Throughout much of Central and Northern Europe you can find “primitive” roller coasters called Toboggans. If homemade boxcars, sleds and the metal slides of our childhood made a baby, that is a toboggan. Toboggan runs have been around for hundreds of years and are now dotted throughout Europe for all weather and adventure levels.
Where to find a Toboggan to Ride
Toboggan rides are incredible experiences, being such, you would think they’d be well advertised. They are not. The image above is the longest summer toboggan in Europe. This particular track is well advertised on travel sites and blogs because it is the biggest of its kind. Mount Pilatus in Switzerland (near Lucerne) is home to Europe’s longest summer toboggan. Yes, that means there is a longer winter one. The Alpine mountain range gives life to the majority of the European toboggans and the Swiss Alps definitely give lots of life to this one. BUT, if you aren’t actively searching online you will find zero leads on where to go.
Spur of the moment stops most of the toboggans that we were able to enjoy were random roadside stops when we saw a business advertising their ride. These were not billboard style signs 50 miles in advance. At one stop we actually drove past it on our way to Vienna and saw the track running up the mountain behind the store and proceeded to turn around. You will have to be on the look out to find and enjoy any of the smaller (less famous) toboggans.
Toboggan Riding with Kids
I hear this regularly, “weren’t the kids terrified?!?!?” The answer is OCCASSIONALLY! Toboggans are generally geared towards older speed demons. You control your speed and most adrenaline junkies want to go fast. With that being said, controlling the toboggan itself is incredibly easy. Our 6 year old had no issues riding it alone. To my surprise, there were not any age restrictions. If the child appeared to be old enough to control the sled, which is just a simple stick, then they could ride alone. Wow. I was shocked and our children were shocked to discover this immense amount of trust instilled in them by the operators! Especially so, given that there were signs everywhere (caution, brake, begin to slow, sharp turn) and my children couldn’t read at the time. Yikes.
The glorious part about the toboggan’s design is that when you get nervous you tense up and naturally pull back on the stick. By pulling back on the stick you brake. So if a child is scared and beginning to panic they will slow themselves down rather quickly. Another concerned parent might say “my kid will never climb the mountain to get the sled back up.” Nor should they. At the bottom of the mountain they hop off of the conveyer belt and get on another that pulls them and their sled back up the mountain. . .backwards. This portion of the ride takes the most amount of time as it moves very slowly.
The toboggan rides were fairly affordable by European standards. I do feel, that most Americans would find it expensive given the access we all seem to have to amusement parks. The summer toboggan of Mount Pilatus was approximately $9 USD per adult and $5.50 USD per child. At that time, ages three and under were free. Therefore, the cost was quite affordable. If you can talk yourself out of doing it over and over again, but fair warning, you will want to. The toboggan at Mount Pilatus is a bit more expensive than some of the more rural (off the beaten path) toboggans. For the random roadside stop toboggans we paid approximately $7 USD per adult and around $4 USD per child. Very affordable, once in a lifetime fun for the whole family.
But. . .There’s So Much Else to See!
You would be correct. There is so much to see throughout Europe that the toboggans come across as an unnecessary. Your agenda is already packed I’m sure. If you truly want a taste of what local living looks like, then a toboggan ride can give you that view. If you want to see the beautiful picturesque countrysides of Europe, then a toboggan ride can you that as well. I have always been a huge proponent of having a slow day to enjoy the atmosphere and view. The view. . .you really should see it. There’s no “bad view” from a toboggan.
In Episode 5 of The Wild Bradbury Podcasts we discuss:
The false misconceptions about the women within the “tribe.”
What it really takes when a tribe member is truly in need.
How the reciprocity system within the tribe works.
How (as a society) we have forfeited physical touch and now need it desperately in our darkest moments.
How to fool proof your inner circle of friends (the tribe).
As always, thank you for listening. I hope this episode inspires you to cut ties where you need to. Invest in the friendships that are quality and long lasting. Enjoy the torching and burning of the bridge. True friends will hold the matches. . .
For those of us that have chosen to have children the “Babies in Arms” concept is a constant reminder of our duel roles. We want to support our spouses and attend functions, but we are also full time mothers. How do you juggle both? What’s appropriate? Where is the invisible line drawn?
