we moved on towards Museumsquartier, or the area “with about 70 cultural facilities”. We crossed through Naschmarkt not knowing what it was at the time (we popped through there another day), then stopped for Porter to play at a fun playground in front of Karlskirche. Finally, we went back to the hotel. Though we didn’t expect to walk so much, the exploration was definitely worth it.

Burgtheater
Burgtheater
Austrian Parliament Building
Austrian Parliament Building
Karlskirche Vienna
Karlskirche

Karlskirche Vienna
Karlskirche

So, because this is such a photo-heavy, long post, I will stop here for now.

To be continued…

Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS – July 2014

Amsterdam!

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A photo heavy post!

We went to Amsterdam for a couple of days to meet up with my Dad who was flying home from a work trip. He managed an extended layover at Schiphol, where conveniently enough KLM flies to direct from Linköping twice daily. Of course, I hooked us up with an Airbnb place and we planned to just see what we could see in the short time we were there without going overboard. After all, Grandpa just wanted to hang with his grandson and relax after two weeks of working abroad. ams8

Logistics: Flew into Schiphol via KLM, took train from airport to Amsterdam Centraal (20 mins), then took a tram to IJBurg West – an island neighborhood outside the city, only 10 minutes or so from downtown. The apartment was a 3 bedroom (one with a crib!), 3 floor, beautiful place that was perfect for families and relaxing. Porter had tons of toys and space to keep him busy, which was awesome, and there were cafes, and every kind of store you could (and we did) need within a couple blocks. We walked and took public transit everywhere we went and it was incredibly efficient and cheap. ams1

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Amsterdam would be the most fun place to live! It’s filled with young people having fun and tourists everywhere, but it’s also impeccably beautiful and casual – always a relief for us from Sweden. The first day, we wandered the canals and got lost for fun; we found a patio to eat a great long lunch on; we walked in the rain while Porter napped in his stroller (a first for him in many months at that point); and we popped into a fun toy store and an American food store (bought a wooden camera toy, and Lucky Charms, respectively), among others. The day was meant to just wander around and look for gifts or souvenirs for our family members, and by late afternoon we headed home for dinner. ams2

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The next day we took the tram over to the Heineken Experience, as tourists (with babies) do. After the tour and some lunch on the rooftop, we took the Heineken canal boat back to downtown Amsterdam. ams34

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We got a decent taste of the city, but of course a long weekend is never enough! Same goes for seeing Grandpa, too. ams31

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Take me back!