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The Breakfast of My Dreams in a Hotel

This posting is dedicated for participating into the competition organized by Rantapallo where you are asked to describe the breakfast of your dreams (which you either have already experienced or which you would like to experience). Mornings are my favorite time of the day when we are on a vacation. Kids are usually in a good mood, anxious and full of energy to start a new day with full of possibilities. They are ready to play as soon as they open their eyes. Hotel breakfasts are treats which we usually do not get to enjoy. It is not because we do not stay in hotels as we travel but because they are never actually designed for families with small children. If I could have 3 wishes, this is what I would change to make our mornings perfect.

1. The most important thing: Keep the kids in mind (and busy)
It seems that hotel managers are somehow forgetting that what the adults with small (under 5 years) kids desperately need is the possibility to actually enjoy your breakfast without I’m-bored-out-of-my-mind crying or I-have-nothing-to-do tantrums. The dream scenario for our children (1,5 and 3 year olds) would be that the children would have a play area (where there would be children their own age and toys which are interesting and safe) and a hostess to keep them happy while you are seated nearby (with a clear visibility to the target). And that the breakfast would be available as soon as the children wake up – usually at 6 am with high chairs and higher chairs.

2. Selection of foods: Fresh and made with love
I loooooove breakfast made by others. I, my husband or my children do not need a huge selection of things from all around the world. My dream would be to have especially fresh bread and fruits plus something new on every day that you are spending in the hotel. It could be a very small thing but it would make every morning exciting. Most importantly, hotels please, do not offer children a sugar-and-fat-filled-kids-morning-buffet. I know hotels mean well but nobody enjoys kids on high on sugar.

3. Athmosphere: Take all the time you need and enjoy
Travelling with small children means that you are on the go at least 12 hours every day. So when you have a possibility to start it off in a peaceful athmosphere, it goes a long way. It is a time for loading your batteries for the day.

So what this adds up to is: Sitting and reading your newspaper with a nice cup of tea or fruit juice in front of a beautiful scenery with the playarea in sight – aaaahhh…

Lovely view for a lovely breakfast

A Day at the Moominworld – is it worth it?

My expectations for the Moominworld were high since there was an entrance fee of 26 euros (online price, 27 euros if bought at the gate) for everybody over 2 years. I was sure that with that price tag would come a whole day of fun for all of us. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down.

The idea of a Moominworld has been brilliant and I’m sure that it is bringing in a lot of tourists to Naantali. Even though we consider Tove Jansson (the creator of Moomins) to be our national treasure, in my opinion Moominworld at its present state is not worth the entrance fee. By no means do I mean to say that it would be a worthless visit. On the plus side this is finally a recreational park designed truly for 3-4-yearolds. It does not include any difficult or dangerous elements and is almost completely stroller/wheelchair accessible. On the downside, most of the amusements are made out of wood which means that they would demand very careful up keeping in the Finnish weather conditions. As the park has been open for some years now, the time is starting to show. In addition, the area is quite small and you go through it easily in about 3-4 hours, even with two small kids. So my main point is that taking this into consideration the entrance fee should be much lower – 10 euros would be reasonable. At this price (or lower) you can visit much nicer amusement parks in Finland which bring as much joy to your kids (Linnanmäki, Puuhamaa etc.) More of these will follow later.

However, if you are heading to Moominworld here is what you should know and how you should prepare.

General info
The Moominworld is located on a small island right next to the center of Naantali. We arrived there by bus which takes app. 2 hours from Helsinki. From the bus there was a 500 metres (app. 0,35 miles) of walking to the main gate). If the weather prognosis shows any kind of possibility for rain or cold wind, remember to bring suitable gear with you. The park is almost completely outside whit the exception of 2 quite small restaurants where you of course have to eat if you want to sit there. The Finnish summer weather can be quite cold especially by the seaside so remember to bring warm clothes and hats with you so you do not end up being forced to buy expensive items from the Moominshop as many were on our visit. If you plan on bying them anyway, pack lightly – there are all kinds of things with the Moomin-logo on them just waiting for you. However, be prepared to pay extra.

