Hey all – it’s been a while since I’ve gotten over to the blog. With everything going on at work right now it’s been difficult to keep up, but I’m hoping to have some more “me” time here soon and will be able to post more frequently.
Over at the Martousa house we’ve been gearing up for our first BIG family vacation. We’ve taken some small trips as a family of four, but this is the first time all FOUR of us have traveled overseas together. My father recently built a house on the island of Pico in the Acores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. We’ve been wanting to visit for some time and thought this summer would be the good opportunity. Traveling with a 4 and 2-year-old didn’t seem ideal but we decided to pull the trigger and do it anyway. After months and months of anticipation and prep, we are finally off on our 15+ hour journey to the middle of nowhere.
First off, what to pack to keep two toddlers entertained on three different flights? One of which was 9.5 hours long! I tried to be as prepared as I could and bought a few different seasons of PAW PATROL, BUBBLE GUPPIES, BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MACHINES and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES for the Amazon Fire. I bought a hard drive and downloaded a few of their favorite movies. Packed coloring books, crayons, books, tons of snacks, a travel version of Connect Four, a Go Fish game and some of their favorite toys and prayed for the best.
We got up early on travel day to get the last-minute packing done. As moms, you know that traveling with small kids requires an arsenal of equipment. Diapers, wipes, sippy cups, favorite blankies and snacks, medicine, strollers, iPads, toys, and the list goes on and on. We headed to the airport with 5 checked bags and 4 carry-ons. I mean, were we moving there or just visiting for 11 days?
We headed to the first of four airports we would be traveling to with both kids in stow and the promise of adventure. As soon as we got to the Southwest terminal at LAX, JJ found a “lucky” penny on the ground. It was a sign, we all said, of the smooth trip we were going to have coming up. We checked in our luggage and headed to security. We printed out the TSA children’s liquid exemptions since we were traveling with a shitload of milk for these kids. TSA was really easy about this…just got myself a little extra pat down. Hey I wasn’t complaining. Our first flight to Oakland went super smooth. Picked up our baggage and headed from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 to check our bags to Terceira, Azores for our next layover before making it to Pico, our final destination. Our flight was leaving at 3:30pm and we checked in at around 1:45pm and were the only people in line. Seems like all the other 300 passengers, in true Portuguese style, had arrived at the airport about 2 hours before the agent desks were even open. We boarded our flight easily, praying to the gods that these 9 hours would go smoothly.
At our second stop - Oakland Airport
Well that didn’t happen. Smooth is not how I would describe our flight. First off, we had to ask some people to move around so we could all sit next to each other. This is always a fun task. Luckily, we were giving the two people we were asking to move around an upgrade so it wasn’t as hard as it could have been, even though they complained they were going from a window seat to middle seats in First Class. Ummmm, I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. Anyway, we all settled in our seats and prepared for the 9 hour plus journey. About an hour into the flight the kids, especially our youngest, start asking for some Paw Patrol and Bubble Guppies episodes. I proudly pull out my Amazon Fire where I was a prepared mom and bought a few seasons of all their favorite shows and movies. As they start to get excited, I realize I forgot one crucial step, I bought all the seasons BUT I DID’T DOWNLOAD ANY OF THE EPISODES! Fail. MAJOR FAIL. We were on a 9-hour flight with no internet and none of the movies or TV shows mom had bought were downloaded onto the iPad or fire tablet. How was I going to keep these kids entertained? JJ was able to figure it out and keep himself busy (I was surprised since he’s usually our challenging child), but LJ on the other hand….my goodness. She didn’t know what to make of it and was up the entire 9 plus hours going thru all different ranges of emotions – happy, frustrated, TIRED, hyper, lethargic, etc. Basically we got no sleep for the entire flight (well JJ did get 4 hours). It’s really not fun looking around the plane and seeing everyone napping while you are up walking around a grumpy baby for hours. LOL. You better believe I won’t forget to download the episodes for the flight back home.
The beginning of our 9 hour flight
Tired but not sleeping
ARRIVAL IN THE AÇORES:
We finally touched down in the Açores and everyone was excited to get off the plane and get to our next and final leg to Pico. We had to go thru customs and immigration in Teceira Island, pick up our bags and check in to our next flight. Our layover was about 2 hours long so we felt good about the time. The immigration line runs at a pretty good speed so we are feeling good. We traveled priority and check in LAST for the flight out of Oakland so figured out bags would be amongst the first out. Think again. I forgot we were on Island time…the bags literally took 2 hours to come off the plane. No joke. Plus, our bags were amongst the last to come out. My bag was the third to last bag on the carousel. We were all pretty worried that we were going to miss our connection, but then we found out our flight was delayed an hour as were all the other flights leaving the island. We walked through the terminal to get to the transfer zone to check into our flight to Pico, when we encountered a massive line. I guess they aren’t set up to just take transfer luggage. The line had at least 100 people trying to check into our flight and another 50-100 trying to check into another flight to São Jorge which was supposed to have left over an hour before. Luckily I maneuvered myself into the priority line, even though it was a one class plane, and used traveling with two toddlers as an excuse. We still waited 45 mins, but went much quicker than all the rest. Remember at this point, LJ still hasn’t slept. After finally getting us checked in, we head over to our gate where I can finally rest and have a local coffee, a gallon (basically a latte). It hit the spot and was super needed since I had been up for close to 24 hours at this point. Our flight to Pico was continually delayed. We didn’t leave until 4 hours after our original flight time. Man, we really couldn’t have been more excited when they called to board our flight.
About an hour into waiting for our luggage.
The transfer to Pico wasn't quick either.
FINAL DESTINATION – PICO ISLAND:
We finally are on our 20-minute quick jaunt over to Pico. As we fly over the Atlantic Ocean we see the monstrous Pico mountain thru our windows and the kids start clapping and getting super excited. All the sudden, all the travel stress and lack of sleep fades away and excitement runs through all our bodies. We are finally here and our 12 day vacation is set to begin. We landed in Pico at an adorably quaint airport that we navigated through in five minutes. Bags came out within 15 mins and we were hugging Grandma and Grandpa within 30 minutes. Looking back, none of the travel hiccups mattered….the only thing that was important was the end game and the stories we will be able to tell as a family on our #martousaazorianvacation.