Saturday, July 31, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane (or a propeller, most likely since it is the NYC-DC shuttle)

And so, here I find myself today, Saturday July 31, 2010, sitting on my desk in my NYC apartment for one last time. In just a few hours I will fly to DC with Son, and the Diplomat is already on the road with Fat Cat and all my shoes. The State Department movers came in yesterday to pack 600 lbs of my most important things—I can see that on the inventory list half of that is apparently classified under “spices” and “cook books.” Let me tell you—600 lbs is nothing, NOTHING. For all those future FSOs who plan on doing the so-called UAB packout first, I can only say—do not count much on it, it barely includes your clothes and bare kitchen and child essentials. Now what am I going to do with the 5 gallon bottle of soy sauce I have just procured at Costco, huh???

I am trying to be retrospective and think about NYC in these final hours. Son is playing with his seemingly numerous cars on top of the suitcases. I have no TV, no cable, no fast computer or Internet and so have been reduced to using my old school laptop (which can self-destruct any moment) and poaching wireless Internet from the only non-encrypted user in my building (poetically called Shrek). OK, now Son is throwing a tantrum and not letting me write—I LOVE being a mom at times. I will see you all in Washington, DC tonight!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New address and musings on uprooting a child

We finally got word of where we will be living for the next few months in Washington, DC. High time, you know, since we are moving there in 5 days!!! We are moving to Ballston, Arlington, VA in a spectacular high-rise. So, let me run you through our agenda the next few days:
Thursday--we leave Bulgaria and land in NYC that same night. The State Department graciously allows its new hires to stay at a hotel during the pack-out of their precious crappola and so we are going to the W Hotel at Union Square. Oh yeah! I wonder if they provide cribs for toddlers and whether those are also black and supercool
Friday--bright and early we go to our apartment to compile select above-mentioned crappola, pile it up in the middle of our living room for the State Department movers who will come to pack us at lunch. Since said crappola will arrive at our new place in a week or two, we must bring necessities like clothing with us. That means we will be spending Friday night packing our miniscule car with clothes and toddler books.
Saturday morning--the Diplomat takes the Fat Cat to the vet to beg for some mild sedative for him. Fat Cat does not take travel lightly--to make a (rather smelly) point how much he dislikes being careened around in the car, he typically performs some amusing form of physiological function in his carrier. He couples that with heavy hyperventilation and hissing. Thus, besides being smothered by piles of my clothing and shoes in the car, the Diplomat will also have the dubious pleasure of making the 5 hour drive from NYC to DC together with Fat Cat that day. Son and I will take the 45 min plane shuttle to National airport and will land in Washington, DC in perfect comfort and grace (well, actually, I am not so sure about the grace part given Son's natural propensity to throw magnanimous tantrums).
Saturday evening--possibly sending the police and the fire department to rescue the Diplomat from the smelly claws of the Fat Cat who chewed through his plastic carrier in the passenger seat of the Saab.
Sunday--welcome BBQ for the new class of freshly-minted diplomats. New life begins in earnest.

Which takes me to my other thought. I have been thinking about this for some time now and still have not reached any conclusions. I am scared about the move. Not about the move per se but about how Son will take it. Despite his magnanimous tantrums, Son is an extraordinarily sunny and loveable child, very active and boisterous and exceedingly friendly. He loves playing with other children and always tries to make friends. He loved his daycare in NYC and at times even refused to leave it when I went to pick him up. HA! So, I guess he will adjust to his new surroundings easily and won't suffer too much. And yet, I worry and I am scared. Who is to say what impact such uprooting has on our toddlers later in life?
Naturally, entering the Foreign Service life, we will move every 2-3 years to a new place, and Son will lose friends all the time that way. On the other hand, I suppose that if one grows up living the nomadic diplomatic life, one does not suffer that much from it because it seems fairly natural to him. I hear many stories from veterans in the Service whose children thrive and enjoy the travel. I can only hope that Son will feel that way. And yet I worry. That is a mother's prerogative.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's OK to miss your child

