Category: Infant and travel

10 Things My Kids Loved About Spain

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It is amazing the impact that family vacations have on our children. My daughter, two and half years old during our recent adventure in Andalucia, Spain has not ceased talking about it, even 3 months later. The most interesting part is finding out what she liked about it and what has made a lasting impression. In random order, here are the top 10 things she talks about regularly:

1. 1.  The Bidet- Also known as ‘the bum washer’. She was amazed when she saw the extra porcelain bowl in our vacation house. After we explained how and when to use it, she needed to use the facilities a lot more frequently than usual.

2. 2.  Architecture – We did spend some time pointing out to her the differences between homes in Spain and homes in Canada but didn’t realize it was sinking in until one day she saw a picture on a magnet and told us it was Spain. It was actually Italy, but she was recognizing the cobblestone streets, flowers in window boxes, narrow alleys etc.

3. 3.  Fascination with Donkeys- While we were waiting for check-in time at our vacation house, we wandered around the quiet streets in the village of Gaucin. We came across a donkey tethered to a stoop in front of somebody’s house. We could hear the ‘hee-haw’ before we could see it. It must have been the excitement of hearing him and trying to find him that started this fascination. Once we found him, she didn’t want to leave and for the rest of the trip kept asking if we could go find the donkey. She still talks about him today.  (incidentally it also started an obsession with talking about donkey poop).

The Donkey, Gaucin, Spain

The Donkey, Gaucin, Spain

4. 4.  The airplane-This was a no-brainer. We knew she’d love it and all that was associated with the airport, security, luggage etc.

5. 5.  The moon- She has always loved the moon but actually seems to understand the concept of the world turning. In the daytime, she will say ‘Now the moon has gone to Spain’.

6. 6.  Mango flavoured ice cream- We were spoiled with daily gelato (Mom’s favorite) and she caught on quick to this daily ritual. She says she doesn’t like mangos, only mango ice cream? One gelateria, also gave her a chocolate cookie with her icecream and a clown on a stick.

7. 7.  Her special toy. Also a gift from a gelato stand. We bought various souvenirs throughout the trip, but this was her favorite. It was a free, red foam and plastic toy that you can pump. I believe it is to be filled with water and used for water fights but she doesn’t know that . She just imagines that it is something different each time she plays with it.

8. 8.  Patterns in the stone tiled streets and alleyways- It wasn’t too long before I noticed that she was examining the stone tiled streets very closely and would often decide to only walk on one particular shape or colour in the pattern. It was a game that could amuse her for ever. img_2415

9. 9.  Getting Lost- Ok, so this happened a couple of times. She picked up on it and is now forever wondering if we are lost again.

10. 10. ‘The Cottage’– This is the name she came up with for our vacation house in Gaucin. It was a beautiful whitewashed house in the country side complete with pool, pool house, many nooks and crannies to play, her own pint sized bed, toys galore and lots of farm animals in surrounding properties. She was in love. We could hardly tear her away. Whenever we went somewhere, she just kept asking to go back to ‘ The cottage’.

Many of the things she learned and loved were not those that I expected. I was excited that she was being exposed to a new language and culture. I thought she’d love the castles, swimming in the pools or maybe the horse and carriage rides.  She did, but they were not her favorites. When I asked her on the plane ride home what she liked the most about our trip, she said “ I liked that Daddy was with us the whole time”. What more could a parent ask for!

Family Fun and Celebrity Sighting at Rissers Beach, Nova Scotia

Our walk near Rissers Beach, Nova Scotia

Our walk near Rissers Beach, Nova Scotia

Weather in Nova Scotia can be unpredictable, but this past weekend we lucked out!  We had planned a family trip to Rissers Beach area to stay in a family friend’s cottage.  It was a 3 bedroom, winterized cottage with views of the ocean and surrounded by farmland, walking trails (and this may sound creepy but…) a beautiful graveyard from the 1800’s.  We went with my husbands parents and his sister, her husband and their daughter.

