At the beginning of Easter break, we went to Crete with the kids. A wonderful family trip that confirmed our fondness for Greece! Do you remember? Last April, we spent our holidays in the Peloponnese; then, in July, we sailed around Corfou in a sailboat. What do we love about Greece? The landscape, the climate, the low cost, the food (fresh fish!) and above all the warm welcome of the locals! Here in Crete, we discovered amazing hospitality and generosity! In a word, a destination you shouldn’t hesitate to explore with your family! As Crete is a big island, we focused on the western part and I organized the road trip detailed below, for a duration of 9 nights. As far as the weather is concerned, we had 7 sunny days (18 °C and big blue sky) and 2 rainy days. Also, unlike the same time last year, the temperature of the water was quite cool (I’d say 16-17 °C), so we only bathed once. Let’s say that in April, it is entirely possible for the sea to be warmer, but there is no guarantee. Anyway, my program was more focused on hiking and sightseeing. The summits were still snowy. This early in April, on the most famous beaches of the island, we were lucky enough to be almost alone; during the summer it must be very crowded!
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On Easter week-end, we went for a family getaway to Dorset, with the grandparents. Dorset is in the South of England, along the Channel, between Hampshire where we live, and Devon that we discovered in February. For this 3-day week-end, we settled in the seaside resort of Weymouth. We had such a perfect weather, that I was sorry I didn’t take my bathing suit. Besides, the beaches were crowded! The South of England really brings an air of holidays!
Our visits in Dorset
- Durdle Door: probably the most famous place in Dorset! You have to admit it’s pretty heavenly! I’d rather specify something: you have to go up and then down quite a steepy cliff so you’d better think about sneakers!
- West Bay: famous beach with wonderful golden cliffs that you probably have already seen on the TV show Broadchurch.
- Lyme Regis: it’s the most famous spot of the coast for… fossil hunting! The children loved it!
- Corfe Castle: a ruin full of charm in a setting so typically English! A National Trust site.
- Weymouth : it’s the seaside resort where we chose to settle to visit the surroundings. In its very cute harbour, the children fish crabs while the parents drink pints 😊. There is also a big beach that was quite full! Not far from here, don’t miss the dunes. And a few kilometers away, the village of Abbotsbury.
- Bournemouth: huge beach with fine sand, bordered by coloured cabins! It was crazy how many people were here! We will go back on a quieter week-end!
First Campervan outing of the year!
Since our excursions with our Campervan in the New Forest last Autumn, we hadn’t taken our camper out. Firstly, in Winter, it’s too cold for the children to sleep under the roof because the air passes through the fabric. Secondly, since our camper is French, we had a procedure to follow to register and insure it here (the first few months, it was okay because we were still covered by our insurance as tourists, but now, we are “English”!). Anyway, for this first spring excursion, we chose a combined formula. We booked a family bedroom in a farm for Ticoeur, Titpuce and their grandparents; while with Papa Voyage we slept in the camper on the farm field, with a view on the sea, and we gathered with the rest of the family to eat a delicious English Breakfast provided by our hosts.
Practical information and good addresses to visit Dorset:
- From Portsmouth, it will take you 1 hour by car to get to Bournemouth. If you are coming from London, it will take 2 hours.
- Accommodation: I recommend Swallows Rest, the farm where we stayed in the periphery of Weymouth. The children were amused by the “collection” of hens and the beautiful garden. The homemade breakfast is excellent!
So, are you tempted by Dorset?
Hello everyone! I’m back to tell you about our roadtrip in Sri Lanka with the children. We came back last night and with the jet lag I woke up at 5am, so I enjoy this opportunity to give you the details of our Sri Lankan family adventures. Clearly, Sri Lanka is a big crush! We are already thinking about going back there. I thought that this country offered a condensed version of Asia: a change of scenery, tea plantations, rice fields, beaches, temples, cultural sites, all of this without having to travel for many miles! A destination suitable for a family trip! I’m looking forward to share with you the enchantment we felt discovering this amazing country.
Train travelling over the 9 arches in Ella
Age of Ticoeur: 5 years and a half
Age of Titpuce: 3 years (that we celebrated precisely in Sri Lanka!)
