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Lisa's Notes

sunny 24 °C

The kids have had fun swimming in the pool and have made a variety of friends (None who speak any English) but Sara and Fleur ended up exchanging addresses to write each other! They love going to the gelaterias (ice cream shops)- my favorite one was in Caltera where the senior woman wore an old fashioned gelateria uniform. It reminded me of the uniform I wore when I worked a Friendly’s Ice cream years ago!!

The country side of Tuscany and our Villa have been amazing…. I could seriously live here!
Pizza, Wine, Gelato- -gelato, pizza, wine—wine, gelato, pizza—more wine…. YUM! (tums)

Posted by sandlb107 21:49 Archived in Italy Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Four Days in Tuscany

Beautiful Italy!

35 °C

July 24th- Steve- I have not written since Rome and we have spent the four days in the beautiful town of Montaione, in the Firenze (Florence) district of Italy… This has really been an eye-opening experience- having never been here before, I did not quite understand what all the fuss was about “renting a house in Tuscany” in terms of vacation- I get it now! The area is a spider web of small towns, each one perched on a large hill, and each one with plenty of architecture remaining from medieval times!!!

Our drive here Tuesday from Rome was a memorable highlight and the three days at this hotel have been incredible. The kids love the large swimming pool and it is generally too hot to go out mid-day so we swim and take side trips in the morning and/or evening…We visited San Gimignagno which was cool but a bit of a tourist trap and then Volterra in the evening, which was an amazing castle-like village full of evening life and alabaster shops…Time seems to have stopped here- in the evenings, all of the older folk sit on their chairs outside and talk (men with men, women with women) and everyone gets a kick out of our kids!...

I hope the pictures we post do justice to how interesting every single street and side street is in these towns. The language barrier is really strong here. To give you an example: on Wednesday, it took me 2 hours and 4 different car trips and stops to find a Laundromat where I could do our clothes! And only last night I was finally able to order a pizza (more of this later) with pepperoni and olives- I had eaten many mistakes before climbing that particular summit…Our hotel is in Montaione, and we have explored every nook and cranny of our home base. Last night, Friday, we drove 20 minutes to a new town, Calderon, and took a cable car up to the top of a large hill to explore the medieval house of Boccaccio that has been turned into a museum- definitely a highlight.

Two more quick thoughts that I hope really summarize these last four days- 1) The pizza. We eat it every day, some days for lunch AND dinner. It is better than the hype, seriously, and each Pizzeria has its own distinct take on pizza. This has been such an awesome discovery. 2) The wine. Honestly, even better than the pizza! Here, a bottle costs about 5 euros (6 bucks) and the taste is incredible- Lisa and I have been in heaven each night with any of our selections! Today we head to the coast, to Verregio, so we will see what our next couple of days bring…

Posted by sandlb107 22:23 Archived in Italy Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Catching Up In Montaione

After 3 nights in the city, finally, some rest!

sunny 36 °C

July 20th-
Steve-It is morning and hopefully in about 2 hours I will go and pick up our family rental car from the airport at Rome… We have spent the last two days schlepping kids through two foreign cities (Rome and Athens) and we are quite ready to return to the countryside and pools, etc… In Athens, we did end up going to an amusement park but it was still very, very hot and the rides did not impress the kids (although they did have fun!) The best part of the journey is how adept we all became at using the Athens subway (a beautiful subway- best I have ever ridden) to get around town.

Yesterday was Rome… After our early start and flight from Athens we took a bus into the city (a great service offered by this Hilton and probably the highlight of the day was riding the bus together through Rome!)

Rome was just as I remembered it 20 years ago- a bit on the dirty side (not sure how strong to word this language on a public blog!) We were able to get Max’s glasses fixed and Lisa and I completed a 20 year quest to get into the Coliseum- last time we were here it was closed- but again it was very hot and the kids are quite ready to return to swimming. The most memorable moment in Rome will be the disgusting “Hot Dog Dinner” we fed the kids (and the pigeons!) outside the Coliseum!

July 21st- Lisa
Buon Giorno… today we spent the day by the pool in Montaione, Italy (20 min drive from San Gimignano)- we head there tomorrow after breakfast…can’t wait! The kids had so much fun swimming all day (except to eat food & ice cream-gelato) …they deserved it after a 4 ½ hour drive thru windy Italian Country roads to get here from Rome after being drug thru the Colliseum and the day before and the Akropolis the day before that- in the high heat… so a day of rest and pool fun was needed!

But what can I say about Italy so far- amazing…Rome…the Hilton was great. We took a bus into the city and went to the Colliseum with the kids. It was quite awesome being there, learning and reading about the history and seeing what the slaves, the animals and the gladiators actually went through… the kids got their picture taken with an actor pretending to be an actual gladiator- Max wanted no parts of him! Ha ha ha… it was cute and funny- again the people here seem to love our kids- a woman tonight was so enthrauled with Sammy her husband was getting a tad mad that she got side tracked looing at Sammerrs! In fact the only people here including Greece we have met that were unfriendly have been Americans! Go figure!

