Lisbon – our first family trip abroad

First family trip abroad to Lisbon

This trip to Lisbon was the first time in another country with our baby daughter. We knew it would be different to our previous trips, however we had a wonderful time and managed to do more than we expected.

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Getting from Lisbon airport to the centre was easy. The metro line runs straight to the centre, so within 40 minutes we were at our apartment.

We chose an apartment in the Amoreiras Garden district  Casa Amora. Perfectly located within walking or short Metro ride from the sights but in a quiet enough neighbourhood for a family visit. The great thing about choosing an apartment when travelling with a young baby is that sterilising and heating bottles is easier with a kitchen area!

The metro and tram system are a great way to get around even with a child. Although avoid the rush hour times and you will be more comfortable.

Lisbon is a city of many levels, and with viewpoints accessible by elevators and funiculars there is always a way to a fantastic view.

On our first day we visited the castle which was at the top of my agenda. There was a beautiful view across the city from the top and also home to a family of peacocks! (Which I love).

There were plenty of bars and restaurants to stop at whilst exploring the city. We took our time, relaxed and enjoyed our surroundings.

During our trip we also grabbed a tuk-tuk ride to Belem. We tried the famous pastry dessert and explored the river front gardens before heading to the tower. There was quite a queue to get into the tower without an advanced ticket, however it gave us time to enjoy the view of the tower from the outside.

The bus journey back from Belem to Lisbon centre was pretty eventful. A very full bus and a roadworks re-route meant some very unhappy passengers.. But we made it back in one piece.

We also visited Carmo convent, Parque Eduardo VII as well as some spectacular squares and viewpoints. Lisbon is a lovely city to walk around but there can be a lot of steps and hills!

My first experience of travelling abroad with our baby was actually pretty great. We had a lovely time as a family as it was surprisingly relaxed. I have to admit we visited less bars of an evening than we used to, we ate and had a beer earlier in the day before enjoying Netflix and a bottle of wine back at our apartment.

We grabbed a taxi through cabify back to the airport  (as referred by the lovely apartment owners). It’s similar to Uber so our referral meant a free trip and they also provide child seats upon request!

Overall an amazing start to our family travel in Lisbon.

Here’s to many more family holidays in the future! 🙂

 

2016 review from Travel Geek Tara

My 2016 review! What a year it has been for us!

2016 review
2016 review

Well the year kicked off on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. I managed to stay up past midnight despite being 16 weeks pregnant and sipping non-alcoholic beer… Not our usual kind of trip but I enjoyed relaxing and visiting lots of different Caribbean islands all in one trip.

2016 review
Standard beach, sea, sunbed, feet photo. 2016 Review.

So what happened next? March was quite a busy month.. taking a mini tour of Lithuania great place by the way.  Taking in Vilnius, Kaunas and Trakai. Then moving house when we got back! Shortly after moving my sister-in-law announced her engagement – another wedding to look forward to!

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Cathedral Square Vilnius. 2016 review

In May I launched my Etsy store Geeky Wanderlust where I sell travel and vintage style jewellery, fabric items and prints. Just something else to keep me busy..You can check it out here:

On to June.

In June our lives changed forever with the arrival of our beautiful daughter. She is the best and has fit into our lives perfectly. (I’m in love). Of course we sorted her passport as soon as possible to continue our travels with her!

Some more brilliant news came in June.. My sister-in-law is having a baby. Auntie Tara for the second time.

Our first overnight stay as a family was in Leeds in August for our fabulous friends wedding. Then in September we took our first trip abroad to Lisbon. I absolutely loved travelling with our daughter. A bit of forward planning and preparation meant the trip went well, there were a few tears and screams on the plane but I expected that!

2016 review
Lisbon 2016 review

September was a busy month including a caravan holiday with friends to Burnham on Sea and Western Supermare, and a short break to Liverpool. At this point our daughter at 3 months old had spent a significant portion of her life away from home.

December came and so did my brothers wedding. Such an amazing day and very proud to be maid of honour :-).

Another proud moment, the birth of my baby niece. Now these two cousins have some adventures ahead!

