Baby’s 1st Plane Ride

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As new parents, you tend to hear a sorts of different advice. Advice on travel always seemed to be, that the best time to do it is before they can move around because then they will stay in one place.

Well, we decided to see what it would be like to take a long weekend trip with our then 4 and a half month bundle of joy. I’m writing this post a bit late and the little one is now 7 months.

The co-pilot and I love to travel. When we found out we were expecting, I was worried our traveling days were over. OK, we don’t have as much freedom as before and it’s not easy, but it is possible to travel with a baby. You just need to take a few precautions, give yourself lots of extra time and plan in advance.

If you have time off – Sweden gives a generous amount of “Mamma och pappa ledig’ (parental leave) – it’s nice to plan a trip or two during that time ūüôā

Lucky for us we live in Europe where there are inexpensive flights to different countries. Rome has a direct flight with Norwegian Airlines and it’s one of our favorite European cities. We had a really memorable first trip with the little one!

Here are some tips for your baby’s 1st plane ride (from our own experience and from other friends with kids)

*Call the airlines so you can check what exactly you can check-in and bring on with you.

*Give yourself lots of time to make it to check in. They make you wrap your stroller and car seat in plastic. But don’t expect that to protect it, our stroller cot hood fabric was damaged and Norwegian airlines said they weren’t liable. Somewhere in the fine print, it says something about it.

*Going through security, if you don’t want to carry your baby, bring a carrier.
Some airports allow you to take your stroller all the way through to the gate. Check if that’s possible when you check in.

*Depending on how old your baby is, bring something they can taste. Our little one was allowed tastes at 4 months, we let her suck on a piece of dried mango on landing. She also breastfed on takeoff.

*Bring a change of clothes for baby, and possibly a change of clothes for yourself.

*Bring a water bottle and just fill it up after security (a good travel tip even without a baby)!

*Keep all the passports and boarding passes together so it’s easier to show it when needed.

In Rome

 *Now for taking your baby around Rome, a stroller is OK for the city streets.
*For restaurants, I asked my Roman friend about a stroller. She told me just bring it and don’t worry they will find a place for it, and its true! One rainy evening, we stopped in at a pizzeria and we kept asking what to do with our stroller, one server said to leave it and he took it to the other side of the street where the restaurant had their freezer stuff. It was very nice of him.

For different sights in Rome
Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

Glorious ceilings are best appreciated lying down.

There were a lot of steps getting down and around the museum. It is nice for the baby to look up and get to see the ceiling, so if you don’t mind carrying the stroller to get down to the Sistine Chapel then bring it, otherwise you can check it at the coat check area and use your carrier to get around.


St. Peters basilica – no strollers allowed, you need to leave it at the check-in desk before you can go inside. So bring a carrier!

For the Colosseum and Roman Forum, we left the stroller at the hotel and took the carrier switched between ourselves.

Panthenon РThis is OK with a stroller!
Best to avoid using a stroller at the Roman forum

Traveling with a baby has a challenges but it can be done! Make sure you take lots of breaks at a cafe or gelato place (I highly recommend gelato at Giolitti)! Pack some water and snacks for you and baby and of course, try to enjoy yourself ūüôā

Cappucino and chocolate cornetto make a great breakfast or snack ūüôā

Happy travels!

Giolitti
for delicious gelato!
Via Uffici del Vicario, 40
Rome, Italy
website

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A Visit to the Beautiful Danish Capital

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The Danish capital overlooking the √ėresund strait and only a few minutes from Sweden across the bridge, Copenhagen is a great weekend gateway! Hans Christian Andersen, who “wrote a couple¬†of fairy tales”, must have truly been inspired by the beautiful city of Copenhagen with it’s beautiful harbor, viewspots, and castles.

It’s a lot more international than the other capitals and the cultural and geographic link between mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Traditional architecture blends with the modern, the pastries are divine and it’s a city full of character, colorful houses and unique areas like Christiana new town.

Copenhagen is my favorite Scandinavian Capital and although I’ve been a few times before, there is always more to discover and our recent Valentine’s weekend trip was wonderful!!

