A few days in Portland

walking downtown portland

We’ve just finished a little road trip from Lake Tahoe, NV, where Michael’s parents have a home, back up to Seattle where we will spend the rest of our summer holiday with my family. We did some sightseeing along the way and really enjoyed exploring some new parts of California and Oregon we have never seen before. We decided to stop in Portland  on our way and spend a few days checking out the city. Despite having grown up in Seattle, I’ve never really spent much time in Portland… and we keep hearing such good things about it!

I can definitely say it is worth all the hype. Portland is such a great little city, so easy to navigate with all the wonderful shops and restaurants located downtown in an easily walkable grid. It’s a perfect destination for a weekend break because it’s small enough to explore, but still feels very much like a hip, happening city. We loved it!

Here’s a little recap of our visit and some photos too:

We arrived into Portland in time to check into our hotel and walk to dinner at Oven & Shaker in the Pearl District. We sat outside and enjoyed good pizza and beer. We then stopped by Ruby Jewel for ice cream on our way back to our hotel. Lots of people suggested to go to Salt & Straw for ice cream, but we never made it there. Apparently they serve delicious ice cream in the most unusual flavours (and it’s so popular they have a queue going around the block!).

marlow at Kenny & Zuke's

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at Kenny & Zuke’s (I ate the gravlax salmon bagel and it was delicious!) and then good coffee from Stumptown. We then enjoyed a bit of window shopping in the new Union Way shopping arcade across the street. Quin was excited to find a candy shop named Quin (!!) while I was happy to take a quick stroll through Steven Alan.

Quin candy shop

kids in portland

After window shopping, we walked down to Portland Pedal Bike Tours where we rented bikes for the day. We put the girls in a trailer behind my bike, Quin rode tandem with Michael, and Easton rode his own bike. We had so much fun cycling around the city and exploring the various neighbourhoods (once I got the hang of riding a bike in a dress and pulling two heavy girls behind me! oh my!).

girls in bike trailer

During our bike ride around town, we stopped for lunch at Por Qué No?. The kids were hot and sweaty from cycling in the 90º heat and they loved getting iced cold prickly pear juice to cool them off. The tacos were yummy too!

kids at por que no

At the end of our cycle, we stopped for a while and let the kids run through the fountains at the waterfront park near the Hawthorne Bridge. The kids were so hot, they went in completely clothed (we didn’t have their swimsuits!). I nearly went in too – I was so beat from riding all over town with the girls in tow! ;)

portland water fountain

For dinner that night we met one of Michael’s college friends at one of Portland’s hot spots, Tasty & Alder. The food was again delicious! It was worth the hour long wait to get in (no reservations taken). And even though we were the only ones in there with kids, they were really friendly and accommodating to our big group.

The next day Michael had a few meetings so I was on my own with the kids. We started our day by hitting up the photobooth at the Ace Hotel. I’m a sucker for the old-school photobooths, and my kids loved them so much, they were nearly in tears when I told them we had to leave!

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

We then walked over to Powell’s Books, which is a great (enormous!) bookstore selling both new and used books. We sat in the children’s section reading books to each other for a good porting of the morning, and I let the kids each pick out two books to take home with them. It was a great place to escape the heat, and would equally be a great place to escape the rain or cold if you visited during other seasons.

After the bookstore, we walked over to Jamison Square. We picked up pizza from Hot Lips (great name!) and ate lunch in the park, and then the kids ran around in the fountains for a couple hours! Phew! : )

jamison square water fountain

On our way back from the fountains I managed to squeeze in a little visit to Canoe, which is a shop I had been eyeing for the past couple days. I wanted to buy everything in store! So many pretty homewares! Alas, I did not buy everything in the shop. : )

canoe shop

That night, we had a quick dinner at Lardo. The kids got hot dogs, and I had a tasty sandwich. It was all I could manage with four exhausted kids, but it was pretty good for a sandwich joint. The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Mother’s before driving out of town and heading for Seattle. They served us waffles topped with juicy blackberries picked that morning!

That’s it! What a great little trip. I definitely recommend visiting Portland. We will go back for sure!

xx Courtney

p.s. Feel free to add tips in the comments below if you have any other recommendations for people visiting the city. Thank you!

I lost Ava on the beach!

beach_gurski

Yesterday, I took our 4 children to the beach because it was hot and humid and the beaches in the Netherlands are windy and fresh. I met up with our friend Maud and her two children, and we were lounging and chatting and drinking fresh fruit juices and watching our children play. You get the gist. At some point, when Pim had asked me to play beach ball with him for the gazzilionest time, I finally got my lazy bum up from the deckchair for some tennis with my boy. After 3 minutes I looked around, and I noticed Ava was missing. Gone!

