Egypt with Kids ULTIMATE GUIDE

When we decided to go to Egypt, we were really anxious. We knew we wanted to experience for ourselves the bulk historical porn on offer but we were anxious about safety and had heard stories. When we arrived into Cairo airport though and couldn’t find the driver we had booked, a taxi driver called him for us and expected nothing in return and it gave us a really good feeling. The significant historical sites of Ancient Egypt that you can still see today are absolutely incredible and we think everyone should visit Egypt at least once in their life. We are SO glad we did. I’ve tried to consider what our own considerations and concerns were before we arrived and discuss them here. If you have any other questions or are sitting on the fence about Egypt (for one, jump off the fence and go! For two…), feel free to message on the thread below.

Our 1 month Egypt Itinerary

# of DaysLocationThings we did/ saw:Transport between locations…
4Cairo/GizaStay out near airport then head to Giza the next day. 
Stay somewhere cheap with an awesome view of pyramids (many options online).
Visit Pyramids (go early in the morning).Pyramids visit x 2 (with an Egyptologist).
Overnight train to…
2LuxorAfter disembarking train… straight to
Day 1. Karnak Temple complex at sunrise plus Hat Shet Sut’s temple
Day 2. Valley of the KingsHop on to the cruise ship for afternoon cruise
Cruise to…
2Edfu & Kom OmboDay 1. -Temple of Edfu (one of the best preserved sanctuaries of the antiquated world. The structure is devoted to Horus, the falcon God). -Sail to Kom Ombo, check out the twin sanctuary of Kom Ombo (dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus)Cruise to…
2Aswan& Abu Simbel Day 1:Visit the High Dam and the Unfinished Obelisk in the stone quarries of old Egypt, the biggest pillar yet found. 
Temple of Philae, dedicated to the two goddesses Isis and Hathor. Nubian village on Soheil Island. Aswan botanical gardens. Sunset felucca rideMarket
Day 2:Day trip to Abu Simbel
Day trip and back to Abu Simbel then afternoon train to…

LuxorStay overnight in Luxor. Up early for bus to Hurghada.Bus to….
7/14Hurghada-Two weeks in all inclusive resort (could be one week!)-Scuba Diving day trip, organised in the hotel.Bus (wish we’d flown) to…
3Cairo (New Cairo)Stayed in New Cairo- really different to downtown / Giza, lots of fancy restaurants, shops and actual supermarkets. 
2AlexandriaOvernight trip to Alexandria. We didn’t do this but so wished we had. This is where we should have slotted it in. Train or private driver/ tour
1CairoFly out

Want more insights on those locations?

Giza (pyramids):

Our Uber driver got into two physical altercations on our 2 hour drive out to Giza from our hotel near the airport. Once with the owner of a donkey cart who had reversed into him and the other with a fake tourist police. Eek. Giza is busy and filthy but is definitely a must see as the pyramids are here and it’s all a bit remarkable. Our accommodation cost us about $45 a night and had the most incredible, unobstructed view of the pyramids and the sound and light show could be heard plainly from our rooftop. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the place we stayed at but many around us were at the same price point and probably had similar pros and cons.

As our place was so close to the pyramids, we got up super early and went, the back entrance was quiet even though it didn’t have a sign, you can’t miss it. It’s near the Sphinx.

We got absolutely accosted by screaming, excited teenagers intrigued by us and wanting us to be in photos with them. It was funny at first but definitely became a little intense. Cover your hair if it’s blonde!

A guy from the ticket office walked us into the site from the gate. He wasn’t a tour guide but told us not to show our tickets to anyone as this was unnecessary and a common ploy by tour guides to get your business. Not 2 minutes after he’d said goodbye to us, we were stopped by a very unofficial, ‘official’ lanyard wearing man asking earnestly for us to show him our tickets. We refused but he would not let us pass and insisted, so we showed him. Then he followed us for around ten minutes and made us stand in various poses (I’m kissing/touching/ lifting the sphinx, pyramids). We could have refused but we were a little taken aback to be honest and were interested to see what he wanted from us… Well after the photos he requested we give him anywhere between $50 and $100 USD. Uhhh what?! My mother in law handed him a $5 CAD and he quickly pocketed it, called it a souvenir only and asked for more. Uh no buddy. Before he could respond we had hot footed it away from him. Eek!

Then we decided to walk towards the desert side to get a good panoramic view of all the pyramids. Another roadblock. This time, a camel riding tourist policemen who began his campaign sternly but allowed us to pass with some sweet talking, an offering of a chocolate bar and on the proviso that we agree to take his photo. Ahh shrug. Ok!

The whole experience was an adventure really. We probably wouldn’t do anything differently. Sometimes you just have to go along with these things and see what happens/ enjoy the ride.

The view from the rooftop of our place in Giza

Luxor:

We really liked Luxor, it felt calmer and cleaner than chaotic Cairo. The Luxor temple offerings are incredible and include Karnak Temple (AMAZING), Luxor Temple and the mortuary temple of Hat Shet Sut. This is also the location of the Valley of the Kings, the burial site of ancient Pharaohs (including Tut Ankh Amon) and you can also go hot air ballooning here.