In the evening before bed and early in the mornings, Nana and Papa took the girls for a walk to find deer and they spotted some each time.  They apples from the trees along the way and loved their time being wrapped up in blankets and carried on their little adventure.  Saturday was warm and sunny.  Warm enough that when we went to the beach, my little bug immediately wanted to get in the water.  She gleefully ran in and out of the waves as if she didn’t even notice that it was freezing cold water!  The first beach we went to was Crescent Beach with white sands that appear to go forever.  It is one of the few beaches in Nova Scotia that you are allowed to drive on.  A few cars were there, and a small plane flew by but didn’t land.  Later there were people horseback riding as well.  One of them looked exactly like Nicole Kidman, but I’ve googled this fact and can’t find any information that she may be visiting this weekend.

Not far down the road is Rissers Beach, with a campground that has sites right on the ocean.  Sites 21,22 are good ones, because they have trees for privacy but are also still on the ocean.  Washrooms are nearby.  In between beaches there are antique stores and a kayak adventure business.  Kayaking would be perfect for families with older children as there are many coves and islands nearby to explore.  A little futher down the road is Petite Riviere where we visited The Maritime Painted Saltbox which was a quaint barn housing paintings, folkart and furniture created by the owners of the property.  There is also a vineyard and a river for fishing in the area.  Green Bay is a road leading along the ocean again, with many cottages for rent.  It offers beautiful scenery and small sandy coves to sunbathe, swim and walk.  This is where we ran across local celebrities, ‘Ricki and Julien’ from the Trailor Park Boys television show and movies.  They were apparently there to celebrate a friends birthday that weekend, but this picturesque setting was far removed from the trailor park we see them in on T.V.!

Overall, I highly recommend this area of the province.  There is lots to do with the kids in nearby towns of Bridgewater and Lunenburg.  On the way home on Sunday, we took the Lahave Cable Ferry across the river and took the scenic lighthouse route back towards Lunenburg.  In October the leaves are brilliant colours of orange, yellow and red.  It is a great time of year if you enjoy hiking and outdoor activities.  Alternatively July and August would be great for a beach holiday.  If you want any more information about the area, feel free to post a comment!

Crescent Beach

Crescent Beach

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Inexpensive Family Vacations

The website www.1001-vacation-ideas.com, recently published my story about our family vacation to Portugal.  I spend a lot of time planning vacations, and always try to get the most value for the least amount of money without compromising too much comfort or missing out on experiences.  This article shows how we went to Europe for $2500 Canadian (approximately $2000 U.S) and had a fabulous time.  Check it out!

The Big Apple with a Medium Sized Stroller

New York City is a great walking city with ample parks and wide sidewalks that are easy to navigate with a stroller.  I traveled there recently with my 8 month old daughter and my mother.  My sister lives in Manhattan, and we plan to visit frequently in the upcoming years so I spent my days there keenly observing other tourists and locals with young children to get some tips for future trips as my daughter grows. 

 

The first lesson I learned is that a rain cover for your stroller is absolutely essential. I had it on my list to pack but somehow managed to leave it behind.  Of course it rained most of the time we were there!  Every other stroller we passed had one protecting their children from the rain, while I walked around with only blankets covering my child, sheepishly feeling like a negligent mother.  She didn’t get wet or sick (as I’m sure every other mother walking by was thinking) but a clear plastic cover would have still been much better.  Next time, I’ll also prepare for snow because you never know!  Snacks and stroller toys are also essential, although I did find that my daughter was easily amused just watching all the people go by.  Other considerations for your trip include Read more »

Do's and Don'ts for infant travel in Europe

My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Portugal with our seven month old daughter.  We have gone on backpacking adventures all over the world, and were determined that having children was not going to keep us from continuing to travel.  

 

I chose Portugal because we had enough points to fly to somewhere in Europe from Canada and since I am currently off work on maternity leave we wanted to go somewhere that would be relatively inexpensive once we arrived.  We wanted some relaxation time and some time to explore the country. Portugal seemed to meet all these criteria. 

 

I was thrilled to find out that the Portuguese love children and our daughter had a steady stream of women and even men stopping to pay her some attention.  The little old ladies would cluck their tongues and rhyme off beautiful sounding sentences in Portuguese. One woman stopped to talk to us while we were waiting for a tram in Lisbon.  She didn’t speak any English, and we didn’t speak Portuguese but we signed our way through a img_1438conversation.  She insisted on giving us a euro which we believe she was telling us was for our little girl’s piggy bank.  She wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Our tram driver also kept clucking and smiling at her to the point that we started to worry that he wasn’t really watching the road.

 

I think many of our friends and family thought we were crazy Read more »


 

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