17 August 2007

Travels with Curious Girl

I really admire bloggers like niobe and jo(e) who are able to travel and blog so thoroughly (jo(e) even while camping!). That said, it was surprisingly enjoyable to be offline so much in our recent travels. I kept blogging in my head, though, and aspire to get those posts actually typed--but at the moment, trying to get the school year off to a good start and trying to pack for our upcoming visit to Politica's father have not been good for blogging. So in the grand tradition of bloggers trying to get their posts flowing again, I give you a bulleted list, of travel tips and observations gleaned from three weeks on the road with Curious Girl:
  • small beach balls rock. We got one on the plane from a high school kid who was coming back from a big protestant youth rally/camp or something. It had a sticker on it from a presbytry in south Jersey. Even though it had a hole in it, we had a lot of fun with it on the plane and on line at the airport baggage office where we and lots of other people had to go when Northwurst lost our luggage. We got an even bigger beach ball from the duty free shop in Ancestral Homeland. Beach balls deflate for carrying around, they're light, and they can't hurt anyone. Fun for catch, fun for rolling, just fun.
  • double decker buses also rock. CG calls them "decker buses," and we spent one morning simply riding around on a decker bus, sitting in the front seat up top. It was a bit hot, but CG was quite amused. And I got a pretty good view of the city.
  • underground trains, also quite amusing. CG was willing to let me choose a few sights if the mode of transport to and from them fit her mood. One day, she was all about the underground trains. She can haul herself up the floor-to-ceiling poles with her hands and feet. Grownups pay lots of money for abdominal muscles that good.
  • playgrounds in other countries are cool. In one place, we saw a lot of pingpong tables in the parks, and lots of steel mesh tubes for climbing. I do like watching kids play.
  • Children off their routines are not always fun to play with. CG is no exception. If you were in a major European city a couple of weeks ago and saw a nice lesbian couple walking down the street with their daughter, and then their daughter just suddenly turned into a screaming, crying, spitting, biting alien, you saw us. Two nights running. It was bizarre, all the more so for CG saying on the second night, "I'm being just like I was last night!" We thought if she was self-conscious of the resemblance, surely she was able to control it. Um, no. When we got back into our apartment on the first night with our alien-resembling-Curious-Girl, she was still sobbing. When she went into the bathroom to get ready for bed, we heard her wailing, "Wah, wah, wah. And the toilet paper doesn't even feel like toilet paper. It's too thick!" That cracked me up.
  • Fortunately, CG regained her travel groove. It probably helped that there was a Hello Kitty sign on our street, on a streetlight pole. We didn't actually visit the HK store itself, but we had a lot of conversations with the Hello Kitty sign as we came to and from our apartment (the sign invariably voiced by me).
  • I packed way more travel-fun stuff for Curious Girl than we used. The video-on-demand in the plane was very attractive to her (even though she didn't actually watch that much, because the earphones were too big for her and that annoyed her. And she doesn't really have a good attention span. On the way back, we watched Shrek 3. "The one with the babies," she informed me, when I told her what the options were. But while we were watching (she had me watch the same movie, so we could talk about it), she kept mixing up Arthur and Prince Charming, and she kept thinking Prince Charming was good. So she clapped with joy whenever he appeared, and towards the end, when Rapunzel appeared, she said, "Yay! Punzel! You're in my movie." Totally missing the point. We have not trained her to be a very careful media watcher. Is this normal 5 year old, to be so inattentive?
  • imagination is wonderful. On our trip, CG invented various new games. One, Team Strawberry, requires Str@aberry Shortc@ke pajamas and competitions held in the bathtub in swiming and diving, and the presentation of (imaginary) medals in a complex ceremony with (imaginary) accordion music and bouqets of flowers presented by baby sisters. The teams process into bed at the end and have a sleepover. Another game, office, involves the audiotours that came free in a couple of museums we went to. You and your travel companions get to be colleagues, and the person who is the boss assigns Important Tasks (like counting people in a frieze or counting how many tiles in a gate on display). The smallest colleague gets to determine which exhibit is the printer space and you all have to wave your hands a lot to send e-mail. So if you were in an antiquities museum a few weeks ago and saw Americans appearing to talk to themselves while waving their hands, that was us.
  • pajamas on the plane are good. CG put her PJs on and then fell promptly asleep. On the plane home, when it was daylight, I suggested she might simply sleep wearing her clothes. She looked at me as though I were crazy. PJs, a lullaby, and she was asleep in my lap.
I'll tell some stories from our trip, but now it's time to pack for the next one.


Phantom Scribbler said...

Oy, the routine question! I'm impressed that CG handled the travel as well as she did. Our meltdowns were several times a day... and that was just me.

(Last night in a store the saleswoman was raving over what a beautiful, adorable little girl Baby Blue is, and I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "Yeah, but you know those piercing shrieks that were echoing up and down the street a few hours ago? That was her, too. Adorable, ain't it?")

I think our vacations would go much more smoothly if from now on we just accepted that we should plan them around playgrounds and miniature golf courses.

jo(e) said...

I well remember the days of travel meltdowns from small children! It almost makes teenagers seem easy in comparison ....

I love that Curious Girl invented some new games. She'd fit right in with my family.

liz said...

Ooh! PJ's! I never thought of that.

I love her imaginitiveness and her physicality!

Arwen said...

You sound like a fun family to travel with! And I'm totally stealing the PJs idea.
Meltdowns. It's odd how conscious they can be of what they're doing. Sometimes, when a really big storm is happening, I remind myself of those days I feel snippy for no good reason.

niobe said...

Perhaps if I wear my pjs on the next plane flight I'll find it easier to sleep. Though, I suppose I might have more problems getting through customs.