The Gallery: Travel.

This week, at The Gallery, the theme is Travel. It’s a subject that’s dear to my heart, as without travel I wouldn’t have come to the UK and found the rest of my life waiting for me.

And it’s one of the reasons we’ve chosen to raise a family in the UK, rather than head back downunder.

As a family, we love to travel. We’ve been to 4 of the seven continents and plan to do something about two of the missing three in the next couple of years. Most of the time we fly because we have to, but when it’s all possible we take the train, or drive.

When you have this much luggage, it makes sense to take the car if you can.

In fact, if you mention travel to me, I immediately think of our car looking like this.

Roofbox on, packed with bags, kids and enough electronic equipment to fly us to the moon.

We catch the Chunnel Train and head under the sea, and after half an hour sitting in our car, on a train we are in France! It’s like magic.

Then we drive. We drive for hours, stopping at various motorway aires on the way.

We head for a village in the Swiss Alps, 11 hours away, in pursuit of a Family Adventure with Esprit. Over the last two years we have done this drive over 2 days but this year we will take an extra day and stop more frequently.

We talk, sing, listen to music and audiobooks, the kids watch movies and play on DSs and iPads, and sometimes they sleep.

We drive on the Toll Roads where possible, these are French at first, then we cross the border and drive through Geneva on the Swiss roads.

It’s about here that we first spot the mountains. The scenery up until here has been relatively flat. We follow a river and enter a valley, then start driving up a very windy, narrow mountain road. Finally we reach Saas Fee.

Saas Fee is a carless village at the top of an alpine valley. It’s surrounded by snow topped mountains, and on a cloudless day, you open your curtains and just go ‘wow’!

You can’t deny it’s beautiful but you are probably wondering why we choose to go back, year after year. Surely we could go somewhere else just as stunning for some variety.

The reason we continue to go back to Esprit is the childcare. Yes, my husband and I like to use our holidays to get a little time to ourselves. We get very little opportunity during the rest of the year.

While at Esprit, our children go to their various age-appropriate kids clubs for 4 days over the week. The staff are all young, enthusiastic English people who genuinely love their charges.

And the kids have a ball. They go all over the mountains, on the buses and bubble lifts.

They go for mountain picnics and feed the marmots.

They go up to the snow and into the ice caves. They go mountain biking and play in alpine playgrounds. They play games, and do crafts and practice for their show at the end of the week.

They have their faces painted and drink milkshakes with their new friends.

And what do DH and I do while we are childless?

We explore the mountains. We usually take a lift up to a station and walk down, stopping for coffee and cake at one of the gasthof on the way down. We try new food, or we take a picnic and eat it sitting beside a lake.

We look at the picture postcard villages and wonder what it’s like to live there.

Sometimes we take the car and visit nearby places.

We have adventures of our own.

 

Come 5:30, we pick up 4 tired, filthy children, bath them, dress them in clean clothes and hand them over to the Cocoa Club, while we have our dinner. DS has been too young for this over the last few years, so a staff member sits on the landing outside his door and will contact us if he starts crying.

We eat with other adults, and are served good food and wine by the friendly, chatty staff. Then at 10pm, we pick up our children and all head up to bed, exhausted.

Another reason we stick with Esprit is, they have accommodation that can easily handle all 6 of us. In Saas Fee we always have the same room. A main bedroom with a mezzanine floor with two beds, and a separate two bed bedroom off the main room.

DS sees the ladder to the mezzanine as a challenge, but we don’t let him sleep up there.

When the kids aren’t in childcare, we have fun as a family. We go on the Rodelbahn; it’s a rollercoaster car that you control the speed of yourself. DH takes the younger ones down with him but still manages go faster than anyone else on the track at the same time.

We take them up the lifts and go on walks with them. We discover play areas perched high in the mountains.

After a week, we leave Saas Fee and head to the French Alps for a change.

We’ve been to a different place each year for that second week.

One year we went to Chamonix.

The kids made dams, caught freshwater crayfish, went rock climbing and walked huskies.

DH and I took the lift up to the Aiguille du Midi, then the summer tramway over an immense glacier, to Italy. I think this may have been the most awe-inspiring event of my adult life so far.

Last year we went to Alp d’Huez. The road was even windier than the one to Saas Fee.

The kids went mountain biking, horse riding, frog catching and fishing. They had their first experience of a ski lift.

DH and I explored the lifts, lakes and valleys.

We even found a geocache or two.

On our day as a family, we took the kids on the luge and they tried ice skating in the open air.

This year we are going to Belle Plagne, and who knows what adventures we’ll have there?

We just hope we end up with a car like this on the way home.

To see other travel photos, and hear about other people’s adventures, click here.

10 comments on “The Gallery: Travel.

  1. Looks like an awesome holiday, totally agree on the driving thing, much easier than trying to navigate airports and for these sort of holidays just ideal. I have 3 brothers and a sister so can totally relate to the loaded up car. We used to have a trailer on the back and bikes on the roof!
    Also this holiday looks great, will have to check out Espirit for our family holidays in the future.

    • Esprit are fantastic and I have my own selfish reasons for pimping them, as I just want them to continue for a few more years. I’m no sport billy, but I enjoy walking and there are some lovely ones in the mountains- some very challenging ones for fitter people too. And they take babies from 4 months….

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