Rooftop view from our ship

If you’re in Egypt, you must must, must visit Luxor. We took the overnight “luxury” train from Cairo. Those parenthesis are THICK, this train is DEFINITELY not luxury but it was comfortable enough, slept two to a berth with a lockable door and felt quite the adventure.

Luxor is also the place where the Nile cruise ships depart from. You can either book one online before you get to Luxor but if we had our time again, we’d book into a hotel for the night and approach boats in person to get a better deal than what we paid. The cruise was a massive highlight for us, it meant we saw so much, made some new friends and had a very knowledgable guide with us at the most interesting sites.

Valley of the Kings:

I think, inside all of us is a kid fascinated by Egyptian mummies, treasure filled tombs, tales of curses and the Book of the Dead (not actually a book, apparently!). The Valley of the Kings is the place of that little kid’s dreams… The burial site of 62 (so far discovered!) Pharaohs and their treasure trove tombs that extend under ground the most magnificent limestone rock faces in a place that seems other worldly. Cue Indiana Jones theme song! 🎶 

Walking in to the Valley of the Kings

The only discovered mummy that still resides there is King Tut Ankh Amon, ancient Egypt’s most famous and youngest ruler whose death and discovery is shrouded in mystery and legend, and whose mummy is too delicate to move. Apparently he was buried quickly to avoid revealing how he died- a new theory suggests he was hit in the head and murdered. Many of those involved in excavating his tomb in the 1920s subsequently died inexplicably or suspiciously, beginning the legend of the curse of the Mummy! Coooooooool!!!!

This place just feels sooo… adventurous. Being inside the almost 3000 year old tombs was absolutely mind blowing and there is still excavations happening today- a renowned Egyptologist believes the tomb of Queen Nefertiti is behind that of Tut Ankh Amon’s and Egypt is waiting with baited breath to see what the excavations will uncover.

Aswan:

Aswan, like Luxor is really beautiful and a lot calmer than Cairo. There are some major universities located here that draws young people from all over Northern Africa. The Botanical Gardens are really beautiful and there is a great market near the train station where you can buy souvenirs, cotton clothing and other market goodies. We took an afternoon, sunset felucca ride along the Nile here and it was a beautiful experience.

Jordy on the felucca

Abu Simbel:

Abu Simbel is about a 3.5 hour drive, south from Aswan, through the Western desert right on the Sudanese outskirts. It is the incredible temple of Ramses II. The twin temples were carved out of the mountainside during the 13th century BC, during the 19th dynasty reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. They serve as a lasting monument to the king and his queen Nefertari, whose dedicated temple sits right next door. Amazingly, the temples were moved stone by stone in 1968 to save the temples from being ruined by water from Lake Nasser. The stone temples are absolutely imposing and incredible. They’re absolutely huge and, in our eyes, a must see if in Egypt.

Abu Simbel

Hurgahada:

We really enjoyed our time in Hurghada, along the west coast of the Red Sea. It was so relaxing and a lovely change of pace for us. We didn’t realise it when we booked but the places we stayed in were all inclusive. The food wasn’t amazing at either place but it was ALL INCLUSIVE and we barely lifted a finger, except to push the button on the espresso machine, or to flip our book to the next page. We had Jordan’s mum with us and there was a kids’ club at both resorts so we all had a probably much needed break from each other. Hurghada is famous for its diving so we took a day trip out on a boat for some fishing, snorkeling and diving. The sea was so rough, many were sick on the boat so take note of the wind and eat some nausea meds if you get motion sickness.

The diving wasn’t spectacular but it was a fun (albeit terrifying) experience. The snorkeling was a lot of fun and we saw dolphins and a whale shark.

The Cruise:

The cruise was a real surprise highlight for all of us. The boat had a rooftop pool and the crew were really kind and friendly to the girls, they gave them balloons and did magic tricks for them. Just watching the Egyptian life along side the banks as we sailed past was totally mesmerising and the stops along the route from Luxor to Aswan were incredible. Like I said earlier, if we knew what we know now, we’d have arrived into Luxor before sailing day, stayed in a hotel and approached the boats physically to get a better deal. 

So, Is Egypt Safe for kids??

There wasn’t any point where we didn’t feel safe in Egypt with the girls. It was more like an awareness that things could happen… a city of 20 + million people and the chaos of that; all the dogs, traffic, horses etc, it felt like we had to be hyper vigilant and always on but there were no specific instances where we felt unsafe. 

The traffic is crazy in Cairo and no one wears seat belts. We had travel car seats with us but couldn’t really set them up as the getting in and out of cars happened quickly and often in precarious places where it wouldn’t be safe to put them in. You obviously have to do what feels right for you though and most of the time we were on public trains and buses.

Kids are really adored by people and everrrrrryone gave our girls chewing gum and other sugary treats. That’s not always ideal, particularly when trying to teach them to be aware of strangers and taking gifts from people they don’t know. 

