Dear Traveler,

“This is a contender for our top family trip!” my daughter Jessie said on our last full day in Sweden.

We’ve done some epic adventures, so that is a quite a compliment.

Like you, I know my kids well. I know what they love to do and not do. The type of guides they like, the ideal balance of sleep/rest and activity, the types of experiences they enjoy.

So I plan a trip around those. 100% of the trip may not please everyone, but if there is something that may not be a winner for all, it’s typically optional (Ex: 2 hours with a Copenhagen lifestyle guide walking through the city – that’s not for Trevor).

But on every trip I plan, inevitably there are things out of my control. Sometimes that’s good, and occasionally it’s not.

The 16 guests on our Backroads trip were totally out of my control.  We lucked out with a wonderful mix of people who we look forward to keeping in touch with.

Then there’s the weather. Oh I wish I could control the weather!

One day we kayaked on the most beautiful Norwegian summer day – ending with a picnic at a cove with diving boards into the sea. Three of four of us jumped in.

Jason did an impressive dive and Trevor did a full flip caught on video by our kayak guide.

However, the following day all 20 of us rode for 3+ hours in pouring rain. (We could have opted out, but none of us did).

The day we had our biggest hike up the Monk Steps scheduled was quite socked in by fog. I opted for the lower hike this day. Those that did the Monk Steps faced very cold, windy conditions at the top. The well prepared guides countered the conditions with hot coffee and Fjording – a liquor similar to Baileys. But on the hike down, the clouds lifted and they were treated to beautiful views.

On our fishing day we had the most spectacular blue skies…

As much as I will it to be nice, Mother Nature will likely never succumb to my desire for ideal weather for all of your trips and ours. But sometimes even perceived negative weather can lead to serendipitous moments. One I’ll share next week.

Once Backroads ended, our trip wasn’t over.

One of the things I appreciate about Backroads trips is that they are usually 6 days/5 nights. For a group travel experience – it’s not too short and not too long. And it allows for easily adding on a pre and post trip to extend the fun and have more cultural experiences with locals.

That’s what we did.

From Bergen we flew to Copenhagen for the weekend. Jessie had been here on her gap year and loved it, and the rest of us were excited to see it for the first time.

Night one – Tivoli Gardens for a concert. Live music, a marketplace full of a huge variety of ethnic restaurants. Our choices – Thai, Japanese and a Korean chicken sandwich (debatable if that last one is really authentic to Korea).

I wasn’t sure the kids would want to go on the rides so I had bought an entry pass without rides included. Well 18 and 20 year olds still like carnival rides!

Not surprisingly Tivoli makes it as easy as possible for you to drop $15/person on each ride – just swipe your credit card at the entrance.

By default I was elected to join Trevor on a crazy circle spinning, flip over tumbling gravity defying ride called Tik Tak. I loved those kind of rides when I was a kid and I’m happy to report I survived.  You can see it in action here.

But that wasn’t as daunting as the Demon, which Trevor and Jessie opted for next. A loop de loop roller coaster that has 2 – 360 degree upside down loops. Jason and I happily watched from the bench.

Jessie was in a good mood despite the tumultuous ride…

We walked the twenty minutes back to our hotel ~ 10pm in the daylight (love the long summer days in Northern Europe!) just in time to catch the end of the European Championship quarter final game game between Portugal and France. Overtime and PKs – a stressful way to end.

By now I knew our kids would need a sleep in day, so our first activity Saturday was scheduled for noon. Our Rib boat captain picked us up after a late breakfast.

We learned quickly that he had a need for speed. Other than the 10 minutes of motoring in the no wake zone, we were flying at top speeds of over 60 MPH.

We raced up behind a huge tanker, circled massive wind turbines in the sea and skimmed the edge of the coastline. It was a wild ride (short video clip)!

But then out of nowhere he slowed down. In the distance we saw a plane approaching. We watched as it came closer and closer and then he spun us around so we could watch the final descent right over our heads.

It was an exciting experience, but we learned later an even more thrilling boat ride was yet to come.

Their expressions when we were almost done…

I arranged for the captain to drop us off at a dock by our next stop, Reffen (you can read about it in a previous newsletter).

The food trucks/kiosks span so many countries around the globe – Iran, Thailand, Japan, Afghanistan, Belgium, Morocco, Nepal, Italian, USA (smash burgers), Mexico, Argentina, Canada and Chinese were some I saw.

It’s a great spot to take kids who are curious and willing to try new foods but perhaps don’t want to commit to a full dinner.

Copenhagen is known for their Michelin star restaurants. With such limited time and other places to explore, I didn’t book any for us (a perfect excuse to return). Instead I booked us at a games café with an expert who inquired ahead of time about what types of games our family enjoyed. He then selected some he thought we’d enjoy. We had a great time, but I’d say his selections were moderately successful.

That night England and Switzerland also went into OT and penalty kicks. Jason and Trevor stayed up watching. With a 5:15am pick up for the airport the next morning, I quickly fell asleep.

Next week, I’ll share more about our adventures in Sweden. One of the families on Backroads spent the weekend in Stockholm after our trip – it was an easy add on from Norway.

Recapping some places you should visit in Copenhagen:

  • Tivoli Gardens
  • Reffen Food Market
  • Active adventures on land and the water – wild swimming, bike riding, sled, ski or snowboard on an urban rooftop
  • Boat rides through the canals or on the open ocean
  • Michelin star restaurants (I will include a favorite as an upcoming Highlight)
  • Outdoor cafes along the canals
  • Shops with cozy hygge home items
  • Speakeasy cocktail bars
  • Beach walking
  • Hot tub spots overlooking the water

Copenhagen is also a popular spot for college students to do a semester abroad and a perfect excuse for you to visit them.

Last week’s most popular article was CNT’s This European Country Is Set to Become the Most Visited Place in the World by 2040. Which country? My favorite – Spain!

This week’s inspirational articles include family friendly wellness retreats, seizing the night in Europe, the art of the do-nothing vacation, 6 places you can visit for (almost) free on a stopover flight and exclusive Botswana safari camps.

The informational articles include Europe’s new tourist tax, overcoming language barriers while traveling and the tradeoffs of non-stop vs layovers on long flights (I almost always choose non-stop).

I’m cheering for Spain in the Championship game this weekend and Alcaraz to win Wimbledon! Lots of exciting sporting events and we haven’t even gotten to the Olympics yet!

I hope you are enjoying summer!




P.S. a reminder through the month of July we are in “vacation mode.” The full length newsletter format will be back in August.

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