Black Hills & Badlands: a temple of democracy, void of women and minorities

Even though we had already experienced many national parks, we found both the Balck Hills as well as the Badlands impressive. Upon our arrival, a heard of bisons welcomed us to Black Hills, which we entered through Custer State park.

We took the Needles Highway, a scenic drive to Mount Rushmore. We could see the four presidential heads – Washington, Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Jefferson – posing in distance through the several tunnels of the highway.

The weather was hot, we discovered when arrived at Mount Rushmore, which could only be accessed by parking a car in a huge parking garage from where we walked up to the visitors center and the actual site. The site was super tourisitic.

The loop walk along the mountain with several views up towards the heads turned out to be very nice. The presidential heads were enormous. They were strikingly one the most powerful materialization of the white mail dominated world we have and still live in I had ever seen and experienced.

We spent the night in Hill City, and the next day took another scenic drive, highway 16 before driving through the Badlands. We stopped for a swim and picnic at Sylvan lake, a gorgeous clear water lake surrounded by huge rocks. There was a nice walk around the lake and just perfect to walk and explore with kids.

On our way to Badlands, we stopped to buy some water at a tiny little town, Scenic, which appeared as a ghost village, one that we never had a chance to see.

The Badlands, an extensive area of desert like terrain where the land and the rocks have been extensively eroded by wind and water, was stunning. The temperature outside was 110 Farenheit (44 Celsius), and one could just imagine how hard it must have been to try to make ones way through these beautiful – and yet bad – lands as a Native American riding on a horse.

With the Badlands in our rear mirror, corn fields appeared. We drove through various empty looking villages and observed signs with God’s greetings followed by signs with welcoming to Casinos and (free!) whiskey tastings.

Driving through Rosebud, Indian Reservation in South Dakota made the ambiguity surrounding us suddenly very tangible: these lands used to belong to very different people with very unique, and rich cultures, and now a fragment that’s left of these people has been gathered to live in reservations, and run casinos for living.

As we left the natural parks behind, we entered the very central states of the US. It had taken us more than two weeks to get middle way, and it would only take us five more days to arrive at our final destination of the road trip, North Carolina.

Wyoming and South Dakota: From rocky mountains to black hills

Teton National Park through which we drove on our way to Black Hills was stunning although it has not deserved as much attention as Yellowstone. There were lots of relatively short and tempting hiking trails around the area. The mountains ruled the scenery.

Throughout our travels in different places and countries, we had developed a tradition of swimming (or dipping ourselves) in different lakes, creeks and oceans – so far our check list in the US included the Pacific Ocean, Crater Lake, Ceour d’alene lake, Yellowstone lake – and now we added to the list swimming in the String lake surrounded by the mountains, Grand Teton, Middle and South Tetons, Mount Moran and others.

On our way to Balck Hills we made two stops. The first night we stayed at a lovely little cowboy town, Dubois. The next stop we made at a tiny little town called Lusk, with a population of 1500, where we stayed for a couple of nights to rest. The Covered Wagon Motel, the other one of the two Inn’s in the town, had everything we needed for relaxing: an inside pool and a hot tub, a grill, a playground, and a basketball court. An interesting detail was the Tesla charging station, which none of the cowboys, construction workers and random poeple staying at the Inn used.

To our surprise, there was a very interesting museum in Lusk, the Coachwagon museum. It entailed the local history ranging from dinosaurs to old mailboxes and local schools, from barbed wire models to wooden wagons. One of its famous possessions, we learned, was a two headed baby cow.

Old issues of LIFE magazine were for sale and I found an issue on USA national parks. One dollar couldn’t capture the value it represented to us, making our way by traveling across the country and exploring its national parks and other sites.

A highlight of our stay in Lusk was our son’s birthday. We organized a pool party, with an ice cream cake, and Finnish Moomin candies and cookies I had saved for the occasion. When my son was blowing the four candles on the cake and making his wish, I felt so proud of this little guy who had traveled half way through America, as well as of the other, still little guy, wanting to be a big boy, for being such a great big brother.

Yellowstone: geysers that don’t need names

Our first day in the Yellowstone national park began with an exploration of the Mammoth Springs. The walk took us around the spring area to admire the paths the vulcanic water had made around the area.

The lodge area right next to Mammoth springs unfortunately somewhat spoiled the view from up the springs – why build something so close to these beautiful sites?

