Brecon Mountain Railway – Brilliant for Train Fans

So, you’ve got a train-mad little boy, a nice sunny day in South Wales and nothing planned of a Saturday morning. What do you do? You visit the Brecon Mountain Railway of course.

brecon mountain railway

The Brecon Mountain Railway is situated just a few minutes from Merthyr Tydfil and is a railway with a steam engine to thrill the hearts of any train fan. It is also located just 15 minutes from our South Wales home and was somewhere we had been meaning to visit but hadn’t until last year.

Running from Pant to Torpantau, the Brecon Mountain railway follows part of the original route of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway which closed in 1964. It takes you into the Brecon Beacons, through Pontsticill and along the full length of the Taf Fechan Reservoir before climbing up to Torpantau high in the Brecon Beacons.

On the day we visited the Brecon Mountain Railway, we drove to the Pant Station, parked up and bought our tickets in the office before making our way to the platform. We passed the locomotive running shed and workshop on the way to the platform and the smell was lovely. Grease, oil and engine smells. There is also a model railway as you approached the platform which BattleKid loved.brecon mountain railway - photo collage

brecon mountain railway - photo collage

We waited patiently for our train, boarded and handed the conductor our tickets. The train left Pant Station and started its journey through the stunning Brecon Beacons towards Torpantau. We saw the peaks of Pen-y-Fan and the Pontsticill Reservoir.

brecon mountain railway - BattleKid holding his train ticket ready for the inspector
BattleKid holding his train ticket ready for the inspector

Although it had been sunny when we left Pant, the clouds got thicker as we ascended towards Torpantau. We alighted the steam train and a certain little boy wasn’t too sure about the steam coming from the engine.brecon mountain railway - photo collage

The engine spends a few minutes changing around before everyone gets back on for the journey back to Pontsticill. There, you have 25 or 30 minutes to enjoy the views, have a refreshment in the small café or spend some at the playground, as we did. You can even spend longer there if you want to, and get a different train back. We chose not to.

brecon mountain railway - BattleKid enjoying the views of the Welsh Valleys

BattleKid enjoying the views of the Welsh Valleys

brecon mountain railway - photo collage

Back at Pant Station, we visited the traditional sweet shop and bought some rhubarb and custards for BattleDad, his favourites, before heading home. Although we had only been at the Brecon Mountain Railway for less than 2 hours, it was a fun filled 2 hours. BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed his ride on the steam engine and his time at the playground.

Things to note if visiting the Brecon Mountain Railway

  • There are 3 or 4 train journeys a day, depending on the time of year. There were three the day we visited.
  • Adult tickets cost £14, children cost £7 (up to 15 years of age), and seniors cost £12.50 return. Under 3’s are free.
  • There is ample parking at the Pant Station and it is free.
  • The Brecon Mountain Railway is mostly wheelchair and buggy friendly, although wheelchairs are limited to manual ones and cannot leave the train at Torpantau Station.
  • There are toilets at both Pant and Pontsticill Station and baby changing facilities.
  • There is a tea room at both Pant and Pontsticill Stations.
  • There is a gift shop at Pant, while the Steam Museum (which is free) is located at Pontsticill Station.
  • A children’s playground is located at Pontsticill Station, which we can highly recommend for young children.
  • The Brecon Mountain Railway also holds special days throughout the year such as for Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day. They also hold Santa Special Trains throughout the month of December.
  • Trains run non-stop to Torpantau and return to Pontsticill for 25 or 30 minutes. Passengers are allowed to stay longer at Pontsticill and get a different train back to Pant station.
  • For timetables and up-to-date news, it is best to check the Brecon Mountain Railway website.

brecon mountain railway- BattleKid enjoying the playground of the BRM

We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours on the Brecon Mountain Railway and would highly recommend it for families as a day out in South Wales. It would particularly appeal to Thomas fans and fans of trains in general.

Cath x

*I was not asked to write this review.