Final Egypt Budget:

In many ways we were under budget in Egypt but in a lot of ways we were also over, ok so we were over, way over as we dipped into our tours and activities budget in a mega way…

Most meals were included- on the cruise and all meals when we were in the resorts in Hurghada and food is a massive budget chunk for us. So we came under by about $400 in our everyday spending but the 4 day cruise set us back about $3000 AUD. We would definitely do it again though and we felt like it was totally worth it. The Egyptologist we had with us made it so worthwhile and we felt we would have missed things if we’d done it all alone. The cruise included a night in Cairo on each end as well as a visit to the pyramids,, a trip to the Cairo museum, Karnak, Kom Ombo, Edfu and Abu Simbel all with Wael, our Egyptologist extraordinaire. 

Total General spending for Egypt 24 Days: $700

Includes:

Food: $307.06 

Transport (trains/buses and uber): $117

Miscellaneous (tips, toilets, wifi, gifts, visas on arrival): $498.70

Further to our usual spend:

  • Entry fees to all sites (kids were free, this is just two adults): $366 
  • Day trip to Abu Simbel from Aswan (entry fees, transport, guide): $600
  • Four night cruise + 1 week accommodation in Hurghada + amazing tour guide to all sites + transport between Cairo- Luxor, Luxor- Hurghada- Cairo + accommodation in Cairo on either side): $4000
  • All other accommodation in Cairo / Giza / Hurghada: $1200

= $6873 for 24 days 

Eek ! I think we could have done it cheaper but we didn’t know what to expect and were really glad to have a portion of it with a guide. If we had done nothing we would have gone under budget but we didn’t come to Egypt to do nothing!  If we go back again we maybe would try physically approaching boats in Luxor to get a better deal and heard of many who had done this successfully. There are a bunch of hotels right along the Nile in Luxor, so you could arrive in Luxor before sailing day, stay overnight in one of these and find your boat in the afternoon, you would definitely find a one, there are over 200.  

Bordeaux

We fell in love with this city! Our Airbnb that was located outside the city centre (bbbbbbudget, of course), cancelled at the 11th hour and we were really unsure about what to do… we scoured Airbnb and all the booking sites and really didn’t find anything that fit our criteria and budget. Three days before we were due to leave our beautiful, fairytale oasis in The Dordogne, a new listing landed on Airbnb and we were SOLD…

So this is how we ended up spending the week sleeping on a boat in Bordeaux’s city harbour! In my hometown, houseboats are aplenty but most look like big, floating sheds (though can be super luxurious), they mostly look the same… but this! This! This boat was the dream boat I didn’t even know was in my dreams! The girls squealed with delight when we arrived on board and there was an ACTUAL captains hat! Apart from the sheer terror of keeping the children contained, you know, on top of the boat as opposed to falling off the boat, I felt like we could have moved in and worn that captain’s hat permanently (Jordan looked hot in it, though we all know who the real captain is… Sadie!) and sailed off into the French sunset!

We were about 3.5kms from Centreville but the walk into town was really nice, safe and straightforward; right along the boardwalk full of shops and, strangely, a number of Australian themed bars (?). On our first afternoon, we had an early dinner and headed into the city with the express purpose of checking out the Miroir D-eau, the world’s largest reflective pool: 3450 square metres of incredible reflection. The opportunity to splash in a public fountain is like Christmas for the girls who skipped the entire way into the city and squealed when they finally spotted it whilst in its mystifying mist (see what I did there?) stage of its three part cycle. We arrived right at the most beautiful moment, where the sun was just slipping down behind the buildings of Place de la Bourse but still peeking out enough to create this slightly magical effect where the last streaks of day glow were slashing through the fog of the Miroir. The girls did not even ask (or speak) they just bolted towards the water, fully clothed and spent the next couple of hours in mirrored bliss (aaaand ditto that every single night of our stay!).

We love wine. Like, LOVE wine. And we were in Bordeaux. And!! -we are on a trip for 12 months with our 4 and 6 year old children. WINE. So of course we had to visit at least one winery along the Routes de Vins. Saint Emilion won our vote because we had read that the town was worth a visit itself (hint: it was!) and we found that Chateau Soutard was supposedly family friendly. What we didn’t find was what would have been incredibly useful information: that you need to book a tour. One cannot just rock up to a winery in search of wine! Of course not, this is not bloody Australia, mate! The lady at Soutard seemed genuinely disappointed for us and we happily settled on sitting in the courtyard in front of the chateau and buy wine by the glass instead of doing the full tour.  In all honesty, this suited us really, after all, we do not realllllllllllly care how the wine is made, just how it tastes! At Soutard, they had a wee play structure pour les filles and ours were completely happy to leave us to pretend they didn’t exist for a few moments,  sample a few glasses whilst they played quietly (a Christmas miracle!) on the little playground. Chateau Soutard is beautiful and we were invited to ride or walk around the vineyards for free, we just weren’t able to show up and do a guided tour and tasting. So don’t be like us- book ahead!

Our last day and night in Bordeaux, was spent wandering the city and buying treats from the Sunday market… because they were so enamoured by the taste, they barely blinked when we disclosed what ‘cour de canard’ really was (quack!).  My watch told me we’d clocked 20kms – a new PB for our 4 year old! We saw all the must-sees of Bordeaux and of course ended the day with a beautiful picnic along the Quay of Garonne (with our bordelaise wine, of course!) and an after dinner splash in our favourite water mirror.

