Nosara Week Away Travel Guide

I called this post a Week Away Travel Guide as opposed to a Weekend Away Guide, as Nosara, Costa Rica is not the kind of place most of us can pop over for the weekend. But I can pretty much say with confidence that if I could pop over there quickly for a weekend, I would probably be there all the time! It looks so amazing and sounds like such a great place to take children on a wonderful adventure.

Now imagine after growing up in California, then living in Australia, you decided to call Costa Rica your home! How incredible does that sound? Shelly, the author of this post, did just that: She now lives in Nosara, Costa Rica and it sounds like the perfect place to travel to!

In her 40-something years of life, Shelly has been a world traveler, waitress, writer, magazine editor, non-profit founder, entrepreneur and artist. By sheer luck and twists of fate, these paths have led to and helped define her latest, greatest and most challenging role as wife and homemaker; mother and teacher to Pixel, Robert and Beckett; and hostess extraordinaire. Shelly is the author of The Book of Questions for New Parents and the blog Kitchen Ranch. Here is her guide to Nosara, Costa Rica:

Nosara, located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, has recently enjoyed some very favorable press. National Geographic named Nosara as one of the top surf towns on the planet, a BBC Travel Segment included Nosara as the best beach in Costa Rica, and the New York Times raved about the world class waves in their travel section.

It is not surprising to me that this small and dusty jungle town is getting attention; Nosara is perfect. I know that is a bold statement, but after living here I feel confident in making it. The beaches, the ocean and the jungle backdrop are awe-inspiring. (more…)

Amsterdam!


We recently visited Esther and Family in Amsterdam, and it was a such a great trip! So great, that the whole train carriage on the way home had to listen to my kids’ lamentations about how Amsterdam is so great and Paris is not!

I know what they mean–  it is so nice discovering a new city and, as a tourist, you have the luck to only see the good sides of a city and Amsterdam has many, many good sides. It is beautiful and small, and super accessible with kids. You can rent bicycles all over the city and the choice of different bicycle types is incredible.

We stayed for four days during which time Esther and I put the world to rights, crafted and dreamt up some serious crafting projects for sometime in the future, the children got on famously and we visited some of Amsterdam’s sites. We visited the Artis Zoo and saw some lions, giraffes, wallabes, zebras and seals basking in the spring sunlight. We took a boat ride around the canals and learned all about the history of Amsterdam. We went to play in the Vondel Park which has some great play structures. We ate little pancakes and waffles fresh from a market stall. We did not even make it to the Nemo Science Museum, but check out Esther’s Amsterdam tips as she has some great ideas.

Above, the Vondel Park. And below, the giraffes at the zoo, which we stayed looking at for ages! I don’t think I have ever seen a giraffe as up close before.

Such a great trip and if you ask my daughters,(and 20 other people on our train), it’s the only place to be!

- Emilie

Weekend Get Away: Prague


Have you ever been to Prague? It is one of my top 5 European cities. It is relatively small and absolutely stunning and is one of these places where you feel surrounded by history! In short, a perfect European destination to spend a weekend with the family. Prague is yet again one of those cities I visited several times before having a kid and have not been to since. I was really happy when one of our readers Diane wanted to write about it who travels all over Europe with her family. Prague really stood out as a place that is very child friendly and fun for everyone no matter what age, so Diane has decided it was time to share her hard earned knowledge with all of us!

SEE:

Petrin Hill – Located above Mala Strana, Petrin Hill is a great place from which to view the city.  For even better views, take the elevator to the top of the mini Eiffel Tower located on its grounds.  Note that the elevator cannot accommodate strollers.  A mirror maze located on the grounds can be fun for kids of all ages.  Even getting to Petrin Hill can be fun for kids – take the funicular and enjoy the ride up.  Remember, you can’t spell funicular without fun!

Prague Castle – no trip to Prague would be complete without a visit to Prague Castle.  A whole afternoon can be spent wandering around the grounds.  Much of it may not interest your kids but stick around for the changing of the guards, as that should grab their attention.

Vysehrad Castle – Prague’s other, less visited castle has on its grounds a beautiful church, a cemetery containing the remains of famous Czechs like composers Dvorak and Smetana, and a well-stocked playground perfect for children bored by sightseeing.

