Feeds:
Posts
Comments

TukTuks and Alfama

The kids were understandably exhausted the day after they hiked 10km up and down incredibly steep hills so we were pretty slow to get going the next day. We had been wanting to check out the Time Out market which was just down the street and tour around Alfama, the old district.

After a late lunch we went to get our metro tickets sorted when we were approached by Ruben the tuk-tuk driver. Charlie had really been wanting to ride one so we were pretty disappointed to learn while in Sintra that the age limit was 7. Lucky for us, that’s just in Sintra so we climbed aboard Rubens tuk tuk and headed out.

He gave an excellent 30 minute tour of old town and let us stop off at a few incredible view points over the city. We finally saw St Jorges castle and the old twisty sections of Lisbon.

We finished the day early with snacks and wine in the square at the top of the Santa Justa loft and headed home.

Sintra

About 40 minutes outside of Lisbon is a little village called Sintra. It’s set way up in the hills, which says a lot since everything is a hill. It was once considered the summer retreat for Lisbon’s elite. It now boasts a village of preserved real life castles and manors and in the summer crazy crowds.

We had lunch at a sidewalk cafe before starting the trek up to Quinta da Regaleira. The entire grounds are open to wander around including the Initiation Well. It contains nine platforms, which are said to be “reminiscent of the Divine Comedy by Dante and the nine circles of Hell, the nine sections of Purgatory and the nine skies which constitute Paradise

After descending the well and navigating the tunnels we headed back down the hill through the gardens.

We tried to take a Tuk-tuk to the next castle but there was an age restriction so we called an Uber and circled the mountain to get to the main attraction the Palace de Pena. It’s a multi-coloured real life castle set at the top of the mountain. We got to tour inside which the kids thought was super interesting. We finished off our 10km home (!) and headed home.

Madrid

After a long day of travel (8+ hour layover in Toronto 😐) we made it to Madrid. We made it through all the boring, time consuming necessities – got our car, set up our phones and headed to our hotel. Since we are only in the city two nights we booked something right downtown. We gave Siri a real workout directing us through the downtown streets but we eventually made with only one kid throwing up in the backseat.

The view from our hotel

We wandered around the area for a bit in the evening, grabbed a few groceries and fell in to bed. Sadly jet lag is a real and horrible thing and we all were up at midnight. Two hours later and a dose of melatonin we got some rest.

The day started slowly but we eventually made it out of our hotel. We decided to head to the Royal Palace of Madrid first. The kids were more interested in the park, but they posed for an obligatory picture first. We had lunch at the Mercado de San Miguel and ended the day at Primark.

Nora was unimpressed that the Queen wasn’t accepting any visitors inside the palace.

After a quick break we headed back out for a quick tour through the plaza and a visit to the Casita-Museo de Ratòn Perez, the Spanish take on the tooth fairy. It was a really cute little museum that I’m sure was more enjoyable for the Spanish speaking children but we still had some fun. We attempted to have some tapas for dinner but Nora had a fit so we settled for some takeaway sandwiches in the hotel. We set off for Lisbon tomorrow!

Blue and bouncy castles

The forecast was calling for rain so we thought it would be a good chance to drive around and see some different sights. We still needed to find Madeline a jacket, apparently she outgrew hers from last year! Since we had the car we drove out to Primark to find a coat. We found a super sweet one, Nora had a ridiculous meltdown, I got a mall headache, we grabbed some lunch and hit the road.

We had big ambitions of seeing four or five places that we had plotted out in a nice little loop. We made it to two.

The first stop was the Palace of Queluz. It was surprisingly right beside the highway so made for an easy pit stop. We wandered around the blue palace, got shooed away from the armoury and piled back into the car.

Next stop was the seaside town of Cascais. It’s a little resort town about 25km west of Lisbon. The little windy stoned streets are dreamy with their little cafes, restaurants, wine bars and shops. It’s easy to see why this is a popular getaway.

We left the little side streets to head down towards the water promenade. We didn’t get much of a tour in since there was a free bouncy castle set up with only about 5 other kids playing. The kids got the most out of the private bouncy castle before we got rained out and headed home.

Jardim da Estrala

If you look up best playground in Lisbon the Jardim da Estrala makes almost every list. The playground itself is set inside a nice little garden that has you feeling completely removed from a city. We took the very popular 28E tram from basically right outside our door to the garden and spent the better part of the afternoon there.

