Disneyland Paris and Leo’s birthday, part 2

On Monday we headed to the main Disneyland park. We rented strollers, which I knew would be expensive but I definitely still had some sticker shock at €25 per stroller per day. In total we spent €100 on stroller rentals. I’m trying not to think about that 😂

We started in Fantasy Land, where a lot of the little kid rides are. Leo threw an epic fit right away and kept telling us to hold him. We figured out pretty quickly that he just really hates the cold. He is much whinier in below freezing temps and just wants to be held all the time. I think Leo wants some warm vacations. We were hoping to go on a few kid friendly dark rides to build them up to go on Pirates of the Caribbean, but they did great on Peter Pan so we thought they were probably ready. Peter Pan was a cute ride. Leo fell asleep when we put him in the stroller, so then we walked around a bit.

Disneyland has 5 different lands/areas. We didn’t have a plan the first day and it all felt a little scattered. We went to each area of the park, but didn’t really get to see a ton of it. I definitely couldn’t tell you where anything is. We did go on the main rides I really wanted to do like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Toy Story one. The kids thought Pirates was a bit scary but they did good. They loved the Toy Story ride.

We had lunch at Agrabah Cafe because I had heard that it’s pretty good. To get a birthday cake you have to reserve one at a buffet or sit down restaurant. I knew Disney would be expensive, but the prices for the buffet were pretty crazy. €40 per adult, €23 per kid, and €35 for the cake. The food was fine, the service was awful, and the decorations were great. Seeing them sing Happy Birthday to Leo was awesome.

Our original plan was to go to Disneyland on Monday, stay at the hotel on Tuesday, and go back to the same park on Wednesday. We changed our minds and decided to try the second park on Wednesday. I’m glad we did because we had more fun that day and really got to know the park.

The other park is Walt Disney Studios Park. There were a ton of rides there that we could all do together. One of our favorite areas was the Ratatouille section. The ride was cute and well done and the area around it was nice. They have food stands down the main area. The food there was also amazing and seemed better priced than anywhere else in the parks. And everyone ate there. With two picky toddlers it’s hard to find a place everyone will eat.

We also saw the Stitch show, which was really cute. Sofia especially loved it and keeps talking about it. I think it was a lot easier because the park was smaller. We spent the same amount of time there as we had in the main park. Both parks had a lot of dead ends. I knew to expect it at the Studios Park since it’s likely not finished yet, but I was surprised by all of the dead ends at the main park. Also, there was a decent amount closed or being refurbished. The biggest disappointment was It’s a Small World. It was my favorite ride as a kid and I know Sofia would love it. It was closed the entire time we were there.

Overall we had a lot of fun and I definitely plan on repeating this trip in a few years. But probably not in February. I think we will try for Spring. The nice thing about February is that the crowds and wait times are low, but it’s also cold and it seems like too much is closed. Our last two amusement park trips have taught us that we want a smaller park with more toddler rides. There is one in the Netherlands that I think fits the bill if I can figure out how to make that trip work…

Disneyland Paris & Leo’s Birthday, Part 1

We kicked off our vacation on Saturday with a 1 night stay in Lisbon. We stayed at a hotel literally across the street from the airport. On Sunday our fight left around 8 something, so it was really nice to get up and just walk across the street to the airport. On Saturday afternoon we used the metro at the airport to head to the aquarium. We got to ride the cable car that had been closed last year. I’m terrified of heights, but I have really loved the cable cars rides we have gone on since moving to Portugal. The views are always stunning. As always, it was fun getting to be in Lisbon.

On Sunday we flew into Paris. It’s the first time in a long time that our fight left on time. Normally we take a bus or train to where we need to go, but there’s no direct train. We would have to take 3 trains and make 2 transfers. We had extra bags because we couldn’t do laundry this trip. Since it was already an expensive trip we decided to splurge and we hired a chauffeur. It was amazing. The driver met us at baggage claim, took all our bags and loaded them all into the car. And then we got a direct ride to our hotel.

