Back to Normal?

I’m not sure if we’re technically ‘back to normal’ yet. It is a normal Oregon summer, though: rainy in June, with hope for sun in July and August. Naturally, it was quite warm until school got out.

We’ve unpacked and unpacked and unpacked some more. As a result, we have piles of things to take to Goodwill and to sell at a used bookstore. Also, my room is completely unpacked, and only a few items remain in my suitcase.

Mom is just outside my room, in the hall, putting away boxes and boxes of Christmas lights, ornaments, and decorations. And she calls–

Ciao!

What Shall We Do Today?

What shall we do today?

Oh, let’s unpack!

And unpack.

And unpack.

And unpack some more.

 

Last night it was too late to post, as we had done a lot of unpacking to make the house livable, but right now it’s a bright, sunny, Friday afternoon in Oregon. Dishes, linens, and clothes have been completely brought down from upstairs (I think). We came home yesterday afternoon after stopping by Costco, our grandparents’ house, and Safeway to piles of mail, Amazon boxes, and our own belongings. Everything’s still totally disorganized, but I think that everything will start to settle down by next week.

Ciao!

Party in the USA

Call the press, someone: I have found a way to comfortably sit in Economy class on an airplane.

It only works if you’re small, flexible, and comfortable on airplanes. It involves sitting with your legs crossed and your head down on one knee. In this way, I slept well for a grand total of three hours on our two flights today. So I was awake for… drum roll… twenty-five hours today. We are deadxhausted.

Our first flight, from Athens to Frankfurt, was only about three hours. We were shocked when we were not put through another security clearance to get on our USA-bound flight from gate Z25. We finally got to the gate after a surprisingly lengthy bus ride and going up several flights of stairs. If you look at our passports, we didn’t visit Greece and Switzerland: we got our passports stamped in Portugal (since we entered the European part of the airport to get food), in Morocco, and then entering France. We only got another stamp leaving Germany.

 

The flight was super super long, but we were wide awake when we landed and got through Immigration and our luggage was in our hands. It doesn’t look like we lost anything on that leg of our trip.

We got our Avis rental car and drove south to Kelso, WA, where Dad got a sim chip at an AT&T store for his phone. Then Ethan, the luggage, and I were dropped off at Aunt Linda and Uncle Scott’s house while Mom and Dad left in the Chrysler to buy a car in Sandy, OR. They returned at around 8 pm, about five hours later. Ethan and I played Acquire with Uncle Scott, with four-month-old Guide Dog for the Blind puppy-in-training Navajo looking on.

Supper was, as we had hoped, hot dogs with brownies and Uncle Scott’s potato salad. Tomorrow morning we’ll be having American French toast.

It’s so good to be back in the US of A.

Ciao!

The Mafia Car

Today, we had a long day. We woke up at 2 am Athens time and hopped on a plane to Frankfurt. We went through that airport and then went to another gate and hopped on our second Lufthansa flight of the 34 hour day.

When we arrived in Seattle, we went though immigration and got all of our bags from baggage claim before heading to the Avis place to pick up our car. The car was gray and shaped differently than most sedans. It looked almost sinister, hence its nickname.

We drove for about 2 hours before arriving at Aunt Linda and Uncle Scott’s house. I am typing this post on the same computer that wrote several of the posts at the beginning of this trip. The parental units dropped Eryn and I off to chat, hang around, and do stuff with the relatives while they went south.

Eryn and I played games with Uncle Scott and his guide dog in training. We swept their treehouse clean and helped with dinner and had it ready by the time the parents came back. It turns out that they had gone to Sandy, OR and had bought a used Ford Escape. When they came back, we saw that it was really nice and that they had returned the Mafia Car.

That’s it for now, Folks!

Welcome Home!!!

If you are on the Pacific coast time for the US, then we woke up at 4 pm yesterday evening when we woke up Greece time at 2 am. We got onto a plane and flew to Frankfurt, and then on to Seattle. We drove down in our rental car to Aunt Linda’s house and are spending the night.

We are back in the US!

Aegean Airlines

 

Always alliteration. I seem to sometimes have knack for summarizing some of our day in my titles while making them alliterate. Not illiterate. In any case, we rode on the Aegean airlines today to get from Crete to the mainland. We didn’t even have to wake up very early to do it!!!

When we left the house, we drove for an hour along the northern coast of Crete to Heraklio. From there, we took the Aegean Airlines on their nonstop flight to Athens. When we touched down after only 40 minutes of flight time, we walked across the street to our hotel.

From Eryn and my hotel room, you can see the airport, barely 50 meters away. Tomorrow, we wake up too early to get on a plane to Frankfurt, and then another plane on to Seattle. We will spend our first night in the States in Kelso, WA to spend a night with our relatives, and then on to home!!!

That’s it for now, Folks!

No Fun Allowed

Just nineteen minutes into tomorrow marks the 31,536,000th second, the 525,600th minute, the 8,760th hour, the 52nd week, the 12th month, and the first year away from our house. That’s over 31-and-a-half million seconds. And I still can’t believe it.

My first of two posts on June 18, 2012, began, ‘Today we leave the house. Tomorrow we go to the airport. Wednesday we fly.’  So, if I were to write this thirteen hours ago: today we go to the airport. Tomorrow we fly. Thursday we reenter the house.

In those thirteen hours, we have flown for less than an hour across the Aegean Sea on Aegean Airlines, which actually served drinks and peanuts. I don’t know when I last was served a drink and peanuts—no more, no less—on a flight. I think that may have been back in 2009 or 2010.

At the airport, we got our luggage and took the long, long hike across the narrow, quiet street to our hotel. Ethan and I went swimming in the pool on the 9th floor, which is also a spa. Mom went with us. On our arrival, a woman greeted us with a smile and “No jumping and no diving.”

I had brought the goggles up, and we took turns throwing them into the pool and timing how long it took the other to find them. Dad came by, and we had him hide the goggles. It took me nine seconds to raise them above my head, but Ethan grabbed them from me and claimed victory.

As soon as Dad left to check in at the airport, one of the women who works at the spa came by and said, very quietly, that Ethan and I needed to be quieter. I heard her.

