The Urban Daddy: Back from family vacation. Europe V4.0.


So we have returned from our annual family vacation – I’m back at work, the kids have one week left before school starts, and my wife has the absolute pleasure of coordinating the back to school festivities.  Dentist appointments, vaccinations, clothes, shoes, school supplies, and most importantly, scheduling!

Forget the programming of extra-curricular activities and sports programs, because that is just going to have to wait… So many commitments, and such little precious time.

You get it!

But normally, I do not like to speak publicly about personal matters, however this summer’s vacation is worth sharing not because of what we did, but because of how we did it.

This was our 4th summer in Europe.  As a family.  We plan the trips in October / November and in the summer we pack as little as possible into backpacks, and we go and explore the world.

Since we are a family of 5, staying in a hotel is not a viable option, so we resort to using Air BnB’s so we have choice of location, a kitchen and sometimes other exciting amenities, such as a pool.

With the kitchen we avoid the costly dinners out and instead hit up local grocery stores and eat breakfast and dinner we’ve made ourselves and if we decide not to pack lunch, we can eat out before heading back for a siesta.

This summer took us to Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, and London with many stops along the way via the train, or the car we rented for a week.

We don’t have a home base for the entire trip, instead we stay in places for anywhere from 2-5 days before moving on.  Each new country, city, town bring a new experience and the excitement of a new place which might be better (or worse) than the previous one.

We’ve yet to be disappointed.

I’d say after 5-years of family travels, the one disappointing place we stayed at was in Rome 2-years ago which was in a fabulous location, but the Air Conditioning didn’t work and it was during a hot spell, where the average temperature was 45 degrees Celsius.

This year also represented the first year that our bags were lost during a transfer at airports, and our bags were lost twice, the final time, only 3 of our 5 bags made it home.  The final bag arrived 3 days after us.

Kudos to my wife for planting the seed of travel into our kids.  Imagine taking a 4-year-old back-packing as we did 3-years ago, through Paris, the south of France, Amsterdam and Belgium.  She was an absolute trooper.  No strollers, just walking, looking at art, and enjoying ourselves.

Now at the ripe age of 7, she’s a pro.

I encourage parents to explore travel with their children to introduce them to how the rest of the world lives.  Sure, we had gone on a family cruise before, and we took the kids to Disney, but before we headed overseas, we explored the East coast of Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI – to see if we would do driving trips overseas and after that success, we took the plunge.

I love that my oldest can easily navigate the Paris Metro, or the London Underground.  Even the Seville Metro and Brussels subway pose no issues with him.  Our middle child has found an appreciation for art, museums, and the food and drink that other places have to offer.  He’s in his element wherever he is, and that warms my heart.

Our youngest, my daughter… Such a trooper, and with a strength in languages, she enjoys what we all enjoy… the sites, the food, the language… the experience.

As someone who had to find ways to cope with some significant undiagnosed anxiety in my life, the travel bug has bitten me and I look forward to the flights, train rides, and bus, tram and subway rides because of what they bring.  New experiences, new adventures and quality family time!

For those who knew of our travels, we appreciated the texts and messages as we were in Barcelona one week before that horrible murderous act by a group of criminals.  We were on the exact stop where the van came to rest.  We also were at Buckingham Palace in London a day before some mentally unstable resident showed up with a 4-foot sword there.

But it’s great to be back home, back in Canada, back to the greatest country in the world.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Metro News Answers my Question: When a comment isn’t a comment.


I don’t like to read Metro News, nor the Toronto Star and these are my long-time choices because I do not agree with their views on many things.  Granted, I appreciate many of the journalists at these organizations and hold nothing personal against any of them, I just don’t like the way they handle comments which are contrary to the views they publish, as was the case this morning when I commented on an article that I felt was inaccurate and biased.

Take for example this article in the “Urban Compass Toronto” section, written by someone named Matt Elliott regarding childcare in Toronto; “Next election Let’s Make Childcare the Issue and the Legacy“.  The article makes mention of 150 people protesting at Toronto’s City Hall asking on the municipal government (actually the article makes this Mayor Rob Ford’s issue – more on that later).  On the surface I agree that more can be done to help low and middle-income families and single parent families deal with child care so they can work and support themselves, but the last time I checked my list of responsibilities of the levels of governments here in Canada, the responsibility for child care falls in Provincial jurisdiction – under current un-elected Premier Kathleen Wynne and her tax and de-list Liberal party.

So in order to be sure that this wan not an oversight, I reread the article, then went to see what else Mr. Elliott has written and if his slant on this article were genuine or anti-Ford as seems to be the mandate of these publications, and it would be clear to me that the latter was correct.

With articles titled;

I firmly believe that either Mr. Elliott is being told to slam the Mayor with every article – sells papers – or maybe he is just not a believer in being fiscally Conservative – both totally fine – but he really should be clear upfront about this, shouldn’t he?  There is nothing wrong about being left-wing if you are willing to back it up, be clear to your readership and not write articles which represent “Urban Toronto”.  Urban Toronto does not agree with your views, Mr. Elliott.  Some may, but not everyone does.

So I took the time to craft a response.

I chose my words clearly and I used supporting documentation from the Government of Ontario website which stated that in 2010 the responsibility for childcare in Ontario was moved to the Ministry of Education.  I also pointed out that maybe if the Liberals were more fiscally responsible, they would have the funds to subsidize middle-class childcare and provide free child-care for the poorest and most in need in Ontario.  I think that is fair and a good use of our taxpayer dollars, do you?  Surely if the Liberals could have balanced a budget in the past 7-years without needing to raise taxes or de-list services they would be able to do exactly what Mr. Elliott, the defender of Urban Toronto, suggests.

I posted my comment for moderation.

It was deleted.

I am disappointed, yet not surprised.

I am not going to hold my breath waiting for a story about the 5 (or 15) ways Kathleen Wynne lied, or for a detailed look into George Smitherman who was reported to be a user of drugs, whose husband was found laying by the side of train-tracks and who blew a billion dollars of taxpayer money, yet was endorsed by the Toronto Star as being the best choice for Mayor, and I am not going to wait for someone to do some digging into Olivia Chow’s campaigning for Toronto Mayor while employed as a member of the Federal government who may or may not be using her office to support her future desire to be Queen.

Those investigations will never come from the Star, or from Metro.  Not when it’s way too easy to post an unflattering picture of the Mayor, a man with serious addiction problems, and make fun of him…