After the springs, we headed to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This impressive site can be explored from many spots and directions. We decided to do one hike, from where we could see both falls of the canyon. Unfortunately, the Tom’s trail we were supposed to take was closed, so we needed a new plan. We decided not to do any other hikes which were much longer and since there was so much to see around the area, we figured we make few stops at the manyfold lookout points.

Our first stop was at the Artist’s point. The Canyon opened before us in manifold colors. It was difficult to capture the view – lower waterfalls, deepness off the Canyon, incredible wideness and colorfulness -surrounding us by any camera.

Next we went to see the Upper Falls, after which the kids fell asleep so Arttu and I took turns to see another lookout point, the Grand View into the canyon while the kids were sleeping in the car.

On our way to Lamar valley to search for some wild life we did some planning for the next day in the midst of enjoying the incredible views.

At the end of the day we had seen pronghorns, elks, moose, bisons, a coyote, chipmunks, ground squirrels, ospreys, ravens, canadian geese, and many other birds that we didn’t recognize.

The next morning we had our last delicious breakfast in the Yellowstone Basin Inn.

We spent the next two days exploring water elements of the park, hot springs and geysers, and the lakes. A walk around the Mud vulcano was unexpectedly one of the most impressive sites of Yellowstone. It was however, not merely what we saw but even more what we smelled and heard that was unforgettable.

Bisons did not seem to mind the smell. The dragons mouth impressed us with the roaring sound and bursts of steam coming from a mouth-like cave.

We took a nice swim at the Yellowstone lake, where the boys swam in a smaller and warmer part separated by a narrow and long sand cape from the main part, fresh and chilly were we adults dipped ourselves.

The path taking us around the area of Midway geyser basin was amazing. Upon our arrival to the area the sun came from behind the clouds revealing all the amazing colors of hot springs and geysers and the soil surrounding them.

There was the Grand pirsmatic hot spring, the economic spring, the excelsior geyser, the veteran geyser, and many many more named pools, springs and geysers. And then there were those that didn’t have a name. They were too small, too light colored or just too many and too ordinary to earn a name.

Great analogy to researchers: not everyone can be (at) the top; only a few become the ones being referred to.

One of the top sites in Yellowstone is Old Faithful, the geyser that faithfully erupts every 90 minutes. Just like those famous senior scholars, (not necessarily in age, but in terms of their academic record) publishing regularly and with high impact.

Walking around the area is worthwhile taking an hour or more to explore its numerous hot springs and geysers, both with names and without.

After seeing the second time the eruption of the Old Faithful, it was perfect timing to take off. Next, we would drive through Teton national park and head to the Black Hills, and the Badlands.

Oregon – Montana: leaving all behind

From Portland our trip took turn to the East. We traveled three days before we reached the gates of Yellowstone National Park. It was, however, very close that we didn’t arrive to our final destination, Gardiner, on time.

There are basically two ways to drive to Gardiner, Montana from Portland, Oregon. One can drive via south, highway 84 through Boise, or one can drive via north, highway 90 through Spokane, as we did.

We spent our first night in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a small lake resort some half an hour drive from Spokane, Washington. The lake water was beautiful, even slightly too warm for our Northern senses, and the beach was long and perfect for the kids. We took turns to do a morning run with Arttu, to try our brand new running shoes, which we bought from the Nike Company Store located near Portland.

For the second night we drove to a small remote place called Maxville, on road 1 off the highway 90. We booked a small cottage on airbnb. It was located next to the main house and right next to a beautiful creeck.

For the third day, before arriving to Gardiner, a small town right at the border of the northern gate of Yellowstone, we had planned visits to two special sites, which were both conveniently located on our way. The first one was Granite ghost town state park in Phillipsburg, and the other one was Lewis and Clark Caverns state park, a site with caves near Butte.

Gardiner is one of the many ghost towns in Montana that thrived as a silver mining town in the late 19th century. Reaching Gardiner State Park required a four wheel drive, because it could only be accessed through unpaved remote roads.

Google maps took us to bumpy and steep roads high up in the hills. Though somewhere inside me my intuition told me to turn back, we continued climbing up the hill with huge holes and rocks in the middle of the road and without any phone coverage. Suddenly, steam started coming from the hood, the engine turned off and the car stopped in the middle of a steep hill.

There we were on our way to ghost town, which we would never find.

Our radiator cap had come off letting all the cooling liquid out of the radiator. We discovered that the fitting of the radiator hose was broken. The motor was hot. And so was the air outside.

