How to turn traveling with babies into a (almost) stress free experience

Have you ever been on a plane with a lot of wining babies and thought to yourself “Oh my God! Why are these parents causing such stress to their kids? Can´t they just stay home?” .. Well if you did, rethink. First of all, you were once a kid as well, and you might not have been on a plane at an early age, but you most certainly drove your parents and everyone else crazy, at least once, in public. Did “they” cause you such a stress? Did your parents cause you the stress? Nope, they didn´t You were just a kid.

Traveling with kids is a topic surrounded by a lot of mixed feelings, and surprisingly enough, people without kids seem to “know better what´s best for your child”… Seriously? I never thought I would ever say this, but those who don´t have children should think twice before sharing their opinions about parenting. By that I am not trying to say that they are not entitled to an opinion, I am just trying to say that they should mind their own business if not asked. So.. having said that, traveling with kids doesn´t always have to be stressful, it does depend on the kid for sure, but it mostly depends on the type of parent you are.

The very first and essential golden rule is to KEEP CALM. In other words, just chill. Stress is usually passed onto a baby / toddler, so the more stressed out you are, the more stressed out your child will be. This is not a doctor´s opinion, but I really speak out of experience: every time I freak out about something, my one year old son freaks out too. I learnt that a good aura can easily be passed on as well, so if he cries I try to calm him down by being calm myself.

The second golden rule is to be prepared for (almost) all eventualities. So try to be prepared for situations such as sudden hunger, dirty diapers, dirty clothes, playtime, nap time and so on, and definitely have one or the other medication in your bag (after consulting a doctor of course, I usually have a nose spray and pain killers), you can never know when this will come in handy. Whilst you can’t be prepared for all possible situations , it is always a good idea to have the basics right next to you whether you are traveling by car, plane or train.

View from our window seat on our flight to Porto – October 2019

The third and last golden rule I have set to myself is to put my child first. If your child starts crying it is probably because something is wrong, so stop worrying about what the people around you think, feel or want and be selfish: put the wellbeing of your child first and shut the rest of the world out. I know this might be hard at first but trust me, it will get easier, and your kid will be very thankful. Turn traveling into an exciting experience for him/her and you will definitely be rewarded with a lot of love and a heartedly felt smile!

If you also have some comments, or ideas on how to make traveling with kids easier, just drop me a message!

Cheers x

Walking around Stockholm with a 7 months old

Hello everyone! We recently came back from our third trip with baby Liam (now 7 months old), and had, again, a really nice time. Family time!

My husband works really unpleasant hours and the only time real time we get as a family (and by that I mean just the three of us) is when we are away. This time our flight took us to Stockholm.

I read a lot about the city before we left, and what really caught my attention was the fact that no matter where I looked, it was always described as being very child friendly..so at the end of the day we thought to ourselves “oh ok why not, let´s book this trip”. And there we were, about to fly to Sweden 🙂

Even though we booked through Lufthansa, the flight was operated by the Nordic Airline SAS: our very first encounter with the Swedish mentality. The airline is not a low cost one, being part of the Star Alliance should meet some requirements after all, and yet you have to pay for food in case you want to eat, except Coffee and Tea. Those were for free. This kind of annoyed me, not because I particularly like the food on planes, but because I thought I paid for a service I didn´t end up getting. I guess I should have made my research a little better. Frankfurt-Stockholm is an only 2 hour flight, and we ate at the airport so we werent hungry. On the positive side, the flight was not fully booked so we got an entire raw to ourselves, which (let´s be honest) makes things a whole lot easier with an infant.

What you have to know about me is that I am not a backpacker and I am the kind of person who cannot just fly with hand luggage, in fact, I hate hand luggage. Ever since we started travelling with Liam I learnt how to pack “properly” and fit a lot more in a lot less space (still more than 8 kg hand luggage, but who knows, maybe one day I will get there), but our luggage and our stroller got to the bag drop really fast (plus point!) and as a little extra, we could borrow a buggy just in case we needed one while waiting! So there you go, child friendliness expectation: met (for now).

