2016 Travels In Review: A Very Good Year

by farrah on January 7, 2017 · 0 comments

Ok, so I’m about a week late on this one, but better late than never. I’ve thought so many times how much I’ll regret neglecting this blog come years from now. I’m already at the point where I read old posts and laugh my head off thinking ‘oh my god I forgot about that..’ so I can only imagine what it will be like once I’m getting my hair colored ala Anne Bancroft sterling gray on the reg.

Who cares about the view when there’s gelato?

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Well, it wasn’t January but it’s close enough: I spent my 40th birthday with my favorite person for four days at a luxury spa in Belgium. We went the day after Christmas, praying that one of my kids vomiting was just a fluke and my in-laws wouldn’t have to deal with three barfing kids the whole time we were at Thermae Boetfort in Belgium. I posted as many pictures as I could on my FB page while we were there (half of it is a nude wellness resort after all) and I still can’t get over what a perfect spa this was indeed. An old castle just 45 minutes from home with stables turned luxury spa- we spent four glorious days here getting full body treatments and hanging out in the pools, saunas, steam rooms and more. If you’re looking for a sure bet on a spa this year: THIS IS IT.


In honor of the date today! #maythe4thbewithyou

A photo posted by Farrah Ritter (@momofthreeunder) on

On a last-minute whim, we decided to go to London to see the Star Wars exhibit at Madame Tussauds. It was AWESOME. I found the perfect hotel on my new favorite find Sleeps5.com (it was super cheap and side-eye worthy, but we only slept in it one night) that had a great location and didn’t cost a million dollars (this was pre-Brexit remember). We drove and took the chunnel which was a very interesting way to get from place to place. Thankfully I had my anti-anxiety traveling pills with me in case I started to freak out once enclosed in our car, IN a train, UNDER the channel (I didn’t).


We went up to Zandvoort in the Netherlands so that my husband could run a beach race. We stayed at the Center Parcs up there- and I have to admit, that was probably the last time we’ll stay at one of those. This one was seriously dated and backed up (literally- a racing/test track was immediately behind the resort) to a car driving/racing/test track. That meant that at all hours of the day and night you heard the explosive zipping and whirring of tires on concrete. Not my favorite.


Busy busy! These two months we had our May holiday and I had two trips of my own. First, I went to Ibiza in Spain for the second time with my friend Amy. I love Spain. I love Ibiza’s beaches best too, thus I wanted her to see them. We were silly free moms for the first day or so and then I took her to a (very empty) Formenterra. We napped. It was glorious.

I’d like to print this and keep it.

A photo posted by Farrah Ritter (@momofthreeunder) on

After that we had the first week of May vakantie in Texel. We went with our Dutch friends that we are hoping to go on Summer holiday with this year: My buddy Sabine, her husband and their son who is in a class with my tweelings. Texel was a fascinating place- flat as a pancake (yes, it is possible for a place in the NL to seem ‘even more flat’ than the rest of the country) and so pretty. We loved the little villages and our rental house was a total score that Sabine had found (linked on recommended places to stay page). The guys went to a whisky museum and all of us popped over to the Texel Brewery. It was a wonderful week of busy daily activity, exploring and (unexpectedly) hardly any rain.

We were home a day and then headed up by car to Legoland in Billund, Denmark for a week. This trip was a surprise and you bet I have the cliche car video of my kids figuring out where we’re going. Before this though- we stayed the night in Hamburg, Germany which was probably one of my worst travel ideas ever. I had no idea that it was the annual time of riot police, protests and all around tomfoolery. We stayed at a hostel (which wasn’t awful, but the location was NSFK) and watched from our window the procession of police and protesters glide by. Not gonna lie- the German voices shouting on the megaphones while things exploded was more eerie than you can imagine.

At the end of the month I needed a vacation to recover from all of my vacations and went back to Thermae Boetfort so I could use my ‘free admission’ day pass that I acquired on my last visit. Twist my arm!


Wow @molliandbean your bow ties got more compliments than my cute kiddos 🙂 loved them.

A photo posted by Farrah Ritter (@momofthreeunder) on

This was our big trip back to the US for my little brother’s wedding in Michigan. The kids were still in school, but we had known about this trip since the beginning of the previous school year, thus I had already made all the arrangements to get this trip ok’d. We were only going for a week- so in that time we crammed as much as humanly possible into those six days with our families. My husband was in charge of his 20th high school reunion, so we were able to pull that off as well as see our local friends, visit the dentist and hear how awful my kids’ dental hygiene has become, attend a wedding and a slew of other miscellaneous things.


I was looking forward to our ‘big trip’ all year and this was it. We planned to drive to the heart of the Tuscany region and stay for two solid weeks in a villa that hundreds of years prior was an old jail. I posted the crap out of this vacation on IG, and hope I didn’t bore anyone out of their minds. But the wineries, the DRIVES, the lovely, old historic towns! This being my fourth trip to Italy- it was also by far and away my favorite. Everything was perfect from the family friendly villa with pool, to the rustic family restaurant and our glorious cooking class*.  At night after a long day of hitting wineries along dusty roads we would put the kids to bed, open the windows, drink a couple of bottles of wine and listen to Dean Martin & co sing Italian songs. Follow that up with a shot of chilled limoncello and you can’t get much better than that.


We took this month to recover from the million hours of driving that it took us to get to Tuscany. I forgot to mention that we stopped in Tirol, Austria after driving 24 hours to Italy. We slept for a few hours and then got back on the road. It was a pretty cool place, worthy of a vacation in of itself. Or, be like us and spend 100 + euros to sleep there for a matter of hours because your planning was quite poor indeed.


Ah Greece! I saw a FB ad for Sani Resorts in Halkidiki and jumped on it. We booked a week for our herfstvakantie- and stayed at Sani Club the last full week that the resort was in operation for the season. I love Greece. This being my second time- I was thrilled to discover that this peninsula was completely different from bustling Athens and more like a nature preserve. The all-inclusive resort itself was stunning, the nicest one I have ever seen. The staff was impeccable and we had a wonderful time eating at the different restaurants on the resort when our kids weren’t’ saying that they preferred the buffet.


I’ve been wanting to go on a yoga retreat for a while. I saw one that seemed interesting in Mallorca, Spain and ended up taking my mother-in-law along for the ride. I did not plan on an insane hike up a giant hill to get to the monastery where we spent the night and practiced yoga- and I am pretty sure my mother in law will never let me forget that. At least I got her home in one piece.


Surf school is in session!

A photo posted by Farrah Ritter (@momofthreeunder) on

For the last hurrah of the year my husband got me a gift for my 41st birthday that he knew couldn’t go wrong: A solo four-day trip to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. What can I say- it was a perfect four days even if the weather wasn’t warm enough to swim. To be honest, it was actually kind of nice because that way I didn’t feel guilty sleeping in late missing any possible ‘nice’ weather when it’s in such short supply.


So that’s it. Not bad for a year I felt we took things rather slow and laid back. We had a great year- and I’m once again thanking my lucky stars for being in this position. I don’t know how we can top Tuscany last summer- but I’m hopeful that we can come close. Lesson learned though- there will be no driving on Black Saturday this time. NO.THANK.YOU!

*= Our favorite family travel experience of 2016, probably in the top 5 of our entire time in Europe. A fabulous cooking class in a rustic, rural, authentic setting- I cannot recommend Arianna & Friends enough. Truly wonderful for everyone! 

Links in post mean I recommend that hotel/resort. If I don’t mention where we stayed then by all means, avoid it like the plague. Nothing sponsored, nothing gained. 

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