Baby Travels – 4 months old – The Netherlands

RO: Prima plecare inafara tarii cu bebe Alexei ne-a dat aripi! Totul a fost neasteptat de bine, astfel ca la nici doua saptamani distanta ne-am incumetat la un al doilea zbor si la un itinerariu mai ambitios. Intreaga excursie a durat zece zile, dintre care sapte Andrei a fost plecat in Vancouver, intr-o deplasare cu jobul. A fost o adevarata provocare sa ne descurcam fara el, insa cumva am reusit 🙂 Descriem mai jos in detaliu experienta din Olanda cu bebe Alexei.

EN: Our first vacation abroad with baby Alexei was a leap of faith! Everything was unexpectedly good, so in less than two weeks we dared  to have a second flight and a more ambitious itinerary. The entire trip lasted ten days, seven of which Andrei had to go to Vancouver in a business trip. It was a real challenge to handle everything without him, but somehow we made it 🙂 We’ll describe below our experience in The Netherlands with baby Alexei.
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Zborul / The flight

RO: Ei bine, daca zborul catre Munchen cu Lufthansa a fost perfect, absolut perfect din toate punctele de vedere, de data aceasta am intampinat ceva probleme cu Wizzair. In primul rand, ora de zbor. Auzisem de la alte persoane care au calatorit cu bebelusi ca ora de zbor este extrem de importanta, insa niciodata nu am luat foarte in serios recomandarile lor. Aveam impresia ca indiferent de momentul zilei, bebelusul va dormi bustean in brate, fermecat de prea-grozavul zgomot alb produs de motoarele avionului. Ei bine nu 🙂 Chiar daca Alexei nu avea inca un program de somn foarte bine stabilit, faptul ca l-am trezit cu noaptea in cap nu i-a priit. Iar agitatia din aeroport la prima ora in dimineata, cand aeroportul Otopeni este pur si simplu ticsit de lume (la cate zboruri sunt aglomerate in acelasi interval orar, nici nu-i de mirare), l-a stimulat mult prea mult. Ar fi fost mult mai potrivit sa alegem o cursa a unei companii de linie (asumandu-ne diferenta aferenta de pret), ca sa putem alege o ora mai decenta, insa nu am anticipat ca ar putea fi atat de problematic pentru bebelus. In plus, la ora aceea toate controalele  (securitate/pasaport) dureaza o eternitate. Am fi crezut ca fiind cu caruciorul dupa noi (de fapt, doar cu scoica de la carucior), totul va fi extrem de rapid trecand pe la banda dedicata bagajelor agabaritice (cum de altfel fusese in urma cu doua saptamani). Din pacate insa era o coada absolut imensa si acolo (cel putin 30 de persoane cu carucioare si copii), controlul a durat mult mai mult decat ne asteptam, iar Alexei deja devenise suficient de nervos cat sa nu mai aiba stare. Apoi, la imbarcare, chiar daca aveam Priority Boarding, mai bine de jumatate de avion avea (la Wizzair se poate cumpara imbarcarea cu prioritate pentru doar 5 euro), motiv pentru care nu am reusit sa ne imbarcam mai repede, iar statul la coada si galagia il obosisera deja foarte rau pe Alexei. In urma acestei experiente am decis ca atunci cand vom calatori cu bebelusul, sa incercam pe cat posibil sa alegem numai companii de linie, sau companii despre care stim sigur ca sunt baby friendly. Bineinteles, cand vom fi constransi de buget sau cand in destinatia aleasa nu ajunge decat o companie low cost, nu vom avea de ales. In rest, zborul in sine (in sfarsit ajungem sa vorbim despre zbor :D) a fost relativ ok, cu cateva episoade de plans la inceput, probabil din cauza oboselii si stimularii din aeroport. Insa chiar daca a fost un zbor de doua ore si jumatate pana in Bruxelles (descriem mai jos de ce am aterizat aici), nu a fost atat de dificil (exceptand amorteala de la atata tinut in brate :D). Atat decolarea cat si aterizarea au fost ok, bebelusul fiind treaz a acceptat sa fie alaptat, asa ca nu au fost deloc probleme cu diferenta de presiune. Atata doar ca pe parcursul zborului s-a trezit si bineinteles, la scurt timp s-a plictisit (aici a intervenit Sophie La Giraffe si ne-a scos din impas :D). Din fericire, la aceasta varsta inca nu are nevoie de foarte multe activitati, insa pe viitor va trebui sa ne gandim la metode de a-l tine ocupat pe timpul zborului. Totusi, e ideal sa avem la indemana niste jucarii sau obiecte care fosnesc sau zdrangane, sunt o adevarata mana cereasca. Legat de hainutele lui Alexei pentru calatorit, am rezolvat problema destul de usor: un prim strat de lana si matase, un overall pe care l-am dat jos in avion si o paturica pufoasa, pentru orice eventualitate.

