Travel Month: September 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Personal + Travel


Ok. I can't get over how quickly September flew by and how most days blurred into each other (small baby + too much coffee). My birthday came and went as any other day and was really only marked by beautiful flowers (thanks J!) and a tasty beer at Alaus Biblioteka.

Baby In Search Of and I have been taking nearly daily walks around Vilnius. It is great to get out and enjoy the city while the weather is still warm. This month also was exciting, as J and I had  visitors to show around. J's parents and my parents and sister visited for a bit of time. My parents and sister were just here for a quick week-long visit and just left on Sunday. I certainly jam packed the week I had with my family full of site-seeing, shopping, eating out, and of course, baby time! This Friday's post will chat a bit more about what we did together.




Blogging


September saw the start of the Traveling Parents' Forum, which is a monthly forum for people to get together to share their experiences or ask questions about traveling with kids. I really have loved working with five other parents and especially enjoyed reading what they had to say. I'm looking forward to the upcoming months as I certainly have many questions about traveling with a baby. Ladies, I've got a lot to learn! (How does it work to bring a carseat/stroller on the plane?! - I'm baffled). We will be answering questions and sharing our experiences about traveling while pregnant on October 19. Stop by to say hi!



Looking Forward To


October is full of fun events spent both indoors and outdoors. So far, we have plans to go pick mushrooms (guided by a knowledgeable Lithuanian friend) . This will be  such a cool cultural experience and is something I've been wanting to do for a while! In the beginning of October the three of us will also be taking a day trip to Trakai. The end of October is J's break from work so we'll be taking a road trip around Lithuania with stops in several towns and cities in the northern part of the country. The trip to Trakai will be our first adventure in public transportation with a baby (good thing the train journey is only 30 to 40 minutes) and the road trip will be our first real trip with a baby. Wish us luck!


What are you looking forward to in October? How was your September?

Vilnius Restaurants - September 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

I love trying new food and going out to eat, though with a newborn going out to eat gets a bit tricky... Over the past several months J and I have visited several restaurants around Vilnius and I'd like to share some of my favorites today. All of these restaurants have been particularly pregnant lady- and baby-friendly (along with the majority of Vilnius). So if you are living in or visiting Vilnius and have a kid, or just like great food, head to any of these spots.


Some friends introduced us to Keule Ruke, somewhere we probably would have never found on our own. This pulled pork dive is located behind the Hales Farmers' Market and is only open a few days a week. They make a limited amount of (delicious) pulled pork that they serve on sandwiches until they run out for the day. The line that is often out the door is proof enough of the tastiness of the sandwiches (I like mine with apple and cheese). The interior of the restaurant is tiny, but you can cut through to a giant courtyard full of mis-matched chairs and tables. J and I took his parents and baby in search of for a pulled pork sandwich and they jokingly commented that they were the oldest people there by about 40 years. It is certainly popular amongst the younger hipster crowd.




For J's birthday back in May he wanted to go out for a steak. In Vilnius there is only one place to go if you want a great steak, Markus Restaurant. A bit in advance we reserved an outside table and we arrived hungry - good thing too because the portion sizes were huge! I ordered the bacon wrapped steak with onion rings and green beans. Wow, it was excellent and was enough for lunch the next day as well. J was less impressed with his fillet mingnon, so perhaps stick with the bacon!

steak at Markus restaurant in vilnius, lithuania





Right next door to Markus Restaurant is Rene, a Belgian Restaurant (with incredible fries) that J and I had been meaning to try for quite a while. When J and I arrived all of the outdoor seating was reserved so we headed into their huge indoor space to grab a table. Unfortunately, it was incredibly hot inside (it was summer after all!) and poor, very pregnant me was doing my best to think cool thoughts. I must have not looked as cool as I was trying to be, as one of the waitresses took pity on me and offered us one of the reserved seats outside (as long as we were finished by 8 pm). Thank you! I wasn't sure I could have made the whole meal in that heat! As far as food goes, Rene was delicious. I opted for the completely not dainty spare ribs, which were delicious!



Ribes from Rene Restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania





Medininkai has been our savior when going out to eat with our visiting families and with baby. The huge outdoor spaces makes me not stress if I need to feed baby in search of or if he starts to fuss. Medininkai serves traditional Lithuanian cuisine and alcohol. Although Medininkai is located near the Gates of Dawn it isn't exclusively visited by tourists - ran into our neighbors there. If you are a cheese lover like myself you should order the cheese plate starter and don't be scared of the green and orange cheeses! Unexpectedly, the cheese plate comes with a maple syrup dipping sauce. I never would have thought that would be a great combination but it truly is. The pumpkin soup and beetroot salad are also yummy :)






Apple dessert from Medininkai Restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania

Chocolate dessert from Medininkai Restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania


Keule Ruke: Pylimo 66 website

Markus Restaurant: M. Antokolskio g. 11 website

Rene: M. Antokolskio g. 13 website

Medininkai: Ausros Vartu g. 8 website




Would you eat orange or green cheese? Where is your favorite hidden restaurant?

Traveling Parents' Forum: Introduction

Monday, September 21, 2015



Welcome to the first session of the Traveling Parents' Forum! I'm so happy to welcome five awesome mothers to share their experiences traveling while pregnant and with children. Over the next several months Angie, Emma, Frankie, Roshan, Amy, and I will share our experiences about traveling while pregnant, with children, and traveling but leaving your children at home. We'll be sharing our tips, favorite products, and looking to each other for advice to make traveling easier. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience please write it in the comments below! Also, if you have written a post(s) on a similar topic feel free to add the link in the comments. You can also join our group Pinterest board to post your own articles or ones you've found helpful. Just follow our Pinterest accounts and message me to add you to the board. The more information we have the better we can travel - at least that's what I think!

We'll be chatting about a new topic on the third Monday of every month. Today's topic is 'Can you travel while pregnant or with a baby?'

February 22: Moving/living abroad with your child
March 21: Child jet lag
April 18: Traveling without your child



Angie





Of COURSE you can travel while pregnant and with children, however, I see the two "states" as very different.   I was working full time while pregnant in a job that had me traveling around Europe and taking a few work related flights.   I was so nervous about flying while pregnant (even though this fear was not based on research but just an unreasonable worry), that I had my husband drive me from Italy to Paris for a work conference.

It took two days to get there and two to get back, but I was very happy not flying!  I traveled a lot during my pregnancy and went to Sardinia, Rome, Munich, Naples, Paris and through the Alps!  That is, until I was diagnosed with extremely low amniotic fluid and was bed ridden for my entire third trimester!!

I've written a bit about that on my blog!  It was a rude awakening to go from being very mobile in my first and second trimesters to being bed ridden, but I was so grateful that most of the baby prep work had already been finished!

As for traveling with kids....well.... you can go almost anywhere with them if you are well prepared and know your children's needs! You have to take into consideration a child's physical need to run around and be free, their inability to sit still for long periods of time (without a distraction) and their nap schedule along with the items that make them feel safe and comfortable and how adventurous they are when it comes to food.  

Traveling through different time zones means adapting their routine and traveling with more than one child means being prepared for each child's needs.  Although I have taken my son everywhere with me I do not consider myself an "expert traveler".  As a family we've flown from Modena, Italy to Berlin (Germany), Toronto (Canada), Lisbon (Portugal), Copenhagen (Denmark) along with many car trips throughout Italy to Naples, Rome, Florence, Mantua, the 5 Terre, Levanto,  Siena along with frequent trips to the seaside and the mountains.  

I can't really imagine how I would organize our trips with more than one child (our car is always PACKED!) but people seem to do it all the time!  Having an "only" means that I often travel alone with my son and take him for a few weeks a year to the beach and I've even traveled overseas alone with him.  This may seem overwhelming but it is surprisingly easy if you organize the details of the trip and pair down the amount of stuff you travel with (no easy feat for me!)

Exploring and having "adventures" is one of the biggest joys of my life and I love sharing this with my son and opening his eyes to the world we live in whether it be near or far.  I am always planning a getaway and am already working on our Fall/Winter escapes and summer vacations for 2016 and 2017!! 

