One of the things that has struck me during our first week of travelling is just how versatile the Integra is.
We’ve certainly needed versatility: our adventure through Portugal was conducted mainly underwater (what is it with us and the rain?!), and took us to forests, cities and beaches, through narrow streets and up winding castle steps.
Our first camp was surrounded by soaring pine trees and a rushing river. We’d had beautiful sunshine for the long drive from Santander which lasted long enough for us to put up our tent, but overnight the heavens opened. It was quite apt, really, that Orson’s first camping experience should be a soggy one – and he enjoyed peeking out from under the hood as we went for a wander the next morning. It’s actually surprising how much rain it will withstand – I mean, I wouldn’t want to put it to the test in a proper downpour (we’ve got a handy poncho for that!) but it coped remarkably well with persistent drizzle.
Unlike our tent, which was suffering from an overoptimistic lack of proper waterproofing and gradually began to let in more and more water… I won’t dwell on that here – it meant we had to adjust our accommodation plans whilst we waited for the weather to improve, but it didn’t stop us exploring.
One of our favourite places in the North of Portugal was a small city called Arcos de Valdavez. It was almost entirely surrounded by water, the river bursting at its banks after all the rainfall.
Just outside the city was a castle – one of Arthur’s current obsessions – which had been the home of the first King of Portugal. We were the only people there when we visited, and were led around by two extremely inquisitive cats. Orson was wide eyed as we made our way through the darkness to explore inside, and loved the contrast with the expansive view when we stepped out onto the roof.
Our next destination was Lisbon – a real whistlestop tour of a city I hope we will revisit to do it justice. It was a city of many steps and steep pavements, made somewhat trickier to negotiate by the beautiful but slippery stone they were constructed from – definitely not made for the rain! We managed to find a wonderful restaurant for dinner the evening we arrived, and the next morning Arthur decided he had to ride on one of the old-style trams before we left the city. It was a bit of a mission to track one down in the limited time we had but we succeeded, and I took the boys for a ride whilst Leigh went back to pack our bags.
Of course I managed to completely miss our stop so ended up with a bit of a trek back to the hotel – in the process though Arthur got a taste of the simple pleasure of getting lost in a strange city, which has to be one of my favourite things to do when on the road.
From there we headed down South to the Algarve – it was still raining, but we had some magical moments of respite. One of those moments of magic was a sunset beach walk in Albufeira – we had the sands almost entirely to ourselves. Leigh carried Orson in the sling, where he happily snuggled against the warmth of his Daddy to take in yet another radically different set of surroundings.
I am very conscious that Orson’s current stage of development will make the whole experience of traveling even more mindblowing – maintaining his sense of security whilst the world constantly changes around him is essential, and there is no better place for him to recharge and remember what home feels like than snuggled up in the Integra.
Sophie is travelling in Europe for eight weeks with a VW campervan, two small children, and a collection of Integra baby carriers. You can read weekly updates about their babywearing adventures here, and find out more about what they’re up to over at Raising Revolutionaries.