With baby in the car, all the way to Greece

Travel Tips

Many parents still wonder what it’s like to go on a long trip with a small child, and this aspect raises enough questions, as it raised us. In consolidating the decision to leave, we were also helped by the fact that in April 2016 we went on a 10-day trip through Transylvania, together with Noria. It was a work trip, but also a good opportunity to test how the child behaves on a long journey and how it adapts to various environments (he was around 13 months old at the time). I wrote here about the experience of this trip, from which I learned that the Ferris wheel does not last more than 300-350 km per day, traveled with many breaks and stops. That’s why we didn’t even think about the fact that we could cover the entire Bucharest-Thessaloniki-Sithonia road in one piece, but we mentally divided it into 3 parts, from the very beginning.

*** The first stop was in Sofia, where I stayed at a hotel booked 2 minutes before leaving the house. I booked it on the spur of the moment after noticing on the map that it was located next to what appeared to be a large green space and thought it would be easy to spot as it was the only hotel in that area, but at the same time I was curious what that enormous patch of green in the middle of the city could be. I forgot to mention that we hit the road without a GPS or a map of the towns we were going to stop at, just a general list of the towns we were going to pass through. And then, on the way, it turned out that the internet didn’t work either, so we managed in Sofia using the “Silviu” method – that is, approached and bombarded with questions by a lot of people, until we found the place.

“The Silviu Method”

The hotel with a socialist look turned out to be a decent choice, which also welcomed us with a pleasant surprise: a generous panorama over the city, which allowed me to see that, indeed, that green space identified by me on the map really is spectacular in reality, at least seen from above (Borissova Garden). As soon as we got out of the car, we entered this bushy park, which practically looks like a forest, and we were really having fun: “come on bro, I’ve barely set foot in Sofia and I’ve already arrived in a forest” 🙂

View from our window

*** The next part of the road (also around 350 km), to Thessaloniki, I traveled smoothly, with some stops at gas stations. In general, the entire route from Bucharest to Thessaloniki is composed of good roads, which are easy to drive, with enough sections of highway. In principle, for those who walk lying down, the entire Bucharest-Thessaloniki route should not take more than 10 hours, but this was not the case for us. We stopped at about two hours to feed and untangle the little girl or to play with her. The Bucharest-Sofia road took about 8 hours or so (from leaving the house to entering the hotel, but for about half an hour I groped around the city looking for the hotel and at least an hour I spent at customs), and the Sofia-Thessaloniki around 6.

*** In Thessaloniki I went straight to the target, because this time I had detailed maps saved in my phone at the hotel in Sofia. We arrived relatively late in Thessaloniki, but just in time to take a stroll through the central Aristotelous square and the quays, an extremely lively public space filled with hundreds of young people socializing, playing cards, backgammon or drinking beer (which I did and us, comfortably installed on an interesting object of urban furniture). Noria immediately felt at home on the quays, it seems she really liked the sales there.

How we found the perfect campsite

Ok, and now let’s get down to business with finding the perfect campsite. From Thessaloniki to Kalamitsi-Thallata (our target), we covered another 150 km – well, these were the most tiring, they came somehow like that, as if extra. Of course, we would have had the option of doing the Sofia-Kalamitsi road in one piece, but considering that we did not know the places, being in these lands for the first time, we wanted to allow ourselves some time to explore and set up the tent .

I also fumbled a little at the exit from Thessaloniki, and Silviu managed to stop someone directly on the highway, asking for advice :))

And what to see, once we arrived at the much-dreamed-of Thallata campsite, we discovered that it was an extremely crowded place, with people swarming here and there and many cars driving on the lanes – the first thought that came to my mind: not safe! Furthermore, it was more of a caravan site, with the tent sites being relatively few and exposed, without much privacy.

The icing on the cake was when the people at the reception informed us that we had to pay the daily stay not only for ourselves but also for the baby. In general, this thing is not practiced, for a baby (up to 2 years old) you don’t really pay anywhere, but Thallata is the kind of tourist place, set on making money. For us, this news quickly helped us in the decision to get our insole as soon as possible.

I knew from the first that we wouldn’t stay there. No way. As tired as we felt and fed up with all this travel, as much as the temptation was to plant yourself there without looking, we mobilized and pulled anchor once more, turning back about 35 km, in… camping Lacara, where we had stopped a little earlier on the way, to have lunch. I knew something about Lacara from the reviews on the net, I had remembered that it is a more modest and quiet campsite. When we stopped to eat we noticed that it was really quiet and peaceful, the campsite being small and the beach very close.

I was very lucky to have opted for this lunch stop! Our energy reserves were depleted and I don’t think there was any room left to explore any other campsites, so disappointed with Thallata, we immediately knew where to take refuge.

One warm, one cold. We checked in at the front desk where everyone was nice and welcoming. We wanted to book a bungalow for the first night so that we could rest after so many days on the road and set up the tent the next day, but since it was the weekend, there was nothing available. The girls at the reception were relaxed: “you can go for a swim, you know, and then install yourselves”.

But it was already afternoon, so come on, one last mobilization for the day, start setting up in the campsite and unloading luggage. A process that took about 3 hours in the first phase, and then a little bit each of the next 3 days, until we settled in for good 🙂

First encounter with Lacara campsite, Greece. We started unpacking! The first two objects are already downloaded 🙂

Techniques that work for us when we are on the road with the child, using the car:

# We make frequent stops and breaks to play, breastfeed, drink green tea and coffee, etc.

# We give up the obsession to get to the destination “as quickly as possible”. We try to make the journey itself, on the road, something pleasant and interesting.

# We have non-stop music on board; we especially listen to reggae (Noria’s favorite); funk; world music. We don’t really have children’s music, but sometimes we sing all kinds of songs together.

# We have a shawl placed next to the window next to the little girl, to keep the sun away. The defenders did not really cope with the hot sun.

# We have some colored books and cards for Noria to flip through in the back.

# We have enough snacks. We obviously messed up in the front, sneakily eating chocolate chip cookies, salty stuff, and other forbidden foods (which we rarely eat anyway). For Noria we had:

  • vegan coconut ginger biscuits (bought from the ceiling);
  • dehydrator-dried vegetable crackers (bought off the shelf);
  • mozzarella with cucumber;
  • ripe avocado;
  • fruits;
  • croissants with butter (bought from gas stations).

In the fever of preparations, we dreamed that we would be able to cook some more substantial and sophisticated snacks for the road, but it took us so long to pack and load our bags that we ended up booking our hotels minutes before departure, what else we are talking about elaborate snacks.

Update 2017:

# Now that Noria is older and getting bored more and more easily in the car, we started letting her watch cartoons on the tablet. We try to limit access to cartoons as much as possible and use the tablet only in situations where it is not possible otherwise.

On Kinder Trips we write about traveling with children, innovative methods of education, play spaces, anthropology and urban exploration. We invite you to follow us Facebook page and account of Instagram. If you want to receive articles and resources from us by email, you can leave us your email below:

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