People think you need a lot of money to travel but you don't, you just need to prioritize a trip the same way you prioritize anything in life and and plan according to your budget.  Buying a fight in advance, staying in an apartment and cooking, and using public transportation are all ways to save on a family vacation.

So to answer the question...YES!

Angie has a three and half year old son and blogs about travel and dressing for any occasion at Reasons to Dress. Angie is writing from Modena, Italy. You can find more from Angie on her blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.


Emma




My name is Emma, and I blog at A Bavarian Sojourn.  We left the leafy environs of South West London for beautiful Copenhagen back in 2009, and then moved to Munich at the end of 2011. I mostly blog about family travel, and photography, but don't be surprised to find the odd recipe floating about as well!  I have a daughter (aged 10), a son (aged 8) and we are expecting another baby any day now.  The topic "Can you Travel while Pregnant or with a child?" is very relevant to me right now as you can imagine.  Apart from having a cut off flying date as the months progress, I see no reason whatsoever why you cannot enjoy travelling whilst pregnant. Granted there will be things that you might not be able to do usually such as paragliding, scubadiving and the like, but as long as you take it easy and don't overdo things, now is the perfect time to get out and see a bit of the world before your travel party expands forever.   Whilst heavily pregnant this summer, we might not have been able to do any longhaul travel, but we have packed in trips to AustriaBratisilava,BudapestColmar, Amsterdam, Berlin, London and even a stay in a British lighthouse.

Emma has two children and is currently pregnant with her third on the way. She blogs over at Bavarian Sojourn and is writing from Bavaria, Germany. You can find more from Emma on her blog, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Frankie




While I can't really comment about travelling with children as my own little boy is less than a few months old, I have written extensively about travelling while pregnant (on my own blog and for Travelettes) as there were a few things I failed to understand before I was expecting myself. I'd always assumed that travel was off the cards during the first trimester and I also thought I'd feel too sick or uncomfortable to want to travel. None of this is true and thankfully I had a very easy-going, smooth pregnancy with no sickness and no complications making travel a problem. Because of course, your medical professional should be your first port of call when deciding if, how or where to travel, but once they give you the go ahead, I believe it's all up to you to decide what you do and don't feel comfortable with. And this is really key to successful, healthy travel in my mind. While I used to travel a lot on blog and press trips, once I got pregnant I began to feel I wouldn't be able to give my all to the work or travel due to tiredness and also a general feeling that I wanted to be at home or travelling more for pleasure with my partner than for work reasons. And I did travel for pleasure. From my home in Amsterdam, I flew to Cape Town for a friend's wedding at 8 weeks pregnant. At 12 weeks I flew to Austria for a snowboarding holiday - although I didn't snowboard but instead went on long snowy walks. At six months pregnant my partner and I went on a babymoon to Thailand and throughout all three trimesters I did several short haul trips back to London to visit family and friends. 

One thing I will say is that even when you feel fit and healthy and even fantastic when pregnant, like I did for 99% of the time, I still found both the fatigue and impact of hormones on my body very unpredictable. I would therefore always advise pregnant women to avoid over-stretching themselves when travelling. I wrote down more tips on this in my advice post on my blog and I also shared how especially in the first trimester I found the ups and downs of hormones left me feeling very anxious about pregnancy and imminent motherhood so I would definitely advise women who feel like this occasionally to not over-complicate their lives with extensive travel or trying to do too much. Again I wrote more about this on my blog.


Frankie has an infant and blogs about Amsterdam, Travels, and Writing on As the Bird Flies and Travelettes. Frankie is writing from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You can find more from Frankie on her blog, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.



Roshan







Yes of course you can! The one thing I promised myself I wasn't going to give up when I had a baby was traveling- so now we just take her with us. I have travelled with my child from the age of 3 months old and my parents travelled with me from the age of 6 months old.