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How Travelling Has Changed for Us Since Having Our Son

Travelling has changed for us since having our son. Before he came along, my hubby and I were keen travellers, although we were rather lazy with our adventures. I think we took it for granted that the world was there, and we could go wherever, whenever. We went on at least two package holidays a year, and had many city breaks in between. But, until our second honeymoon, we never ventured further than Europe.travelling has changed

Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash

I was born and raised in Africa before returning to Ireland when I was nine. A year later my family spent the summer holidays in Saudi Arabia, due to my Dad’s work. So, I’ve been travelling since I was just a few months old. My husband on the other hand, went to America when he was just a few months old but never went further than Europe after that. He spent a year in Paris when he was part of the opening crew of EuroDisney, as it was called then, so he is no stranger to travelling.

When we got together, we enjoyed many sun holidays, mainly to the Canary Islands, as mentioned and we visited European cities such as Rome, Paris, Zurich and Amsterdam. We even spent a fantastic weekend in Reykjavik with friends in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights just before we got married. Alas, we had to venture to Tromso in northern Norway for that.

After our biking honeymoon in Ireland, we booked a real honeymoon to Cuba and spent two amazing weeks between Havana and the Varadero Resort area. We drank lots of Havana rum, stayed in Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner’s honeymoon suite in Hotel Nacional, swam with dolphins and had an amazing time.

But, that was as adventurous as we got. And on our return from Cuba we discovered I was expecting our son. Suddenly, the thought of travelling with our son took on a whole new meaning. I worried about how we’d cope away from home comforts and about how we’d cope on the plane. I thought we’d have to wait until he was much older before we could be adventurous and visit far flung places with him.

And at the start, we stuck to our routine of booking a week-long package holiday with him to, yep you guessed it, the Canaries. We visited Lanzarote twice, Gran Canaria once and our last visit was to Tenerife.

BattleKid on his first holiday abroad to Gran Canaria

But we were both becoming bored of these holidays. They weren’t the same as when we’d done them as a couple. Gone were the days of lounging by the pool all day with the latest release on Kindle. Gone were evening strolls into town to find a restaurant for dinner to enjoy a bottle (or two) of wine over.

And do you know what, we didn’t mind. We didn’t miss those days, probably because we gave up drinking alcohol when our son was just a few months old. We didn’t really miss the long days by the pool, as the time of year we went (to avoid the really hot summer days) meant the pool was chilly and not as inviting.

And as the boredom set in, we decided to take a leaf out of my sister-in-law’s book. We decided to stop booking the typical sun holidays and start getting more adventurous. My sister-in-law took her twins to New York several times and did Route 66 with them when they were just a few months old. Then, when their first brother came along 18 months later, she took all three of them to the States and did 66 again! Since then, two more brothers have arrived, with another on the way. Although she cannot afford to go that far, she has taken all of them to Disneyland Paris, to Lapland to see Father Christmas, and on several adventure holidays within both Ireland and the UK. Having five, soon to be six, children has never stopped her travelling or kerbed her bug for it.

And we decided we wouldn’t let having our son stop our travel bug. We vowed to get more adventurous and so, last year we took our son to New York for a few days. It was the first time we’d ever visited, having been lazy as a couple and thinking “oh New York will always be there”. It was also the first time we flew for more than four hours with our son. We survived. And we ended up loving it, even with our son in tow. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a sun holiday last year, but New York opened our eyes. And so it was that travelling changed for us, and in a big way.

New york day 4 - BattleKid at the World Trade Centre Memorial
BattleKid at the World Trade Centre Memorial

Not long after we got back from New York, we researched and booked our most adventurous holiday to date. A two-week USA road trip, taking in Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Portland, Oregon. We were a little apprehensive how our three-year-old son would cope with the long days and many, many miles in the car. This August, we set off from our new home in Portugal for our longest ever journey by plane. And, it was the most amazing two weeks. From bison and geysers, to smokey mountains and chilled-out Portland, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Our son totally surprised us by taking it all in his stride. The 11 hours by plane? No problem. The 3000 miles and 60+ hours in the car, without an electronic device in sight I might add? Easy peesy! When we told people, they thought we were mad to go all that way, and spend all that money, on a trip he most likely wouldn’t remember. Well, let me tell you, it was worth every penny and 3 months on he is still taking about the bison, our ‘cave’ (AirBnB) and the camp fire Daddy and he built with sticks. 

usa road trip day 5 holiday diaries
Patiently awaiting S’mores from the camp fire

So, he may not remember it in the future, but do you know what? We have memories we can share with him, photos he can see, and videos we took. And, if finances allow, we intend to return to the north west of America in the future. If not, he can always return himself in years to come if he wishes.

