Europe 2015: It was the best of times…

Our previous post was about the moments we’d rather forget from our big trip this summer, but we’re finishing our posts about our big trip with the highlights. The best of times. The things we loved. So, here are our favorite places and memories from our trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

In Italy, we really enjoyed Ostia Antica, which we have written about several times (post here). It’s an ancient Roman city about an hour from Rome. It’s a gigantic city of ruins, and had hardly any other tourists. We were able to meander at our leisure and let D run around a bit and explore. There were some really cool areas, and you can climb a lot more than many other sites. And who doesn’t enjoy climbing and wandering in ruins so they can pretend they are Indiana Jones?

 

Exploring Ostia Antica, and riding in style.

 
One of our other favorite memories in Italy was when we were fighting though a sleepless night in Naples (thanks to temps in the 90s and no air conditioning), when fireworks went off from the hill across from the apartment we were staying in. They were beautiful and a fun surprise.

 

Surprise fireworks!

 
We also loved the abundance of water fountains around Italy. We brought a water bottle to refill, and it was priceless for the first several weeks of our trip. The water from the fountains actually tasted pretty good, and usually was nice and cold too.

  
In Greece, there were so many incredible ruins and sites, it’s hard to choose. One memory that sticks out to me is when we were in Delphi. We ate dinner one night at a restaurant along the cliffs, and the view was incredible. We had the restaurant almost to ourselves and the weather was beautifully pleasant. It was a wonderful evening and a place we definitely loved.

  
We also really enjoyed the indoor archaeological site of Akrotiri on the Greek Island of Santorini. We didn’t know it was covered until we got there, and it was a very happy surprise. It also was full of boardwalks that let you walk around and above the ancient Minoan site. D had a blast running the boardwalks and we were happy that it was pretty safe and out of the sun.

 

Ancient Minoan site of Akrotiri, exploring inside!

 
In Turkey, there are very few things we didn’t love. The ancient city of Ephesus was truly incredible. We toured it ourselves and used a Rick Steves audio podcast for our tour, and it was great. More details and pictures here. In Istanbul, the Topkapi Palace was beautiful and huge, and it was really incredible to see the beautiful grounds, rooms, and collections. We also thoroughly enjoyed shopping in the grand bazaar (more info about that adventure in this post).

 

Hadrian’s library at Ephesus.

 
 

One small part of the gardens at the Topkapi Palace.

  

Shopping in the Grand Bazaar.

 However, our last minute side trip to Cappadocia (linked) was one of our absolute favorite things in our entire trip. The first night, as we walked around the town and looked at shops, I reflected on how beautiful and serene Goreme was in the middle of Cappadocia. We loved that area for its unique beauty, delicious food, and fabulous people.  

The incredible beauty of the fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, Turkey.

 Which brings to some of our favorite memories, the people. We have always enjoyed meeting new people when we travel, and have stayed connected to some friends over the years (Shout out to Steph and Gary in Ireland, who we met in Peru back in 2009!). We met so many great people through AirBnB, and I have many great memories of talking to various hosts in Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Also, the people were wonderful in Turkey, and they loved on D so much, it made our time there so fantastic. We joked that there were free babysitters everywhere we went in Turkey, because many people wanted to play and interact with D. D also had a blast playing with kids when we traveled, whether it was in the red sand beach on Santorini, in a park at dusk in Izmir, or at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. When I watched him play and interact with other kids, I felt so proud and happy as a mom. Some of the best moments in watching him grow up so far was interacting with other kids in environments very different from home, and him enjoying every minute of it.

Making a new friend in Izmir, Turkey.

   

Teaching another kid how to climb. We call that leadership skills, right?

 This is our last post that will focus on our travels this summer. As I type, we are getting ready to head to Yellowstone National Park for 5 days, and we will move on to talk about other travels. We hope you’ve enjoyed our stories of the adventures and misadventures from our travels this summer!

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