Itinerary and good addresses:
Arrival in Colombo at 10.40 pm and departure to Bentota in taxi (about 2h).
Chill Island Villas ❤, very beautiful and charming bed and breakfast, nicely decorated and big swimming pool. Perfect to recover from the journey. We had a big double bedroom with a cot for Ticoeur and Titpuce between us in the huge bed.
Bentota (about 10km away) – 2 nights – to begin softly and rest not far from the sea. Accommodation: Chill Island Villas ❤, very beautiful and charming bed and breakfast, nicely decorated and big swimming pool. Perfect to recover from the journey. We had a big double bedroom with a cot bed for Ticoeur, and Titpuce was between us in the huge bed. Activities: visit of small temples, turtle centre and simply swimming pool! Booking: Chill Island Villas.
Turtle centre near Bentota
Chill Island Villas
Bus (between Bentota and Galle: 1h10) – lunch break in Galle then tuk-tuk (between Galle and Mirissa: 1h)
Mirissa – 1 night – nice ideal beach for children, very quiet, touristic but a nice atmosphere with a great restaurant of grilled fish on the beach by night. Accommodation: Palm Villa, ideally situated on the beach, delicious breakfast with sea view. We had a bedroom with a double bed, a single bed for Ticoeur and a baby bed for Titpuce. Activities: beach, visit of the colonial city of Galle.
tuk-tuk (between Mirissa and Tangalle: 1h30).
Tangalle – 1 night – here, the beaches are wild and deserted, with big waves. Accommodation: Patini Bungalows ❤, with an adorable reception of Séverine and her family. The bungalows are very beautiful and high quality, with terrace. We had a double bedroom with two extra mattresses on the floor. Activities: beach and also an excursion to a stunning temple (Mulkirigala) not touristic although it is pretty extraordinary, like the Dambulla temple.
Tangalle beach on my birthday!
Tuk-tuk (between Tangalle and Udawalawe: 1h30).
Udawalawe – 1 night – only purpose of this step: going on a safari with the children in the National Park of Udawalawe, famous for its many elephants. I will tell you all the details of this safari in a blog post dedicated to it. Accommodation: Superson Guesthouse, very simple but a very nice welcome from the family and our host booked everything for our excursion. We had a bedroom with one double bed and two single beds.
Elephant in the National Park of Udawalawe
Car with driver (between Udawalawe and the Morning Mist close to Ella: 2h).
40 min away from Ella (in the middle of nowhere 😉) – 3 nights (and we could have stayed 4): the magic of the tea plantations and the mountains, an exceptional panorama. Accommodation: Morning Mist ❤, not to be missed, for its beautiful location, and the excellent cooking of Pat’. For the family, there is a little individual villa with 2 bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen, so perfect in terms of space. Activities: visit of the neighbouring tea plantation of Amba State (very interesting because it’s a very small plantation which is selling its delicious tea to Fortnum & Mason in London!) Excursion in Ella (hiking at Little Adam’s Peak, waterfalls), and above all bathing in the river, down the Morning Mist and little walks in the plantations.
River close to the Morning Mist
The Morning Mist
Tuktuk to the station then 1st class train to Haputale (45 min).
Haputale – 1 night – Stroll in a tuktuk until Lipton Seat, wonderful point of view from where Sir Lipton loved to observe his plantations. Simple accommodation but with a beautiful view from the balcony: The Mist Holiday. We had a little bedroom with two double beds.
On the road to Lipton’s seat
The Mist Holiday, Haputale
1st class train (Haputale->Kandy : 5h).
Kandy centre – 1 night: we had read rather negative comments about Kandy but we really liked it. A lot of colonial buildings around the lake. Accommodation: Vino Villa (we wanted stay in the Mc Leod or the Queen Hotel but it was full), so, our accommodation didn’t have the charm of the colonial residences but it was comfortable, brand new (a double bedroom and two extra beds). Activities: Temple of the Tooth, botanical garden.