Even better, our USA road trip has given us a bug for road trips. They weren’t something I’d really considered before we booked our last holiday. But they are a great way to see a few places in one go. Our next road trip we’re planning will take in four countries in Europe. And that is after a 7-day road trip in Ireland before we stop in Dublin to visit family next Easter.

Travelling with our son has been both scary and exciting. And the way we travel, and where we choose to visit, has changed as well, even since our first family holiday to Gran Canaria when he was eight months old. New York was a turning point for us, and we proved that we don’t need to just rely on package holidays while he is young for holidays. We can still see, and enjoy, other parts of the world.

There are some destinations we WILL wait to visit until he is old enough to remember them as they are far flung places that we want to be able to remember with him in the future. They also happen to be expensive destinations that we intend to visit just once. So, it makes sense to hold off a few years before planning them. Places like Mongolia, Argentina and Japan.

In the meantime, we plan to visit destinations that are either easy to get to, easy to return to, or places like Yellowstone that we intend to visit again if finances permit. We may be slightly selfish with some of the destinations on our family bucket list, but we do hope that by visiting many places, and cultures, we instil a travel bug in our son.

I firmly believe that travelling can only enrich a child’s life and can teach them a lot including life lessons. I admire those families who travel full time. In fact, I’m a little jealous of them. Since moving to Portugal earlier this year, travel has become much more important to me than material things. If we didn’t have our dog I think we’d be joining those families who travel full-time.

How we travel as a family has changed rapidly in just a few short years, especially since our son came along, and I think it’s for the better. We don’t let having a child dictate our travels, although we are becoming mindful that we will need to limit ourselves to school holidays soon.

We want to see as much of the world as our finances and personal situation will allow, and we want to share the adventure with our son. Having children doesn’t mean you need to put travel on hold. In fact, you should want to travel more, to explore the world with them and share those trips and experiences with them. I think it brings families together and that has to be a good thing.

Do you travel with your children? Or does the thought of it scare you to death?

Cath x

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Last-minute Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris as a Family

As you read this post, we are on our way to Disneyland Paris, finally! It has been six months in the planning. Everything from where we should stay to where to eat, it’s been read, reread and read again. As you’ll know by now, I have had help from the blogging community during the last few months. They’ve helped with the initial stages of planning our first family visit to Disneyland Paris. They’ve told us the best places for food at Disneyland Paris, and they’ve also told me which are the best rides for under 5’s, essential when you are travelling with a nearly 4-year-old. But in the last few weeks I’ve been asking them what are their last-minute tips for visiting Disneyland Paris as a family.Last-minute Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris

BattleDad and I have visited Disneyland Paris twice before, 5 and 10 years ago. You see, if you aren’t aware by now, BattleDad was part of the opening crew in 1992 when Euro Disney (as it was called then) opened. He spent a year living in Paris, working as a Cast Member at Disneyland Paris. The last two visits we made coincided with his 15 and 20-year anniversary of being part of the opening crew. And this year he (and Disney) celebrate 25 years!

However, our last two visits were as a couple and we spent our day trips to Disneyland very much fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants. We went on about three rides, ate at the worst places we could have picked because we didn’t book anywhere ahead of our visits, and apart from getting some lovely bits in the shops, they weren’t visits you’d write home about. This time we have BattleKid in tow and this holiday is all about him. BattleDad will be interested in seeing the Star Wars rides and seeing if there are any memorabilia we should get, apart from the mugs we always buy. But other than that, we want to get the most out of Disneyland for BattleKid as we can.

I have a rough itinerary planned out and I am fully prepared to change that, but I wanted to know if anyone had any last-minute tips for visiting Disneyland Paris. So, as always, I turned to the blogging community and here’s what I learned.

Last-minute tips for visiting Disneyland Paris as a family

Jemma from Have Kids Will Travel gave me an awesome tip.