I started to walk around, looking for her. Nothing. I checked the water. Nothing. I went up to the beach club, nothing. And then I started to panic. I started to run around, calling her name. I called the alarm number, I went back to the beach club, where the part time manager was a police agent, and who took my calls from the coast guard (!). He tried to calm me, assuring me that she would be fine, she would get back. But the only thing I could focus on, is on that tiny chance that she wouldn’t be allright! I don’t think I have ever been so afraid in my life. In the meantime, there were loads of people (other mums) helping me search. Maud was running all over the beach and to the streets. But she was gone!

After a few minutes (in which I died a thousand deaths), my hero policeman finally got a call that she was found. Safely, further up on the beach. Quite a very far walk away!

Thankfully, she was safe. Tired, but safe. And I learned a few things, that I wanted to share with you here…

1. Beaches can be busy. In our case it was! Ava lost her way, and couldn’t find our spot again. So she started to walk, looking for us. What I usually do (and stupidly forgot this time), is to look for an anchor point — a certain flag, pole, bright umbrella, any reference that is noticeable enough for a child to find their way back to our spot.

2. Children should always wear a phone number on their arm. My other children were wearing their RingRings, but Ava had taken them off and I hadn’t checked / noticed. Stupid.

3. When children loose their way on the beach, they generally start walking away from the sun and the wind. So best to start looking in that direction. (So true — in our case, this is exactly the direction in which Ava went).

4. There’s an Amber alert app for your phone, in which you can save a current portrait photo of your child and other crucial information for when your child goes missing. I’ve had this app on my phone for a while now, but I never filled out my children’s details until now. Apparently, finding a decent photo of your missing child and recalling crucial information like length and eye colour is super difficult if you’re in a state of total stress and shock.  So best to do this now.

Hopefully none of this is ever necessary, but I thought to tell you just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

xxx Esther

(Artwork by Andreas Gursky)

 

Djeco mini games (perfect for traveling!)

djeco_mini_games
My good friend Kim always brings the best gifts for my children. She recently visited us from London, and again managed to bring something awesome! She spoiled each of my kids with a Djeco Mini Game, and they are such a big hit. With the vacations around the corner, and so many of us traveling to faraway and exciting places, I thought they were just too good not to share.

djeco
Djeco Mini Games are a variety of 30 cards, all bundled in a pack, with each of them featuring yet another old-fashioned brain teaser. There are card packs with ‘spot the ten differences’, ‘find the missing piece’, ‘sudoko’, ‘maze’, ‘connect the dots’ etc etc — so much fun (also for adults)! And perfect entertainment for in the back of the car, on the plane, in the train, in a restaurant… You name it. I’m definitely going to pick up a few more (if indeed we manage to get away with our house renovations in full swing).

You can find a good variety of the Djeco Mini Games at PSikhouvanjou, Little Citizens Boutique, and My Little Day.

xxx Esther

The Bugaboo wool collection

Wool is known for its wonderful, temperature regulating properties. So this past summer, when it was hot and humid and sticky, I cut holes in a sheep skin and put it in my Bugaboo as a seat cover. Like this Casper was always on a soft, natural and breathable ‘mattress’, which kept him cool as well as comfortable.

So I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Bugaboo recently teamed up with Woolmark and created a beautiful woollen seat liner with exactly those same thoughts in mind! The seat liner is made from 100% pure wool and fits all Bugaboo models. It can be used all year long — in summer it will help to keep your baby cool and comfy, and in winter warm and cosy. It also has a pretty grey padded reverse side — so you can change your look every now and then.

Bugaboo also developed a super soft, 100% extra fine merino wool blanket in three pretty colours, and — this is so exciting for those mums currently expecting a winter baby — beginning of next year there will be a soft and natural merino woollen mattress cover for the Bugaboo carrycot available as well.

I love this line. So much prettier and easier-to-care-for than my home-made solution! (And Casper is ever so cosy and comfortable, as you can see!)

xxx Esther

Our summer holidays in Holland

Oh! It is so nice for me to remember our holidays in Holland this past summer! We went in July and we were so lucky with everything. We are in a program of house exchange and everything went just perfect!. We really loved our house and the garden with the lovely wooden house.

Great memories and lovely times in our garden!. So much fun. But speaking about fun… how great it was for us to ride a cargo bike the whole holidays!. For us Spaniards, riding bikes is not the norm, let alone a cargo bike!. That was just amazing, and we really really enjoyed it!