Once upon a time, when I was a foolish person with no kid (and a lot more free time), I thought that I would be a super mom who would manage to separate her social life and her time with her child. I imagined myself as a cool, slick woman who took care of her baby during the day and then went out in heels at night, or traveled the world with her husband, chasing wild animals in Africa or admiring the Vatican while the baby stayed with grandma. Well, as you have seen, I did tour the Vatican lately with the Diplomat while Son was cared for by my mom. What I never realized was how madly I missed Son during our time apart. has it ever happened to you? You decide that you want to go out on a date with your beloved while you leave your baby at home with the nanny. You envision romance, dress up, even put on makeup and comb your hair. You order a whole bottle of wine and appetizers and salads and both of you giggle how there is no one to pull the tablecloth, try to hang head-down from the high chair, pour down a glass of water on his head, dip his dirty cars into the wine glass or salt his pants. The problem is--it's all downhill from there. All you end up doing is talking about the child you left home. From time to time, you check yourself and resume trying to gaze into each other's eyes. Nope. Talking about Son's running around the apartment naked straddling the Swiffer earlier is the best conversation ever.
I am sure a lot of you have been in the same boat. Does that make us pathetic parents, only obsessed with their kids? No. While the Diplomat and I were on our trip after we dropped off Son with grandma, I realized something--I never thought I would say this, but Son's presence in my life is like an anchor; when I am around him, I know where I stand and what I am doing. Without him, I feel just a bit out of whack, like a piece of me is missing--I can certainly function without the piece, but it is not the same, it is not as much fun. And so I concluded that talking about him all the time, texting my mom asking for daily updates and (secretly) looking at pictures of him on my laptop while he was away was OK. I still am a cool, slick mom!

Venice was spectacular. It is intensely romantic despite the hordes of loud tourists. It is also intensely expensive. Obscenely at times--in our hotel, a coffee cost 5 euros; a bottle of Heineken--10. That is just pushing it. The entire city, besides, is one giant luxury mall--I don't think a single famous, less famous and not famous at all designer wasn't represented. It is a bit odd, actually--the bottom floors of all buildings on the main part of the island are designer boutiques and Murano glass shops, the top are old colorful Venetian buildings. My favorite part was the fish market in the Rialto--Venice's cuisine is fish and other seafood and the market was fabulous.

From all these travels I have this piece of advice for you travelers of the world: whenever you want to go see something very famous and popular with tourists, either sign up with a tour guide (they bypass the lines) or wait until about an hour or two before closing and then go.

We are back in Bulgaria for now, enjoying Son, grandma's hospitality and visits to various relatives. We are off to Borovetz tomorrow, a famous Bulgarian winter ski resort. I need the cool and the place is simply gorgeous. Naturally, that will involve even more eating and drinking. I can't wait to go back to the US and start cooking again. Yes, you heard right! I enjoy cooking. I also love ironing clothes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Something of a Miracle in Rome

Something extraordinary happened to me yesterday that has left in me in such awe that I can’t stop thinking about it. As I mentioned before, yesterday was our wedding anniversary and the Diplomat and I, dressed to the nines, decided to take a stroll to Fontana di Trevi, which we had not yet seen and find a nice little place for dinner. We found the fountain, which was indeed breathtaking (as were the crowds of tourists and tchochke peddlers). After admiring it for a few rapturous moments while trying not to sweat profusely in my swanky dress, I noticed a church right across from the Fountain. Now, keep in mind, when you are in Rome, there are churches on every corner; sometimes, there are two per corner and at times even two churches joined into one! So, there was no reason at all for me to want to go into this one in particular, it wsan't evebn mentioned in my trusty guide; it certainly was not anything special from the outside. Yet, I decided I absolutely wanted to go inside and see it. The Diplomat (who typically grumbles about every single new church I drag him into) agreed without a single word. Once inside, I immediately noticed the smell of incense typical only in Orthodox Churches. I was convinced we were in one. I approached the altar and to my utmost astonishment, I noticed a marble slab of stone with an inscription in Bulgarian, telling us that the church was given to the Bulgarian people from Pope Paul John II to worship. So, somehow, unwittingly, unknowingly, by sheer luck or Godly inspiration, of all churches in Rome, I had walked into the Bulgarian church (for those of you still wondering, I am Bulgarian by birth). I was spellbound and reduced to tears.
And to make this even more amazing, let me tell you more. Earlier that day, after visiting the amazing Roman baths of Caracalla, I dragged the Diplomat to Santa Maria Maggiore, a magnificent church close to the hotel. Once there, I reflected that we had seen a whole lot of Catholic churches lately and that I have been feeling the need to visit an Orthodox one to light up a candle. I wished in my head to have the opportunity to do so very soon. Well, that same night, the opportunity came to me at St. Cyril and Methodius near Trevi Fountain. The second reason this is entirely extraordinary is that, before going out to dinner that night, my mom called me and among other interesting news of Son’s daily potty routine, mentioned to me that the Bulgarian venerable PM had been to Rome a day ago and dedicated a marble plaque in some church. Well, the church I was in WAS that church. The marble slab of stone I mentioned WAS that same plaque he dedicated. This is too much to be pure coincidence. I truly believe that God works in mysterious ways.
We arrived in Venezia tonight. This is possibly the most beautiful city I have seen in my life.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Roman Indulgence and Hellish Heat--Sunday