Make sure you use the baby swap facility where one parent goes on the ride (whilst the other waits by the exit with a non-riding child), and then the other parent gets to go pretty much straight on the ride. Was fab when used with the Fast Pass.

Now, this is brilliant. Although we expect BattleKid to want to go on most rides, there may be one or two he won’t, so this will allow BattleDad and I to go on those rides one after the other without having to queue again. I checked with Jemma if it can be used with a nearly 4-year old, and she said yes, for any ride they can’t go on themselves, or one they don’t want to. Genius!

Beth from Twinderelmo said not to forget our autograph books as they are expensive in the park.

Also take your own pens as the characters don’t carry their own!

I bought a packet of cheap pens in my last shopping trip and popped them in my bag in readiness for our trip. Although the autograph book I bought BattleKid has one, it’s no harm to keep that and use ones I don’t mind losing or sharing with other families.

Coral from Way Too Much Luggage says to wear comfy shoes as there is a lot of walking to do. She also said don’t worry about a stroller if your little one doesn’t use one at home as it will make life for your stay easier. The walking shoes and trainers are packed, and we have actually elected to bring BattleKid’s stroller, just in case. We will probably use it on our first day and see how he gets on. If he doesn’t need it, then we’ll leave it in our hotel room for subsequent days.

I was going to bring a bike lock, and lock our buggy to the railing at the ride entrance as suggested by Coral, but Laura from We Forgot The Sperm said this is against park rules and your buggy can be removed. She advises to lock the wheels together instead.

Laura also advised to buy the Photo Pass as they got over 100 pictures in 5 days and each picture in the park would have cost €15 each in the park. Well, I’m glad I added it to our booking as I was unsure about it. Plus, I’ve since read that it’s cheaper to buy before you go. We paid £45 at the time of making our booking, but to buy it in the park will cost you €69.99 (£62.40, at the time of writing). That said, if you were to want to buy just 4-5 pictures, you’d cover the cost of the Photo Pass. Worth thinking about!

Jade from Mummies Waiting, who is also at Disneyland Paris at the same time as us, is a seasoned visitor to Disneyland with her little ones and had these tips for me.

  • Prepare your kids ahead of time by watching Disney vlogs so they get a feel for how busy it’s going to be.
  • Don’t pack too much stuff. Be aware there has been pick-pocketing going on and stealing from rooms (even safes). Lock valuables in your case, and bicycle lock that to your bed.
  • If you like to prepare, bring snacks and squeezy juice to refill your drinks bottles.
  • You can write down what parades and shows are on and when. Then print that as a pocket size card.

Jade even has a rough timetable prepared for their visit and I took inspiration from her and did the same. I also listed out rides in areas we definitely want to do and Meets and Greets in each area too.

Sophie from Sophobsessed said to download the App as it’s so useful. Thanks Sophie, done!

Nat from Awaybies had a few good tips. Firstly, following on from Coral’s advise (Way Too Much Luggage), wear comfortable shoes. She also said to bring your own costumes as they are eye wateringly expensive in the park. We have that covered as it was mentioned in my planning post. We have a Buzz Lightyear costume, a Lightning McQueen outfit and a Kylo Ren one for BattleKid. Jemma (Have Kids Will Travel) also said costumes can get your kids onto the ride of that costume without queuing so that could come in useful!

Nat also suggested bringing some souvenirs in advance and I have one or two items for BattleKid for his “Disney” pack. And we have our autograph book too.

Emily from Twin Mummy and Daddy said her biggest tip is to plan your days. Decide what Meet and Greets you want to do, what rides and what shows. Decide what areas of the park you really want to visit too. She also suggested downloading the app for live wait times, meet and greet times and show times.

Last-minute tips for visiting Disneyland Paris – The Eateries

While I did a post dedicated to the best places for a meal at Disneyland Paris, a few bloggers told me their must-do places for meals. Anna from Squats Make Mama Sassy said Café Mickey is a must while Kate from Five Little Stars said to remember that Café Mickey is no longer a character dining restaurant and she prefers eating at the Rainforest Café or Planet Hollywood in the Village instead.

