A Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone – Our Visit and Review

Regular readers of the blog will know that we have been to Bluestone several times in the past. But last week, we were kindly invited to experience a mid-week stay at Bluestone. We have always had a weekend break at Bluestone but since giving up my job to move to Portugal, a mid-week stay at Bluestone suddenly became a very real option.

So, with our new stylish cabin bag in tow, and plenty of warm clothes, off we headed to Faro airport for our return flight to Bristol Airport to experience our first ever mid-week stay at Bluestone.

A weekend break at Bluestone lasts 3 nights and 4 days but was really only the two weekend days for us, as we have always been travelling on the Friday and Monday. This time we were treated to a 4-night stay and enjoyed 3 full days at Bluestone. That said you can arrive early and use the facilities from 11am on the day of your arrival, and on your checkout day you can enjoy them until 3pm. You cannot check into your lodge early though so do be aware of your arrival time and plan accordingly. Check in time for accommodation is generally 4.30pm.a mid-week stay at bluestone

Day 1 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

Due to our flight being delayed we didn’t arrive until 5.20pm and we headed straight for the Farmhouse Grill for dinner with our friends who were joining us for this stay.

mid-week stay at bluestone - tasty burger in the farmhouse grill restaurant at bluestone
A tasty burger in the Farmhouse Grill

I had booked this restaurant so that we didn’t have to think about cooking and could start to relax and enjoy ourselves. We had two sharing platters to start and they were enormous! Plenty of food that tasted delicious. Most of us ordered a burger while BattleKid enjoyed the chicken strips from the kids’ menu and L enjoyed a kids’ burger. The main courses were generous and tasty. However, as I’d eaten quite a lot of the sharing platter, I couldn’t finish my burger. In truth, the sharing platter could easily have covered us four adults.

While everyone else enjoyed some amazing looking desserts, I walked (in the rain!) to our lodge to grab some pictures and a walk-around video for my YouTube channel. The sacrifices we bloggers make in the name of our work hey! Shortly after I’d finished, the others arrived back in our buggy for the week, which I had pre-booked, so that we could all get unpacked and get the kids ready for bed. Following a catch up over a cuppa we all headed to bed suitably tired but happy to be back in Bluestone once again.

Day 2 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

mid-week stay at bluestone - our buggy outside our Grassholm Lodge
Our buggy for the week helped us practice our Portuguese as Mai is the Portuguese word for Mum!

After a breakfast cooked from our Family Welcome Hamper, we got ourselves ready to head out of Bluestone to explore some of Pembrokeshire.

The Family Welcome Hamper has everything in it to start you off food-wise in your lodge. It can be really helpful if, like us, you are travelling from afar and either won’t get a chance to visit a supermarket, or don’t want to carry fresh food in the car. Including everything you need for a hearty breakfast, a cuppa and a few snacks too, it can work out as a great time saver.

mid-week stay at bluestone - Tiny streets in Tenby
Lovely little streets in Tenby
mid-week stay at bluestone - beautiful Tenby in Pembrokeshire
The gorgeous Pembrokeshire coastline

We decided to visit Tenby as the Battle Family had never been before. It had always been on our radar but somehow, we never got the chance. We were very lucky that the rain and grey skies we had that morning cleared by the time we headed out in the cars.

Tenby is a lovely little seaside town in Pembrokeshire and we had a lovely time wandering around the walled town and around the coastal head. We visited the RNLI boathouse and I visited a Boots for some supplies before we enjoyed fish and chips. Afterwards, we then drove to Barafundle Bay but I had to wait in the car while a certain little boy caught up on his beauty sleep.  

mid-week stay at bluestone - saying hi to the bwbach scarecrows
On our way to dinner at the Oak Tree Restaurant and we stopped to say hi to a scarecrow

Back at Bluestone, we visited the Oak Tree Restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, we were a little bit disappointed to find it had changed from the last time we had visited.

The Oak Tree Restaurant had always felt a little more grown up than other eateries in Bluestone, one adults could enjoy even with the kids in tow. With an Italian inspired menu comprising fantastic dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, it felt like the ‘treat’ restaurant. This time around it was more of a set Italian menu with just pizza and pasta dishes, geared very much for families. Gone were the starters and variety of main dishes. That said, the food was still really delicious and was enjoyed by one and all. Even my main of olives and a salad (still full from my seaside fish and chips) was lovely. BattleKid certainly enjoyed his spaghetti and tomato sauce, even wearing some of it on his eyebrow. After dinner, and once the kids were in bed, we enjoyed our first board game for ages. And I won!

mid-week stay at bluestone - a salad at the oak tree restaurant at bluestone
My salad was really delicious!