The kids made a new friend, threw lots of rocks, climbed a really cool structure and Charlie completed his “ask a local” page in his journal. Jacob and I drank a whole coffee hot and a whole beer cold which generally makes for a successful afternoon.

It turns out our AirBnB is a perfect location. I wanted to grab a couple more shirts since I’ve been iron drying our laundry (glamourous 💁‍♀️) so we took the tram from park to H&M. Turns out we are only a 10-15 minute walk from this cute pedestrian shopping area. We wandered around the store then headed home. We discovered that we are right next to a lookout over the city. The kids stopped and chased some birds that were way less scared of them then I was of the birds. Gross.

After we got everyone fed and bathed I headed back to the shopping area. By myself! And grabbed a few things. I’m quickly falling for Lisbon and am already sad that our remaining days are filling up. I’m not usually a huge city person – it’s been a while since I can remember genuinely loving a city but this one has taken me by surprise.

5km in 5h

We drove from Madrid to Lisbon yesterday so we had a fairly uneventful day. The drive went pretty smoothly – we stopped for lunch at a “diner” on the side of the highway. Apparently my Spanish is only fair since I ended up ordering two chicken breasts on a baguette for lunch but it tasted fine. We ate quickly and hit the road again much to the delight of the wait staff at the restaurant. They were less than enthusiastic about a bunch of English speaking tourists.

We got settled into “our new house, not the old new house”. We even managed to make it to the grocery store, cook a pizza and get everyone into bed by 10:30. Did I mention jet lag has hit us really hard this trip?

We made it out of bed by 9:30 today which is considerably better than any other day and started getting ready for the day. We decided to head to the Belém area and check out some of the sights. We boarded a tram, after figuring out how to buy and load Viva Viagem cards as well as managing Nora’s need to “walk all by herself” as she ran down cobblestone hills.

We got off the tram a couple of stops early to check out the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Surprisingly, we weren’t invited into this palace either.

Still being a whopping 1.1km from our final destination we figured we should grab some lunch to see if we could turn everyone’s mood around. We found a cute little burger restaurant where the kids managed to be mostly well behaved and we refuelled. They brokered a deal to play in a park before heading to the floating castle, promising all kinds of good behaviour in exchange, we took the deal like suckers.

Eventually we made it to the Belém Tower, only 5 hours after leaving the apartment. Nora screamed her way across the foot bridge and then the kids were way more interested in picking weeds in the gross grass than seeing the “floating castle”. Not even a violin rendition of Let it Go was enough to capture Nora’s attention.

The day was exhausting but I enjoyed it, in hindsight anyway. We have hopefully seen the last of the jet lag – everyone made it to bed before 8:30 tonight.

Honestly though, Lisbon so far has been spectacular. It looks different than anywhere else we have seen with it’s incredibly steep hills and colourful buildings. Our neighbours have a lemon tree growing in the backyard that I can see while I hang our laundry out the kitchen window. People have been very friendly – even the man Nora kicked at the cross walk. The wine is cheap and available around the corner and the sun was shining today. What’s not to like?

Up in smoke

We stopped for the night in Saint-Hyacinthe, just east of Montreal. It would leave us just shy of 11 hours of driving left for the next day. We got settled into the hotel around 1030, successfully transferring all three sleeping children (no small feat) and got some rest before our final leg. Or so we thought.

At 4am I woke up to an incessant but not overly loud beeping noise. I woke Jacob to see what he thought it was, got very little response but decided to poke my head out the door to see if it was something that we should be concerned about. I opened the door to find the hallway full of smoke. Cue worst nightmare. I woke Jacob, all the way up this time, gathered up the three kids, grabbed the passports, soaked towels for the kids and we headed out. We were safe in the car before the fire trucks showed up.

We found out about an hour later that there was no real fire but instead someone had set off the fire extinguishing system which is what caused all the smoke. It was going to be at least another hour before they could let us back in. We gave them our address and asked them to ship our suitcase to us, grabbed some breakfast and hit the road.

About 45km away we remembered that Jacob had also left his backpack with our newly replaced computer, chargers and all other electronic items in the room. We turned around and headed back. I snuck in the side door and ran up to the room, quickly packed up our suitcase, the playpen and grabbed the backpack

Lucky for us though, we have the best traveling children ever. We managed to drive almost 1200 km in just over 12 hours with only two quick stops. There weren’t even any meltdowns, tears and only minor whining.