For the majority of military functions: Babies in Arms, refers to immobile, lap babies. Essentially 0-8 month old infants. The majority of people do not expect you to leave your infant at home, especially so if you are breastfeeding. It is becoming more and more common to see new mothers baby wearing at balls and military functions. Even though you may feel rebellious by bringing an infant to an otherwise adult event, give yourself some grace and remember that most of the people in the room have children as well.
What if I Do Not Want to Leave My Non-Babies?
Something that I hear of others doing quite regularly, in regards to the Ball, is renting a room at the same hotel that the event is being hosted at. You can then run back and forth from the event to your young children who would be much closer with a relative or sitter. I have personally done this numerous times. As so many of us know, your babies don’t stop needing you just because they are now mobile. If maintaining their bedtime routine is vital, or you need to feed often, this is a great option.
In Home Events? Are Babies Really Welcome?
Reoccurring question right? With each new in-home party, you have to question your new host’s expectations. Will they see my baby as bothersome? Do I really care that much if they do? Will I spend the whole time mothering and not be able to enjoy myself anyway? The truth is, that it is ok and courteous to be concerned about someone else’s home. The truthy truth is that most hosts do not mind. As a matter of fact, many hosts would much rather you bring your child(ren) rather than not come to their party. They probably went through a great deal of trouble and planning to throw the party and need people to attend.
When considering bringing children to an in-home event, that doesn’t specify that they are welcome, do the adult thing and just ask! If they tell you “no” well then now you know and can proceed accordingly. If they say yes, try to only bring the children that really need you that day. It is rather inappropriate to bring a 3 year old who touches all of their belongings if you can avoid it. Unless, of course, the host themselves will have their children home to help entertain your children.
How Do I Make a Mother Feel Comfortable When I’m the Host?
Well Ladies, from one host to another, the pressure is on. How you treat, accept and aide this new mother will not only reflect heavily on you, but will create the good/bad foundation for the mom as to what a tribe is, where she fits in now, and all the places she doesn’t. It is up to you to welcome her. It is up to you to say, “please use the guest bedroom for changing, feedings, and to escape the crowd if you need too.” Because at some point she will.
It is up to you to put her at ease with your own stories, to show her that she can and should attend events with her baby if she wants to. How you treat that new mother, will determine whether she goes to another event. It will determine whether she gets a sitter for her new baby 8 months before she ever intended to. She may learn how to use a breast pump and miss first steps out of fear of another event where she felt like an outsider with a baby. You can never fully gauge the amount of anxiety a new mother has.
A lot of pressure right? That’s because it is. So take the appropriate steps to give her the best experience possible. By doing so, you will create a chain reaction for many women to come. She will surely host something someday and remember the kindness you showed her in one of the most vulnerable times of her life.
Steps for Creating a Safe Space
Give her a whole room. The guest bedroom, the master, etc. She needs space. She probably hasn’t ventured out of the house too many times yet without help. She needs a large changing surface, a quiet space to retreat to if she gets overwhelmed, give her the room.
If that room has a glider or rocking chair in it then it is even better.
When she does retreat, because she probably will. Check on her. She desperately needs a glass of water and a snack. Take care of her. Yes, she is a grown woman who made a baby and should be able to make her own plate, but for crying out loud how many times did you struggle to shower or brush your teeth while you were figuring it out. You can bring her some food.
Offer to take the baby in a way that isn’t demeaning. “I would love to hold the baby, if you want to get some food (do the craft) (use the restroom).” Try to avoid saying “can I help you.” Those are scary words to a mother who already feels like she’s struggling.
Make sure to include her in the conversations somehow. “Tell us how you came up with (insert name)’s name?” “Did you have family come in to help you? (insert your own in-law nightmare story).” You can include her, on her level, right where she is right now with very little trouble.
Babies In Arms Are Always Welcome
It is a rare occurrence to find a situation where babies in arms are not welcome. I won’t say that they don’t exist, but do yourself and your new baby a favor and just ask. If for some reason they say “no,” then there will definitely be more opportunities. And if they say “no,” well were they really people you wanted to hang out with anyway? If so then what kind of friend wouldn’t want you if “you” included an infant? Unfortunately, one of the things that motherhood brings to light, are who your true friends are. All relationships change with new additions, it is just part of it, but it can be a healthy part of it if you make your priorities known.
Set out with good intentions, to cover your needs, your baby’s needs and your hosts plan. If you keep an open heart about each situation you will find solutions, improvising to be done, and quality people to fill your inner circle.