Day 3 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

I had been looking forward to this day at Bluestone. Why you may ask? Because as it was her birthday the following week, I had booked myself and S into the Well Spa at Bluestone. I had never visited before and it had been a long time since I’d had a spa day and both us mums were really looking forward to it.

We wandered down at 9am and enjoyed some of the facilities until it was time for our Celtic Combo. This 50-minute treatment involved a back massage and facial and boy was it enjoyable. My therapist Katy found knots in my back I didn’t know existed and the facial felt and smelled lovely.

mid-week stay at bluestone - The Well Spa of Bluestone
The Well Spa of Bluestone, a perfect place for mums to enjoy a few hours of relaxation.

After our treatments, we continued enjoying the facilities, even braving the rain to get into the plunge pool, before having afternoon tea at midday in the café. Once we were suitably relaxed and refreshed we visited the spa shop before going back to reality and our respective children. I cannot recommend the spa enough for mums, dads, couples and grandparents alike. And yes, we saw a few of them in there!

mid-week stay at bluestone - well spa plunge pool
The plunge pool of the Well Spa at Bluestone

After lunch we all went to the Blue Lagoon for some splashy fun. This is by far one of the best places to visit at Bluestone with kids. The boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the waves, the lazy river and the toddler pool. It was a struggle to get them out.

mid-week stay at bluestone - the blue lagoon pool
The Blue Lagoon of Bluestone

Back at the lodge we got the Dads to collect a Chinese from a takeaway in Narberth. Despite it only getting a 3.5* rating on Google, the food was hot, delicious and enjoyed by everyone. I really cannot understand why it has a low rating. Again, once the boys were in bed we enjoyed some board games but alas, it wasn’t my lucky night.

Day 4 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

I was up at 7.15am to call Disneyland Paris to make our restaurant bookings for our forthcoming visit in December. Yes, you must book certain restaurants that far in advance! Then, once BattleKid and I were dressed and fed, I took him for a walk while BattleDad worked and the others got themselves up and sorted.

We started by having a walk around the lake and although it was cold, it was a dry morning. Around the lake we spotted the ducks, waved to the tractors and the men working on them. We also saw mushrooms, spotted a bug hotel and a scarecrow fishing in the lake.

living arrows - BattleKid looking out across the lake at Bluestone
Strolling around the lake at Bluestone

Then, we went on a Gruffalo hunt in the deep, dark, wood and found him hiding in a tree. We also spent some time watching a squirrel jumping from branch to branch high in a tree. BattleKid wanted him to come down to the ground and he did, albeit a bit away from us.

living arrows - a gruffalo hunt at Bluestone
Result! We found the Gruffalo hiding in the deep dark woods of Bluestone

To finish off our morning together, I took him to the new playground where he enjoyed time on the slide (getting a wet bum in the process!) and the swings. This is a new addition to the Village since our last visit and it is really good, a great place for little ones to run off some steam.

living arrows - BattleKid on the playground boat at bluestone
Fun in the new playground of Bluestone

After our morning together, we returned to everyone in lodge and got ready to head out of Bluestone again. Our destination for this morning was Pembroke Castle for a spot of dragon hunting.

We had never visited Pembroke Castle, and it’s quite a lovely one. The boys enjoyed running around the big map of Wales that sits in the centre of the courtyard, before we enjoyed some cake and tea. Afterwards, we hunted the dragon and found him hiding in a hole in the wall. It’s a big castle, with many rooms and buildings to explore and is a great place to let two little boys burn off some of that never-ending energy.

living arrows - BattleKid having fun at Pembroke Castle
Fun in the sun at Pembroke Castle

On our return to Bluestone we spent a few hours relaxing in our lodge before heading to the Wildwood Café in the Adventure Centre for the Scarecrow Dinner Show.

mid-week stay at bluestone - the room decorated at the wildwood cafe for the scarecrow show at bluestone
The decorated Wildwood Cafe room

