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Tag Archives: Traveling with Children

Flights… with wee ones– we are back

I’m a pro at traveling with my kid. I’ve only flown with my husband and my son once, and that was when we flew up North in Brasil. I slept the whole flight as a way to get even… it was my “vacation.”  But normally I fly with my son alone.  When he was first born I took the 5 hour flight to Hawaii with my 3 month old.  Half the plane exclaimed they didn’t even know he was on the flight until after we landed and they saw me getting off.  Yeah he’s that good.  He sleeps through landings.  We made the trip with luggage (70lbs each) and all to Brasil, and every time I fly into the US for work, I fly alone, so I like to think I have it down.  So yes, I have been spending the Holidays with the family in the great old USA.

This time of course my kid is 18 months, i.e. wiggly and I’m 6 months prego.  And on top of the flight to the US, we had to make 2  flights to LA. with in a matter of days (carry on only because I hate having to check luggage and I’m cheap).  Thanksgiving day by the way, super great day to fly, airports are super chill.  The LA flights meant carry on luggage, on top of car seat and 20lb laptop bag and stroller.  Yes I had to sleep for 4 hours straight upon landing, and was exhausted, but we did it.  Hertz dropped me off at the airport in my rental car, so I didn’t have to take out the car seat, and load everything onto a shuttle… it was a nice “mom traveling alone” perk.  The really obnoxious LAX employee who made me go all the way back down to checkin just to prove my Carryon fit, well she can bite me. Of course it fit……I know what I’m doing here people.

I don’t travel with toys.  They end up being thrown, lost or just extra weight. I do load up my smartphone with some Xuxa videos and calming Baby Einstein, and lots of different new foods and sippy cups (I don’t like to wash them so I bring a few).  I found that American Airlines in Sao Paulo didn’t give me any priority access at checkin, unlike other airlines.  Oh well.  I also JUST MISSED getting to Gold Status this year as my flight back occurred on January 4th. SUPER BUGGED.

Blankets are my friend, it makes my kid feel like home and I can pile and snuggle them up to make a little bed for him if I have an empty seat next to me– this time I didn’t travel with the Ergo as I’m already carrying a baby 😉 and didn’t need two on my front– so we bought a seat.  I forgo naps when traveling, as once my kid is tired enough he always falls asleep in my arms… otherwise he won’t and play the whole flight.  We’ve got hours of on and off with lights, or playing with the air conditioning, or reading the colorful magazines to keep my kid entertained.  I have found videoing my son repeatedly and letting him watch himself is also a great distraction.  Seriously how did people travel before the invention of the smartphone?! Of course my kid is always best when we sit next to someone nice, who he can pretend to talk to or sing to, or generally just smile at.  So thank you to all of those passengers who have been friendly!

Most airports I can check in about an hour and a half before, and end up with time before the flight to let the kid run the airport halls, yell “WOOOW!” at each and every airplane, and generally wear himself out.  I’ve found that LAX is much worse… worse than GRU.  I always need to get there at least 2 hours before, and usually only end up with 5 minutes before take off!

We have now been back for a week, and people I’m about to take off again. Yes you heard right. I have to fly to LA again for two weeks. But this will be the first time I leave my son alone in Brasil with the nanny and husband.

But as you can see my nanny and son are best of buds. In fact when he saw the apartment from the taxi he started yelling out her name. Don’t worry he still calls my name when something is wrong or he needs help, is sick or has crapped his pants (the life of a mother)


Fortaleza/Teresina & Vacation Food

So our last night in Fortaleza we hit up Aztec de Oro. It was really good Mexican food, so good that my son who has been spitting out almost everything lately (to be honest I feel like that lately too), ate up everything. The guacomole for R$10 came in a big plate, with a small plate of chips. So no slight dipping, you could scoop the goodness up.

The tacos are the fried crispy yellow corn tacos (American style), but were still good.  I do miss authentic Mexican tacos though.  We also got a Yucaton Taco, which was battered chicken served with onions and tons of purple cabbage, in a very delicious chewy flour tortilla.  You couldn’t eat it with your hands, it was more of a fork and knife dish.

