*the full picasa album of our trip*
a few general reflections of the trip and the countries...
france: not much was new or different from our experience when we lived in rennes. i loved and missed the ease of getting food in your neighborhood and the freshness of marketing every day.
in terms of kids/parenting, we saw tons of kids with pacifiers and often the kids seemed way too old to still be plugged up. we also saw numerous instances of kids having fits in their strollers and parents not really reacting. sometimes the kid would fuss when they were "free" and we saw the parents forcibly strap the kids into their strollers and wheel them around crying. it was kind of disturbing to me. but on a positive note, all old people love kids. X was cooed at on a regular basis.
iceland: the entire population (not surprisingly) is white. it was weird seeing even the "immigrant" type jobs being performed by white people (and i dont mean that to sound derogatory). iceland males seemed to have beards and/or shaved head/mohawks and/or were beefy. icelands women seem to have cringe-worthy style (the only exception were the variety of fun and colorful leggings everyone wore) and/or are somewhat stocky. the people are reserved, yet kind and helpful and there is very low/no crime. virtually every place seemed very kid friendly, which was great. a note on the kids: they sported an interesting variety of hats and bonnets that i had never really seen before. tight little bonnets that looked like water polo hats for babies and kerchief-type hats for older kids.
perturbances included the lack of laundromats and the crappy grocery selection. what do these people eat in their own homes and where do they buy it from? the food at restaurants is TOO expensive to live on. it didnt seem to be easy to be a vegetarian/vegan. also annoying was the lack of black out curtains on our apartment windows...do they just tolerate the light pouring in their bedrooms during the summer months? no thanks.
and i mentioned that the language is unnervingly foreign. the road signage is horrid, or rather, horrid for tourists. but perhaps this is because they hadnt really had an influx of tourists before their economy tanked in 2008. on the roads there is very little advance warning about upcoming parks or attractions. and the roads are rarely totally paved. i also mentioned before that the road construction is a free for all. its very weird to have so much responsibility given to each individual driver. i guess im used to the american roadways where people cannot be trusted to behave in a safe and proper manner while operating their vehicles around construction areas.
X: we have traveled with relative ease on all previous occasions, but this current developmental stage she is in seemed the hardest. she has mastered walking and it no longer keeps her happy to just walk up and down aisles. now she wants to stop and stare at everyone, touch them, rummage in their stuff, pick up trash. this full-on explorer phase is really hard to contain and keep content on long treks. we were able to avoid major meltdowns and keep fellow passengers happy, but it took a lot of work and energy on our part. it was enough to make me remove my hopes of adventure travel until she moves out of this phase a bit. :(
the only other major thing that was hard on the trip was food. she was most content and willing to follow instructions when her belly was full (and i dont blame her). but having to navigate travel without refrigeration, her food sensitivities (of which there are more than i realize when we are just living at home), eating on the go, and having enough variety of food to suit her whims was hard. if it was too hot out, she only wanted certain types of food (non-dense and heavy things, which, again, i dont blame her, but was hard to comply with at times).
other than food, she honestly did great with travel transitions, time changes, sleeping in new places (as long as i laid with her for several minutes after she dozed off). exploring our new surroundings was of course slower because she wanted to walk herself, pick up rocks, and have her own adventures at her own pace. and for the most part i was prepared for that, but sometimes we just really needed to get moving from one place to another and again it took a lot of energy to distract her and keep her happy so we could get to where we needed to go.
so i think for now we wont do any more big trips like this with her until she can talk well and tell us when she needs something and what she needs. it wont be long now, so we will just focus on trips back home to see familiar faces and plan more adventures when we see she is ready for that.