There are shows on twice a week in the Wildwood Café and during certain times of the year they have a theme, such as for Easter, Halloween and Christmas. This show is an interactive one that includes a two-course meal and was enjoyed by us all. The room was decorated perfectly for Halloween and the show involved a scarecrow and crow singing and telling stories and the kids really enjoyed it.

mid-week stay at bluestone - the scarecrow show
The Scarecrow Show

Afterwards we joined the Bwbach Parade down to the village before the Bwbach Festival started in the centre of the Village with games and music.

mid-week stay at bluestone - joining the bwbach parade at bluestone
The start of the Bwbach Parade

The boys also enjoyed some time playing in the playground before we hopped onto our buggy back to our lodge in the rain. It was a great way to end our first ever mid-week stay in Bluestone and I think our whole party enjoyed themselves.

mid-week stay at bluestone - meeting the scarecrow
BattleKid wasn’t too sure about getting up close and personal with a live scarecrow

Day 5 of Our Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone

As is normal, check out on your last day is 10am. We were all up early and as BattleDad and I had some errands to run before we headed back to Bristol for our return flight to Faro so we left just after 9am.

mid-week stay at bluestone - a wet departure morning at Bluestone
Time to say goodbye to Bluestone

As mentioned above you are welcome to stay and use the facilities at Bluestone until 3pm, handy if you aren’t in a rush. BattleDad and I visited our old stomping grounds in Wales before stocking up on sausages and rashers in Asda. We also visited Abergavenny for a last cuppa after getting the boys’ feet measured in Clarks.

mid-week stay at bluestone - ~BattleKid taking pictures out the airplane window
Taking pictures of clouds as we return to Portugal after a great week at Bluestone

A Mid-Week Stay at Bluestone versus a Weekend Break

I thought it might be useful to sum up how a mid-week stay at Bluestone compares to a weekend break. We’ve actually stayed at Bluestone for a weekend at the same time in October before, so it’s easy for me to compare the two.

While we’ve always enjoyed our weekend visits to Bluestone, they have always felt a bit rushed. Spending most of Friday and Monday travelling, you only really get two full days at Bluestone. A mid-week break gives you at least one extra full day and it felt more relaxed for us. The restaurants also didn’t feel as full or rushed compared to weekends and the Blue Lagoon wasn’t as busy.

The playground only got busy after the Bwbach Parade but didn’t feel full at other times. When BattleKid and I took a stroll around the lake and into the woods we hardly saw anyone.

Having that extra day meant we could also explore areas of Pembrokeshire for two days while still having a day to enjoy ourselves in Bluestone. Our mid-week stay at Bluestone felt more relaxed and less busy than weekends and given the choice I’d do a mid-week again. That said, Bluestone is enjoyable, no matter whether you chose a weekend, mid-week or 7-day stay.a mid-week stay at bluestone

I cannot recommend Bluestone National Park Resort enough as THE place to go for a relaxed family holiday in Wales. Whether you only have a weekend break, or longer, it is a great family-orientated place to stay. Ideally located for exploring Pembrokeshire and more of West Wales, you can be as outdoorsy as you like, or not. There are plenty of things to do for the whole family at Bluestone and in the surrounding areas, so you won’t be bored. Each lodge really is family orientated and with everything a family would need for a home-away-from-home holiday. I’ll be talking about our Grassholm Lodge in greater detail in a forthcoming post next, but suffice to stay, like all the lodges we’ve stayed in, it was comfortable, homely and had everything we needed for our mid-week stay at Bluestone.

Have you visited Bluestone before? If not, why not check out their website and see the range of lodges they have and availability!

Cath x

*We were kindly invited to enjoy a mid-week break at Bluestone, receiving complimentary accommodation for the duration of our stay. However, as always, these are my own honest thoughts and opinions about our stay at Bluestone. Please note, we paid for all activities, restaurant visits and the buggy hire for the duration of our stay.

a mid-week stay at bluestone

a mid-week stay at bluestone

 

 

Our Visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium – Fish of all Shapes and Sizes

Our visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium occurred while we were in Chester last August Bank Holiday weekend. I’ve written about it somewhat in the Chester Holiday Diaries but thought it might be more useful to put a post together with more information about it.Our Visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium

The Blue Planet Aquarium is located in Ellesmere Port beside the Cheshire Oaks retail park and remains the largest aquarium in North West England. Opened in 1998 it is a freshwater and marine aquarium that includes themed areas such as Tropical Rivers, Lakes and Ponds and Seas and Oceans. The largest tank holds 4 million litres of water and features a 71 meter underwater tunnel.

