Little 1

I need to interrupt my cruise posts to say: Little one is one!

As I went through the week leading up to SM’s first birthday I could not help having flash backs to the moments that led up to this day one year ago – but I will spare you that detail.

I know that I speak directly to other parents when I say that having a child is the greatest joy you have ever know – experiencing joy you did not know existed – and if you not a parent yet , and you rolling your eyes now, I hope one day when you have a baby , you will remember this.

SM has hand’s down been our greatest adventure as we were already in London when we found out we were going to have her and she was born here.

As dramatic as I am, never in a million years did I imagine I would have a baby far from everyone I know and love , without the pampering and fuss and visitors – but it happened.

SM was born in the most beautiful government hospital – also something that would not happen in SA – I remember being so shocked when I was told by my UK medical aid company that they do not cover pregnancy unless something was wrong. He kindly informed me that even Kate Middleton delivered at a government hospital in London and assured me I would be fine.

As a result of being away from everyone who would ordinarily have guided me in the early stages of motherhood, I became I textbook mum…a new mum at work recommended a book she used and I followed this book to the T. if it was not in the book, it would not happen and I would not do it. And I was so lucky that my textbook mum skills resulted in a textbook baby – if the book said it would happen, SM would go through it. (If you expecting, please contact me – you need this book.)

That is just the way that worked for me, something written by the experts but every mother is different and ultimately it so much about instinct. It’s so hard to explain but it just comes to you.

We have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to travel with our daughter and she is the inspiration behind my blog because so many times I’m asked the question “how do you travel with a baby”.

We learning that contrary to what you might think , travelling with a smaller baby is actually easier than older children, because babies don’t get bored, babies don’t beg for things they see and toilet breaks and feeding are very much on the go.

We have been blessed to have gone to many European countries where they seem to be more catered to babies with amazing baby change and feeding facilities. Don’t get me wrong, there are some limitations – places with loads of steps are a really issue and some places or activities, like theatre for example, just blatantly do not allow anyone under 2. But that’s ok because at least we saving some things to do with SM when she is older, and based on the way the first year went by, it will be upon us before we know it.

 

A few notes on 1 year old SM:

Currently crawling at incredible speeds.

When not crawling, she stands – if it can’t be done standing , it can’t be done.

Absolute love for books and being read to.

Loves watching videos of herself.

Dances to all music , songs on the phone/ tv and her toys.

Extremely attached to her “Donkey”

Can say “daddy” without any bribery.

Gives kisses.

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Together in Split

By the time we woke up and had breakfast on the second morning, we had already arrived into the port of Split, Croatia. This was a major advantage of the cruise – reaching a whole new country while you sleep, without the hassle of packing up and also no airports.

I have to at this point be honest and say that Croatia was never ever a country that I ever considered or wanted to visit. These are all YM’s dreams.

So many times in our journeys. I envy him and his vast knowledge of the world and the list of places he wants to see… I always argue that my appreciation of a place once there is not reduced due to my lack of knowledge, but I think it’s a very different type of appreciation to what YM experiences.

Split is the second largest city in Croatia. We arrived on the port and our plan was walk to find the Diocletian’s Palace which appeared to be the city’s main attraction. To our absolute amazement (and relief) the palace was just a 10 minute walk from the cruise terminal. The great thing about being cruise passengers is that you not required to go through customs with your passport when you enter in a new country. Anyone that has been through passport control lately would appreciate this.

Facing the harbor, Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most imposing Roman ruins in existence built in the 4th century. The palace gives the city a very old and fortress feel to it. The streets leading to the palace were lined with little stalls selling touristy trinkets…my happiness.

Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian’s Palace

The absolutely amazing thing that we saw in Split and noticed in so many Europeans cities we visited is that they preserve so much. Even though Croatia is part of EU, they still use they own currency, the Croatian Kuna, although some stores did accept the Euro. (1 Kuna = 0.097 GBP; 1 Kuna = 2.01 ZAR)

Also in the spirit of preserving their city but yet making it relevant, a lot of modern shops are built into the old buildings. The heat was scalding and after making our way to the palace we stopped at the most unusual outside café – they just had pillows scattered in what was previously the palace amphitheatre, you sit and receive a menu.

This was also our first opportunity to access Wi-Fi since we left London – without the luxury of data roaming, you will find that a lot of your food decisions are made based on the restaurant’s Wi-Fi offerings.

Split is the perfect mix of old and modern, within the side streets we managed to find high end brand stores.