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Woke up to a little snow sprinkled over the city. 

We walked along the waterfront to the palace and the marble church where all the tourists were checking out the changing of the guards.

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Perfect guard formation at the Amalienborg, the winter home of the Danish Royal Family.

There are a couple boat tours you can choose from at Nyhavn, but we went with the one that was only 40 Danish Kroner for a 45 min ride around the canal. We were surprised that the tour is still running in winter but there is a covered area. Although, I don’t recommend sitting in the covered area¬†if you want to take some photos as the cover seems to obscure the view. The tour was in English and Danish.

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You can choose to sit in the covered area of the canal tour boat or in the back. It is a bit chilly sitting outdoors so make sure you are well covered.

I always look forward to a visit to Denmark for the delicious pastries that don’t have cardamom ūüėČ Danishes as they are known in North America were brought to Denmark by the Austrians (Weinerbrod) but became a Danish specialty and boy are they good!
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There were raspberry and apple pastries with the raspberry one being sweeter. I liked the apple pastry best.

20160213_163321…and of course the chocolate pastry found at various bakeries around the city were heavenly. Pair it with a coffee and you have the ultimate coffee break snack (or “Fika” in Sweden)

Hungry for lunch, we tried one of the Hotel recommended restaurants close to Nyhavn and the hotel, for an open faced sandwich or Danish¬†Sm√łrrebr√łd. Believe it or not, there is a slice of rye bread under all that delicious shrimp and egg!

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This brisket sandwich included some horse radish butter for a little extra kick.

Our favorite viewspot in the city has to be from Church of Our Savior steeple but this was my first time up the Round Tower (or RundeTaarn in Danish) so that was pretty cool!

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One guy was walking round and round with his selfie stick in the air lol

There is a little doorway that leads into the centre of the tower. That can be scary if you think that only the glass you are standing on is stopping you from dropping down the tower.

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When we¬†moved to Sweden, our very first trip in Europe¬†was to Copenhagen. After that, I realized how easy it was to get out of town and explore a new city or country and we have been traveling since ūüėȬ†Our first visit to Copenhagen was¬†in¬†April and we were lucky to get some beautiful Spring weather complete with blue skies and sunshine. Check my blog post on our¬†Easter trip to Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
Beautiful old stone warehouse converted into a hotel, in a great location
right next to the waterfront and near Nyhavn! We had a nice loft suite here.
The Admiral Hotel on Tripadvisor

Cafe Fremtiden
For some delicious¬†Danish¬†Sm√łrrebr√łd.
website

Lagkagehuset
Stop at this cafe for some delicious pastries and bread.
website

Holms bager
There’s a nice location on the walking street and it
was nice to tuck in here to warm up and take a break from the shopping
and exploring
Bakery’s FB page

Thanks for reading!

Summer in Spain: Tapas!

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Delicious little portions for you to snack as you enjoy¬†your drink, the word Tapa is derived from ‘Tapar’ (to cover) and was originally a piece of cheese or ham to cover the wine. Our guide for¬†the walking tour also told us another tapa origin story that many farmers when choosing what to choose from after a day of hard labor between food or drink would always choose drink and the productivity of the country went down. After the law was introduced, that a small portion of food should be served whenever anyone ordered a drink, the farmers could enjoy some drinks and still be able to work the following day.

We spent about 2 weeks of our month long summer vacation traveling from Madrid to the South of Spain and then along the coast to Barcelona. The scenery was absolutely stunning. Aside from walking tours, seeing the beautiful beaches, visiting many different mosques turned cathedrals, and touring a few Alcazars like the amazing Alhambra, we tried as many tapas places as we could find!

The first stop on our Espa√Īa trip was the capital city, Madrid. On our first night, we went to a random bar right conveniently located next to our hotel near Plaza de Espa√Īa. We ordered beer and they brought¬†us whatever the kitchen had, which included, chicken wings and bread w/ jamon (free included with our drinks!). We wanted a bit more and ordered a plate of green peppers (pimientos) which wasn’t spicy just delicious.

