Seville, Spain in four days

It was 9 pm when our driver pulled into a small alleyway in the historic center of Seville. The kids were exhausted from the day of travel but peering out their windows- unusual for teenagers. A pleasant woman from Seville Luxury Rentals welcomed us and gave us a brief tour of the condo, a map of the old town and new town, and some recommendations for supper. Seville was like another world. We quickly descended the iron staircase with map in hand to enter the beautiful historic old town, and walked down a lively street to find a late night supper. Our kids were falling in love as they questioned why so many families and teens were out late at night. We ate at a small tapas place that welcomed us like we were family they were expecting. That night, we all fell in love with the culture, flavors, glass window panes, and historic city of Seville.

The kids eventually found sleep, which began a new sleep-wake cycle for our family (late nights, late mornings). We started our day at a simple breakfast place across from the Seville Cathedral. We planned to spend the day at the Cathedral and the following day, at the Plaza de Espana and Parque de Maria Luisa.

We did some shopping and found amazing deals on Spanish clothing brands. If you’re familiar with any Spanish brands, they were even more affordable from the Spanish stores. My favorite clothes are still my five-year old’s Spanish sweaters. Such good quality and so detailed. After much shopping, we steered towards Bartolomea restaurant for tapas. They were everything we had hoped for. Also- the Sangria in Spain is like no other.

The next day, we began with a simple breakfast, but discovered our youngest’s little cough had developed into a dysfunctional cough and subsequent wheeze. As he spewed his microbes to poor unsuspecting breakfast diners, we altered our plans for the day to include a stop at the hospital for a quick check-in. Many hours later, we shuffled grumpy teenagers to the pharmacy to collect the doctor’s prescribed medicine to treat our youngest’s wheezing and constant cough. Looking back, we do wonder if Henry had contracted the Coronavirus, as he had fever, wheezing, and flu-like symptoms. We ended the long day the best way we knew how; renting scooters that our teenagers could whiz around Plaza Espana and Parque de Maria Luisa.

We were able to turn the day around and headed back to the Seville Cathedral neighborhood. We had made reservations a month ahead at Milagritos. It was for tapas and a Flamenco performance. It. Was. Amazing.

“The dancing lady”

It was easily the coolest experience for me. We walked back to our hotel and prepared ourselves to say farewell to the amazing experience that is Seville.

Happiness is Seville.

London, England in three days

Suspended whale skeleton in the Natural History Museum

I had a lovely chat with a Parisian woman, who happened to be a speech-language pathologist too, before we boarded the underground train to London. We spoke about our two countries politicians and my youngest’s artwork. I love meeting people during our travels. We parted ways and followed the many signs and guards pointing us in the direction of our train. We arrived at King’s Cross Station in London to a rainy afternoon and the surprise that our oldest had left his luggage back in France. He submitted a missing item form on their website and we hoped for the best. Unfortunately, we never saw that backpack again.

We made our way to the condo that we rented south of the River Thames for the entirety of our stay. The rain let up and we walked to get supper near Buckingham Palace. I made the mistake of taking my four children to a traditional Pub, thinking it would be a cool experience and better than the chain-looking restaurants we were passing. There were many older gentlemen smoking cigars and no other children around. The polite host gave us a quizzical look and promptly seated us in the back room. The food was delicious, but still my teens were relentless.

The Phoenix. Looks super cool, right??

We walked to Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey that night. Big Ben was unfortunately closed for repairs. We spotted old telephone booths and picked up a sweet treat for the morning.

Next morning, we walked to the most amazing free museum I have ever visited: The Natural History Museum. Our dear Chicago has incredible museums, but for our family, it usually costs $200 to enter. My husband wasn’t too jazzed about going to a museum, but it was rainy and he conceded. No regrets!

The Natural History Museum

We walked the rest of the day through Kensington Gardens from the museum and ended up in Piccadilly Square, where we bought a few souvenirs at a Christmas market and ate a giant meal. We walked back home and slept very well. Our place at Chelsea Bridge apartments ended up being in close walking distance to the sights in London. The next morning we left for Seville, Spain.

Overall, the kids enjoyed seeing the sights in London, but the weather was very rainy most days. This was a fun trip for teenagers. I can’t recommend the Natural History Museum enough, especially for a rainy day.

Three days in Paris, France

It’s Thanksgiving break 2019, and my husband, three teenagers, preschooler, and I took our first family trip to Europe.  We flew from Chicago to Paris, boarded the underground train from Paris to London, and flew from London to Seville, Spain.  This post will be dedicated to our first leg of the trip: Paris.

Brotherly love in the city of love 

We loved Paris.  During our three days in the city, we walked and photographed all the major landmarks in the city (Notre Dame, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg Gardens, Seine River), which were all close to our hotel, Grand Hotel St. Michael, in Place St-Michael.  I used various walking tours of Paris from Pinterest to walk efficiently to the best spots in the various arrondissements.

My favorite parts of the city were the playgrounds where my four-year old could play and the older kids snacked on decadent pastries and espresso purchased from a nearby cafe.  See pictures below!

Once we were done walking through Luxembourg Garden, we toured the Eiffel Tower.  Henry and I played in a park near the tower while the older kids and dad tried to find a bathroom.  Hint: searching “public bathrooms” on Google Maps saves a lot of time!  We watched the night show of the Eiffel Tower before walking back to the hotel for the night.  The kids were exhausted and slept so well needless to say!

The next day we enjoyed brunch and more sight-seeing.  We missed the Paris Catacombs, however, which were something the older kids really had their heart set on.  My regret is that we didn’t buy tickets in advance.  That night, the kids were relieved when we took an Uber to the Christmas Market outside of the city.  The kids tried (and enjoyed!) escargots before we inhaled a box of beautiful macaroons.  We visited Santa and bought a few souvenirs before leaving the festivities to return home before our early morning train ride to London.

IMG_1066All the macaron flavors you could imagine! Lessons learned in Paris:

  • Buy a durable, compactable, travel stroller before the trip like your husband suggests (and not in a Paris mall on the second day of the trip because your toddler refused to walk and your arms were burning from carrying a 50-pound child across the city!)
  • Eat early in Paris on weekday nights because places suitable for kids closed unexpectedly early (and our teens prime hunger time seems to be after 9 pm)
  •  Enjoy the afternoon tea time that many hotels observe, where they set out pastries and coffee for their guests
  • Purchase Catacomb tickets prior to your trip
  • Double check that your oldest son has his luggage in the Paris train station when it’s time to board the 6 am train to London!