We spent Sunday at the Colosseum, the Palatine and the Roman Forum. The Colosseum is all that is cracked up to be—fabulous, huge, ancient, interesting, immensely hot. Even though we again cut the line (this time rather intentionally), it still took some time staying in the ticket line. If you ever go there, buy the Roma Pass! Don’t know what exactly that is but it was getting people past the huge line. I loved the Forum and the Palatine (the place where most of the Emperors and rich Roman folk lived). The one thing that truly surprised me was how incredibly compact the Forum was (the Forum housed at various times food markets, civil courts, senates and a multitude of chaotic temples). Everything was practically on top of each other, and right next door to the Colosseum. The Palatine, however, was very large space, lined with trees and pleasant gardens—it’s good to be the King! All in all though, it was fabulous and I loved walking amongst the ruins.

All day long, the Diplomat and I erroneously thought it was our 7th anniversary, which explains why I was so nice to him all day and allowing him to rest in the shade (I typically prance like a horse all over the place as the heat rarely bothers me). In the evening I dressed to the nines ready to celebrate in some swanky restaurant. Good thing my mom called me and told me she would call me tomorrow to wish us a happy anniversary. I suppose vacationing for that long makes you lose track of the dates. We ended up in a great local restaurant with an amazing piano player. Somehow, I found myself singing “New York State of Mind” and “Let It Be” together with him. Blame the bottle of Proseco we consumed. We had a blast. Tomorrow we take it easy (famous last words).

Tears in Heaven

The Vatican! I don’t even know where to begin or end for that matter. We were gravely foreworn about the length of the lines to enter St. Peter’s Basilica, and so were amazed to arrive there on Saturday morning and see a line of very moderate length. As the Diplomat was lining for security checking, I decided to take a few pics only to notice that the line indeed was huge. We just unwittingly cut most of it and lined happily almost at its end. We did NOT go back to the end, I will tell you.
The Basilica is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. I actually cried, I was that moved. Until I was amused by the markings on the floor showing how other churches in the world compare in length to it—apparently, the competitive spirit had infected even the Vaticano. In a fit of sportive spirit ourselves, we decided to climb the 550 steps to the top of the Dome. Once upstairs, it occurred to me that it would be supercool to pack a picnic and bring it upstairs to eat while enjoying the Roman vistas. The Diplomat vetoed the idea of going back down, packing the picnic and climbing back up, I am not sure why, it sounded like a perfectly nice idea. He did have a great idea of his own though—he suggested that the Vatican install a spiraling slide all the way down from the Dome so that we don’t have to climb down stairs but slide merrily all the way down. We left the Basilica to procure libations and victuals—all the tourist places around offer a fabulous deal of an entrĂ©e, drink and gelato for 10 euros. Duly refreshed (or, frankly, rather sleepy from the beer and the pizza), we dragged ourselves to the Vatican museums to see the Sistine Chapel. One thing I will say about Roman museums—their layout in not intuitive in the least and we spent over 45 mins looking for the darn place. Once there, it was so packed with tourists making a lot of noise and taking pictures and guards screaming, “Silenzio!” and “No foto!!,” that I did not feel the awe I thought I would. It is very pretty though, I will admit that. Then, barely able to walk, we (foolishly) decided to look for the Raphael rooms. Another 45 mins later, passing through numerous corridors of maps, tapestries, ancient minutia, busts, cabinets, statues, bizarre art objects, massive golden bibles and other Christian paraphernalia, at the point of complete exhaustion, we found the rooms. They were very nice, I think. I don’t remember much more, I had practically fainted at that point.

