Well, we did it. We went to Portugal for two weeks with two little kids. Not only did we survive — we loved it and are ready to go back!
We were terrified of the overnight travel, so the night of our trip we put the kids to bed around 6 p.m. to ensure they’d at least get some sleep (we were expecting Soren to sleep peacefully for the whole flight and for Shaw to wreak havoc). Tim and I packed up our last few things, and then we woke the kids around 9 to head to the airport. They were, understandably, quite confused, but the excitement of going to the airport beat out any negative feelings. Soren thought it was quite amazing that there were so many people out and about, playing baseball, etc., when it was the “middle of the night.” Shows how often he gets out at night. We were also nervous about the possibility of a delayed flight (which would mean many hours in the airport with tired kids) because we were flying Azores Airlines — they had been experiencing a number of strikes from their employees, so flights all summer had been less than reliable. While we waited to board, Tim and Shaw picked up some snacks and drinks for us in the lounge (Tim had access since he was flying business class, the lucky dog).
We were thrilled to board and take off on time — 11:45 p.m. Shaw and Tim had a row to themselves in business class. Shaw was a little fussy until Tim moved to a window seat. He was also annoyed because the flight attendants made him wear a weird seatbelt that attached to Tim’s. After we took off, Shaw kept pointing out the window and saying “boat.” Eventually, Tim had Shaw lay on him and told him to go to sleep. Instead, he would pop his head up every few minutes and laugh at Tim. After about an hour of playing, he was out. He slept uninterrupted until we were 30 minutes out of Lisbon and Tim had to raise his seatback, causing Shaw to flip out for a good 10 minutes. He calmed down in time to land, and all was well.
Meanwhile, Soren and I were with the commoners in coach — and our dear Paulina was across the aisle. Soren was pretty excited and not at all sleepy. The flight attendants brought “dinner” by sometime after midnight. Soren was in heaven. He talked to me nonstop while I nodded off. After a couple of hours, I had the bright idea to have him listen to an audiobook. I was able to sleep a little while he listened, and before the book was over he was fast asleep. Glad he finally got an hour or two of shut-eye — I had expected him to sleep the entire six hours!
Next thing we knew, we were in Lisbon! We were still a couple of hours out from the fun beginning, though — had to get through immigration, wait for bags, a rental car, etc. Eventually, we were on our way to the Algarve (about a three-hour drive), with Tim at the wheel of a stick shift that he couldn’t figure out how to reverse (we almost went over a cliff trying to figure it out).
We made a pit stop at Alcácer do Sal to see a castle. Turns out, it wasn’t much of a castle — it had been turned into a hotel. And there was no signage to indicate what anything was. And we were very hungry. And it was a million degrees. And I was grumpy. But… I guess the views were alright.
We were desperate for food at this point, so we drove into the little town to search. The few restaurants were full, and we were feeling timid about our lack of Portuguese. Eventually, we sent Tim off to scour each shop while Paulina and the kids and I roasted in the sun. Shaw chased a lot of birds and was oblivious to our misery. Paulina was her usual positive self and appreciated
Tim finally found a bakery and asked them to make us some ham and cheese sandwiches. They obliged. We hopped back in the car to eat while driving. Best ham and cheese we’ve ever had.
We were in somewhat better spirits when we arrived in Lagos that afternoon. Soren somehow stayed awake the entire drive, so he was going on very little sleep (Shaw napped some, thankfully). We found our Airbnb and a parking spot after a few trips around the block on super narrow streets. We waited on the sidewalk and checked out the scene while Tim connected with Joao, our host. Do we look tired?
And then we were in! The place was perfectly located and just big enough for our needs. Soren and Paulina bunked together; Shaw slept in our bed between us. These pics are from the inside looking out.
Then we headed out for an evening beach adventure — just a few minutes’ walk from our apartment on the cutest (and slipperiest) cobblestone streets.
The beaches were amazing. When we first walked in to Praia da Batata, it looked awesome but a little small. Then we discovered the secret passageways through little caves and rock formations that allowed you to venture from one beach to another to another. Really cool.
We walked back through town to find dinner — Tim and Soren grabbed some kebabs and fries. The kids LOVED them. Paulina and I picked up some OK burritos. Then back home for bed around 8 p.m. Still not sure how both kids survived that 24-hour period on such little sleep. Soren was the most shocking of all — that kid needs his sleep, but he was miraculously cheerful and easygoing the whole day, despite running on maybe four hours of sleep. Both kids were out pretty immediately when we put them down — and Soren slept hard for 14 hours!