Lisbon with kids

Exploring Lisbon with Kids

If you read my previous post on falling for Lisbon you will know that our first experience of this city was a very brief one.  This time around we had several days to explore at a more leisurely pace as well as a local to guide us around, showing us all the best attractions and local spots, which gave us the chance to fully appreciate this beautiful city.

Many parts of Lisbon are made up of a maze of steep hills and narrow cobblestone streets – particularly the old district of Alfama with its historic colourful houses and superb viewpoints.  Pretty to look at but not so ideal to visit with a baby in a pram!  I found this out the hard way on our first visit (I’m surprised the wheels didn’t fall off), so I would recommend taking a baby carrier for these areas to save yourself the workout of pushing a pram uphill that you most definitely did not sign up for on a city break.  Other easy ways of getting around are Uber or tram.  Most of the Uber drivers we used had a baby seat in the back and the tram is always fun for little ones to take a ride on.

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Family friendly accommodation Lisbon

Falling For Lisbon at The Explorer’s Home

My first trip to Lisbon two years ago was not a great one.  We only had a day in the city on a cruise and during our brief visit my grandad almost had his wallet stolen and I found it extremely difficult to get around all the hills and cobblestone streets with a baby in a pram.  I was so disappointed that we came away with a negative view of this city that so many people, especially family travellers, talk so highly of.

But I knew we had not been able to experience the city fully in just our one short day so I wrote it off as a bad experience that could have happened anywhere and kept it on my very long travel wish list to visit again at some point in the future.

So when we were invited back by Duarte, the host of The Explorer’s Home Airbnb, after he saw a comment about our bad experience on Instagram (ah the powers of social media), with a promise to show us a better side to Lisbon and change our views on the city, I couldn’t resist giving it another chance.

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What to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The Magic of Christmas All Year Round in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Christmas is my very favourite time of the year and, yes, I am one of those people who gets extremely excited for the festivities before December has even arrived.  Maybe a little too excited.  Because who can really resist singing joyful Christmas tunes at the top of their voice or having a merry smile on their face in the run up to Christmas Day?  I certainly can’t so why wait until 1st December!

However, I wasn’t quite expecting to be feeling all Christmassy during Springtime.  That’s a little early even for me.  But when we visited Germany’s most picturesque fairytale town, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, back in May there really was nothing I could do to stop the festive cheer when one of the town’s main tourist attractions is the Christmas Museum.

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Hilton Munich Airport Hotel

A Peaceful Retreat at the Hilton Munich Airport

Having experienced several airport hotels in London, I already knew how easy and stress-free they make overseas travels.  Being in a different country, having to navigate public transport from the city centre for an early morning flight was even more daunting than an early wake up alarm at home, especially when you factor in a toddler plus all the baggage I had to handle alone.  So when I came across the Hilton Munich Airport Hotel I immediately knew how convenient a stay it would be, making our last night in Germany a much more relaxed one before we headed back home.

With plenty of public transport options from the city centre – or even an easy train ride from Salzburg, Austria, which is where we came from! – we had no problem finding our way through the airport terminal to the hotel in just a short walk.  In fact I wondered at first if I had got us lost as the Hilton’s lobby is so tall and expansive with glass walls in every direction and palm trees towering over a cocktail bar in the centre.

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Shepherd’s hut Kent UK

A Return Visit to Our Favourite Staycation Spot

It’s not often that I return to somewhere I’ve visited previously, but Clavertye Shepherd’s Huts is a place that I just couldn’t get out of my head from our girly getaway last October. So as autumn started creeping up on us again this year, I couldn’t resist planning a trip back.

This visit would be slightly different to last year though when Evie was just a tiny seven month old baby who didn’t do much more than sleep, giggle, try new foods and sit nice and still for all the photos mummy wanted to take. Whereas this year my extremely active little toddler is now walking, talking and has a huge personality that never stops.

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Salzburg with kids

24 Hours in Magical Salzburg with Kids

Just a thirty minute taxi ride from Bavaria and we had arrived in Salzburg.  But I hadn’t prepared myself for quite how quickly this city would capture my heart, make me feel like we were in a land straight out of the pages of a fairytale, and have me dreaming up another visit before we’d even left.