Astronomical Clock – Located in the middle of Old Town (a must see as well) is the enormous astronomical clock.   It is worth sitting down in a nearby café for a snack and waiting for the top of the hour to see what happens.

PLAY:

Kralovstvi Zeleznic – Located in the basement of a building in Novy Smichov, this train museum offers lots of model train sets of different varieties whizzing by miniature cityscapes and countryside.  If your child even remotely likes trains, they will love this museum.  Plus, it is entirely indoors, so it is a great rainy (or snowy) day activity.  Your kids will recognize the Thomas train sets and older folks will appreciate the more historic trains, including the ones with “Czechoslovakia” written on the side.  For the youngest visitors, there is a room set aside with Thomas trains and other age appropriate toys.

Zoo Praha – Like most zoos, Zoo Praha offers a wide array of animals on display.  What makes this zoo stand out is its extensive children’s area complete with a petting zoo, playground and small train that children can ride (with parents, if necessary).  There is a café on the grounds.  The zoo is a bit off the beaten path but can be reached by taking the metro and then a bus.

Komunitni Centrum KAMPA – During our travels we always try to give our children an opportunity to interact with others their age by seeking out age appropriate classes and inquiring as to whether we can pay for one or two visits.  At the Komunitni Centrum KAMPA, we were able to pay for our daughter to attend a “Kids in Motion” class.  This English-speaking class involved music, movement and every toddler’s favorite, bubbles.  After class, everyone heads next door to Kampa Park for its playground and views of the Charles River. (more…)

Super cute name labels from Mooo


Summer holidays are coming to an end (phew — I need a break from all the cleaning and washing a ‘stayvacation’ entails). Aussie children are back to school, the start of a brand new school year. And that means labels. Lot’s of them. Especially for my son who starts his very first year of school (so exciting) and who would be prone to losing his beautiful head, were it not so well attached to his body. These adorable name labels are from Mooo. They also do the coolest personalised books which I have always intended to get for my children but which I have never got around to organizing. Also personalised bags, pencil cases, wooden puzzels, stationery, canvas art and an array of other personalised goodies, all of which make fabulous birthday present options.

- Sara

Retro-inspired Personalized Lunchboxes

These gorgeous personalised lunchboxes by Feterie are high on my birthday list for my children this year. With a bit of a retro-cool vibe, they are of lightweight tin construction and as functional as they are stylish. I think they’d be great for toting around paper and coloured pencils too, or whatever knick-knacks it is kids love to drag around (footy cards in my son’s case).  I can also imagine them being great for keeping all my daughter’s hair paraphernaila together — those elastics, clips and ribbons crop up all over the house, yet when we need to tie her hair each morning for school, there’s never one to be found! Feterie ship world-wide.

- Sara

Melbourne’s top 10 in Caos Magazine!

Recently, wonderful Spanish magazine Caos asked Babyccino if we could compile a list of the 10 top things to do when visiting the city of Melbourne. We were very excited to oblige! Here is the list written up which was of course then translated into Spanish (and which, most will agree, makes everything sound just so much more wonderful). (more…)

Weekend Get-away: Barcelona

To introduce our new weekend getaway feature, here is our first post from Marta in Barcelona. Barcelona is one of my favourite Mediterranean cities. It has the perfect mixture of culture, beauty, beach life and beautiful weather. It always strikes me as such a relaxed city that is easy to explore and perfect to visit ‘en famille’.

Whilst searching for someone with inside info about visiting Barcelona with kids I remembered Marta. Marta lives with her husband and little son in the wonderful Gracia part of Barcelona. She is a professional translator and also a blogger. Her blog English in Barna, is about life in Barcelona, her blog A Bilingual Bébé gives tips to Spanish speaking parents on how to raise their child bilingually, and finally she  also blogs for the international organisation Pocket Cultures. All in all Marta is the perfect person to start off our new feature. I do hope you enjoy discovering Barcelona through her post. And please do leave us any comments or recommendations you have about Barcelona. The more ideas the merrier… (more…)

The Magical Milky Way’s Super Galactic Zoo

product_thumb.phpAnother fabulous interactive colouring book just begging to be illustrated! They seem to be popping up everywhere these days and with good reason too. Created by talented Melbournian Nicole Mandile, in the first of her My Picture Storybooks series, The Magical Milky Way’s Super Galactic Zoo kept my rambunctious 4-year-old son in check on a long-haul airplane flight recently. So naturally I am a big fan. He was totally engrossed in creating, drawing and pasting away, each page providing the perfect canvas for his masterpiece. It helps that he has a complete fascination with all things galaxy-related.

