Fun Facts

Miles driven

Australia:  2,016
Europe:  5,891
Great Britain:   994

Random encounters

  • Pombo family, from school, in Paris
  • Burnett family, previously from school, in London

Visits with family and friends

  • Durán family in Singapore
  • Michelle Rose in Shanghai
  • Wayne and Peggy Thiessen in Japan
  • Maria Herminia Madera, Madrid
  • Carlos Rodriguez del Valle, Madrid
  • Ortega family in Sevilla
  • Wesoloski family in Sevilla
  • Cristina Gardiola in Barcelona
  • Mariuca Rodríguez Ema on cruise
  • Camila Nevin and Morgan Starner in Austria
  • Bonoan family in Stuttgart (and again in Paris)
  • Mehlika Hoodboy (surprise!) in Stuttgart
  • Gundula and Werner Fiedler in Rothenburg, Germany
  • Richter family in Münnerstadt, Germany
  • Carolina Nevin in Loire Valley
  • Yoana TG in Paris
  • Martin Rodríguez and Roger King in London
  • Alegra Teixidor and families in London
  • Chuck and Kerstin Burgess in Edinburgh

Toboggan rides

Great Wall, China
Garmish, Germany
outside of Kassel, Germany

Bike rides/tours

Angkor Wat tour, Siem Reap (very dangerous!)
bike rental in Lido, Venice
“Sound of Music” tour, Salzburg
Zaanse Schans tour outside of Amsterdam
bike rental in park, Amsterdam
along canals in Stratford-upon-Avon


Sydney, New Year’s Eve
Hong Kong, beginning of Chinese New Year celebration
Beijing, end of Chinese New Year celebration
Fallas Festival, mascletà, Valencia
Fallas Festival, fireworks night, Valencia
Fallas Festival, night they burn fallas, Valencia
The Fountains Night Show, Versailles

During the UEFA soccer tournament, the Eiffel Tower had a giant soccer ball hanging in the middle.

There are over 3,000 miles of public footpaths in the Cotswolds, England, and many they go through sheep meadows.  (Make sure you close the gate behind you!)

Shakespeare coined the phrase “It’s Greek to me” (which we liked to use in Greece) among many, many others.

You can still get to the inner circle in Stonehenge if you book a sunrise or a sunset tour.  (The sunset tours sell out before the sunrise tours, fyi.)

Favorite building:  Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton

At the Opera Garnier in Paris, box 5 has a name plate that reads “Phantom of the Opera.”

Silk worms no longer exist in the wild.  They have evolved so their bodies are too big for their wings, and they can no longer fly.

Victoria has only ever said the words, “I can’t possibly eat more chocolate” in Brussels during a chocolate-tasting tour and workshop.  (Luckily, the feeling only lasted a few hours.)

There is a storm drain in Bremen (called the Hole of Bremen) that is actually a charity collection box and when you throw money in it, you hear the Bremen town musicians.

There is a loaf of bread that is over 100 years old on display at Hohenshwangau Castle in Fussen, Germany.  (It does not look appetizing.)

Cheapest parking has been at the arena park-and-ride in Amsterdam (4 euros for 4 nights).

27% of all Mercedes cars are black.

The Mercedes factory in Sindelfingen is bigger than Monaco.

The Mercedes factory uses more steel in a week than the Eiffel Tower.

Markus Sittikus placed trick fountains in his Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg in the 17th century to surprise his drunken guests.

Venice’s lagoon is very shallow in some places–only a few feet deep.

During the plague, Venetian doctors would wear masks with long noses filled with aromatic herbs to ward off bad smells and illnesses.

The tradition of making lace in the fishing village of Burano, Venice, began because the women would mend the fishing nets.

In Venice, they row standing up in voga venetas.

Parts of Game of Thrones are filmed in Dubrovnik.

The Olympic fire is lit in Olympia using a parabolic mirror.  The tradition of the torch relay began in the 1936 Olympics (Berlin).

Warning signs in Santorini, Greece, are just suggestions.

Himmler lived in the von Trapp’s home in Salzburg.

The gazebo in Sound of Music was recreated in a Hollywood studio to make it slightly bigger.  It was also moved to a public park because too many people visited it when it was on private property.

It costs extra for a gondolier to serenade you in Venice.

In Italy, you are expected NOT to share your pizza.

In Italy, your pizza is not pre-cut for you.

Bad laundry service in Beijing was outdone by laundry service in Florence, where Todd’s underwear came back with many holes.  And then that got outdone by laundry on the cruise, where some things just never came back at all!

As of May 20, we have eaten at 11 Mexican restaurants (plus multiple times at the fajita bar on the cruise).