We really enjoyed our area, with the lakes, and canals. We had amazing weather so we got to do many things outdoors. We also went to our nearest city, Haarlem. We adored it! One of my favourites shops was Meneer Paprika. A really cool store and cafe, the paradise for children and adults!.

A very relaxed, healthy, quiet, and amazing summer we had!!. Really looking forward to going back to The Netherlands. In fact, looking forward to next summer!!!!! ;-)

Happy to be back here!!

-Maria

To read more from Maria, visit her lovely blog Escarabajos Bichos y Mariposas.

My tips for travelling with young children

After a wonderful, lazy summer in the Seattle area with my family, we have just returned this week back to London. Every summer my husband flies out there with us, but unfortunately can’t stay the entire time… which means that every year I end up flying back home solo with all the kids.  It’s the teensy price I pay for a nice, long, extended holiday with my family. Totally worth the trek!

Plus, I feel like I’m getting kind of good at it by now. Or maybe it’s that my kids are getting good at it and that makes an enormous difference. In any case, I thought I would share with you some of my simple tips for (long-haul) flying with young kids…

  • Try to avoid the ‘oh my gosh, I’m flying for 10 hours on a plane with my kids –  I must pack every single thing I have in the house to entertain/feed/care/clean/change them’ feeling, and pack as little as you can. I used to bring the kids their own headphones for the TVs, and those neck pillow thingies for sleeping, and a change of clothes, and an entire bag of snacks. But it meant that I was carrying on at least two enormous (and heavy bags!). It made the schlep through the airport tiresome, and we often ended up not using most things. This recent trip, I packed one bag and tried to keep it as lightweight as possible. (You can also give your kids their own backpack and ask them to tote around the things they need for the plane – toys, books, snacks, etc.)
  • Use a baby carrier instead of a buggy. It’s so much easier going through security and navigating a busy airport if you’re carrying your baby instead of pushing them in a buggy. You can go straight through security carrying your baby – no need to empty your buggy, fold it up, have it examined by the airport security, etc. It also means you have your hands free to hold other children’s hands, or carry bags, etc. My favourite right now is the Ergo Baby Carrier .
  • We always eat in the airport before boarding the plane and skip the first meal they serve on board. It’s not easy holding a baby and trying to eat off your little tray in front of you. And inevitably one of your kids will need his meal chopped up, or will spill his drink in his lap, and you’ll have to get up to help… and it will be extremely difficult if you have your food on a tray on your tray table in front of you. Just skip the meal entirely.
  • Make sure your kids use the toilet before boarding the plane to eliminate any extra trips to the bathroom on the plane. It seems like common sense, but I have forgotten before… and there’s nothing worse than your child telling you he has to go potty when the plane is taking off and the seatbelt sign is on! (Also make sure to change your baby’s nappy.)
  • Pack simple, non-messy snacks. I like raisins because it seems to occupy the kids for a while, trying to grab little raisins out of the box, and they’re not messy. I also like to pack nuts or trailmix, snack bars, dried mango, pretzels, fruit, etc. Before take-off, I always have a box of raisins ready for the baby in case she gets antsy sitting still on my lap when the seatbelt sign is on. (I also still nurse Marlow… and that is a big help for calming her down, and keeping her ears from popping during take-off and landing. Nursing is the easiest thing, but if you don’t nurse, you should have a prepared bottle on hand for the same reason.)
  • Dress (you and your children) in comfortable clothing. I never bother with changing them into their pyjamas – I just find that it’s an extra hassle. Instead, I dress them in normal, comfortable clothes, and make sure everyone has an extra layer (like a hoodie or a cardigan) in case it gets cold. I always bring a scarf for myself because I always get cold on planes.
  • Don’t bring too much, but make sure you have some simple entertainment on hand. I have always found that once kids get to the age of 4 or 5, they are much more independent on airplanes because they can watch TV or movies. My boys are so easy on airplanes now. I don’t even think they got up to use the toilet the entire time on our recent flight from Seattle to London – they were either watching movies or sleeping. So… for children under 4, you will need to have some entertainment on hand. Things like simple paper pads and a pen, sticker books and colouring books (you can often buy them in the airport bookshops), and paperback books (hardback books are too heavy – leave them at home!). If you have an ipad or iphone you should make sure you have children’s games or books on there (see here for ideas).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. People are always so sympathetic to mothers travelling with small children. Ask the flight attendants to help if you need it. You can even ask for help when going through the airport. One time I had to ask for help getting my sleeping children and bags off the airplane and to over customs because I simply couldn’t carry everything. Someone came immediately to help me and got me all the way through the airport.