Then there was another random tapas place we tried on the recommended ‘tapas’ street.
The boquerones, fried anchovies, were deelish!! I think this is when we started getting addicted to these things. Fried little fish, nice to snack on and quite satisfying.
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We celebrated one of our anniversaries in Madrid. For our anniversary dinner we went to a restaurant near Calle San Simon. There you could order tapas size portions as well. The grilled squid was one of my favorite dishes during our time in Spain.

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Fried egg, with eggplant and tomatoes on a bed of homemade fried potato chips

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Delicious grilled squid mmmmm

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Beef and potato chips

Seville
From Madrid we made our way south by train to Seville. This city is an amazing place to visit not just for all the tapas but also for all the different things to see including the Alcazar where they filmed Game of Thrones and the beautiful grand cathedral.

One great place for tapas in Seville is Las Columnas. The tapas were around 2 or 3 euros and the menu was on the wall in chalk. As soon as something was gone, it was scratched out. You could stand at the bar, at a table outside or find a seat in the corner area of the bar.

IMG_4256The co-pilot’s turn to order!

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Atun con tomate (Tuna and tomato sauce. It was so delicious we had this a few times)

We tried a fanicer tapas place where we met a Swiss guy who is now living in Seville. He gave us some great recommendations for places to visit in Andalucia.
IMG_4293 IMG_4291 La Bartola, is a Tapas place that was near our hotel in Seville. It doesn’t stay open as late as the other tapas bars but the food was excellent and reasonably priced as well.

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IMG_4001Zuchini flowers, Jamon Iberico, grilled fish

IMG_4002 These boquerones in were sprinkled with lemon rind adding some extra zest to the anchovies. Mmmm so good.

And of course we had to stop in at the oldest tapas place El Rinconcillo. It was pretty crowded and we stopped there for a few more drinks and tapas.

IMG_4307Our last tapas bar of the night for a few more snacks and dessert!

IMG_4297Lambchops, anchovy on a fresh tomato, and tuna and tomato

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We even tried a flan dessert that was similar to Filipino Leche Flan but more creamy, really thick and heavy. It was one of the most delicious desserts we tried on our vacation!

Granada
A few places we wanted to try were unfortunately closed while we were visiting Granada. On our first evening we found two tapas places right next to each other. One was full of locals and the other was full of brits. Guess which one we chose hahaha. This tapas bar was full and everyone was standing enjoying their drinks and tapas. You had to shout your order to the bartender and he brought you whatever tapa the kitchen prepared. And it was free with your drink!
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One place we visited was well reviewed for the tapas but when we finally found the place, they weren’t serving tapas. I can’t remember why exactly, but we got a drink anyways and they gave us some candy and peanuts to go along with it.

During our time in Granada we had some laundry to do. We decided¬†not to let our hotel to do it in order to avoid the¬†the ridiculous hotel laundry prices which included 3 euros a shirt…

While waiting for our laundry at the self serve laundry mat, we wandered in the area nearby. We found a park but it was mostly pavement and hardly any trees. It was also quite hot and we wanted to go indoors with AC.

Most of the restaurants in the area were closed for Siesta, but we found one bar that was open and serving nice cold beer and tapas! Free tapas does exist in Spain but it’s not everywhere. It was great that we found a few places that served them but we were expecting many more. I got a tuna sandwich and Yoni got fried egg over potatos. Really nice sized portions.

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From Granada we made our way through Andalucia and Almeria and we stopped whenever we pleased.¬†That’s one of the advantages of renting a car and going on your own. Here are some photos of the¬†other tapas we tried along the way.

Cadiz

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La Bodeguita de Plocia

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Meatballs and potatos, and tuna belly

Valencia

We went on a tapas tour with the same guides who held the free walking tour. For 10 euros we visited 3 different tapas places, for one beer and a tapa. We also tried the Agua de Valencia drink which was pretty strong. Haha

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The Bartender preparing the Aqua de Valencia

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Spanish omelette on toast with salsa (Look at how mini our beers are)

Barcelona

One tapas bar we visited was recommended to me by my aunt who traveled in Spain. This place was very popular. A bit of a fancier tapas bar, the unique sandwiches and delicious offerings made it well worth the trip out here.