If we were in the city longer, we would have (SO SHOULD HAVE) checked out the Darwin Ecosystem on the right bank. I jogged past a few times and it seemed interesting and every night, from the opposite bank we could hear great music and lots happening over there. The space, is a green hub which houses an outdoor farm, huge skatepark, hosts live music, an expression space for graffiti artists, oh gosh I have to stop, I’m so disappointed in myself for not stopping in. Again, learn from our mistakes. Go here!

All in all, we absolutely fell in love with Bordeaux. Jordan thinks we could live there. It felt diverse and culturally rich, full of community and activity (one night we saw salsa classes on the Miroir, another area was sectioned off and held rollerblading lessons one evening, skateboarding the next). And !! AND!! Things were ACTUALLY open on Sunday- huzzah! Bordeaux has it all!! If you want the link to our airbnb boat, shoot me through a message.

The Dordogne

I think, apart from Provence (will it always be ‘apart from Provence’?), this has been the most beautiful area we have seen in France. The traditional, stone roofed homes, particular to the area have been mostly preserved and the plentiful, rocky hills offer panoramic views of the landscape that is saturated with castles, greenery and of course the shimmering eponymous river, Le Dordogne.

We stayed in the little village, ‘Auriac-du-Perigord’, which today, has just over 400 inhabitants. There are no stores in the village which seemed half abandoned, common for many of the small, rural villages we’ve visited. It is a beautiful place to spend a couple of weeks though as it’s quiet, the views are spectacular and our Airbnb is a traditional stone home, complete with pigeonnier tower-it looks to be straight out of the pages of the girls’ fairy tale books, there is a heated pool and amenities are close enough if you have a car. On Thursdays in the Summer, they have a quintessential night market in the town square where long trestle tables are set up and produce (including wine!) can be bought and cooked on site and enjoyed in the communal setting.

It has actually been an ideal spot to explore all that the domain of Dordogne has to offer and we managed to check out quite a few of the beautiful places.

Les Jardins de Marqueyssac (The Hanging Gardens of Marqueyssac)

We spent a happy few hours discovering the grounds and the girls were entertained by the hedge mazes and the adventurous play parks that are scattered amongst the grounds. The netted path was a highlight for us all, especially because it ended at a really enchanting spot with stone sculptures that were reminiscent of the trolls in Frozen… because of course Frozen is everything!

There was a tea house and restaurant there on the grounds with a most spectacular view but was not for the self catering peasants who settled for a picnic just outside the grounds, with an equally spectacular view of both Beynac Castle and Chateau de Castelnaud, and of course the river. We highly recommend a visit to this remarkable garden, with or without children this is an absolutely beautiful, enjoyable outing.

Chateau du Castelnaud

This place was super cool. It was built early on in the 13th century and has a really cool history of seizing, capturing and changing hands and burning down. A REALLY sordid, interesting past! It played a key role as a principal strong hold and was rivalled constantly by its enemy and neighbouring chateau, Beynac. Now it houses many of the weaponry used during its heyday and displays its history throughout the castle walls.

When we arrived at the castle, the beautiful surrounding village was worth a wander. Cute little shops stocked medieval costumes and one shopkeeper handed us wooden weapons to try (shrug!). He also let the girls borrow some princess crowns to wear whilst they explored the castle. Amazingly generous.

We paid 38 Euro total for two adult tickets that gave us access into both the gardens and Chateau Castelnaud. The girls were free for both. We felt that the gardens had more things to do but the Castle was more interesting. Probably the perfect combination for a day’s outing really! Check out this video below to see highlights from our day!

La Roque-Gageac

Another on France’s Plus Beaux Villages list, and it is so obvious why. It occupies a stunning position on the north bank of the Dordogne and backed by a steep, rocky cliff that shows the obvious remnants of a troglodyte fort which dates back to the 12th Century, apparently an important and strategic point of defense for the area up until the 17th century. The homes in the village are a mixture of the beautiful, modest French homes, with their tiny doorways traditional styles and amazingly grand homes like the renaissance style, Chateau de la Malartrie that cannot be missed. By the river there is a little playground and large picnic area with boats docked along the water. The ticket office for cruising is within site although we did not do this. 

Sarlat-la-Canéda

The larger city within this area, centres around a Benedictine abbey and the Sarlat Cathedral, this charming town is full of art, culture, history and good food! The Saturday market is huge and famous and you can find anything you need there (from delicious treats to clothing and souvenirs. Its history seemed to be lovingly preserved, as the entire city has retained its traditional, 14th century style impeccably. 

Terrasson-Lavilledieu

We visited on a windy afternoon and seemed to be the only people around! The town sits on either side of the river, Vezere and the old town is small but lovely and the highlight is the Place Bouquier which is has some great buildings and a little garden area with a little labyrinth. Lots of really great looking cafes and restaurants but all were closed during our visit as it was between service times. 