EN: Oh well, if the Lufthansa flight to Munich was perfect, absolutely perfect from tip to toe, this time we had some sort of issues with Wizzair. First of all, the departures time. We knew from other persons that have traveled with babies that the departure time is extremely important, but we have never taken seriously their recommendations. We thought that no matter the moment of the day, the baby will be fast asleep in our arms, mesmerized by the holy white noise produced by the airplane’s engines. Guess what, he didn’t J Even though Alexei did not have a well determined sleeping schedule, the fact that we woke him up in the middle of the night was not quite food for him. And all the hustle and bustle from the airport at first hour in the morning, when Otopeni airport is simply packed with people (no wonder it is, as there are so many flights at the same time!) stimulated him a bit too much. It would have been more appropriate to choose a legacy airline (assuming the price difference) so that we can choose a decent hour of travelling, but we did not anticipate that this could be such a problem for our baby. Besides, all the controls (security/passport) last forever at that hour. We thought that having our stroller (actually just the infant car seat), everything will be easier and faster passing through the special size luggage belt (as it was two weeks before). Unfortunately, there was a huge line there (at least 30 persons with strollers and babies) so the control lasted more than expected and Alexei has become agitated and cranky. Then, the boarding. Even though we had Priority Boarding, probably half of the plane did (at Wizzair priority boarding can be bought for only 5 euros) so we couldn’t board the airplane very soon and staying in line and all that noise exhausted Alexei. After this experience we decided that when we will travel with baby Alexei, we will try to choose legacy carriers or carriers that are as baby friendly as possible. Of course, when we will have budget restrictions or when the destination chosen can be reached only by low cost companies, we will not have a choice. Other than all these problems, the flight itself (we’re finally talking about the flight!) was quite OK, except some crying episodes at the beginning, probably due to the exhaustion and stimulation from the airport. But even though it was a two and a half hours flight to Bruxelles (we’ll explain below why we landed here :D) it wasn’t so difficult (except the numbness caused by holding the baby in my arms :D). Both landing and take-off were ok, the baby was awake and I could breastfeed him, so there were no issues with the pressure. Just that during the flight he eventually woke up and of course, was soon bored (luckily we had Sophie la Giraffe with us and solved the problem :D). At this age he doesn’t need too many activities, but in the future we will have to think about how to keep him busy during the flights. However, it is ideal to have some noisy toys or object at hand, these are a real godsend. Regarding Alexei’s travelling clothes, we solved the problem pretty easy: a first layer of wool and silk, another overall that we undressed in the airplane and a fluffy blanket, just in case we needed it.
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Itinerariu / Itinerary 

RO: Aveam niste bilete catre Bruxelles cumparate cu ceva timp in urma, insa in ultima instanta ne-am decis sa mergem in Eindhoven. Ar fi fost ideal daca am fi renuntat totusi la acele bilete si am fi mers direct in Eindhoven (este cursa directa la Wizz), insa cum ne place sa ne complicam inutil viata, am ales sa le pastram iar apoi sa inchiriem o masina. Nu a fost atat de rau sau greu precum ne-am imaginat, insa au fost cateva episoade de plans in masina, insa mare parte din drum a dormit. Odata ajunsi in Eindhoven am decis ca aproape in fiecare zi sa vedem un oras sau un satuc nou. Astfel ca in prima zi am mers pana in Ghent, in Belgia (care ne-a placut tare mult!), apoi in Gouda, Oudewater, Den Bosch, Helmond si Leiden. Provocarea cea mare a fost saptamana in care Andrei a plecat in Vancouver si noi am ramas cu prietenii din Eindhoven. Desi eram doua mamici cu doi bebelusi mici ne-am incumetat sa conducem catre orasele din preajma Eindhoven-ului, insa trebuie sa recunoastem ca ne-au lipsit baietii 🙂 Nu c-ar fi imposibil sa calatorim fara ei, dar cu siguranta este mult mai dificil. Ne-a fost putin greu sa ducem copiii in brate, sa ne descurcam cu un singur carucior pentru amandoi, sa caram diversele bagaje necesare bebelusilor si sa facem cateva poze prin locurile in care ajungeam. Cert e ca intreaga Olanda este baby friendly, asa ca multe dintre problemele pe care ni le imaginam erau rezolvate de la sine: lifturi la orice statie de metrou/tren, trotuare libere, liniste, multe parcuri, multe localuri/cafenele/restaurante linistite unde puteam alapta.

