Summer in Seville

The Svendsen clan was lucky enough to actually get away for a real summer holiday this year, something we haven’t done since Per Christian was three months old and we went to Greece for 10 days. That was a hell of a trip, to say the least – a real introduction to how our holidays would NEVER be the same again.

This year, I was insistent upon visiting “The Mainland,” believing in my heart of hearts that living in resort-dominated Gran Canaria was not the same as seeing Spain. So we joined forces with some good friends who have a son relatively equal in age and energy to our own, and we rented this villa together in the Ronda mountains of southern Spain for a week.

Pappa P and I spent a few days in Seville with Per Christian before we drove south, which suitably heightened my itch for a return to urbane life ASAP. Seville is a lovely city, complete with an ancient, cobble-stoned pedestrian area, a lively city centre with plenty of shopping, and oodles and oodles of tapas bars to quench our boredom with Canarian papas con mojo.

In typical Svendsen fashion, we were hopelessly lame tourists and took zero photographs in Seville. Forgive me, grandmothers. I’m afraid Per and I have never been good at the whole castle/museum/cathedral shin-dig, preferring instead to spend our time mindlessly wandering the streets in between stops for tapas and cava.

And how about Per Christian, you ask? How did we manage with a two-year-old in the midst of all this cava? Somewhat surprisingly, it was just fine! He walked around with us, slept when he was tired, charmed the waitresses into giving us better service, and pointed out all the buses, cars, taxis and horses along the way – just in case we didn’t happen to see them ourselves. I think his favorite part was the hotel room itself (thank you El Rey Moro hotel for the lovely service and babysitter arrangements) and he adored the TV channel that played Top Gear on continuous repeat.

Truth be told, Pappa P and his son were equally pleased with that little discovery.

So, unfortunately, we have very few photos of the holiday, but here are the few existing shots to help soothe the hearts of our love-sick Grandmothers out there:

Future career opportunity...?

Future career opportunity…?

Pappa offers the best skyline view

Pappa always offers the best skyline view

Don't be fooled - that cute, little Sivert can really pack a punch!

Don’t be fooled – that sweet little man can really pack a punch!

The boys were delighted with the horses in the mountains

The boys were delighted with the horses in the mountains

See....?! It's the best view!

See….?! It’s the best view!

Two-on-one iPad time. Wine essential.

Two-on-one iPad time. Wine essential.

Listen up, ladies... Handsome pappas = cute babies.

Listen up, ladies… Handsome pappas = cute babies.

I don't know. Really. I just don't know.

I don’t know. Really. I just don’t know.

Upon returning to the island, Per Christian received critical "sharing" lessons from his pappa. We're still working on it...

Upon returning home, Per Christian received critical “sharing” lessons from Pappa. We’re still working on it.

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The uncelebrated milestone

I’ve been a Cold-Hearted Mommy at times.

I’ve seen other mommies tearfully watch their child’s first steps, nostalgic smiles lining their faces and wondering how time passed so quickly.

I, on the other hand, cheered that I no longer had to drag that damn stroller up those damn steps.

I’ve seen other mommies tearfully leaving their little ones at daycare, stifling their mixed feelings of guilt and relief.

I, on the other hand, cheered that I could finally watch Downton Abbey in peace.

I don’t have a baby scrapbook and I don’t have miniature hospital clothes tucked away in a memory chest somewhere. I don’t have adorned photos for each month of his first year, and I don’t remember the precise when, where, or what about his first word.

I’ve approached many of my child’s milestones in typical middle-child “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” fashion, not because I didn’t care, but really just because I didn’t know any better.

But the milestone that really brings tears to my eyes, the one that has me cursing the need of my son to continue to grow – and the one that nobody warned me about! – is the milestone that really, truly and finally has changed my life…

Two-years old = the end of free airplane travel.

So very, very sad, this passing of the free-travel age.