Saint-Leon-sur-Vezere

This is another Plus Beaux Village and possibly my favourite so far. It’s ADORABLE. There are some amazing restaurants (Le Petite Leon- a New Zealand chef!), cafes and sites positioned in a perfect little loup of the river Vezere. There’s an Eiffel style bridge (not super exciting but there and impossible to miss!) but I was most taken by an adorable little cafe on the banks of the river between the church and the Clérans Castle, Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (or, in English, Lunch on the Grass), which sells delicious plates of local specialties (foie gras, tartine, salad, cake, beer, etc!) which you enjoy right on the banks, either on one of the picnic tables or on one of the picnic rugs they have to borrow, where you can sit on the ground and enjoy your lunch amongst the cats and chickens that wander freely. We are going to head here for lunch tomorrow so I will update this when we do. The river is shallow and clear in Saint Leon and there are spots to swim that seem safe for little people. It’s SUPER cute and I would say not to be missed.

Conques, etc

We left our little slice of blissful vacancy on the Mediterranean to head north to de L’Averyon region in south central France. The drawcard had been Conques, another on France’s list of Plus Beaux Villages. I can’t remember exactly why but probably because of the budget, we ended up in a little village just east of there and it was totally perfect. 

Our little place in Senergues seemed right out of a fairy tale. It was very quaint. VERY. But perfect for us for our week there. There was a big garden, full of fruit trees and bikes for us to ride around the village. The house was spread over three levels and there was no wifi at all! I don’t remember the last time we’ve gone completely dark for this long but we kind of enjoyed it! I downloaded Shantaram on my kindle before we left Frontignan and finished that epic within our stay. Yew!

The village and neighbouring Conques are on the Compostelle route and this piqued my interest as I’ve always had a bit of a non-religious pipe dream to do a stretch of this with the girls one day. Achieving a great distance on a very well travelled (and signposted!) road has an allure for me that I think lies in the reflection afforded when physical endurance and nature are combined. 

Days earlier we had also talked about picking up a hitchhiker after we’d spied a pretty nefarious looking young fella along the route from Spain and joked about how he would go sitting in the back between the two girls. Staring out at the Pyrenees Orientales, I had thought about it some more and said then that I would definitely pick up a hitchhiker, if the right one popped up… of course Jordan’s response was to question how we would know this…

So, as these things play out, of course on our way to the village, along a very lonesome (and hilly!) stretch of road, we passed by a young woman on the side of the road with her thumb out. We sped past her but Jordan and I looked at each other and as if we’d made the decision, turned around to see where she was heading. We considered the distinct lack of other vehicles and thought about if our own girls were in that situation; that we were probably a pretty solid offer (if not her only offer!). So around we turned and up we picked Annalise, and bringing her back to our place in Senergues (more on that!) and then drove her on to her last stop, Conques so she could meet with friends in time for dinner. On the way, we talked a lot of the track, how easy it was, how comfortable she’d felt doing it alone, etc and when we left our place in Senergues to drop her off at Conques, she bequeathed me her walking stick so that I could do the last leg with it… so the decision was made here I suppose! How could I refuse?!

I am notorious for getting lost on walks (remember that one time we accidentally hiked through the forest from Tourtour to Villecroze without so much as a 300mls of water and a couple of mentos!?). I just turn down an interesting street/ fork in the road and forget which way I’ve gone or was going! I have a real talent for it actually. But, Annalise had assured me that it was very well sign posted (spoiler alert: it was!).

I loved the walk. I was alone for the entirety of it and had picked a gorgeous day to do it. It was not too rigorous (the last part heading into Conques was very rocky and the most intrepid of the entire route) and when I arrived into Conques I felt really proud of myself for doing it. Not in the doing of it, I suppose. 10kms is not a huge feat but doing it alone, I think, that was the big thing for me. Alone alone. Without the comfort of understanding the language, a knowledge of such foreign direction and of course, without the security of a mobile phone or gps. Jordan decided he would do it the following morning and felt the same sense of accomplishment when he arrived into Conques to meet his now experienced cheer squad/welcoming committee.

Conques was absolutely gorgeous! One of our favourites on the list of Plus Beaux Villages. It is set high up on the Aubrac plateau as you descend towards the Lot valley. When you enter from the Compostelle route, you arrive at the very top and work your way down, down into the stunning village through the array of half timbered houses cut into the terraces of the rock face, descending toward the beautiful Abbey of Sainte-Foy. 

Girona, Spain

When we arrived at Frontignan we had no idea what we would be up to. We knew it was on the beach and that there were pink flamingos but beyond that it was a bit of a mystery. Sometimes we arrive in a place knowing all of the unmissables and sometimes we discover them as we go. So when the girls were in bed on our first night here, we started researching and realised how close we were to Spain. It was a little too enticing to pass up. One of our very good friends is from Barcelona and we had a great time there on our honeymoon all those years ago. We still hadn’t fully decided when we woke the next morning but Jordan and I looked at each other as if to say ‘why not’ and so we jumped in the car and viva la vida!- Off we went to Spain.

Even though the tolls were exorbitant (over $45 AUD ONE WAY- we took the long/ scenic route home to avoid those!), we are so glad we went. It had a vibrancy and pulse that was obvious and distinct from France and we loved it. 

