The compass and the journey

GoeuGo bus tour with children | part 1: Lucerne | Zurich | Rhine Falls | Titisee | Frankfurt

Travel re-kindles a deep passion for new ideas. A quaint place to reflect. It recharges the soul for new adventures and culinary experience. It satisfies the longing for bond and new friendship. It is a compass that guides you to re-discover who you are and where you belong in this world. Pair that with a few young children and you are in a ride for adventure and a new set of eyes and appreciation for travel.

Welcome to our journey to see seven beautiful places in Europe.

Day 1 | Early morning wake up call at six from the front desk- but Joycee and I were already up a few hours back. The bags final checked and waiting by the doorway. The kids suited up for the day in their sleep. It gets easier each time we do it. We left them in the bed to sleep until the last minute. The hotel was generous enough to give us a to go breakfast for this early trip. Final check and I pulled up my uber app to schedule a pick up for 06:30 am. We woke up the kids and had a quick breakfast. Last minute checklist and we were on our way to the tour bus meeting place.

Soft morning glow enhanced the view. The freeway hinted an imminent traffic but at this very hour the streets looked empty and the cab driver was hopping one green light to another. Swift and steady turns but not a single sentence out of me. Bonjour! (That was really it). He glanced from his rear view mirror and reclaimed a nod and a smile.

When we got to the meeting place I scanned for families with children. There were mostly couples and mother-daughter tandem. But alas! I quickly spotted a family of three with a little boy about the age of seven. My hand grip loosened on the duffle bag handle and eased a small sigh of relief. We were not too crazy to embark on this trip after all. I prepped myself up- ‘you got this!’

Important documents were needed on this tour since we were to cross different countries. I made sure I carried a copy of everyone’s passport in my small camera bag, few dollar/euro bills in different compartments, and at least 2 credit cards on me.

We were assigned a seat all the way in the back of the coach bus that left us with a whole row of extra seats in a bargain for the somewhat boat like six feet swell experience of a ride. We clutched on the headrest in front of us several times but luckily we had the chance to nap with the kids. We slowly drifted into a slow daydream state- London and Paris behind us now. The bus blurred foliage as it maintained speed.

We stopped at a place called Dijon just outside of Paris. There is a dedicated space and play area for the children with swings and slides. Hint of spring wildflowers can be seen scattered in abundance as the weather changed to our (southeast) direction. 

The first stop | Lucerne Switzerland. A seven hour bus ride. On this journey a beautiful and picturesque landscape with green slopes and luxury estate of colorful houses sit in rolling valleys. Its subtle arrangement draw in the grand snow capped mountains from the backdrop. Heard of cattle and sheep graze, a scene you find only in the children’s canned powdered milk brands sold in department stores.

We had a few hours stop at Lucerne’s  colorful old town to soak in the beautiful medieval architecture. Its stunning prominent lake with incredible snow capped mountain can be adorned from many angle. I enjoyed the walk as I carried India on my back in the carrier. 

Cyclist and tourist on foot prevent this majestic town from traffic and over all pollution. It is a sight to see and an easy stroll to cafe’s, shops and swiss watches if you are on the hunt for one. 

We arrived to our very first hotel for this bus tour in Lucerne just after sunset. The other boy on this trip was already asleep on his father’s shoulder while my son was still up and about pushing and pulling our luggages.

The hotel room had a nice little boutique look to it with a hint of an old rustic cabin like feel. The fresh flowers personaly placed and the sheets on the bed had yellow floral pattern in them that reminded me of home. The bathroom had nice costumed tiles. The room was somehow smaller than a standard hotel room we find in America.

There on the table was a few glass bottle of 2L fresh water. Swiss water. Fresh as it can ever be. We were out of water for India’s milk so I called down to see if they sold bottled water. India’s never used tap water and I wasn’t sure if it was safe to use for her powdered formula. We had no choice. The stores were close on sundays.

But I was completely wrong. Swiss water is know for its very high quality water from its natural springs. She had no intestinal issues from using it for her powdered formula. To this day it’s changed my perception in using tap water and we now exclusively use tap water at home. And it saves tons of money!