Then came a trip to see Santa at Hatton Country World and a Christmas break in London. It was so nice to get away so close to Christmas again. I had such a great time at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, exploring the British museum and meeting animals in London Zoo.

2016 review
The British museum London 2016 review

Just before the year is ending we had some more great news, another of my brothers proposed and she said yes! How exciting!

That’s two proposals, two babies, four weddings, five trips and three countries. What a year.

So whats in store for 2017?

Well, we have already planned trips to Ireland, Rome and Dubrovnik. Revisiting and introducing our daughter to some old favourites. And if that’s not enough I plan to visit the top museums in the UK!

As expected I have less time than I used to which means less frequent blog posts… I have been writing one about Lisbon for two months. (Oops). There are a few more posts in the pipeline but I will probably write shorter easier to write (and read) articles to keep Travel Geek Tara going 🙂

Happy New Year to all of my readers and I hope you will continue to follow my blog next year 🙂

 

 

Lisbon Life – some photography

A small taste of Lisbon life in photographs.

Whilst wandering around Lisbon I managed to snap a few photographs that I think captured the Lisbon life I had witnessed. This is a very short post before I write more about our trip to Lisbon. However I thought these pictures were worth a share.

Lisbon life
A man in a suit has his shoes shined at a small stall near Lisbon’s centre as the world walks by.
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A street merchant paints coffee paintings whilst another man sleeps on a bench next to him. Located in the alleyways near to Lisbon castle.
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A resident smokes a cigarette through a window between their line of washing . This seems intertwined with the street art on the wall behind.
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The Portuguese flag flies against a typical bright yellow painted building.
A lady cleans her rug from a window of her pink home. A neat row of planted pots below.
A lady cleans her rug from a window of her pink home. A neat row of planted pots below.

There was a lot more to Lisbon than I anticipated. I really enjoyed photographing the beautiful and interesting sights and streets. After spending 5 days here there is still more to explore!

Devils museum Kaunas Lithuania

devils museum

Kaunas Devils museum.

Kaunas has some interesting things to offer visiting tourists and the Devils museum is one of those things. A popular place for tourists as its something different to do and is enjoyed by adults and children alike.

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The entrance and outside of the Devils museum Kaunas.

On our last day in Kaunas before of flight home we decided to visit the museum while we were here after reading some good reviews. We found art, sculptures and devil themed artefacts from around the world. Worth the visit and passed our time before going home.

The collection was originally collated and put together by an eccentric named Antanas Žmuidzinavičius (1876-1966) who picked up over 2000 Devils from around the world. Now an extension has been built to house the collection because of the ever-growing hoard.

Devils museum
Some of the many devil masks on display in the museum since its opening.

The museum spans over 3 floors and contains over 3000 exhibits. Highlights include Stalin and Hitler devils dancing over Lithuania and a large wooden carving donated as it was said to be causing bad luck to its original owners.  The first floor is filled with traditional Lithuanian devils in many different mediums. Including wood carvings, paintings and ceramics. The second floor contains more comical and strange devils also including items donated by local people.

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Some funny rather than scary looking devils.

Finally the third floor is dedicated to devils from across the world. It’s amazing to see how different cultures depict the same figure and how they have changed throughout time. Foreign visitors often bring their own devils to add to the collection therefore the museum is ever increasing.

Devils museum
We found devils masks from all around the world while exploring the museum.

About visiting and admission.

The devils museum can be found at V. Putvinskio g. 55, Kaunas 44211, Lithuania.             Opening hours are 11 am to 5 pm daily and closed on Sundays.  Visitors can pay 2 euros to enter and 50% discount for students and senior citizens. We found it’s probably best if you have the right change!

For further information and directions visit the local website here. 

So if you are in Kaunas why not check out this quirky museum and maybe bring your own little devil to add to the collection!

devils museum.
Maybe my favourite piece in the museum.

 

 

Baby passport – how to get a passport for your baby

Baby passport

How to get your baby passport in the UK – my tips.

Gone are the days when a child can travel on their parents passports. Every British child now needs to have their own baby passport to travel even new-born babies.

Baby passport

It may sound like a difficult task to get a baby passport. However it is simpler than you may think.