Botanique Garden of Kandy
In the street in Kandy
1h away from Kandy (still in the middle of nowhere 😉) – 2 nights – in the enchanted setting of a tea plantation in the Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge ❤, a unique location for a charming break in the middle of our stay. Everything is perfect: amazing swimming pool with a view, the high quality lodges, restaurant diners and the reception. I will detail all this with pictures because this place was so magical! We had a lodge with a double bed, a single bed and an extra mattress. Activities: farniente in front of the plantations, visit of the Hatale plantation (it was very interesting because all of the engines were working), walks.
Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge
Tuktuk between Madulkelle Tea Lodge and Sigiriya (4h).
Sigiriya – 3 nights – we chose Sigiriya as a starting point to visit the cultural triangle, which is the zone with the main cultural sites of Sri Lanka. Accommodation: Lakmini Lodge, simple but adorable reception of the landlord who loves children and who is very impressive in terms of efficiency to organize all of your excursions for interesting prices! We had a bedroom with two double beds. This way, we visited : Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla cave, the old city of Polonnaruwa (all of this in tuktuk). Booking: Lakmini Lodge.
Breakfast hut in the Lakmini Lodge
Tuk-tuk to the station of Hanarana then 2nd class train (until Ragama: 5h) then tuktuk then bus until Negombo (1h).
Negombo – 1 night: this fishermen town is ideally located near the airport so it was perfect for a last night before we left. Accommodation: Thisara Holiday (nothing special but convenient, clean and comfortable + it’s easy to organise your transfer to the airport – however we didn’t see any swimming pool…). A bedroom with a double bed, a single bed and a cot bed.
Sunset in Negombo Beach
Our itinerary in pictures:
From Colombo anti-clockwise…
- Season of the trip: February. We had 28-30 degrees and the weather was really nice every day, with a little rain sometimes by the end of the day twice or thrice, and gloomy weather the last two days. Because it was Winter Break, there were a lot of people in some areas.
- Duration: 16 days
- Plane: around 11h of flight with a call in a Gulf State (Oman for us because we travelled with Oman Air) or a direct flight with Sri Lanka Airlines. The children mostly watched cartoons. They didn’t sleep much, although it was a night flight, because there was too much light.
- Jetlag: 4h30 with Paris – Since we arrived late and tired from the trip (no big sleep in the plane) we had no trouble adjusting to local time.
- Equipment for children: only the Ergobaby for Titpuce but we didn’t use it much because she walked a lot. A few diapers (that we didn’t use either) and two waterproof protections in case one of them wet the bed (only happened once 😉).
- Health: there are few cases of malaria in Sri Lanka, but not in its most severe form. It is recommended to take a treatment in case you stay more than 10 days but, in agreement with our doctor, we didn’t take any medicine. However, I used a mosquito repellent treatment on our clothes and I brought an anti-mosquito adapted for infested tropical areas. We mostly used long sleeves T-shirts and trousers, and of course, you have to be extra careful if you have a fever. Still following the recommendations of our doctor, the children were vaccinated against hepatitis A. Important: you should also check with your doctor before you leave.
- Transport: it was the only unknown factor of our trip. Everything else was booked in advance. We improvised on the spot, following the advice of our hosts, or following our intuition. This way, on every step, we organized, with the help of our guest house or hotel the transportation to the next step. As you could read above, we travelled a lot in tuk-tuk. We felt at ease with this mode of transport, that seemed safer, more comfortable than the bus, and half the price of a car with a driver. Once again, you should experience to make your own opinion because I don’t want to say that, concerning security, it was perfect! (no seat belt). Be careful, by the way, if you are renting a car with a driver: if you are to pay a more expensive price, make sure the vehicle you rent has seat belts in the back (it’s not always the case!). Concerning the train, we didn’t make much sense out of the booking system. We had booked our tickets before, on the internet (at a tourist price) because it was said that the trains were overcrowded. But, once on the spot, there were plenty of places! For our last journey, we bought our tickets only a few minutes before we went on the train. In first class, there is air-conditioning and cartoons. In 2nd class, since the windows are opened, the heat is not overwhelming, except when the train stops. Thus, with a baby, I would advise you to travel in 1st class.
- Meal: Mainly, you have to like the chicken curry 😉. The children only ate the rice without the curry so, in restaurants, we ordered fried noodles for them. We loved the fresh fruits and fresh fruit juices! We also all loved the hoopers (some kind of pancakes with coconut milk). We found some sweetened plain yoghurts.