I guided the kids to sit in the shadow under the trees and gave them some left over popcorn from the night before to keep them busy while we tried to figure out what to do.

We pushed the parts back together, added some water, and took the risk to drive to the nearest house where we got some help to get us to a car repair. We drove to the nearest town, Anaconda only to discover they could not help us. We stopped to have a picnic at the (only?) park in Anaconda and Arttu managed to find a person who would fix our car.

We drove over an hour to Belgrade, where Don at Don’s car and radiator repair changed us a new radiator and fixed our car in less than an hour.

So happy we were that we treated the whole family with ice cream. We were able to make it to Yellowstone Basin Inn, Gardiner right for dinner time.

In the morning we would wake up to see the Mammoth hot springs and many more amazing natural and historic sites. Looking forward to everything that we would still be experiencing, I felt anxious of having left so many amazing things – and people – in something that I’d soon be calling the past.

Portland, Oregon: Independence, from whom?

Finally we got to visit Portland, the city we had heard so much of. It greeted us with 12 bridges of varying sizes, designs and usages crossing over the Willamette River. We had a guided tour to Portland’s coolest sites by locals.

My husbands’ cousins took us to a lovely area surrounding the Mississippi avenue with numerous chick shops and restaurants. After lunch in ‘Por qué no?’, a mexican restaurant we headed downtown.

Our tour started with delicious ice creams at Ruby Jewel, after which we went to the world’s biggest book store, Powell’s city of books. Totally worth spending a few hours exploring its million – new and used – books under three and a half thousand categories.

After Powell’s we visited the West End shop, a women’s clothing boutique owned by my husband’s cousin, and saw mountain Hood from 11th floor of her apartment.

Portland hosts tens of different food trucks serving food all over the world, from Poland to Japan, in one of its central quarters, SW 9th & Washington. A Living room movie theater offers movies with a dinner. Beautiful coffee shops and boutiques can be found side by side within a few quarters from Powell’s.

We didn’t spend our nights in the city, but in a suburb called Sherwood. Sherwood was a picturesque little place with beautiful neighborhoods and parks, surrounded by vineyards.

We got to experience the traditional 4th of July barbecue starting with a cute little parade in the morning. The boys were super excited about seeing police officers who wished happy fourth, and about candies thrown by the kids walking in the parade.

It happened to be our anniversary and so we escaped for a couple of hours to visit the Ponzi vineyards and did some wine tasting. Their oak barreled Chardonnay revealed to be delicious!

In the evening relatives came over, and the whole street gathered around a barbecue hosted by Arttu’s cousin and her husband. Fireworks echoed through the night and the US flags decorated porches.

The next morning we would start finding our way towards East. The road trip would really begin. Listening to fireworks in the darkness I took my new book, the People’s history of the United States by Howard Zinn that I bought from Powell’s and started reading about the stories that never get told in schools.

Independence Day, I thought, the day the great nation freed itself from the British Empire but destroyed all the native nations of the New Empire.

Berkeley – Portland: the hands that destroyed America

An important part of any road trip is to have a good playlist. In our family of four, everyone gets to pick their favorite songs to add to the list. Our playlist reveals songs ranging from Johnny Cash to Sia, from Vygotski to Pulp fiction sound track, from Verneri Pohjola to Fröbelin Palikat. Many more will be added as the road gets longer behind us.

Our first legi was to get from Berkeley to Portland.

The first day we drove to Eureka, where we spent the night. We stopped for a lunch in a cute little restaurant in Mendocino named Flow after which we drove to see the glass beach in Fort Bragg. Smooth glass pieces of different colors where washed at the shores. How beautiful can waste be! There was something very ambiguous about experiencing this site.

The next stop was a drive thru tree in Legget. After this stop we took a scenic road through the Humbold redwoods state park. Avenue of the giants has definitely earned its name.

On the next day we immersed ourselves into experiencing the world famous Redwood National Park. We walked a loop at Lady Bird Johnson Grove – a beautiful path in a magical forest. A perfect loop for our soon-to-be-4-year-old and a six-year-old kids.

Next we drove to the Fern Canyon, where parts of the Jurassic Park 2 movie were filmed. We cooked lunch in the assigned picnic area by the canyon and then hiked in and around the canyon. This was one of the most impressive places I have ever been to.

Before getting to our next motel in Shady Cove we took another scenic road through the Jedediah redwoods.

On day 3 we drove to Crater Lake. The East Rim Drive was closed due to the snow so we took the West Rim Drive. We made our first stop at Sinnot Memorial Overlook to find the stunning view overlooking the lake.

We continued the drive between snow walls and warm sun, and stopped for a lunch break at Palisade point, which we reached only some 15 minutes later.

The only path taking down to the lake is Cleetwood Cove Trail, which is a 1.3 mile (one-way) steep path leading to a dock for boat tours and to the rocks from which one can jump into a 10 Celsius degree (50 F) crystal clear water (the yellow is pollen).

 

While we had a Manduca carrying bag for our younger child, the 6-year-old walked all the way down and then climbed up again.

Crater lake certainly was impressive and unforgettable site to visit before going to Portland.

On our way, when sitting in the car, U2 was singing about the hands that built America. Boys were sleeping in the back seat. The first three days of our trip had been full of amazing landscapes and unforgettable experiences. And yet, while listening to the song I couldn’t help but to think about all those hands that cut down 95% of the old grown redwoods that used to grow on the West coast. Or those that polluted half of the rivers and lakes in the US currently no good for fishing and barely good for swimming either. And those hands that built millions of square miles of parking space and paved road for cars, not people.

We will spend the next three days in Portland with cousins of my husband after which our road trip will finally take the turn to East.

From Berkeley, with love

My research visit to UC Berkeley has come to an end. Needless to say, time has gone by so fast, but above all, this time has been filled with unforgettable memories with family and (new) friends, interesting research insights, and positive energy.

Throughout the Spring I participated in biweekly paper development meetings at the sociology department. It was directed mainly at doctoral students to help them develop their thesis manuscripts to publishable articles. I learned about many fascinating and societally relevant research topics: how private universities operate as tax havens, how big political struggles end up producing small fish, how cultural taste matters in reprocing inequality.

The most insightful thing for me was, however, to observe how everyone including both professors and doctoral students committed to this seminar, read everyone’s paper, and provided very constructive feedback. I learned how important it is to be interested in other people’s research in order to think together and help people to develop, and how this can be encouraged within a research community.

It was great to experience such an intelligent and super encouraging atmosphere!

I will miss conversations with some very nice people I met at ISSI. They would always ask how I was doing, how the family was, and whether we were enjoying our time in Berkeley. They would be willing to help with any question I had. I learned about research being done in the fields of political history, labor studies, linguistics, and bioethics.

I will miss jogging in the hills, hanging out with the friends we made, exploring new lunch places, going to numerous playgrounds, taking my kids to school and daycare, talking with random people in grocery strores, and many many more things.

Saying goodbye to people and places we became attached to hasn’t been easy. But before we leave America, we have one more thing to experience. We will drive thru the country.

You can follow us on Instagram with hastags #roadtripusa #drivethruamerica2017

The other side of food security

In this blog post, I am going to address the issue of food security from a perspective that seems to be absent from the dominant discourse on the topic. I will suggest that bringing in the voices of local communities would make the discussion more inclusive and enable considering more diverse solutions to the global challenge of the future of our food.

Food security appears as one of the dominating discourses in global politics. The main question that this discourse asks is: “how to feed the world in 2050?” According to World Food Programme (WFP) “people are considered food secure when they have availability and adequate access at all times to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” The basis of the discourse on food (in)security are statistics used variable by those parties addressing this global challenge. In its essence, introducing the topic of food (in)security most commonly includes at least the following statements:

– World’s population is increasing (predicting to reach nearly 10 billion people by 2050)
– There are 1,2 malnourished people in the world
– 9 million die of malnourishment each year
– We need to increase food production (and this should be done through large-scale production units, since small farms can’t be as productive)

The discourse on food security paints a picture of the world with the need to considerable increase food production in order to feed millions of malnourished people, who according to this discourse, happen to all live in so called developing, or the third world countries. Pictures of children from Africa, farmers from India, and fields of rice from Asia accompany this discourse.

One of the strongest geopolitical powers, the USA, is taking an active role in both reproducing the discourse and finding solutions to feeding the (third) world.

When looking into the actors who’s voices the discourse on food security echoes, one notices that this talk is dominated by big multinational corporations and the global political and economic institutions such like the UN, state governments, institutions within the EU, and the WHO. Who is absent from this talk are local communities and the grassroots organizations. One may wonder, why is this the case?

One explanation might be that for these actors, food security is not a relevant concept to operate with, but they are participating in another discourse: food sovereignty. Another explanation could be that the field of food security is dominated by powerful actors serving as gatekeepers to the voices to be heard in defining both the problems of and solutions for what has been coined as food security.

Now, statistics often absent from the discussion on food security include at least the following:

– We already produce enough food to feed every human being in the world (enough for 2800 calories/day, FAO 2012, p. 4)
– The majority of our food is produced by small-scale farms around the world
– There are approximately 1 billion obese people in the world
– Every year 3 million people die of diseases related to over weight
– In the US, there are 23.5 million people living in food deserts without proper access to nutritious food
– Contemporary food production produces 30% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions
– The amount of food waste throughout the global distribution chains is 20-50% of all food produced

These numbers suggest another kind of interpretation when trying to find solutions to the global challenge of food (in)security: one that does not advocate for more production, but looks into how the supply chains, and production and distribution are organized, and who controls these processes. It further suggests that there is a trade off between local and global interests, and that these should be critically examined.

Specifically interesting is the fact that those agricultural states who are producing most of the food in the US, these including for example Texas and Minnesota, are exporting the food they produce. At the same time big cities in both of these states, Minneapolis and Austin, among several other places in the US, are considered as being food insecure.

Interest to organizing access to food at a local community level has increased rapidly during the last couple of decades. Various types of local food initiatives, such like community supported agriculture (CSA), food coops, community gardens, urban farming, farmers markets and food procurement and food exchange groups have emerged providing access to locally produced, oftentimes organic and biodynamic food.

Many of these groups promote and engage in discourses that address food sovereignty, not food security. According to US food sovereignty alliance, “food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” In other words, these initiatives not only address the question of how to feed the local communities, but are concerned in feeding them in a more sustainable, equitable, just, and culturally sound ways.

Engaging local food organizations in discussing the challenges that the world’s food production faces is important for bringing in the voices currently absent from the discussions. Maybe it’s time that political debates would give more room to the discourses on food sovereignty?

The art of wine tasting

As a researcher, my personal experience in tasting wines has been somewhat high jacked by the studies I have read about wine tasting. Evaluating wines is a practice done by professionals, who inform us, amateurs, about the quality of the variety of wines available in the markets.

There are usually two sides in wine tasting – that of the professional evaluator and that of the layman consumer – that somehow, peculiarly, could not be experientially more far away from each other.

For the regular consumer, the main thing is to consume the wine. And here, I use the term consumption in as neutral way as one possibly can: it may be that wine is drunk with different purposes in mind but no matter what the aim is, eventually the wine gets drunk. The quality of wine gets evaluated through the practices of consumption.

For the expert evaluator, the main thing is to spit the wine. There is only one purpose in mind: to be able to perform professional assessment of variety of wines and rate them according to appropriate measures. Here, eventually, the quality of wine gets evaluated through the practice of wine tasting.

So how do 94 points, four stars, or 12 dollars inform the regular consumer? They inform that the wine is worth 94 points, four stars, or 12 dollars, but say nothing about how the wine tastes on a rainy day spent with a good novel, at a dinner party with bunch of friends, in a restaurant accompanying a lunch salad, or in a funeral filled with emotions hard to describe. The practice of evaluating wine as an expert is very far away from the practice of evaluating wine as a layman, or a woman.

To me this does not make any sense. When the expert assesses the shades of the colour, the type of the grape, the time the wine spent in a barrel, and the nuances of the smell and taste, I assess how wine looks in the glass it is poured into, how the wine fits the atmosphere and my feelings in the moment, what my co drinkers think about the wine, the headache or the lack of it the next morning.

We had the pleasure to do some wine tasting while celebrating my husband’s birthday. And this tasting was by far the best I have ever experienced. It made me also re think how we assess the quality of wines.

We spend a night at a lovely bed & breakfast in northern Sonoma. The reason I chose Kelley & Young Wine Garden Inn was because it was one of the few places which had wine tasting and  provided accommodation. Mostly tasting rooms, vineyards, and accommodation are separate places in Sonoma and Napa valleys. I learned that visiting winery does not mean that one gets to visit actual vineyards; it may be that a winery makes wine but does not produce grapes, it buys them. Apparently buying grapes is a common practice for wine makers.

I must admit that it had not even occurred to me that the people who produce grapes don’t make wine, or the other way around.

I learned all this and much more during our tasting at Kelley & Young. The tasting included six wines with six small finger food plates. We did the tasting with two other couples. Our host of the night was lovely Madeline, who not only knew about wines and their production but was also an amazing cook. She toured us around a two-hour, lovely tasting session after which I felt that I knew so much more about not only wine production but also about the life of a wine maker.

