Pärnu, Estonia – How was it for a family holiday?

I wrote you about our summer holiday plans here. As it turned out we ended up traveling in Finland and also went to Pärnu, Estonia by car for a couple of days.

We stayed there for only three nights since we thought it would be a tiny village with not much to do but if we went there again we would stay a full week. Not only because there is lots to do but also because when you get this caravan (family of five) all packed up and moving it would be worth to make the most of it and stay a couple more nights.

About Pärnu

Pärnu is the fourth largest city in Estonia with the total population of 40 000 inhabitants. It’s located in the southwestern part of Estonia little over 100 kilometers from the capitol, Tallinn. Pärnu is famous for being a rehabilitation and holiday resort and most of the tourist are Finns, Swedes and Russians.


Getting there

From Helsinki with a ferry and then drive. If you are feeling more adventurous or if don’t have children it’s also easy to reach by bus from Tallinn.

The ferry itself was part of the fun! Driving in there was exciting but the ferry has great facilities for families. We took the newest ferry Tallink Megastar that has started to operate only this year. It has good shopping facilities “largest mall on the Baltic Sea” and the children’s playroom was very good! It has surveillance cameras in there so parents can sit outside and monitor their kids from tv screens. Our son ran there first thing when we got to the ferry, got new friends and we could hardly get him out of there to drink or eat.

At the harbor we had gotten a “family”-tag to our windscreen and could skip the lines, made it to the front in the ferry (which meant that we got out fast) and they left us enough space to be able to move around with our twin stroller. If you are nervous about travelling by ferry, don’t be! They have organized it very well for families.


This is already from the Pärnu beach.

Where to stay?

Everyone said that Pärnu is so small village that all hotels are close to the center. Well.. it’s not that tiny. Our hotel was quite far away. The hotel itself was not bad. Our room was two floors which was beautiful but not the most practical solutions with children.

There are many hotels with spas and waterparks. Also Air bnb might be a good solution. If I went again I would look at them. During the holiday season Pärnu is quite expensive and it’s not easy to find good price-quality ratio in hotels.


Cows between the hotel called Tervise Paradiis and the sea.

What to do?

This was the surprising part! We thought that ok they have the beach and then they have waterparks and spas.

But the whole beach boulevard was filled with activities. Nothing spectacular, to be honest, but all in the same area and on holiday we had time to try it all. They had very nice playgrounds for children, mini golf, tivoli, carousel, bouncing castles, pedal go carts and more. With only three days we only got to the beach and this beach boulevard area and visited the Pärnu center. The beach itself was amazing by the way! The water was shallow and warm and perfect for small children. We were also lucky with weather. Sunny and warm weather every day. We could have spent every day at the beach.

If we’d had more time I would have liked to take a boat ride, visit an alpaca farm and go to Estonia’s largest theme park Lottemaa.


To eat?

This one I really don’t know. With the the older boy we have gone to the restaurants since he was two months old but with twins it feels stressful. That’s why we got our meals to go and ate at the parks which they have many and they are beautiful!

This was a stress-free solution which is always good on holidays.


Best in Pärnu?

It felt like a true summer city. People walked around in beach wear holding their swim rings. They were in a relaxed holiday mood. No one had to hurry anywhere. This was a location I could see myself going back to.

Have a lovely week end!

Mannamaria 

Beautiful lake views

The theme of this week’s photo challenge is ‘satisfaction’. I went through my photos trying to see if there was something I would like to post here.

First thing that I came up with were findings from the flea market. I love flea markets! I go there often and make great findings quite often. The thing is, I never take photos of them. But maybe I should! 

I did find two scenes that I find extremely satisfying. The first is Finnish lake view. I don’t know why but I calm down instantly when looking at this view. My heart beat slows down, my mind stops racing and my muscles relax. I could stare at this for hours. The first photo is from our summer holiday trip to Ikaalinen. The second one is from near our home.



But I can’t leave out the view of a field either. Part of this satisfaction is also the silence. You can only hear the wind moving the crops but other than that it’s silent. No traffic, no nothing.


This is my contribution to the weekly photo challenge!

I’ll see you soon!

Mannamaria

Car trip with kids – my tips and thoughts

Our family vacation is coming to its end. Four weeks together traveling and renovating the house. At the same time it feels like we have spent the whole summer together and that time flew faster than ever.

This summer we made two trips by car. First we visited the grandparent, 500 kilometers one way. Then we went to Estonia which meant first a two hour trip by a ferry (we drove our car to the ferry) and then driving for another two hours.

With our first born son we made the long drive to the grandparents when he was 2 months old. We got only one advice: drive as long as the baby sleeps. As a first time parent I had read that it’s not good for the baby to spend many hours in the car safety seat. It would be bad for his back so we had thought that we should have a stop after about two hours and take him out from it. Then drive for another two hours and have another long break. I’m glad we didn’t. Drive as long as the baby sleeps was a great piece of advice. He fell asleep right after we started the engine and slept for about 2 to 3 hours. Then we stopped and after a good break we drove another 2 to three hours and we were there. It didn’t take much longer than our trips before kids. And since that was a very rare occasion, nothing happened to his back.

