Family holiday in Spain
These days I only seem to blog about our personal adventures when we go away on holidays. Well, this post should definitely make up for any lack of personal pictures in the past few months. Not only because we went away to Spain for two weeks and there were beautiful locations either way you turned your head but also because I got my new camera Canon 5D mark iii just before we left and I was very eager to play with it.
If you don’t know me well, let me tell you something about myself. I love traveling. I’ve had the travel bug for as long as I can remember, for all I know, I was born with it. Thankfully I grew up with parents who also liked to explore places (and could afford to do so) and have an extended family spread out around the world, so I started early. In my teens I would regularly borrow tourist guides from our local library just to read through them and look at all the beautiful pictures, all the while daydreaming that I will one day make it there. One of my earlier memories is of me phoning different Paris hotels from our home phone, just to ask how much a room would cost per night. I was 11. At 16, I convinced my parents to let me go on my first solo trip abroad, with my best friend. They eventually agreed, only because everything was booked ahead of the time through an agency, and we went to Malta for a week. After that, I craved it more and more. During my college years I saved all my earned money working as a waitress to go traveling during our summer break. A family holiday in Jordan, 5 weeks backpacking through Mexico, a visit to a friend in Dubai (not all in the same break). In my last year of college my parents barely flinched when I sprung on them that I got a position as a research assistant in North Carolina, USA and that I wanted to go live and work there for a year.
My husband wasn’t quite as well traveled when we married but it’s safe to say that he’s been since bitten by the bug too. And I’ve always dreamt of taking my children around the world, exploring new places with them. I don’t think there’s anything quite like traveling when it comes to broadening one’s horizons. Traveling was always a given for our children considering that all their extended family lives abroad, half in Slovenia and the other half in South Africa. All three took their first flight at the average age of 2 months. While it’s often a disadvantage to have grandparents living a flight away, the kids benefit from it in other areas – like lots of exciting holidays abroad, immersed in a different culture. At the same time, due to our families, most of our holidays are spent in Slovenia, Croatia and South Africa (which are definitely not bad places to be vacationing) and we don’t often venture to other countries.
South of Spain has long been on my husband’s list of places to see. To be honest, I wasn’t quite as keen on it. While I really would go anywhere in the world, I definitely have my priority list and South of Spain wasn’t anywhere at the top. In my head, I imagined packed sandy beaches full of British tourists and no shade in sight and promenades lined with tacky pubs. But since we got a really good deal on accommodation we decided to go there over Easter holidays. I’ve been to Spain before – Madrid, Mallorca and Tenerife, all of which were really pretty, especially if you went a bit off the beaten track. As I said before, there’s nothing better than traveling to shatter the stereotypes. Yes, there are indeed long sandy beaches and many British tourists around but there is so much more to Costa del Sol, as long as you look in the right places. What we found were gorgeous white villages, pretty towns with narrow, cobbled streets and colourful facades, lush greenery and friendly locals.
I never quite mastered the art of lounging by the pool for the entire holiday (and we had a beautiful pool just outside our villa and 29 degree sunny weather to go with it in the first few days), so we took turns between swimming and exploring the near by towns. Malaga, Mijas, Fuengirola, Estepona, Puerto Banus and Marbella, they were all charming and fun to explore. Mind you, I’m in no way suggesting that we got to see each place inside out. The reality of traveling with three small children is that we are only able to go so far, with plenty of stops and toilet breaks and certain areas are hard to get to with a pushchair. Traveling with small children is nothing like my travels before. I had to adjust my expectations a lot, learn to be patient, slow down, be super organised, plan ahead. A few people have asked me before how do we do it with three small children, how we navigate the flight, getting around etc. Well, it’s not easy. The pretty pictures don’t tell the whole story. They don’t show our exhausted faces after a night of packing and then a full day of traveling before we finally get to our destination. All the squabbles, the constant chatter and requests when I’m trying to concentrate and navigate driving through a completely new place, possibly in an unfamiliar model of a car on the other side of the road. All that after a 2 hour flight battle with a toddler, who wants to grab everything in sight and doesn’t understand why he has to be strapped to your lap for 2 hours or longer. And by the time we reach the hotel or apartment, the kids have probably caught a power nap at some point and come out of the car bursting with endless energy while we just want to curl up in a ball and hide under the bed. Yet we have to immediately screen the new place for any devices within David’s reach, anything that he can pull down or push over. Work out the sleep situation and push the beds around a bit. Yup, these are all the essentials of traveling with small children. Down time is non existent. We take turns between chasing the littlest around and taking the older two swimming. Then as soon as David goes down for a nap, we have to figure out what to make for lunch because kids are starving after swimming. The kids are too young to just be sent outside to play, especially if there is a swimming pool near by, so one of the adults has to constantly be on guard. And the thing with three kids or more is – they outnumber the adults.
I’m not complaining (ok, maybe a little bit) but this is our current reality when going on holidays. It will change with time, of course, but for now, it is a busy endeavour. Yet, this doesn’t mean that we don’t try. Because just like in every day life, the reality is that a few magical moments every day far outweigh all the stress and exhaustion. And we sure had a good bunch of those. We spent two weeks all together as a family, skipping through tiny cobbled streets, eating endless amount of ice cream, running from the waves on the beach, collecting shells, meeting new friends and trying out new food. Here are some of my favourite pictures from our holiday – beware, there are many. The ones at the end with me in them were taken by my husband. We were literally about to leave the beach on our last afternoon in Spain, after playing there for an hour, when I realised that (as usual) I probably had no pictures of myself from the entire two weeks. So I asked my husband to take a few while I played a game with the kids. Because, you know, I was there too.