The book is created using uncoated paper, a great surface to sketch on and is staple bound so the pages open flat. It is printed in Australia on 100% recycled paper. It isn’t too long or too short — just perfect to capture their little attention spans.

Available through weheartbooks for local and international shipment.

– Sara

This is Australia…

xmas13It is the 17th book in the ‘This is…’ series and Sasek is visiting down under! This is Australia is a wonderful book to add to the classic travel series, first published in the  ’70s, which Courtney posted about here!

In line with the later books in the series, the colours are slightly vintage and the images are retro and whimsical. And Sasek’s mode of travel to the land down under? Not in chains like the first British colonists, but on a Qantas big bird!! (which incidentally, ‘flies very well’, unlike the Australian penguin and emu!) I absolutely love these books — they introduce children to the people, customs and places of interest in cities around the world, captivating young readers with gorgeous illustrations and a witty narrative. I also think it’s fascinating to see each city from a 1960’s perspective. And…needless to say, in my family we just love the Aussie edition!

Available for worldwide delivery at Amazon .

ps. Courtney, this is the perfect souvenir for your children and will remind them for years to come of their great Aussie adventure!!

– Sara

Flat rental in Paris

tour.jpgWe are often asked here at Babyccino if we have any advice on flats or hotels in our cities!

I personally prefer staying in flats as opposed to hotels now that we have kids — it gives us more space and freedom. I recently stumbled over this website called VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) whilst looked for a short term rental flat for a friend in Paris and I think it is one of the best websites I have seen. The big advantage is this: the site puts you in direct contact with the owner of the flat so that you don’t need to deal with an agency. This saves you a lot of money in agency fees. It also means that you deal directly with someone who has invested themselves in their flat, mostly meaning you get a better, more personal service. There are a lot of family-friendly flats on the site in central locations, and most of the owners I have been in contact with spoke fluent English.

I have no idea if VRBO works well for other cities, but for finding short term accommodation in Paris, it has been great.

– Emilie

The airport stole my baby’s dinner

travel.jpgThis article in the Guardian by Zoe Williams made me giggle. I reckon this has happened to most of us! Isn’t it the most annoying thing to have gotten all the food ready for your baby for your holiday travels only to have it all confiscated at the airport? The funny thing is: it so depends on the security guard and what kind of day he/she is having.  Sometimes I have been let through without being questioned at all!

– Emilie

Psling

psling.jpgIt is generally true that in France you are treated very differently if you are carrying around a cute baby with you. I will never forget a cluster of ladies working in a department store who could not believe me daring to interrupt their conversation to ask the price of a handbag. They started to tell me off for interrupting… until they noticed my daughter strapped to the front of me. They turned from being complete cows to the loveliest, most helpful women! This is how I got to know the power of the baby and the baby sling and I have never looked back!
My husband bought me a Psling in NY a couple years ago, and for me it has worked out as the most comfortable and pretty sling I have seen.
It is made out of lovely cotton material that washes well (mine has been pooped on many a time and washed in a machine) and can be used in lots of different positions from newborn to age two. It is really easy to put on and off which has been great in the last few months with a newborn baby as you don’t have to wake the baby by unstrapping it when you take the sling off.
There is a great Psling shop in NY but you can also order them online.

-Emilie

Honfleur

honfleur.jpgParis in the summer can get too much; it is hot, sticky, polluted and packed with people. The metro is unbearable and the boulevards become huge blazing heat tunnels, as there is nothing to block the sun.

Luckily enough, the sea and the little harbour town of Honfleur is only about 2 hours (and what feels like another world) away.

Though it doesn’t have its own beach, the village is centered on its own picture-perfect harbour and you can while away time wandering around the lovely little cobbled stone streets. If you feel like some beach fun you can find a long, sandy beach only 10 km away in Deauville. (more…)

End of theme week…

Thank you for your tips and feedback, we hope you’ll enjoy your summer travels!!!