This summer we have three kids. Twins are about 6 months and the toddler is 3 years old. Since the other baby suffers from stomach problems and cries a lot anyways, we had done some back up plans before the first long drive in case he would start to cry at some point. We had called a family member half way and asked if we could spend a night there if needed. We had checked the train stations and time tables to see if it was possible to continue by train (where I could hold the baby) in case the car seat was too uncomfortable for him. And we had the mindset of spending all day to this trip.


The first half of the trip went well. Drive as long as the baby sleeps was our motto and so we drove. As fast as possible, as far as possible. Half way the babies woke up. We stopped, fed them, changed diapers and ate our self. It was a good stop. We decided to continue our trip but after about 20-30 minutes the crying started. We were middle of nowhere. We stopped by the road side to calm the baby. We realized that we hadn’t hold him in the upright position after eating long enough so he had gotten stomach problems. We held him, carried him around, watched the cars that were bypassing. After some time we decided to continue. Maybe 2 or 3 time we stopped by the road to calm him before arriving to the next town.

We had bypassed the family member where we could have spent the night at and there was no train station nearby. After arriving to the town we parked our car and decided to spend as long as we needed to normalize the situation with the baby. We spent there little over 2 hours. We ate dinner at a restaurant while holding the baby. When he got tired we packed everyone back to car and drove to our destination. The trip took us nearly one full day.


I had this chicken&goat cheese waffle while we stopped for a few hours..

What I learnt from that trip is

  • Know your kids. My baby needs to be hold up for about an hour after eating. Rushing with this one backfired big time. Most kids don’t need this and in that case..
  • Drive as long as the baby sleeps.
  • In case you are not sure make many backup plans (can we spend a night somewhere if needed? Are there nice hotels, amusement/water parks, family members on our route? What sights or cities there are on our route where it would be nice to stop for a couple of hours if needed?).
  • Be ready to make a plan on the go. The odds are, you are going to be in middle of nowhere when all hell breaks loose.
  • Try to make the new plan sound like fun for the other kids. “Let’s have dinner in a restaurant/Let’s have a picnic! We have never stopped in this city before! That amusement park/zoo sounds like fun, let’s go there!”

When we were coming back I tried to book train tickets but since it’s the summer holiday season all the seats where you can take a pram nearby were taken. Our plan b was to book a hotel night somewhere on our route so we booked a night at a spa hotel. It was fun for the older boy who loves water parks and hotel breakfasts and the trip was less stressful to us.


The spa hotel was by a beautiful lake.

Our next trip was easier. We knew what our baby needed. We were better prepared. The maximum drive was two hours. At the ferry he didn’t need to be on his car seat. We held him up as much as he needed, we had some medicine in case he needed it. We were well prepared.


Driving to the ferry was exciting especially to the boy!

I have heard many parents, especially twin parents, say that they are scared to go because so many things can go wrong. I would like encourage them to prepare yourself well, be ready to be spontaneous if needed but don’t be afraid to go. It’ll be worth it and it’ll go well! 

Have you done long car trips with kids? How did it go? Do you have any tips?

Have a nice week end!

Mannamaria

Visiting a family farm

We’re on summer holiday and my posts seem to be only about things and happenings. But that also reflects our life at the moment quite well. Life is lighter on holiday but it’s also more active than our every day life. We’ve been traveling in Finland for little over a week now. Mostly in the countryside.

Couple of days ago we visited a farm that my second cousin runs. The farm is still a small ‘old school’ farm when, I think, most farms are either quitting or getting very big with milking robots and all that.

In my second cousin’s farm the cows spend days and nights outside eating fresh grass in the summer. They are called in only for milking and then let out again. 

I think it’s amazing that I can offer my kids this experience. A real farm that is up and running. They learn where the milk comes from and how important work they do at the farms producing us domestic food supplies.

There were little calves that we could feed and my second cousin’s son offered to take my son for a ride in a tractor but that was a little too exciting for him. Sitting inside a tractor, when it didn’t move, was enough excitement. He “helped” fetch the cows from field into the byre and gave them grass. 

It was wonderful.

Me, as a true city girl, got too excited about it all. I took selfies with cows, photos of everything, including my second cousin working. I even made a video call to my sister inside the byre. I’ve been embarrased afterwards. I should invite them to my workplace to take photos of me working.

Anyways, I am grateful for them for letting us visit.

More holiday posts to come. Have a lovely week!

