This is my last big fat Greek holiday post. Probably for this lifetime, because I can’t imagine going back, or even flying across the ocean again. With three days left in our HOE-liday (at one of the little shops someone had painted on the parking area ‘Enjoy your stay, Happy Hoeliday) I bought a hat. It’s a white visor with ‘Santorini/Greece’ written all over it in silver, with a brim about ten times bigger than an old-fashioned little girls bonnet. And there’s a ribbon tie at the back. I don’t know what I was thinking. So if you know anyone who needs a good hoeliday hat, I could be persuaded to part with it.
We arrived at the Albatross Spa and Resort Hotel in Heraklion, Crete, after nine o’clock at night following our last long ferry trip and about a thirty minute bus ride. The rooms here lacked Greek-ness. They could have been anywhere, really. There was a shortage of hot water and loud live entertainment in the courtyard until well after eleven at night. See how you can tell it’s all winding down by how whiney I’ve become? If we had arrived in Crete first I probably would have loved it more.
On Saturday my nieces opted for a relaxing pool day and a walk to the beach, and the rest of us braved the public transport system and got ourselves to Knossos. The first thing we did there was sit down at a street-side restaurant for lunch. By now this will not come as a surprise to anyone since 80% of our trip appears to have been spent sitting down and eating. Then we paid six euros entrance admission per person to this bronze age archeological site and once through the gates were strongly urged to pay another ten euros per person for a guided tour. We decided to wander around on our own and learn as little as possible. There were a lot of rocks and ruins. We saw a peacock. The sun was really hot. We congratulated ourselves on six euros well spent and hit the gift shops.
This is where I bought a cute little chess set. I don’t even play chess. But that doesn’t mean I can’t admire the cuteness of Zeus and Athena and the Spartan warriors. There are some very persuasive shop owners in this country.
This gentle walk lasts about 2 hours and takes you through the captivating countryside, passing mountain villages and the impressive White Mountains. At the end of the Gorge is Komitades village, where you will have free time for lunch. Afterwards, drive to Frangokastelo, an old Venetian castle, where your guide will tell you all about its interesting past before you go for a swim in the Libyan Sea.
Here’s what actually happened. Our guide told us the eight kilometre walk was not an easy one, down hill over very rocky terrain. She made it sound sufficiently horrendous that when I was given the option to ride down the hill with two French-speaking ladies (one of them had a cane) I completely chickened out and got back on the bus. The others all did it in a little over two hours while I sat around drinking water and lemonade. I regret this not one little bit. Because when the walk was over my family informed me that I would not have enjoyed that at all. Which I took to mean I would have been a complaining pain in the ass all the way down and they had a much better time without me.
I don’t remember any castle. Did we see a castle? And I wasn’t out in the sun for eight km either. I do remember some crazy Libyan Sea swimmers, but I wasn’t one of them either. I was impressed by some interesting washroom doors though, so the trip certainly wasn’t wasted on me.
On the 26th we were homeward bound. Bus at five a.m. to get to the airport, one hour flight from Crete to Athens. About a three-hour wait to board the Transat flight from Athens to Toronto. Nine or so hours in the air watching movies and tv shows and playing games on a touch television screen. I never even thought about sleeping. Our flight arrived 45 minutes early in Toronto. That meant almost a six-hour wait for my next flight, but I was able to change it to an earlier one. Thank you WestJet. Then there was another three-hour flight home. With nine hours mysteriously added to the day. A cab ride home I barely remember. And then sleep consumed me.
I had one day to deal with jet lag and then it was back to work for four days, one day off, and three more days of work. And here I am, still alive and in relatively good humor. Amazing.
I’m glad I went on this trip and I know I’m lucky and blessed and privileged to have been there and done that and gotten back home safe and sound. Now can I just stay at home forever and never go anywhere again? Except for our trip to Ontario this summer of course; that doesn’t count. I mean flying across oceans. I think I’d like to be done with ocean crossing and messing around with time zones and figuring out other country’s plumbing.
Thank you for listening and commenting and looking at my photos. I’m off now to reply to comments that are so old you’ve forgotten you made them.