I hope these tips were somewhat helpful and not just redundant things everyone already knows. Please feel free to add any tips I may have forgotten below.  And lastly, I’ve written my tips for beating jet-lag here if you’re interested.

xx Courtney

p.s. Photo above is of my children on the ferry overlooking Seattle, and a photo of Marlow in the Ergo carrier.

Weekend Getaway: Hamburg

As you might have noticed I have a big soft spot for Germany, the country I partly grew up in, and Hamburg has always been one of my favourite German cities. It has this great majestic, Northern European vibe. Crazy how Europe is so small and cities and their architecture are soo different!

One of the great things about Hamburg is how very much it is centred around the water and river. Our reader Sarah, who put together this post on Hamburg, actually knows a lot about living around and on water as it is her job to decorate yachts. She lives between Hamburg and Venice with her family and I am super excited to share with you her tips on this great city! Here is her guide:

You will love Hamburg as it is a typical Northern European city with lots of attractions, water, ships and shops! There are a lot of big attractions in Hamburg, such as the fish market, the vintage ships, the harbour and St. Pauli, a lot of museums, and so on, but I decided to introduce you to some of my favourite places with kids. We have a lot of wonderful parks and quarters with multi-kulti (multi-cultural) flair.

SEE & PLAY

Canal Tour:  A cruise along the Alster canals reveals the mysterious side of Hamburg. You will find beautifully-kept villas with hidden parklands and luxurious houses, as well as other interesting sights (like a real venetian gondola) along unspoilt riverbanks. Although you are near to the city centre, you will find yourself in the midst of the greenery. Don’t forget to take along a typical Hamburg picnic made up out of fishballs and herring. The tour starts at Jungfernstieg, one of the most famous shopping streets in Hamburg.

Hamburg Planterium: What happened at the BIG BANG? and other questions to be answered at Planetarium Hamburg. It is really a magical place not only for children. Built as a water tower in 1912 it is an architectural landmark with a breathtaking view from the observation deck on top. Experience a great sky show with a trip through space and time. After an amazing laser show, you can have a walk in the Stadtpark as the Planetarium is surrounded by the biggest park in town. And if you visit Hamburg during summertime come and bring your swim clothes, as there is a wonderful bath from the 1930s!

The Miniatur Wunderland: Visit the world. America, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Germany & the world’s largest model railway!
This is the most popular family tourist attraction in Hamburg. There are more than 7.000 square meters of different levels, moving cars and trains, flying planes, snow, sun and rain. Thousands of mini people populate this stunning “little” world. You definitely need binoculars to explore everything. For kids it is amazing, but exhausting, too. There are lots of people and a million things to watch; so plan a lot of time and book tickets in advance. Bring a lot to drink and, after the visit, stroll around the famous Hafencity and Speicherstadt. The Speicherstadt is the former trade centre of Hamburg. Large warehouses out of typical red brickstones along the canals are worth the trip! Right behind this Trade City you can take a walk through Europe’s largest new building project: the Hafencity. Find a lot of small cafés, the hilarious Philharmonic building, the Maritime Museum and the Prototyp Museum with a lot of Porsche cars, little harbors for sailing boats and a playground right behind every corner. Enjoy the view and drinks at a café called Carl’s and fall in love with Hamburg.

PLAY

Strandperle: The Strandperle was build in the end of the 19th century right on the waterfront. It used to be a milk shop! You might still be able to get milk, but you can also lay back with a glass of white wine or a typical Hamburg beer, the Astra. While you enjoy the fantastic view on the harbor skyline, huge container vessels from Panama and Nowosibirsk will sail past and the kids can play and conquer the beach. Yes, the beach! Hamburg has more than 10 kilometers beach and we love it!  Plan a day for the Strandperle, as you will not tear yourself away from this terrific place! Later that day you can climb up the hill up to the Elbchaussee, Hamburgs “Avenue Princess Grace”. After 15 minutes walk you will find a quarter called Ottensen, with a lot of small shops, cafés and restaurants. Handmade objects are on sale here, as are small fashion labels and the world’s best ice-cream in a shop called “Eisliebe”. Have a wine in the “Garage” Kleine Rainstrasse 1, eat cheese and ham before returning to your hotel.

SHOP

Herr Max – a wonderful patisserie in fancy Schanzenviertel, Schulterblatt 12. Delicious little pastries, fresh cakes and biscuits. And it is absolutely sinful!

Vergissmeinicht – it’s the name of this litlle romantic flower, forget-me-not. And you will find a lot of wonderful fashion brands for kids, toys and costumes, little vintage toys, vintage jewelery and hair stuff. Great little shop!

