We took a late afternoon flight with Aer Lingus. That way we can arrive at our destination in the evening and get a night's rest before setting out on our adventures.
From the last 2 trips I have learned the following:
1. Do not try to steal an extra day with a late flight home because Liam hates "airport day" Even with a successful late checkout Liam will be be aware that it is the day we go back to reality as the vibe changes from relaxed to "getting everything organised to check out." So if possible book a late morning flight. Get up, have breakfast, get dressed and leave (maybe do some discreet shoving things into bags the night before but this will be easy as you can check that overstuffed bag)
2. Fly with the premium airline. The low fares option does seem appealing but by the time you have paid for all the extras that humanise the experience it won't be worth it. The premium airlines allow a checked bag free, and only charge a small fee for carrying that 10Kg bag on board on the way out so it works out very well.
The other problem is in cities where they segregate airlines into different terminals, the low fares ones will be in a shed with zero facilities and very unhappy people. You will need to check in early, then stand in a crowded boarding area for way too long and once on board, you can't guarantee they will have the most basic refreshments. Seriously, coming back from Lisbon they didn't even have water. Never again.
From Check in to boarding Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport recognise and support people like us with discretion and understanding. We have the important flyer card and lanyard and seriously, you feel like Posh and Becks being ushered through the express lanes to baggage check. I am always super organised with the liquids and the iPads etc and we put every extraneous accessory inside our very compact carry on bags. It just means less chance of a delay.
At security I always send Liam through the metal detector first and ask the staff to hold on to him. He doesn't run away but he does like to pace a bit and I ALWAYS BEEP AND GET SEARCHED. (I am small and I wear a bangle that doesn't come off) The staff are always very watchful but just to be safe I make sure Liam always has his ID on his person.
After security I head straight for the lounge! That's right, I pay for lounge access when I book my parking. Duty free and a busy dining area just create stress. The help yourself queue and pay thing is also impossible when you are dragging around your carry on luggage with a vulnerable person. Leaving him to mind the bags while I get food is possible, but there is always the chance that some weirdo will spot that he is a good target and I panic the entire time.
In the lounge I can just set Liam up with an iPad and some headphones in a corner with all our bags. Then I am free to get a drink or a snack for us and bring it back. I can also go and freshen up and not have to drag everything with us into the accessible toilet. He is perfectly safe as the lounge is well supervised and has a relaxed vibe - I guess because everyone is relaxed. Seriously, by the time you have bought food and 2 drinks at the main bar you will have spent more. Book the lounge. Get to the airport early and chill out!
If I do leave Liam's side we have a system where he can ring me if he is worried and he usually does before I am 2 metres away. I actually love it.
When I booked Aer Lingus I paid for one 10kg bag on board as I like to be able to avoid the baggage carousel on arrival and head straight for our Welcome Pickup. This is a pre-booked taxi for a flat fee where the driver tracks your flight and meets you at arrivals. Our flight was early and our driver met us at the gate with a sign like the posh people. She parked right outside the terminal and gave us a lovely tour guide as we drove to the hotel. It is secure and safe and it saves me getting anxious about what it might cost if you hit traffic or your flight is late. (you get an hour wait time free) It seems to suit the drivers as they are always very cheerful to see us. Go to WelcomePickups to book.
If you have ever lived in Sydney you would have seen this guy in every shopping mall promoting the St George Building Society. (the dragon, not Liam)
When we got to the market it was bonkers busy (Saturday, duh!) so we just kind of skirted the edges.
Liam very impressed with the Cone of Cerrano Ham.
Via the Lego store.
And some other wacky buildings (seriously, you spend your whole time looking up at amazing buildings)
The cathedral was impressive but absolutely surrounded by tourists taking selfies.
Absolutely winning when this boy-man has a restful night's sleep.
Come back for Day 2 on my next post when we head for Park Guell
I also have a post to do on Sintra, Portugal from January 2023.
All credit for consulting on locations to visit goes to my friend Janet at One Street Over Travel