It’s been a hot minute! Brazil for Xmas

My life has been super hectic for the last few months and thus I have not written in a while. I have a lot to write about, though!

After our trip to Japan in July we didn’t travel any more until the end of December. This time we went back to Brazil to visit Felipe’s family, plus some friends of us. It was the shortest trip we had ever made to the southern hemisphere, but it was truly amazing anyway. The minute we stepped onto Brazilian soil my whole body went into zen mode and all the pains and aches I had experienced in the previous months magically melted away!

Our flight from Norway took us to Lisbon on 23 December, and we arrived at our hotel around 7pm. The flight to Brazil was only around 10am the following day. In the old days we used to be able to fly to Brazil via Lisbon and get a hotel room, with transfer, included in the ticket price. Now, however, the airline companies don’t offer this any more, and we had to get a taxi and pay for our own hotel room. Even so, this turned out to be the cheapest ticket available. Also, it is way more comfortable spacing out the connecting flights when traveling with a small child.

In Lisbon we went out to eat at the TimeOut Market, which is a fun place to eat, be it with children, friends or as a couple. They have all kinds of good food and drinks, and the atmosphere is very inviting.

One thing we forgot, though, was to bring enough clothes. Arriving in back at the hotel after we had been out for dinner I got pee all over my jeans (yes, I accidentally took Maya’s nappy off whilst she was peeing), and all I had brought with me were a pair of shorts! So that was how I left the hotel the following morning, in about 8 degrees Celsius…

We arrived in São Paulo on Xmas Eve just as the sun was going down. Our flight had been delayed and Felipe’s parent’s, having arrived hours earlier in anticipation, were waiting for us at the arrivals. All went well, apart from the fact that Maya was exhausted, and did not enjoy the car ride down to the coast. She napped for a bit, and considering the fact that she’s not really used to riding cars, this part went well. About 20 minutes before we arrived she woke up and cried the whole way to our final destination – Felipe’s maternal grandparent’s apartment, where we were to stay for the following nine days.

We arrived shortly before the Xmas Eve dinner, which in Brazil traditionally is served at midnight for some strange reason. We had a wonderful time exchanging presents (well, mostly observing the children – Maya and her one year old cousin Marcela, whom we had not yet met – opening theirs) before eating. Maya collapsed in bed around 2am, or 5am Norwegian time, so it naturally took a few days to even out her sleep pattern.

Even though Maya had stopped taking a midday nap months earlier, we decided that letting her snooze a bit in the afternoon would be best during our holidays, so that she could participate for longer in the evenings, and so that we weren’t stuck indoors from 7pm. This is always a good decision for us! For this trip, like our trip to Japan, we brought along the Quinny Zapp Xtra 2. It lies down well, has good shading, and it can be turned facing inwards for those walks where the sun is smack in your face. Having had the experience of parts going missing on our flight to Japan, we decided to borrow a PramPack for this trip. This was great, as we used it as a piece of luggage, filling it with all sorts of other things!

During our trip we decided Maya would stop using nappies (though she decided otherwise), so we only brought a few for critical moments, such as sleeping and long car and plane rides. This worked well because we spent so much time at the beach or in pools, but seeing as she still wasn’t ready to stop completely, we had a lot of “accidents”. I do think that this was a good learning period for her, though, as it’s something we would’ve never done during these cold months in Norway. Now, a couple of months later, she is totally nappy free at all times of the day – no accidents! So tip: if you live in a cold country, take your toddler on a nappy free holiday to a hot place during those cold months.

After nine days in Felipe’s birth town, just relaxing and letting Maya spend lots of time with her grandparents, cousin etc., taking long walks on the beach, training jiujitsu and leaving Felipe to surf as much as he wanted to (he bought a surf board – his first!), we headed north to Salvador – the city where we met each other and lived before we moved back to Norway. We love. LOVE! the state of Bahia where its capital Salvador. To me it’s the heart of Brazil. Such a beautiful place, lovely clean beaches, awesome food, nice people, good atmosphere, music everywhere. Bahia is where my heart is. And to me, if I don’t go to Bahia when I’m in Brazil, I don’t even feel like I’ve been in Brazil. And when we went there for four short days in January, we hadn’t been there for five and a half years!  I had missed the place so much that as soon as we got there I could not stop smiling the entire time we were there.

Maya also enjoyed herself a lot. We stayed at the Monte Pascoal Praia Hotel which we were very pleased with. It’s situated in the lively neighbourhood of Barra, which has really good beaches, and is a quick bus ride from the old town and other fun neighbourhoods. The hotel has a little pool with a shallow part good for smaller children, and their breakfast was very good, with typical northeastern Brazilian cuisine. The next time we go to Salvador, however, we will not be staying in Barra. It was too noisy for us at night, and we didn’t really need to stay in a central place like Barra, as we took Ubers everywhere anyways.

We had brought a car seat for Maya from Norway, but during our time in São Paulo we discovered that her cousin Marcela was still seated in an infant seat that she didn’t fit in anymore. So we gave ours away to her and hoped for the best in Salvador. No, just kidding, we borrowed one from one of our friends. Besides, the seat that we had was super heavy and impractical to travel with. Unfortunately I didn’t think the seat we borrowed for Maya was adequate for her and all of the car rides became somewhat worrisome for me. That’s why, for our next trip, we have bought a Britax Two-Way. It’s easy to install and  very light weight, so I’m hoping this time she’ll finally be properly safe when we travel.

So have you guessed it already? Yes, we’re going back to Salvador for the next Xmas holidays! We want to spend more time in Brazil, both because we love it, but also because we want Maya to know the place her father is from. And to us, Bahia is much more home than São Paulo. Besides, it’s closer to Europe (shorter flight!), cheaper, we have more friends there, the food is better etc. etc. So this time we are spending two weeks in Salvador, together with some of Felipe’s family who will fly up to meet us there. Can’t wait!

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