Caroline from Mum’s Misbehaving said to go for meals early. When it gets busy

You cannot get served and can queue for an hour and a half. It was soul destroying with my 3-year-old who was starving.

She also said Café Mickey is a must and also recommended Buffalo Bill’s Show. We have all our meals bar two already booked so hopefully we won’t have to experience long waits. But we may try Café Mickey for one of those meals if it isn’t too busy!

Booking your meals ahead was also a tip from Coral of Way Too Much Luggage. Emily from Twin Mummy and Daddy also suggested booking meals ahead of your arrival.

Jade from Mummies Waiting also advised booking ahead and I’m happy to say we’ve all but two meals booked. We don’t have lunch or dinner planned for our first day in the park as we have the Characters Breakfast booked for the 9.45am seating. We figured we’d get a late lunch or early dinner, depending on when everyone is getting hungry and just go to one of the walk-in places, most likely in the village around parade time. Hopefully they won’t be too busy then. After that, all meals are booked for specific times!

Victoria from Starlight and Stories said to check your order at any quick service restaurants BEFORE leaving the counter, especially during the lead up to the parades.

Lines get really long, and it’s really frustrating to get outside and realise you only have half your order.

This is a great tip. Victoria has, unfortunately, been caught out many times.

Last-minute tips for visiting Disneyland Paris – Other Blog Posts to Read

As well as all these great tips, many bloggers have written full posts with hints and tips to enjoying Disneyland Paris with kids.

One of the first Disneyland Paris posts I read back in the summer was the 30 Awesome Disneyland Paris Tips and Tricks by Kellie of My Little Babog. She had so many good tips for us when we were starting our planning and I was still referring to it recently.

Emma from Our Fairytale Adventure has a great post with Tips for Visiting Disneyland Pairs with Toddlers. She covers everything from getting your Fast Pass ticket early, to watching out for the scam artists looking to “use” your phone to find lost loved ones, to getting your spot for the parade EARLY.

Kate from Five Little Stars is a regular Disneyland Paris visitor and has a whole Disney series on her blog.

Joanna from The Knights Tribe has a blog post Top Tips for Disneyland Paris. The tips I gleamed from her were to bring a small first aid pack with Calpol, plasters, wet wipes and antihistamines in it. She also said to make sure you find time to just soak up the atmosphere as Disney is a magical place.

Nat from Awaybies has a comprehensive Disneyland Paris Review and Top Tips post on her blog which is definitely worth reading.

And Emily from Twin Mummy and Daddy has some great posts about Disneyland Paris including one about booking your trip to Disneyland, a review of the Disneyland Hotel if you’re considering it, a great packing list guide and also a quick tips post.

Other posts you might find useful if you are thinking of booking a trip to Disneyland Paris include one by Kara of Are We Nearly There Yet, who has a great post for saving money when you are booking a holiday to Disneyland Paris.Last-minute Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris

So there you have it, last-minute tips for visiting Disneyland Paris. As mentioned I’ve read tons of posts about visiting Disneyland Paris but there is nothing like getting tips from those who have been. All that’s left to say is keep your eyes peeled on the blog for our Disneyland Holiday Diaries and all the Disney related posts I will no doubt be writing following our trip.

Have you been to Disneyland Paris as a family? Have you got any tips you’d like to share?

Cath x

Last-minute Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris

Last-minute Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris

Wanderlust Kids #9

Wow, November has flown by. As I post this month’s Wanderlust Kids linky we are just days away from our first ever family trip to Disneyland Paris. And to say I am excited would be the understatement of the year. It’s been five years since BattleDad and I visited, and we cannot wait to see BattleKid’s face when we arrive at Disneyland. We’ve been watching Disney movies in preparation. But first, I must thank everyone who linked up their kids-based travel posts last month. I’d like to thank my returning linkees and say hi to the newcomers as well. I’ve loved reading everyone’s posts.

November’s Featured Wanderlust Kids Post

The post that has added another destination to our family travel bucket list and is this month’s featured post was from Celine at Family Can Travel. She linked up her post about How to see Oslo in 5 days with children. BattleDad and I flew through Oslo on our way to Tromso and are planning a return trip in a few years with BattleKid. But I think we are going to have to add a few days onto our trip to include a stopover in Oslo. The sculpture park sounds interesting as does the opera house where you can walk on the roof. But most of all I know BattleDad and I would be most excited to visit the Viking ship Museum as we are fans of Vikings, the TV series. The Vikings also settled in Dublin and established it over 1000 years ago, so to see real life Viking ships would be amazing.

