As my journey through Europe draws to and end and as a follow on from my last post I thought I would write about the lessons I have learnt whilst travelling with a baby and why the imperfect experiences I have had have made it perfect.
I write to you from Amsterdam the last leg of our trip and thankfully the flattest! It’s been an amazing trip visiting new countries, revisiting old ones and seeing them in a new light and catching up with family.
Prior to Amsterdam we left sunny Lagos, Portugal where the beaches and rugged coastline are stunning and the people are equally as beautiful and accommodating. After exploring the winding streets and culture of Lisbon we decided to hit the Algarve coast for some well needed R&R.
It’s been an interesting experience to say the least travelling with a baby. Some days have been perfect, meandering around the cobble stone streets in the old towns of Edinburgh, Lisbon, Lagos and Amsterdam; enjoying the sights and taking in the culture but some days have been utterly painful.
Not wanting to sound like a negative Nancy because I am grateful that I even get the opportunity to travel I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t share some truths about my experience.
- Sleeping is for suckers – With the amount of sleep I have had during this trip there’s a part of me that feels like I’m back in my 20’s and 4-5 hours sleep is all I need, partying until the sun comes up and then doing it all again. Except this time my lack of sleep is not due to hitting up bars and nightclubs it’s thanks to a baby who has had some major issues with teething and doesn’t deal with pain lightly. Whilst generally happy there have been some days and nights where Gus has turned into Mr. Furious and his mood has resembled the tone of a Rage Against the Machine song– angry and full of F bombs!
- Drug dealers don’t discriminate – Never in all my days travelling have I ever been offered drugs so many times. Whilst in Portugal myself and Ric were stopped numerous times asking if we want to buy weed or other illicit substances and it was always whist we were out pushing the pram! I don’t know if the dealers saw our sleep deprived faces and thought, ‘they look like they could use a smoke’ or we looked dodgy but it was a constant. I guess it’s nice to know that they don’t discriminate against parents and maybe I should have asked if they did family discounts.
- European cities are not meant for prams – whilst this isn’t true for all cities just the ones where the Romans built the roads, prams are not ideal for narrow cobblestone roads. Unfortunately, because Gus is a large unit we had no choice but to bring our pram. An upside is he has found it pretty amusing to hear the sound of his own voice reverberating as we pushed him over countless bumps and sometimes into potholes. I think if I did this trip again I would invest in something with suspension!
- For great legs head to Lisbon – The entire city is built in a valley which means everything is virtually up hill. It makes for spectacular scenery; walking along the windy roads you’re surrounded by old world architecture and decoratively tiled buildings synonymous with Morocco but this enchanting city is punishment on the legs, especially when pushing a 12kg baby uphill for hours a day!
- The Portuguese love babies – As much as I love Portuguese tarts (and that’s a lot) the Portuguese love babies. If there was a popularity contest between their beloved Ronaldo and baby Gus, I think Gus would win. Whether it be young girls, old men and women, police officers or homeless bums we have been stopped by all of them wanting to engage in a conversation with Gus. He has loved the attention in all the countries we have visited, flashing his most dazzling smile he’s turned even the most discerning of people into mush.
As my trip nears an end I find myself thinking about all the experiences I’ve had and whilst there’s been some hellish moments of tears and tantrums there have been plenty of smiles and laughter and moments that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
It made me realise that the moments I have enjoyed the most or laughed the hardest at are the small and sometimes imperfect ones. Because life, much like a baby is unpredictable and its these moments where our reactions to situations dictate the type of experience we have.
So in saying that I could have been mad when Gus spilt a bottle of water all down my crotch on a 3 hour flight where I couldn’t move or frustrated when he put some of my toiletries in the toilet but these are some of the imperfect moments that have made up my holiday and just another chapter in the large book I call life.