Mum (alone) Travelling with two toddlers

As I have family in my motherland Croatia, I wanted to use the fact that I will get free baby-sitting and possibly get some sun and beach time with my two boys. The only problem was, I needed to fly there; by myself with Luca a 3 year old, and Sebastian my spirited 20 months old child.

So, armed with good will and optimism I embarked on an impossible mission to travel the longest 2 hour flight to Croatia, all by myself.
mum travelling with toddlers

mum travelling with toddlers

So geared with combat trousers, one rucksack with entertainment and snacks,one pram to fasten the spirited leader of the gang and a walking kid willing to please, ( mostly as he noticed the determination in my eyes, and a few war stripes on my face. )I WAS READY.

First step; security check.
I asked the nice Stansted attendant if a mother and two toddlers in allowed to use the quick, fast track queue, she swiftly moved me to the ‘normal’ long one, without explanation.
Ok, we can do that boys.
After I managed to divide the liquids, computers and snacks in few trays, we had to go through the metal detector, all 3, separately. Oh dear. After emptying the pram from crumbs and hidden snacks from probably a year ago, Sebastian was due to cross the metal detector, alone. Two inpatient, busy airport attendants were hurrying him with fake irritated smiles, trying to get him thorough the detector, he stood there teasing and waiting for more smiles, they were sweating and calling him, he walked, he touched the sides of the detector,  ”don’t touch anything, we’ll have to search you! just walk straight” I said: “he is a baby”, they say “we take our jobs seriously” he walked another step,  touching the sides, they screamed a little more, irritated smiles, I whisper flatly; “he is a baby”
He passed the test. no bombs there.
travelling with toddlers

travelling with toddlers

My turn, it beeped. They put me in a metal detector ‘cage’ boys alone outside with the crowds, still beeping, ok they have to search me. Boys holding my legs. ‘Don’t touch her, she says, otherwise well have to start again’  however they both attached at my legs.

I pass the test somehow.
Bag searched, milk poured and tested, we leave this hell, walking into the shopping area, eyes open, sweating, searching for kid friendly places, there is none.
Even though the Stansted website, which I researched thoroughly suggest few baby friendly rooms, there are none. We go to Giraffe, where a lovely waiter entertains them with pancakes, and suggest he will be mad at them if they try to run around. (he winks at me) they obey, for 2 minutes. I manage to have half coffee before they start their sugar rush mayhem of touching everything with blubbery sticky hands.
We go to baby changing facilities. I breathe and rest for 1 minute. They cannot run anywhere, I rest even though it smells of sweet baby poo. oh dear.
travelling with toddlers

toddlers on a plane

Battle No2. airplane

We reach the terminal on the other side of the world, we walked, but they are not even remotely tired.
Before boarding they run around and create mayhem, I am out of energy already and don’t care what anyone thinks. Get it out of the system, they might sleep. But,little did I know they never will.
We fly, Easyjet, they promise a family friendly attitude so I hope they will help me, somehow, maybe adopt the children for few hours.
We are the last ones to board the flight, no one suggested us boarding the priority queue…ah well.
After boarding the packed Easyjet flight, we’ve got sited in two miniature seats, the three of us. My neighbor looked annoyed, I understand, they were both jumping on me, and opening the closing trays for the next hour. I ask the flight attendant to get a better seat,
‘sorry there are no empty seats’ . Ok, kindle is on, crayons are out, snacks and treats are out, we can survive this, its only a 2 hour flight.
Its ok, for 19 minutes, until Sebastian has a explosive poop that dirties his trousers and needs a complete change of clothes. OK three of us, walk to the miniature toilets and with open doors, I manage to change my humongous toddler into clean clothes.
We walk back, and i notice 3 empty seats, with suitcases stack underneath them. Clearly the suitcases had a priority to a mother with two angelic toddlers. Ah well. We’ll survive this. Another 1 hour and 12 minutes and  the ordeal is over.
We land, and I start breathing again, they are exhausted but not sleepy.
Passport control. Luca and I pass the door, and the glass door closes behind us. where is Sebastian? Turn out he was chatting to the policeman, in his baby language amused, pointing and saying ‘aeroplane’.
After picking up the pram, car seats and two suitcases I walk out into the fresh air, pushing it all alone, and say; we survived. granpa’ is here. he can take over now….

 

10 reasons to visit Istria this winter

Here are ten things to do in Istria this winter, as recommended by the locals:

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Carnivals in Istria - Most Istrian towns have a big costume promenade around mid February. Do not miss!
  2.  You like it sweet? Must visit Pazin for the Honey Days, 27-28 February.
  3. Istrian Rivietra From 28 february – 8 March This March in Umag, the Istrian Riviera, will be gathering 120 players from 12 countries. The matches will be played  in the Umag Tennis Academy Centre in Umag, with a 10 thousand Dollar prize fund.
  4. Oleum olivarum in Krasica 7-8 March Like Olive oil? This is a must visit to this small picturesque town in Nort West Istria.
  5. For all the meat lovers! Sausage days 28.02-01.03 Sv.Petar u Sumi.
  6.  Trophy Umag 04.03.2015 A one-day race on the international calendar of the World Cycling Organization UCI(Union Cycliste International), ranked as 1.2 and open for all cyclists in categories Men Elite and U-23, that is for UCI Kontinental teams, national teams, regional teams and clubs. It will be held for the third time on Wednesday, 4 March 2015.
  7.  Gran Prix Porec – International cycling race. A one-day race on the international calendar of the World Cycling Organization UCI(Union Cycliste International), open for all cyclists in categories Men Elite and U-23, that is for UCI Kontinental teams, national teams, regional teams and clubs.
  8. Seashells days 16.02-23.03.2015 You’ll have  a chance to taste  sea morsels at the Days of seashells organised by the tourist boards of Umag, Novigrad, Brtonigla and Buje on the territory of northwestern Istria.
  9. Valentine’s day Treat for your partner? Visit Brtonigla for this delicious combo of wine and chocolates!
  10. Brtonigla 21.02.2015 Turn of the Alpe Adria trekking Cup Why not taking part and burning some of those calories in this race while also discovering some of through Istrian hidden treasures of untouched nature and landscapes.

