Back in July, this Yorkshire fam-a-lam travelled to the beautiful Kefalonia in Greece. The island is probably best known for the book/film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin but, in the interest of honesty, the only memories that I have of that are the book laying on my step mums bedside table when I was younger. Other than it being in Greece, I was pretty clueless about our holiday destination.
So why was I going? Pretty much a year to the day, I received an email invitation from Matthew and Ellie inviting us to their wedding in the beautiful Kefalonia. Matthew and I have literally know each other since I was born. Our parents have been friends since their late teens and there are quite a few old pictures lurking in the archives of us in the bath together, holding hands and being made to kiss. You know, those awkward things that I know make my son do with his little friends! We really wanted to go but we also knew that I’d be on maternity leave so we were not sure if it would be a possibility. All I can say is, I’m so glad we did.
It was to be Sienna’s first holiday and we’d not travelled with Lucas until he was two and a half so I was a little nervous about flying with a baby…mainly because of all the crap that comes with them!
The main things I learnt about travelling with a baby was:
- Don’t take so many clothes! In hot countries they are either in their swim stuff or just in a nappy. The only time she wore actual clothes was on a night when we went out for a meal and the wedding so I could have actually just took her seven outfits and her swimming suit.
- Cots abroad are hit and miss! We requested one when we booked the holiday but when we got there, they were all being used. We had a double (two beds together), a single bed and a sofa bed so for the first time I co-slept in the double with Sienna, Ric had the single and Lucas the sofa bed. When the cot arrived, I can only describe it as a net shopping bag on a frame. I wasn’t comfortable with her being in there, or the fact that she would be right next to Lucas and might wake him in the night so we kept the first night set up for the week.
- Babies are more adaptable than older kids. I thought that Lucas would be the one that we could keep up later on a evening with no problem and Sienna would need her routine more but I was wrong! (It pains me to say that.) Sienna had her bedtime feed and went to sleep like she did at home but because she was in her buggy she woke after an hour or so and then was happy to stay up till at least 10pm, sometimes later. Lucas was struggling by 9pm, probably due to his lack of naps whereas Sienna was still having two, sometimes three naps. Unfortunately, this meant that we had to leave the wedding far earlier than I ever wanted to but Sienna was asleep in the buggy and Lucas had no where to lay down so ended up asleep on my knee! They did both sleep in a little though, which was awesome!
- If in doubt, sing! Obviously this doesn’t work for all babies but Sienna loves the high chair song from our Relax and Sing classes so whenever I needed to keep her quiet, I would sing this song to her. On take off and landing it was most effective as she was a little wriggly but as soon as I started singing she settled and sat calmly on my knee. I got bored of the lyrics after a while so started some holiday themes lyrics instead!
- Baby Led Weaning was definitely a good route to go down. Since coming back, Sienna has been more open to spoon feeding but at first she really wasn’t. This was brilliant for going on holiday because we didn’t have to take any pouches or baby food. As we were self catering, we got some bits and pieces at the supermarket: bread, cereal, water etc and then when we ate out we just gave her bits of our meal. The salads in Kefalonia are delicious so she had a lot of tomato, cucumber etc and it made it so easy!
Highlights of the Holiday
I think my highlight of Lourdas, in Kefalonia, was Lucas and Sienna playing together in the pool. Lucas hasn’t seen Sienna “swimming” yet as I take her to SwimBabes when he’s at preschool and he was so encouraging and gentle with her. Watching them float around in the blow up shark together was super cute and I was excited for future holidays, seeing them splash about together.
I’m of a pool penguin than a beach babe. The sand annoys me because it gets everywhere, I don’t like salt water and everything is a little further away. My husband loves the beach so I have to compromise from time to time and actually, being forced to spend time of the beach has made me like it a little more. I like being on the beach for the sound of the waves and the fact that Lucas will happily build sandcastles for ages. The first day we went down to the beach (which is at the bottom of a very steep hill) it was so windy I thought we would fly away and end up in Oz. The waves were huge and rolling in high up on the beach, everything was being swept about and it wasn’t very pleasant…even my beach loving husband agreed with this. The second day it was a lot calmer and more enjoyable. Lucas and Daddy went off down the beach to snorkel, Sienna was sleeping and I actually got an hour or so in peace alone. With the stunning beach views, it was the hour of “me time” I needed!
We stayed in the Antonia Hotel, ran by a big guy who doesn’t do much or say much more than “Welcome! Welcome!” with his arms out stretched. His staff run the hotel excellently, from the bar staff to the cleaners, each one was happy, friendly and great at their job. We had a family room with a little kitchen area at one end. The cot wasn’t available the first night so Sienna and I co-slept in the double, whilst Ric took the single and Lucas the soft bed. This set up worked for us so we decided to cancel the cot altogether and stick to that arrangement for the week. We were pleased to be on the ground floor, meaning it was a quick walk across the grass to the pool. There were always lots of sun beds available and the pool was a good size. Obviously, it wasn’t the type of hotel that has splash pools, entertainment and kids clubs but I don’t think there is a lot of that in Kefalonia anyway. It didn’t really matter for the week that we were there. Ric loves to be in the pool as much as Lucas so he was always entertained and he would happily play on a sunbed (Lucas, not Ric!) or faff around on his tablet. As we were on holiday, I didn’t limit his screen time as much. Anything for a peaceful life!
Finally, the real reason we were there, Matthew and Ellie’s wedding. The location was the beautiful Andromeda Centre, set into the hillside with unbelievable views of the coastline and the mountains. Due to the heat in Kefalonia in July, the wedding was in the late afternoon so it was cooler and by the time we sat down to eat, it was perfect. Unfortunately, the late wedding meant that our two little people were pretty exhausted, Sienna fell asleep in the buggy and we tried to keep Lucas going but around 9pm he climbed onto my lap and asked me to read him a story from his Kindle Fire for Kids. I did and he fell asleep on my lap! He hasn’t done that since he was a tiny baby! There was no where to lay him down so we decided the fairest thing to do was walk back to the hotel and put him to bed. We were gutted to miss the evening celebrations but we had to think of the kids and it wouldn’t have been much fun sat with Lucas asleep on our knee all night.
Seriously, this post could go on for another few paragraphs: the capital of Kefalonia and the sea turtles, Mum’s injury, her villa etc but I try to keep my posts a certain length. Check out my Instagram for pictures while we were away. Overall, travelling and holidaying with the kids wasn’t has stressful as I thought it would be. Everyone is more chilled on holiday and the routine goes out of the window, which is fine for a couple of weeks. Children are resilient and adaptable. Lucas and Sienna quickly fell back into their routines once we were home. We’re already discussing possible holiday destinations for next year. All we know is that we would like two weeks, either half board or all inclusive thats very child orientated so, if you have any recommendations, please comment below or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.