I got out and dried off. It’s no fun swimming when you can’t make noise and can’t jump in or anything.

So.

 

Supper was at the airport at The Olive Tree. Mom and I shared a starter Greek salad (which was still quite sizeable) and a large plate of penne with chicken and sundried tomatoes. It was very good.

Over dinner, Dad and I phrased tomorrow these three ways:

  1. It will be a 34-hour day what with the time zone change.
  2. We’re already in bed (it’s 7:44 pm)—tomorrow (in Pacific Coast time), we’ll be awake from 5:30 pm to about 9:30 pm. Eep.
  3. In Athens time, we’ll be awake from 3:30 am to 7:30 am, on two different days. Eep again.

Ciao!

Triple Threat

We only have three days left on our trip—one in Crete, one in Athens, and one in an airplane and Washington. In honor of this, here are my three favorite places on this trip:

1: Crete has been good to us. So good, in fact, that I am rather reluctant to leave—this seems odd since home is at the other end of this 12-hour journey. No matter; I’ll just stay on Crete and enjoy the summer warmth and the pool that comes with it. Not. I would enjoy staying just for the food, though. Especially the tzatziki, chocolate-coated baklava, grape leaf rolls, lemon chicken with chips and zucchini at Taverna Fantastico, and the chocolate cakes.

 

1: Yes, this is a second number 1. I would count Crete and South Africa as a tie. While similar in some ways (warm, with nice people and good food), there are so many differences. For example, we knew South Africans, such as Oom Dennis and Tannie Marietjie (and their dogs Dinky and Griet). Dad, Mom, and Ethan had already been to the country before and thus knew what it was like. Also, we got extremely lucky, seeing seven cheetahs, three leopards, ten African wild dogs, an African wild cat, two honey badgers, a handful of rhinos, a Cape cobra, both black and white, plenty of lions, ostriches, and spotted hyenas, and more than enough black-faced impala, springbok, gemsbok, elephant, kudu, and giraffe to go around. And everyone knows that Cape Town is the best city in the world.

 

3: Thailand gets the bronze medal in this competition. Like South Africa and Crete, Thailand was certainly memorable for its warmth. It also had Buotong Waterfall, Thai food (green curry and sweet-and-sour curry and banana pancakes, oh my!), six amazing pools, MBK Mall, Jatujak Market (can’t forget my cheap sandals, which have somehow lasted until now), tiger-petting, and elephant riding. Yes, Thailand is certainly a very good (and inexpensive) country. Plus, Thai Airlines is part of the Star Alliance and has really good food and magazines in their airport lounges.

Ciao!

E&E Electric Eels

Today being our last full day in Crete, we naturally spent it packing our suitcases and duffle bag (yes, we are adding another bag). We polished off yesterday’s chocolate cake, and after two rehearsals Ethan and I performed our whole E&E Electric Eels routine. It came off, for the most part, without a hitch. It had lots of flips, tricks, and English-accented commentary.

Dinner was at Taverna Fantastico, which is where we ate supper way back on May 25, our second Cretan day (and our first restaurant-made Cretan meal). We’ve eaten there twice since and have enjoyed the view, good food, and cute rabbits each time. Tonight one of the rabbits was missing.

Did you know that a traditional Cretan dish is rabbit stew?

Ciao!

Packing Day

Today was mostly spent packing. Packing is always interesting, because it gives me a reason to reorganize my suitcase, which is nice because it is usually a complete mess. The case was similar to today, where I made my suitcase and its contents be nice, organized, and folded. Maybe not sorted by color, but you get the idea.

When I woke up this morning, I had breakfast with the folks and then played Minecraft on the computer while my parents and sister went out to the doctor’s office for a follow-up appointment to the one a few days ago. When they got back, we worked on packing.

I was finished with my packing so read a mystery novel called the Whispers of the Stones. When I finished with that, I read a book that John Higham, another around-the-world traveler, recommended to me in an email. It is called Ender’s Game. When we finished doing things around the house and swimming, we went out to eat at Taverna Fantastico and ate our last dinner in Crete.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Blowing Beach

The wind has almost always been present on the southern coast of Crete. Lately, it has been there, and we have been here for a while, so that has been half a dozen times. We went back to the beach near where we had spent the night a few days ago and set up our umbrellas.

Our umbrellas have served us well during our time in Crete. This time however, my parents’ umbrella didn’t stay where they wanted it. It kept being blown inside out while the one that my sister and I were under stayed put. I was glad that we had the one that we had.

While Eryn and I stayed put, my father and mother went over and sat under a big rock. Eryn and I thought about swimming, but the water seemed cool, very cool. We eventually packed everything up and went back home in our car. When we got home, we hung out and swam in our pool before going to dinner at the place with the over-stimulated cats.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Bye-Bye Beach

Today was our last beach day. I have mixed feelings about this. (Well, not really.)

I’m not a beach person. The sunscreen I have to wear is sticky, the water is too cold to swim, the sand is to… well… sandy, it’s too windy to keep an umbrella up and a towel down, and it’s hot as anything.

So it was with some relief that I pulled on my striped dress and purple flip-flops, grabbed my green bag, and headed back to the car. Today being our last beach day also means that we’re nearing the end of our time in Crete, Greece, and abroad.

 

Ethan and I swam in the pool after eating slices of chocolate cake with our parents, since today was Fathers’ Day. For supper we went to Zisi. It’s a really good thing we’re leaving soon so we don’t have to return there because the food is mediocre, the tzatziki is probably the worst I’ve ever had (although all the other places have had really good tzatziki), and the service is atrocious. Our waitron knocked over our bottle of water when he could have easily stopped it, and he served raki even after Dad refused.

Ciao!

Greece Top Five – Last But Not Least

Acropolis – Our mid-day visit to the Acropolis was warm and crowded, but definitely worth the time and effort. The Parthenon was impressive despite the scaffolding for renovations. We almost skipped the nearby Acropolis museum and I am glad we invested an hour or two touring the museum exhibits. The top floor of the museum is a to-scale layout of the Parthenon with the saved wall reliefs and architectural parts and pieces from the east and west pediments placed where they were found in the temple.