- Budget: for information purpose, we spent:
600€ for the round trip flight per person
100€ on the spot per day, for the four of us, consisting of: 50€ on the accommodation + 20€ on transportation + 20€ on meals + 10€ on visits. We would have spent less on accommodations but we chose to focus on charm and comfort; we could have spent less on meals, but mostly we had diners in the bedrooms of our guest houses or hotels for an easier organization; we could have travelled only by bus (but it’s more complicated!). In a world, it could be possible to get to 70€/day (maybe less?). On the other hand, if, like many tourists, you choose to rent a car with a driver for your whole stay, you have to consider a 45€/day budget for this benefit. Finally, if my husband could have had an international driving license delivered, we would have rented a car, in spite of the advice against it (this is a personal choice, I will let you make your own opinion about it).
The « plus side » for the children? Many activities are suitable for children, especially when it’s about seeing animals, but also the beaches and some walks. We came across many families. Some of them even with small babies. I will soon tell you what the children loved!
So, are you tempted by a trip in Sri Lanka?
We loved our holidays in Portugal with the kids! I wanted the children to be able to enjoy the sea, I was looking for affordable holidays and great weather. That’s why we opted for Portugal, a very family-friendly destination! Another idea I had in my mind was to travel in a campervan. I had looked at the rental offer all over Europe and it’s in Portugal that I found the best prices, so the first week we hired a vintage VW campervan from the 70’s. For the second week, we stayed in a B&B near Sintra, and then we took an apartment in the center of Lisbon for the end of our portuguese roadtrip.
Some friends told me that there would be too many tourists and too much heat in Algarve. Well, it was neither too hot nor too crowded. As for the weather, it was 26 degrees every day. Just perfect! Regarding tourists: yes, the south side of the Algarve is full of tourists but we avoided them by choosing to travel on the west coast, along the ocean. There, except for a few surfers, you’ll see it on my pictures, it’s really quiet! It is more difficult to avoid the crowd in Lisbon and Sintra at some tourist sites but it was ok. In short, the Algarve on the west coast is very good during the Summer Holidays!
General information about our roadtrip in Portugal:
Kids’ ages: 4 years old for my son and 1 and a half for my daughter.
Period: mid-August, at the height of the tourist season and the heat, but as I said, we had 26 degrees every day except our last two days in Lisbon: it was 32.
Duration: 2 weeks. One week in the Algarve and one week in Lisbon and its surroundings
Transport: we flew to Lisbon, then we went from Lisbon to Faro (capital of the Algarve) by train (3 hours). To get around, we had the Volkswagen combi the first week. For the second week, we looked at car rentals but it was too expensive for us. So, we decided to limit our trip around Lisbon and to visit only the surrounding areas easily accessible by train.
Itinerary of our family vacation in Portugal:
- 1 night in Lisbon : It was the occasion to see again this city that we like a lot.
- 1 night in Olhão : from Lisbon we travelled by train to Faro where we took our campervan. We stayed in Olhão near Faro in this nice fishing village before leaving for the west coast (night in a campsite in Olhão).
- 1 night in Sagrès : it is the south-western extremity of Europe! Now the wild coast begins… (wild camping)
- 1 night in Aljezur : further north on the west side… Lots of beautiful beaches nearby (overnight in a campsite)
- 1 night à Odeceixe : it is the most northern point of our journey, still on the west coast… (wild camping)
- 1 night at Amado Beach : magnificent beach! My favorite of our holidays! (wild camping)
- 1 night in Salema : we are back in the south but in a quiet part of the Algarve (night in a campsite)
- 1 night in Olhão : because we liked it and it’s just next to Faro where we have to return the VW campervan (night at the campsite)
- 1 night in Cascais : We take the train from Faro to Lisbon then we go to Cascais, a very pleasant seaside town at 40 minutes (by train) from Lisbon.
- 3 nights near Sintra : a very charming B&B with a huge swimming pool (La Quinta do Scoto) – visit of the beautiful castles in Sintra
- 2 nights in Lisbon : walks, museums and a great trip to the oceanarium!