We spent the first afternoon/evening “in” with my husband actually getting us some take out, I like to get a couple of hours to just make myself comfortable, shower and make sure Liam is doing well..with the flight landing in the afternoon,by the time I was done with all of that it was just too late to go out.

Brunching in Gamla Stan

The next morning we decided to go on a “walking tour” by ourselves. We usually buy a “Marco Polo” city guide and check out the walking tours they suggest. I am not a huge museums fan (even though some I just really love, for instance the El Prado in Madrid), and I love talking long walks and hikes, and this just really seemed like the best option.

Gamla Stan´s main square
Gamla Stan

Our tour started in Gamla Stan, the “old town”, known for the narrow streets (there you can find Stockholm´s narrowest street as well, called “Mårten Trotzigs gränd”) and little caffés. We didn´t want to have breakfast in Grand Square (Stortorget) because we felt it was overcrowded and the Cafés were totally stroller-unfriendly (very narrow, no place to walk in between tables and no changing tables), so we looked for a place in an inner street and ended up sitting on the mini terrace at Cafe Sten Sture (the cafe had no changing room but at least there was enough place for our stroller!). I ordered a Shrimpmix toast of which I cannot recall the name but it was amazing (if anyone knows the name of this typical Swedish toast pls let me know) and I got the waitress to heat up Liam´s meal, which was really kind of her. So even though Gamla Stan is not the place to be with a stroller and a child, the staff and people in general are really nice when it comes to young parents and small kids!

Cafe Sten Sture – where we had our first brunch

On that day we walked around Gamla Stan, the Royal Palace, and walked to Norrmalm: today´s city centre, which was built after Gamla Stan became too small to house the city´s growing population. Once we got there it really started pouring rain so we went and had early dinner at the first place we found: Fridays. Yup. And guess what, we are never ever going there again! First of all, the staff was not accomodating at all, secondly, you are not allowed to take the stroller in, even though it was pouring outside. We eventually managed to get a table next to the door and fit “our baby” as well, but oh my. Liam couldn´t sit on his own yet but the waitress had no idea and yet she did not ask if we needed a high chair or not. Also, the bathroom is not equipped with a changing table for babies, which (in an international chain such as Fridays) I find extremely weird. Also, my husband got a stomach bug from the cold fries he got, the already cold and hard melted cheese in his burger and the not so well done meet so we definitely cannot recommend this place to anyone and we will surely never ever step into a Fridays again (as a note: we usually don´t eat in such chains, but we really needed to get away from the rain!).

View from the City Hall
View from the City Hall

Once the rain finally stopped we got out of Fridays and walked to the City Hall, the best place to take pictures of the city in my opinion.

We did not go inside but we walked around the garden and by the water. While Liam was enjoying his nap, we enjoyed taking some pictures. Afterwards we walked back to our Airbnb (check it out by clicking here!)

On the next day we had breakfast around the Vasaparken (sorry I cannot remember the name 😦 ), it was a small place and still rather empty so I had enough space for the stroller. I eventually improvised and turned a piece of furniture in the toilette into a changing table so thumbs up to that! I had my favouorite Eggs Benedict on an Avocado toast, and dude the portion was huge!

We continued our walk through the park and decided to explore Södermalm (the southern part of the city), which my hubby loved the most. The reason for that is that this area is quite hip, full of small bars, cafés and little vintage stores, definitely very interesting. It also offers “views from the top” , another great landscape to take pictures of. We definitely enjoyed the walk, it was sunny and we spent the entire day outside.

We eventually got back to Gamla Stan where we had an amazing three course dinner at a restaurant called Under Kastanjen. I highly recommend this place, incredible staff, super child friendly, really tasty food, good value for money and central location. What do we want more, right?