We spent the evening at the Piazza di Spagna. A delightful area with lovely restaurants. It would have been a truly excellent dinner if there hadn’t been two drunk Texan couples next to us, insisting on talking to us throughout our entire (rather expensive) meal. What were the odds…..To cap the night, as we were strolling down the Spanish Steps, we witnessed a parade of endless cute little FIAT 500s, honking piercingly all over the city. It was merely midnight, after all.

(PS--the internet is giving me issues, I will post pictures once I get better connection)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Florence, Siena, Rome and good-bye to Son

Buona serra from Rome! We arrived this morning after bidding tearful arrivederci to our landlady in Umbria. Two hours of Elmo later, and Son was transferred to the safe hands of grandma at the airport—as I told you, my mom flew in this morning on Wizz Air, made a mad dash to get a glimpse of San Peter, dashed back to the airport and met us to receive her precious cargo. Then she promptly took Son and flew with him to Bulgaria this same afternoon so that the Diplomat and I see the Eternal City tantrumless. Thank you, Mama!

The Diplomat and I went to our hotel Borromeo(if you are ever at Fuimicino, don’t bother to take the train to the train station—use the shuttle services at the airport, same price, better service door-to-door!). We were deftly led into our room, which to our shock was the size of my shoe closet in NYC. I am not exaggerating—the room is so small, only our queen-sized bed fits in it. Apparently, the hotel folk is aware of that since they themselves told us that they will have more rooms tomorrow and will give us a bigger place.

But all that pales to the Rome experience. We didn’t waste much time and set out to explore the zillion cathedrals and ruins of Rome. I am officially in love with this city. It is not the dirty, noisy, smelly place I was told it would be—it is neat, clean and gorgeous! We managed to see a bunch of super important sites in a short period of time(yes, I am proud!). I even managed to be kicked out from a really nice church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva (a rare Gothic church in Rome, a propos)—Catholics are adamants about nudity in their churches and insist that you cover yourself (I had not, I looked positively brazen). I have been given all kinds of bizarre and uncomfortable robes/sashes/burkas in every cathedral and Duomo we have visited so far but Santa Maria did not offer such accoutrements.
We went to Florence on a sweltering Tuesday. Son has made a habit of sleeping in Duomos—the moment we enter one, he is a done deal. He has slept in the Duomo in Assisi, Florence and Siena. This is how we travel—Son sleeps and the Diplomat reads the guide book, while I sweat under my disposable coverlet and make pictures.
Florence was delightful and beautiful. One can certainly imagine the medieval life while strolling down its crooked streets. I even climbed exactly 414 steps up and 414 steps down the Campanile (I figured it was a good way to burn some of the 24900 calories I ingested at lunch plus see the city from above). Son threw a magnificent tantrum in the Piazza della Signoria. We were mortified and decided it was not a good idea to visit the Uffizi this time. The entire Florence exhaled a collective sigh of relief when we left. I am a little Duomo-ed out, I admit. But as far as those go—the one in Siena wins all prizes! It was stunning both outside and inside.

We spent a day in the pool and on Thursday, recharged, went to Siena. It was about 40 degrees there and Son decided to see if he can surpass his Florence performance. He could and he did. We are officially not encouraged to return to Siena. Which is a pity—it was a lovely medieval town and we managed to somehow enjoy it regardless. The highlight of Son’s day was when he announced that he needed to go potty in the middle of a small square—for lack of anything better, the Diplomat held him over a trash can. These are the downsides of potty training.

Bye bye, Umbria and Tuscany—we will certainly return. Tomorrow—the Vatican! It will be another shockingly hot day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Agriturismo in Umbria

