Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 7

11/25/2016

Home!!!  I'm laying in my  own bed as I type this - feeling my own soft pillows.  Oh, the goodness.

Don't get me wrong, we had a fabulous trip, but there is nothing like home.   So what happened today?  Other than the obvious travel?

We slept late at Donald's and then visited with the family a bit this morning, heading out around noon.   We traveled through Atlanta with intentions of staying with Hapaw tonight before heading home tomorrow.   However, on our way their we both realized - we were ready to be home.   So, we pivoted.

We stopped by Hapaws and visited. She wasn't feeling well so we went to grab a bite to eat (given she wasn't up to eating) and told her we would be back.  We had a fabulous meal at The Trading Post in Villa Rica.  By time we got back to Hapaw's, Jack's Mom and Step-Dad were there.

We visited them some more and then headed out around 8 for home.  The trip home was uneventful, though there were police everywhere, and now our journey is over.    We enjoyed the trip and look forward to the next adventure, but for now we are glad to be home with our kitties and our bed.

Special thanks to Pet Sitter of Grovetown for taking care of the babies for us.   They are no where near as needy as they have been when we traveled in the past so I know they got good loving.

Til next time dear Blogland - sleep well.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 6

11/24/16

Thanksgiving Day, a day of reflection and thanksgiving.   That is the holiday - for me, it was a day of good food, exploration, and visiting of the family.

Yesterday we spent the day resting and visiting with family.  We spent the night with Donald & Tina and woke with a house filled with family.   Amie and Tyler are here along with Amanda so we had many to catch up and visit with.

We ate Thanksgiving dinner around noon.  Tina prepared it and she did an excellent job, the food was great and I'll be honest - it was nice to not to cook it :) It was nice to rest and just enjoy a big meal.   But more than the food, the people were amazing.   It was nice to visit and relax with family.

After dinner, we went exploring.  First, we traveled to Cumberland Falls - it was gorgeous.  The water was down, but the falls were still awesome.  We went hiking a bit and even climbed into some caves. Even Aimie went hiking (she's 6 months pregnant).  It was funny.  We went down to the beach - which I think would be under water most of the time.  There were a couple of great spots for photos and I had fun snapping photos.

We then drove down to the dam but passed a Lama and a goat farm on the way.  That was pretty cool - there was this one Lama that pranced - awesomeness.  A prancing Llama.  So funny.

We then wondered down to the to the dam and enjoyed the lake and view before heading back to Donalds.

Once there we visited some more, played a lively game of spoons and settled down to watch some old fashioned, TV :)

Hope your Thanksgiving was just as incredible.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 4

11/22/2016

Today was another adventure. Donald and Tina picked me up around 10 AM and we headed toward Mt. McCloud, however, we took a scenic route up HWY 25. It was a drive along a creek/river that also had train tracks running along it, very peaceful. It took about an hour to get to our destination. Mt. McCloud is a privately owned mountain and you must have reservations to stay, at the restaurant, or live there to enter. Upon driving onto the mountain you are met by a nice gentleman who asks your business and then lets you on your way. Our reservations were not until 1 PM and it was only noon, so we had a bit of time.

We drove past the restaurant (up one lane winding roads again) to an overlook that was staggering. You walk out over rock jetties that have to be 100s of feet in the air and just look out. You could see the train tracks and I bet it would be neat to watch a train meandering along. The leaves still had a good bit of red to them so it was quite a view - a couple of weeks ago, at the height of the changing leaves, I bet it was breathtaking.

We then drove back to the restaurant area. We walked out onto the balcony and the view was incredible. Just staggering - it was a little hazy, but even with that - just gorgeous. We then went in and the restaurant wasn't busy (at all) so they were able to seat us early. The prices were exceptionally reasonable, the food good, and the view amazing! We watched an airplane fly by at almost our same height. They say in the mornings the clouds settle in the valley and you look out over them, I can only imagine.

The waitress was nice and allowed us to look at the lodging they rent out. The rooms were fantastic!!!! Big, great views, jacuzzi tubs, rocking chair front porches. Just amazing! They also are only $195 a night for a top room - you can't even begin to beat that. Jack and I are coming back, you can believe that! He didn't get to see it today due to working and I can just imagine him sitting on the balcony looking over the clouds. Other than hiking there isn't much to do on the mountain so I can see it being a day or two at the most, but we are totally going to make the trip again. I can't wait.


We then left the mountain and went another way home. We went through a small town and stopped at an antique toy/junk store. My brother loves this kind of stuff and I found the store interesting. It's not organized very well and you can get lost in it, but the owner was kind. I bought a couple of small pieces for Mama's Christmas village.

We then headed back to Donald & Tina's house. By the time we got back it was close to 4 PM and we had made a complete day of it. I took a short nap while I waited for Jack to arrive.

He got to Donalds around 6ish and we had a fabulous dinner that Tina made before retiring to the living room to chit-chat about this and that.

Now we are back at the hotel about to call it a night. Jack is taking 1/2 a day off tomorrow and we will then stay at Donalds vs. the hotel, because he will not need the internet speed/phone to work. Donald and Tina have the internet, just not fast enough to do VOIP that Jack has to have for his job...

