Our primary reason for travelling to Europe at this time of year was so that I could be in my good friend Kristin's wedding. Kristin is Canadian and her (now) husband Dan is English, and instead of picking one person's country over another for the wedding, they decided to have it in a place they had enjoyed travelling to together a few times. So Portugal it was, and luckily they chose a date that fell within school holidays so we were able to attend.
Originally Andy and I had booked flights to arrive in England on a Sunday, and then fly to Portugal on Thursday in time for the wedding on Saturday. We figured that would give us enough time for us and Ella to adjust to the time difference, while giving us some time with Ella's grandparents in Portsmouth before going. Alas, it was not to be, due to our issues in getting Ella's passport in time we ended up arriving in England on Wednesday afternoon, just in time for our flight to Portugal on Thursday. I will do a separate post on flying with an infant later, once we have survived the flights home, however suffice to say I don't recommend doing 25 hours from Melbourne to London and then immediately returning to the airport for another flight the next day!
Nevertheless, we were thankful that we got to London in time to make our Portugal flights, and we arrived without any major incident in Lisbon on Thursday afternoon. So far, so good. We collected our rental car (complete with infant car seat) from the airport and were on our way to our airbnb in the small village of Colares.
A big lesson learned once we left the airport: If you are driving in a foreign country and have no idea where you are going, it is helpful to use the airport wifi before you leave to get Google Maps to download a map of the area. Although you can't use the directions function in the app if you don't have 3G, you can still see the roads and the little blue dot that tells you where you are. We did not do this, and instead relied on the Sat Nav given to us by the car rental company. This is all well and good until you miss the exit to the main highway and the Sat Nav re-routes to take you though a major city during rush hour. Cue an angry Andy, not only trying to get used to driving on the right side of the road, but also cursing me for renting a manual car... Oops!
Long story short, it basically took us three hours to get to our airbnb, when it should have taken less than one. The address of our airbnb was not recognised in the Sat Nav, and it kept taking us on small, windy, dangerous (in my opinion) roads. We should have just tried to follow an old fashioned map rather than relying on the Tom Tom, as when we went back to the airport the next day to pick up Andy's parents we realised our mistake and the drive was rather straightforward.
We arrived pretty exhausted and thankfully found an amazing restaurant a five minute walk away called Sussegad. We had a delicious meal which Ella thankfully slept through and then went straight to bed. Unfortunately Ella did not get the memo that we had changed time zones and woke pretty much every three hours through the night. Infant jet lag... it's just like going back to having a newborn!
Friday morning we went to visit Kristin at the wedding venue, which was a rustic, vintage style Quinta in Colares. It was so, so great to see her, especially as we had come close to not being able to attend the wedding. Kristin was probably the most relaxed bride you will ever meet, totally chilled and in control the morning before her wedding. I think I was more stressed than her, I only tried on my dress for the wedding that day, and had to rush out and buy shoes and some accessories that afternoon. Thankfully everything worked out, my dress just fit (not quite at my pre-pregnancy weight yet!) and I found some great shoes and a handbag in a shopping centre nearby. Who doesn't love an excuse to buy new shoes?!
We had a quick visit and then Andy and I left for our shoe shopping and to pick up Andy's parents back at Lisbon airport. We were all staying in our villa (along with Andy's brother and his girlfriend Lauren, who arrived a day later) for a bit of a family holiday after the wedding. While at the airport I purchased formula for Ella for the first time. I was getting majorly stressed that I would not be able to express enough milk for her to get through the wedding and would have to leave part way through the reception to feed her. This was to be the first night that Andy and I would both be baby-free, so I did want to try and enjoy myself! I did feel guilty about the formula, however she has been exclusively breastfed for three months so a little formula so mummy can have one night out surely won't kill her!
Saturday morning started with a huge breakfast at the Quinta for the wedding party. After that we went to meet up with all my London friends who were staying at a nearby villa. It is because of friends like these I still get homesick for London. These guys have been my friends for most of my seven years of London and have seen me through my many ups and downs of living there. It was so amazing to see them and to introduce them to Ella. I don't often think I want to move back to London, but I do wish I still lived nearer to these guys. If only they would just all move to Melbourne!
After that Betty and I went back to the Quinta to get ready for the wedding. From this point on I was baby-free for the day, and I must say, I love my daughter, but it was nice to not be a mum for a while! I will admit that I did have some pangs of longing for my child-free days when I saw all my friends staying together at their villa, free of any responsibility, not thinking of anyone but themselves. Ahhh, I do miss those days! It goes without saying that of course I wouldn't trade what I have now though :)
Ultra-relaxed bride Kristin did her own make-up and her sister did her hair, and we were free to do our own as well. I am a pretty crap girly-girl and am hopeless at hair and make-up so was feeling slightly stressed about this until I reminded myself that no one would be looking at me! Kristin looked absolutely gorgeous and I was so, so happy for my friend.
The ceremony was simple and classic, with Dan's dad singing an Irish folk song that he wrote, bringing tears to everyones eyes. After the ceremony there was a drinks reception in the garden of the Quinta, which was surrounded by gorgeous gardens and set up with quirky, vintage furniture. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies and nearly 30 degrees, and soon enough it was time for dinner. This was also outside on a long table for all the guests. The speeches were great - not too long and very funny, especially the best man speech. Kristin is one of four children, and her three siblings did a very touching speech together. At the end Andy turned to me and said "We need to have more children... three, four at least!" Awwww! (But seriously... No)
I lasted until about midnight until a mixture of guilt and tiredness took over. Ella was apparently very good for her grandparents, sleeping most of the time we were at the wedding. Of course this meant that she was up quite a few times in the night, and I was glad that I had been easy on the alcohol. Oh, and she didn't even end up needing any of that formula in the end - as usual, a lot of worry over nothing!
The next day lots of people from the wedding went to the beach. We attempted to join but discovered very quickly that a baby on a beach is pretty much the least fun thing ever. They can't go in the sun, or the sea (which was freezing anyway!), you don't want them to get sandy, etc, etc. Basically it will be a few more months until we can enjoy taking Ella places like that.
And then that was it! All the wedding fun was sadly over, and it will be Christmas when we are able to see the bride and groom again when we stay with my parents in Canada. But it was a great weekend, and I am so glad that we actually made it and I was able to take part in such a special day!