Herr von Eden – for Men: Tailormade woollen cashmere suits, denim shirts, hats, jackets, silk scarfs. Very stylish, very modern, very spezial! Herr von Eden is one of the most beloved brands for individual men.

Kauf dich glücklich – become happy by shopping! A glorious combination of little nice things, books and a lot of fresh german labels. Especially for Mama!  It’s on Susannenstrasse 4. Bars and a playground around fort he rest of the family.

SLEEP

Here are a couple of suggestions for hotels: The Side Hotel,  the Riverside Hotel,  the 25hours Hafencity Hotel and the George.

Come along & Ahoi!

Sarah

Ring-Rings.com: your phone number on your child

It must be one of every parent’s worst fears — losing your child in a crowd. The airport, an amusement park, the park on a warm summer day, the beach… all places where it’s so, so easy for a child to get lost. ‘She was just here a second ago’ is a phrase I know too well myself, and thankfully (touch wood!!), we’ve always found our kids back before panic broke loose. However, kids do get lost all the time, and this is where Ring-rings.com comes with a simple solution: silicon armbands with your phone number embossed in it.

I ordered two Ring-rings each for my kids, one with my husband’s number and one with mine, and so far they’ve been great! They’re waterproof, the colours are fun (glow-in-the-dark even!) and the miniature sizes are perfect for small children’s tiny wrists. They also have a very high ‘cool’ factor, my kids have not taken them off since they arrived.

This summer when we’re traveling, it’s safe to know my kids will have our phone numbers on them at all times. (But I hope they won’t need them!)

xxx Esther

Insider tips: Positano, Italy


The lovely Joanna from A Cup Of Jo (who is expecting her second baby any minute now!!) recently asked me to share my insider tips on Positano with her readers.

We’ve now been to Positano every year for the past ten years. For us, it feels like going home — some of the locals even feel like family. It is certainly one of our favourite places in the whole wide world, and so it was easy answering her questions and sharing our tips. Thank you Joanna for featuring them on your blog!

xx Courtney

Ten Seaside Escapes

We’ve teamed up with the fabulous travel site i-escape which offers a well curated selection of stylish travel destinations along with an easy-to-use booking service. They’ve kindly agreed to scour their collection of chic family friendly hotels, villas & apartments to narrow down 10 of their favourite stylish seaside escapes. Perfect for summer holiday planning! Both Esther and I have previously booked holidays with i-escape and they were some of our favourite family vacations, so we are especially excited to discover their suggestions. Take a look at these ten great seaside escapes all hand-picked from their dedicated Kids Collection:

1.) Almyra, Paphos, Cyprus

Stressed-out parents can fully recharge their batteries on the beach, by the pool or in the spa, safe in the knowledge that the little ones are having the time of their life! This unpretentious design hotel’s superb kids’ club caters for all ages up to 17, with activities ranging from t-shirt painting, treasure hunts and tennis lessons, to banana-boating excursions and snorkelling for teens. Added to that, the staff are super-friendly and the sun shines here over 300 days a year!

2.) Fiskardo Cottages, Kefalonia, Greece

Set in a gloriously peaceful location, within walking distance of 2 unspoilt beaches, these charming whitewashed cottages (sleeping 2-6) are the perfect rural retreat and great for older kids. Head for the hills and hike through dramatic scenery, sail, snorkel, scuba dive or just play in the shared pool. The slick modern kitchens mean self-catering is a pleasure or you can walk to the nearby village tavernas for delicious local dishes and fresh seafood.

3.) The Rosevine, Cornwall, UK

This chic apartment-hotel has a wonderfully casual vibe making it a haven for families. Designed with kids in mind, they have heaps of baby paraphernalia to borrow (less to pack!) and kids will be kept well-entertained by a toy-laden playroom, indoor pool and playground in the garden. The restaurant has a kids’ menu, and at night its candlelit – pack your baby monitor and ‘dine out’. But the best bit? It’s a just a short stroll from wide, sandy Porthcurnick beach and the hotel has buckets, spades and fishing nets to borrow for rock-pooling.

4.) Txai, Bahia, Brazil

Rustic simplicity meets style and luxury at this eco-friendly estate on Bahia’s undeveloped Cacoa Coast. With an emphasis on nature, tranquility and beauty, make the most of vast unspoilt white-sand beaches and hill-top Shamash spa, take surfing lessons or go horse riding or hiking along one of the stunning trails. There are plenty of grassy areas for children to play on and our reviewer found it near-impossible to extract his young daughter from the fab kids’ pool.

