We Were Blown Away by How Family-Friendly Everything Was
Before we had children we used to go on adventure holidays to far-flung places, or city breaks with historical sites and great nightlife. The years passed and the kids came along, so as our lives changed so did our holidays.
Our first attempt at a sun holiday with our then one-year-old was enough to put us off for three years. He loved the tiny apartment so much he woke every night singing “Old MacDonald” at the top of his voice, waking all our neighbours in the process. Being offered a sedative for him by a sympathetic holidaymaker in a neighbouring apartment took a while to get over.
However, we learned from the experience and spent the next few summer breaks in self-catering accommodation around Ireland, getting to know Clare, Kerry and West Cork.
Being offered a sedative for him by a sympathetic holidaymaker in a neighbouring apartment took a while to get over.
Then, one dark January day we felt brave and decided that the time had come to reintroduce ourselves to the sun. We said we’d “chance” a campsite, and thought that Italy looked nice, and sure, if nothing else we knew that the kids wouldn’t starve as they loved pasta and pizza and we could drink Prosecco and Peroni beer. After a lot of proper research we settled on Park Albatros in Coastal Tuscany and started counting down the days.
It was the middle of June when we flew to Pisa Airport with our boys, then almost four and 21 months, we picked up our rental car and within 90 minutes were at the campsite. Even though we had seen the brochures and had personal recommendations we were still blown away by the facilities and how family-friendly everything was from the moment that we arrived.
Our mobile home had two bedrooms, loads of storage, air conditioning and an outside deck. It was just perfect for our needs. Our older boy got a great kick out of eating breakfast outside, even the same cereal as home tastes different when you’re dining al fresco.
We fell into a lazy routine of sorts – most days we spent our mornings by one of the six pools on site, then nipped back to the mobile home to shower and change, piled into the car and drive somewhere for lunch, guaranteed that the boys would snooze in the car en route.
Lunch would be in a village in the Tuscan hills or at a beachside café, we’d wander around the village and do a bit of exploring, seeking out playgrounds or anything that interested small boys.
Hankering for our pre-kids holidays of the past we did daytrips to Pisa, Florence and Siena, all within striking distance of the campsite. The boys ate ice-cream and posed for photos, but we didn’t dare bring them into museums or galleries, we just soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed the surroundings in sunshine. We got the ferry to Elba and enjoyed a day on the island, the boys thrilled at sitting on the outside deck on the boat.
We went with the flow about food and naps and bedtime and it all came together
Back at the campsite we’d hang out in the kids’ club tent learning dance routines and painting, the boys climbed in the playground while we supervised with a drink in hand. Dinner was pasta and salad on the deck or similar from one of the campsite restaurants, then we’d follow all the other families to the campsite stage to the kiddie disco and the nightly appearance of the campsite mascot “Albi”, the boys would join the Albi conga choo-choo and then, worn out from all the fun we’d traipse back across the campsite, they’d fall into bed and the adults would retire to the deck with a local beverage.
As our fortnight came to a close I asked my husband which day he was going back to work, momentarily forgetting that I had a job to go back to too. We all chilled, we forgot about how we did things at home and went with the flow about food and naps and bedtime and it all came together. The holiday ticked all our boxes. Anyone who saw our holiday photos remarked how in every photo the four of us have big smiles.
It was just perfect. The site was so safe, so clean, so child friendly, from the non-slip flooring to the ban on cars at night. The weather was warm and dry, hitting 30 degrees most days. The people so friendly and welcoming. The food and wine delicious.
But what made it for us was spending time with each other, no work, no playschool, no lunchboxes, no schedules, no driving, no laundry, nowhere else to be. Just the four of us, together, exploring, adventuring, and eating gelato. And now that there are five of us, we need to go back.