Amusements
All the amusements are suitable for a 3-4 year-olds and can be accessed by a stroller if you have a smaller child with you. There are giant Moomin characters roaming around the area which were the favorite of my 3,5 year-old. However, many of them do not speak so there cannot be that much of interaction. The characters also hold many short shows every day which is an ok addition to the day. Including a few shows it took us about 3-4 hours to go through the whole area. Remember to bring your own toy boat with you since there is a possibility to let it swim in the stream.

Eating
There are two restaurants which have indoor seating and a few cafes with ice-cream etc. Prices aren’t unreasonable. For example, Mamma’s kitchen offers a buffet for 15,50 eur/over 12-year-olds and children 2-5 years old 3,50 eur. For snacks the prices are at least double to grocery store prices. The Moomin candy store is definitely worth a visit – although I didn’t notice any healthy snacks in there which could be a nice add.
However, if you want bring your own lunch (which we of course did) it gets a bit trickier. The Moominworld does not encourage eating your own lunch in any way which is exceptional compared with almost any other park in Finland (this is one thing which I did not appreciate). Via email the staff guided us to a nearby beach which does not belong to the Moominworld but is accessible by following the shoreline from the bathing hut. It is a nice picnic spot with some benches on it and there is an outdoor café with toilets as well. It is only a hundred meters from the bathing hut. It is marked by number 40 Children’s beach on the map. If it’s a hot day – take a dip in the ocean. It is also possible to eat your own lunch by the amusements but there is not really a suitable place for it. So I recommend the beach.

In addition
If your tour in the Moominworld ends before your ride home is ready to leave check out the beautiful wooden house blocks by the church and Moominworld. There isn’t anything special except a few cafes and hotels but it is a nice walk.

Remember
– to bring your own toy boat with you since there is a possibility to let it swim in the stream
– to check weather prognosis carefully and bring warm and rain protecting clothes if necessary or bring hats and swimming gear if the weather is hot
– to buy bottles of soda and juice as well as snacks (if not luch as well) from a grocery store before entering the gate (tab water is available from all the bathrooms – Finnish tab water is totally safe)
– if you take your own lunch, pack it into a cooler and it will be safe from the heat plus bring a picnic blanket because there is nowhere else to sit and eat

Link to the Moominworld site

Absolute high point of the day for the tiny traveller

Absolute high point of the day for the tiny traveller

The center of the Moominworld: The house

The center of the Moominworld: The house

If you go right from here, you get to the public beach which is a nice picnic spot

If you go right from here, you get to the public beach which is a nice picnic spot

Dubrovnik with a toddler and a baby

Dubrovnik is not the easiest vacation spot with a baby or a toddler. The most critical choice you make is your accommodation and its location. Most challenging things are the streets which might have no pavements, numerous flights of stairs and no restaurants which can be considered children friendly. On the other hand, Croatians are as children friendly as can be.

Choose your location wisely
One of your most critical choices you have to make is the location of your accommodation. It is more critical in Dubrovnik than in many other towns since Dubrovnik is surrounded by hills which means you might end up carrying your stroller for several flights of stairs. Playgrounds are also scarce so selecting a location near one is a wise choice and saved our nerves. The best location in our opinion for families with small children are the areas of Lapad or maybe Babin Kuk.

Map of the Lapad area

Map of the Lapad area


We stayed in Lapad. Lapad is situated about 3 kilometres from the old town. Its absolute best are the promenade, playgrounds and beaches.

Promenade Kralja Zvonimira: The promenade is a street where cars are not allowed to drive. It is a great place for the kids to run safely. On both sides of the promenade are restaurants, cafes, ice-cream bars and hotels. The promenade is also great for your strollers to run smoothly which is a luxury in Dubrovnik. In the end of the promenade is a beach.

The promenade ends to the beach

The promenade ends to the beach

Playgrounds: Along this promenade are 2 playgrounds which were highly used by us and can be recommended. They were nothing special but enough to get the most of energy out of our 3-year old. Just a heads-up: It seems that there is the survival of the fittest contest going on in the playgrounds. Bigger kids might be unsupervised so watch out for your toddler. Local toddlers are of course carefully followed by their parents. There is also a yard filled with bouncy castles and trampolines on the promenade but it costs some kunas.

The other playground on the Lapad promenade belonged to a hotel but unfortunately the equipment was in a pretty bad shape

The other playground on the Lapad promenade belonged to a hotel but unfortunately the equipment was in a pretty bad shape

Beaches: Most of Croatian beaches are either rock or pebble. In the end of the promenade is a beach which for locals is sand but in my opinion is 50 % pebble and 50 % sand. To my knowledge, this is the only even partly sandy beach in Dubrovnik. Our 3-year-old loved to collect small pebles as her treasures.