5.) Azur, near Antalya, Turkey

If you’re after beachside bliss on a budget, Azur Hotel’s simple wooden cabins are the ones for you. Despite having no formal crèche, it’s a great place for kids with safe lawned gardens and hidden hammocks, a child-friendly pool, lovely staff who know each child by name and boat and jeep trips for adventurous day trips. Nearby Cirali beach, one of Europe’s loveliest, has wonderfully clear blue waters for swimming and snorkelling.

6.) Hell Bay, Bryher, Isles of Scilly, UK

Set on Bryher – the smallest inhabited island of Scilly and many people’s favourite – this 25-room hotel allows you to stay in style and comfort and its restaurant is billed as the best on these isles. Owned by Tresco’s Dorrien-Smith family you can expect solid and dependable service and rooms with a distinct New England style. Couples will revel in being somewhere so unique, so far out. But it also has special appeal for families thanks to sandy beaches, a heated pool, games room and local farm chickens which little ones can feed.

7.) Jashita, near Tulum, Mexico

Laid-back beach sophistication and a dreamy Zen style are the order of the day at Jashita. Uniquely secluded, it’s the only hotel on this pristine beach with shallow aquamarine waters that’s sheltered by its own coral reef. Families will love Villa Jasmine, a beach house for 10 that offers independence and the opportunity to self-cater, along with the use of the hotel’s facilities and restaurant. Kids will love the beach and boat trips and there are adventure parks nearby.

8.) Onar, Andros, Greece

Walking through the river from this collection of simple stone cottages (sleeping 2-7) to the beach is the sort of thing fantastic family memories are made of. The atmosphere here is secluded but the communal meals and effervescent host ensure that you’ll never feel lonely. Kids will love the natural swimming pool nearby and the small playground, while sun, sea, delicious fresh food and stylishly simple décor will reinvigorate even the most jaded workaholics.

9.) Esplendido, Puerto Soller, Mallorca

One of our most popular hotels for families in Spain, there will be lots of new friends for your kids to play with at this hip hotel in picturesque Puerto Soller. Occupying the top position in the middle of the bay, the proximity of the beach is a godsend with energetic youngsters, and means you can hear the waves lapping below from the sea view terraces. And don’t underestimate the excitement provided by the many ice-cream shops and the tram to Soller!

10.) Marari Villas, Kerala, India

Within a whisper of the sea on a white-sand beach, these boutique villas (sleeping 2-6) are great for families as they combine the privacy of a villa with room service and a private chef. Each villa offers a secluded haven (your own living space, your own garden, some with a pool) with all the luxuries of a larger resort, but they are closer to nature, more intimate and better value. There’s plenty of kit for kids (toys, books, inflatable toys, cricket kits) and babies (pushchair, backpack, car seat, sunshades), so you can pack light(er!).

………………..

We have teamed up with i-escape and Sunuva to give-away a whopping £500 summer prize! The prize includes a £200 gift certificate to use towards a stay at one of i-escapes family escapes as well as a £300 gift voucher at Sunuva to stock up on adorable and UV-protective beachwear! Click here to enter to win!

Our last-minute trip to Portugal


Beaches of Lourinhã

Last week was May break here in the Netherlands, and very last minute my husband and I decided to book tickets for an 8 day trip to Portugal — we just had to escape the dreary weather here in Amsterdam for a bit! The evening before we left we booked a car and a hotel for the first 4 nights, about 100 km north of Lisbon. Leaving the planning of the trip to the absolute last minute in the end worked out perfectly well, we had an amazing time! Maybe you would like to hear a little bit about our adventures? (more…)

Tips about Paris


I often get asked for tips about Paris. But living in a city is so different to visiting, that I often have trouble answering. So I wanted to put together a little list of places and services you might find helpful if you are planning a trip to Paris, especially with the whole family.

Complete Paris a fabulous concierge service which will organise as much as you need. Ali, the lovely owner, has children herself so she is very aware of the needs of families travelling to Paris. She can organise trustworthy English speaking babysitters, pick-ups in cars with car seats, recommend shows — basically take a lot of the stress out of the trip, so you can enjoy Paris.

Chic Shopping Paris – Rebecca is a dear friend of mine, who has been running some of the best shopping tours around Paris for years. (Rebecca also was a correspondent for Babyccino many moons ago, when she lived in Washington for a brief period). She has excellent taste and is super personable, so it is a great experience. You will definitely discover some of the hidden shopping treasures of Paris.

The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris – This is an excellent App in English specialising in anything to do with food in Paris. It lists some fabulous restaurants, markets and shops and it very easy to navigate. It is great if you want to find great French food in your area and don’t know where to start.