We spent our afternoon on a submarine – this below the ocean floor experience was also a first for us and not as badly priced as we would have thought. Another thing we quickly realised on this was trip was that even with the conversion to rands, it seems that water sports are only overpriced in SA.

SM exploring the ocean floor
SM exploring the ocean floor

Several hours later and slightly tanned, we were back on board in time for the afternoon snack and a few hours in the pool before sunset.

We had one day at sea before we reached the beautiful Greek islands…

The cruise life

Ever since I watched Titanic, that’s I idea I have had of what a cruise would be like… The romance, the fun, the music, the majestic waters, fancy suppers, tea, separation by class…hundred years on and the same essence is captured…not the separation by class of course.

An early morning flight from London to Italy got us to Venice with ample time to find our way to the docking port.. Majority of the passengers on our flight appeared to be coming to Venice to board a cruise ship..

The cruise terminal is absolutely amazing, one ship more majestic than the next. It was amazing to be part of the frenzy of excited tourists making their way to the their ships, all moving in different directions with a common purpose.

Boarding a ship is very much like boarding a flight. You go through a check in process with your tickets and passport and your luggage is taken from you to be delivered to your cabin. As always, having little SM with us meant we got priority boarding so no queues for us. (if you really cant think of any other reason to have a child, then use this one.. :p).

MSC Lirica
MSC Lirica

Our ship of choice was the MSC Lirica with its start in Venice is very much as Italian as it gets..so much so that they even had a special designated pizza station from after breakfast to 1:30am daily – someone making pizzas for you all the time! Also coffee and tea stations 24 hours a day. All food on board is included, eat as much as you want, when you want.

Pizza station
Pizza station

On board there was also 4 pools , 2 for children , 2 jacuzzi’s, fully functional gym, a spa, a hairdresser, 6 restaurants, a theatre, and a nursery.

The staff on board were extremely helpful and friendly..and the italian people are amazing to travel with!

We had two safety measure tasks once on board. The first one was getting little SM tagged with her name and cabin number so in case of emergency she can be identified. The second task was a saftey drill –  everyone on board was brought on deck to do a safety drill and we were shown how to use life jackets. I really struggled. It was impossible for me to get the life jacket over my scarf clip and with SM in hand. I gave up half way and just hoped YM knew enough to save us all in the case of an emergency.

On board our ship there were 2100 passengers and 700 crew.

Pulling out of the Venice port was a feeling and vision I will remember forever. This was 17:00 on a beautiful Saturday evening. We went to the highest deck to view this and while YM got the most beautiful pictures, I was not allowed near the railings with baby in hand.

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Venice as seen from our ship
Venice as seen from our ship

We spent our first evening on board familiarising ourselves with the ship and its offerings, indulged in mocktails on the pool deck and watched the most beautiful sunset.

Strawberry daiquiri and pina colada
Strawberry daiquiri and pina colada

For the duration of our journey, standing on deck in the evening , watching the water beneath us and the blanket of blue around us became a favourite pastime for YM and I.

Sunset somewhere between Venice and Split.
Sunset somewhere between Venice and Split.

Next stop: Split , Croatia.

Teething problems..

Blogging is not as easy as it seems..or as easy as other people make it seem. Blogging is actually a complex world of well written pieces, beautiful photos and amazing web design. Bloggers really know how to make their work look good and I am so far from that.

Also, how do bloggers get so many people to read their blog? If you reading this your are either my husband, my sister, my mother , my best friend or my cousin and I asked you to look at it.

I had this amazing idea of using Instagram to link to my first blog post..but yesterday after my first post was complete, I could not find the right picture to use on instagram..so much pressure even though I only have 5 followers..again, that’s you  my husband, my sister, my mother , my best friend, my cousin.

On an entirely separate note SM is cutting a tooth this week..8th tooth and counting.

Finding the courage!

More like finding the time..

It has been 20 months since we left home..and our little girl is already 11 months old..little SM was born exactly 9 months after we left home. Just perfect maths.

YM and I left South Africa on 09 December 2013 on a working holiday…which turned out to be our journey to parenthood as well.

This is my blog of our adventures in a an effort to remember it , share it and allow others to learn from it..a platform I will use to share the tricks we have learnt that has made this journey as perfect as it has been. An account of living abroad and travelling while pregnant and with our little one.

Writing is something I have always wanted to do..but that takes courage..and finally I have something to write about.

This is our story.