In some ways, time seems to have flown by. Having said that, Paris seems like a very long time ago. We have visited 9 countries together (I'm not counting Norway, Germany, Monaco or Vatican City), with at least 8 more to go (depending on what we do in Southeast Asia).
On our best days, we realize we're in the midst of a 'once in a lifetime' experience. The variety of what we've seen in breathtaking. On the worst days, we feel like we're on an endless treadmill of historic sites and churches. For example, most visitors to Jerusalem revel in the Old City's narrow streets and ancient atmosphere. After you've experienced the medinas of Fes and Marrakech, this place seems pretty tame (except for all the automatic weapons constantly on display).
The food has been very good, but we're all sick of restaurants. To this end, this week we've eaten in many times - pancakes and maple syrup, oatmeal porridge, scrambled eggs, peanut butter sandwiches and Kraft Dinner (well, the Israeli version). We haven't gotten to the point where McDonald's is a cultural haven (only 5 times in 3 months - Paris, Oslo (2x), London, Barcelona airport), but we all salivate at the thoughts of the all-day breakfast at Kozy Korner or Elgin Street Diner, or a burger at McKeck's or The Works.
We've learned that airBnB or VRBO apartments are great value, usually spacious and allow for cooking and laundry, but are isolating from other people. Hotels, on the other hand, often have wonderful breakfast buffets (that lead to overeating) but are usually tight quarters and don't allow for cooking or laundry. The only real hostel we've experienced (Casa Gracia in Barcelona ) was a nice change because it facilitated interaction with other travellers, but it was still mostly a hotel.
On a daily basis, Ursula and I struggle to decide what to do. If you are a tourist for a week in Rome or Paris or Jerusalem, you make the most of your time by hitting the major sites with an action packed agenda ("we'll sleep when we get home"). When you're on the road for 6 months, this is not sustainable. The kids want to do "fun" stuff, while we feel some compulsion to do the "important" stuff. We're trying to find a balance, but as you know, sometimes compromises leave everyone feeling like they're not getting what they want. It's a hit and miss process.
Interestingly enough, staying on budget hasn't been a big deal. While our daily budget of $100 for accommodation and $200 for everything else may seem low to most middle-class Canadians, I've found several 'family travelling around the world for a year' websites where people do what we're doing for half the money. We could do that too, but we'd have to skip many of the expensive sites (like Barcelona's Sagrada Familia) and meals out (like the excellent Iraqi kosher place here).
Home-schooling has been challenging. Over the past few weeks, Ursula and I started to seriously reconsider if we're cut out for this job. The combination of no routine and small rooms/apartments means we would need the self-discipline of triathletes (which we're clearly not) to stay on schedule. The reality is we all just keep slogging along. I'm not sure who dreads this process more most days - us or the kids. Consequently, we've put our faith in the belief that the world in our classroom, and the kids are having a priceless experience. We've also decided that when we get to Korea, we will investigate school options. We'll keep you posted.
To close, we're still very happy we decided to take this trip. On a regular basis, I have the feeling we're building up a storehouse of shared experiences that will make for endless reminiscing when we're old and in the home. Life is good. We have great kids. This truly is an amazing experience.