First things first – your baby needs to be registered and have a birth certificate that can be sent with their passport application. This can take some time depending on where you live. For example Birmingham registry office had a 6 week wait for appointments to register births. There are, however, always cancelled appointments that come up. If you call the office you may get in earlier. (We managed to get an appointment after a week.)




Next  is getting the passport photo right.  Here are the guidelines:

Photos of babies and children.

‘Children must be on their own in the picture. Babies must not be holding toys or using dummies. Children under 6 don’t have to be looking directly at the camera or have a neutral expression. Children under one don’t have to have their eyes open. You can support their head with your hand, but your hand must not be visible in the photo.’

The background must also be cream or light grey. I used a cream blanket to lie the baby on.

To make sure the photos were correct I used the website paspic.com. They quality check the photos and print them at the correct size which prevents problems with the application. The pictures were delivered in a couple of days.

Baby passport
We got our baby passport!

The application is pretty straightforward. Very much the same as an adult passport, however you will need to fill in grandparents as well as parents details.  The passport needs to be signed by someone who has known the adult filling in the form for at least two years and recognise the baby photo.

Here are the requirements of the counter-signatory:

‘Who can sign your form and photo

Your counter-signatory must:

  • have known the person applying (or the adult who signed the form if the passport is for a child under 16) for at least 2 years.
  • be able to identify the person applying, eg they’re a friend, neighbour or colleague (not just someone who knows them professionally).
  • be ‘a person of good standing in their community’ or work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession.

They can’t be closely related to or involved with the person applying, eg:

  • related by birth or marriage
  • be in a relationship with or live at the same address as the person applyingIf you’re applying in the UK

Your counter-signatory must:

  • live in the UK
  • have a current British or Irish passport’

Here is a link to the list of Recognised professionals who can sign the baby passport and photo. There are more to choose from than I realised!

Baby passport.
Our passports ready for our first family trip to Lisbon in September.

So you have your birth certificate, completed form, photos and counter-signatory.. Next send it off and wait for the return!

I sent everything off by Royal Mail special delivery as I wanted to make sure it got there as soon as possible. I also wanted to make sure it got there, not that I don’t trust the post office.

Within 3 weeks from sending everything off we received our brand new baby passport! Quick and easy really :-).

I hope this has helped and makes sense for those applying for their babies first passport. I cant wait to take our new baby on her first trip!

Happy travels!




 

 

 

 

Kaunas spring market

Kaunas market.

Kaunas spring market Lithuania

Due to the flights being extra cheap with Ryanair from Birmingham to Kaunas, rather than Vilnius we flew into and out of Kaunas airport. On arrival we went straight to Vilnius, however we stayed in Kaunas at the end of our trip. I’m glad we did as when we arrived the streets were lined with stalls being set up for the annual Kaunas spring market.

The stalls spanned the length of the old town all the way up to St Michael the archangel church. There were very few tourists here at this time and many stall holders did not speak English. We managed to get by with hand gestures, laughter and the odd word to make our purchases!

The vendors consisted of lots of food stalls, both hot and cold,  local crafts including carvings and iron mongers and also every day items. It was great to browse the stalls taking in the sights and smells and sampling some of the foods on offer!

Here are a few pictures which are much better at showing the market than I can explain!

Kaunas market
The view of Kaunas Spring market from our room.
Kaunas spring market
Hot food cooking away at the market.
Kaunas spring market.
Sweets and treats.
Kaunas spring market.
Local crafts. We bought one of these fabric Lithuania banners.
Kaunas spring market.
More fresh cooked food on the go.
Kaunas market.
Smoking fish sold at this stall.
Stalls lining the streets in Kaunas.
Stalls lining the streets in Kaunas.
Kaunas market.
Amazing carvings at the Kaunas spring market.

 

Kaunas spring market.
Love these crisps on a stick! So simple, a potato spiralled and fried!

 

 

 







Vilnius to Trakai day trip in Lithuania

Trakai

Trakai day trip from Vilnius

Trakai
Trakai castle Lithuania.