Mannamaria

Summer Holiday Planning

I’m currently using lots of time doing summer holiday planning. With small babies and the boy it’s not that simple to find the perfect solution for all. To travel abroad or stay in homeland? Stay at home? Summer cottage? Hotel? Here are my current thoughts.

Travel abroad
I love travelling and there are so many places I’d like to go to.
This option has the positive side of
– finding new travel destinations,
– creating great memories for the older boy,
– relaxing is easier when you are really out of your ordinary life,
– better chance of good weather than at home.

On the negative side:
– it is expensive,
– travelling by plane with baby twins and a 3 year old sounds stressful to me,
– the twins wake up at night no matter where we are,
– they won’t remember it anyway.

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Travel in homeland
I have traveled quite much also inside the country and this country surprises me positively every now and then.
On the positive side:
– it’s cheaper,
– you can pack everything in a car so moving around is easier,
– there are lots of great family destinations like the Moomin world where we haven’t been to yet,
– we could visit friends and family around the country and spend some time in our summer cottage.

On the negative side:
– the new experiences would be limited,
– it’s not that easy to get to the holiday mood,
– we are a family of five so not all our friends could host us which means hotel nights which means spending more money (though I also love staying in hotels and especially their breakfasts :D)
– This is a big country and our family and summer cottage are far away. Driving for 500 km in a day with kids doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.

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Stay at home
There would be so much to do here at home!
– we could finally do something from the to do -list,
– that would lower my stress level
– I love Helsinki and we could do some summer activities here like go to the beach, zoo or amusement park,
– we have our friends close and maybe for once we’d have time to see them,
– this option doesn’t cost much! 🙂

On the negative side:
– Does it feel like a holiday if you don’t go anywhere?

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Combination
One thing we have thought of is travelling to Estonia or Latvia. This way we didn’t have to use the plane, we could drive. Those countries are close. It’s not very expensive to go there and we’d still be going abroad and that would hopefully give me the sense of holiday.

I love this part of the holiday! Planning and comparing all the possibilities. Summer is still ahead and everything seems possible.

If I was jealous to some people it would be those living in the central Europe since they can travel to numerous destinations by car. That would make life so much easier when you have small children.

Do you like planning? What kind of summer holiday plans you have?

Mannamaria

WPC: Earth

This week I wanted to share with you some of my favorite homeland destinations. Places where I keep returning again and again. Pristine nature. Peaceful, quiet and very beautiful.

Enjoy!

Mannamaria

WPC

213Kuusamo, Finland

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Kuusamo, Finland

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Koli, Finland

DSC_0102Turku Archipelago, Finland

DSC_0034Turku Archipelago, Finland

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Turku Archipelago, Finland

112Padasjoki, Finland

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Ruka, Finland

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Tohmajärvi, Finland

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Helsinki, Finland

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Turku, Finland

Family holiday dreams

Now that the twins are two weeks old I’ve started to look ahead to summer and next fall. I’d like to go for a family holiday but where to?

My son was little under one year on his first trip abroad. First we did a day trip to Estonia and then traveled to Switzerland. Couple of months later we traveled to Italy. And when he was little under two we went to Portugal and then to Denmark. In Denmark I was already pregnant with the twins and suffered from heavy morning sickness. We didn’t travel after that during the pregnancy.

I think I’d be ready to go again. Maybe during the fall when the twins are a bit older and the weather in Finland is depressing. But where should we go? This is my criteria:

  • Nice weather
  • Destination with beach
  • Short flight
  • Good quality-price ratio
  • Easy with kids (hotel without stairs, breakfast included, room with a balcony..)

Greece?

I have never been to Greece and I’d love to go! I only have this stupid fear that we will just find some tourist resorts and no genuine culture or good restaurants. Probably that’s not problem at all and I will feel stupid after visiting the beautiful islands. What I’ve heard the Greek islands are a very easy and beautiful destination with perfect weather and good food. I think we should definitely go there.

Croatia?

I have never been there either! I think that Croatia is a very hip destination at the moment, isn’t it? I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know much about Croatia.  It would be interesting to learn about their history and language though I’m not sure if I have the time at the moment. If I’m not mistaken, I think that Croatia is a little more affordable than the other European destinations that I’m thinking about. Good value for money is always something to look for.

Spain?

I have traveled quite a lot in Spain and to be honest I’m not a big fan. With the kids I value sun, good food, easiness and short flight and Spain covers all that so maybe I should give it another chance. I also speak some Spanish which usually makes things a little bit easier. Maybe we should go to some of the islands? or Costa del Sol?

Italy?

I always end up in Italy. I love that country. I have lived there for a while and visited it multiple times. One of my dreams is to have a second home in Italy. I would travel there every winter when Finland is too cold and dark. Anyways last time we went to Verona and Lake Garda. This time I’m thinking about the islands Sardegna or Sicily. I seem to have a thing with islands this time. 😀

These pictures are from our holiday in Lake Garda, Italy 2015.

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