We begun our tour of the city by climbing the city walls and using this as our route to the Girona Cathedral. The walls were probably a highlight for us all and we had read about an ancient toilet along the wall that kept them intrigued and excited to plough on. See if you can see it if you go. So strange and wonderful.

The girls were slightly confused when the people we passed along the walls greeted us with a friendly ‘hola!’- because for one, they were being greeted (not so frequent in France) and for two, ‘why are they not saying bon jour?’. It was a really good opportunity for them to learn about culture and language.

We descended the city walls into the beautiful Jardins de Alemanys, we could have kept going all the way to the Cathedral but we heard the impossible to resist sounds of a lone violinist performing to noone in particular in the gardens so we alighted the stairs and enjoyed the beautiful music in an equally beautiful setting. I think this area could have been my favourite. There were little alcoves surrounding a central, almost court yard with places to sit. It felt hallowed and radiant; there were friends whispering to one another in a private cathedral of stone and young lovers holding hands as if they were alone. It was beautiful. I could have stopped here and felt fulfilled and in love with this city.

Jardins de Alemanys

On to the Girona Cathedral. We had heard a legend about a witch who had been turned into a stone gargoyle on the cathedral; apparently she had been saying bad things about the church and so her punishment was to be turned to stone. Apparently you can actually see her, but we did not. We ate our lunch on the steps of the cathedral and enjoyed the beautiful surrounds.

Girona Cathedral.

Girona has been used as a setting for Game of Thrones. We love this series (we’re not die hard fans, do not own tshirts- but thought it would be cool to see!). Scenes from Braavos, King’s Landing and Old Town had been filmed there and whilst we couldn’t really recognise them, they definitely had a GoT feel to them and we were glad we did it regardless.

When you’re in Spain you must must have churros and every cafe and restaurant we passed didn’t seem to have it on the menu. We went to the tourist and spoke to the loveliest lady who told us where to find the best churros in Girona (we think, also maybe the only!) and so we headed there and the girls were totally delighted by the fact that they got an entire cup of chocolate to dip their “pretzel doughnuts” into. YUM! The place was called Montse L’Artesena (Carrer de la Cort Reial, 9) and it was gorgeous. It had a little terrace out front to sit on and the lady inside was really friendly (our girls were impressed by and maybe a little envious of the little girl working the register). We recommend!

Montse L’Artesena

Back into the car to head to Figueres, the home town of Salvadore Dali. We pre-purchased tickets to the Theatre/Museum in Girona, on advice of our tourist office friend and were glad we did; the line was huge. It cost us 14 euro each (kids were free) and we really enjoyed it. It was weird and wacky (what else would you expect?) and spectacular. Some of the exhibitions were interactive and because of their peculiarity the girls were totally enthralled. 

We had such a special day in Girona. Wish we had more time. We would have loved to check out the Costa Brava and perhaps gone on a little cruise in Roses but we didn’t feel disappointed- we had an awesome day!

Check out our IGTV video post below! 

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SURPRISE!! We went to Spain! You know those mornings when you just wake up and think, I NEED churros and sangria. From Spain! That was it! We woke up and thought fuck it! Let’s go to Spain! And in less time than it would take to drive to the nearest major city from our hometown, we were saying ‘hola!’ and searching for churros.* We walked the city walls of Girona which overlooked its classic terracotta roofs; enjoyed a solo performance from a violinist in the Jardins des Alemanys (out of necessity have started dedicating a portion of our daily budget to street performers) and dipped churros in chocolate on a terrace. We also visited the ultra extraordinary and terrifically bizarre, Salvador Dalí Theatre/Musuem in his home town and were delighted by the strange treasures within. Hasta la vista, Spainy! *Yes. We are completely aware of how charmed our life is right now. • • • • • • #thisvagrantlife #gironaspain #igtvfamilytravel #gironawithkids #roadtrippingwithkids #igtvfamilyvlogs #fulltimetravelfamily #travellingslow #roadtripping #familytraveltribe #travelbloggerslife #fulltimetraveller #gironaemociona #familytravelblog #igcatalonia #adventuresofchildren #goexplorewander #familytravelblog #gironaenamora #fulltimetravel #familytravels #travelinspo #igtv #familyadventures #familytraveltribe #neverstopexploring #liveinthemoment #instapassports #igtvtravel

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Gorges du Verdon, France

We did some research on exploring the gorge with little people in tow (always, always a factor to consider!) and had some serious, heart palpitation inducing flashbacks to driving the Cabot Trail in Canada last year where our kids yelled at us the entire time and we immediately said no to driving the famous road (which would have taken most of the day). But the thing about life and the life we are trying to lead is that no should not be the default response, so we decided to do a little more research and chatted to the tourist office person who spoke wonderful English and we came up with a (keep Sadie from becoming possessed in the car) plan. Spoiler alert: it involved ice cream and lollies- but ! (And I’m just realising this now as I’m typing) no iPad! Or any other car entertainment (other than me of course, ha!).

We’re early risers so we were out of the airbnb, equipped with fresh baguettes still warm from the boulangerie in our commune, a bag full of fresh, delicious snacks and an over exuberant, ‘I think I can, I think I can’ optimism by 8am. 