EN: We had some airplane tickets to Brussels bought some time ago, but on the homestretuch we finally decided to go to Eindhoven. It would have been great to forget about those tickets and fly straight to Eindhoven (there’s a direct flight at Wizz) but as we love to worthlessly complicate our lives, we have chosen to keep them and then rent a car. It wasn’t as bad as we imagined, but there were some crying episodes in the car, but most of the drive he slept. Once we got to Eindhoven we decided that each day we will visit a new town or village. So the first day we visited Ghent, in Belgium (and we loved it!), then Gouda, Oudewater, Den Bosch, Helmond and Leiden. The biggest challenge was the week when Andrei had to go to Vancouver and we stayed with our friends in Eindhoven. Even though we were two mothers with two small babies, we dared to drive to the towns in Eindhoven’s proximity but we have to admit that we missed our boys 🙂 Not that travelling without them would be impossible, but it’s definitely harder. It was a bit hard to hold the babies in our arms, to handle everything with only one stroller for both of them, to carry all the necessary bags for the babies and take some pictures in the places we visited. One thing is certain, The Netherlands is a real baby friendly country, so most of the problems we were concerned about were already solved: elevators at each subway/train station, free sidewalks, lots of parks, lots of tranquil cafes/restaurants where we could breastfeed.

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Helmond
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Helmond
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Helmond
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Helmond

Transport 

RO: Si iata cum am realizat noi ca am facut o greseala alegand un sistem 2 in 1 pentru carucior (landou si parte sport), fara scoica inclusa. Aveam o scoica imprumutata de la niste prieteni, o alta marca (Graco), care bineinteles, nu se potrivea cadrului caruciorului, pe care am fost nevoiti sa o luam cu noi, pentru ca urma sa avem masina inchiriata. Cadrul caruciorului Graco nu l-am luat cu noi, in primul rand pentru ca nu este deloc confortabil pentru bebelus (e mai rigid, mai plasticos si rotile nu au amortizoare), apoi pentru ca in Olanda urma sa folosim caruciorul prietenilor nostri la care stateam. Si am mizat pe faptul ca vom folosi foarte mult sistemul de purtare (big mistake). Ceea ce evident nu s-a intamplat. La destinatie am folosit un Mutsy Nexo, varianta mai mica a lui Nio, mai potrivit pentru calatorit, cu care ne-am inteles de minune.

EN: And that’s how we finally realized that we made a mistake by choosing a 2 in 1 system for our stroller (carry cot and chair), without the infant car seat included. We had one borrowed from some friends of ours, another brand (Graco), which of course is not compatible with our stroller frame, and we had to take it with us because we rented a car in NL. We didn’t take the frame of the Graco stroller with us, first of all because is not comfortable at all for the baby (it is more rigid and the wheels don’t have suspension) and then because we were to use the stroller of our friends in NL. And we also thought that we will use the baby carrier quite a lot (big mistake). Which of course, didn’t happen. At destination we used a Mutsy Nexo, a bit smaller than our Nio, but more appropriate for travelling.

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Den Bosch
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Den Bosch
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Den Bosch

 

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Den Bosch

 

MANCAREA / FOOD

RO: Nimic nou sub soare la acest capitol 🙂 Toate bune si frumoase, la fel ca in Munchen, bebe Alexei este alaptat exclusiv inca, deci totul a fost cum nu se poate de simplu. Totusi, legat de alaptatul in public, foarte rar am vazut mamici alaptand. Motivatia ar fi faptul ca femeile au dreptul la doar patru luni de concediu maternal in Olanda, de aceea de multe ori se renunta la alaptat in favoarea formulei. Asa ca am incercat sa fiu pe cat se poate de discreta, alegand locuri cat mai retrase si intime pentru alaptare. Un mic “truc” a fost sa am grija ca bebe Alexei sa fie intotdeauna satul (multumiri Alexandrei, mamica-stie-tot, pentru sfat), astfel ca inainte de a urca in masina si de a porni la drum si imediat dupa ce ajungeam la destinatie il hraneam. Astfel ca in orase, cat vizitam (cateva ore) de multe ori nici nu era nevoie sa ne oprim pentru alaptat. Faceam programul zilei inainte de a pleca de acasa, tinand cont de orele de somn si masa ale bebelusilor.

EN: Nothing different here 🙂 All good, as well as in Munich, baby Alexei is still breastfed, so everything was very simple. However, regarding breastfeeding in public, we rarely seen mothers breastfeeding. The reason behind this would be the fact that women are only allowed to four months of maternity leave in The Netherlands, so people tend to prefer the formula. So I have tried to be as discrete as possible, choosing intimate places for breastfeeding. A small “trick” was to always be careful that Alexei was satiated (thanks to Alexandra, mommy-knows-it-all, for the advice), so before any road trip and right after arriving at the destination I breastfed him. So in the cities, while we visited (a couple of hours) it was not even necessary to stop for feeding. We made the schedule of the day before leaving the home, taking into account the sleeping and eating schedule of the babies.

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Eindhoven

Snapseed (7)

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Eindhoven
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Eindhoven
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Eindhoven
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Eindhoven
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Eindhoven

 

GRESELI / MISTAKES

RO: In ordine cronologica, prima greseala a fost faptul ca nu am ales niste ore de zbor mai umane, care sa ii usureze lui Alexei zborul. Apoi, faptul ca nu am luat suficiente jucarii sau obiecte care sa il atraga si sa il tina ocupat si stimulat pe parcursul zborului. O alta greseala a fost faptul ca am luat doar scoica caruciorului (crezand ca nu avem voie si cu cadrul), mizand pe faptul ca la destinatie vom folosi caruciorul prietenilor nostri – a fost foarte dificil sa o caram dupa noi. Revenim la vesnica problema cu sistemul de purtare, se resimte din plin faptul ca nu am insistat sa il invatam sa se obisnuiasca sa fie purtat.

EN: Chronologically, the first mistake was the fact that we didn’t choose better flying hours, to make it easier for Alexei. Then, the fact that we did not have enough toys or objects to keep him busy and stimulated throughout the flight. Another mistake was the fact that we only took the infant car seat with us (thinking that we were not allowed with the stroller frame as well) – it was quite hard to carry it with us. And of course, the never ending story with the baby carriers, we now see that we should have insisted more to carry him, maybe he would have been already used with the baby carrier.

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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden
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Leiden

SOMNUL BEBELUSULUI / BABY SLEEP 

RO: Daca in excursia din Munchen nu aveam un program de somn pentru Alexei, de data aceasta, chiar in Olanda, am observat cum a inceput sa isi formeze singur un orar destul de repetitiv si o oarecare rutina. Au inceput sa se contureze trei somnuri in jurul acelorasi ore in fiecare zi (primul dimineata la o ora dupa trezire, urmatorul la pranz in jurul orei 12-13 si ultimul pe la 15) iar seara adormea in jurul orei 19. Uneori mai usor, alteori foarte greu, in functie de cat de stimulat a fost pe parcursul zilei. Am constatat cu surprindere ca nu functioneaza catusi de putin obosirea bebelusului pana la epuizare, “ca sa doarma mai bine noaptea”, ba dimpotriva chiar, efectul este complet opus. Cu cat e mai obosit, cu cat doarme mai putin pe timpul zilei si cu cat este mai mult stimulat (de locuri noi, oameni noi, activitati etc), cu atat mai greu ii va fi sa adoarma seara si sa doarma pe parcursul noptii. In orice caz, si-a pastrat bunul obicei de a dormi cam 11-12 ore pe noapte, cu careva treziri pentru alaptat (4-5 treziri a cate 5-10 minute).

EN: In Munich we did not have any kind of sleeping schedule for Alexei, but now, precisely in The Netherlands, we noticed that he started to create his own schedule and a routine. He started to have three naps per day around the same hour (first one in the morning, at one hour after getting up, the next one at noon around 12-13 and the last one around 15) and in the evening he slept around 19. Sometimes easier, sometimes really hard, depending on how stimulated we was during the day. We were surprised to see that exhausting the baby “to sleep better during the night” did not work, on the contrary, the effect was completely opposite. The tired he was and the less the slept and the more stimulated he was during the day (by new places, new people and new activities) the harder it was for him to sleep in the evening. Anyways, he kept his very good custom of sleeping 11-12 hours per night, with several awakenings for breastfeeding (4-5 awakenings of 5 to 10 minutes).
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PROVOCARI / CHALLENGES