I learn something new about myself and remember that children can be very adaptable out of their comfort zone every time I travel with my child. So it can be done, it may just take a bit more effort and pre planning than your usual solo trip. Toddlers require regular food, entertainment and afternoon rests so babies are easier as they just drink milk and sleep.

Roshan has a three year old and blogs about her travels at Roshan's Ramblings. Roshan is writing from Australia. You can find more from Roshan on her blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Amy




It's a common misconception that once you have children you have to say goodbye to your freedom. 'Travel while you're young', they say. 'Get in all your adventures before you settle down'. You don't have to look far to find people who have broken with convention and decided for themselves that kids won't take away from their fun, but can actually add to it. My husband and I started travelling with our son when he was just a few weeks old. It's true we've had to adapt our travel style, and we definitely need to be more flexible, but travelling with our little boy has opened up a whole new world of travel for us. We believe it works both way, of course. We're obviously not the only ones to benefit. We feel like we're giving our son an incredible gift; one which will inform his entire life. We really hope that travelling from such a young age will ignite a passion within him that will help him understand the world and himself as he grows. 


Amy has a 14 month old and is joining us from London, UK. You can find more about her life in London on Instagram and Pinterest.

Elizabeth





Yes, of course you can travel while pregnant! I traveled extensively throughout all three trimesters (with my doctor's permission). Despite feeling downright crappy in my first and early second trimesters, I traveled to Rome, Paris, Tallinn, and Greece. I certainly had to modify my travel throughout the three trimesters by not packing as much into each trip and by being sure to get enough rest. I also had to pair down to the travel essentials so I wouldn't have to carry too much (my pregnancy travel essentials were: LeSportsac Large Weekender; Maternity Support Belt). Even so, these four trips were all special and I wouldn't have wanted to miss them by staying home. So, short answer, you can travel while pregnant, just be sure you take care of yourself when you do.

My own little one is just a few weeks old, so I'm still very new at this whole traveling with a baby thing. We are still working on walking around Vilnius for now, but we do have a road trip around Lithuania planned for the end of October. Stay tuned for November's post to hear more about road trips with a baby.


I have an infant and I write from Vilnius, Lithuania on In Search Of. You can find more on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.


Follow Elizabeth @ In Search Of's board Traveling with Children on Pinterest. 



Over to you. What are your experiences traveling while pregnant and/or with children? Do you have any questions that you'd like to see discussed in this forum? Don't forget to add your articles to the group Pinterest board.


I'm linking up with Travel Tuesday. follow the link for some more great travel posts!

The Best Bars in Vilnius

Friday, September 18, 2015

Happy Friday! I'm certainly looking forward to the weekend - a little rest will be nice and my parents and sister (K) arrive on Sunday for a week of fun. I'm also looking forward to celebrating my birthday as well, though a bit belated. As of yesterday I'm another year older and the day passed calmly and uneventfully. Celebrations were quiet this year with a newborn and all, but the three of us did manage a little evening trip to Alaus Biblioteka for a delicious beer and some snacks.

Alaus Bibklioteka and Bamb Alyne are two of my favorite bars to relax, have a beer, and even get some work done (yup, I occasionally swap my beloved cafes for a bar). Both bars serve a huge array of beers - give me a beer over any other type of liquor (except for ouzo) - and have great character.



Alaus Biblioteka (Beer Library) is a beer bar that serves  different beers from all over the world (look at that selection!). They have an excellent imported beers that can't be found elsewhere in Vilnius and many different choices on tap. If you plan on visiting Alaus Biblioteka regularly, sign up for a "beer passport" and aim to get stamps from all of the different beer types. If you fill your beer passport you get a free beer book! Now that I've had the baby and am no longer pregnant I can start to fill my own beer passport (more likely I'll share with J as I'm not a fan of IPAs or bitter beers)!







Similarly to Alaus Biblioteka, Bamb Alyne serves a selection of 80 beers from local brewers and a reasonably tasty local wine. Bamb Alyne has such a cool interior, as it is situated underground and the walls are made from brick and stone.  You can also purchase beers to bring home. Bamb Alyne also serves small beer snacks including Lithuanian fried bread and a selection of meats and cheeses. Because of their convenient location - in a courtyard where we can safely leave our empty stroller - this was the first bar we visited with baby in search of in tow!