In Gibraltar, the Barbary ape population was getting too large, so they exported the naughty ones to Scotland and Germany.

Hot chocolate in Spain is thickened with flour, which explains whey it never comes out when I try to make it at home.

A new word we learned:  vomitorium.  The arched openings around an arena allowing for the quick exit of a large number of people.

European tolls are expensive!  Tolls from Barcelona to Aix-en-Provence (a 5-hour drive) were 56 euros.

The best family-tour guides entertain the girls during down time by teaching them to count to ten in their language, playing Simon Says, singing songs, guessing animal sounds from different languages, and other games.

Rocks we like

  • Gibraltar
  • St. Victoire, France
  • Uluru, Australia

Todd’s haircuts

  • Phuket
  • Madrid
  • Rome
  • Stuttgart
  • London

Girls’ haircuts

  • Venice

Poop and pee encounters

  • Victoria, dog poop, Paris
  • Victoria, bird poop, Brussels
  • Victoria, cat peed on leg, Rome
  • Todd, bird poop, Beijing
  • Victoria, bird poop, Hiroshima
  • Victoria, dog poop, Shanghai
  • Everyone, elephant poop, Chiang Mai

Transportation methods

  • 23 airplanes
  • 1 RV, Sydney
  • 2 rental cars
  • 1 leased car
  • 11 high-speed/bullet trains
  • 11 ferries
  • 1 car ferry
  • 1 river boat
  • 1 camel
  • 1 elephant
  • 18 tuk-tuks
  • 2 funiculars
  • 3 cable cars
  • 4 gondolas
  • 1 chairlift
  • 6 bikes
  • 1 ATV
  • 3 toboggans
  • 1 cruise ship


  • Tokyo is the largest city in the world.
  • When you are waiting for a table in a restaurant, there is an area with chairs and you have to sit in the order that you came in.  So when the first party in line gets seated, everyone gets up and shifts chairs.
  • A formal tea ceremony can take 3-4 hours.
  • Toilets are warm.
  • People wait for the walk signal to cross the street.
  • You stand on the left on escalators so people can pass on the right.


  • If you order water in a restaurant, you get hot water.
  • Napkins in China are either non-existent, useless, or for sale.
  • Tea houses provide ear cleaning and massages, even during performances.
  • In public parks, retirees exercise, dance, sing, play badminton and hackey sack, knit, play mahjong, serve as matchmakers for their children
  • Saying under Chairman Mao:  “More people, more power”
  • According to our guide, pandas have 2 wishes:  1) to dream in color (because they are only black and white) and 2) to get more sleep (because their eyes have black circles)
  • Worst laundry service on the trip so far was in Beijing
  • Trucks with pretty music in China are not selling ice-cream for kids; they are washing the streets.


  • Pedicure fish are not always hungry
  • At 6pm, the national anthem plays on loudspeakers throughout the towns, and you have to stop what you are doing.

Performances attended
Magic Flute, Sydney
Phare Circus, Siem Reap
Illuminations, Yangshuo
Face-changing show, Chengdu
The Legend of Kung Fu, Beijing
Shanghai Acrobatic Show, Shanghai
Ninja show and magic show, Edo World, near Tokyo
Samurai Kembu performance, Kyoto
Flamenco show, Granada, Spain
Multiple performances on the cruise
Vivaldi concert, Four Seasons, Venice
Mozart dinner/concert, Salzburg
Der Meistertrunk, Rothenburg (in German!)
Recital of story of Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), Sababurg, Germany
Musical recital of story of Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), Sababurg, Germany
Son et Lumière show, Blois, France
Magic show, Maison de la Magie, Blois, France
Equestrian show, Chambord, France
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, London (girls with Tincho and Roger)
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, London (Todd and Victoria)
The Play That Goes Wrong, London

Classes taken
Dot Painting in Ayers Rock, Australia
Surfing, Noosa Heads, Australia
Cooking, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Cooking, Yangshuo, China
Fan-making, Fuli, China
Calligraphy, Beijing, China
Kembu (Samurai), Kyoto, Japan
Tea Ceremony, Kyoto, Japan
Origami, Kyoto, Japan
Taiko Drum, Kyoto, Japan
Frescoes, Florence
Pizza and Gelato, Florence
Gladiator School, Rome
Mask painting, Venice
Rowing voga veneta, Venice
Ritter chocolate class, Stuttgart
Chocolate workshop, Brussels
Waffle workshop, Brussels
Fencing, Loire Valley
Perfumery, Saint Germain-en-Laye, France

Making paellas, Barcelona
Mosaic technique, Florence
Paper decorating, Florence
Towel folding, cruise

Left-hand driving countries visited
Hong Kong


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