“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”
― Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home
Just Jazzy Advent Calendar
My brother is twelve, I am nine, and my little sister is six. We are playing a noisy board game at the kitchen table, waiting for our parents to come home with the new baby. My brother is appalled that it’s just another girl when he so fervently wished for a brother. I’m happy I’ll no longer be the only middle child, and excited to help look after her. We don’t know how Ann feels about the situation because she hasn’t said much, but we are about to find out.
We think it’s odd when there’s a loud knocking on the farmhouse door. If it’s our parents surely they would walk right in, and we aren’t expecting any other visitors. Ann jumps up and runs to investigate. We hear the door open and immediately slam shut. Who was it? Who was there? we ask her. She plunks herself back down, frowns and folds her arms. NOBODY, she says.
But the door is opened up again and mom and dad are suddenly there in the hallway in their winter coats, stomping the snow off their boots. They’ve apparently had second thoughts about the planned surprise grand entrance in which all of us were supposed to let them in with a warm welcome and open arms. They come into the kitchen and Mom carefully unwraps her big pink bundle so that my brother and I can have our first peek at the new arrival. Ann is looking quite cross and kicking the table leg.
Why did you say it was nobody? Don’t you want to see the baby? Oh, look, she’s all red and wrinkly and she has lots of black hair! Come see her, she’s so cute!
Ann still refuses to budge. THAT BABY IS NOT SITTING AT MY PLACE AT THE TABLE she announces. I roll my eyes. Her place at the table is beside our dad. She refuses to sit anywhere else. I tell her it will be months before the baby is big enough to sit anywhere and wonder why she’s being a brat.
But Dad gives her a big bear hug and tells her she has nothing at all to worry about. No one but our little Annie gets to sit in that very special place. Her arms unfold and the hint of a smile crosses her face as she relents, and leans in to look at her tiny rival for the very first time. She tells the baby she’s sorry about the door.
But she will never give in about her place at the table. Never. We can all see the firm resolution written all over her stern little face.
When I told my daughter I was flying home on Friday the 13th she said “Oh my God mom, you’ll be the only one on the plane!” But guess what – the plane was fully booked. I guess there are a lot of fearless and not so superstitious souls out there. We made it from Winnipeg to Edmonton on time with a flight attendant who looked like Natalie Portman. Only prettier. If that’s even possible.
My son drove me to the airport when I left and my daughter picked me up this afternoon. What awesome kids I have. And then of course there’s W who made the trip to Winnipeg and back twice, not to mention putting up with me for two weeks in between. All awesome and much appreciated. I know, I know, I’m worth it, but still.
So now I’m back in siren city. It is hot, hot, hot. We are having the most incredible fall weather. I will miss the call of the loons and watching the deer wander across the back lawn. I won’t so much miss the geese honking their heads off in the middle of the night, or listening to the hourly trains as they whistle and rumble by on the other side of the river. I will miss the peace and quiet during the day, watching the eagles soar, and good times with great people.
It was a lovely relaxing holiday. Still, it’s good to be home.
Camp Log Day Two
Daily Prompt: There’s No Place Like Home
If you had the opportunity to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place, would you do it? Do you need a home base? What makes a place “home” to you?
The best nomadic life blog I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble across here in the blogging world is Adventures in Wonderland where Alison and Don chronicle their travels around the world. I read it faithfully. I love to see their amazing pictures, and learn things about the places they’ve been and the wonders they’ve seen. If I had the opportunity to live a life like that, would I do it?
I’m not remotely brave enough to even consider it. Preparing for a ten day guided tour took me a year and gave me anxiety attacks. I’m glad I went, but what is up with all the stress involved for me when it comes to travelling?
Here are some true travel facts about me, to prove that I am not descended from nomads.
1. I will never figure out how to pack a suitcase that doesn’t contain at least a dozen completely useless things that I should have left at home. I need a separate bag for “just in case” items. I go away for a weekend and it looks like I’m leaving home for good.
2. When I was little I suffered from motion sickness. I threw up in cars, even on short trips. I can now ride in a back seat or on a bus or even a bumpy plane without a paper sack in front of my face – good news for my travel companions. But that uneasy childhood feeling of dread before leaving on a trip has never left me.
3. I am uncomfortable in strange places, strange climates, strange beds.
4. I don’t like or trust strangers. Because – they’re strangers. Ergo, they must be strange.
5. Foreign languages and accents baffle me. In my ears, even the English language can sometimes sound mysterious as hell.