 

Read more here on what to do in Istria. Rent your holiday villas with Istrawiz

 

 

 

Family holidays in Croatia; Visiting Istria

 

“Tone Tuscany down a notch or two – thin the tourist hordes, lower the prices, sprinkle a little mystique – and you get Istria. Shaped like a heart, this Italian-flavoured peninsula of 3600 sq km is where continental Croatia meets the Adriatic. In summer months, the sun-and-sea set storms the resort-lined coast, or so-called ‘blue Istria’. For art, food, wine and an offbeat vibe, head to the interior, nicknamed ‘green Istria’ – a bucolic dream of rolling hills, hilltop villages, rural B&Bs and farmhouse restaurants.”  Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions for 2011

Having many characteristics of Italy and south of France,great climate, fantastic  food, beautiful architecture one would think Istria is expensive; but it isn’t. With a flight time of 1.45 min from the UK Istria is a perfect place for an inexpensive family holiday. As an Croatian mother in the UK, here are my tips on where to go & stay, things to do for kids and grown ups and importantly where to eat.

Accommodation

As a mother of a small baby I know that travelling with a baby or small kids can be daunting especially when packing all the necessary entertainment and gadgets. We found that staying in privately owned apartments or if you want to splash out villas, is the easiest way.

villa rental

Some of the rental villas and apartments on www.Istrawiz.com have baby cots, high chairs, toys, and even playgrounds with swings.

In order to save money it’s better to book by weeks rather then days, booking in advance off course and travelling with another family can save you a lot of money.

 

 

Porec - old Adriatic town in Croatia, Istria region. Popular touristic destination.

The ideal location is the town of Porec or Parenzo. Porec offers enough entertainment for a week’s holiday itself, but it’s also a great hub in case you want to explore the rest of Istria.

The town itself is 2,000 years old with a 6th century basilica which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Porec is pedestrianised and safe for children.

The coastline around Porec is perfect for long walk with buggies, with plenty of great beach bars and facilities along the way. Our favourite is Tequila beach bar, with beautiful sea views and live bands playing. If you get tired of walking you can always hop on a beach train that takes you few kilometres around Porec town.

The beaches in Istria are all rocky therefore you’ll need plastic sandals. Some beaches such as Brulo have a human made sandy beach and tons of play equipement. Most of the  beaches in and around Poreč have Blue Flags, which means that the sea is very clean.

Things to do 

motovunGrown ups will enjoy taking day trips to inland Istria to picturesque towns such as Groznjan, Motovun and Hum.

One can also visit Venice for a day trip as many ferries leave from/to Porec. It takes 2.30 hrs to travel for a cost of €121 for a adult return ticket and €76 for a child ticket.

A day trip to Brioni national park (an island) might excite children and grown ups alike. Bioni used to be a summer residence of president Tito of Yugoslavia. In its heyday, the island was filled with exotic animals such as giraffes, lions and tigers. These days, however the animals are fewer. You will find zebras,peacocks, goats (a symbol of Istria) and an Istrian Boskarin (Istrian ox). There’s also one elephant, who came as a gift from Indira Gandhi in the 1970s.

Many film starts such as  Richards Burton,Elizabeth Taylor and Gina Lollobrigida visited the island. You can still see the 1950s Cadillac that transported heads of state round the island. Getting to Brioni is easy, just take a boat in Fazana (south form Porec). The tickets costs around €25 for adults and €15 for children.

Children might enjoy a day trip to Dino Park; a dinosaurs themed park whit giant T.rex replicas. Dino Park is situated in a small town south from Porec called Funtana. A magic show, children’s zoo and playground are all included in the entrance price.

One exciting new addition to Istria is three new aqua parks opening in Summer 2014. They will be the biggest water parks in South East Europe.

Food:

hranaSimilar to Italy, Istrians are very proud of its’ food and pay a lot of attention to seasonal fresh ingredients. One can sample delicious wine,truffles, olive oil and plenty of freshly grilled fish. The Italian influence means that there’s also a lot of food that kids like such as pasta, pizza and ice cream. Central Porec has plenty of ice cream shops guaranteed to keep children happy.

In central Porec we like the restaurant Istra. Istra is famous for its fresh fish, so please ask for the catch of the day when ordering. I particularly like the seafood platter as a starter with various types of pate’s, marinated fish,anchovies & fresh octopus salad.

In central Istria you’ll find plenty of ‘konoba’s’ a traditional and family owned restaurants that serve fresh and traditional dishes. You must try the Istrian ham & cheese for a starter!

If you decide to travel to Istria this summer you can get there with direct flights with Ryanair,Thomson,Jet2.com.

Don’t forget to pack your flip flops for a daytime relaxed look and some nice dresses for an evening look as Croats are pretty stylish when going out.