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Foie gras and beef sandwich

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Mmm keep those tapas coming!

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A Korean tour group came in while we were there. Sooo many people, this place¬†sure gets crowded but it’s not a surprise, the tapas were fantastic.

Full of history, gorgeous beaches, amazing scenery, incredible palaces (Alcazars), beautiful cathedrals and of course, delicious food, Spain is a wonderful place to visit and there is definitely something for everyone.¬†Our trip was everything I hoped for and more and I discovered even more of my favorite Filipino things¬†were influenced by the Spanish. We visited Spain in early July and the weather was extremely hot averaging 40C most days. It was nice to sweat after the cold, rainy weather in Sweden so we didn’t complain too much. I would love to visit Spain again!

When you visit Spain be sure to practice ordering your tapas in Spanish! You will soon get the hang of it and sometimes it’s easier than trying to make them understand what you are saying in English. There were tapas menus in English in some places but after awhile, it’s just easier to order the daily tapas on the menu written in chalk. Who knows, you might even end up enjoying ordering in Spanish ūüôā

Happy travels!

Tapas places we visited in Spain!

Madrid

El sur
Calle de la Torrecilla del Leal, 12, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Tripadvisor

Seville

El Bartola
Calle San Jose 24, 41004 Seville, Spain
Tripadvisor link
We stayed just down the street form this place. Unfortunately it doesn’t¬†stay open that late.

Las Columnas
Plaza Alameda de Hercules, 19, 41002 Seville, Spain

Cadiz

La Bodeguita de Plocia
11006, Calle Plocia, 9, 11006 C√°diz, Spain

Granada
Taberna la Tana
Placeta del Agua, 3, 18009 Granada, Spain
Tripadvisor

La Bodega Vinny
18002, Calle Sol, 13, 18002 Granada, Spain
Tripadvisor

Barcelona
Quimet y Quimet
Poeta Cabanyes 25, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
Facebook page