I had read about a castle surrounded by a lake in Lithuania. A little research revealed Trakai was only a 30 minute bus ride away from Vilnius where we were staying for a few nights.

For a couple of Euros we took the bus from Vilnius bus station.  You can also take the train, however we heard the bus’s are more reliable and the bus station is closer to the castle. Being out of season we had no choice but to walk through the town to the castle. There are some pretty buildings, churches and a museum to explore on the way. The walk was pretty much a straight run following the single road through the town. Taking us about 20 minutes.

We arrived quite early and were almost the only people there. This was great for photo opportunities. I guess the area would look prettier in the spring and summer but there would also be a lot more tourists to contend with.

The castle itself is mostly rebuilt and restored. With little of the original design left to see. The history and exhibits however are interesting. It shows just how diverse this countries past really is.

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Entering Trakai castle.
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Drawbridge to the castle.
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Trakai castle grounds.

Entrance inside the castle grounds and to the exhibits cost 6 euros for adults. It’s 3 euros for seniors and children. Its worth knowing that it is closed on Mondays during off-peak seasons so its worth checking before setting off!

For more about the museum and castle see the visit Trakai website.

We spent around an hour exploring the castle exhibits and grounds. The information cards and plaques were available in English, making it much easier for us to understand what it was all about.

The surrounding area was quiet and a nice place to walk around. We found a coffee shop to stop and have a break on the way back to the bus station. However there were not many places to eat around, and even less that were open when we visited.

Trakai
View of the castle across the lake.

Trakai 3 Trakai bus station

When you are in Lithuania it’s definitely worth a visit. Especially as its only 30 mins from Vilnius. Depending on the season (and the weather) spend half a day or a whole day here – it’s up to you! During the summer there are boats that can be taken out onto the lake and it looks like it would be a lovely place to relax.

Trakai
Trakai map

Have you been to Trakai? What do you think?




Vilnius – Top things to do

Exploring Vilnius – What are the top things to do?

We spent a few days in Lithuania in March and Vilnius was our main base to explore from. Being the largest city and the capitol, there are plenty of things to see and do.  Here are my highlights  🙂

Castle Hill and Gedimina’s Tower

Vilnius
Castle Hill – Vilnius.

The top of the hill is reached by either walking a sloping path or the easier and cheap funicular. Most of the buildings have been reconstructed however there is a stunning view over the city. To climb a little higher, pay 4 euros to enter the tower for 360 views from the top. Inside the tower there are some interesting exhibits including suits of armour and other historic pieces. The stairs of the spiral staircase are a little steep but worth it!

The Hill of Three Crosses.

Vilnius
Hill of Three Crosses – Vilnius.

The crosses stand on the old site of the crooked castle and are believed to have been erected in the 17th Century. The climb is a steep one, entering through Kalnų Park. Climbing up the slopes and steps you will reach a plateau where the crosses stand. Another great view across the city and also castle hill.

Vilnius Cathedral and Cathedral square.

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Cathedral Square Vilnius.

This great open space is full of interesting architecture. The Cathedral itself is French Classicist style and mostly dates from the late 18th century. Built on the site of an original pagan temple . It has had various uses throughout its life, including being used by the Soviets as a garage for truck repairs. Today the chapels, sculptures and paintings are to be enjoyed by its visitors.

The old town and Pilies street.

Vilnius
Vilnius Old Town.

With one of the largest old towns in Europe, there are many streets to explore. In contrast to Cathedral square, Pilies and the surrounding streets are narrow and winding. Get lost within the souvenir and local craft stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Especially popular for its local Amber-ware.

The Gates of Dawn

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Gates of Dawn Vilnius.

The Madonna of Mercy is the focus of this classical chapel. Following the custom of having a chapel or religious image in gateways to protect leaving travellers and guard from enemies. This is the only gateway to have survived from the early 16th Century. Entrance is from the outside, steps lead up from a door in the street below.

Vilnius.
Gates of Dawn Vilnius.

These are just a few of the main sights to see in here. More top attractions worth visiting are.. The Presidential Palace. St Johns church. Vilnius picture gallery and The Church of St Anne.

Find more information here Vilnius tourism.