As you enter the Upper Area we started our visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium at the Northern Streams featuring freshwater fish found in the rivers and streams of the Northern Hemisphere including the British Isles. We saw fish such as Pike, Carp and Perch and a great mixture of both small and large fish which was a great start for BattleKid. He enjoyed following the fish around the tank and had to be prized away so we could continue our visit!Our Visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium

From there we went on to the Lake Malawi exhibition featuring fish from Africa’s third largest lake. Lake Malawi is home to over 1000 species of fish as we saw just a few of these including CICHLIDS which have no less than 2 sets of teeth and look mean.

After Lake Malawi we passed through the Flooded Forest section which is a tropical exhibition designed around the Amazon River. This exhibition is great as you can hear buzzing insects, frog’s chorus and birdsong and monkey chattering to make you feel like you really are in South America. We saw various types of piranha in this section including the Red-bellied Piranha which are dangerous to man.

We were soon finished on the upper level and headed past some open tanks where we spotted Dory and Nemo hiding among friends, before making our way down to the lower section past the huge main tank.Our Visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium

BattleDad and I visited the Blue Planet Aquarium about 10 years before but it was only seeing BattleKid stand against the tank that I realised and appreciated its size. The main tank is connected to the underwater tunnel where you can see Europe’s largest collection of sharks. There are also rays and other fish and BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed the tunnel.Our Visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium

During our visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium we also saw the Reef and Coral exhibitions and some of the reptiles, amphibians and insects on display. We saw caiman crocodiles and there are also some gorgeous otters in an enclosure outside near the playground.Our Visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium

The Blue Planet Aquarium is a good place to visit with children of all ages and they also hold educational talks. And if you are braver than me you could even swim with sharks in their main tank in one of their “Dive with Sharks” experiences, which can be done by diving beginners too. Just note that these experiences must be booked in advance of your planned visit.

Things to note if planning a visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium

  • Our visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium lasted a few hours but as there is a café you could easily spend the day there wandering the various exhibitions and attending some of the daily talks that take place. There are also at least 3 daily dive shows in the main tank.
  • The Blue Planet Aquarium is open daily from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends. Live shows begin at 11 am and continue throughout the day. There is ample parking and it cost £2.50 at the time of our visit.
  • The Blue Planet Aquarium is family-friendly and is buggy and wheelchair accessible too.
  • There is a restaurant and also a gift shop and an outdoors children’s playground.
  • An adult ticket costs* £17.75 and a Junior costs £12.75 (over 90cm tall and up to 12 years of age). If you book online you may get a discount. And if you fancy it, you could always do a bit of shopping at Cheshire Oaks retail outlet afterwards as we did.

The Blue Planet Aquarium was a great place to spend a few hours with BattleKid and he thoroughly enjoyed his time there. We also filmed a little vlog of our visit which you can view below if you fancy it.

For more information about the Blue Planet Aquarium please visit their main website. A map of the Blue Planet Aquarium can be found here.

Thanks for reading.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing this post.

**We were not asked to write this post.

Our Visit to the Blue Planet Aquarium

our visit to the blue planet aquarium

Family Day in London – Our 36 Hours

I might have mentioned it before, but when we booked our USA road trip last October, we were well and truly still living in Wales. Fast forward eight months and we had moved to Portugal. This meant a hasty booking of flights back to the UK in order to meet up with our Portland flight. It did mean, however, we got to have a family day in London. We left Faro on the Thursday before our USA trip at 8pm and landed 2 hours and 20 minutes later into Heathrow.

family day in london

We could have flown to another airport much cheaper, but it would have meant an airport change on our return trip from the States two weeks later and I really didn’t fancy that with a three-year-old in tow. So, we flew with British Airways and had a relatively easy flight back to the UK. We cleared customs and had our bags within half an hour and were soon getting a taxi across the road to the Park Inn by Radisson next to Terminal 3. This was to be our home for the next two nights. Although we were in late, we were all tucked up in bed by midnight, ready for a fun family day in London.

We were up and dressed by 8.30am on the Friday and as we hadn’t added breakfast to our hotel booking, we got an Uber into Southbank to visit Le Pain Quotidien on Southbank. I had had brunch there with my sisters during my weekend away with them in June and BattleDad was up for trying it out.

We had an amazing breakfast, with BattleKid enjoying scrambled eggs and bacon, while I had a smoked chorizo frittata and BattleDad munching down baked eggs with scrambled egg. Suitably fuelled we walked through the Jubilee Gardens towards the London Eye. There was a brief stop for someone little to chase the birds!

I had booked Fast Track Anytime tickets for the London Eye so once BattleKid had chased all the birds away, we joined the short queue and on we went into one of the pods. While those tickets are expensive, they are worth it to arrive any time you like and skips the long queues which are always at the Eye! I had visited the London Eye during that aforementioned weekend but this was both BattleDad and BattleKid’s first time, so I knew I wanted us to do it on our family day in London. Both enjoyed it, although a certain someone enjoyed the information tablets within the pods more than the views.family day in london - BattleKid standing in front of the London Eye family day in london - BattleKid looking out of our london eye pod

From the London Eye, we walked the very short distance to SeaLife, the next stop on our family day in London. I had seen a few blog posts about it and with BattleKid having enjoyed the Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester and the smaller aquariums in Chester and Bristol Zoo, we knew he should enjoy SeaLife. Again, I bought Fast Track Anytime tickets so we breezed through, only going to the cashier desk to pick up BattleKid’s Ranger Pack.

Well, I have to say I was very impressed by SeaLife. I had wondered what an aquarium on the bank of the River Thames would be like but it was really good. BattleKid loved it, running from tank to tank searching for Nemo and Dory, as you do when you are 3. I especially loved the Easter Islands heads in the large tank.family day in london - the wonderful Easter Island statues in one of the aquariums in SeaLife family day in london - BattleKid searching for Nemo and Dory in SeaLife

After a brief stop on Southbank to watch some street performers, we crossed the Golden Jubilee Bridges to get a tube from Embankment to the Tower of London, the last attraction on our family day in London. Why were we headed there? To do a spot of dragon hunting of course! And this tube trip was BattleKid’s first ever ride on a London Underground. He wasn’t too sure of the noise they made coming into stations but once he was on he was fine. Watching him enjoying the short trip reminded me of our rides on the New York Subway last year.

family day in london - BattleKid covering his ears to reduce the noise of the underground trains approaching
Closing his ears as a train approaches for his first ride on a London Underground tube!

I had prebooked tickets for the Tower of London to save some time and after a short bag search we entered the ‘castle’ to start our dragon hunt. After the excitement of the morning, we were getting peckish so we had a cuppa with cake at the Raven Café before resuming our dragon hunt. We eventually found him within the White Tower.family day in london - The Tower of London family day in london - BattleKid in front of the White Tower in the Tower of London

We left the Tower of London via Tower Bridge and got a tube back to Paddington. Someone fell asleep in BattleDad’s arms along the way, tired from all his adventures during our family day in London. When we arrived at Paddington I stocked up on some last-minute essentials in Boots before buying BattleKid a Paddington Bear in the Station. It had to be done.family day in london

We got a black cab back to our hotel rather than trying to get the Heathrow Express. The driver introduced us to Gett, the new black cab app that works like Uber and he managed to get us some money off our trip, which was really nice of him. We tipped him well. After over an hour’s sleep, BattleKid woke refreshed and we had dinner in the hotel restaurant at 7pm. We had to leave feedback with the waiter for the kitchen staff as BattleKid’s dinner came out so hot it could have rivalled lava. Thankfully we stopped him trying to eat it while it was too hot.

After dinner BattleKid had a bath, which is a treat as we don’t have one in our Portuguese home, only a shower. I was knackered so I fell asleep by 10pm, while the boys were awake for a bit longer. We had an amazing family day in London and it was the perfect way to get us ready for our USA road trip!

Cath x

family day in london family day in london

Portland to Yellowstone and Back Again – A Two-week Itinerary

Many of you who read the blog and follow us on Instagram will know we have just returned from an epic two-week USA road trip in which we went from Portland to Yellowstone and back again. It was 11 months in the planning, from Portland to Yellowstone, and came around rather quickly after we moved to Portugal. Before we knew it, we were getting ready to go.

I have so much to write up about our trip. From amazingly beautiful Yellowstone, to smoky Montana, to hip and trendy Portland, we packed in a lot over our two weeks. I’ve had some people ask me about our itinerary so I thought I should get cracking with it. So, in the first of a few (ok, maybe many) posts about our wonderful trip, here is what our itinerary for our two-week trip looks like from Portland to Yellowstone and back again, with 36 hours in London.

portland to yellowstone

Portugal to London – Thursday, 1000 miles, 2 hours 30 minutes

When we booked our flights to Portland from Heathrow last October, we were still well and truly living in Wales. Delta Airways had just opened their new (and the only) direct route from Heathrow to Portland, in association with Virgin Atlantic. This made a huge difference to how our trip was going to work out. When we had previously looked into the trip, we would have had at least one, if not two stop-overs. With a toddler in tow, this would not have been ideal. But a direct flight most definitely was.

That said, once we moved to Portugal, we needed to book flights to and from the UK to connect with our Portland flight. The only airline flying to Heathrow from Faro around the weekend of our trip was British Airways. We flew to Heathrow on the Thursday evening (there were no other flights before our Portland one), two days before our flight to Portland. This flight was just under two and a half hours. Following this, we had 36 hours in London and we had a great day in London. More on that to come.

portland to yellowstone - kid on luggage in airport
Starting our epic trip

London to Portland – Saturday, 4897 miles, 10 hours

Our flight from Heathrow to Portland with Delta Airways left London at 12.30pm and was scheduled to be 10 hours 55 minutes, arriving at 3.15pm local time. We actually arrived ahead of schedule at 2.30pm. This is the longest flight we have done with our son to date and it was us adults who were getting bored long before he was.

Portland, Oregon to Richland, Washington – Saturday, 227 miles, 3 hours

Our first destination on our road trip was going to be Yellowstone but to drive there in one trip would have involved between 762 and 829 miles, and a minimum of 12 to 13 hours driving, without stops, depending on the route we decided to take. You can either go over the top of the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest or around the bottom of the Sawtooth National Forest. We had a look on Google Maps and saw nice roads around the Nez Perce route, so opted for that.

But with our son in tow, we decided to break up the driving by stopping at a town called Richland, in Washington state, for an overnight stay before driving the rest of the way to Island Park close to Yellowstone. So, after picking up our Hertz car for the two-weeks, hubby drove us to Richland via I-84 and the very beautiful Columbia Gorge Creek.

Richland, Washington to Island Park, Idaho – Sunday, 607 miles, 12 hours

From Richland we made our way to our AirBnB accommodation in Island Park, Idaho, located 30 minutes from the West Yellowstone entrance. We had looked into staying within Yellowstone itself but this proved to be outside our budget.

Leaving our hotel at 6am, our route took us along some stunning scenery past Coeur D’Alene, along I-90, until we turned off onto US-287. From there we met up with I-20, just south of West Yellowstone and it was a short hop to Island Park where our log cabin was located. This was a long haul and we stopped four times along the way, twice to fill up with gas (as the Americans would say), once to stretch our legs, and once in Missoula for lunch. It took us a total of 12 hours to drive the 607 miles. Our drive from Santander to Tavira, when we moved to Portugal, was good practice for this trip.

Yellowstone – Sunday evening to Friday morning

We spent 5 nights in our AirBnB wood cabin and toured Yellowstone National Park over four days. Although we didn’t get to see absolutely everything, we came away from our visit thoroughly content with what we did see. Our son did not complain once during the trip, as you have a lot of driving around the park to do. We got to see some stunning natural wonders along with quite a few of the animal inhabitants of Yellowstone. I cannot recommend Yellowstone National Park enough.

my sunday photo - gibbon falls in yellowstone national park
Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park

Island Park, Idaho to Lolo, Montana – Friday, 280 miles, 4 hours 30 minutes

Leaving our AirBnB accommodation in Island Park at 9.30am, we took I-20 to US-287. We stopped once to fill up and use the toilet and, taking I-90, we arrived at Missoula, Montana, the main town beside Lolo at 2pm. Since we arrived early and before our check-in time for our next AirBnb, we stopped for lunch at a great Five Guys in Missoula.

This drive back was not as clear as the drive towards Island Park. We later discovered that a lot of Montana’s forests were on fire and the smoke we drove through was pretty awful, reducing visibility quite a bit.

