Our second big international trip with James. The first one didn’t scare us off? Are we crazy? Probably.
Italy with a 15 month old was tough, but I was optimistic this trip would be easier for several reasons:
- James was a different child one year later than Italy– though still very active and energetic.
- We were bringing/meeting help in the form of our cousin Sam and James’s grandmother (Nonna).
- We were more experienced travelling with a child.
You can go back and read my planning post (link) for more thoughts on that, as well as how we ended up at our final itinerary – after several changes (indecisive planning, terrorist concerns, etc.). To summarize, we had a full 21 nights. 12 would be spent in Spain and 9 in France.
France and Spain are two pretty prominent countries for American tourists. We had never been to Spain and had only been to Paris in France. We were excited to get to both countries and – in our typical travel fashion – visit several places in each.
Today, we took it pretty easy. We had a somewhat slow morning the walked through the park. If you have been reading this blog throughout our trip, it would seem like we spent alot of time in parks…..we have! I think that Justin and I both like it. Any open area that James can run around and burn off some energy is at the top of our list. Unfortunately, that means that we miss some of the tours and museums that we probably would have gone to under different circumstances, but overall, I’m happy with the way we did things this time around.
Last year, we attempted to do the colosseum tour and Vatican Tour. We made it 90% through the colosseum tour, but my time was spent trying to keep a 15 month old entertained, so I didn’t really get to listen or enjoy it. We cancelled the Vatican tour all together. We thought that he would enjoy the tour through Florence last year ……wrong. So, learning from our mistakes, we kept most days pretty open. I think this worked out way better. There was much less frustration on both sides.
Today we woke up and had a somewhat slow morning before heading out. We took the Subway to Plaza Santa Ana. It is a smaller square than Plaza Mayor, but I liked it better. There were two little playgrounds where James could run around. It seems like I will go anywhere that has a place for James to play. We have spent most of our vacation at playgrounds, and I’m okay with that!
This morning we got up and got packing. We caught the 11:00 high speed train to Madrid. Everything went surprisingly well! You never really know how a travel day is going to go. We’ve had some very smooth ones, and we’ve had a few rocky ones.
We had to take 2 cabs to the airport. Between the luggage and the people, there was no way we were fitting in one. James, Justin, and I rode together, and mom and Sam took a separate cab. My mom kept saying, “I don’t know how y’all did this with just the 2 of y’all!” Maybe I’m just used to it. We are very organized. We consolidate everything to make it as easy as possible, and we just do it. We are used to the haul, but there is definitely a method to the madness. If you are to used to it, it can be a little bit overwhelming.
James did unbelievable well in the train. I was afraid that he was going to freak out like he did in the plane. He even got upset in a cab the other day. We didn’t even tell him that he was going on a train. I didn’t want to set him off.
We got the “first class seats,” which were very nice. There was a table with 4 seats around them. James sat on my lap, and we had plenty of room. The seats came with drinks and a snack. Justin and Sam had Cava, and my mom had a liquor that seemed like the Spanish version of Bailey’s. We played many rounds of the card game “fan tan” thanks to Nanny Sam who always seems to have everything that we need. Of course Justin won the majority of the games, which drove my mom nuts.
Because we had a rocky start to the day due to James’s sleep issues, we decided to have a leisurely morning. Also, Justin and I had lunch reservations at 1:30 so we couldn’t do a ton.
We walked to a nearby market that is much smaller than La Boqueria. We picked up some coffee and breakfast then decided to visit the park to let James play for a while.