Warm sun, pool, and beaches – We called our visit to Greece a vacation from our year-long vacation. It was nice to slow down the travel pace and play in the sun and water. The house we rented on the island of Crete had a pool which was heated most days by the sun. We explored many beaches on the south side of the island and found two that we enjoyed and frequented. The waves were not too cold and the beaches consisted of coarse sand or small rocks. After two days of beach-going, we purchased several sun umbrellas, which made our trips to the coast much more pleasant.

Food – Where to begin . . . OK let’s start with desserts. We tried many types of pastries and baklava to make sure we could make an informed decision about which one is the best. 🙂 Our conclusion: dark chocolate-covered baklava “rolls” with slivered almonds sprinkled on top. In other categories, we thoroughly enjoyed Greek salad, tzatsiki, olives, stuffed grape leaves, zucchini balls/patties, grilled red peppers, and tomatoes stuffed with rice and cheese. Since the climate here is warm, we had many choices of delicious fresh fruit at the supermarkets, including cherries, apricots, nectarines, and watermelon.

Cruise – Our overnight ferry from Athens to Crete was much nicer than expected. The large boat was similar to a cruise ship – nice restaurants, activity areas, cabins, bellhops to assist with luggage, etc. This was probably the closest thing I will experience to a cruise, at least for the foreseeable future.

Acqua Plus Waterpark – Crete boasts about their water parks in tourist brochures and websites. We visited Acqua Plus because it had the largest variety of slides and runs. We had an enjoyable, filled with easy to medium-excitement rides for me and adrenalin-causing runs for the kids. And fortunately we visited the park before the official tourist season began in the second half of June. Almost no lines, no waiting!

 

Driving Dad

My dad is the driver. In Thailand and India, he thankfully didn’t partake in any driving, but in every country since then except for Morocco, Chile, the UAE, and Chile. He has been the only one to drive on this trip except for once my mother drove for 10 minutes on an empty road in Australia.

Today was no different from regular. My father drove the car and everyone else was in their usual rotation of seating assignments. We drove out of town and to the west. We went further than we have ever gone, past the road to the lake, and got to a small town.

We turned off the E75 (the main road on Crete) and went up a hill and down the other side. We went almost to the end of the road before turning back and going towards home the way we came. We then sat around, swam, and read for the rest of the afternoon before going to our landlord’s place down in Rethymno for dinner.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Five Days in the Future: Home

With only five days (!!!!) left on our trip (hopefully), we are suddenly looking at a massive pile-up of things to do when we get home (and even before then). To dump some of the load off our (*ahem*… my parents’) shoulders, here are five:

  1. For Dad: Finish our Shutterfly picture book. With Mom, Ethan, and I choosing pictures from each place, he only has Crete and the back cover to complete. I really like this picture book because (a) it has a lot of pictures of me and (b) there is a lot of pink and (c) almost all the pictures I chose passed Dad’s inspection and made it into this draft.
  2. For Dad: Buy a car. This has been very stressful, but it seems to be winding down and hopefully we’ll be able to drive our very own car up our very own driveway in five loooooong days.
  3. For all of us: I’m really excited about this one, because I made a huge, 101-item shopping list that is pink. Seriously. I’m a list-maker. But this list is very important: we need to eat, of course, so it will be used and I am pretty sure that 91, if not 101, items on this list will be crossed off. We will be stopping at Target, Costco, and Safeway on the way home. Items on this list include PopTarts, yogurt, Red Baron frozen pizza, Moose Tracks ice cream, apples, pasta, pistachios, yeast, maple syrup, and cucumbers, as well as seven non-food items including paper towels and postage stamps.
  4. For all of us: Unpack, unpack, unpack. Dad is the self-appointed box carrier, meaning he will bring down the boxes from upstairs and Mom, Ethan, and I will unpack and organize (yippee!). We all hope he won’t fall, but I think Mom will make sure he’s not wearing socks.
  5. For Mom and me: On Friday, June 21, Mom and I have an appointment with a counselor at one of the nearby public high schools to learn more about it. My High School Dilemma has not yet been solved, unfortunately, but I don’t think it has a lot of importance during this next week, barring this one-hour meeting.

Ciao!

Costas on the Coast

To keep out from under Thalia’s feet as she cleaned our villa today, we escaped to the seashore and talked about Ethan’s social life. It was a long drive for just that one entertaining conversation and salty breeze, but we had to do something and couldn’t find anything better.

Back home, at 2 pm I jumped (well, sort of slid) into the pool and doggy-paddled laps to avoid getting my hair wet. Ethan joined me at around the fourth lap.

After we got out, Mom decided she wanted to swim, so Ethan and I read on the sidelines as she muttered, “It’s so cold! But it’s warmer than I’ve ever had it.”

For dinner we returned to Costas’s coast-side restaurant. We got a record-breaking eight dishes: tzatziki, garlic bread, grape leaf rolls, Greek salad, grilled peppers, zucchini balls, stuffed tomatoes, and chicken fillet. In my opinion, the chicken surpassed even the tzatziki in excellence since the sauce was delicious and the mushrooms were well-cooked.

We stopped for ice cream (chocolate and mint for Mom, strawberry for Ethan, chocolate cookie for Dad, and pistachio for me) on the way back to our car. Technically, it wasn’t on the way back. We took a really out-of-the-way detour. Anyway, we left Rethymno city limits in the dark and got on the E75 towards home.

Ciao!

Compare & Contrast

June 14, 2012: Title: School’s Almost Out!

Content: For our mother, at least… Today is her last teaching day, Friday is a grading day, and then… no school for more than a year! Well, she has to homeschool us, but still… I don’t think we’re as bad as those high-schoolers. Ciao!

June 14, 2013: Title: Trip’s Almost Done!

Content: As far as our plans are concerned… We can only hope that today is our sixth-to-last-day abroad, Tuesday is our last day on Crete, and Wednesday is our first day in the USA, and then… nothing big for more than a month! Well, there’s all the typical summer stuff, but still… I don’t think things will be as hectic as they are now (*ahem* today was a beach day). Ciao!

