You may be asking yourself how we managed to amuse two toddlers for almost three weeks in hotels. First, we were picky about our lodgings. When we stayed somewhere for a week at a time, it was basically an apartment: living room, full kitchen, some kind of outdoor space, and separate bedrooms. Space makes a big difference. We did spend a few nights in traditional hotels, and they were a bit more challenging, particularly when we worried about making too much noise. Wearing them out with evening walks was a big help.
We also brought lots of small things for them to play with – packable things that I could bring out of my backpack one at a time as needed. I bought a bunch of things before we left and didn’t let them see any of it until we were on the plane.
Mostly, though, they entertained themselves by exploring their own surroundings: the shower in our hotel in Sevilla, the balconies in the Algarve, and… the laundry basket in Marbella.
We worried a lot over whether to take the kids to Granada. It’s a long drive (two hours), and the reason for going is Alhambra – not exactly a kid-friendly destination. I spent a lot of time imagining Linus pushing over a priceless lion statue. We actually made up our minds not to take them, and I just felt terrible to make Yen miss it. So in the end, off we went.
You’ll see a few more shots of architecture in this post. I’ve been focusing a lot on the kids, but I don’t want you to miss out on what we saw. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, and to imagine how all of it was done by hand is incredible.
The kids were great! We all got separated as we explored. Linus and I looked for spiral patterns everywhere – his favorite thing. Meanwhile Yen kept Mina away from the fountain system. We also felt kinship and pity for the couple that was there with a toddler on a leash. At one point the poor man stopped to take a photo, and looked back to find his kid standingÂ inside the velvet rope and ready to knock something over. I guess my fears were founded, just not with our kids.
I did have a talk with Linus about the purpose of the ropes. He thought it was absurd to not allow people to fully explore, but he followed the rules.
There are the lions!
Mina discovered my scarf and started playing a game in which she wraps it around both our necks. She only choked me a little.
View of the gardens from up above. And a fountain!
Yep, everything’s in order here, inspected by fountain inspectors, Linus and Mina. I wonder whether we’ll have to install a fountain in our yard?
Here’s a view inside the garden.
This is about the time when, in hindsight, I think Linus started to dream of going home. He definitely had a good time during the rest of the trip, but he increasingly demanded that I carry him, and got more and more whiny. Poor guy. He never actually asked to go home until the last day, though, because he’s such a little team player.
Another attempt to get a family photo. Come on, Mina! Smile!
Linus asked to touch these huge rings. How could I deny that curiosity? Thank goodness for all of those gym workouts.
When we finished, the kids were a bit hungry. Grandma and Grandpa went over to check out the fortress while we bought a ham and cheese sandwich at a food stand – and discovered why there were so many feral cats hanging around. I actually worried a bit about Mina’s safety when she had a particularly big piece of ham dangling from her fingers.
Sorry. Giving me ham isn’t a license to touch.
We stumbled into the courtyard of a hotel that sits on the property.
Really no idea what’s going on here. But for all I know, the hedges smelled good.
Not pictured: We tried and failed to find a place to eat in Granada. Yen had done research and found a highly reviewed place, but the streets were crazy and our rental van just couldn’t find a place to rest. So we headed home and stopped at a roadside restaurant on the way out of town. It looked like a truck stop but turned out to be one of the better meals of the trip. It goes to show you never know. And afterward, the kids discovered a little playground next door and got some sillies out before we headed home.