What are your favorite bars? What do you like in a bar?

Awesome New Cafes in Vilnius

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ok, ok, I know I write about cafes way too much on here, but I just can't help myself - especially with all of the cool new cafes popping up in Vilnius. I'll do my best to resist another cafe post in the near future...but first I have to chat about these two awesome spots to get your caffeine fix.

J and I discovered the newly opened Strange Love cafe shortly after returning to Vilnius from the US. Strange Love is located very conveniently close to where we live, which made it a perfect excursion during the last month of my pregnancy, when all I wanted to do was sit on the couch (or fill our freezer with home cooked meals). Its close location and outdoor seating also made it the second cafe for baby ISO (in search of) to visit. Because Strange Love has an awesome interior and great coffee it wasn't too hard for J to coax me out with the promise of a cappuccino and some blogging time. I also recently checked out their new menu and now really want to try them out for dinner! I'll let you know when I do :)






Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories opened a new space (and closed their old space) in Vilnius and now they serve coffee and have space to work. I've raved about Crooked Nose coffee before and am so happy that they now have a storefront that I can regularly visit. If that isn't enough, they also currently offer a cheese, bread, and fruit plate that is meant to pair well with the coffee. Another added bonus: the owner is incredibly friendly. I do believe that they are closed on weekends though, which can make it difficult to visit, so check their hours on Facebook before heading there.

black coffee from Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories





Strange Love: Barboros Radviliates g. 6B website

Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories: Saltiniu g. 20-17 website


Which cafes have you been loving lately?

Lithuanian Bucket List Update

Friday, September 11, 2015

So far so good! J and I have been making the most of the remainder of our time in Vilnius and have been slowly crossing off the items on our bucket list. Since writing this list back in March we've crossed off five items on our list and have detailed plans to visit four places during our October vacation road trip through Lithuania. For that we are thinking about experiencing the first four items on our list. Hopefully baby in search of will like road trips as much as we do!

Let's chat a bit about what we've experienced so far.

Visit the Hill of Crosses in ┼áiauliai
Stay the night in Nida on the Curonian Spit
Visit the Hill of Witches on the Curonian Spit
Go swimming in the Baltic Sea (brrrr!)
Take a hot air balloon ride over Vilnius
Visit Europe Park to see the permanent outdoor art exhibit
Take a guided tour of the Presidential Palace in Vilnius
Go into the Gates of Dawn in Vilnius
Visit the Artillery Bastion Museum in Vilnius
Take a Jewish History Tour
Get a passport stamp from the Republic of Uzupis
Visit the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Vilnius
Learn to make cold beet soup
Visit the Bee-Keeping Museum in Aukstaitija National Park

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Europe Park: Europe Park (Europas Parkas) is a huge outdoor sculpture park located at the supposed center of Europe. Located slightly outside of Vilnius, it is best to pack yourself a picnic and use a car to get to the park.



Gates of Dawn: Ok, I'm cheating a bit on this one. I didn't actually go into the Gates of Dawn like I had initially planned. Instead I walked all around them and looked up into the chapel located in the Gates.



Artillery Bastion: Despite my lack of blog post on the Artillery Bastion, I visited back on a sunny spring day. Unfortunately, the Artillery Bastion is nothing to write home about and I honestly wouldn't suggest a visit. Though a very cool structure from the outside, there is little information (only one tv screen in fact) about the actual Artillery Bastion and no artifacts from the era. Unexpectedly, the inside only consists of about 10 huge, abstract paintings from local Lithuanian painters. That's all.




Passport Stamp from Uzupis: On April 1, despite the miserable weather, I strolled over to Uzupis to enjoy the beginning celebrations of the Uzupis Independence Day. I was discouraged by the folks welcoming people over the bridge into Uzupis from getting a passport stamp in my actual passport, but they were able to put it on a piece of paper instead. Very cool. This year I did have to work during the cooler parts of the celebration (a parade and a beer fountain), but I'm looking forward to participating in those celebrations next year!