Blue Beaches

The beaches themselves are never blue, but most of the time, the water is. Today, we went to the beach. We went back to Saint Paul Sandhills and sat there for 2 hours. The beach itself was the same as always, sandy and nice.

This time, however, the beach was cooler than most times, as in it was bearable to on which to walk. We chose a site for our nice umbrellas between some of the pink umbrellas that were already there and sat down. The wind picked up and made whitecaps appear. We sat around and didn’t swim because of the coolness in the air. We eventually packed up and left.

The sun had come out several times throughout our stay at the beach, but it never stayed out long. When we got home, we sat around and read books, watched videos, or played games. Then we had dinner at home of pizza, salad, and green beans before sitting down again to do stuff like right this post.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Damp Down Day

It was, according to Apple weather, supposed to rain here in Crete today. It did not, though, but it was still overcast the entire time. This morning, my parents and my sister went off to the pharmacy to get some medicine, and I stayed home and played Minecraft, rejoicing in the fact that I was finished with all of my schoolwork for the next couple of months.

When they got back, I vacated the computer so that my father could get back to working on pictures, as always. After a while, he asked Eryn and me to help him thin through a set, but after that, it was back to him again. We sat around inside most of the day.

Late in the afternoon, we deviated from our normal activities and went out to dinner. At first, we had decided to go to a place that the folks had seen when they went to the pharmacy, but after a drive-by, we decided against going. Driving around for a bit, we eventually saw a nice Tabepna (taverna) and decided to go. It was good.

That’s all for now, Folks!

A Week Worth Wanting

With only one week left on our trip (if there isn’t a strike at the Athens airport), here is my Week Worth Wanting list of seven things for Europe (France, Switzerland, and Greece).

  1. THE PASTRIES. In all three countries we’ve visited, the pastries have been to die for. From the chocolate chip twists in Semur-en-Auxois to the chocolate-coated baklava in Rethymno, and everything in between (including pain au chocolat, giant cinnamon rolls, apple pastries, Chocolate Kiss Brownies, chocolate porcupines, and a giant pretzel), we’ve enjoyed just about every mouthful of pastry that we’ve swallowed.
  2. THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING-NESS. Although the language barrier proved almost too much in Semur-en-Auxois, in Greece, Switzerland, and Paris we’ve found plenty of people who speak English, the closest language to our vernacular (which is American).
  3. THE HISTORY. Greek civilization goes way, way back—especially when compared to that of the United States. France is also home to many historical sites, and played a role in many key European happenings, including the French Revolution and World War Two. Notre Dame (the Parisian one), the Eiffel Tower, and Arc de Triomphe are, in my opinion, the most notable French monuments. The Parthenon and Acropolis, as well as Knossos Palace on Crete, are the famous Greek sites that have been patronized by this family.
  4. THE SCENERY. In Switzerland, we woke up to the sight of Staubbachfall pouring down a cliff every morning and seeing glacier-covered mountains just down the Lauterbrunnen Valley. In Greece, when eating supper in a restaurant, we see beautiful sunsets. And France’s mustard fields are not to be overlooked.
  5. THE CATS. Seriously. In Morocco, the cats were, well, quite mangy- and rabid-looking, but in Europe they all seem quite sane (if not tame). They are very social and don’t mind being petted in the least. Actually, they mind if you don’t pet them.
  6. THE FOOD. France’s food may not have lived up to expectations, but our first night can never be forgotten: we had pizza for the first time in over a month. In Switzerland, the Bombay Chicken Pizza at Hotel Oberland was the best pizza I’ve ever had, barring frozen pizza (seriously) at home. Greece’s food has continued to amaze and fatten us.
  7. THE WIFI. Every place we’ve stayed in Europe has had wi-fi. This, of course, was planned, but you don’t know if it’s actually going to work until you get there. It’s worked in every place so far and will hopefully work on Crete until June 18, the day we fly to Athens.

 

Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, αντίο, and

Ciao!

Cloudy With a Chance of Grape Leaf Rolls

Nothing much was ‘really’ done today. In reality, quite a lot of work on the computer was completed, and we devoured a lot of grape leaf rolls, olives, and strawberry gummies. But no one calls those ‘real’ work.

The ‘real’ work revolved around finding dinner. Since today was cloudy and cool, we knew that the waterfront restaurant on which we had been planning to visit was a poor choice. We tried heading to Mesi and Faragi, both tavernas, but we could never find them. In the end, we settled on roadside Hovoli. There, we ordered seven (!!!) dishes: tzatziki, Greek salad, grape leaf rolls, stuffed tomatoes, herb pastries, fried zucchini, and the ‘village rooster.’ Although the name acted as a slight deterrent (we were planning on ordering the chicken with okra, but it wasn’t available), I found my piece of the village rooster to be tasty, tender, and mostly boneless.

The highlight of the meal was the petulant cat (even more petulant than two nights ago, on the south side of Crete), who ran to any hands dangling below chair level. It was a very clingy cat and hung around us because all the other guests at the restaurant were oblivious to its needs.

Ciao!

Southside Story

I woke up this morning to the crashing of waves and the coolness of a shower. It was a lot cooler shower than I had yesterday in the same building.

After breakfast (cereal, olive and plain bread [with mocha spread], and apricots), we headed down to the beach for some sun. The water was very high, and Dad, Ethan, and I were walking along the rocks. Mom went around the rocky peninsula, asking, “Why are you going up there?”

Moments later, she was soaked up to her thighs and had her answer.

 

After several hours of lounging around (the water looked too rough to swim in), we packed up and returned to the north side of Crete. Ethan and I swam in the pool before supper, which was at Thavma. Since ‘THAVMA’ is made up of both Greek and Latin characters, we asked our hostess how to pronounce the name (it’s ‘Thavma’).

Supper was tzatziki, potato balls, chicken with mustard, Greek salad, vegetable pies, and grilled peppers. Ethan was scared of the sheep-like dog (as usual). It was sheep-like because it was white, very calm and patient, and had a thick, wooly coat. In the middle of the day it must be a hot dog.