We only had one night and a far to brief 24 hours here but even so it very quickly became one of my favourite European cities – for its beautiful architecture, the prettiest of gardens, the exceedingly delicious cake, and the huge amounts of enjoyment for the whole family.

The Visit Salzburg tourist office had kindly left a map and guide book waiting for us at our hotel, along with a Leo the Lion colouring and sightseeing book that Evie delved straight into, and a Salzburg card for me which gave us free use of public transport around the city as well as free admission to all tourist attractions and museums.  Not wanting to waste any time we headed straight out to start exploring. Continue reading

Yotel Gatwick airport

A Flying Visit to London Gatwick’s Coolest Hotel: YOTELAIR

I may have stayed at a few airport hotels in my travels but when you get to stay at one as seriously cool and quirky as YOTELAIR, it really makes the actual travelling part of a trip so much more fun.  I’ve stayed at YOTELAIR once before, the night before an early morning flight, but this time we only had a few hours layover at Gatwick airport in between travels.  Not quite long enough to get a room for the whole night, but also too long for me to sit around in Costa with an excitable and/or tired one year old.  The amount of coffees I would need to buy to keep myself sane would almost make it worthwhile getting a room!

This is where YOTELAIR wins the best airport hotel competition as rooms can be booked by the hour making it absolutely perfect for a quick nap or to freshen up in between flights.

Evie and I had five hours to kill but instead of stressing about how on earth I was going to keep her entertained for five whole hours, all I felt was relief when we hopped off our flight, made our way through customs, headed straight to the hotel that’s located right inside Gatwick’s South terminal, where we had a comfy bed to collapse into waiting for our arrival.

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Family friendly Munich

Hotel Laimer Hof: The Most Family Friendly Stay in Munich

If you read my guide to Munich last week (and you should because it’s such a lovely city to visit) then you will have seen we stayed at the most fantastic family friendly hotel in the beautiful Nymphenburg district. But it wasn’t enough to just mention the hotel briefly in that post – it was such a wonderful place to stay that it gets a whole post of its own!

Hotel Laimer Hof ticked all the boxes in what I look for in accommodation when travelling. Located in a quiet and pretty residential area of the city but still only a 10 minute tram ride out of the centre, it’s a traditional looking building with turrets making it look a bit like a small castle. Always important to be wowed by a place as well as feeling like a princess! With the atmosphere of a small intimate guest house rather than a big impersonal hotel and a heap of authentic Bavarian charm, they cater extremely well for families here making it one of the most family friendly accommodations in Munich.

Family friendly Munich

The majority of the rooms here are double rooms or family rooms which are nice and spacey with a romantic cosy feel plus all the basic amenities you could need in a hotel room. But we were lucky enough to be given THE most amazing apartment to stay in which couldn’t have been any more perfectly suited to Evie and me. The apartment was huge – so big it could easily have been someone’s home – which meant that my little explorer had plenty of room to practice her new walking skills as she had just started walking on her own the day before our trip began.

Family friendly Munich

We had a lovely modern kitchen surrounded by the most beautiful stained glass windows, with everything we could possibly have needed, a large wooden dining table, and the staff were kind enough to bring a highchair up to our room for Evie.

Family friendly Munich

This was absolutely brilliant for us as it meant I could make dinner in the apartment (or get a take away from the pizza shop around the corner when I couldn’t be bothered to cook), rather than eating out every night – a lot more budget friendly and convenient when travelling alone with a toddler.

Family friendly Munich

The bathroom had a shower as well as a separate bath which also suited us really well as most modern hotel rooms only have showers so Evie was ecstatic to be able to splash about in the big bath for the first time during our trip.

Family friendly Munich

The bedroom had a large comfy double bed with some sweet treats left on our pillows which of course Evie promptly sought out. Although I was perfectly happy to share my bed with her she didn’t seem quite as keen to share her sweets with me.

Family friendly Munich

The great thing about having a separate lounge area is that once Evie was in bed at night I could then relax and enjoy the rest of my evening. Getting comfy in one of the cosy armchairs, it was easy to switch off and watch TV or read a book (or more likely scroll through Instagram) without worrying about having the lights on, being noisy and waking her up which is what often happens when we’re in most standard hotel rooms.

