I’m a massive fan of telling it like it is, which is something people often neglect to do when they are on holidays. We generally tend to show people the pretty family snaps of us laying on a beach in Bali rather than the reality of us sitting on a toilet for three days because we accidentally drank the water. I get it as I know which I’d rather see.

Saying that, the crappy parts of a holiday are often the most memorable. For example, the main photo on this post shows the most memorable time of our walk along the wonderful Vintgar Gorge. It was going to be a shot of the kids admiring the scenery but it ended up being a photo of Oli consoling Lucy after he accidentally pushed her head into the side of the gorge. I didn’t share it on social media though as it’s not the idyllic ‘look at us, we are at a beautiful gorge in Croatia!!’ shot.  

My friends Mel and Rachel shared some thoughts on their awesome blogs The Other Side Of Forty and Sesame Ellis about the unseen reality of travel and how our idilic photos often hide the truth. These posts inspired me to journal some of our less than ideal moments, so here are some lovely photos from our trip with some not so lovely stories behind them. 

Apologies in advance for any gross bits. Also, I’d like to preface this blog by saying, don’t worry Mum! We have rubbed the appropriate oils and ointments on the various rashes and scars and are all taking garlic and vitamin C when required.

PictureA lovely father/son photo on the canals of Venice.

Father/Son photo of Venice canal
Father/Son photo of Venice canal

Reality: Andrew threw up in one of those lovely canals about 10 minutes later.

I already wrote about the joys of having gastro in Venice so I won’t bore you with details. All I will say is about 1 second after this shot was taken Andrew said he wasn’t feeling crash hot. 10 minutes later he was quite grateful to find a particularly quiet canal to expel the contents of his stomach into. Ah aren’t the canals of Venice romantic.

Picture: A photo of the Bridge of Sighs on a quiet day with hardly any tourists.

Bridge of Sighs on a quiet day
Bridge of Sighs on a quiet day

Reality: Me trying desperately not to scratch my rashy right armpit.

All has been clean and lovely in my armpit region for about a month now but for the first two months my right armpit looked like the gates of hell. It bore the brunt of walking in the heat for 8 hours a day and was a rashy mess. This photo was taken at the height of my armpit wrongness. Even rashy messes of armpits don’t escape societal rules so I still persisted with shaving it and dousing it with deodorant but every so often I dispensed with being a civilised member of society and became a hairy, non deodorised cave woman for a few days. It felt so good that I threatened to make this a permanent arrangement. Although Andrew said he was fine with it, I’m pretty sure if I checked his google search history I’d find ‘applications for quick Australian divorces from Europe’ on the top of his list.

Picture: Our delightful bike ride on Lucca’s medieval wall.

Bike ride on Lucca's medieval wall
Bike ride on Lucca’s medieval wall

Reality: Oli fell off his bike and now has a lovely scar to remind him of his time.

We went for a charming bike ride in Lucca that provided Oli with a tad more than just lovely memories. About 5 minutes after this shot was taken we stopped for a snack. When we were getting back on our bikes, Oli lost his balance and fell on top of Lucy’s metal bike handle. This resulted in an impressive looking cut on his cheek. I tried to cheer him up by saying chicks dig scars (is that really true or just a thing parents say when their kids are hideously deformed?). Considering he thinks love is disgusting, this just made him sadder. So a gelato was purchased and all was forgotten. And now he has a tiny scar to remind him of his bike ride on the medieval wall of Lucca. When he finally thinks love is actually not that gross and has a girlfriend he may tell her that the tiny scar is from a bike trip around the medieval walls of Lucca and she may think that’s actually kind of cool.

Picture: Kids being sweet to each other on our fun trip to Murano.

Hugs on the island of Murano
Hugs on the island of Murano

Reality: 20 minutes later, I lovingly stroked the kids hair and discovered a forest of lice. The lice would have had fun jumping between the two of them while they were hugging.

Remember that delightful ride around Lucca? That was a few weeks before this photo was taken. Despite the kids insistence that wearing helmets isn’t very European I said ‘Safety first’ and made them wear them anyway. ‘Screw stupid safety!’ I say now as the kids both got lice from the helmets.

I’m not very au fait with lice. Oli has never had them and Lucy only had them once, about 2 months before we left for Europe. At that time, I completely panicked and rushed her to a de-licing centre where I sat contentedly reading a book while someone else dealt with my daughters disgusting hair issue.

There are no such lovely people in Italy so, horrifically, we had to handle this issue all by ourselves.  I am now a black-belt in de-licing. I prefer the conditioner method. Email me for details.

Picture: Lucy at the gorgeous Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como.

Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como
Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como

Reality: Half an hour before this shot Lucy had sprayed sunscreen in her eye that resulted in mass hysteria and a sty.