Under Kastanjen, Stockholm

On our last day we had breakfast at the famour “STHLM Brunch Club” – absolutely loved it! We got in without having to wait in line (we went on a monday, that´s why!) and it was both early and empty enough for us to be able to bring our stroller in as well (usually you are not allowed to!). I loved their brunch, their infamous portions and the place itself, but I hated how you don´t really have a changing place for babies and how, when full, you have the feeling to be sitting on your neighbour´s lap. It is a small place and in my opinion it just tries to fit a whole lot of people in it. Nevertheless the food was excellent!

Once done with our brunch, we strolled around the city center, managed to get into a mall called “NK” where I wanted to check something our for baby Liam. There I had a chance to nurse him in a really clean nursing room and change his as well before travelig back to Frankfurt. We even took a walk in the city´s market hall, filled with yummy fresh food. We were way too stuffed from brunch to actually eat something.

Once back at our apartment, we waited for our taxi to come and smoothly checked out. At the airport I was really upset that they took our stroller away at check in, but I was happy to find out we could use an airport buggy till the gate. The buggy is not suitable for babies under 6 months, so if you ever travel to Stockholm make sure to have a carrier with you as well.

Airport Buggy for babies, courtesy of Stockholm airport 🙂

At the gate there was a playground for children (!) and I was about to go with baby Liam but we had to go to our flight so we didn´t have time to play.

Overall we enjoyed our trip a lot! We walked to almost everywhere and only took the metro once. We were surprised at the amount of children and babies in the cities. Mummys but mostly daddies walking around with strollers everywhere! I have to say I have never seen so many kids in a city before, maybe I never cared to noticed but Stockholm is really baby booming in my opinion! I guess the rule and regulations they have for parental leave and nurseries is way better than here in Germany, but I do not know for sure. I think Germany is still a lot behind when it comes to that. Parental leave comes with a lot of bureoucracy and a lot of paper work, also it comes with too little money unfortunately.

The City Hall

Overall I enjoyed my time in the city, but I was a little disappointed to find out it didn´t meet my expectations in terms of “Nordic architecture”. I found a lot of similarities to some German cities, I don´t know why I thought it would look a little different then it does. I loved the water landmarks though, and the fact that you can truly walk with a baby everywhere!

Have you ever visited? Are you planning to? Let me know if this was useful to you either by a comment here below or per E-Mail 🙂

#ThisisEgypt..or maybe not.

I will never forget the day I left Egypt, almost 11 years ago, it was October 2018 and I was scared, excited, ecstatic and curious to find out what it felt to live alone and start from scratch. I was young and I didn´t have much of a plan, and surely I had no idea it would take half of my age then (I was almost 22) to touch base in Egypt again. But then life took its course, I found a new job, I tried to settle down a little, made another major move, got married, travelled around and got a baby boy (the best thing I have ever done actually)…. so yes, quite a lot of things happening.

This year however, one of my best friends got married at a small beach town, so we decided to combine attending the wedding with a little time off to tank some vitamin sea. Bonus point: the wedding was in Egypt. I was super excited to finally have booked a flight to a country I once called home.

I knew El-Gouna, the city we travelled to, is known to be the “St. Tropez of Egypt”, I just did not expect it to be so far from the reality I left about a decade ago. The city does not resemble what you would expect Egypt to be. A ghost town at midday with an overwhelming crowd in the evening.

If I had to choose three adjectives to describe it, I would go for “clean, polite and safe”, three words I would never thought to use when talking about a place in Egypt. I was very surprised to find a very open minded society, with a not so conservative women´s fashion, and a very easy going men´s society. Definitely not the place I left 10 years ago, but definitely not the place I would use the hashtag #thisisegypt for..because let´s face it. This (to me) is not Egypt.

El-Gouna Marina

To make myself a little less hated, and a little more clear, let´s dig into the facts a little. El-Gouna was built about 30 years ago by a company owned by one of Egypt´s richest men: Samih Sawires. Wikipedia describes it as “an Egyptian tourist resort” (not even a city??) – it makes sense though. I found it quite interesting to go through a gate with a security check just to get into the city, which only means you cannot get in unless you 1. work there or 2. have a place to stay at…but then again..a gate? really?