A Day in Budapest

*Catching up on old blogs*
(In May, we took a trip to Budapest, Hungary! Just getting around to writing about our visit there now)
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Photo taken on the “Buda” side
What’s great about living in Europe (and one of the main reasons for our move) is the opportunity to travel without having to worry too much about flight prices (or being jet-lagged). There are many different low-cost airlines that exist here, you just need to be wary of how much baggage you take with you. If, for example, your carry-on is over the restricted baggage size, you may be forced to pay to check it in (and the bag fee can be almost as much as a ticket price!!)
The Irish low-cost airline, Ryan Air, flies from Gothenburg to a number of different cities. It was the first time we took a flight with Ryan Air and our first time to fly out of Gothenburg’s city airport – which is one of the smallest airports I’ve been to (and I’ve seen many small airports in SE Asia).
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Budapest here we come!
It’s about a 2 hour flight with Ryan Air from Gothenburg to Budapest. As soon as they announced it was time for boarding everyone rushed to line-up. It wasn’t until we boarded the plane, we realized why our tickets didn’t have a seat number and why everyone was rushing to line-up! It was our first experience with “first come, first serve” on an airplane. It wasn’t too bad though, we were able to get two seats next to each other – one aisle, one middle.
One notable thing to mention about the flight was that the plane was almost diverted to Bratislava!
There was a rain storm at Budapest and the Captain had tried to land but ended up just circling. He announced that they had 20 min before they needed to decide if they would land at an alternate airport.
We were preparing ourselves for disappointment. As we sat there,  the teenage girl next to me, started telling us about the dog competition she was flying to Budapest to participate in. She and the dogs were both flying from Estonia. The dogs, however, were flying on a different plane that may have faced the same landing trouble.
To our relief, there was a brief opening  and we were able to land in Budapest!! The plane erupted in applause and cheering upon the safe landing. We had no idea if the girl made it with her dogs to the competition but there were show dogs all over the city that weekend.
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It was still raining when we arrived and we were already late to meet the AirBNB host to pick-up the key. We took a bus from the airport after withdrawing some money to buy our tickets. The machine at the bus stop only took coins so we bought a bottled water to get some change.
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*Note: ¬†it’s better to have some coins to pay, as the machine does not take bills. In that case, we were only able to buy one ticket at the machine. The other ticket we purchased from the driver who charged us more for buying it on the bus…
Our Day in Budapest
Budapest (pronounced “boo-dah-pesht” in Hungarian) is the capital of Hungary and like many cities lies along the Danube River. The “Buda” side lies on the west bank of the Danube while the “Pest” side lies on the east bank. We stayed in an AirBNB place on the “Pest” side, which is also relatively flat compared to the hilly “Buda” side.
We had one full day in Budapest and we weren’t going to waste it!¬†We had brunch at a cafe down the street from where our apt and walked along the riverfront.
We saw a building where the balcony had started falling apart. Pieces of concrete had crumbled to the sidewalk below and the fire dept was called to assess the damage and safety of the area.
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On the Pest side, we walked by the Parliament Building and also stopped by St. Stephen’s square and Basilica before crossing the chain bridge over to the “Buda” side!
(Pest side)
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Our fancy courtyard in our AirBNB place
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Nice bike and walking paths along the riverfront 
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Parliament Building
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Looking over at the “Buda” side
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Shoes on the Danube promenade – a memorial to the Budapest Jews who were shot into the river. They were told to remove their shoes because they were valuable belongings back then.
IMG_5738One group of show dogs we saw on our walk (there were quite a few of them out in the city)
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A visit to the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilica¬†
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View of the city from the top of the church tower
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Down the steps of the church tower
On the Buda side, we visited Castle Hill. Walking around all day, we didn’t realize the sun was so strong (or maybe it was because we aren’t used to sun anymore being so far up North) that we got sunburned.
(Buda side)
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Crossed the chain bridge to get to the Buda side!
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Crossing the bridge back to the Pest side – looking back at the Buda side one last time ūüôā
In the afternoon, we met up with Yoni’s friends who are backpacking in Eastern Europe. They took a train from Vienna to meet us in Budapest. We waited for them for some relaxation time at the thermal baths on the Pest side.
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Success! We found the thermal baths without a map (located in the city park)
The baths were absolutely amazing. There were different pools indoor and outdoor at varying temperatures.
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We tried a few out, but our favorite was the outdoor pool!
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Beautiful Outdoor Thermal Baths
It was so hard to find a restaurant that was open after we were done at the baths. We ended up walking and taking longer than we had hoped so many of the restaurants were already closing their kitchens. And another thing was we really wanted Hungarian cuisine so we were wandering around searching for a bit with no luck. We ended up eating at an Italian place – we were starving at this point and quickly becoming grumpy.
After resting at the apt, we went out again for a drink. We walked by a Hungarian restaurant and had to have a second dinner. We also (finally) got to try the Hungarian Goulash! The goulash was served with egg pasta that was soo delicious.
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Also tried some pancakes which were similar to crepe
More than satisfied with our second dinner, we strolled a bit more and walked to one of the bridges for a few. But at that point we were all feeling drained from being at the Thermal baths! It was a busy, yet wonderful day in Budapest (and only a 2 hour flight from Gothenburg).
To the Airport
We stayed right by a Metro station, which meant we could easily walk to the station the next morning. We took the train and then transferred to a bus to get to the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport the next day.
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photo (1)We couldn’t leave Budapest without buying some Paprika!

With the steep prices in Sweden, I’ve finally understood why so many people go crazy over Duty Free.
Although we were only there for one full day, we did see many things and enjoyed the short trip a lot. Budapest is a beautiful city, and we’d both love to visit again – there is still more to see (and eat!)
Interested in visiting Budapest sometime? Don’t forget to check out the Budapest wikitravel