There is also a lovely beach called Copacabana in the area of Babin Kuk. You can easily walk there with strollers from promenade by first following I. Dulcica and then turning right and following Vatroslava Lisinskog through the camping ground straight down to the bay. Copacabana is, in my opinion, more beautiful and it is shallow for about 5 metres from the waterline. It also has more to look at as the great cruise ships flow past the beach. The pebbles by the waterline are very small and easier on the foot as well. There is also an ok tavern by the beach with reasonable price range and spectacular view.

Lapad beach is half sand, half pebble

Lapad beach is half sand, half pebble

The lovely view from the Lapad beach

The lovely view from the Lapad beach

The Copacabana beach

The Copacabana beach

Bus connection to the Old town: There is a very convenient bus ride to the old town by bus number 6 which only lasts for 15 minutes. The bus leaves from Kralja Tomislava and comes back to the M. Bratosa. You can also walk to the Old town from Lapad. By foot and with strollers the trip took us about 35 minutes one way but is definitely walkable if you are interested in a bit of exercise with your strollers.

Walk to the harbour: You can also easily walk to the Gruz harbour were the most of the ships leave. It only takes you 10-15 minutes with a stroller and there are pavements all the way.

Groceries and baby stuff: In Lapad there is a gathering of shops (locally called a mall but in my opinion nothing like it) on Kralja Tomislava which is right next to the promenade. There is a bigger supermarket Tommy where they sell almost everything you need and a shop DM which carries a bigger selection of baby foods, diapers and other baby necessities (more about baby stuff below).

Food

for the baby
There is a good selection of canned baby food available in DM-stores and an ok selection in bigger supermarkets. Most of the baby food is German (available brands are Hippo and Babylove). The food tasted the same as our Finnish versions and our baby did not suffer any stomach ache. Of course there are some Croatian mixes but many were familiar to us as well. There is also a variety of formula available (available brands Nan etc.).

It is also easy to make your own baby food if you have a kitchen and perhaps a blender at hand. There were potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower available in supermarkets as well as plenty of fruits. Also if you are a porridge maker oatmeal flakes could be found in both store types.

for a toddler
Although Croatians are very kid-friendly people, their restaurants are still far behind in making life easier with smaller children. Even though we ate out every evening, we came across only one high chair. It might be that there are more high chairs available in the old town but we preferred to dine in the Lapad area. There were also no menus or utensils for children. We took the habit of ordering an extra plate for the toddler and giving her what the adults were eating. Eating with an adult fork proved too hard for our daughter so she ended eating with her hands most of the time.
We could not find any restaurants with a play area and as it took a while for the food to arrive our daughter became quite restless. I recommend that especially if you are dining in the Lapad area near the playgrounds, bring your baby monitor or walky-talky along. One can play with the toddler in the playground, until the food comes and then holler you back via the baby monitor or walky-talky.
From the supermarkets you can find all the necessities for a toddler. DM-stores again carry more selection in drinks and snacks for that age group as well.

Restaurant recommendations in the Lapad area
As already mentions none of these were not especially child friendly but had good food in a reasonable price as well as ok customer service.
– Buono, Uliza kneza Domagoja 1, italian typen food, everything I tried was good http://www.restaurant-buono.com
– Lapad, situated on Petra Zoranika, very nice ambiance especially in the evening, good grilled food

DM stores have a wide selection of baby foods,

DM stores have a wide selection of baby foods,

formulas

formulas

and diapers.

and diapers.

Accommodation

I feel that with small children your only option is to choose a place where there is a kitchen and a fridge. This is why we chose to live in an apartment. Our 3-year-old could not survive a hotel room for 2 seconds. The location of the apartment was very good but the apartment itself was a bit of a disappointment. On the basis of our experience I recommend the following questions even if your apartment is named child-friendly
– how many flights of stairs are there are from the street to the appartment (there are always stairs – even on ground floor) and to the terrace?
– is there space for you stroller?
– are the railings safe for a smaller child?
– are there heat/cool air pumps in all the rooms?
– are there utensils for children e.g. smaller forks, a potty and high chair? Maybe also a blender for self made baby food. Prepare to get a ”no” a lot of times.
– is there an electronic mosquito repellant in every room?

