Traveling with a Toddler through Spain and Portugal

I pushed the stroller down bumpy cobblestone sidewalks, past the crowds of people, and through the busy streets until we arrived at our destination.  The sea.  Matteo and I looked forward to this sight all morning.   Even though people cross oceans all the time, and it’s no longer a mystery as to what is on the other side, it still feels like a mystery to me each time I stand on the edge of something so vast, so deep, and so completely unknown.  It reminds me of standing on the edge of eternity.  I can imagine heaven on the other side and wonder what they’re doing there now.

Azenhas Beach, Sintra, Portugal.

Leaving the side of the sea always feels like tearing off a band aid, it stings, but it’s best to do it quick.  We turned back and headed in the direction of the seaside city of Porto, also known as the origin of Port wine.  The city is situated at the mouth of the Douro river and along the Atlantic Ocean, it’s beautiful and full of hills, yet small enough to manage by foot -which is my favorite mode of transportation while traveling.

Porto, Portugal.

We found a nice cafe on a quiet street corner and I ordered a glass of Port wine and a pastry while Matteo finished crumbling his cookie all down his shirt and wiping his dirty hands on the stroller cushion.  Trying to have a romantic moment doesn’t last too long with a Toddler.   I asked if the cafe has wifi hoping to sedate him with a tv show, but they don’t.  So I shoved the pastry in my mouth, drank a few sips of the wine, and we were off again.

Azenhas Beach, Sintra, Portugal.

I thought traveling would serve as a distraction from the last 8 months, but really it’s brought to mind a lot more.  I see him everywhere; in new places attached to old memories. The cologne he wore must be quite popular here because I smell it all the time.

We passed by old and new buildings with traditional Portuguese painted tiles, and wandered down narrow streets with laundry hanging from balconies. As we moved through the every day lives of the people who live here, my mind was very far away.

It was the last time I saw him.  We were a few days away from leaving Colombia for the holidays and to renew our visas, he was packing up his room in Medellin and moving to the ranch.  All day he was busy packing and doing things and all I wanted for him was to spend a little bit of time with Matteo -and me.

“You’re not going to see him for a while, can’t you just hold him for 10 minutes?”

                  “Look –I’m busy! Let me finish doing what I’m doing and then I’ll play with him.”

What he was doing seemed to take forever, because the hours passed and it grew closer and closer to the hour of his departure. I was really mad at him that day.  We had gotten into a fight that morning. I was even more mad that he wouldn’t spend even a minute with Matteo. But as the hour came for him to leave my anger melted.  He played with Matteo for 10 minutes on the couch while I was busy trying to call him a taxi to take him away to the bus terminal.

The taxi arrived and Matteo and I went down with him, holding onto every second we had left.  He loaded his bags, hugged and kissed Matteo, “Bye baby.”  Then he hugged me and kissed my forehead “Good bye, Hosanna. Take care of Matteo.”

We watched as the taxi pulled out of the apartment complex and onto the busy street.  We stood there until it turned the corner out of sight, and then a little longer.  He was gone.  The moment now felt empty.

A car whizzed past us jarring me from my thoughts and back to the Luis I bridge that we were about to cross.  Raised high above the Douro river, the bridge connected the two parts of Porto.  From a look out point on the other side we watched the sun set the colorful buildings across the bridge ablaze with golden rays until it quietly slipped under the covers of the sea.  The perfect end to a long day of exploring Porto, Portugal.

Porto, Portugal


Travel breakdown for Spain and Portugal:

  • We stayed with friends for 5 days outside of Barcelona, essentially it’s like we couch surfed. If you’ve never heard of couch surfing, it’s a community of local hosts who open their doors/couches (extra bedrooms in our case) to travelers for free. We then found an Airbnb in the city center of Barcelona for 2 nights for $60.
  • We saved a lot of money in Portugal by couch surfing: 9 days we couch surfed and the other 3 days we booked an Airbnb. In total we only spent $59 on accommodation in Portugal for for 12 days.

    19 days of Traveling Spain and Portugal = $119 spent on accommodation.
  • Food was a little difficult for us in Spain and Portugal. The Spanish and Portuguese eat a lot of bread. pastries, and sandwiches —which I don’t mind, but Matteo is more of a burger and fries sans bread kind of guy —he also loves Mexican food, which is what we ate most of in Spain. Also, because we were moving around so much —about every 2-3 days, we didn’t have time to cook, so we ended up spending a lot more money on food by eating out 2-3 times a day. We spent around $417 on food and a lot of snacks in Spain and Portugal, and about $115 on transportation (Taxi/bus/metro/train tickets).
  • Food and Transportation = $532.A miscellaneous expense was for a new suitcase because the handle of mine broke —that cost me $82. 
ATM withdraw fees (2x) =$10
    Diapers and wipes: $50
  • Miscellaneous expenses: $142

    In total for Accommodation, food, transport, and miscellaneous expenses I
    spent: $783 —a little more than I was hoping, but not so far off from my budget.

    *I didn’t include flights because the prices of those vary so much.  But I spent $750 on my flight from Chicago to Barcelona and $150 from Barcelona to Lisbon. 



Porto, Portugal.

Azenhas Beach, Sintra, Portugal.



  • Reply
    August 10, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    So awesome! Love hearing about the adventure!! Beautiful words and photos. I want more! Also, totally wanna join ya. *sigh*

  • Reply
    August 10, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Love following your journey. Thanks for adding the total expense section, I’m always curious the cost of traveling and how much it all adds up too!

  • Reply
    August 11, 2017 at 1:22 am

    Absolutely love the break down and the glimpse into your process, both physically and emotionally! Love that cute little toddler, too!

  • Reply
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    August 21, 2017 at 6:10 am

    We travelled with our children from Australia to Europe when they were 3 & 4 years old. We had a wonderful time and children don’t have to hold you back you just have to make adjustments sometimes. I so enjoyed your post because my husband and i will be visiting Portugal and Spain in October. Enjoy!

  • Leave a Reply