Family friendly Munich

The location of Hotel Laimer Hof was one of the biggest draws for me and the area ended up being my favourite part of Munich. I loved it so much here with its adorably cute houses with colourful front doors, bicycles leaning against lampposts, and people with friendly welcoming smiles as Evie and I walked by. If I was to live in Munich this neighbourhood would definitely be the place I’d go!

 

 

A brief stroll around the corner is the beautiful Nymphenburg Palace which we visited a couple of times. My favourite time of day was early in the morning before we’d had breakfast and before the hordes of tourists descended. Usually I’d never be up and about by 7am but when your one year old wakes you up at ridiculous o clock what else are we to do but go exploring!

Family friendly Munich

With only the swans and ducks for company and the occasional cyclist or jogger out for a morning run, it was so peaceful and tranquil – apart from Evie’s excited shrieks at seeing the baby ducks waddling about which she then waddled after with her newly walking feet!

Family friendly Munich

A few minutes in the opposite direction is Hirschtgarten, a brilliantly family friendly park and beer garden with a children’s playground, deer to feed, live bands playing music, stalls selling traditional German fare and, of course, lots of beer in the biggest ever glasses.

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After our morning wanderings around the palace or the park, we headed back to the hotel for breakfast in the intimate dining room which had lots of choice for both Evie and I from cereal, fruit and yoghurt to breads, pastries, eggs and meats.

Family friendly Munich

They even had smoked salmon which isn’t often found at European breakfast buffets so I thoroughly enjoyed piling my plate high with scrambled eggs and salmon and I’m pretty sure I was the one who gobbled up all the salmon every day! This is also where Evie got her love for Babybel cheeses and now whenever she hears me opening the fridge at home she’s running straight up behind me trying to pinch a Babybel out!

Family friendly Munich

Spy her little hand reaching for the Babybel!

Family friendly Munich

No mum I didn’t touch it!

This is the sort of accommodation that I love coming across when I travel. Not only was the location perfect giving me more of a local feel to Munich but the staff were super friendly and helpful, giving me a hand with everything from bringing a highchair up to our room, giving me directions and tips to the city and helping me carry my luggage and the pram outside when we left. There was even a large antique cabinet in the lobby full of little toy bears and rubber ducks dressed in German attire that kept Evie very entertained while I sat on the couches with a drink.

Family friendly Munich

This would be a fantastic place to stay whether you have children with you or not but for me, travelling alone with Evie, which was occasionally just a little bit stressful, I really felt at ease here and we both especially felt at home. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Family friendly Munich

Thank you to Sebastian and his family who hosted our stay at Hotel Laimer Hof. We had a fabulous time with you and if we ever return to Munich (and I really hope we do!) we would love to stay with you again.

Where is the most family friendly accommodation you’ve stayed? Where have you felt most at home? Let me know in the comments below or at:

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Munich with kids

A Long Weekend in Picture Perfect Munich

During the majority of our trip to Germany we were based in Munich, the capital of Bavaria and a perfectly located central spot for road tripping to several fairytale locations around this part of the country. Basing ourselves here meant that we had plenty of time for some chilled days in between the sightseeing and day trips when we could explore the city at our own leisurely pace. Down days and a slower pace are crucial when travelling with a little one – especially when travelling alone with a little one as we both needed a bit of a break at times!

I am lucky enough to have the lovely Allane from Packing My Suitcase as a friend and as she lives in Munich it meant that I had my own personal tour guide around the city, plus her baby girl was a great little travel companion for Evie. She also ended up being our photographer (Allane not her daughter!) which meant that I was in lots of photos – always a bit tricky getting photos with yourself in when you travel alone with a toddler!

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Gatwick airport hotel

Starting a Holiday off right at Bloc Hotel London Gatwick

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of airport hotels especially before an early morning flight. I’ve stayed at (and written about) a few over my travels because they really do make the start of a journey so much easier.

My first ever airport hotel experience was at Bloc Hotel at Gatwick Airport a few years ago, and because of the convenience, the friendly staff and the seriously amazing rooms, this is a hotel I go back to time and time again. So when I planned mine and Evie’s trip to Germany and Bloc offered us a stay the night before our flight, it seemed like the perfect way to start off our girly getaway and to make travelling with a toddler a whole lot less stressful. And as I was travelling alone with a toddler I needed it to be as stress-free as possible!

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