We headed to Teresina on Saturday morning.  Teresina is in Piaui, one of, if not the poorest state in Brazil.  Our once 4 star hotel (Rio Poty) is rather pathetic, although the mini bar still charges 4 star prices… ironically.  I do have to say having 110V outlets however is nice, and the room comes with a blow dryer.  And I guess it’s kinda.

Anyway, I digress.  Because our son was exhausted we decided to grab a quick bite to eat. We made the mistake of a quick bite at Bebalu a burger place the other day…. I still throw up in my mouth thinking about it.  So we decided to try Subway. Subway is always fresh and yummy, and while I really hate the luncheon meat in Brazil, I thought we’d give it a shot. For the record, Subway in Brazil is definitely not the same.. except for the bread *yummmm* and the sauces.  Otherwise, the fresh veggies are very wilty and sad looking, the bell peppers are sliced very tiny, and are not very plentiful.  And the cheese, don’t get me started on the cheese.  You can see from the photo, it looks like the cheese you put in your 5 year olds lunch.

For dinner in Teresina we got together with some friends of my husbands.  Restaurants here are mostly outdoor it seemed, with large seating areas in front of the restaurants.. and these seemed to be nicer restaurants. We ate at Mallagueta, where you order meat dishes, and they come out churrascaria style.  Services was awful, like 3 hour dinner awful, but the food was delicious.  They served a bean dish, with bacon and farofa and green onions, that was sooo flavorful. And the Picanha was well perfectly grilled.

The next day we ate at Favorito, where they had cinnamon grilled pineapple… mmmm.

I also realized I need to buy a pair of the churrascaria tongs… my son was an “angel” relative to his normal self at the restaurant, simply because he had them.  He hate lots of meat with his dad. You can see they licked the plate clean.

Another interesting phenomenon here is the play areas.  All of the restaurants seem to have them, and they’re HUGE.  Usually the baba’s are there with the kids, so I think all the parents thought I was a baba.

The fact, that I love wearing my slippers (I really don’t care that the rich folks in Brazil don’t wear them everywhere, I’m from Hawaii and we wear slippers!), probably made everyone think I was a baba.

Even though we were right next to the indoor playroom, we also couldn’t just let the monkey go wild…as he figured out how to climb up the rock climbing walls all by himself. Overall Teresina is an interesting place. It’s city enough that I can see skyscrapers from our hotel, but country enough that horses were grazing a few blocks from us, and there are still several houses made from mud and sticks in the city.

Day 1: Praia de Iracema, Fortaleza

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I started the vacation at the airport… I unloaded the 1 year old off on my husband on the 3.5 hour flight up.  To be fair, I get the lil guy in a few weeks for a 14 hour flight back to the US, so I’m fulling enjoying this vacation… I need to store up.

See daddy is holding baby…not so baby anymore, more like wild bundle of energy that never stops wiggling, squirming, and pinching.

Fortaleza this time of year is a nice get away from Sao Paulo, as it’s warm here! I think it’s perfect, not too humid, not too hot, great ocean breeze (this is the windiest month of the year).  My husband found an apartment online and it’s a block off the beach, which is nice.  Not that I’ve really found the beach to be that stunningly clean that I want to have my son swim in the water.  This beach has great night shopping… ok fine, this one has lots of kitschy tourist crap to suck us tourists in with.  There are also rollerbladers galore due to the rentals all over the place.

Because all of the little stands on the beach selling tourist kitsch weren’t enough for us, we headed to the Mercado Central, which was four stories of shops, mostly selling the same stuff and yes I bought a few items.  As you can see, beach wear, kitsch, and a lot of hammocks and tablecloths.

I bought something in this photo

I wanted to buy a sun hat (R$50)… and we figured that was a bit steep.  I found one for R$15 at the beach, and was accosted at least twice by the wandering salesmen selling the hats for R$10… so keep that in mind prices vary wildly.

Down the beach a bit is the seafood market, and man did I want to eat some shrimp after looking at all of the amazingly fresh seafood.

My son wasn’t so sure, and the sales guys were even more wary that their lobsters were gonna pinch off the lil guy’s finger.

The snapper didn’t make me want to eat them however…. something about the teeth.

