January 24, 2021

1 Month Sabbatical in Europe with a 5 year old - Part 1 - Manchester, England and Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos Greece with family

During the summer of 2017, our family had the vacation of a lifetime... a 4 week sabbatical in Europe.

My husband's company grants their employees a 4 week sabbatical every 5 years! 
Before we had our son, we traveled as much as we possibly could and Europe was always our favorite destination. Once we had our son, we still traveled a lot, but Mexico, Florida and Disney cruises were our go to. Not too far, fun packed, low stress was our new travel style. 

Even though our son was a great traveler, a 4 week trip to Europe with our son felt a bit intimidating. So for Thanksgiving 2016 we did a trial run and spent a week in Vienna, Austria. This trip was one of the best of our lives and gave us the confidence to plan the sabbatical.

Our itinerary:
Direct flight from Houston to Manchester on Singapore Airlines
3 nights in Manchester, England
4 nights in Mykonos, Greece
6 nights in Naxos, Greece
4 nights in Santorini, Greece
5 nights in Garda, Italy
4 nights in Amsterdam, Netherlands
1 last positioning night in Manchester, England
Trans Atlantic flight with kids
At the time, we lived in Austin, so we drove to Houston that morning with plenty of time to spare. We had booked a hotel room at a hotel near the airport for the night we returned from our trip and so they allowed us to keep our car there for an entire month! Way better than paying airport parking!

Our flight on Singapore Airlines was amazing. They are consistently rated as having the best coach product and we agree! Their attendants have the most beautiful uniforms and fantastic service, they hand out hot towels before your meal and the food is above average. And who doesn't love complimentary cocktails, beer and wine?  We had an overnight flight, so our son wore his PJs on the plane, ready to sleep! We pre-ordered the kids meal for him as well (so important!).

First stop - Manchester, England
Manchester, England with kids

Manchester, England with family
John Ryland Library Manchester, England

Where we stayed: Holiday Inn Manchester - great location, free breakfast, nice gym, would recommend

What we did: John Rylands Library, day trip to Chester, city parks, Manchester Cathedral

Restaurant we loved: Alchemist

Thoughts: 2 nights would have been plenty here, but I added padding for jet lag. We took our son's travel chess board on this trip and it was a life saver when boredom struck at restaurants, etc. 

Next stop: Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos, Greece with kids

We hopped on a super cheap Easy Jet flight with a direct flight to Mykonos. 
We based ourselves in Platys Gialos Beach, which was a perfect location for kids. 
Platys Gialos with kids

Where we stayed: Argos Hotel - 5 minute walk to beach, next to bus stop, huge pool, incredible Greek breakfast was included, fantastic customer service. HIGHLY recommend. 

What we did: Long days at Platys Gialos Beach enjoying people watching, swimming, kayaking. Venturing into Mykonos Chora to enjoy the amazing white cobblestone streets, windmills and waterfront, seeing the famous pink Mykonos pelican.

Restaurant we loved: Avli Tou Thodori - this restaurant is beach front and owned by Argos hotel. We ate here twice the food was so amazing. 

Thoughts: You can't go wrong with beach days with kids. And we all became obsessed with Greek salads (no lettuce, not like the ones you get here). The Greek breakfast buffets included with your hotel stay are basically legendary! Two of the nights we took a bus to the town center (Chora) and enjoyed the white washed streets and buildings. It's all quite stunning. 
Mykonos Greece family trip
We also booked a semi-private sailing with Set Sail and had an absolutely amazing day! The other family didn't show, so we had the boat to ourselves. Our captain and skipper were incredible and fixed the most amazing Greek meal while we were out swimming at one of the many beautiful locations we anchored at. When our son fell asleep on deck from a day of fun, they made shade for him so he wouldn't get burned. It was beautiful to see Greece from the water. One of the best days ever!
Private sailing trip in Mykonos Greece

Next stop... Naxos. One of our favorite places on Earth!