Keep them still

baboz.jpgWhen stopping for lunch while traveling, we always aim for kid-friendly places with nice healthy menus, crayon box and highchairs. Unfortunately they’re not always available, or those highchairs may already be taken. That’s why we always take a chair harness with us.
I have the baboz — a cloth harness that fits on most chairs and secures your child during meals. It really takes up so little space that it could permanently reside in your pram bag.

Courtney and Esther have another version, either the totseat or the grogoup chair harness.
Another very portable option, not really pocket-sized but definitely more sturdy, is the Phil&Teds Mee Too chair that was already praised by Esther.

Now you can enjoy your meals while on holiday!

-Michela

Gift-wrapped little presents

Gift-wrapped little presentsLong-haul flights with kids are never, ever easy. No matter how prepared or organized I am, I always have a moment during the ten-hour flight to the U.S. where I swear I will never ever travel again… Unfortunately, we live far from our families and so we really can’t avoid these super long flights, but the good news is that I’m getting slightly better at it.

One fail-safe trick I have is to buy a few cheap toys (small books, little cars, Schleich animals, mini puzzle, etc.) and wrap them up individually before the flight, heavy on the scotch tape. I keep them hidden and bring them out at different intervals throughout the flight. The extra scotch tape makes it a bit more difficult to open (think – an extra few distracted minutes), and then the novelty of the new toy keeps them happy for a good long stretch.

It’s not exactly bribery (though I’m not entirely against the idea); it’s just a fun way to break up the hours of sitting and sitting and sitting…

-Courtney

Car journey breaks

picnicrug.jpgI know that when we were young our parents made us travel for long hours in one stretch, but it is also true that back then we were not tightly tied to a plastic seat with a snug fit!
So what I recommend, for everybody’s sanity, is to stop every two or three hours to let your children move their limbs and get some fresh air. These stops do not have to be very long, even 10 minutes is enough to make the kids happy. Ideally you would stop near a playground but if that is not available then any grassy patch will do: just let them run!
You could even have a picnic, and here comes my second advice: always keep a picnic rug in the car– it will make all these stops more comfortable (and you can place on it the non-running members of the family)!

-Michela

Audio books

Traveling with children on long car journeys can be a bit of a challenge… We usually leave very early, so often our children sleep during the first hours of the trip. Afterwards, we try to keep them busy feeding them healthy snacks, singing songs, and playing games (I see something yellow!). And we like to listen to audio books! Often narrated by famous actors or even full casts of performers, they are great entertainment for the entire family. Music and sound effects are added, so even the simplest stories grab your attention…

One of my children favourite audio books are from Astrid Lindgren, with ‘Children of Noisy Village‘ on top of the list. We also love Julia Donaldson & Alex Scheffler’s astounding book, ‘The Gruffalo’. Read by Imelda Staunton in such an exciting and compelling way. (Available through Amazon UK or US .) And I have also heard that the complete Harry Potter series is available in the form of audio books and with Stephen Fry as the narrator apparently it’s extremely good!

xxx Esther

A little lollipop will go a LONG way…

Sugar-free lollipopNow I’m sure this will be frowned upon by some of my more patient peers, but a lollipop is a sure bet for keeping my boys happy (seated, quiet, belted) on an airplane, especially at those crucial moments like take-off and landing…

Give your kids a wrapped lollipop and it will give you at least 15 minutes of quiet time: five minutes to get the wrapper off, and then at least 10 to enjoy their lolly!

You can even buy sugar-free lollipops these days, which are better for their teeth, and they can’t tell the difference! Oh lolly, lolly, lolly, lollipop!!

-Courtney

Stickers everywhere

peppastickers.jpgSometime the simplest things are best. What has turned out the be the best thing to keep my 2-year-old busy in trains, planes and automobiles? Stickers!! I would never in a million years have thought of it, but my friend Katja handed me a whole book full of Peppa Pig stickers for a car journey recently, and I have never seen a little person spend so much time looking at something –contemplating what to do with it, where exactly to put it, delicately placing it, deciding that it was the wrong place to place it, then take it off and start all over again. You might spend a few minutes after you arrive at your destination un-sticking stickers from windows and chairs, but it will provide hours of fun for your kids, and sanity for the rest of the family!

– Emilie

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