My husband said that you can buy the shrimp, and there are places right nearby that will cook it up.  The fish is that fresh.  And man, was I hungry for some seafood.  Hubby not being from Hawaii, is more of a meat and potatoes guy, so for lunch we hit up Geppos on the beach. Not cheap for Fortaleza standards, but good priced when you compare to Sao Paulo, and the food was great. R$35 for the garlic shrimp and the same for Filet Mignon.

They also had highchairs, not those little wooden chairs they try and pass off as acceptable for a squirming 1 year old, but real highchairs, that you can strap the little guy in with.  That alone made the restaurant 5 stars in my book.  The waiter thought we had a cute little girl, so he made a girl for him to play with, and by the time he finished painting on red lips, he realized the error in his assumption. Granted I do have a very beautiful son.






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We have decided that Maresias is our favorite destination. Maybe it’s our love of Kauai and Maresias’ beachy similarities, maybe it’s that it is only 2 hours away, but feels like another world to São Paulo.  This time we showed up and then tried to find a Pousada and negotiate the price.  Vacation season is over, it was a rainy weekend, and it’s getting cold now, so we figured we had more wiggle room.  As Maresias Hotel is on the beach, we tried them first.  Their lowest rate they told us was R$290.

So we stoped at Pura Vida, a Pousada on the back street of Maresias.  From the outside it looked nice, and it had the typical electric security wires seen on most wealthy homes– we figured that was a good sign as they are obviously catering to the wealthier Brasilians… or skitish tourists right?  Also, being just one street back, it was still close enough to walk to the beach, and actually closer to more restaurants, which are not located on the main beach street.  They gave us a rate of R$200 + a 10% service fee, and came with a full kitchen with a large fridge, stove, sink etc.

We got a basic room, but some of the suites come with jetted tubs.

This is my favorite Pousada so far. Yes we have only stayed at 2 others, but still, favorite Pousada.  Since we all know most of my decisions are influenced by food, I won’t disappoint. Best breakfast by far!  They had mango, mullberry, and grape juice, as well as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.  Standard Cafe de Manha fair, fresh made rolls, cheese and meat. But you could also order from the kitchen filled pancakes or fresh made omelets . Their pão de queijo was very good. And they had corn cake and chocolate frosted carrot cake. I don’t call it corn bread as it isn’t the same as the stuff in the US.  Nor is the carrot cake the same for that matter, it looks and tastes more like standard yellow cake.

This place allows dogs. In fact the owners had a yellow lab, and a rottie watched the cars. So bad information by Mibamar, they are not the only place to accept pets! The beds were comfortable, the hotel we stayed at in Ilhabela had a crappy mattress. The pool was beautiful and clean (unlike Ilhabela),  as was the room (unlike the Mibamar). It seemed liked they had a baby pool but it was empty, and when I look at the photos on their website it seems it is alway empty. Too bad !  Ambiance of  the hotel was a Bali theme, so it was decorated nicely.   In fact there is  a koi pond along side the walk way to the rooms, which my son just loved. In fact, he tried with all his baby might to get my husband to drop him into the water to grab the fishes.  And when it rained, there was a gentle sound of rain hitting water, which was super relaxing.  We took a nice, much needed, super long nap.

What made this place stand out was the extra amenities. There is a billards room, so after a day at the beach there was something to do. A hot tub, sauna, work out room, and a movie room with DVDs. With a wee one this is nice as we could leave him in the room sleeping and just take our baby monitor, without feeling like we were too far away.  There are photos of all of these on their site, and all pretty accurate (unlike most hotel photos right!) Although the hotel is all 220 volt, so we could only charge our laptops.  They have an iron and a blowdryer you can ask to use.  And as it was 220V we ended up using our android phone app Nanny (free) to keep tabs on our sleeping son. Love the Nanny app by the way.

On my last visit to the US I picked up the PeaPod. It is a nifty little pop up tent. It is super light and comes with a blow up bad if you are going to use it on a hard surface and what your child to have some padding.  We took the PeaPod to the beach, and after letting our son crawl back and forth throwing sand everywhere, he finally wore down and we were able to stick him in the tent and relax ourselves for the first time at the beach with a kid ever!  I think if the waves were a bit less rough we could have taken him swimming, but it seemed more like a surfing day, so he pretty much stayed out of the water.

