In less than a month I am off to Europe with my girl, Fred. We're flying to Hong Kong first for three nights, into London for two nights, then train up to Manchester for the wedding, Lake District for a few days, train back down to the south of England to stay with more family and then Paris for a week, and 2 nights in Helsinki on the way home (we're flying Finn Air so that stop was a last minute throw-in).
England is pretty much sorted, I've been to London before, so I'm happy just to hang out at the park with Fred and maybe ride a double decker bus. There's enough family stuff going on that I don't think we'll be looking for ways to entertain ourselves and I'm hoping she'll enjoy the train travel. We were booked into a expensive-for-the-rest-of-the-world-cheapish-for-London hotel but I've just cancelled our booking and switched to the YHA in Earl's Court, because I think Frederique will appreciate the social qualities, and we won't have to be so best-behaviourish, and it's on the Piccadilly line. And it's cheaper. We have our own room of course.
In Hong Kong I'm thinking about doing the Peak and maybe an island visit. Fred is allergic to shopping and I don't love it either, so while no doubt we will do some low level acquiring, it won't be an activity as such. Can anyone else make any suggestions? Zoos, museums, botanical gardens - Fred actually likes museums, as long as they're the sort where you can run a bit and be noisy and interested and touch things. Disneyland is probably out (see below).
And Paris. We've booked an aparment in the Marais (3rd district). Apart from eating pastries and drinking hot chocolate and gawping at the Eiffel Tower (not sure if we'll go up it), I have no plans. I think the Louvre might be a bit overwhelming, and probably frustrating for me if we do it at Fred's pace. I'd quite like to take her to the Notre Dame (well, I want to go and she'll have to come). My rough idea for each day was Do Thing in the morning, lunch near or at Thing, then lose ourselves in a park somewhere. Dinner in our apartment probably. Again, Disneyland is probably out (The part of me that is still six years old sitting in front of The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night wants to take her. The part of me that knows it will be hyperstimulating for both of us, overpriced and crowded and full of cheap crappy Disney stuff says stay away. Fred doesn't really 'get' Disneyland yet anyway, though I did tell her we could go to Cinderella's house. Do you think it would be wrong for me to pick some random fancy house and just tell her that that is Cinderella's house?) Any other suggestions, including making a case for the Louvre with kids, welcome. I'd love to get out of Paris for a day and take her somewhere more naturey or beachy - but it has to be somewhere we can get to without a car.
We're in Helsinki for two nights. I have no idea what to do. We're booked into a private room at the Eurohostel. I'd also love suggestions for a good playground.
Any suggestions for good travel toys we can take away? I'm not too worried about the plane cause they'll be tiny tellie and plane packs and little toothpaste and the crash safety booklet (she loves that). But there will be hotel time, train travel, and other time to fill, and a good toy will help her get clear headspace and rejuvenate her energy (though what makes a good toy for Fred I STILL don't know. Pity Bedda is dead.) So far on my list I have:
*Books (A couple of easy, lightweight chapter books or short stories I think, we read the first chapter of Ramona the Pest the other day and she'd have happily had the same chapter read over and over. And we'll buy new books or magazines or comics on our travels.)
*A travel journal
*Pencil case chockers with new pencils, gel pens etc
*Colouring/Activity Book (one like her Charlie and Lola that encourages her to draw in the rest of the pictures)
*I thought maybe a little bag thing, with some make up and bits and pieces of jewelry and a little mirror and the like. I can give it to her on the plane perhaps.
*A favourite soft toy to cuddle.
*The French flashcards (we can BOTH do some intensive training on the Eurostar)
*A walkman or ipod?? (I can't decide about this, I'm also vaguely tempted to get a handheld game thing, but that way madness lies).
Anything else - non-toy - I should pack that I might not have thought of?