En route, we stopped by Les Salles-sur-Verdon. An interesting place, the newest village in France because in the 70s the entire town was destroyed to allow the construction of the Lac St Croix. CRAZY! Our tourist office lady told us that the new town is not very nice and the locals were still resentful and bitter about this (when we stopped for a loo break and to grab some tomatoes from the market, we felt that maybe, just maybe this could be true- SORRY Les Salles-sur-Verdon!!)

On to the Gorges, we headed straight for the pont du Galetas where we knew we would be able to rent a boat. Already, at 9.30 there were a few kayaks and paddle boats out on the gorge as we crossed over the bridge and took in the spectacular views. 

A view from the bridge – Verdon not Miller.

The colors of the lake are a magnificent emerald. It seems a little surreal; its color is so saturated and the rocky cliffs of the gorge make for an astounding and dramatic backdrop.

We rented boats from Etoille right over the bridge at the gorge. There is a sign on the side of the road just beyond the bridge, you can’t miss them as you can see the boats as you drive. We decided on an electrical boat for two hours which set us back a cool 80 Euro (and included life jackets for the girls). You can rent 4-6 person paddle boats for 20 Euro an hour but it is tough to make it to the end of the gorge and back in this time and we were palpably aware that all of the things with kids take longer (especially with crazed three year old drivers who think they own the water way (and the sole right to drive!). 

SONY DSC

The electrical boats weren’t ready until 10.30 so we took a walk back to the bridge (there’s a little path that was kind of rocky but many were pushing prams and strollers easily) and we took in the spectacular view.

By the time we got back to the boat rental place, there was a solid line and we were glad we had arrived early and didn’t have to wait. We packed our baguettes and cooler bag to make a picnic along the way, even though you’re not supposed to stop along the gorge. Or swim, or jump according to the signs but Europeans don’t follow rules and we’re here for an immersive experience!!

We genuinely didn’t have time to think about lunch on our 2 hour cruise though, we were so happy taking in the landscape of the gorge, swimming (the water is FREEZING!) and watching the young and uninhibited climb the precarious and rocky face of the gorge and dive into the water… Sadie wanted to have a go. We did not let her. 

Afterwards we picnicked right by where we had rented the boat and then took a drive around towards the beautiful village of Moustiers Sainte Marie, which gave us some insight into the views we would have had on the half day drive. We would have loved to stop in Moustiers Saint Marie- it looked delightful but there were no parks, the girls were napping happily in the back and ain’t nobody want to mess with that/poke the bear(s).

We’re really glad we got there early and snagged the first fleet of electric boats, it meant not having to kill time, wait in a huge line or grapple with the huge afternoon crowds.

We had the most wonderful day and highly recommend this as a family adventure.

Check out our video below!

Yay for the GORGEOUS Gorges!

Lyon, France

Lyon, France

… Began with a dismal forecast of ‘wet and cold’… and it was really, ‘wet and cold’ and I had left my jumper (my only jumper) at the airport in Hong Kong (just to be clear: that is on the way to begin our year of travel, not during… I am the reason I can’t have nice things).

We started at La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière and actually I think it is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve seen (I’ve seen a lot!). Walking out, Rosie asked hordes of questions that got a little complex (we are not religious, but spiritual and happy to help the girls explore the important ideas in the world) and Sadie, earnest (EAR.NEST!) in her attempts to interrupt, posed her own question:

 “but but BUT! Why did John Lemon get shot??”

Ummm. Yep! The important things.

After the Roman Ruins, which we found pretty cool, we made a beeline for the famous, ‘Les Halles de Lyon- Paul Bocuse’. This area is renowned for its culinary prowess and we had a guilty chuckle as we handed the girls a round of brown bread, turkey and cheese sangas whilst we perused the halls for lunch. 

I had tabouleh and this wee thing called a timbale de courgette au parmesan (I believe this is French for crustless quiche with zucchini and parmesan cheese… doesn’t have quite the same allure in English though, does it?). Jordan had salmon – Canadians can’t say no to salmon.

SONY DSC

And of course- MACARONS. I bought 4 (with the complete awareness that 1/4 members of our party is deathly allergic to nuts and also kind of owes me for being such a legendary wife, so…), 4.

2 x chocolate and 2 x caramel butter (I had one of each but possibly enjoyed the caramel more as I didn’t have to quickly shove it in my mouth and inhale whilst eagle-eyed, freshly addicted macaron-lovers enquired constantly as to wha would be the fate of the remaining macaron).

With full tummies we had one last thing to check off the list: the Traboules de Lyon; secret, covered passageways that form a continuous passage throughout the city. Built in the 1800s for the silk traders to get around quickly they also helped Lyon avoid total Nazi occupation during WW2. You can imagine how intrigued the girls were… we had to look for a symbol on a door, push the door and see if it opened (spoiler: we pushed a lot of doors). We found the longest Traboules and walking through this was the highlight of the day for the girls who did not once demand ice cream afterwards (our new measure of good parenting!).