Paris Velo C’est Sympa – Paris is getting much more accessible for bicycles, especially on Sundays, when the quais along the Seine are closed of for cars. Sometimes it is nice, especially when the sun is shining, to discover Paris overground, rather than travelling everywhere by metro. This place rents bicycles by the day and also rents out kids seats for the bicycles, and tandem bikes.

Paris Taxi – I’ve used this company a few times as they are some of the few taxi companies to provide child seats. They were mainly good for airplane pick up and drop off, rather than travelling within Paris.

Velib’ – The Velib’ almost doesn’t need an introduction: these bicycles dotted around the city are now so part of Parisians everyday life, one hardly notices them. Velib’ is now the largest bike-sharing network in the world. Since the Velib’ scheme started, cycling around Paris has become much easier and the crazy drivers and cyclists are starting to co-exist in fragile harmony. The Velib’s are a great way for getting around Paris, which, when you actually get onto a bicycle, is a relatively small city.

I would love to hear if you have any other tips to add onto my list!

- Emilie

Vacation at home

This summer many of us might have to stay at home. When I read in a magazine about this new word “staycation” I thought it was a good idea. In that magazine says that if  it happens and you have to stay home, it doesn’t have to be something bad — we can even turn it into something good, and really enjoy it. Today, some simple but nice ideas!

1. The most important thing is to have holiday spirit. That will make you have the perfect holiday. Put the world on hold: turn off your phone, do an “out of the office” message on your email, skip the news for a week. Even if you have access to it, why not stay away during the vacation.

2. Go on a picnic. Prepare a beautiful basket, with good food, and make a party outdoors in the wood or the beach. That would make it so special.

Via

3. Be a local tourist in your own town. Sometimes we do not take notice of the beauty of our towns just because we live there. Approach your city like a tourist and do all those things tourists do while in town. It is almost certain that you’ll learn and see amazing things.

4. Learn something new. With the long days and the holidays you can find some time to do something you couldn’t do during the winter. I want to learn to knit this summer!.

Via

5. Look for shows and concerts that are happening in your town. Those you don’t usually go because they are late and you work the next day!.

Nico in a concert in La Laboral (Spain) last year

6. Treat yourself with some extra spending. Order food from your favorite restaurant and invite your friends to a lovely dinner in your house! And let yourself do extra expenses like go to the cinema, enjoy cafes, and terraces… without feeling guilty.

7. Get your house cleaned for you and forget about daily tasks. Not having to make the beds, do laundry or dust will just make a big difference!.

8. Take a camping trip in your own backyard or your livingroom. Kids will feel as if they were in the other part of the world.

Via

9. Enjoy mornings in your own house. Most of the year we rush, sometimes even in the weekends. Spend some time at your house with no hurry, play your favourite music, plan the day, have long and relaxed breakfast…

10. And if life gives you lemons… make lemonade!. With tons of sugar, please!

Via

I wish you all enjoy your holidays, wether at home or not!

- Maria

Lovely bungalows on the beach, a camping holiday

Today I would like to share a lovely camping holiday destination on the coast of Tarragona: Camping Las Palmeras. I was there a couple of years ago and it is an amazing place to go with kids. Surrounded by the natural park of Punta Mora, and located right on the beach, it is really a special place. I am in love with the white bungalows just on the beachfront. You step out of the cottage onto the sand of the beach… how nice is that?!!!!.

Lots of activities, windsurfing even with their own windsurfing school, tennis courts, football fields… (more…)

The 4 Reasons hotel in Turkey: a heavenly stay!


We just came back from a week in Turkey where we stayed in the most beautiful, relaxing hotel: the 4 Reasons hotel on the Bodrum peninsula. It was like a dream! The hotel is just amazing: it’s located on a hill top, overlooking old olive orchards with the little village of Yalikavak behind it, located on the Aegean sea with its many islands. The hotel gardens are stunning, with the grand palm trees, the olive trees in bloom, the Murlberry trees full of fruit ready to be picked (the kids loved it), the shady grass area with a lily pond full of quacking frogs and at least one turtle… There’s bocce ball to be played (a ball game similar to pétanque), a huge refreshing swimming pool, an award winning barman who makes the best lemonades in the world and loves children, a well filled library, a pool table for entertainment at nights (my husband and I were both crap at it but so competitive!). We were spoiled with an extensive breakfast on the terrace every morning, overlooking the beautiful bay area and village below, and lunch and dinners were equally lovely and tasteful. The service was impeccable, the staff super sweet and helpful, and never intruding.

The village is a pleasant 20 minutes walk and there are a few nice restaurants, a little harbour, and some touristy shops — it makes for a lovely little outing. We greatly enjoyed the local market with the most amazing fruits, vegetables and textiles on Thursday!