 

Only eight days!

Ciao!

A Windy Wednesday

Today, when we woke up, we were (accidental alliteration again, and again) still on the southern shore of the beautiful isle of Crete. We ate breakfast and then Eryn and I played around on the computer that came with the apartment. We then packed everything into our bags and headed out the door.

After leaving the house, we got into our Hyundai car and drove down along the beach. The waves were very large so we decided not to stay at our usual spot as it was covered in water. We continued on to the next beach and set up our umbrellas on a high spot.

After finishing on the beach with our tanning, we walked back to the car and got in it to go back to Rethymno. After only a day of our vacation from our vacation from our vacation, we were back to just our vacation from our vacation. We drove back for an hour and got some bread from the bakery on the way home, along with some chocolate baklava. Then we went home. For dinner we went to Thavma and had delicious food, as always.

That’s all for now, Folks!

The South Shore

We have been to the south shore of Crete several time already. All of the beaches that we have blessed wtih our presence have been on the south shore of the beautiful isle of Crete. We are again at a beach on the southern shore, but this time for the night.

My father got the idea of spending the night on the southern shore a few days ago, and made it happen. We are staying near the Agio Fotini Taverna, and a beach on which we have spent the afternoon several times. The beach is a fairly secluded beach, with a tavern several hundred meters down the coastline.

There are at least 3 different apartment rental units along the shore, and the one in which we are staying has 6 units in it. All of the units have a computer in the deal and that is what I am using to write this post. We spent most of the day today on the beach or in this hotel room. This morning we drove here from Rethymno.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Nine Days, Nine Things

In honor of only nine days until we get home, here are nine things (in no particular order) that I’ve loved about Crete:

1. Good food. From tzatziki and chicken to stuffed vine leaves and delicious fro-yo, eating food on Crete has never been a boring, unappetizing experience. I do believe in enjoying eating, and Crete is certainly a place to do that.

2. Frozen yogurt. While it’s already been mentioned above, Yum…me needs a slot of its own. With its multi-colored beanbags and trashcan lids (seriously, I looked. They come in pink, blue, and green), the seating was what drew us in. It’s the delicious strawberry cheesecake fro-yo that kept us as customers.

3. Acqua Park. Although yesterday had a few stressful and scary moments, most of the scariness was a good thing. Who doesn’t love the thrill they get going down a steep waterslide? And everyone knows that the only thing more fun than having fun is having fun while getting wet.

4. Our villa. I love our house. I really do. There’s a view of Crete’s north shore, nearby kids to play soccer (ahem… football) with, and a pool in our own backyard. Plus, there’s three bedrooms– meaning Ethan and I don’t have to share!

5. The southern beaches. The beaches on the northern side are avoided, but almost every-other-day we are on the south side, dipping our deeply-tanned toes in the salty waters.

6. The sun. No, not the son. The sun. With our 20SPF sunscreen that claims to tan and protect in hand, we lounge on the beach for hours. Although it does get uncomfortably hot sometimes, I think we all enjoy heat more than cold.

7. The wi-fi. Cape Town is in my Top 3 Places on This Trip (we spent have of our time in South Africa there), but it didn’t have wi-fi. The biggest blessing of our house is the wi-fi, making it easier to do our posts, upload pictures, and all sorts of mundane tasks that would be even worse using Dad’s phone’s megabytes via a hotspot.

8. The animals. Some would raise their eyebrows at this subject, since Crete isn’t exactly known for its animals. However, there are friendly cats and dogs and, the best part, we saw a snake!!! We saw it about a week ago, but I think I forgot to mention it. I don’t think it was venomous, since the venomous snakes in Crete supposedly lurk in the mountains. Whatever this snake was, it certainly wasn’t shy!

9. The other desserts. Although fro-yo has already been mentioned (as has food in general), nothing can beat a chocolate-dipped piece of gooey baklava. It is absolutely divine. Also, our cake from our favorite bakery was perfect (it was chocolate, of course), and we’re currently enjoying a dozen twist cookies from the same. At many restaurants, dessert for supper is fruit served with raki– namely, referigerated cherries. The cherries on this island are excellent.

Ciao!

__sick

You could say I’m homesick. Maybe Paris-sick. Most certainly Cape Town-sick. I miss Cape Town a lot, but I think that’s because Crete is so similar (yet different): good food, nice people, plenty of things to do, and– most significantly, I think– we’re in each place for about a month.

Although the joys and trials of Cape Town, South Africa’s prettiest city, are long past us, we’re still on Crete. Tonight we’re taking a vacation from our vacation (Crete) from our vacation (this year-long trip): we’re spending the night on the south side of the island. After lounging on the beach, we entered our oceanfront two-bedroom apartment. Supper was fish, chicken, tzatziki, French fries (chips), and Greek salad while being splashed by the waves and meowed at by the petulant cat.

It’s only nine days until we get home (eight until the U.S.). Tonight we looked at Google Earth and zoomed in on our home. To my surprise, I’d forgotten how to get there from an all-too-familiar landmark: my school. On school, by the way, Ethan finished today and Mom says she will finish grading our US history essay questions, which will officially make Ethan an eighth grader and me a high-schooler.

Ciao!

Monday Moments

We paid a five-hour visit to Acqua Plus, Crete’s ‘biggest & best’ water park, today.

Dad sat on the sidelines, but Mom risked seven slides, including the three open tubes where you slid down by yourself that were in orange, red, and blue. One was the closed, very warm, teal tube (where you went down without an innertube), and another was one of the orange racing slides, where Ethan and I sat on either side (I won). Ethan and I manipulated her into taking an innertube down one of the Black Holes—the one with more twinkle lights.

“Did you like that?” Ethan asked, grinning, at the bottom.

“No!” was the quick, sharp answer.

So we went on the Crazy River—over and over and over. The ‘crazy’ part is that it has five or six wide slide segments, each about 100 feet long, that end in pools. Sometimes we got stuck in the pools. To my disappointment, I only flipped over once in the pools, and it was an accident. I flipped over in my tube once at the bottom, but that was intentional and only came after many tries.

