Monday, November 8, 2010

Packing T-shirts and toddlers

Just what do guidebooks have against toddlers? Or new parents come to think of it? For some reason the Lonely Planet et al seem to have decreed that toddlers shouldn't go travelling. Turn to the section about children, and it's always all about older children with absolutely no tips for the under threes. Or fours, or fives.

Yet they're missing a trick. Take Madrid. A fantastic city for young kids as it turns out, contrary to its reputation as party central. The best thing is practically every plaza comes with a playground attached, from the brilliant one on Plaza Oriente, just in front of the Palacio Real (think Buckingham Palace with slides) to the two on Plaza Santa Ana, one of the city's most picturesque. And that's without counting all the ones in the Parque del Retiro. Then there was the tapas. Snack central. (Although I would like to know if there are any guidelines on the number of salty olives a toddler should eat in one sitting?) And it's totally walkable. We didn't make a single Metro journey - and we saw a lot of Madrid. It's also largely pedestrianised; buggy nap heaven. Plus everyone went crazy for Louis. Even the lovely lady in the clothes shop who followed us out into the street and begged me to pop him on the potty inside a changing cubicle rather than make him freeze outside.

It's not that the playgrounds were hard to spot. But a line or two pointing them out might have been nice. That way, Louis could have been bouncing on a see saw on the plaza just off one of the main shopping streets while I browsed, instead brumming his car in the gutter. Some advance knowledge that it was there would have been helpful, rather than leaving us to stumble upon it after Louis fell asleep. What gets me is that we're pretty much the last generation that will use guidebooks. So their authors could bear us in mind when they're updating them. Don't they realise that those student backpackers grew up? Or were we really not supposed to pack the toddler along with the T-shirts?

1 comment:

PantsWithNames said...

Couldn't agree more. It is SO infuriating. I'd love to know where the playgrounds are in a city - or which places to stay have rooms near an area where guests can lounge - so we can put the boys to bed and still play some cards before we turn in...