November’s Special Mention Wanderlust Kids Post

The other post which deserves a special mention was posted by Helena of Babyfoote in which she tells us all about their stay in Chiang Mai around the festival of Loy Krathong. Thailand has been on our family travel bucket list for a while, but I wasn’t aware of the Loy Krathong festival until I read Helena’s post. The weaved baskets for the river look amazing as do the temples they visited. I just know we’d thoroughly enjoy visiting Thailand for this festival!

November’s Other Great Posts

Jenny from Travelynn Family shared her post in which she tells us why Doha I worth a stopover with young kids. Although accommodation can work out expensive, the half day desert trip sounds like so much fun.

Iris from Baked by Mummy Iris linked up her post about visiting Taipei with Kids. The post includes her one-day itinerary and it looks amazing, especially the Longhan Temple. I’d love to see it at night too.

Nicky of Go Live Young shared her post about doing a road trip along the Garden Route in South Africa with kids. Her 7-day itinerary includes whale watching, hiking and meeting ostriches. I’d be very tempted to do this before our trip to Kruger National Park, if we get the chance to go.

Wandermust Family linked up their post about dealing with jet lag going east. They have some great tips to help families with toddlers deal with jet lag if travelling east.

Truly Madly Kids shared their post about visiting the Cote D’Azur with kids. They stayed in a lovely mobile home and had a great family holiday. BattleDad and I have visited Nice pre-BattleKid, but I was glad to read there is plenty to do and see in the area with kids in tow. Another trip might be in order.

Helena from The Queen of Collage linked up her post about going to a baby-friendly bonfire celebration at Roves Farm in Wiltshire. There was plenty to do including a soft play area, food, and of course fireworks to enjoy. Great to see somewhere that caters for families with younger children.

Lisa of Baby Loves Travel shared her post about exploring Grennwich with a toddler. She visited the National Maritime Museum and Mudchute Farm. I just know BattleKid would have to be torn away from the AHOY area of the museum as it sounds great.

Claire from The Ladybirds Adventures linked up her post about their family’s adventures in October. Their month included a trip to a forest school and also to the Lake District, somewhere I’ve never been in the UK but always wanted to go.

Tracey of Mums Makeup Bag shared her very funny post about surviving their first family holiday. The experiences along the way and the laughs they had resonated with me and reminded me of our past sun package holidays with BattleKid.

Lydia from Hollidaze and Hellidaze linked up her post about visiting the Maldives with her kids. Despite having to choose from the limited resorts that would accommodate not one, but two kids, they had an amazing holiday and I’d love to visit. I’d also love to experience the Sand and Stars dinner.

Shades of Courage shared their post about seeing Jerusalem from ramparts. It is definitely an interesting way to see the city but not one for strollers.

Naomi from Trips with a Tot linked up her post all about their family holiday to Haven Thorpe Park in Cleethorpes. It sounds like one of the best Haven holiday spots with loads for families.

And last but not least, Rosie of Eco-Gites of Lenault shared her post about why you should choose one of their baby-friendly self-catering gites as a base for your family holiday in Normandy. They have everything you’ll need to avoid having to pack the kitchen sink.

I really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts last month and cannot wait to see what is linked up this month. I must say a big thank you again to everyone joining in with Wanderlust Kids.

This month I’m linking up my post in which I shared 5 things you can do around Lake Bled with a toddler in tow. We visited Bled when BattleKid was eighteen months old and wouldn’t have even considered it as a holiday destination with a toddler unless our friends had suggested it. We thoroughly enjoyed it. In my post, I hope I’ve shown that you shouldn’t discount Bled as a destination to visit with a toddler as we loved it.