A vist to the States

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I had to head up to Beverly Hills… and as I have a kid, I had to take him with me. Since this trip was not paid for by my husband’s company this time, I didn’t have the luxury of traveling with an extra seat… just me, the baby carrier, and the wild little monkey.  Oh how I missed my beautiful, lovely Sao Paulo.  Yes, that’s right, after a week in LA, I wanted to come home.

The trip to LA, wasn’t too bad.  I was lucky enough to have a bulk head seat, so I laid down a quilt and down went my son.  The mid-flight turbuelence  required that I pick him up and that did not sit well.  But seriously, bulkheads are the way to travel.  The trip back, I also got a bulkhead seat, and no turbuelence, and he slept like a dream.  But you don’t care about the ease of bulk head seats do you right?

So let’s see, all of the things I love and hate about America.

  1. Chicago has those new sanitary toilets that automatically change a plastic liner and those were pretty cool.  LAX is a big, ugly, dirty mess and doesn’t have any such pretty toilets, so -1 LA

Am I lame because I took a photo of it?

  1. United Airlines flight attendedants were pretty rude about letting me on the plane when boarding all of the mediallion/business class passengers.  Whatever happened to letting women with children on first.  I even explained that I was traveling alone, had a really heavy backpack, and was suffering from a case of food poisoning– still no go… in fact no-go rather rudely – 1 America – 10 United
  2. The lack of a culture who appreciate babies – 1 LA + 10 Brazil The old gma on the plane from LAX was so cold to my son, and I could hear her grumbling to her husband about how annoyed she was we blocked the “natural light” from the window whenever I breastfed him. My son cried for the first time ever on a plane -repeatedly.  The super nice Brasilian woman on the way home, smiled and made my son laugh and he was a dream. Shoot, even the German director who we flew up with from Sao Paulo was nicer than this old lady…and he’s a guy! She just gave that “I don’t like that you have a kid” vibe and my son was very perplexed by it.
  3. All the freaking stop signs in Beverly Hills -1 for each one of those things LA
  4. The lame LA driver who honked at me because I was turning left.  If you have such a problem with left turns, then get rid of them like Brasil has – 1 LA
  5. All the stupid people who want to turn left and make me have to try and guess if I should be in the right or left lane – 1 LA (irony I know)
  6. Cheap baby stuff, peanut butter, maple syrup, and BestBuy +10 LA
  7. The parking ticket I got in Beverly Hills for parking at 2am … so you know Beverly Hills is a no parking anywhere at night zone.. even if there aren’t any signs. I would give LA another minus, but Sao Paulo’s no parking signs aren’t much better. Zero
  8. LA Drivers, who think they’re good, but all have their knickers in a bunch – 1 LA Even if everyone says Sao Paulo drivers are crazy, they are just some how all at the same standard, no slow-poke, crazy drivers here.  If you are flying through the intersection, you offer a courtesy honk.  There’s no doubt should I stop for that pedestrian… they have to watch for you. There’s no doubt, will this car try and squeeze in even though I have the right away… they know you have the right away, there’s no false niceties here in Brasil. And I like it that way!
  9. I totally forgot how fancy the cars are here in LA.  I guess I’d gotten used to the fleet of grey hatchbacks in Sao Paulo that I was finally awed by the fleet of porches and mercedes. +1 LA
  10. My husband was in Brasil -1000 LA

On a separate note, only slightly related. Our flight from Brasil and on to LA was filled with Germany’s Next Top Model cycle 6 contestants.  You know how they say babies like perfect faces…it’s true. My son seriously stared them down.   Then again, my kid likes women 😉 On the flight from Chicago to LA I actually got an empty seat next to me, but again we were on the flight with models, and the one next to us was bringing back a head dress.  They had done their shoot for Carnival in Brasil, and she said she just bought it and wasn’t the winner.  I guess the winner got to ride one of the floats and wear the whole outfit.  It hasn’t aired yet, so I couldn’t see who it was.  She just slept the whole time, and my son may or may not have broken off a few beads.  The model across the isle was much nicer, and kept smiling and my son… why couldn’t she have sat next to me? All she had was a book!  Hope she wins, just for her being the nicer one, without the big headdress 😉