We stayed at Explorer’s Hotel, which is about 10 minutes from Disney and 45 minutes from Orly airport. I picked this hotel because of the awesome indoor activities for kids. They have a great pool and a 3 story indoor play area. There’s also an outdoor playground which we did end up using for about 10 minutes one day. It was between 28 and 38 degrees during our stay. It wasn’t too bad in the sun, but the playground was in the shade so it gets cold pretty quickly.

On Sunday we got to the hotel early afternoon, so the kids got to play a lot and we went swimming. They warmed to the pool pretty quickly. We really wanted to go back, but we were just too exhausted. The hotel has a pizza place and snack bar type place. All of the food there was super overpriced and terrible. Luckily we figured that out the first day and we were able to order food through Uber Eats. It was still super expensive, but at least it tasted great.

The hotel also has a shuttle to Disneyland Paris. Both parks and Disney Village are all connected, as is the train station. It was pretty easy to get to and from the hotel and Disney. Kyle even took the shuttle to Disney Village to pick up dinner a few times.

Well, that’s part 1 of our trip. We just got home a few minutes ago. It was a super long day of a 1.5 hour car ride to the airport, 2 hour flight, 20 minute car ride, 2 hour bus ride, and 10 minute car ride. But everything left on time! So even though it was a super long day it went pretty smoothly. I have a ton of work tomorrow and Saturday, so I will post part 2 in a few days to talk about the parks.

We will definitely do this trip again in a few years. We will stay at the same hotel in Lisbon and if it’s winter or spring we will stay in the Explorer’s hotel again. If it’s warm or hot out we would try a Disney Hotel to see what it’s like, but it would be hard for a hotel to beat Explorer’s if you have small kids.

Thanksgiving in Portugal

I have been working a lot the past month to make some money for all the stuff we have coming up. Between working and all the rain we haven’t left the house much. Last year it didn’t rain a lot, but this year is more of what I expected Portugal to be based on people’s comments. It has rained almost every day this month. Some days it rains all day long, some days it just rains for a few hours or even less.

Last year at this time we were just moving into our new apartment, so we didn’t give much thought to Thanksgiving. Turns out it’s pretty easy to find some Thanksgiving celebrations wherever there are American expats. A lot of us agree that it’s the one American holiday we don’t want to give up. Really it’s just because of the comfort food that we don’t eat anymore.

Stuffing is basically my favorite food and I really only get to eat it once a year. Actually maybe pumpkin pie is my favorite food. Anyone reading this from the states- have a piece of pumpkin cheesecake for me. Pumpkin cheesecake is absolutely the best thing in the entire world. Except for my kids. I’m supposed to say my kids are better than pumpkin cheesecake, right?

There is a really good restaurant in Leiria called Atlas. They had Thanksgiving dinner for €20 per adult and kids were free. There were also some Thanksgiving dinners we found in Coimbra and Caldas, but we wanted to stick close to home. We planned on going to dinner around 7, but the kids were having none of it. Luckily Kyle was able to get it to go, so we ate it at home. It was amazing.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and macaroni and cheese. Not pictured- bread with herbed butter, apples with cream, and a sweet potato soufflé type thing.

We started looking at babysitters to come once a week to give us a break. I really do adore my kids, but we are with them every waking moment. Sofia is at school, but Leo is always here. We realized pretty quickly that having a regular babysitter will add up quickly, so we talked about sending him to preschool. Kyle talked to the owner of Sofia’s school and he said that we can send Leo 2 days a week because that’s what we’re comfortable with for now.

He will start school in January and we will pay €150 a month. I’m so excited but also kind of nervous. Leo is super joined to my hip and he is going to be extremely unhappy to be away from mommy. But I can’t even begin to imagine two days without kids. We haven’t had any days without the kids since they were born. We can go places. I can sit at home and watch a movie in silence. It’s going to be awesome. And it will make us appreciate the times that our kids are home.

Also, I think that Leo and Sofia are going to be in the same class, which would be great. Sofia would love to show Leo around and introduce him to everyone. And he would take at least some comfort in being around his sister in the unfamiliar and scary new place. The first few weeks will be tough and Leo will be so unhappy to go to school. But first we have lots of fun stuff to do, starting with the Obidos Christmas market tomorrow. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain.