Travelling long-term with children throws up many challenges, some of them less obvious than others. Among the latter ones is the fact that if you are on the road for several months then it's quite likely that a child's birthday will fall within the travelling period. Adults tend to understand the limitations (and opportunities) of travel while children still expect the presents, hats and cake caboodle (and a party if possible).
In the last two years we celebrated family birthdays on three continents and in six countries, from Canada to New Zealand, Poland to Greece. The Greek birthday was a fifth one of the Younger Child and we happened to be on the Mani peninsula at the time, mid-way through our extended European tour that took us six months in the spring and summer of 2011.
In addition to some practical-but-fun presents (including buoyancy aids, snorkelling supplies, drawing books and puzzles) and a typical Greek ice-cream gateau (which tastes so-so but looks fabulous) we also planned entertainments.
The preferences of our children and us clash a little bit, particularly their love of purpose made "attractions" goes against our (and especially The Other Adult's) dislike of crowded and overpriced tourist traps.
But birthday is a birthday so we set off to Kalamata with its cultivated beach and waterfront attractions.
We ended up in the Waterworld, a grand name for a small water-park-cum-taverna located on the Kalamata's beach-front drive. Despite our fears of Saturday crowds, it was actually rather good: whoever manages it realises that water slides are much more attractive to children while smoking and drinking beer (or even coffee) on a shaded patio is much more attractive to adults. And thus, we have a wet play area that comprises two tall slides (one fast, one slower), a wet bouncy castle and a couple of toddler slides, flanked by by a large, sun-shaded outdoor sitting area filled with tables. From the majority of tables it is possible to see most of the water play area, keeping the eye on the kids (who can also come to the table for a drink, a snack or a rest).
The entrance to the water play area is 5 Euro per person, you can sit at a table for free (or rather, for the cost of the drinks and food, though we were served the free tap water without any problems and if you were really tight you could actually just do that).
There is also a beach section that belongs to the Waterworld, with free loungers and umbrellas, but as it was, unlike the land part, extremely crowded, we decided to pass on that one and instead go and rent a pedalo with a slide further up the beach which was great fun even on the wavy sea and, at 10 Euro per hour, pretty good value too.
We came back tired and sun-burnt to our lovely cottage (see Trisilo review) and the birthday tea and cake, but the whole day was a success (while the swimming equipment was among the most used presents any of my children ever received).