So, after we came back from the Bulgarian coast (last Wednesday), we spent a day doing laundry and playing tennis, packed our bags again, woke up at the crack of dawn (3.30 am!) and climbed aboard the new and delightful Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air. Our tickets from Sofia to Rome cost $25. Oh yes, me like. The airline is great and I highly recommend it.
We arrived at Fiumicino and went to get our rental car. This is where it got a tad silly--I had reserved specifically a 4-door medium sized car. For those who don't know, in the US I drive a 3-door Saab convertible and as much I love my car (and I do), it is rarely fun trying to stuff the screaming and squirming Son in the car seat in the back. So, I was looking forward to a nice medium car with 4 doors. At the Europcar counter, I ask brightly what car they have and the lady tells me--a Lancia or an Alfa Romeo. Well! What would YOU choose? She did mumble something about enough space for suitcases but in my Alfa Romeo excitement I did not pay attention. We get to the car and the first thing I notice is--yes, you guessed-only 2 doors. After some cajoling from the Diplomat who si dying to try his mad driving skills on the AR, we decide to take it after all. Then I try to put in the car seat. After searching for the seat belt in the back for few (very hot) minutes, I pulled the entire back seat out. 38 minutes later, I have finally installed the damned thing!
An hour and a half later, we arrive at Agriturismo Stela. And it is everything that we had always wanted it to be. As I mentioned yesterday, it makes it own wine and olive oil and the pool is fabulous. We spent a couple of days not doing much and yesterday went to Assissi.
Assissi is one of the cutest Medieval towns I have been to (somehow cute and Medieval does NOT go very well, but when I post pictures, you will get the idea). Geraniums and American tourists fill the small town (yes, the American tourists were as loud as anywhere else; yes, it was embarassing). The Basilica di San Francesco di Assisi is absolutely lovely and contains incredible frescoes by Giotto. Son loved the coolness and quiet of the Basilica and proceeded to fall asleep for his nap. Made for a nice visit to the Basilica.
We came back and spent 2 soaking hours in the pool. We finished the night in a fabulous farmhouse restaurant with the picturesque name Locanda Anice Stellato, which served incredible local wine at the even more incredible price of 11 euros. I have discovered a new pasta dish in Umbria--everything with truffles. Mama mia! There is a reason truffles are so pricey--they taste incredible! All in all, life here is divine!
The Diplomat is already sitting in a coffee shop across the street, sipping doppio (double espresso something). I am going to join him. Tomorrow we go to Florence!!!

Bulgarian police in action

In a desperate attempt to keep this in some chronological order, I am posting first our Bulgarian adventures, followed by our current Italy ones.
Once in BG, after two hectic days, we left for the coast near Balchik to stay for a few days with my Aunt and Uncle. Needless to say, the nearly 7 hour trip there was NOT fun. We borrowed my mother's car, whose A/C does not work. Cleverly, we decided to leave around 5 am, to avoid the heat and the crazy BG drivers (which we have affectionately dubbed MRs, or Masters of the Road, which is a rough approximation of the Georgian expression djigit). Merrily on our way, the Diplomat decided to show off his mad driving skills on my mother's 1996 WV Golf and so he drove 130 km/hr. Which was fine while we were on the highway but not when it ended (rather abruptly, I might say in his defense). We were immediately apprehended by a stern if portly police fella. He approached us frowning and upon seeing our blank stares out of the window, yelled, “Documents!” The Diplomat primly puled out his NYC driving license while I was fiddling with some papers my mom had given me re: insurance and whatnot. The cop stared in disbelief at the Diplomat's license, looked at him and neurotically yelled again, “BAVNO (slowly). Autobahn FINISH!!!!!” and waved us off in disgust. It was fun.
The Black Sea coast was gorgeous as usual. Balchik surprised me with its amenities and beauty, and Albena had a fabulous beach and clay tennis courts (to Diplomat's utter delight, naturally). Son pranced around the beaches with his naked bum and messy blond curls, charming every old lady in his way. He also forced Aunt and Uncle's giant and vicious German Shepherd to be friends with him and by the end of our stay was happily shoving apples down his throat. That dog had never eaten so much produce in his life, I can assure you.
Which leads me to my next thought—Son has no fear. None whatsoever. He is an exceptionally active child (which is exhausting for his parents) and does not possess the concept of risk. I get worried at times at his complete lack of caution. Others find it oh so endearing. I can imagine him years from now giving me sky diving lessons as Mother's Day gift thinking it is “like the awesomest gift ever.”
One more thing regarding travel: the person who invented the portable DVD that attaches to the headrest of the seat in front for long car rides is a genius and should be made super rich. Elmo rocks—he kept Son in his car seat for a very long time!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bulgaria and Italy