A trip to Bodrum was fun with the local mini buses (dolmus). We spent most of the day visiting the 15th century Bodrum castle with in it the underwater museum with treasures and ship wrecks, a worthy visit — the castle is beautiful, with great gardens, peacocks roaming around, and amazing views over the city and the sea. We also visited the insignificant (but still impressive!) remains of one of the seven ancient world wonders, the Mausuleum of Mausolus. The Bodrum daily market was fun with stalls filled with spices, fruits, veggies, housewares and some handmade wooden toys and utensils.

We booked the 4 Reasons hotel through I-escape and stayed in one of the ‘functional’ rooms, which was not at all big but very nice, fresh and functional, with a separate bed and bathroom area for the two bigger children (5 and 6). We had Ava (1) in a cot in the room with us. We took a flight to Bodrum airport and the ever so nice and helpful hotel staff arranged transfers to and from the hotel for us. All in all, this was a vacation I can totally recommend if you like to go somewhere relaxing and beautiful with little children in tow (or without!). We’ll certainly be back.

xxx Esther

Ten of the best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Europe from i-escape

I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with the lovely team from i-escape which happens to be one of our very favourite travel sites for boutique accommodation. They have recently launched a new kids collection which features over 700 kid-friendly hotels and self-catering properties around the world — hotels which warmly welcome children and yet still offer the wow factor for parents. Their new collection offers everything from city apartments where you can live like a local to far-flung beach retreats with babysitting options. To narrow down some hotel options, we asked them to suggest ten of their favourite kid-friendly hotels in Europe. Here is their inspiring list (which is your favourite?):

We all know that choosing family holidays is tricky; you want to relax but the kids need to be entertained, and trying to find somewhere that achieves both can seem impossible. Which is why we’ve done the hard work for you, and selected the best of our Family Collection in Europe! With endless outdoor activities, beautiful beaches and kids’ clubs for all ages, these boutique offerings might just be that nirvana you’ve been searching for…

Ammos Hotel, Crete, Greece:
You’ll find style with a big smile at this chic beachfront hotel. With sheltered, shallow waters, a sandy beach and a kids’ pool, it’s particularly suited to babies and toddlers, and there’s a kids’ room with a climbing frame and drawing equipment. Parents can enjoy delicious food and panoramic views on the gorgeous dining terrace, and each room has a kitchenette so you can whip up meals for little’uns. Best of all, it’s not too expensive. (more…)

Ten Handy Products for Travelling with Kids

We recently compiled a list of ten handy kiddie travel products for our friends over at i-escape. Check out our list here, and while you’re there make sure to have a look at their newly launched Kids Collection offering more than 700 amazing, family-friendly holiday accommodations.

x Courtney

Welcome Celina from Montreal!

We are super, super excited to announce our newest contributor, Celina Bailey from Montreal. Hooray for some Canadian representation! And hooray for the lovely Celina!
We ‘met’ Celina on Pinterest a couple months ago… and love everything she pins. We then started following her blog and like everything she blogs. I have since been in touch with her over email, and in just a short couple weeks have found a friend in her! (Isn’t it fun, this world we live in? Where we can have virtual friendships with other mums across the world?!)

Celina is a mum of two, born in England but raised in Montreal, and has been in the children’s fashion world for the past 12 years (designer, children’s boutique owner, and blogger). We are incredibly excited to have Celina on our little blogging team, and we look forward to all the fun things she’ll share!

x Courtney

Weekend Get-Away: Madrid

I love Spain — the culture, the cities, the people and the great, great food. I have not been to Madrid in years (actually decades) and had no idea if it is a good place to visit with kids.  Luckily we got some local intel from the lovely Beatriz.

Beatriz, a Spanish native, lives in Madrid with her husband, her daughter Martina and her dog. During the day, she works in communications for a Spanish Luxury Brand. During the night, she runs her blog Con Botas de Agua about things that inspire her.

Here are Beatriz’s recommendations if you happen to be in Madrid (or need an excuse to go!): (more…)

So simple: Scoot ‘n Pull


As always — simple ideas are best. All of us, mummies of Microscooter-users, know that Microscooters can be tiring, and pushing a 2-year-old home on his/her scooter can result in a really sore back (and not to mention, a foul mood)! Also, the scooter doesn’t really fit in the buggy, does it? Now, with this simple invention, the Scoot ‘n Pull, you can simply pull your kid when he’s tired, and carry the scooter over your shoulder when not in use! Brilliant. I have already thrown my Scoot ‘n Pull in our buggy. Great to have around!

xxx Esther

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