Tokyo Trip Planning

Gluten Free Tirp Planning to Tokyo

Finally, ten and a half months after booking the flights we’re on our way to Japan!

My preparation for this trip has been extensive. Not just on the gluten free front, but also the amount of preparation needed to take 2 year old twins on a 12 hour flight to a holiday in Tokyo. Fortunately, there’s nothing I like more than a challenge, particularly when it’s travel related!

This blog is gluten free focused, rather than about travel with kids. However the lines are becoming increasingly blurred since most of our dining and accommodation choices are now based around places suitable for both children and with gluten free options.

During our stay in Japan we’ve rented a house in Tokyo via Airbnb. This makes more sense for us than having two inter connecting hotel rooms since it a) gives everyone more space and b) cooking facilities for all of us. There is a limit to the number of times I can face eating the “safe” meal of steak and green salad ordered on room service. There aren’t many green spaces in Tokyo (compared with London) but we’ll be staying near Yoyogi Park / Shinjuku which will mean plenty of opportunity to view the cherry blossom.

Our plan for this trip is to base ourselves in Tokyo to really explore the city, taking take day trips out of Tokyo from there. The sakura is just starting to blossom (did you know in Japan a cherry blossom forecast is published?) and i’m looking forward to hanami. I’ve found a great looking railway museum (for the inner train geek in me, not just the kids), a very random noodle museum and there may be trip to Tokyo Disney. Not somewhere I’ve ever been before, or probably would go to the US/Eurodisney for but the Japanese Disney could be fun!

I’ve been to Japan before and, beautiful as Kyoto is, I don’t feel I need to return. I’d also like to explore some of the off the beaten track places in the Tokyo area which tourists don’t normally visit when they plan a trip to Japan. I’m looking forward to not racing around the country trying to tick off the major cities stopping for only a couple of days in Tokyo / Kyoto / Osaka / Hiroshima etc (….by the way, I was that person last trip).

If you want to follow my travels in and around Tokyo (and can handle a sakura overload…), I’ll be posting photos on my Instagram account. I’ll still be posting some on Twitter, but will try and keep those to the gluten free finds I will (hopefully!) find.

Things To Do With Kids in Stavanger (in Winter)

Perhaps I’m just an optimist when it comes to visiting new places, but I always believe we’ll find something fun or interesting to see and do wherever we go. Even when the trip is booked less than 36 hours before the flight departs and you’re taking 2 year old twins to Stavanger, Norway. In the middle of winter. Here are the things we enjoyed doing while dodging the biting mid winter wind in Stavanger.

Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Has possibly the coolest kids play zone I’ve ever seen. A mini oil rig complete with helicopter accessible via ladder to which your little ones can climb up and start the blades rotating. Once they’re done with that, there’s a slide and a host of Lego style bricks to hook up and move from a crane. Also provided on a separate table are crayons and paper. Frankly it was hard to coax them away from this and into the museum. But they were in for a treat when they did. A retired control tower awaited them with endless buttons to push and dials to look at. The whole museum is really set up well for kids and adults to enjoy. My son particularly enjoyed the large models of rigs and tankers. Once you’ve paid your entrance fee, you’re able to go back into the museum as much as you like during the rest of that day. Perfect for warming up cold bodies in winter.

Verdict: Easy to spend several hours here (they have a restaurant too) or pop back later in the day.

GeoPark

Located next to the Petroleum museum. This scaled model of the enormous Troll oil field contains all kinds of recycled and reclaimed oil rig equipment. This was originally intended to be a temporary installation but it’s hoped it will remain permanently. Wrap your kids up in snow suits and let them explore.

Verdict: Great for the kids to play in real stuff, just don’t look too closely at the graffiti (thankfully mine were too young to read some of the words)…

Norwegian Canning Factory

I’ve never been to a canning museum before (of any variety, let alone sardines) so this seemed like the perfect place to visit one. The exhibits cover the history of canning and the sardine industry. Long tables are set up on the ground floor where kids (of all ages!) can practice putting plastic sardines into their cans. A surprisingly satisfying activity. Mini D1 attempted to eat most of the plastic fish (niiice) but I couldn’t help wondering how many other museums in the world have put in an order for plastic sardines, sized to fit into sardine cans? Upstairs was a table with plenty of crayons and labels where you were encouraged to make your own sardine can label.

Warning: at the entrance to the museum a large wall of sardine cans (real ones) are stacked, Lego style. My duo couldn’t resist picking them up and moving the flavours around.

Verdict: We arrived 45 minutes before they closed so were time limited on our visit. However this is a fairly compact museum so I’d say it probably wouldn’t hold attention for longer than an hour

Bjergsted Park

We stumbled across this park which hosts many cultural events as well as having a great playground. Probably suited for kids a bit older than my duo (no toddler swings/slide was quite big for 2 year olds) but it’s set in a lovely park and they can run around away from traffic.

General kid related info for Stavanger

– the airport bus into town has (at least) two toddler booster seats

– larger taxis also carry booster seats (our hotel called to order this type of taxi for us)

– I found high chairs everywhere

– It was easy to find (Pampers) nappies, wipes and other baby kit, although a bit pricier than at home meaning you can buy when you arrive rather than lugging with you

– Check on portion sizes when ordering a kids meal, they seemed to be huge and enough to feed two children

– SAFETY whilst Stavanger felt incredibly safe, one thing to note if you have unpredictable walkers bolters like me, is that there is no barrier between the pavement and water in the harbour other than a low railway type sleeper. It was much safer (and more kind on my heart rate) to strap ours into the buggy when walking around near the harbour.

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