Beverly Hills Parking Tip

I stayed at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. It’s one of those boutique hotels.  All modern and trendy (the crib was completely made of metal… yeah clink, clink, clink is what I heard as the little beaver chipped away at the metal rails) and recently renovated.  Recent renovations means your room smells like new carpet, paint and resin.  Parking was $30 a night, so I opted to park on the street. I was usually out of the hotel by 6 am, and not home till after 11pm anyway.  However, as I mentioned above, if you park between 2am and 5am, you will get a ticket. I managed to avoid a ticket the first night, because it turns out the Avalon hotel is right on the border of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.  My first night, I had parked down Beverly between Pico and Olympic.  I didn’t get a ticket, as I guess I was on the “Los Angeles” side of Beverly (the street signs turn blue, and don’t have “Beverly Hills” on them).  So that’s my tip, if you don’t mind walking a block.

Also don’t eat at Houston’s in Century City… I got food poisoning something wicked there… the worst sickness of my life ever.  My little sister had to pack my luggage for me. I paid the baggage claim guy at LAX (who by the way was not so subtle with his “If you take care of me, I’ll take care of you”) to check me in at the counter, got LAX security to let me in the front of the line, and chugged Pedialyte and ate my son’s teething biscuits.

**Update** The LA County Health Department called me (I reported the food poisoning, because I’m like that okay?!) to report that they inspected Houston’s and they failed the inspection on the handling of their primerib meat… so yeah, it was totally their fault.

Valentine’s Day– a bit early

This weekend my husband was uncharacteristically not working, and as such he thought it would be a good idea to surprise me with a vacation out of the city to an unknown location.  So we hopped into the car and drove the 150 km to the beach.  My first photo opportunity was the toll road!  My husband leaned back and asked me for my small bills, only to discover that it was ~R$20.

Brasil is interesting, as there are always people handing things out (kind of like Japan) in public.  At this stop there were girls handing out samples of pasta packages.

We stayed at the Mibamar Pousada, right across from the beach.  The hubby wishes we had paid more and stayed at the Maresias Beach Hotel across the street or Coconuts, the other hotel with beach access and that is a real hotel.  These hotels are modern and crisp, and the rooms face the beach.

With a 9 month old, sitting on the beach was a nightmare an adventure.  As this is Brasil, you don’t exactly leave your belongings on the beach while you swim.  So we took turns heading into the water, while one of us watched the little boy as he tried to shovel sand into his mouth.  What was nice is that there are these little stands at the beach that if you order food/water/coconuts etc.. they give you a chair and umbrella.  Our Pousada rented us them as part of the accommodations.

However, after a few trips into the ocean, we decided to take a break from the sand buffet, and head to the pool at the Maresais hotel and eat lunch and enjoy some not sand…. like daddy’s shoulder.  MMM sunscreen!

There’s no point to this photo, other than I love how blue the sky was in Maresais and how green the greenery was! … and I love my boys.

We thought we’d eat at the hotel’s restaurant, and I ordered a burger and fritas and my husband a chicken sandwich.  you can see from the pricing on the menu that we expected the food to be edible.  For those of you who have ever eaten public school lunch in Hawaii, you’ll know exactly what this food tasted like.  For the rest of you, imagine the saltiest, greasiest, processedest hamburger you’ve ever eaten on really dry bread.

As our hotel was a Pousada, it was much more boutique, so the hotel was a bit of new renovation and old charm. Personally, I liked that it was cozy.  My husband hated that you could see through various cracks under the door, and in the wood beams. I loved all the green plants, the little play area that was not made out of plastic, but a hand-made house and kid’s swing.  We were also told that this is the only hotel that allows pets, so for pet lovers good news. For those of you like my husband, who don’t like to hear your neighbors dog bark until they get home at 10pm, I’d look elsewhere.

As my son didn’t quite take to the ocean waves (he wasn’t ever quite sure if they would sweep him away), we decided to take him into the pool (tons of firsts this weekend!).  He loved the splashing, and made some friends with some of the other kids.