Once you get in, the dirt from the sidewalks disappears, the noise lessens and the mood is chill. I have to say I loved it, but I did not feel like I was in Egypt at all. So back to the #thisisegypt hype. Is it really? To me it isn´t. A place designed for the rich and famous is and should not be representative for an entire country. In El-Gouna poverty suddently disappears, houses all look very similar, glamour is a state of art and prices are rather high compared to the country´s average (for locals at least). I had a feeling that Gouna is a weekend getaway for Cairo´s upper society, because why have dinner in the capital city if you can have dinner at the beach? I think being so in high demand makes the city want to maintain its standards, which is a good thing after all.

Baby Liam enjoying the Red Sea

I really loved finding a trash bin at every corner and no cigarettes on the floor. And believe it or not I was able to nurse in the street without anyone actually minding (something hard to find even here in Germany).

All in all I loved my time in El-Gouna (even though I found the Mövenpick – the hotel we stay at – far away from what I would call a 5 star resort..still better than the other choices though), and I would definitely recommend you pay a visit. It is a very nice place for families and it is child friendly, with the bonus of being a safe place for kids to run around and women to enjoy some freedom. The beach is probably most suitable for water sports then just a quick dip (you really need to wear some shoes unless you want to cut your feet), but the water is beautiful and the underwater world is one of its kind.

Despite the fact that to me #thisisnotegypt , I find it worth a visit. If I lived in Cairo I would be happy to know I could escape the city´s chaos for a while, find some good standards without having to go abroad and relax a litle bit. It is definitely the best place to tank some energy and get ready for a new, stressful, working week. I would recommend you rent a private boat for a day, we did that and not only my 6 months old boy loved it, but also we had the chance to swim with dolphins and take some great pictures. It was definitely a nice day out at sea. What I would also recomend is taking time to try out some of the restaurants at the Marina in the evening and chilling at a cafe in Downtown, we felt really welcome and had a great time. Definitely move around with a touk touk (you can get one using Uber, now #thisisegypt for sure 🙂 ) and forget about your good hair days, the wind will blow you away but you will still wear your best smile, believe me!

Last but not least, don´t forget that Egypt is not only this. Do take the extra mile and visit the actual Country, visit the historic sites (those which are “a little older” than just 30 years), visit the local Souks and markets, go either south to Luxor and Aswan or north to Cairo or Alexandria, do take a stop at a local village and talk to locals. Definitely talk to locals. Out of all the people I have met, Egyptians are definitely amont the friendliest to strangers!

Have you been to Egypt yet? If so let me know what you think in your comments below or send me an E-Mail 🙂

Ps: Be prepared for a lot of checks at Hurghada airport on your way back !

Cheers

Pete x


Why you should stop booking bed and breakfast

Hi there!

Nice to see you back on my site! Hope you are doing fine!

It`s Sunday and I just had a long, relaxing breakfast with my hubby and our baby boy, Liam (though he was just pretty much watching us eat) . We often sit together and plan what to do on our free days, or on holidays..we spend time looking through destinations to travel to, and possible hotels we can book. To be very honest, I have always been a fan of booking breakfast in advance regardless of where we go…I always thought there is nothing more comfortable then waking up and walking straight to the hotel restaurant and get my latte as quickly as possible. Well, I recently found out how much I have missed out on during my travels due to this (bad?) habit of mine..a habit I should break, at least when it comes to city trips.

We travelled to The Hague (Netherlands) back in August, booked a comfy room at the Hilton Hotel in downtown, but forgot to book breakfast to it. Once we arrived, the concierge told us there would be no problem at all in adding the extra service to our room for the usual charge..At this point I was very tempted to say “sure, do it”.. but something held me back and I told my husband: “let´s just do it differently this time”. And what a great idea it turned out to be!

