Taking a ten-month old to the opposite side of the world is challenging. It's not for the faint hearted. One needs to exercise patience, tenacity, flexibility and a good sense of humour.
We were fortunate in a lot of ways. Most importantly my husband and I are a good team. We look out for one another and we share the load constantly. We also have a very happy, sociable baby who is generally content to go with the flow.
Were things different, if I had a sop of a husband and / or a difficult baby, I would not have gone. Travel can be a grand challenge without the addition of a baby (flash back to a midnight train in Prague, having the wrong ticket and an angry conductor threatening to throw us off in the middle of the country side).
I had to let go of a lot of things quickly. At home, we have all the creature comforts including hot water, a washing machine, a dryer, an iron, a cot, an awesome pram, a supermarket etc. Life is optimal. When travelling, not so much.
|Boiling bath water|
In our first week we stayed with family and the creature comforts were no more. With a tiny hot water tank and seven people to bath - there was generally no hot water. We had to improvise and boil water on the gas burner to bath the baby.
There was no cot, again we improvised and emptied the suitcase, filled it with towels and there was the babies bed.
The airline lost our stroller in transit, we used the back pack for longer trips but mostly we took turns carrying the baby until it was returned four days later.
|The bag bed|
We rarely saw Greek children. I can count the number on one hand. It seems they commonly stay home with extended family, as such public spaces, restaurants and the like are not equipped for children. Beyond the airport we found no baby change table. The baby would be changed on a disposable mat on the ground. After one change, we lifted the mat to realise we had actually changed him about 5cm from a used condom *shudder*.
We can also count on one hand the number of baby high chairs that were made available. This meant the Squishy sat on our laps at meal times.
Strollers and prams are a challenge. Greece has many old and cobblestone paths which are treacherous terrain for strollers and prams. But at times I did persist, because the Squishy was more comfortable in a seated position rather than being in the backpack. Comfortable baby = happy baby.
Worryingly, there is no requirement for baby capsules in Greece, hence there were no car restraints for the baby at any time. This was particularly terrifying when travelling 140 kilometres an hour with a crazy cab driver (unavoidable parenting fail).
Perhaps most frustrating for us and the Squishy was the lack of clean, safe places for him to get down and play. He took his first three steps the morning we left and thereupon had little to no opportunity to practice. Hotel rooms at the end of the day and vast museum floors were the extent of it. I just had to close my eyes to the filthy feet and knees that would result from crawling on 'clean' carpets. I just kept repeating in my head "good for the immune system, good for the immune system". I'm pleased to say he is still alive to and to my knowledge has not contracted any hideous disease.
Can I wine a little about the lack of an iron? Not one hotel room provided an iron, for someone who irons everything including her babies bibs, this drove me mad! Some of you will roll your eyes at this, but it mattered to me and was yet another thing I just had to get over.
There were many other frustrations in our trip, but they were all first world frustrations. Ultimately, we were blessed to have this experience, to see these amazing sites and to make these special memories. In short, it was worth it and if you have the opportunity and the courage to go with your children I say do it!
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