Hidden playgrounds and travel expectations

I recently listened to a radio travel show where they discussed the hidden gardens of Paris.  These hidden gardens were quiet, serene places of solitude.  Sounds nice.  But I think a show on the hidden playgrounds of Paris, or any city for that matter, would be more apropos for me at this point.

Prague and the playground

We visited Prague a few years ago with some friends who had four young children.  I was pregnant with our first.  Sure, we strolled across the Charles Bridge, explored the great castle and wandered the old city streets.  But the garden park on Kampa Island at the base of the Bridge was the most enjoyable – or at least most memorable.  While the adults sprawled under the shade of trees, enjoying the local beverages from nearby vendors, the children played on the simple playground equipment.  From our vantage point, we looked up at the Bridge and the pedestrians, glistening with sweat as they peered over the edge into the Vltava River.  A few meters away, the peaceful, slow waters made their journey through the city.  Our early afternoon interlude at the park turned into an hour, then two.   We had completely escaped the masses and found a venue adults and children alike enjoyed – without leaving the charm or incredible views of the Charles Bridge area.

Which reminds me – people often ask how we plan what to do on trips.  I say we do abroad what we do at home.  We find playgrounds, visit museums, stop for coffee breaks, relax on a park bench, shop the local market, people-watch. . .    Our girls are accustomed to this at home so have no trouble adjusting when abroad.  We’re the ones who have adjusted our expectations.  When traveling with our children, we don’t seek out a Michelin star restaurant wherein we can dine and be nervous our children might disturb someone.  We don’t measure traveling success by the quantity of famous sights seen.  Instead, we joyfully anticipate what might be around the corner, hoping for perhaps a hidden gem of a playground, often nestled just steps from a world-renowned architectural wonder.

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