Are my backpacking days over? Not quite yet, only difference: I now carry the “backpack” on my chest and it contains very valuable freight.. my child. But first things first:
- Flying with a 10 months old:
We were pretty anxious on how that would work out. We booked a Ryanair flight with additional luggage. Two baby items are being carried for free (stroller and car seat). Everything worked out smoothly except the fact, that Lucas fell asleep right before boarding and woke up before the start (we managed to get him all buckled up and everything and ThEN he woke up). That means we had to entertain him for three hours on the flight, and so did the people behind us.. Ryan checked the time every 10 minutes because it got exhausting. Luckily the start and landing wasn’t an issue, he didn’t seem to be in pain and I fed him during that whole time. My head however was about to explode. Or that’s how it felt. When we touched the ground Lucas vomited on us and that was the appropriate ending if a horrible flight. The flight back went much smoother, we kept the baby up and he slept almost the whole flight..
The morning was pretty stressful because I insisted on going for a run that took longer then intended because Porto is rather hilly. Once we had Lucas in the pouch though, he fell asleep and we started our sight seeing procedure: The train station with its beautiful tiled walls, the bridge “Ponte St. Luis”, the nice buildings with their “morbid charme” (even though Ryan said there is no such thing). We ride the cable car, enjoyed views, strolled up and down through narrow streets, snacked by the riverside and tried portwine. We made sure to stop and hang out in parks too, to give Lucas a break from the pouch and the chance to crawl around a bit.
- Vila do Conde:
We had booked an apartement by the sea for the rest of our trip. The weather got colder and pretty windy. I took lots of beach- and dune walks with my sleeping baby. Lucas started to be a bit more whiny and quite frankly exhausting, especially in the car. I got some baby food and it all contained meat. Everybody in this country seems to love babies and wherever we went people talked to or played with him and he loved the attention. They are very friendly and helpful people, always having a smile on their faces.
When we visited those historical towns we timed it right and Lucas slept during the car ride. They are nice places to walk around and just look at those cool tiled houses and the wide squares. There is probably a lot to learn about Portuguese history but we neither visiter any museums nor took part in any tours or informed ourselves. But we did try all the bakary goods, ice creams and foods and just soaked in the flair. Instead of going into the castle we hung around on the gras in front of it and let Lucas play with whatever he found there. When he was awake he, too, wanted to look around so I put him on my back which he liked more then being on my chest.
That morning I walked to another beach with sleeping Lucas (he never sleeps alone in a bed) and climbed around in some rocks. Felt good to do that. The beaches here are wide and wild and very nice. Then I fed him in a park and Ryan picked us up with the car. Unfortunately Lucas had an allergic reaction, his whole body git red and itchy and the poor thing cried a lot so we spent the next hour and a half in a hospital. We didn’t have to wait at all in the emergency room and people cared about us immediately. After it went away he slept and we just walked around the nature park there between the dunes and the river. The day ended very stressful with a bad tempered baby and for the first time I think to myself: man, holidays with a baby aren’t so much fun, really. That made me sad, but on a good note: the nights are awesome. He’s never slept so good.
- Viana de Castello:
After that stressful day I went for a beach run and then we drove to Viana de Castello. The baby slept so peacefully and we didn’t want to wake him, so we took the detour via Ponte de Lima. The landscape on the way looks pretty with its hilly winefields and small villages. In Viana do Castello it was super windy and we found a sheltered little restaurant to get some tasty Franceshina (steak sandwich with ham and cheese in tomato beer sauce with fries. Ryan tried different variations and loved it). That city has been claimed to be the prettiest in the area but I think I’m just a fan of the “morbid charme”. Ryan liked it more. It has a nice beach with a kyte surfing school and the whole sky was full of skytes. It had a hipper flair then the other beaches and was more international and surfer-like. On the dunes were trees, which made it look different from the beaches we saw before. In the evening we watched the sunset at a sheltered place between the dunes, Ryan had some wine, Lucas some milk, we enjoyed the sun and the baby fell asleep after is first (scary) encounter with sand. A very relaxed day.
- Parque Naturel del Alvaro:
I wanted to see a different national park but that was 2 hours away and to far for a ride with Lucas. So we decided to go to that smaller and closer one. Unfortunately Lucas didn’t want to sleep in the car and the whole drive was super annoying and stressful and we had to stop at a playground. He slept when we got there and we had the chance to hike around. It was beautiful. A lake, rock outcrops, purple and yellow flowers and coniferous trees. And awesome views, too. Then we drove through nice hilly landscapes to a point were we could hike to a waterfall, but we didn’t find any directions, my knee hurt, Lucas was cranky and all in all the good vibes couldn’t be kept up. We then decided to fill all our bellies and found a local restaurant in Ermelo, a village at the end if the park. They served us so much food, it was awesome. Lucas could crawl around, look at the dogs and even got some toys to play with. Everybody was happy again, before another stressful ride home. On the last day we enjoyed the beach, let Lucas play with pebbles and shells (still no fan of sand) and enjoyed the sun before our evening flight back home.
- What would I improve next time?
First of all, I wouldn’t plan a holiday that’s just during a baby development phase, where they are more cranky anyway. Then I’d not have one base, but some more. Then we would have shorter distances to drive and could have seen more (wanted to see the Douro Valley but didn’t want to drive anymore). In our case the only stressful times were car rides. Last but not least we could have been more flexible. That one day he just passed out in the car we should have driven to the national park and changed our plans. Even though it was stressful and a lot of work, I’m glad I was able to experience it and to see all those nice things, even though Ryan would have been happier to chill more with a drink in his hand by the pool. For me, traveling is my life and I’m not ready to compromise much.. we spend around 1000 EUR for the three of us and to me paying that amount isn’t worth it just to hang out at a pool. Plus we didn’t even have one. But maybe next time we’ll have it more relaxed..