Mom also floated on the current-less Lazy River, but that doesn’t count as a slide.

I went on all 15 slides possible: the two Black Holes, the three multi-colored slides, an open teal tube and a closed teal tube, the Crazy River, the orange races, and six others. The two yellow slides were between the two teal slides, and one went in a J shape and the other in a S (more or less) shape. The Space Bowl—a.k.a. the Toilet—was a five-second, blue and white closed tube that shot you, at an angle, into the bowl. You went around once or twice and then fell into the hole in the middle—usually headfirst.

The Tsunami was a huge white structure in the shape of a half-pipe. You went down a short, steep chute onto the first part of the ‘wave’. You went down really quickly and then hit the water from each side as it met in the middle, giving you a wedgie. Then up you went on the other side, then back down and up the other side, and up the other side again, and so on and so forth until you reached the mouth of the slide.

The last two slides were the most scary. On the map, the bright blue Kamikazee looks Jumeirah Sceirah-like (that’s the super-steep slide at Wild Wadi in Dubai that I declined to go down. Ethan rode it). However, it’s open and in the shape of the ‘S’ yellow slide, just longer. It’s also very hard to breathe since the spray from your feet hits you square in the face as you speed into the pool below.

The tube slide is very steep too, but you can breathe more easily. It’s only 12 seconds long.

I went on each of these above rides at least twice. Ethan did the same.

Ciao!

Wet Water

Water is wet, and that is a fact. I know that from countless past swims in pools, waterparks, and lakes. Today I learned that simple fact again when we went to the Acqua Plus water park on the isle of Crete. We went there today because we figured that, since school is out here in Greece and in Europe, that tourists from the mainland of Europe will be flocking to Grecian isles like the one on which we are staying to enjoy their holidays.

The park that we went to today is a large one. Eryn and I went on 15 different runs at least twice each. On the far left facing the hill, were the easiest rides, red, blue, and orange, going from left to right. The best one for me was the red one because it was the fastest. Going over to the right, there was next a blue and white slide that dumped someone into a bowl and they went around and around until splashing down into a 1.75 meter splashdown pool.

Next was the tower area. It had two blue slides and two yellow slides. The blue slides on the outsides were easy and tubular. The one on the left was only for kids ages 8-15 and had no top. The one on the far right had a full tube and was very twisty. The two yellow slides in the center of the tower were steeper and more fun. They all went down into a pool at the bottom. Going back towards the hill, there is a ‘Tsunami.’ It is a large white half pipe where a person in an inner tube goes back and forth across the course before finally drifting out.

Over to the right some more is the set of racing slides. Four orange open-topped slides right next to each other for races. Next over was the Crazy River, which was nice and fun. It consisted of 5 pools, one at the top and one at the bottom, along with 3 throughout. The pools were separated by 50m stretches of slide which one navigated by inner tube. Next over were two ‘Black Holes.’ The one on the left was better because it had more lights, but they were both fun and navigated by inner tubes, and mostly dark.

Last but not least, were the two slides at the far, far right. One of them, the one on the left, was called the Kamikaze. It wasn’t that scary at all and was really fun. The one on the far right was a green tube and went really fast for a bit. It was really, really fun. You finally splashdown in the pool at the bottom after a short ride. Eryn and I did all of those, while my mother only did some.

That’s all for now, Folks!

A Beach!!!

In case you couldn’t tell by the title, today we went to a beach. We had tried to go to this beach before, but we couldn’t find it. We drove for an hour down to the south coast and the drove on a dusty road to a parking lot. We found a fairly secluded part of the beach, put of the umbrellas, and worked on our tans through the reflection on the water.

As the time went by, I waded out on some stone slabs and saw a snorkeler. Later, we saw a set of kayaks going one way and a single kayak going the other way. We eventually left, packed up our umbrellas and walked to the car. We drove back home the same way on mostly paved roads.

On our way home, we stopped at the Inka supermarket and got cherries, green beans, and strawberries. Yum, yum, yum!

That’s all for now, Folks!

To the Average Reader:

Well, we went to another beach today. I don’t remember what it was called, but none of us went swimming. Dad finally found it after hours of driving, and after about two hours on the beach, we (more or less) retraced those hours. At home, Mom, Dad, and I dipped in the pool while Ethan swam.

So… it was a pretty interesting day to us as each thing happened, but to the average reader it sounds like we’re taking it super easy.

(To the average reader: don’t believe it!)

Ciao!

Slow Saturday

After a long period of procrastination, we set out for Kournas Lake, one of Crete’s few freshwater lakes. There were plenty of people paddle-boating, but we declined to try it.

Back home we tanned (shocker, anyone?), read, and looked at well-decorated cupcakes online before supper at Dionysos. There, we ordered six dishes but decided not to get the tzatziki since it was a side with every dish. We got stuffed tomatoes, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed courgette flowers, chicken filet, and Greek salad, plus one orange juice for Mom.

Ciao!

We didn’t

Some people, when they are annoyed at someone, say ‘go jump in a lake!’ If someone asked us to have done it this morning, we wouldn’t have when we went to a lake this afternoon, even though we had a chance. This kind of reminds me of a poem that I had memorized a while back about a fat cat who sits that way every day just to say come out and play to the nice mice in the mouse house in the small hole by the hall floor. It is entitled, ‘I wouldn’t.’

Back to our travels, not the adventures of a fat cat: the lake that we went to today is one of the largest freshwater reserves on the whole island of Crete. Before going to the lake, we didn’t do anything except for sit around our living room staring vacantly at walls. In the afternoon, we went to the lake. In the evening, we went to dinner at Taverna Dionysos for the second time.

The lake was more than I expected. I expected a bitter cold tiny pond with icecaps in the corners and it to be snowing, even on this tropical island. Funny, right? This place was magnificent. It had a clear bottom about 8 feet down all the way around the edge and it had lots of tourists plying around in little paddle boats.  We eventually left after oohing and aahing from a taverna parking lot that, to us, doubled as a viewpoint.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Frozen Yoghurt Fun

Today we went back to the Frozen Yoghurt place in Rethymno. We woke up this morning and had a leisurely breakfast before hopping in the car (figuratively) and drove down into town. We left around 10:30 and arrived around 11. The first thing that we did was walk down a road towards a fountain.