We didn’t see Lucy spray sunscreen in her eye but we were made aware of the fact by the dramatic ‘I’m on my death bed’ routine that followed. Being a lover of melodrama we thought she was over exaggerating and did the old ‘you’ll be right mate’ routine. Two days later I noticed her bottom eyelid was red and had a massive bump on it. We went to the chemist who gave us antibiotics to be used for four days. Two weeks later it was still there so we went to a Venetian doctor who gave us a script for a stronger antibiotic to take for four days. I asked what happens if it doesn’t heal by then. He confidently told us it would and sent us off with a script that looked like a 2 month old wrote it. The chemist couldn’t read his handwriting so gave us the original antibiotic. After we insisted it didn’t work they decided it may be wise to find out what the hell the doctor wrote so gave him a call and supplied us with the stronger antibiotic. This was a month ago and it’s almost gone but not quite. Every time Lucy looks at it in the mirror she says “so much for the stupid four days”.

Picture: A delightful picture of the kids rowing a boat on Lake Bled.

Rowing on Lake Bled
Rowing on Lake Bled

Reality: The kids and I had to row the boat for the entire time because Andrew completely wrecked his back from the incredibly strenuous and manly activity of picking up a pencil.

This manly act took place about two weeks ago and Andrew still hasn’t fully recovered. I can no longer rely on his muscular physique to deal with my overpacking. Boy did I have fun dragging our massive suitcases  up and down the bridges of Venice and then up our three flights of stairs when we came back ‘home’ from Slovenia.

Picture: Eating gelato from our favourite hole-in-the-wall gelateria.

Reality: Lucy’s obsession with getting gelato is driving us bonkers!!

One of two conversations occur daily.

Conversation One:
Lucy: Can we have ice-cream today?
Us: No.
Lucy: Why not?
Us: Because we have a three ice-creams a week rule and we’ve already had three this week.
Lucy: No we didn’t.
Oli: Yes we did.
Lucy: Well can’t we make it 4 this week?
Us: No.
Lucy: Well if I only have two next week can I have 4 this week?
Us: No because you will get grumpy next week when you can only get two. Remember we tried that a few weeks ago?
Lucy: This time I promise I won’t.
Lucy: Fine! I don’t understand why you’re getting mad.
Us: Because this happens every day!!
Lucy: If you bought me ice-cream every day then it wouldn’t happen!

Conversation two:
Lucy: Can we get ice-cream today.
Us: Yes.
Lucy: Ok can we get it now?
Us: No.
Lucy: Why not?
Us: Because it’s 9:30 in the morning.
Lucy: But I’m hungry.
Us: You can’t be hungry. You just had breakfast at 9am. Eat some fruit.
Lucy: But I’m hungry for ice-cream.
Us: Well you’re not getting any at 9:30 in the morning.
Lucy: What time can we get it.
Us: 3:30pm.
Lucy: Can we get it at 2:30?
Us: No.
Lucy: Why not?
Us: Because we said 3:30pm and if you ask about it before then it will be 4pm.
Lucy: I can’t wait till 2:30.
Us: Why?
Lucy: Because then it’s only an hour from when I can have the thing I’m not allowed to talk about.

Picture: Oli’s cute fox finger puppet Phil the Third enjoying the sights of Motovun.

Phil the Third admiring Motovun
Phil the Third admiring Motovun

Reality: If I have to hear one more story about the adventures of Phil the Third I’m going to go postal.

I love how imaginative Oli is but it’s driving me crazy!!  We purchased this cute little finger puppet in Amsterdam a month ago, and Oli dubbed him Phil the Third. Since that day, Oli has spent every waking moment regaling us with tales of Phil’s exciting life and his heroic past as a leader of the fox revolution. It’s driving me up the wall which, of course, is making me feel like a completely horrible parent. I keep having visions of him becoming a famous writer and reading this in his Wikipedia entry:

‘Oliver was a great story teller from an exceptionally young age. This was never encouraged by his mother who wanted him to “live in the moment”. She would often tell him to ‘stop blabbering’ and ‘admire the stupid Croatian scenery’!!. Despite her obvious cruelty, he has become a well regarded and prolific writer. His Pulitzer prize winning series “The Grand Adventures of Phil the Third” has been translated into 54 languages and been hailed as the greatest literary work since Hamlet.’

Picture: Us having an amazing time together in Ljubljana

Ljubljana at night
Ljubljana at night

Reality: Us having an amazing time together in Ljubljana

Regardless of these 1001 issues we really are having a bloody marvellous time.  I have to admit that my main worry was the kids would drive us completely crazy and have to be shipped off to their grandparents after the first month. Despite my last two points, the kids have been truly amazing. We haven’t heard a single “Are we there yet”, mainly because we listen to audiobooks in the car so the kids are actually disappointed when our car trips are only three hours long. They are totally ok with walking for 8 hours a day and keep their spirits high with their amazing (and sometimes annoying) imagination. They really are each others best friends and it’s so nice to be able to give them so much time together at this age.

Hopefully this trip will encourage them to one day do something like this with their kids. I look forward to reading their accounts of my lice ridden grandchildren who are driving them crazy with their ice-cream and finger puppet obsessions.