Ground floor apartment but still two flights of stairs

Ground floor apartment but still two flights of stairs

However, you got to pick your own mandarines - even though they were raw

However, you got to pick your own mandarines – even though they were raw

Must see: Island Lopud and Sunj beach

Even though the old town is the number one thing for most tourists, it does not impress your toddler that much. The old-town is shaped so that on both sides there are very steep stairs and along the middle there is a plateau. On the plateau you can move around with a stroller. However, when you exit the main street Stradun and try to enter the smaller streets you might encounter difficulties as your stroller does not fit there. If you end up leaving the stroller to your accommodation, there are many many many many tourists groups following their guides even in the off-season. They make moving around quite hard for a toddler and the stairs are still mostly too steep for a young child.
What I recommend is that after a stroll in the old town you forget about it and concentrate on the islands. We visited island Lopud as we had heard that there would be a beautiful sand beach there. It was definitely worth the trip and I recommend it to all who travel with small kids.
There are over 10 companies in Dubrovnik who offer the cruise to all 3 Elaphite Islands. However, this means mostly that you will spend the entire day in a small boat, hopping from one island to another. This might suit some but for families with small children, it is often difficult because there is no time for napping and nothing to do on the boats. In addition, these cruises cost 250 kunas per person.
The cheaper alternative is to hop on Jadrolinija (state owned ship company) waterbuses and make your own schedules. The water bus trip to Lopud costs 23 kunas (high season)/ 19 kunas (low season) one way. Kids under 3 travel for free. Tickets are bought in the Jadrolinija office although you cannot find the opening hours anywhere. The water buses run from the harbour of Gruz and go to Lopud (and some other islands) 4 times every weekday and twice during the weekend. We left at 10 from Gruz and left from Lopud at 15. The trip from Dubrovnik to Lopud takes about 45 minutes. More information can quite easily be found on Jadrolinija’s website (http://www.jadrolinija.hr/en/home) which is quite efficient in English.
The ship that we rode was called Ilpositra. It had 3 levels and I recommend the highest if the weather is good. However, stand in line on time because everybody wants to be on the top deck. On the middle deck there is a very small kiosk with some drinks for sale. The smokers usually take up the seats on each side of the boat on the middle deck. The lowest deck does have seats indoors but they do not have a view.

The Sunj beach is found on the other side of the Lopud island as the harbour and small village. You can walk the trail there – the distance is about 1600 metres. Just follow the signs. But if you are crunched for time as we are usually, hop on a golf cart, play 10 kunas per adult (kids go free) and enjoy the 10 minute ride. Remember to leave the stroller home. Notice that the golf carts are not waiting for the tourists in the harbour. You can find them waiting by restaurant Robinzoon if you follow the signs towards the Sunj beach. You can fit up to 8 persons into the bigger carts so a bigger group can travel together.
On the Sunj beach you can find sun beds and 3 restaurants. Although, I recommend bringing your own picnic lunch because it’s quite handy with the ship and the golf cart. The beach is absolutely beautiful. It is shallow for about 50 metres which is perfect with small kids. And as you have laid on the pebble beaches it is a welcome chance for the kids and adults to play with the sand.
Many tourists also visit island Lokrum which is a 15 minute boat trip from the Old town. You can read more about it here on the momaboard-blog (http://momaboard.com/cities/dubrovnik-croatia-the-ultimate-guide-with-kids/blog). You can also read about their trip to Lopud, although, they had not liked Lopud and Sunj as nearly as much as we. Remember, that there are 1246 island in Croatia so there is plenty of choice and we were left with a bunch we would still like to visit.

The lovely Sunj beach

The lovely Sunj beach

The Sunj beach is a hidden bay

The Sunj beach is a hidden bay

Enjoying the sand

Enjoying the sand

Golf carts will make your trip to the beach a lot faster

Golf carts will make your trip to the beach a lot faster

Arriving from the airport (to Lapad area)

With a Taxi
Our landlord negotiated a price of 53 euros for a taxi ride (a bigger taxi for 6 persons) from airport to the area of Lapad. It would have been 30 euros for a taxi for 4 persons. The ride took us approximately 40 minutes to Lapad. This was very handy although the taxi driver took us to a wrong address at first. It’s good to notice that there are no car seats for the baby in the taxis so we brought our own.