Before I go on, you have to know that The Hague is a nice town located directly on the western coast of the Netherlands. It is small enough for you to be able to walk to most of the attractions (if you are staying in the city centre), yet big enough for it to offer a large variety of restaurants and shops. We didn´t know much about the city before visiting, but we found our way around straight away. Bear in mind, I was 8 months pregnant at the time, so I was not as fit as I am now, but I still took great long walks.

Binnenhof – Den Haag

During our evening “explorer´s walk”, we couldn’t´t help but notice the many bistros and cafes the city has, and were relieved that we did not book breakfast after all; The Hague has a really good culinary variety to offer!

While walking we came across what just a few hours later would be our breakfast place. It is called “Walter Benedict” and I can heartedly recommend it! Not only the Menu is perfect to match all types of taste, also the interior (a mixture of industrial and rustical) is so well done, you can´t help but feel home! Being pregnant I could unfortunately not eat most of my favourite dishes (poached eggs are one of the many for instance), yet I got adviced really well by the waitress and I have totally enjoyed our meal. I got my capuccino and was very happy they had decaf (I did not drink coffeine throughout my pregnancy). We got fresh juice as well, and have one amazing time. The entire staff spoke english and everyone was extremely nice to us.

After this amazing meal we took a walk to our hotel, and I couldn’t help but think how good of an idea it was not to book breakfast at the hotel.

First of all, the price of our meal would´ve been much higher. Most 5 and 4 star hotels charge you about 20EUR per person for breakfast (some hotel charge as much as 40EUR!); true.. you do get a really big variety of food to choose from, but let´s be honest.. You will not try everything out, will you? Such breakfasts make sense if you are somewhere in a beach resort, or in the mountains, far away from the metropolitan life.

If you are on a city trip you should just get out and enjoy a beautiful breakfast somewhere in the city instead. This way you get a taste of the local life and make the best use of your time. Don´t be scared not to find your way, just use Google Maps (or do it old school, with a paper city map, I love those too!), Tripadvisor, and your good sense, or just ask locals and your hotel concierge for good advice, they know their town best after all!

Also, if you are in The Hague, make sure to visit Walter Benedict, a pretty bistro in a pretty city!

I wish you all a lovely Sunday and do not hesitate to share your thoughts with me, especially if you know of some child-friendly cities we could visit in the near future !

Pete

xx


Hello, it´s me!

Hey there!

I hope you are all doing well, and having the best time… I most certainly am!

As you can see, my page has a complete new look (which I hope you will like!) and a whole new content.

This is because a lot has been going on in my life this past few months, and I feel like 2019 has brought me a fresh new start. First of all, I have more time since I am on parental leave, and secondly I haven´t felt this motivated in a really long time. Also, I have a clearer idea of what I want and how to get there, but I guess this is because I am aging after all *sigh*

…But first things first; let me tell you one or two things about myself. I was born 32 years ago in Italy, where I grew up and spent a big part of my life. I also lived in Cairo, Egypt and in Budapest, Hungary. I am currently living in close to Frankfurt, in Germany.

I believe this whole moving and living in different countries has added a lot of value to my life.. I have learnt about different (ok yes, very different!) cultures – and I have also learnt how to deal with them, which can be really hard at times.

I love to travel, love food, make up and clothes (yup, I am a woman after all), but most of all, I love my family.

As I said, I am on parental leave. My baby boy, Liam, is 3 months old and needs me the most, for this reason I have decided to spend sometime at home with him before going back to work in the (relatively) near future.

Here I can finally expose myself and I will talk about my experiences, about a whole bunch of things which caught my attention, I will give some honest (and trust me, I can be very honest!) opinions, and of course, I will talk about my, bumby but beautiful, journey as a mom.

So stay tuned! There is lots coming up and a lot I want to read your thoughts and comments on!

 

xx

Pete