Portugal with kids: a week in Algarve
During our week in the Algarve, we alternated nights in campsites and wild camping near beaches. I would like to point out, however, that officially, wild camping is forbidden – so I warned you…
Here are some pictures of the west coast of Algarve. We loved that coast! Not touristy and so wild! Amazing beaches all along!
The most southwestern point of Europe in Sagres:
Our great vintage Volkswagen campervan, alias “Apple”… We hired our campervan from Siesta Campers. We totally recommend them!
So happy at the beach:…
To give you an idea of the beaches in the south, more crowded with tourists but very beautiful and without big waves…
The characteristic cliffs of the region:
Portugal with kids: in the Lisbon area
For our second week in Portugal we visited the Lisbon area.
Here is Cascais, a seaside town near Lisbon…
One of the magnificent estates to visit in Sintra: the Quinta da Regaleira…
Last stop: Lisbon…
Our tips to visit Portugal with kids or babies
Baby equipment :
We just took our baby carrier (Ergobaby) and a buggy. The buggy was not very useful and it was not very easy to drive in the streets of Lisbon (big cobblestones and big differences in level). The car seats were provided with the campervan. The cot for our daughter was also provided by our B&B and apartement. In the campervan, the children slept together on the back seat which became a large bed. We put our daughter in the back behind her brother so she wouldn’t fall out, and to be on the safe side, we put our (soft) suitcases at the foot of the bed in case…
Places to eat and places to stay in Portugal:
- The restaurant called A Sagrès, in Sagrès: excellent fish restaurant at a real good price!
- The fish market in Olhao to buy fish for your BBQ
- Our B&B Quinta do Scoto in Meleças, near Sintra (you can book here)
- The restaurant Tala Adega Tipica near the B&B in Meleças near Sintra
- The bakery Casa Brasileira for a breakfast in Lisbon (fresh fruit and the homemade pasteis de nata)
- The roof top of the Bairro Alto Hotel for a drink with an incredible view over Lisbon.
- The restaurant Ponto Final in Lisbon (you go there by boat. Beatiful place and excellent fish!)
Why we think it’s great to visit Portugal with a baby or young kids:
- The west side of the Algarve is famous for surfing so yes there are waves but it is still very suitable for young children as on the beaches the waves have allowed the formation of “paddling pools” where children have maximum water up to their knees. In addition, at several beaches there are river arms which reach the sea and where it is therefore possible to swim without waves. Families usually land along the river while surfers are on the ocean side, but both are within a few meters of each other so it’s very convenient!
- Our kids loved eating sardines 😉
- The children’s favourite outing in Lisbon was to the oceanarium, not to be missed!
- The town of Cascais near Lisbon is very pleasant with children: large park and seaside.
- You can find nappies, milk and potties in the supermarket (note: there is little choice for salty potties).
- Our son loved travelling in our VW campervan as for him, we travelled in Fillmore, one of the characters from the movie Cars!
- Portuguese people were so welcoming!
The only negative point:
- Walking the streets of Lisbon with children is exhausting! Cobblestones, sloping streets and crowded trams. Plus, it was too hot.
What about you? Are you tempted to spend some family holidays in Portugal?
Those who followed our adventures know it already, 10 days ago, we were in the South of Italy for a week-long trip with the children in the heel of the boot. We toured the Puglia Region, and we also made a detour to Basilicate, the neighbouring region. I was already in love with Italy, but now! This mezzogiorno region completely enchanted me! A real crush! I advise everyone to go there. For me, it’s one of the most beautiful trip one can do in South Europe with a wide variety of styles, between very old villages, trulli, baroque style, architecture that reminded me of Greece or Morocco in the coastal villages; the centenary olive trees in the background, a wonderful Adriatic Coast with turquoise shaded water and finally, a delicious cooking… A dream!
Age of Ticoeur : 3 years and a half
Age of Titpuce : 1 year
Season of the trip: mid-April to enjoy the nice spring temperatures. We had between 16 and 25 degrees with a first day that was grey, then bright sunshine. I could almost have bathed.
Duration: one week.