For the record--we are in Italy. I am writing from a small restaurant in Assissi with random Internet computers, where I had to scan my driving license before logging in for terrorism prevention purposes...what has the world come to. We have been in Italy for 2 days now, in a delightful house in Umbria with a swimming pool where I would rather spend my days but I suppose one needs to see cultural things while in Italy. Hence, Assissi. Which is delightful, by the way. More later when we come back to our own village but I just wanted to tell you that my friends M&M who are here with us rented out a humongous minivan/bus and we ride around the tiny miniscule medieval Italian streets in the bus with the side mirrors practically scraping the walls of the stone houses. It makes for a rather exciting journey.
I will log in from the only Internet cafe in our village tomorrow with more on our Bulgarian adventures. I envision we will be going to Florence on Tuesday. All in all, Italy is fabulous--the old farm house in which we are staying is part of a wine/olive oil farm (of course, what else??) and so upon arrival we were given a bottle of oil and red wine. The wine was absolutely outstanding and we drank it immediately. Then, we left the empty bottles by our door, just like milk bottles, hoping they will be refilled by the morning. And they were! We love Italy!!!! Arrivederci for now!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Toddlers on plane

Well, boys and girls, after this brief intermission, I am back on air. It has been just one week since we left the warm, comfortable womb of the US and so much commotion has already happened. Among the highlights--cops stopped the Diplomat for speeding, Son made excellent friends with a vicious German shepherd, we are constantly gassed out by hordes of smoking Bulgarians, the Diplomat bought two excellent male suits for pennies, Son threw magnanimous fits in variouos parts of Bulgaria, including its air space, and we drove 8 hours in each direction to the Bulgarian coast.
The plane ride to Europe was OK. Hands down, the best airline to travel with children in coach, whether babies or toddlers, is British Airways. If you travel with a baby, upon booking your ticket, ask for a cot reservation. If you travel with a toddler under two, ask for a Britax carseat reservation. When you check-in, ask for bulk-head seats. Behave generally as a martyr, hold your child in your arms and look tired and defeated. You will get anything you want. The bulk-head seats are the first-row seats in each section, and give you excellent leg room as well as access to the baby cots/carseats. The cots (or bassinets) are perfect for babies and you do not have to hold your precious one in your arms for 8 hours. The Britax seats are a new thing and exist only at British Airways--they resemble bouncy seats and tilt to give your crazed out toddler a semblance of a bed. The only problem with both is that you are close to the kitchen and it is a bit busy. the good thing--you can ask for drinks all the time, regardless of the dirty looks of the air hostesses (btw, since when we can't call them stewardesses???)
When you fly with kids remember that: strollers, pack n' plays, car seats, bathtubs (you will be amazed at the things people haul abroad) and any other baby paraphernalia travel free! Nowadays, even good ol' airlines like BA have limited luggage on international trips to one suitcase so it is neat to know you do not have to pay to carry your precious baby cargo. I swear that limitation came after I managed to trasport two Persian carpets in my suitcases last year. Oh well, no more carpets for me. Btw, the free baby items is valid also on domestic flights!
Armed with tickets with bulkhead seats, we got on the plane. Son was not amused. After more than 2 hours of trying to engage him into an oddly riveting book about what a certain catepillar ate (which made me horribly hungry), we were finally up in the air and could stuff him in the Britax. I demanded that he fall asleep immediately upon which he stuck his legs in the air, scoffed and handed me his binky (unheard of act of rebellion, never to be repeated again). A naive German youth, sitting toweringly beside me, remarked how precocious Son was and tried to engage him in a game of peekaboo. I nearly strangled him and in my best reserved tone asked him to leave Son to sleep. The naive youth shared that he loved kids and he himself would have plenty soon. I wish him well for he looked like a good fella.
Son suddenly fell asleep and I managed to watch Valentine's Day--boy, was that a waste of my sleep time and serious star power. It was a truly awful movie. And it portrayed McDreamy as a bad guy and McSteamy as a gay guy (none of which can be taken seriously). We finally arrived in Sofia.
Here is also advice on how to deal with jetlag for kids: switch the time while still on the plane when going Eastward to Europe. It's quite easy since typically flights start in the evening, when it is time for kids to go to bed anyway. Around 9 pm EST, they are ready and do fall asleep from the rhythmic motion of the plane. You arrive at your destination 5-6 hrs later, in the early am, upon which time your kid might or might not even wake up. Carry them off the plane and let them sleep as much as possible. It won't be much and they will end up waking up around 8-9 am European time max. That way, rather than 12 hours, they have slept around 5-6 for their night sleep. By the time the afternoon nap time rolls around, your kiddo will be so tired from new impressions, little night sleep and all, that he will go down for his nap without much fussing. And that's it.