After a few blocks, we looked at a map and saw that we had passed the fountain a long ways back. We walked back and looked at the fountain, which only had 3 lion’s heads. We looked at it for a while before going to the frozen yoghurt place.

We at lots of frozen yoghurt (over a kilogram) and sat in the colorful beanbag chairs in their sitting area. We ate our frozen yoghurt and then entertained ourselves by watching a large green lizard tied to a chair at a nearby table. It jumped around for a while and then we left.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Yum…me Yogurt

Today we used fro-yo as an excuse to vacate the house while it was being cleaned. We also went to a fountain and the cathedral in Rethymno.

I had the strawberry cheesecake, chocolate, and orange flavors, with chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, and strawberries and a tiny bit of the lemon-chocolate sauce (which was nasty). A bunch of teenaged girls next to us were cooing over an iguana on a leash, which was sitting at a table. I don’t know Greek, but I’m sure they were saying “Isn’t it cute??”

Back home, I swam for thirty-five minutes and then read another 4% of Moby Dick, taking me to 30%. For supper Mom cooked pasta and green beans and made a salad—which, as usual, had too little vinegar.

Ciao!

The OmniCat

Tonight we went to Zizi’s. Eryn might have covered the last time that we went there in her post a few days ago, because I know that I didn’t cover it. In any case, we went back there today. Eryn might have mentioned cats, maybe even all 4 of them. Still, though, I will tell my own story of today.

We went back to Zizi’s and ate dinner. The title of my post isn’t exactly about dinner, it is about the entertainment of the dinner. The cats were there again, and we all commented on what my father commented on the last time that we were there; the overstimulated cats.

When I came back to my seat from a break, I saw that the cats weren’t all crowded around or table anymore. My father commented on how they were all everywhere. They were in the trees above the table, on the ground underneath the table, begging scraps from nearby tourists. They were very nice cats, if a bit skittish.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Bye-Bye Baklava

Well, it’s happened again: we’ve finished yet another platter of wonderful, chocolate-coated baklava.

 

This happened after several hours at Agia Fotini (a beach that we’ve been too before), where we tanned and Dad, Ethan, and I swam. On the home-bound drive, Ethan and I slept. As soon as Dad stopped the car outside our gate so Ethan could open the gate and let the car in, I jumped out with my stuff, tore off my clothes, dropped my bag, and jumped into our pool.

Ethan and I played in the pool for half an hour. I finally did a full twist, which was exciting.

While Dad tanned outside, the rest of us huddled in the house and used our electronics. For supper we went to the cat restaurant. The cats were feeling more dominant and gave us the evil eye(s) as we sat in our chairs with chicken on the table.

After supper, we returned home and, sadly, polished off the baklava. Back to the supermarket!

Ciao!

Crete Thoughts

So far we have been on Crete for almost 2 weeks. We have been to several beaches, several towns, several restaurants, and several historical sites. Of them all, we haven’t been to many of the historical sites, but I think that I have been to enough beaches to say my favorite.

Prior to our acquisition of umbrellas, I would definitely say that Saint Paul Sandhills was by far the best. However, after going there again yesterday, I think that it had too big of waves that time to keep it in the top. With our new umbrellas, most of the beaches that we have gone to would stay in the running if we went again.

The one that wouldn’t would probably be a beach near a tavern that had no sand, only rocks and a bit of surf. In all, there were several that would be good, but I think that the ‘Jelly Belly Beach’ would probably turn into my favorite if we had taken our umbrellas there.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Schooling and Supper

Today was quite the down day. However, I did one important thing:

With an answer about why Bill Clinton’s impeachment was significant, I finished my schooling for the 2012-2013 school year. That is a great accomplishment, by the way. Thousands of questions were answered (I only got about 2% wrong) and I’m finally, finally done.

But it starts again in September—so soon!

 

For supper we re-visited Thavma. At the end of the meal, all four of us—yes, including Ethan and me—were offered tiny glasses of raki, the national alcoholic beverage.

Ciao!

Wet ‘n’ Wild

Ethan was the only one of the four of us brave enough to venture into the cold, wavy Libyan Sea today at Agio Pavlos (Saint Paul). The rest of us sat under our new, striped umbrellas on the sand and had our hair swept around by the wind. When we arrived home after a stop at the bakery, Ethan and I went out to the pool and swam. Ethan and I made up a game with our new blue floating bed. The ‘shark’ was on the bed and the ‘minnow’ started in the opposite corner and had the goggles. The goal of the minnow was to get to the opposite corner and back without being tagged by the shark. The shark had to keep all body parts on the floaty except their arms and hands. If they flipped over, the game was paused as the shark returned to an upright position.

After this, I did schoolwork (I only have 40 questions of US history left!) until we left for supper at a waterfront restaurant run by the same people as our villa, which is called Villa Ivi. We ordered seven dishes: tzatziki, vine leaf rolls, grilled pepper, stuffed tomatoes, Greek salad, zucchini balls, and a swordfish steak. This swordfish was much, much better than the one that Dad and I had five years ago in the Caribbean. As Dad said, I don’t really like it when swordfish is served as a shoe (a.k.a. unchewable).

The food was all very good, and the dessert (melon and cherries) was entertaining.

Ciao!

Windy, Wavy, and Wet

Who: Eryn, Jerry, Susan, and me along with our car

What: A beach day on Crete.

When: Today for about 2-3 hours ending at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Where: At the Paul Sandhills beach under the shade of our new umbrellas that we bought recently.

Why: We wanted something to do today and decided to go to a beach that we knew was nice. Sadly, it wasn’t as nice as we expected, due to the large waves and the wind.