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My ‘Wanderlust Kids’ linky will open from the 1st of each month for you to link up a post, old or new, which involves travelling with kids. It can be a day out, a family holiday, a travel review, somewhere new your children have discovered or a post with hints and tips about travelling with kids. As long as it features kids and is travel based it can be linked up. The following month I will write a synopsis of the posts linked up by everyone, and I’ll be featuring my favourite one, linking back to everyone’s blog.

So, if you’d like to join in, just grab the badge below, add it to your post and link up your post via the link up button below. Please make sure you visit a few other posts that have linked up and leave a comment. 

Don’t forget that throughout the month you can use the #WanderlustKids on your Instagram photos which involve travelling with kids. These photos can be abroad, home or days out, so long as they feature your children and have a travel theme attached to it. Each fortnight I will pick my favourites to showcase. I cannot believe how well this little community is growing and appreciate everyone who has adopted the #wanderlustkids on Instagram.

And last but not least, I’ve created a Wanderlust Kids group on Facebook. The idea behind it was that not everyone who travels with their kids will have a blog. So, by creating the group we can share our posts and travel tips with non-bloggers, and maybe even help each other out by sharing advice or ideas about travelling with your kids. I don’t know if the group will go anywhere but I’d love it if you could join up, and add anyone you think might benefit from the group. Feel free to share your travel blog posts there too!

I look forward to reading your posts, maybe gaining some inspiration.

WanderlustKids

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Our Visit to OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Those of you who have read our USA Road Trip Holiday Diaries will know that we visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or OMSI as it is known, while we were in Portland. This had been recommended to us and was on our Portland Bucket List. In this post I’ms haring with you our visit to OMSI as well as some useful information should you plan a visit there yourself.Our Visit to OMSI

The day after we arrived in Portland we decided to head there. I was quite excited as I had found out they had a Pompeii Exhibition on at the time of our visit to OMSI. BattleDad is a huge fan of Roman History and we’d love to visit Pompeii at some stage so to see the exhibition was an unexpected bonus. Our only reservation for our visit to OMSI was whether BattleKid would enjoy it. We need not have worried.

OMSI was founded in 1944 and was originally located in Washington Park at the site of the Portland Children’s Museum. However, as visitor number grew, and exhibitions got bigger, a new location was found for it on the east bank of the Willamette River.

The OMSI building is huge and houses no less than 3 auditoriums, a planetarium and numerous exhibition halls. They also have a submarine exhibit in the form of USS Blueback which was used for the film The Hunt for Red October before being towed to its current location at the pier adjacent to the main OMSI building.

Exhibition halls include the Featured Hall for special touring exhibits and the Turbine hall with exhibits for engineering, physics, chemistry and space travel. There is also the Life Sciences Hall which is all about biology, and includes talks and demonstrations with live animals. The Earth Science Hall features geology-oriented exhibits with two specialised laboratories. The Planetarium holds astronomy and laser light shows. And there is the Science Playground which we spent the most time in.

We arrived shortly after 9.30am after driving from our hotel and once we’d bought our tickets for the Pompeii Exhibition (including museum admission) and planetarium tickets, we made our way to the café for a quick cuppa and bite to eat. There I had my very first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was quite nice.

After we had eaten, we made our way upstairs to explore the exhibitions halls. As soon as we entered this area, BattleKid made a beeline for some giant cubes and dived right in. He and I had great fun at a giant pinball machine which was designed to educate children about food groups. Although he was too young to understand these, he still had fun trying to whack the balls!

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid falling into soft bricks
Giants soft cubes!
Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid playing with the food pinball machine
Fun with the pinball machine

There were exhibits about recycling and garbage, exhibits about animals where we saw a Dire Wolf skeleton and saw live animals, and my personal favourite, an exhibit about fluorescent materials. This brought me back to my science background.

Our Visit to OMSI - Fluorescent Minerals at OMSI
Fluorescent Minerals
Our Visit to OMSI - A Dire Wolf skeleton
A Dire Wolf Skeleton

Next, we moved onto the Science Playground. And BattleKid had a whale of a time in the Science Playground. This area has been designed for families with newborn to children of six years of age. Fully enclosed and designed so that children are visible and secure at all times, it encourages children to discover through play and imagination. It has various experimental stations including

  • a stimulating infant area
  • a giant sandbox
  • a water area
  • a reading area and
  • a physical sciences area.