We had oven baked pizza for dinner with emmental cheese, cherry tomatoes and basil. It was an incredible meal from a tiny kitchen of two chefs. At breakfast the same chef has a generous idea and calls out all the children in one room and hands out small breakfast treats! And in exchange for a newly word the children learned- Danke! Indeed a gratitude from a parent like me to see such graceful and passionate people to welcome the children.

Day 2, bus stop # 2 | Zurich.The financial capital city of Switzerland. It is known for its chocolates and luxury living. This stop here was brief and we had the chance to stretch and stroll around the city center.

The bus then continued on to our Bus stop # 3 | The Rhine falls. Europe’s largest waterfall and was only about a 30 mile drive. The bus took a quick 1 hour stop at the vista point. Incredible view of the river gorge as thundering water pounded incredible force in many directions and smoke of ghostly water continued to rise and vaporize high up in the air. 

There is a play area for the children on one side of a hill with guide ropes to grab on to as they make a steep incline on this hill. I was extremely concern for my son as he climbed up with the other kids. But all of them made it to the top using all the energy they had stored up. They had to step down a few stairs and slide down the rest of the way. I noticed agile children, dainty like my Joel, actively engaging in activities in the playground. This made for a nice nap in the bus as we continued on the journey.

Bus stop # 4 | Titisee. As we continued our journey from Rhines falls to a small German town of Titisee, you start to see tall evergreen trees loom over the valley and lead you to a flat where the lake is perfectly still. Across the lake the black forest resounds a different echo of children’s high pitch laughter to a story of old. Hansel and Gretel, snow white and the seven dwarf to name a few. I can see now where the folklorist brothers Grimm found inspiration in writing fairytale of such. It is here where daylight cannot penetrate the thick evergreen forest. Where these stories come to life.

A playground nearby depicts a shack structure with distinct red and blue color. Its hard wood structure, a dark earthly brown, invites a stable play for children. Just across the street a chapel bell ignites a reverberating beat of melancholia. Mid day and my family alone in quaint neighborhood and playground. You can for sure feel the breeze as you hear its whisper in a quite hour of the day. little ornamental foliage of wild flowers displayed on each balcony. India took a quick nap from the long bus ride and the stroll to get here. Joel wanders around the playground trying to connect smiles with the local children as they start to come out of what seemed like an unending siesta.

Joel began to learn of the boy that sat in front of him. A wonderful union of smiling eyes and hand shakes turn instant friend. They began with small chats that gravitated the two to sitting next to each other sharing giggles and curious laughters. He started to share his toys as Manu, the well versed travel guide who spoke 5 different languages, elaborately painted the history of the places we visited in colorful timelines. 

I couldn’t quite fathom the amount of travel we have done so far and it was only the beginning of this epic tour with the family. The new friends made. The magnificent view laid before us. From the intricate cuckoo clocks of Titisee, to the luxurious City of Zurich, the colorful houses against hilly pasteurs with animal grazing, and the medieval architecture of grand design. I marveled on this chapter in my life- in my coach seat as I slowly open its surprises along the way with my very favorite travel companions. 

Bus stop # 5 | End of day 2. The city of Frankfurt. Where we toured the city and took our second day’s rest at one of the hotels. A bustling city of intermingling buses, trains, and cyclist all play theatrical role of a modern day metropolis. Here we resorted in a nice break and bough ourselves a New York style pizza and called it a day.

On this part of the journey I was more engaged and excited. I finally let loose and breathed in the moment. I opened a portal to my repressed urge to travel. Thanks to my partner, brave, bold yet incredibly full spirited to explore just like the many long ago stories of old. She continues to be my guide in new adventures. My compass in guiding my family to wonderful new memories.

The next few stops take us to the beautiful countries of Germany, Amsterdam, Belgium and our grand ending back in Paris, France.

I adore the continued ideas to re-discover my family through the adventures in our travels. I belong to them. I call them home in the many quaint part of this world.

Thank you for the coffee! Follow us next week as we continue our second part of this tour bus journey.

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