A 20 minute train ride to the second smallest country in the world, we visited Monaco on Friday. You may know it for it's famed casinos and car races (yep, we walked on the motorway). Ruled by a prince, the country is tax free and a sovereign nation (that explains the wealth oozing everywhere). We toured the cathedral where Grace Kelly wed the Prince ('56) and where they're both buried, visited the Musee Oceanographique where Jacques Cousteau served as director and walked to the outside of the casinos to drool over the many fancy sports cars within our reach. We also grinned big knowing we were where Uncle Andrew proposed to Aunt Debbie. It was a great day that we share in a short film.
This first blog entry to the Travel School Project could be written a dozen different ways and authored by 9 different writers. There are 2 families invested in our adventure. We have cultivated and planned for an idea that started as a joke at the beginning of this school year. As much as all of our kids like school, we've always been asked by them to do something different when we travel. We've never stopped to consider alternatives to the brick and mortar. But, we do know first hand that they gain so much when they cross cultural borders. It grabs their attention in ways a text book never could. They lose inhibitions to other ways of living. They gain a strong sense of navigating uncharted waters, and they get to experience a day(s) in someone else's world.
So, the joking idea took root. We each began to toss around so many strong reasons in favor and just as many hesitations. The "what ifs" set in and then the "why nots" took over. Each individual slowly digested the idea and we began to dig a little. As we dug and dug a little deeper- the doors kept opening. We never hit a stop sign. The school administrators and teachers were supportive and helped us solidify our goal for traveling overseas for the spring semester 2016. Each day, there were so many steps to accomplish in order for the trip to happen. We had to agree on location, housing, length of trip, school options, activity options, spouses schedules and life at home. All of this kept us working quietly amongst each other. There were many pieces of the puzzle to put together for us to be where we are today- ready to leave.
Many people get it. Many others don't. The "why are you doing this" list is long? Simply put- both of our 2 families, in their own ways, have engrained in them a love for long distance travel and exploration. Travel has been a priority and focus in our children's lives. We are making it happen and letting go of any small doubts. We will be "living" in (not moving to) Nice, France (not Paris). We have two separate, but close apartments in the Old Town (no elevators- the buildings are too old). The Bullingtons are on the 5th floor of their building. We have WI-FI (so they say) so the kids can get their school work done. They are enrolled in Virtual School (not homeschool). They have teachers for each subject. We are all impressed so far and really liking the concept. They work hard (it's not a cake walk). The husbands will be traveling back and forth at different times to enjoy family time (we are grateful they are supporting our adventure). We are hoping to explore other areas by train and maybe even plane. We now have French visas (a long and arduous process). We are hoping to come back knowing more French than when we started. On top of flights of stairs to keep us in shape, we hope to find our favorite cafe, wine shop (moms) and boulangerie. We are laughing at ourselves as we pack saying, "We don't need much," but finding that our creature comforts keep finding their way into our bags. We are only going in suitcases and carry-ons (no boxes are being shipped). Yes, we are on the Mediterranean Sea, but the weather should be similar to home.
We look forward to documenting our travels and sharing our story- the Travel School Project! Bon Voyage!