The drive from Rome to Montaione was gorgeous… (car sick though) the homes, the scenery, the mountains, the Tuscan sun…. unbelievable,… I took a run through the town early this morning, and while no stray dog jogged along I took in the Ivy growing over the houses, the bushes cut into figures as if Edward scissorhands himself sculpted them, trees shaped into perfect squares and a playground overlooking the farms, Tuscan vineyards and olive trees.

Posted by sandlb107 13:58 Archived in Italy Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Athens Recap

Last Night in Greece!

sunny 36 °C

July 18, 2010 Steve- A return to Athens!

We have now (as of this writing) been back in Athens for two nights. A quick wrap up on the boat: Our final passage, from Poros to Athens, had us taking on about 20 knots of wind “on the nose” and seas 4-5 feet- was definitely a bumpy ride but the entire family handled it quite well. Yesterday, it was nice to leave the boat, get into a hotel and take a long shower fully standing up! Spent a good chunk of time in the middle of the city doing laundry while Lisa met a family from Seattle and the kids enjoyed cartoons in the hotel room. Last night everyone went to bed early in order to catch up on some sleep!

This of course led to all of us oversleeping for our tour of Athens this morning, we had to quickly eat breakfast and run up the street to catch the bus! The tour was good, very cool new museum at the Acropolis and then everyone hiked to the top to check out the Acropolis. Incredible scenery and view of Athens. However, this really took a toll on the whole family (with the heat, etc..) ad so we returned to the hotel to spend the afternoon hours in air condition… Not sure what we will do this afternoon- we have been alerted to a “Disney-like” place a bit off the beaten path so we may check it out…

Lisa- have I said how HOT it is here... even inside in the air conditioning it is still hot. Staqrted the day with a very early hike up to the acropolis-Akropoli-"Top of City" saw the Parthenon, Dionysus theater, the first oplympic stadium and the Acropolis Museum- all very cool- it was tough to take in the awesomeness of the akropolis with 3 kids melting down and almost melting literally- we didn;t stay long enough but to snap a few pictures, and then retreated back down to the air conditioned hotel room where Steve and I took quick naps, and let the kids play ds for 2 hours! Kid Heaven.....
then we decided (in retrospect a bad move) to go find this kiddie ride amusement park and it is just too hot during the day here to truely enjoy anything...we should of just rode the subway around for 2 hours- the kids thought that was great! We found the amusement park- it was anything but "Disney-like" as described to us- but more like a ghetto version of the boardwalk... we found a KFC, got the kids an "American meal" and came back to the hotel- packing for ROME...we leave here at 6:30 am for the airport!! Italy here we come!

Posted by sandlb107 12:13 Archived in Greece Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Recuperating in Athens

Off the boat, into a hotel

sunny 36 °C

Friday July 16th- Left Poros early. Rough night of sleep… amazingly HOT! Got underway and the breeze was blowing out of the north and it was Soooooo windy and cool! Efcharisto (Thank you) God!

We anchored at an island where there are wild Peacocks, Goats and deer roaming around-very tame- while you swam on the beach- it was quite weird! The goats had the long curved horns, and the deer may have been reindeer of some sort- the antlers were fatter than the deer we have at home. Peacocks were standard type- the goats and deer were eating watermelons- they grow wild here on some of these islands. The downside with the windy winds was that we had to pull anchor earlier than we would of liked b/c it was driving the boat too close to the rocky cliffs. The kids were not at all happy about that! They had made friends with 2 girls from England and were collecting hermit crabs right out of the water. They loved looking at the wild animals. There was greek music piped in from the tavern/café. But we left and drove the boat into winds that came directly at us for 3 hours to get back to Athens because our boat was due back tomorrow morning at 9am.

I took the kids over to the city beach and Steve cleaned up the boat and checked it over with the rental company…. Got ice cream and steve made dinner and we sat on the boat and all had a nice final boat dinner together. Kids all got their fingernails trimmed up and Sara and I painted ours- our skin from being in the very salty (much saltier than the atlantic coast) and sun, was dry and cracked. Toenails and toe skin was splitting and cracking, so a nice pedicure is in order!! It was wild watching the water dry on the kids skin- they are so brown, but the salt crusts to their soft baby fuzz hairs on their bodies, they look like they had been powder sugared! All their hair is completely blonde, including eyebrows and the tips of eye lashes… Steves hair is getting tipped blonde too- mine has gone reddish and is in poor condition! OH well!! Thank goodness I work in a salon- major overhaul when I return!
So now sitting on the boat in the marina- craziest thing – cars drive down the piers (fast)- and park in front of their boats- diesel gas trucks come right over to your boat to fill your tank as well as water trucks… other strange things unlike home- people walk up and down the Athens beach with backpacks of cold beer and sodas for sale, and merchants carry around big plastic boards with their jewelery, sunglasses, hats, floaties, etc… for sale and come right up to you and try to sell you things- it’s like a Sunsations sales person with samples of all their wares roaming the beach like an umbrella to umbrella salesman. Anything goes- there were people smoking weed on the Athens beach, naked kids running around, but everything was very much under control… so different than the states.

Posted by sandlb107 05:33 Archived in Greece Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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