Transport: we had booked a flight Paris-Bari with Easyjet for about 100€ per person for a round-trip (free flight for Titpuce – you only have to pay for the airport taxes for children under 2 years old). The transport in the hold of two accessories per baby is free with Easyjet (strollers, baby bed, child car seat…): it’s very convenient! Then, on the spot, we rented a car (Fiat Punto) for 23 euros a day with Budget.
- 2 nights in Matera: wonderful old city classified in the World Heritage of Humanity. A big crush for this stop in the Basilicate region! You must see it! [2019 Edit: Some of the scenes of the next James Bond movie will be shot in Matera!]
- 2 nights in Cisternino in a trullo, adorable little typical accommodation in Puglia. Visit of all the villages and towns around: Alberobello, Locorotondo, Marina Franca, Ostuni…
- 1 night in Lecce, the baroque city. Then, tour of the peninsula with its very beautiful coast until Gallipoli.
- 1 night in Polignano a Mare, adorable village flanked on a cliff on the South part of Bari. The following day: visit of Trani on our way to Gargano.
Polignano a Mare
- 2 nights in the natural region of Gargano, in Vico del Gargano: fishermen villages, very beautiful beaches, forest… a wild environment…
This itinerary, we improvised it the day before we left. Now, if I had to do it again, I would choose between three options:
1/ the same itinerary but shortened by the Gargano because this very wild beautiful area alone deserves a whole week and requires that you take mountain roads that Ticoeur and Titpuce’s stomachs didn’t tolerate. Also, with all these bends, every trip takes more time so on a week, it’s too short to really enjoy the beauty of Gargano. So, I would add 1 night in Lecce and 1 night in Polignano to my initial itinerary.
2/ stay in a trullo in Cisternino or in another village of trulli and visit the whole Puglia region from only one drop point. You can do it because the distances are not too big.
3/ Consider a 2 week stay in Puglia because there really is a lot to do!
Olive trees everywhere!
We had taken our foldable baby bed for Titpuce because we didn’t focus our researches on accommodations that were equipped for babies. For the rides, we used the Ergobaby for Titpuce and Ticoeur walked without a problem. This way, we managed not to be too heavily loaded, with only one suitcase per adult (as a cabin baggage) and Ticoeur brought his little “Woodours” bag to tidy his toys 😉
A lot! Including:
- the B&B “i setti coni” : we settled in a real trullo. It’s so cute! The landlady is lovely. Address found on the Airbnb.fr website.
- la trattoria di Nonna Tetti in Lecce (Piazetta Regina Maria): an authentic and local cooking in a typical setting, with a very reasonnable price.
- the Osteria dei Mulini in Polignano a Mare: very delicate! Don’t hesitate to taste the carpaccio of octopus.
- il Terrazino in Matera: a restaurant that is touristic for sure, but we ate very well for a very affordable price: 4 euros for a pizza and 6 euros the delicious dish of pastas shaped like olive tree leaves! Very beautiful location in the old town.
The “baby pros”:
- Ticoeur tested and approved all the playgrounds of Puglia 😉
- He walked without a problem because the old villages gave him the impression of an adventure: stairs, passages, tunnels, little bridges…
- Ticoeur loved the visit of a cave (Castellana) which I’ll tell you about again later
- The historic city centres are only for pedestrians or with very limited traffic so it’s really appreciable for a family stroll.
- The children liked the breaks on the beaches of the coast: play in the sand and soak the feet in the sea.
- Ticoeur and Titpuce loved the Italian cooking!
- We often had a baby chair in the restaurants
- The car steps are short: between ¼ of an hour and about 2h top. We put the 2 hour trips during nap time.
The “baby cons” :
- As I mentioned above, the only damper of our trip was the road in the Gargano area: the children were car-sick because there were only mountain roads in the wild part of Puglia…
- I had already mentioned it: in Italy, I don’t like the offer of baby food-jar (too much meat and not enough vegetables). So, for Titpuce, we had brought a couple of baby dishes from France and we also gave her what we ate (she loves pastas!). Otherwise, concerning yoghurt, cheese, compote, baby formula, we find the same products as in France.
What about you? Are you tempted by the Puglia region with your family?