6. I don’t like to make decisions. If we are at some crossroad and you are waiting for me to say which way we should go next, I hope you packed a lunch because we could be sitting here for a very long time.
Yes, I need a home base. The best part of going somewhere for me is always the part where I’m heading home. Home is where things are ordinary and familiar and mine. Where I can make a huge mess and the only person who gets annoyed about it is me. Where the water doesn’t do weird things to my hair, and the soap doesn’t irritate my skin. Where the food is easily identifiable and misplacing my passport is not a major worry. Where recharging things doesn’t require complicated adapters and a brain.
Now for any of you few select lucky people reading this who are suddenly sceptical about this trip to Greece I’ve said I will make with you next year, don’t worry. I take instructions really well. If you say we are having fun, I will believe you and behave accordingly. Tell me we are going shopping and I will follow you anywhere. And I love to take pictures. So I’m probably not the worst travel companion on earth. I hope you feel reassured.
I know home is not simply one specific place, it’s a feeling of belonging and love and comfort, and I admire the nomadic people who are on an extraordinary adventure, and who can be at home no matter where they are. They are amazing. Travel and adventure-wise, they are the opposite of me.
Got Family? Embrace your time together. Make good memories.
In amongst my conglomeration of strange notes on a messy desk I came across this funny little list. Looks like a recipe, right? But what the hell is it for? I wrote it down thinking I would remember why without also jotting down a bunch of details, I guess.
I have a feeling there’s some major ingredient missing here, along with instructions. It looks like things one should add to something else or pour over some kind of meat maybe?? Throw in a crock pot? I don’t know. But since there’s no quantities for the first five ingredients, I think it would be safe to just skip them.
So go ahead and measure out those two cups of red wine. And serve immediately. Double this recipe if sharing with a friend. Who says doing stuff in the kitchen can’t be simple, easy and fun? I would definitely add this one to my recipe book if I had one.
Daily Prompt: All Grown Up When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?
Strangely enough, I can remember as plain as day telling my mother on my sixth birthday how happy I was to be the wonderful age of six and all grown up at last. Too bad I don’t recall what her reaction was to that. But six to me was such a magical number, so incredibly more mature than 4 or 5. I would soon be going off to school with my big brother. I would learn how to read what the people in comic books were actually saying to eachother without making any of it up. How could life possibly get any better than that?
My daughter had a similar epiphany at an even earlier age. She made a simple announcement one day. “I can tie my own shoes, and I can blow bubbles with my gum, and when I get some hair in my nose I will be all growed up.” Who was I to argue with her criteria? These things are different for everyone.
I don’t remember my son ever making any such great declaration about adulthood, so maybe it’s just a girl thing. Whenever W talks about his own childhood we’re left with the impression that he was born grown up, since he vows he never did bad or childish things and never once, even as a teenager, disappointed his parents. I’m certainly glad he got a little more interesting later in life.
The funny thing about having felt grown up so soon is that it has given me more time than most to realize I might have been wrong about it that first time, and just as mistaken at all the different stages in my life where I’ve believed (however briefly) the very same thing. Graduating highschool, going to college, getting a real job, being in a serious relationship, getting married, having children, and asking myself with every new experience, now have I learned everything there is to know? Have I left childish things behind? Am I living my very best grown up life?
The older I get the less I care. Growing up is no longer one of my lofty aspirations. There are days when being a grown up really bites and I think how much fun it was to be that deluded little six-year-old. With less visible nose hair. Age and wisdom and maturity are not always all they’re cracked up to be. It’s silly to be in such a hurry to grow up and take on all the hard stuff that life is going to hand you.
For some reason or other, growing older is what has finally taught me how amazing it is to see the world through the eyes of a child. And the older I get, the more I want to act like one. I don’t mean the crying, foot stomping, temper tantrum moments (although every once in a while those can be wonderfully therapeutic). I mean experiencing moments of pure delight and wonder and joy, being happy with the simplest pleasures, playing and laughing and loving and holding nothing back.
So if some serious stick in the mud adult rolls his eyes at your antics and tells you to grow up, don’t do it. Just say no. You don’t have to stick your tongue out for real, but imagine in your head how great actually doing it would make you feel. And then go ahead and feel exactly like that.