With a Bus
There is also a bus which takes you from the airport to the main bus station. It costs 35 kunas or 5 euros per adult. However, from there you have to continue with a local bus to Lapad and it only rides once every hour. In the buses you are expected to fold your stroller but from the looks of it not too many tourists are abiding. Toddlers and babies can ride the bus for free.

Bring these along to Dubrovnik
• good baby and toddler carriers are essential as this is the promised land of stairs
• mosquito repellant for kids and a plug-in device for scaring of mosquitos at night (also sold on spot)
• cream for mosquito bites
• plastic shoes (Crocs etc.) for swimming on pebble beaches (and in apartments for indoors as the floors are
very cold)
• a thicker quilt for your baby to lie on on the floor in the apartment and also in restaurants (if they do not crawl)
• insulated bag which holds the baby food or your picnic lunch cold or warm
• toddler fork, knife and spoon (if used by your child – these are not recognized by restaurants) and a cup with two handles if needed
• a sack-n-seat type of baby seat/high chair for the baby if you have plans to move anywhere outside the old town
• if you visit Dubrovnik during fall or spring, bring windproof clothes as the ocean breeze can get chilly

If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to answer just post them here or send me an email at [email protected]

Cumulus Turku: Älkää viekö lapsia tänne!

Turun Cumulus yritti grillata sekä meidät että muut seurueemme jäsenet elävältä. Kaksi yötä hotellissa oli kaksi yötä liian paljon. Jos olette kiinnostuneita nukkumisesta tai haluatte lapsenne nukkuvan, älkää missään tapauksessa menkö tänne.

Kokonaisarvosana: 5
– Nukkuminen: 4 (huoneissa +30 astetta sekä päivällä että yöllä)
– Huone: 5 (todella ahdas 2 lapsen kanssa, lattialämmitys täysillä kylpyhuoneessa)
– Liikkuvuus: 5 (ainoastaan 1 hissi, johon tuplarattaat eivät mahdu)
– Palvelu: 8 (ystävällinen henkilökunta)
– Sijainti: 8 (keskustan välittömässä tuntumassa)

Ilmastointi: Ei
Perhehuoneita: Ei
Leikkihuone: On
Lastenruokien lämmitysmahdollisuus: Aamupalalla kyllä, muuten ei
Uima-allas: Ei
Muuta lapsille:
– Oma osio aamiaispöydässä, jossa omat ruokailuvälineet, kuitenkin valitettavasti vain makeaa tarjolla
– Respasta voi lainata satukirjoja ja lautapelejä
– Huoneessa potta taaperolle

Menisimmekö uudelleen? Emme.

Hikisen ajomatkan jälkeen en malttanut odottaa kylmään suihkuun pääsyä ja viileän hotellihuoneen nautintoa. Heti kun avasin huoneen oven, kuumuus iski lamauttavana vastaan. ”Ei ilmastointia?! Jumalauta!” olivat ensimmäiset sanat, jotka pääsivät. Huoneessa oli 31 astetta lämmintä. Koko ajan. Mikään ei auttanut. Ei edes huoneen vaihto.

Lisäksi lattialämmitys porotti vessassa täysillä, mikä oli aivan täyttä hulluutta. Kävin kysymässä respasta, josko lämmitystä saisi pienemmälle. Ei saanut. Olivat kuulemma useasti valittaneet asiasta, mutta lämpöä ei ollut suostuttu pienentämään. Pelättiin kosteusvaurioita.

Yöllä ei saanut nukuttua, koska kuumuus oli tappava. Kaikki olivat kärttyisiä ja kukaan ei halunnut edes ajatella huoneeseen menemistä. Kaikki unet olivat ihan yhtä helvettiä. Kun pääsimme kotiin reissulta olin niin rättiväsynyt, että olisin halunnut lahdata puolet kotikylän asukkaista. Tältä keikalta ei jäänyt mieleen mitään muuta.

Ei ikinä uudestaan.

P.s. Hotellin leikkihuone oli onneksi ihan kiva ja hieman viileämpi välillä kuin huone.

Tähän ängettiin vielä vauvansänky.

Tähän ängettiin vielä vauvansänky.