Tour of the Presidential Palace: About a week before baby in search of decided to make a surprise appearance, J and I had scheduled a free tour of the Presidential Palace. The day of the tour both of us joked about the chance that my water could break during the tour - luckily nothing of the sort happened. I'll be posting more about what I thought about the tour next month - but in short, I wasn't blown away, nor was I disappointed. Overall - meh.




Do you have a bucket list for your current home?

Summer Reading

Monday, September 7, 2015



Another few months have gone by since my last book review post and I've read another few books, thus quickly approaching my very light goal of reading 20 books in a year on Goodreads. Some of the books I've absolutely loved and some have been a bit slower for me to get through.

The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon: I read about The Happy Sleeper on one of my favorite lifestyle blogs, Oh Joy, and decided that I needed to get it. Who doesn't want to sleep after they have a baby! Overall, I enjoyed the book, but would have liked to see more about napping outdoors (most babies nap outdoors in Vilnius) and about baby jet lag. I have a feeling that this book will come in handy when the baby is older and sleep patterns are more normal - right now the baby sleeps whenever he wants!

My rating: 3/5

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman: I've been wanting to read this book since I saw the first movie and waited and waited for the next movie to come out. Clearly that isn't happening, so while visiting Connecticut over the summer I borrowed the series from my mom (which I had been hoarding in my room for the past two summers). I loved The Golden Compass (the first book in the series) and also started the second book, The Subtle Knife, which is just as good. I ended up leaving The Subtle Knife and the third book in the series in Connecticut (hard cover books are heavy!), but am looking forward to finishing the series soon. If you are looking for an interesting fantasy to read check this out.

My rating: 5/5

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: I blew through The Silkworm, which is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). I absolutely love the two main characters in this very fast-paced detective novel. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series and have hopes that this will be a movie someday!

My mom also read both this and the first Galbraith book while I was in Connecticut. She blew through them and recommends them to anyone who loves a good mystery novel.

My rating: 5/5

Now and Forever by Ray Bradbury: In typical Bradbury fashion, the two novellas in Now and Forever are fantastical, well-written, and strange. If you are already a fan of Bradbury, or are into science fiction check this quick read out.

My rating: 5/5


What have you been reading lately? What should I read next?




In Search Of's 5 Most Popular Vilnius Posts

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Russian Church in Vilnius, Lithuania


Surprisingly enough, the anniversary of my third year living in Vilnius, Lithuania has come and gone without much notice. Sure, I've had a ton of other exciting events going on (baby time!), but to at least give a nod to the city I've come to love. Our time here started out a bit tumultuously; however, J and I have grown to really appreciate the creative events and classes that we've been able to take part in. To re-cap a bit I thought I'd re-share five of my most popular posts about Vilnius, Lithuania.


A Tour of the Baltic Capitals: This post was a culmination of my visits in Riga, Tallinn, and wanders around Vilnius. I compared and contrasted the cities and highlighted some awesome things to experience in each.

My Lithuanian Bucket List: Still working my way through my Lithuanian Bucket list, this is a post that I often refer to myself. Since I wrote this post in March I've crossed off a few things on this and have plans for a big Lithuanian road trip coming up in October where I'll get to experience even more of Lithuania.

Coffee Enthusiasm: I've never met a group of people more passionate about coffee before moving to Vilnius. Cafes literally line every street and new ones are opening each month. Have you ever heard of coffee conferences, coffee tastings, or barista competitions? I certainly hadn't until enjoying them over the past two years.

12 Free Things to Do in Vilnius: As budget conscious travelers, J and I are always looking for free things to do both at home and while traveling. This post rounds up 12 free things that we've enjoyed experiencing in Vilnius.

Finding a Piece of Home in Vilnius: This post sums up my search for non-European food in Vilnius. I'm still searching for some more authentic Asian food (other than the great Korean place), but so far so good. If you have any pointers for Asian restaurants do let me know!


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Have you been to Vilnius? I'm always looking for great things to do around the city. What would you recommend doing here?