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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Glamping along the Garden Route with Africamps

I’d road tripped along the Garden Route several years ago and fell in love with its rugged natural beauty back then, so I couldn’t resist seeing it again on our recent visit. This stretch of wilderness along the South African coastline east of Cape Town is full of wildlife, lush green national parks and pristine beaches. Here, you can get away from the noisy city, towering buildings and the plush hotels of Cape Town. We would be getting out into nature so it only seemed fitting that we should stay in a more rural style of accommodation to match our surroundings.

Africamps offer glamping in several working farms in South Africa, providing guests with a completely natural setting but with the benefits of a boutique style of camping.  As we were road tripping along the Garden Route over several days, we stayed at two of Africamps locations during our trip – Plettenberg Bay and Wilderness – both wonderfully peaceful retreats that gave us a true feel of wild Africa. The accommodations are down winding gravel tracks, far away from the road and civilisation with no chance of traffic noise – or noise of any sort for that matter except the tweeting of birds and the chirping of crickets.

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Child friendly hotel Cape Town

Family Friendly Luxury at The President Hotel Cape Town

We may have stayed here on our very last night in Cape Town but I’m writing about it first because it is such a fantastic hotel that I couldn’t keep it quiet any longer.

When planning our trip which would involve lots of moving around, sightseeing and road tripping, staying in Airbnbs, guest houses, and all different types of accommodations, I wanted to find somewhere to stay on our last night that was a bit more luxurious and also somewhere that I knew would be a child friendly hotel in Cape Town. Somewhere with plush comfy beds, good food and cocktails, a pool; somewhere we could relax and rejuvenate for the last couple of days on what would have been an extremely adventurous trip.

Located in Bantry Bay, a beautiful beachy area between Sea Point and Camps Bay within a short driving distance to some of Cape Town’s main attractions, The President Hotel provided just that.

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Cape Winelands with kids

Child Friendly Wine Estates in the Cape Winelands

Yes, you read that title right!  There are a huge amount of wine estates in Cape Town and the surrounding Winelands, and clearly they know that parents want need the occasional glass of wine as the majority of them cater so well to children and families.  So of course we had to include several in our itinerary and our road trip through the Winelands became one of the best parts of our trip.

South Africa’s Winelands are just beautiful, all with spectacular mountain backdrops and lush green vineyards that fade off into the distance.  Even if you’re not a wine drinker I would still highly recommend visiting at least a couple – for the picture perfect views as well as the variety of other attractions that can often be found on the estates aside from the wine tasting.  I didn’t used to be much of a wine drinker but then I had a baby who turned into a toddler so now I am very fond of a glass (or two)!  Travelling with an almost two year old I did wonder how well she would fare while us girls were all enjoying our wine but everywhere was so completely child friendly that actually the wine was just one of many reasons to visit.  Each wine estate we stopped at had so much more to offer providing copious amounts of fun and activities for children, from playgrounds to animal parks and even non-alcoholic tastings for the little ones and those who don’t drink

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Travel with baby

A New Year of Adventures

2018 was a bit of a mix for me. On the one hand it was a really tough year learning how to be a single mama, raising an extremely demanding (but also incredibly cute) toddler mostly alone, and being the most exhausted I have ever been in my entire life.  I also learnt that mums can in fact function on only a few hours’ sleep every night and that coffee is a very loyal friend.

But despite the low moments it was also an amazing year full of travel explorations and exciting adventures. We travelled 8 times during 2018 visiting Cape Verde, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Ibiza, Sardinia, a road trip in Kent, and the Edinburgh Christmas markets.  That’s 4 new countries for me and 6 new countries for Evie – making Evie’s total number of countries visited 13 before she’s even 2 years old.

But it’s not the country count that matters, it’s what we actually did and the memories we created that made the year so special. There are so many highlights but here are a few of my main ones:

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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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