Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Year's Eve Abroad

This New Year’s Eve will mark our family’s fifth New Year’s Eve in a different county.  This tradition happened accidentally for us when we found ourselves in London accompanying our daughter, who was going to be a cheerleader in the London New Year’s Day parade.  When we were making the plans for this trip, we knew that we were going to be out of the country for New Year’s Eve, but we did not expect to be so positively affected by the experience. 

My Daughter in the 2011
 New Year's Day Parade in London.
So, that New Year’s Eve we were already tucked into our hotel room, as my son was only 8 years old, and just at the stroke of midnight, we looked out our hotel room window and there was an amazing fireworks display over the Thames River.  The kids were so excited!  New Year’s Eve had never reached fireworks level back home, in fact, it had never reached any level of excitement.  It was at that exact moment that I said to my husband and kids, “Wouldn’t it be great if we were in a different country every New Year’s Eve?”  It was an immediate and unanimous, YES! 

Jumping for Joy Near the Tower Bridge
on New Year's Day 2011 .  

As soon as we returned from London, we scoured the Internet for our next destination.  It took us less than a month to choose a location and make our reservations. We were going to Italy for our next New Year’s Eve abroad!  Booking the trip immediately had solidified our goal of making this an annual tradition. 

My kids playing around in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella
 in Florence on New Year's Eve.
New Year's Day 2012 in Front of the Ponte Vecchio
in Florence. My son trying to steal the scene. 

You would think that traveling during the holidays would mean extra crowds, long lines, and that places would be closed.  Not true at all.  Most people do not travel during the holidays, so there are shorter lines everywhere and fewer people overall.  That was a another pivotal reason we decided to start this tradition.

New Year's Eve in Front of the Eiffel Tower
New Year's Day 2013 in Disneyland Paris.
While visiting a country each year, we plan our sightseeing for the trip based on what will be closed on New Year's.  We were pleasantly surprised that so many things are OPEN on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  Some things do close a little early on New Year's Eve, but more likely than not, we would have dinner reservations anyway.  With a little bit of forethought and careful planning, we are always able to plan exciting things to do and hit all of the must-see locations.  

On our last trip abroad for New Year's we were in Amsterdam, and we visited the Anne Frank House on New Year's Eve.  We booked our tour time for 3:15 PM, and the last tour of the day was 4:00. I had done some research in advance and purchased the tickets online so that there was no last minute hassle or stress waiting on line, and THE LINE IS LONG.  Blocks longs.  Advance ticket purchasing gets you in the side door at your reservation time! 

New Year's Eve in front of the
Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

New Year's Day was full of fun, too. We visited the Van Gogh Museum with tickets purchased in advance.  Once again, we walked straight to the front of the line. These are the times my family realizes how great I am at planning.  After the museum, we took pictures next to the larger than life sized letters outside the Rijksmuseum  that spell IAMSTERDAM.  Coincidentally, my kids' initials are R and D, so it made for a great photo opportunity.  

At the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on 
New Year's Day 2014. My son is standing in 
front Van Gogh's Sunflowers Painting. 

My kids in front of the IMASTERDAM letters. 

The only thing we didn't plan in advance last New Year's Day in Amsterdam was the canal boat ride. When checking the schedules, it seemed like there was always going to be an availability. After all, it is a city of canals, so we were confident that we would find a tour. 

My daughter on the canal boat ride sporting
the Amsterdam winter hat that seemed
to be all the rage last year!
We had always planned on taking the kids abroad to experience different countries and their cultures, and we had finally found a time of the year that was not only festive, but it worked for everyone’s work and school schedule. Now, when we are on our long plane ride home, we start to discuss where we will be heading next New Year's Eve.  This is a tradition we hope to continue for a very long time, not only with our kids, but with their families, too, when they get older.  

This New Year's Eve we will be in Austria!  We will keep you posted about our Experienced Time!