What was unique about this tasting was that Madeline made us feel special; she did not rise above as an expert telling what the wine should taste like. She described why she liked the wines, what was the process of wine making like, what kind of blends and combinations of grapes were used and why in that particular way, where did the grapes come from, and what was the history of that particular wine and the name that the wine was carrying.

When someone gives you so much embodied and personified information, it is very hard to assess wine based on the mere qualities invented by the experts.

The Kelley & Young Garden Inn B&B was lovely, and the three course breakfast the next day, cooked by Madeline and served to our table was delicious. Even though the location was somewhat far north from the central Sonoma valley, it was definitely worth a visit.

On the next day we had a tour at Benziger’s biodynamic vineyards. The air was fresh, and the vineyards beautiful. We got to know much about the Benziger family and their story of wine making. The tastings were more traditional, and after our wine tasting with Madeline, it was a rather typical wine tasting experience with description of the qualities that we should be tasting in the wines. The cave tasting room, where our tour took us was beautiful, though there was so little wine in the glasses that I could not turn the wine properly around in my mouth.

The experience we had at Kelley & Young wine tasting changed the way I have started to evaluate and relate to wines. For me, now, the art of wine tasting is all about people who make the wine, places where the wine is grown, and stories about how the wine is made and named.

Exploring California, Disneyland

I’m holding a two-hundred-dollar ticket in my hand, which says: “the happiest place on earth”. In the background, I hear how a TV reporter explains about an armed robbery that happened just a few blocks away from my workplace, announces Donald Trump’s budget plan, goes through the ongoing roadworks that have blocked the traffic due to flooding.

Somewhere in my mind, I can still hear the music accompanying the miraculous light parade with all the disney characters and their vehicles you can imagine. The music is getting louder and louder in my head. Ti-tididididiii-didi-diidii-ti-tididididiii-dididi-diii..!

We had a possibility to experience one of the American dreams, Disneyland, and there are a few things I thought I might share about the worlds’ biggest amusement park.

First, practicalities. As a family of four, with kids aged 3 and 6 we needed to buy tickets to everyone, even the youngest child. We did do some research before purchasing the tickets, but ended up buying our two-day tickets online from Disney’s own shop since it seemed the most reliable site, and was the most convenient in terms of working together with the App.

One may occasionally find discounts from big grocery stores such like Costco, or when doing groceries at some of the big shops near Disneyland. The discounts however, seemed to be only a few dollars, and we found it was not worth of loosing a lot of time and energy in hunting them around. Thus, we ended up paying some 750 dollars for two-day access for four people to Disneyland.

We were very lucky and got practical guidance from my husbands cousin (million thanks Melissa!), who is an experienced Disneyland visitor, so we had considered beforehand many questions that, if not thought of, could have made our trip quite challenging.

We stayed at a hotel located perfectly within a walking distance from Disneyland. Since the distances in Disneyland parks are quite huge, and you end up walking several kilometres per day anyway, and we didn’t want to end up spending a lot of time in commuting from the hotel.

We were also advised to familiarize ourselves with the map, the attractions, and entertainment offered by the park(s), and received a thorough list of attractions in each of the ‘lands’. We studied the map and the attractions, and it was very helpful to know beforehand which attractions the kids could go to, which were the most popular ones, and what kind of shows took place, what day, and at what time. Disneyland app was extremely helpful in letting us know about the queue times, fast passes, and locations of restaurants and restrooms.

Second, experiencing the fantasyland. For us, Disneyland turned to be everything it promised. We spend two days in the Disneyland Park, the original part of the land. It was truly impressive to experience attractions made with such an effort. The village was picturesque, characters authentic, rides and attractions so fun and exciting.

To be able to hug the Mickey Mouse, ride a rollercoaster with Indiana Jones, go on a boat ride around the world, watch the magical electrical parade with all the characters you can imagine, or fly in the hyperspace mountain of the Star Wars was breathtaking, even for an adult.

Our oldest son walked basically whole days from morning ’till evening. For the younger one, we had a stroller. The six-year-old could basically enter all the attractions, which, despite their rough rides were extremely safe. There were also plenty of rides that a three-year-old could take – maybe even more that he could digest!

Our weekend trip ended with seeing amazing fireworks on the final night.

If I would characterise Disneyland and my experience with one sentence, I would say: the moment you think you’ve seen it all, comes another slide, another song, another firework.