Travel with a little one? Fun! And interesting, too. Maybe it’s the half a million questions I get every hour… But I have to say, I honestly enjoy travelling with my four-year-old son, Honza. In his company, suddenly the airport, the flight, pretty much anything, is very intriguing and a topic of conversation and consideration.
To me, the best way to approach travel with the kindergarten set is to present everything like a game — or adventure. When we do it like this, Honza feels he’s just stepped into his favourite cartoon, where people travel to space at warp speed, zipping from continent to continent, even on to a new planet.
This time, we didn’t travel quite that far: the flight from Prague to Budapest, Hungary took about an hour. But for Honza, it was a journey to Mars! We were visiting my wife Martina, who works as the public relations director at Four Seasons Hotel Prague and Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest. Honza is a world traveller. He’s already been to the United States, Egypt and Greece, but Budapest had never made our list up until now. Martina had tacked on a mini-vacation to her business trip in Budapest, so we were ready to enjoy the weekend for the first time together in this beautiful city.
A weekend stay in a city with the family is different than, say, a long beach vacation. Let’s face it: four year olds don’t get that excited by Medieval cathedrals or fine dining at five-star venues (no kids’ corner or Crayons — who can blame them?). Luckily for us, there’s the hotel concierge.
As someone with scant hotel industry knowledge, I have to say that the concierge service is the best thing hotels ever invented. This helpful and attentive professional gave us not only a list of kid-friendly restaurants in the area, where we adults could still dine like adults while junior was busy with toys and a clown, but also a list of to-dos, places to see and visit. She even loaned us children’s DVDs for evening entertainment while Martina and I relaxed on the balcony and watched the sun go down over the Buda hills and the Castle.
It’s the little things that matter. My son was very excited by his sofa bed. He didn’t even allow us to touch it. He also adored the very tasty looking chocolate cookies and milk — a special welcome waiting for him in our room. (I thought it wasn’t very fair to us parents, though.)
We toured the city: Buda Castle is a must — and even more enjoyable, thanks to Ruszwurm Café, the oldest confectionary in the city, with its renowned cakes and ice creams. The biggest portion of ice cream seemed to be all over our son’s face, but who cares? The way back to the hotel was both convenient and adventurous; a funicular takes you down to the Chain Bridge and leads to Gresham Palace. That evening, we dined at Nobu. I think Honza was the only child in the restaurant but… why not? All went well: no broken glasses, no upset neighbours.
We had great weather that weekend, so we took a boat trip on Saturday morning to explore Budapest from the Danube River — and at the same time, play a game of pirates. Ideal.
This approach helped us a lot: make sure your child is very tired, so you can sleep in. Day-long adventures will help. For example, we had a delicious dinner at Pomodoro, a casual Italian restaurant where we had a bit of fun with pasta. Afterwards, we visited a couple of bar gardens for drinks, where we made some drawing enhancements to the bar menu. Around 11 pm, we carried our sleeping child back to the hotel and slept till 9 am the next day!
The only thing that can ruin your plans is if your child gets sick. Well, this time it was me who came down with a high fever. Figures. So on our last day, we just lolled in our park suite with its stunning views of the Chain Bridge and Castle. The large floor-to-ceiling windows made us feel like we were actually in Szechenyi Park. I had never spent a whole day in a hotel room, and I have to say, it wasn’t too bad. (A big thanks to Four Seasons for procuring medicine for me and allowing a late check-out.)
When it was time to say good-bye to our luxurious suite, Honza started crying. Apparently, his room at home just doesn’t measure up. It looks like now we’ll have to relocate to an art nouveau palace in Prague to make him happy, hmmmm.
Jan Vavra is an entrepreneur based in Prague, Czech Republic. He enjoys travel, literature and sports — and his wife Martina. Martina Vavrova is the public relations director at Four Seasons Hotel Prague and Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest.
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