RO: A fost o excursie plina de provocari iar cea mai importanta a fost faptul ca pentru mai bine de o saptamana a trebuit sa ne descurcam fara ajutorul lui Andrei. A fost greu, dar nu imposibil. O a doua provocare au fost drumurile cu masina: noi cele doua mamici in fata, bebelusii in spate in scaunele de masina, de cele mai multe ori plangand. A fost destul de stresant, insa “hiturile” copilariei noastre (traiasca Alunelu’ si Casuta din Padure!) si un intreg arsenal de jucarii pe podeaua din spatele masinii au fost mana cereasca! Cu ocazia aceasta am realizat cat de tentat este Alexei de jucariile colorate, acasa aveam doar plusuri monocolore 😀 In plus, am ales intotdeauna drumuri scurte, ca sa nu ne chinuim foarte mult, si uneori am evitat autostrazile si am ales drumurile locale, ca sa putem opri oricand pe marginea drumului in caz ca vreunul dintre bebelusi ar fi avut nevoie de noi. Ca sa ii fie mai bine lui Alexei pe drum, plecam chiar cand urma sa adoarma, iar inainte de a aseza scoica in masina il plimbam cateva minute pe afara, in aerul rece de dimineata si abia apoi asezam scoica in masina. Nu era tocmai usor de carat scoica cu bebelusul in ea, insa garanta faptul ca urma sa doarma tot drumul 🙂 O alta dificultate a fost faptul ca Alexei inca nu accepta sa stea in sistem, de multe ori nici in carucior. Astfel ca de multe ori trebuia sa il tin numai in brate, ceea ce era de multe ori foarte obositor. Un alt stres constant a fost grija sa nu se imbolnaveasca Alexei. Chiar daca aveam asigurare medicala, tineam mortis sa nu ajungem sa apelam la sistemul medical olandez (unde paracetamolul te vindeca de orice problema :D). Vremea nu era tocmai prietenoasa, a plouat destul de mult iar dimineata era chiar frig si foarte mult vant, insa hainele de lana (lana fiarta indeosebi) ne-au cam scos din impas.

EN: It was a trip full of challenges and the most important of them all was the fact that we were alone for more than one week. It was hard, but not impossible. A second challenge were the road trips: us, the two mothers in the front seats and the babies on the back seats in their car seats, most of the times crying. It was quite stressful but thanks to our childhood songs and an entire arsenal of toys on the floor were a real godsend! This is actually how we realized how interested Alexei is when he sees colorful toys, at home we only had uncolored ones 😀 Besides, we have always chosen short trips to be easier for us and we sometimes avoided the high ways and taken the local roads, so that we could stop on the side of the road at any time, if needed. Just to be easier for Alexei, we always left the house right when he was about to sleep, and before putting the car seat in the car I was walking him for several minutes outside, in the cold morning air and then placed the car seat in the car. It was not so easy to carry the car seat with the baby in it, but I was at least sure that we would sleep the entire drive 🙂 Another difficulty was the fact that Alexei doesn’t want to stay in the baby carrier, sometimes not even in the stroller. So I had to carry him in my arms, which was quite exhausting. Another continuous stress was the fact that I was afraid that Alexei will catch a cold. Even if we had a medical insurance, we didn’t want to use the Dutch medical system (where the paracetamol heals every illness :D). The weather was not quite OK, it rained a lot and in the morning it was really cold and windy, but the wool clothes (especially the boiled wool ones) solved all our problems.
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RO: Insa chiar si cu toate aceste dificultati intampinate, nu ne-am descurajat, ba dimpotriva, am invatat si inteles ca pentru a calatori cu Alexei cata vreme este inca un bebelus foarte mic, este nevoie de multa organizare, multa rabdare si multa planificare in avans. In mod cert nu mai este la fel de convenabil si comod ca atunci cand calatoream numai noi doi, dar suntem siguri ca in curand ne vom gasi un ritm iar calatoriile in trei vor deveni si mai multe, si mai usoare 🙂

EN: However, even with all these difficulties that we’ve faced, we are discouraged, actually on the contrary, we learned and understood that travelling with baby Alexei while he is so small needs a lot of organization, patience and planning in advance. It is certainly not as convenient as it was when we were travelling in two, but for sure we will soon find our own rhythm and our travels in three will become easier 🙂
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