From that chart, you can probably tell that we went to the Paul Sandhills Beach yet again and that it wasn’t up to expectations due to the uncouth weather and the fact that the wind made it seem way to cold for our swimming uses, even though I did swim around a bit.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Windy, Wavy, and Wet

Who: Eryn, Jerry, Susan, and me along with our car
What: A beach day on Crete.
When: Today for about 2-3 hours ending at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
Where: At the Paul Sandhills beach under the shade of our new umbrellas that we bought recently.
Why: We wanted something to do today and decided to go to a beach that we knew was nice. Sadly, it wasn’t as nice as we expected, due to the large waves and the wind.
From that chart, you can probably tell that we went to the Paul Sandhills Beach yet again and that it wasn’t up to expectations due to the uncouth weather and the fact that the wind made it seem way to cold for our swimming uses, even though I did swim around a bit.
That’s all for now, Folks!

Magazines!

For those of you who don’t know, I love magazines. Today was a good day, then, since we visited the Fortress of Fortezza Rethymnon. There were five magazine chambers, three of which had vaulted roofs and two that were roofless. They were used for storage. Today, they’re places to visit and housing for exhibitions.

The fort was pretty much right on the sea, and the look-outs on each outward-facing corner had a refreshing breeze flowing through them due to the windows.

Once done in the fort, Mom led us along the waterfront through restaurants at which we did not eat. Finally she left us as the three of us got sidetracked in the Euro1Shop, where everything costs one Euro. We didn’t buy anything, since there wasn’t anything worthwhile.

We found Mom and then continued on, passing a very cool-looking restaurant that I had seen before. Mom suggested checking it out, and we discovered it was a fro-yo joint called Yum…me. After sampling the strawberry cheesecake flavor, I was sold on the idea. All told, the four of us bought a whole kilogram of fro-yo that we ate on the brightly colored beanbags out front. I had chocolate and strawberry cheese cake, with chocolate chips, strawberries, three different types of cookies, coconut, and chocolate sauce. Mom chose chocolate, mixed berry, and orange flavors, and so did Ethan. Dad kept it simple with a serving of chocolate.

But it was soooo good. We need to go back!

Ciao!

Rethymno Rhythms

Today we went into the town of Rethymno that is just north of where we live. The town has about 40 thousand inhabitants, plus smaller towns scattered around nearby. The city is on the ocean and is alive and bustling with a few locals and…well, tourists. We probably count as tourists, because we went to the main archeological touristic place in Rethymno, but who knows.

The fortezza is on a hill right next to the ocean and overlooks the harbor. It isn’t the biggest fort that I have seen, as some of the ones in India were very large, or at least seemed that way. The fortezza here has everything that one needs to survive for a bit, like powder magazines, gates, armories, and cavaliers.

We walked around the Fortezza before going down to the seashore and looking at a bunch of shops. We walked around for a bit and looked into a frozen yogurt place kind of like Sweetey’s in Springfield. The frozen yoghurt place was really nice and had really cool furniture of multicolor beanbags. Then we got in the car and came back home to swim.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Beach Burns

The sun is hot. Far, far away, the sun is burning. It releases heat, light, and that energy goes vast distances at the speed of light, reaching us on earth in about 17 minutes. Some of those rays are blocked by clouds, others hit people directly on.

We were some of those lucky people who got the direct sunlight. We went to a new beach this morning and sat in the sun. At the first beach, we sat on rocks and tossed smaller rocks into the ocean, and at the second beach we sat around more. The second beach had actual sand and we sat on our towels and tanned or burned. For a little bit, my father and I swam in the water.

When we left the beach, we drove home and sat around. Later, we went out to dinner at a pizza joint and had good food. When we finished with that, we went to a small market and bought two beach umbrellas for future use on beaches for shade.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Beachy Keen

We went to yet another beach today. Well, actually we went to two. First we drove across the island to a taverna, and then walked west among the slippery boulders. We finally got to a beach, but since the tide was up it was invisible underneath the waves. Ethan and I threw pebbles at rocks for half an hour, at which point we walked back to the taverna. Dad said that we had to stay for a while to show the people at the taverna that we were going to the beach, not just making a huge mistake.

We drove three minutes to the east, and then walked on the sandy beach in the same direction. We stayed at this beach for about an hour, with Dad and Ethan jumping in the surf. Afterwards, Ethan and I sat in the shade under some rocks that smelled like something had died recently.

At home, schoolwork was completed before we headed out to dinner at a pizzeria by the bakery. The table at which we ate had white chairs with pink edges and pink seat cushions. The ashtray was blue glass, and the glasses came in orange, green, red, and purple. They even had normal—not red wine—vinegar!

Oh, and the pizza was okay, too.

Ciao!

Monastery Memories

Obviously I only have memories of the monastery that my family and I went to today, because we are no longer there. I think that the main documentation of our time there are the pictures that my father has yet to load onto the computer from the camera.

The monastery is old and has lasted for a long time. It was made around the 5th century, and restored in the 16th. The reason that it was restored was because, sometime a while back, the monastery was besieged. Instead of surrendering, the people of the monastery went into the storage of gunpowder and blew themselves sky-high.

When we left the monastery, its chapel, and trees with bullets still imbedded, we drove for a while before heading home. After sitting outside and reading for a while, we went out for dinner and had a good filling meal. When we left, there was still a lot left over. Oh, well.

That’s all for now, Folks!

The Story of Mewmew

I am a cat. I have three orange-and-white friends who also hang out at Taverna Zisi. We live on handouts and hope that we’ll one day land on a fly. Those flies—they really bug me. Today Mewey found a good, slow fly, but it was still too quick.

The most interesting part of my day was when one of the Humans put down her hand and I smelled it. On accident, my whiskers touched the hand. It startled me—contact with a Human!!!—and I ran away. She seemed disappointed, but I can’t let small Human emotions get in my way.

Another highlight was when the same Human dropped her knife onto the patio and fell through a crack to the ground. The filling of the stuffed pepper smelled delicious, and Mewey and I ran towards the smell, hoping for a taste. Mewey was faster and devoured the one grain of rice that remained on the patio.

My day pretty well ended with Mewey, Rrmew, and me play-fighting (claws were sheathed) in the sunset.

Ciao!