Maybe your little one reached this mark before the airline-mandated age of two, probably when you realized they were too big to sit on your lap without obnoxiously kicking the seat in front of you. Maybe you, like ourselves, stretched the limit as far as possible, employing all possible techniques of seat thievery – we’ve done the aisle-window shuffle plenty of times, hoping that nobody wanted our middle seat and we’d score a spot for free.

But no matter what, when your child turns two, your travel plans get 33% more expensive. All of a sudden, flight tickets for a weekend away are more expensive than the entire house we booked for our summer holidays.

We were never shy about traveling with an infant, as I wrote about here and here and here. We went wherever we wanted and just dragged our baby along. But now, with a full-fare travel companion to pay for, I’m going through a serious case of sticker shock. We’re now grudgingly adjusting our travel plans to be more… ahem… realistic.

And I know it doesn’t just stop here. I know this is just the tip of the iceberg, that there are all kinds of upcoming expenses threatening our Prosecco fund. This is when I realize the universe is still laughing at me. You can take my breasts and my flat stomach and my daily showers and my quiet morning time. You can expose me to a screaming, irrational toddler and smelly diaper changes and mind-numbing hours of Elmo.

But now you’ve taking my airplane tickets. Now I’m pissed.

Fare thee well, weekends in Copenhagen! I’ll miss you, quick little hops to London! I hope we’ll meet again, cozy trips to Oslo for no reason at all! You’ve kept me happy and adventurous for many years, I hope we’ll be reacquainted before too long. Just as soon as we pay off karate classes and music lessons and football tickets and college degrees and weddings and ….. and….. and…

A taste of Tenerife

This past weekend, the Svendsens left town. Just like that – no huff, no puff. We just quietly and simply ske-dattled our way off the island. Pappa Svendsen had a rare and luxurious three-day weekend available, so we booked a hotel, loaded the car and hopped the ferry to Tenerife.

We were not disappointed. I’m not sure if it was just the change of scenery or the much-needed time away as a family, but we loved this place. We stayed away from the southern beach resort area (that scene is too close to home), and stayed instead at the lovely Hotel Botanico in northern Puerto de la Cruz.

My first impression was, “Wow! Green! Greengreengreen!” After months on our own dry, parched island, the presence of green grass and green trees and green gardens was a sight for sore eyes. As soon as we drove off the ferry, the highway took us up above the cloud line and along the coast towards Puerto de la Cruz. When we arrived at the hotel, Per Christian was let loose to explore the suite while we sipped our Cava on the terrace with this view:

I know I’m like a broken record here, but…. “Hurrah for green!”

We had no plans other than to just relax and spend time together – Per Christian, on the other hand, had all kinds of plans of his own. And they all included ditching Mommy & Pappa at every possible moment and exploring every nook and cranny within reach. If there was any baby pooch still left on my body, it’s definitely disappeared since Per Christian discovered his walking legs. No longer is he content to sit on the floor and play or sit at the table and eat – heeeeeellll no! Now it’s all walking, all the time.

Finally, though, we did manage to get our hands on the little bugger and keep him close:

Traveling with a small baby has taught us (at least) one very important life lesson – never underestimate the power of a baby monitor! This little apparatus and it’s companion iPhone application allowed us to enjoy a long leisurely lunch by the pool while PC napped in the room, plus we managed a full three-course meal at the hotel restaurant in the evening. We did get a babysitter on Saturday night so we could actually leave the hotel and have a date night in town, but for any other time, we can’t recommend enough the value of a good baby monitor.

Before heading back to Canaria, we had to check out the famous Mount Teide, the largest mountain in Spain at 3718m. These photos don’t do it a bit of justice, but they’re the best I could manage from the car window. Heaven forbid we actually stop the car and disrupt somebody’s nap (and our quiet time)!

All in all, I highly recommend including Tenerife in anyone’s plans for the Canary Islands. We only had three days and didn’t want to stress out with too many activities, but I’m sure we could have easily spent a week there and found plenty to do. As long as there’s a good deal of walking space available for our little guy, then everyone’s happy!