Travels

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Travelling with our little ones

 

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The hubs and I like to explore the world.  After having two babies within two years, we actually took more trips than we did pre-parenthood.  Some might say we’re nuts for doing this but for us it’s actually a good stress reliever. A good break from the everyday routine.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hectic as ever trying to pack and organize the essentials for 4 people into two suitcases! And my idea of “essentials” greatly differs from my husbands’. I tend to overthink how many outfits we’ll need, how many diapers the kids will go through, what if they get sick – better bring ALL the *meds* they might need! I think after our second was born, I loosened up somewhat. But I’m still an over packer!

Packing lists. A good tip is to create packing lists. It sounds obvious but I find using this system to organize our packing greatly relieves my stress level.  I love mentally ticking off items from the list!  I made one when we took our first vacation as a family of three and have more or less used the same one since with tweaks based on where we’re going and for how long. Our list is based on each family member’s clothing essentials, toiletries, accessories, footwear and then general items that everyone needs (food, medication, toys, electronics, etc.). A packing list for your carryon/diaper bag is useful as well. If you haven’t guessed by now, I thrive on making lists!

This past week we took a mini road trip to Niagara Falls. It was a last minute trip and I packed just before we left. Since it was only a couple days and it was local, I decided to pack on the fly. It is the one time I forgot my pj’s!  Never again will I abandon my trusty packing list.

Busy bags. Another good idea is to to make “busy bags” for your kids to play with, especially if you’ll be travelling on an airplane or taking  a long car ride.  A clear, resealable bag with a few toys, books, games, crayons, blank paper, colouring books etc. is handy to have. It saves you having to rummage through your bag for a specific item. A good tip is to include a few new items. This will buy you some quiet time (hopefully) as your little one will be curious to explore the new items.  I like to organize these according to the items in them. So I’ll have one for books, another for colouring activities, stickers etc. If your child is old enough to carry their own backpack, just keep them in there for easy access.

Food. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll want something to eat the minute you leave the house! I always have crackers and snack bars in my bag. But if you’re going to be travelling on a longer journey, make sure to stock up.  I like to include fresh fruits (pre-washed and cut if needed), yogurts, cheese, dried fruits, trail mixes, cookies and candy (for when you need to bribe them!). Pack whatever they like to eat as being in new surroundings and eating new foods can be a big adjustment for some kids. And use the perishable food items first (yogurts and cheese especially).

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Accommodation. On our first trip as parents, we booked an Airbnb condo as we wanted the comforts and convenience of a home.  It was useful to have a kitchenette to make quick meals for our baby and a laundry room to launder our clothes. On subsequent trips we’ve stayed in hotels that have laundry facilities (self serve) along with entertainment for kids (playroom, waterslides, parks  etc.).

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Itinerary. Always, always account for nap times! Being out and about all day long is tiring on everyone, especially little bodies. Prior to our trip, we create an itinerary of the places we’ll visit, things we’ll do and on which day we’ll do them. We make sure not to over schedule as a beautiful day exploring can quickly change with a cranky, overtired child.

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Yup, it’s time for a nap.

Strollers and baby carriers.  They make travelling easier. Plain and simple. And they work well for naps too! Win-win! We like our Maclaren umbrella stroller as it’s lightweight, reclines, and is sturdy. Ergo is our preferred carrier. I did a post a while back on baby wearing where I talked about our Ergo.

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Ergo came in clutch while exploring the Capilano suspension bridge and canopy walk in Vancouver.

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These are my  go-to’s to make my travels smoother with two little ones.  Hope you found them useful. If you have tips of your own, please share them with me as well.

 

 

Spain Vacation – Cordoba

Hello Lovelies,

I know this post was promised a while back but as you can imagine, a new baby is quite a handful.  Alhamdulillah, he’s growing up so quickly (5.5 months already!) and everyday I learn something new as a parent.

Our vacation was such a wonderful journey through the time of Islamic rule in Spain.  Our tour group, Andalucian Routes, did an amazing job of showcasing the cities of Cordoba and Granada to us. If you’re ever thinking of a trip to Spain I highly recommend going with them as they have such passion and love for what they do.  And they tell the rich history of Spain from the viewpoint of the Spanish Muslims of that time.  Tariq, the tour organizer, provides a wealth of information that makes it easy for you to appreciate how much of an impact Muslims had in creating the Spain of today. From the olive and fig trees to the aqueduct system, modern day Spain owes a lot to the great minds of Muslims past. Even the names of cities, rivers, buildings etc. are derived from the era of Islamic Spain – the river Guadalquivir is from the Arabic Wadi al Kabir, Lanjaron Fort (Ain Al Haroon), Al- Hambra ( Al-Hamra meaning the red in Arabic)

Cordoba

The city of Cordoba (Qurtuba) is where the great Mosque of Cordoba is. The Mezquita, as it’s commonly referred to, is an architectural masterpiece. The distinct red and white arches are easily recognized and to see them in person is awe-inspiring. The history of the Mezquita is interesting; it was built by Ameer Abd al-Rahman and later converted to a cathedral when the city was reconquered by the Christians. You’re given a glimpse of its rich past by the different architectural styles that envelop its walls.  There are crucifixes and gargoyle fixtures mixed with intricate calligraphy carved into the ceiling. The bell tower was once the minaret from where the call to prayer was given. The ornate mehrab was converted into a burial site for the higher ranking members of the church.

Across from the Mezquita is a museum on Islamic Spain. The museum provides as interactive display of  how life was in the city of Cordoba around the 10th Century AD.  The museum is housed in the Calahhora Tower, which was built to defend the city.  It is connected to the Mezquita by the grand Roman bridge that spans the Guadalquivir river.

Another must see in Cordoba is the archaeological site of Madinat al Zahra.  The city was built by Caliph Abdul Rahman 111 as a demonstration of his wealth and power. It was the first planned city in Europe and was known as the capital of al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain as it included ceremonial reception halls, mosques, administrative and government offices, gardens, workshops, barracks, residences, and baths. But it was destroyed within 80 years of its construction due to unjust and unequal leadership.  Today, about 10% of the city has been excavated and a museum built near the grounds to display the artifacts found.

The Calahorra Tower

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The Roman Bridge

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The Mezquita

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Inside the Mezquita

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The beautiful Mehrab area

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The Minaret now Bell Tower

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Relics from the original building

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Madinat az-Zahra

The Mosque

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There were 14 arches that greeted visitors to the city

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