Cooking reindeer meat over an open fire in a Kota with friends in Sweden makes a perfect family travel moment as you can see by the expression on the kid's faces! A kota is a traditional Lapland or Sami home and reindeer meat is delicious and tastes a lot like good beef. We all took a fun tractor ride through the idyllic countryside to arrive and depart, which added to the adventure.
Our wonderful friends (who we met over the internet!) spoiled us this summer & shared so many of Sweden's charming traditions with us. We stayed in their lovely classic cottage on their farm for several weeks and have so many delightful tales to tell. To top it off they are gourmet cooks, so all the food was scrumptious!
Due to their love and caring, Sweden became one of our favorite countries and it was an experience we will never forget. Mozart calls those cute boys her "Swedish brothers" and she had a grand time playing with them, even if they did not share much language in common. We have the most adorable video of her doing a duet with the eldest, but have had a hard time getting it up on Youtube. You'll love it and it is guaranteed to make you giggle and touch your heart!
People, learning traditions and just every day life ....doing ordinary things in extraordinary places...is what makes family travel special. Mozart learned so much about Swedish culture, just by being part of it for a while. We also supplemented it with a bunch of books by Astrid Lingren (who captures the essence of Sweden) that can't even be found in America. She loved them as well as a trip to Junibacken where some of the lead characters from Astrid Lingren's books sang her Happy Birthday in the tradition Swedish way.
Alas, I haven't even caught up with the many stories from last years travels and we are about to set out on seven months of non stop travel this week. Excited about the travel, but disappointed about not completing that.
Juggling traveling, homeschool, social media, interviews and press, weekly volunteer work with the disadvantaged school kids that follow us virtually through Reach The World, dealing with over 50,000 photos, plus writing a book etc, etc., leaves limited time to document our travel in real time. Luckily, we have endless time to eventually get them all down as well as videos and photos to match.
Our primary goal is freedom and it is the reason why we retired early and are traveling the world. I want to document our travels for our daughter, family and others that are enjoying it with us vicariously. We enjoy the process, but also have limited time for blogging and videos, if we are going to also enjoy our freedom and travels.
I have found myself working too hard the last two winters while in Spain, so am looking forward to being unplugged more on the road and re-evaluating how I can do things differently. I did not reach many of my primary winter goals this year, including losing more weight, finishing last years stories or finishing the first e-book. We did too much last year, got back too late and I always felt behind.
There is a good reason why few travel writers are traveling constantly or why few travelogues last longer than a year. It is a lot more work than I expected and we are into our third year of doing it. The more popular we get, the more work and that is not compatible with our primary goal. Unlike most travel writers, I am retired and doing this for fun. If it is not going to be fun, it is going to get cut out of my "have to do" list.
As Mozart is getting older and we need to focus more on her educational needs (mainly research of best practices & opportunities), as we prepare to head to a new continent, for a long stay - which is a large research assignment by itself, I find myself at a turning point. I am going to be doing less of everything and more of enjoying. It's not that I haven't been enjoying, but I just plan to do more of that and cut out any time pressures or things that feel like "work".
We are going to attempt to go slower this year. I will continue to write, photograph, video plus share here and elsewhere ( like on Twitter, Youtube and Facebook) but we are often unplugged, so not at the same level of intensity. We just finished with our weekly volunteer work with Reach The World kids this year, so that will also free up quite a bit of time.
I will try to get at least one blog post up a week, usually uploaded on Tuesday or Wednesday, as long as we can find free wifi and will do Twitpics as I can. Thus, the basics won't change much and hopefully, will get even better.
I am hoping more time in nature and our beloved slow travel that calls to our souls, will give us time to dream and brainstorm on how we can enjoy our popularity, plus connect and collaborate with others, without adding more challenges to us, nor taking away from our primary focus of freedom, bonding and education. There are only so many hours in a day and life is short, so must be lived to the fullest.
We're so excited to be on the road again! Portugal (returning to swim with the dolphins now that Mozart is 8), Barcelona area, Minorca, Sardinia, Corsica, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Hungry, Romania, possibly Bulgaria and Paris are all on our list this year, along with Egypt, Jordan & Jerusalem in the fall. We will play it by ear and see how many get seen.
We'd love to hear any feedback or ideas that you have!