I am very proud of myself that I could actually follow the very cute conversation my husband had with the kids.  With questions like, “Do you speak Portuguese?” (This is of course about 5 minutes into the conversation held entirely in Portuguese between my husband and the boy).  Or requests like, “Can you say your son’s name in Portuguese?”… i.e. please pronounce it so it makes sense to us.

And of course ………

both boys really liked the ladies.  . .

We also hit up a few restaurants in the area.  For dinner the first night (no photos as my camera died) we went to Tia.  A lot of time in Brasil when you order a meal, it’s not just for one person.  This was the case for this family restaurant.  The meal was for two; however, the serving size was more like for 3-4.  We ordered stroganoff with rice and fries.  Someone else ordered a platter of seafood and other items and it smelt amazing!  There was also a cute sign in Portuguese that said my family works to serve your family, so I’m pretty sure it’s a family restaurant.

Lunch the next day was Empanada Tucumana, where unlike all empanadas I’ve ever had in California, they were baked, not fried, and were delicious!

I also saw the first Coke Zero in a bottle.  I wish bottled drinks were sold more often, they’re soo beautiful.

We also picked up a small bunch of apple bananas for R$10, the large ones were R$30.  They were sooo sweet and teeny it was cute.

Well I know this was a TON of photos, but there was just so much that we saw, and this doesn’t capture half of it!  All in all it was good to get out of the apartment and to finally see a bit of Brasil!  Yes, even the bub was sick of all the photos. As a native Californian, my child has learned from the celebrities of Hollywood how to properly handle the Paparazzi.

Traveling… with infant

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Traveling wasn’t too bad at all… other than the fact that I left my Tablet on the flight from SLC To DFW… yeah, let’s just say the spouse is none to pleased.  I am hoping the nice people in Lousiville, Kentucky let me know some good Texan found it on their flight and turned it in.  Stranger things have been known to happen.  This missing tablet means there are no photos for me to share of the whole experience (yep that’s the biggest let down of the whole missing tablet right??).

So I traded some old couple the bulkhead seats AA had assigned me.  What I was going to do with two seats that didn’t let the arm rest up was beyond me.  My kid LOVED flying.  He seriously went crazy once I opened the window and he could see out it. He was laughing so hard and kept kissing me…baby kisses are more like you are being drowned in slimy slobber though, so not exactly pleasant.

In Dallas the nice ladies at the counter convinced a Platinum member to give up their seat so we could have two seats next to each other and at the window.  This meant that my son pretty much slept the whole flight. I laid him down in his little seat bed and he was out.  I of course slept like anyone does on the plane, with the additional stress of worrying about my son rolling off the seat, so having to prop my leg or body up as a shield.

When I landed in Sao Paulo, I felt like I was landing at one of the outer island airports in Hawaii.  You could see lots of green tropical trees, the runway had grass along the side of it, and of course there was tons of red dirt.  Even the airport itself reminded me of Honolulu’s airport.

When you first disembark you go through customs with the Federal Police to show them that you have a Visa.  I got to go in the same line that the pilots and flight attendants used as I had a baby, so skipped the huge line.  At the baggage claim everything was already stacked up and waiting, so I grabbed one of the free carts, finagled a few Brasilian guys to help me stack up my 3 large bags strategically on one cart, stowed the baby in his stroller, and stacked his car seat on his lap, and began pushing the “mega cart” and dragging the stroller behind me. I was quite the spectacle!

The next line you get in is the line where you hand them your baggage declaration and then they xray your items.  Well all around the airport are these guys with yellow vests that say “Can I help you?” in English. One of them came up to me, explained that there was a “mothers line”, and took me to the very front of the line.  I thought wow sweet, that’ll save time, now will I stand out so they will do an extra thorough job of x-raying my luggage, and notice who I packed the entire US into 3 suitcases and my GIANT stuffed backpack?  Well the answer to that worry is no!  As soon as I handed the woman my bagged declaration slip, they ushered me right out the door. Yes people that’s right, I totally skipped through the X-ray machines, because I had a little baby.

I am exhausted, and there is a ton more about Sao Paulo that I’ve experienced now that I’m here.  But I can’t help but think of Sao Paulo as a mix of Germany and Hawaii, and I loved living in both places, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it here too.