Lolo and Missoula, Montana – Friday evening to Monday morning

We spent 3 nights in Lolo, the next town over from Missoula. Our plans were to visit Lolo National Forest while we were there but unfortunately those plans went by the wayside as there were wild fires across Lolo National Forest, along with many of the other forests in Montana. So, instead, we discovered some other delights close to Lolo like the National Bison Range, the Garden of 1000 Buddhas, and Missoula town itself.

portland to yellowstone - smoky skies in Montana
The incredible smoky skies in Montana

Lolo, Montana to Richland, Washington – Monday, 350 miles, 6 hours

As we made our way back towards Portland, we had another overnight stay in Richland planned. Leaving our AirBnB accommodation in Lolo by 9.30am, we travelled back along I-90, through 350 miles of smoke haze, which had various degrees of visbility, until we arrived in Richland at 4pm, local time. We had crossed a time zone when we left Montana.

We filled up just once on this trip and stopped once for lunch in a town called Spokane. I drove the first 230 miles, while hubby did the last 120 miles. We passed Coeur D’Alene again but could barely see this beautiful lake due to the smoke haze.

Richland, Washington to Portland, Oregon – Tuesday, 227 miles, 5 hours 30 minutes

We left our hotel in Richland at 9.30am but didn’t arrive at our accommodation in Portland until 3pm. The reason for this was the forest around Multnomah Falls and along the Columbia Gorge Creek had gone up in flames on the Sunday, and as a result, I-84 was closed. This meant we were diverted around Mount Hood, adding a couple of hours onto our journey.

Our intent was to visit Multnomah Falls on our way to Portland as I really wanted to photograph it, but that never happened. We filled up once on this trip and stopped for lunch off Highway 35 for lunch. Our final long leg of driving had come to an end.

Portland, Oregon – Tuesday afternoon to Saturday afternoon

We spent four nights in Portland and thoroughly enjoyed our break from driving. We visited a few places where our son could relax and enjoy himself like Oregon Zoo and the Children’s Museum. It was nice to have a chance to relax after an epic 11 days, 3000 miles and 60+ hours in the car. We did a little shopping, ate good food and got ourselves ready for our return trip to Portugal via London.

portland to yellowstone - trendy Portland building right out of Grimm
Hip and trendy Portland

Portland, Oregon to London Heathrow – Saturday, 4914 miles, 8 hours 42 minutes

As always, on the return trip from America, we had a good tailwind, so our original flight time of 9 hours 55 minutes was a lot quicker and we got to Heathrow ahead of schedule. I managed a few hours’ sleep, along with our son, but hubby never manages more than a few minutes on planes. It was a pretty uneventful flight.

London to Portugal – Sunday, 1000 miles, 2 hours 15 minutes

We had a few hours to kill in Heathrow between flights, so once we got rid of our bags we had lunch and did a little shopping before our flight to Faro was called. Unfortunately, we were delayed by almost 2 hours as they couldn’t get a passenger with a broken leg off the aircraft. Not what we wanted at the end of our holiday, all we wanted was to get home to our beds.

portland to yellowstone

So, there you have it, our full itinerary for our recent USA road trip from Portugal to London, to Portland to Yellowstone, and back again. We covered a lot of miles, both in the car and by plane, and we’d do it all again. That said, if we were to do it all again, the only thing we would change would be the time of year we go.

Due to wild fires in many of the forests in the Pacific North West, we didn’t get to visit Lolo National Park or Multnomah Falls. We also drove through 600 miles of smoke haze from Montana all the way to Portland and had it until our very last day in Portland itself. We’d perhaps choose to go earlier in the summer before it gets hot, and dry, enough for wild fires. Other than that, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Have you done an epic road trip similar to this? I’d love to hear all about it!

Cath x

portland to yellowstone portland to yellowstone

39/52 My Sunday Photo: 24/09/2017

On our last evening in Yellowstone National Park, we went to the Wild West Cookout, which was brilliant. On the way back to our accommodation outside Yellowstone, we took a drive along the River Drive on the way towards the West Yellowstone gate. It was getting late and the sun had set but the scenery and colours along the river drive were amazing. It was the most fitting end to our trip to the most amazing place we’ve had the privilege of visiting.
my sunday photo - amazing sunset colours along the River Drive in Yellowstone National Park my sunday photo - amazing sunset colours along the River Drive in Yellowstone National Park - panoramic view
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