Secret passages of Lyon

Annecy and Rhône-Alpes with Kids

It was SO hot. Even as an Australian, even atop a mountain, it was hot.

Probably because of our budget, we made the call to stay outside of Annecy, at a guest house in the mountains of Manigod, about a half an hour drive from Annecy. We enjoy the smaller communes and here we felt like we had won.

We ventured into Annecy on Sunday, with the (completely non-unique) idea of checking out the market, buying some delicious picnic provisions and then sitting by the lac, swimming and enjoying our loots.

By 10.30am the centre-ville was swarming with tourists with the exact same agenda (uncanny!). It was like Times Square right before Christmas and gave us flashing, anxiety-inducing imagery of how we are to cope in future Moroccan medinas.

Sadie was on my back, in the carrier, pretending to be constantly on the verge of sleep when enquired upon (she weighs 16kgs), Rosie, who never complains, in a voice, so perfectly whiny it would suggest otherwise, insisted that she too be carried, because (and rightly), she never gets that opportunity and she never complains (that kid stores truths). As team managers (aka exhausted pack animals), we willingly made a motion to call the proposed agenda too ambitious and head home for an afternoon of down time which was spent in terrifying anguish whilst we hissed at the children to ‘STOP CLIMBING DOWN THE CLIFF TO CATCH THOSE KITTENS!’

The cats/ The view – choose whichever you prefer!

Armed with the knowledge gained from yesterday’s fail, we woke early (easy with little people), and headed back into Annecy to take 2, this time at 8am in the morning. It was peaceful and there were barely any other tourists, and unfortunately no market either but we didn’t mind. We parked at the Hotel D’Ville and it was cheap compared to other places we’ve been. The street art was visible and the flower adorned bridges were bare, so the girls could run around freely and did not make demands to be carried.

Afterwards, we headed for the Lake, at D’Angon which was suggested to us by our lovely host, Aurelia. There they have a patrolled little stretch just beyond the private beaches. It cost us €5.60 as a family to ‘get in’ which I always find a bit funny… who owns that? But it was perfect. A little stall sold ice creams, drinks and snacks, pontoons were anchored close to the beach but far out enough to dive from safely and the views of the mountains were gasp inducing. The littles played happily in the shallows whilst we swam and read and were satisfyingly exhausted and happy to head home when the suggestion was made.

Annecy

And home for the week was surrounded by jutting mountain ranges that have for me, an allure that I can’t quite explain or perhaps comprehend. The girls told us, emphatically that it was their most favorite place so far:
Us: ‘ah yes, we know; that view!’,
Them: ‘No, because of the cats.’.

😂

The Budget.

This word gives us constant yucky feelings inside!

When we made the decision to travel full time (aka take leave from our very nice jobs and our very nice home!), we had no idea what it would take and what kind of money we would need. Actually, we thought it would be impossible and truthfully our initial idea was to work abroad as teachers.

BUT! We did some research of other families who had taken this leap, did a few sums and settled. I remember feeling sick that night actually that we were ruining everyone’s lives and we would never be able to afford it.

We sold our house. We didn’t use the money from this (we’re not THAT irresponsible!) but we did move in with my Dad for 6 months so that we could save (and save and save and save).

We sold ALL our stuff. Except the important stuff. The kids/ the books. We really didn’t feel attached to any of it and had mostly picked it up cheaply when we first moved back to Australia from Canada as broke university students.

Talking about money is so private and icky but I found it so helpful to hear about what others were budgeting when we were planning, so we are completely exposing ourselves here (and feeling a little vulnerable about it too!)

We came up with a per day budget and allocation based on what others had done and our own knowledge of how we travel.

LEG 1: Three months in France, two months in Northern Africa/ the Middle East @$170 per day (this budget includes accommodation and daily expenses like food).

LEG 2: 4/5 months in South East Asia @ $100 per day including accommodation.

LEG 3: (if we have managed to stick to our budget) 3 months in Eastern Europe, beginning in Turkey @150 per day including accomodation.

We also allocated a budget for tours and activities: $15,000

And lastly, a budget for flights and transport: $20,000

That’s a lot of money. BUT we have no other expenses for the year, just to live and Jordan was able to take Long Service Leave from his teaching job which gave us the final boost across that line. Also, remember, at this stage, this is a projection, so far we have managed to stick below budget so we may end up coming under budget overall… doubtful but possible!

A pause on reality…

Yes to memory making, no to regrets.

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

— Paulo Coehlo.

The decision to take a step away from our lives (home, family, friends, work, comfort zone, etc!), came surprisingly, incredibly easily to us. We felt really safe and content in our lives thanks to our wonderful home, family, friends, work, comfort zones, etc… and we knew that if we were going to do something this irresponsible, we probably needed to do it when the girls were young (enough to not hold it against us) and in this way, too, we knew that we would be able to really savour these childhood years of theirs before there were teenagers in our house (we often anticipate just how dreadful that might be!). We also had this palpable, unshakable awareness of the fragility of life and that growing old is not always on the cards for everyone. So here we are, carpe dieming our every single day (for the next year and a bit!), saying yes to adventure, yes to daily ice cream and no to future regrets.