We had an amazing six week trip this summer to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Compared to other trips we’ve had, everything went spectacularly. Really. Even with a toddler. But, there are some moments we’d rather forget. So here are our top moments that are unforgettable, even though we wish they were.
We started our trip with a bit of a hiccup with a transportation strike in Rome on our first day there (pics from the day here). When we arrived at one of the main train station hubs in Rome (Termini), we needed to switch trains to head towards a part of the city that was a little further away, and we could not enter the gates to get to the other train area. There were small printed pieces of paper in Italian that said “Closed,” but did not elaborate, so we kept thinking there had to be a way to get to the train. After several confused minutes of wandering, some arguing, and a lot of frustration, we finally found a sign in English that explained there was a strike and the train line we needed was closed for the day. So, we stubbornly decided to stick with our plans and walked all over a good section of Rome on our first full day of the trip. Not the best choice. But, we did survive. Since the strike happened on our first day, we were very confused, and jet lagged, and not able to cope as well as we might have if it had happened a few days later. Thankfully, the strike was only one day, and we were able to navigate public transportation fairly well the rest of trip (partly due to several travel apps that were SO helpful, see this post for more).
Another thing that did not help the day we experienced the transportation strike was the fact that we walked a good distance to see one of the most famous sights in Rome, the Trevi Fountain, only to find that it was under construction and hard to enjoy. This ended up being a trend for us on this trip when it came to seeing fountains, as we tried to see famous fountains in Athens and Heraklion, Crete, and they also were under construction. Maybe we’re cursed when it comes to seeing fountains. A weird curse, I’ll take it in comparison to other potential curses, and it was somewhat funny by the third time.
Another thing that led us to some, shall we say more interesting moments, is our focus on affordable travel. Most of the time, that works out very well for us (and is why we can travel as much as we do). But, this trip, there were a few moments that maybe spending more money would have served us well. One of the ways we save money while traveling is to make dinner at the place we are staying. When we were in Naples, Italy, we were not close to any grocery stores, only small delis and mini-groceries. We needed to get something easy to make for dinner one night, and we struggled to find anything in the mini-grocery. Z pointed out a package of what he thought was pasta that we could cook, and suggested we grab some sauce and do a simple dinner. I grabbed one of the packages and took a close look at the minuscule label to see “fungo” as the main ingredient. The package was actually mushrooms, not small cooked pasta, as he had thought. Fortunately I derailed that train before we ate mushrooms as our dinner, and instead we ate not good rice with vegetables and some weird meat. Yum. Our thriftiness also led us to stay at the hostel in Santorini, Greece, since it was the most affordable lodging on the island. As such, we kept our expectations nice and low, and reminded ourselves of all the hostels we have stayed in during our travels. And actually, for the most part, we were pleasantly surprised by our room and the facilities. What we didn’t love was all of the young teenagers (about 14-15) running around, and generally just making out, all over the place. All the time. But especially by the pool (for our other horrible pool moment, check out this blog post). It made my inner educator/parent want to get a spray bottle and treat them like bad cats who keep scratching the furniture. I didn’t (no spray bottle to be found, lucky for them), and D didn’t pick up any habits of trying to tongue/lick other people. So it was fine. My retinas are a little singed though.
Finally, the infamous park visit in Athens. Infamous to us, anyway. This is actually a story we haven’t shared much because we were worried about our safety a little bit at the time and after the fact, it was just better to not worry our parents (Sorry Mom!). So here is the anti-climactic story: Z and I took D for a walk around the large park that was across the street from our apartment in Athens. We love parks, and generally found that they were pretty and made for a nice activity to take a break from sightseeing. When we entered the park, it was more run-down than other parks we had been to, even though it’s one of the largest green spaces in Athens. The fountains were off (that curse!), there was more trash. There were not many people, and several minutes into our walk, I realized that the few people we had seen were men. No women, no kids. Which is a little weird in a park. We kept walking, and again, only saw more men. We decided it was maybe best to head back and forget our park explorations, and turned around. When we left the park, Z thought one of the younger guys was maybe following us back to our apartment, since he was a half block behind us and walked the same way as us. We quickly went into our building, and it seemed that we were fine, and only a little paranoid. We did not have any problems, but we did not see any women or kids near that park our entire week in Athens. We visited green spaces near the tourist spots, and really just enjoyed parks a lot more once we got to Turkey, since they were full of kids. Again, a fairly ho-hum story, which is a good thing.
All-in-all, no major issues. There were tears at times (mostly D’s and mine), tantrums (D and Z), and sometimes less sleep than one would like. Such is life. I’ll take these moments to have our fabulous memories of the rest of our trip. And our next blog post will be our absolute favorite moments/places from our trip, so come back to see our favorite moments!