First stop was the water area of course. Only, we hadn’t quite planned for the wet floor. We had to take BattleKid’s shoes off as we entered but forgot to take his socks off. Wet feet were the result for spending so much time having splashy fun in the water area. It also meant he couldn’t really go into the giant sandbox as his feet were still wet and I didn’t fancy trying to get sand off his feet!

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid having fun with the water area at omsi
Fun in the water area

Next BattleKid had fun at the physical sciences area and was playing with other children, putting balls through holes and down ramps.

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid playing at the physical sciences area
Fun at the ball wall

We moved into one of the rooms off the main one and he and I did a fun game with magnetic balls in a maze. I ended finishing it when he got bored!Our Visit to OMSI - BattleMum helping BattleKid with a magnetic game

As were we getting close to our 12pm time for the astronomy show in the planetarium, we had to drag BattleKid away from the Science Playground. This was the first time BattleDad had been in a planetarium and he and I enjoyed it. It was great being shown some of the star constellations we can see above our house in Portugal, although I couldn’t tell you their names, apart from the Plough now. BattleKid got a bit restless before the end but stuck it out thankfully.Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid pretending to be an astronaut at omsi

After the stars show we made our way to the Pompeii Exhibition. They allowed entry at timed intervals, which was to allow them to show the short video at the start of the exhibition. This gave some background about Vesuvius and Pompeii and the build up to that fateful night in 79AD.

Once you had watched the video, you were let into one of the main exhibition halls which featured artefacts from Pompeii including urns, gladiator clothing and weapons, mosaics and frescoes. Between this hall and a second one, there were over 200 artefacts on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum.Our Visit to OMSI - One of the Pompeii displays at omsi Our Visit to OMSI - Roman vases from Pompeii at omsi

It was amazing to see how well preserved some of the items were and the level of detail in them, particularly metalworks such as jewellery and coins. After the main hall, we were led upstairs where there was another short video. However, it was advised that it was unsuitable for young children and we were allowed to skip this video and were let into the next exhibition hall by a member of staff. #

The video we didn’t see was a 4D one in which you could experience the fury of Vesuvius in an immersive theatre with vivid sights, sounds and shaking ground. I think it was very helpful of OMSI to allow families with younger children to skip this part.

The last room of the exhibition had more artefacts and also body casts of people from Pompeii. It was a sobering place, especially seeing the body casts of children. We didn’t stay long in this room with BattleKid.Our Visit to OMSI - The Pompeii Exhibition was at omsi during our visit

Before we finished our visit to OMSI we visited the gift shop which is well stocked, and BattleKid got a little space ship souvenir with his name on it for his room. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to OMSI and highly recommend it. Had we known how good the Science Playground was going to be we might have booked a later showing in the planetarium and let BattleKid enjoy it even more. I am so glad it was recommended to us and made it onto our Portland Bucket List.

Visitor information for OMSI

  • There is a large car park adjacent to the OMSI building with a charge of $5. WE were there early on a Wednesday morning in September and there was plenty of parking.
  • OMSI is served by public transport. The OMSI/SE Water Ave Station connects to the MAX, bus and Portland Streetcar lines.
  • The museum is open from 9.30 to 5.30 Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
  • The café is open from 8.30 to 5.30 Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday and from 8.30 to 8.00 on Friday and Saturdays.
  • Submarine tours are from 9.50 to 4.30 and you can even do sleep overs!
  • Entry to the museum costs $14.50 for an adult and $9.75 for a child (3-13 years).
  • Entry to the submarine costs $6.75. For the Empirical Theatre, which we didn’t go to, an adult costs $7-8.50 and a child is $6-6.50. Entry to the Planetarium costs between $5.75 and $7.50.
  • The Pompeii Exhibition ended in October. To see up-and-coming events, please visit the Events page of the OMSI website.

Our Visit to OMSI

We can highly recommend visiting OMSI if you are ever in Portland, Oregon. There is plenty to see and do for children and adults alike. Children will particularly like the Science Playground, so give yourself plenty of time in there.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing.

**We were not asked to write this review.Our Visit to OMSI

Our Visit to OMSI