9 things I learnt from taking a 4 month old baby to Lisbon
Written by: Mama Bea , 22 May 2018
We travelled to Lisbon when Roscoe was nearly 4 months old and the following 10 points quite nicely summarise our first trip overseas as a family of three.
1. The Portuguese love babies. I expected everything we did to take three times as long as it did pre-baby, but not for the same reasons as I thought. I assumed we’d consistently have to stop to check for voluminous poos, to make up more milk or check Roscoe’s temperature for the 20th time that day and add a layer/de-layer accordingly. In fact, none of these things took up a crazy amount of time. Instead, numerous times a day we were stopped to let people take a look at the baby and talk rapidly at him in Portuguese. Overall this was really quite lovely, we got chatting to loads of people we probably wouldn’t have said a word to otherwise. Apart from the guy who wanted to talk all things Brexit – not something I really wanted to discuss on the first day of the holiday.
2. Sometimes it’s better to take things more slowly. Our previous travelling escapades usually consisted of only a few days exploring a new city and more often than not were fuelled by a generous amount of alcohol. Having a baby obviously meant we had to take things more slowly, but it also meant we got to really appreciate certain things. Whether that be taking longer to enjoy a beautiful view over the city or sampling the local food by stopping in restaurants more often.
3. In my opinion, the Lisbon metro is the best metro/subway I’ve ever travelled on. It isn’t as big or extensive as the underground train systems in other European cities such as London or Paris, but it’s cleanliness and large airy feeling definitely made it stand out. Not to mention almost all the stations were really well equipped for wheelchairs and prams, with multiple lifts and special ticket barriers. Plus, everyone was so bloody lovely! Every journey we took we were met with numerous people offering to help us get the pram on the train or give up their seats for us. It was so refreshing.
4. Lisbon is a wonderfully colourful, quirky and unique city. Perfect for photographers everywhere. So many tiled buildings, creaking trams and winding streets.
5. Babies really like aquariums, apparently. We went to Lisbon Oceanarium partially to escape the 40 degree heat for a day, but also to explore one of the largest aquariums in Europe. I’ve never seen a baby so mesmerized! Roscoe just sat there, absolutely transfixed on the fish the entire time. I’d like to think it was developing his ambition to become a future Marine Biologist, but there were lots of other babies there in a similar state of captivation. Must be a baby thing I guess. Either way, it’s a fantastic aquarium and kept us cool for a full 6 hours!
6. Sintra is the setting of a real-life fairytale. Sintra is a small hilly town near Lisbon, we went there for a day trip but could have easily spent another day there as we didn’t have time to see everything. This is partly because in true stubborn British style we attempted to climb the huge hill to the Moorish Castle and Pena National Palace. In 40+ degree heat. With a pram. And yes we had to turn around half way up due to a few impertinent stones, which would have required epic skill to get ourselves over, never mind the pram! So we walked all the way back down and got the tourist bus. Like all the sensible people did. With this aside, the historical centre of Sintra was beautiful and finally catching a glimpse of the palace at the end of the day was so worth it.
7. We have become experts in changing nappies in weird places. I was fully prepared to have to change a nappy almost anywhere, mainly so that when I did see a sign indicating baby changing facilities I would get unreasonably excited. Hmm, how life has changed. Baby changing facilities were virtually non-existent in Lisbon outside shopping centres. But this was no bother because we were basically a fully functioning, all-terrain baby changing machine by the time we got on the plane home.
8. Trying to spot a free spot on one of the beaches of Cascais required far too much effort. During the two days we spent in Cascais, we only had around 1 hour on the beach. Yes swimming in the sea was very refreshing but the surplus population of people gathered on those beaches made me feel a little like a sardine squashed into a tin. If we had more time, we would certainly have explored the larger, more wild beaches further afield from Lisbon. FYI the picture below is very misleading, it was taken late in the evening when most people had left the beach.
9. I shall not be finishing off the best part of a wine box the night before travelling home again. In line with my usual thrifty self, I was keen to not leave anything behind in the apartment. Plus it was the last day of the holiday, we’re allowed to get a little tipsy once the baby is in bed right? Our journey the following day consisted, in chronological order, of a train, 2 metros, bus, plane, bus, DIVERSION because of cancelled train, 3 trains and a short car ride. I felt like the limp, floppy and brown strand of lettuce we found in the fridge upon our return. Pre-baby, travelling back slightly hungover was a breeze, there was an excuse to eat junk food at the airport and ample time to sleep in the departure lounge/plane/passport check queue. With a 4 month old calling on us for his every need however, the journey was not as pleasant. Luckily, Roscoe was amazing on the plane, better than we were in fact. Still, that lesson is learnt – be quite liberal with alcohol consumption throughout the holiday to avoid been left with a chunk of it to finish off on the last night!