Anyway, that was today's adventure. Have fun blogland and I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 3

11/21/2016

Today was quiet but really nice. I got up around 8:30, got dressed and ate breakfast with Jack at the hotel.

Jack then went to work (in our hotel room) while Donald and Tina picked me up to go visiting. We drove to Corbin KY and walked around the town. It is a tiny town but has its own charms. There is an old train depot with a pretty cool mural painted on it and a couple of old train cars. The town itself was decorated for Christmas and the shops were cute.

We then drove over to London KY and wondered a bit. Tina went to a bakery shop and got some really good deals on snacks for my nieces/nephews that are coming later in the week. And then we went to lunch... now we were going to a restaurant that had good food, but we pulled up to a gas station. I was obviously confused by this and thought a mistake had been made, but no. The restaurant is in the gas station and you know what? They had really good food - teach you to never judge a book by it's cover. I had veggie soup and a grilled cheese and thoroughly enjoyed it.


We also ran to Walmart for a few things and then went back to their house to just relax, which was awesome in itself. I laid on the couch, chatted, played with the dog and well just was. Do you know how nice it is just to be? Their home is pretty in the daytime - there are mules and horses in a pasture next door who came to say hi. I didn't get my camera out today (other than my cell phone) but one day this week I'm going to spend some good time taking pictures with them!

Now during all of this today I have also been fighting with Verizon, can I just tell anyone that will listen - I love Verizon's coverage network, but I hate Verizon. Anytime you have to contact them it is an ordeal. Well, Mama is in TX and yesterday suddenly her phone decides "I need to be reactivated". She went to Verizon yesterday and they replaced her SIM card but needed her apple ID and password. I reset it yesterday afternoon for her, but when she went to reactivate the phone yesterday evening it wouldn't work. So I asked her to go back to Verizon today. She gets there and the guy tells her that isn't her apple ID (has too many letters) and she just needs to buy a new phone to fix it. Needless to say, I told her not to buy said phone and that I would handle. So I call Verizon using 611 on my phone and the kind lady said what I expected "No you don't need a new phone - let me help you get in touch with Apple to fix this." So she connected me to Apple who verified her Apple ID and password were all good and there are no holds on her account. So I have her try it again - I have her try it while I'm on phone w/ her in one ear and Apple on another phone in another ear - can you say fun? Well - no dice because she couldn't connect to the cellular network and has no WIFI where she is. So the only option is to go back to Verizon.

So she goes back.... and the guy says "you need a new SIM card". He calls me to get authorization (something not done yesterday when they replaced it) and says he will get it going. I'm called 15 minutes later -- it's Mama saying that he says she needs a new phone, this one won't work. So I tell her to let me speak to the store manager. I can hear him saying "why" to which I reply, let me speak to the store manager... Suddenly he says "here it works" and all is well. Can you say SCAM???? I'm so going to call corporate about that store when I get a few minutes, they were obviously trying to take advantage of an elderly lady! UGH. Anyway, that took up at least an hour of the day, maybe 2, but she has her phone now and all is right in HooVille.

The day overall was really nice and once Jack was off he came over to the house and we had an excellent meal of BBQ sandwiches Tina made and then chatted, played cards and relaxed some more.

Tomorrow we plan on driving over to McCloud Mountain to take in the scenery and just well - relax some more. Hope your holiday week is going fabulously as well.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 2

11/20/2016

Day 2 of our journey was such an adventure; we turned a typical 3-hour drive into well 8 :) It was awesome.

First, we slept late and then meandered over to Fireside Restaurant. A local breakfast place near our hotel that had awesome reviews; reviews that were well deserved by the way. I had the french toast, which was really good. Not as good as that one in Charleston (yes I'm still going back just for the French Toast), but good never the less. The coffee was fresh and the service was top notch. I enjoyed it's laid back, sunny atmosphere and considered it the perfect way to start the day.

We then headed over to CVS to get me some heating stick on pads for my back, which was killing me before heading on. Let me just say - these things are pretty awesome. It's now 10:30 PM and my back, while still painful, is 100 times better than it was this morning after sleeping on the firm mattress at the hotel. Well, anyway, back to the adventure. By this time it's roughly noon and we decide to go see the Elk in Maggie Valley; about an hour out of the way --- but we won't have to backtrack. We came to see the Elk back in 2009 and really enjoyed it so we figured we'd go again.

So off we went. We got to Maggie Valley and stopped at one of the gift shops. We were browsing and Jack had to go to the bathroom, so he asked the cashier. Her answer "they are closed for the winter". Yep, no bathroom for him. He left me to browse and drove down to the service station a mile or so back. I'm not sure why I find this so funny, but who closes their bathroom when the leaves are still red and falling? I mean they still have tourist, such as ourselves, flowing through. Anyway, he came back, we bought our trinkets and then headed to see the Elk.

As I said we came in 2009, but I conveniently forgot the trek to see them. It's often a 1 lane gravel road with switchback U-shaped curves. Max speed for most people 15 - for us in that big ole truck - 5 to 10 depending on the curve. The route up was pretty, it was intense, it was funny, it was just plain old fun! When I wasn't panicking thinking of certain death I was just having a good time.

We arrived at the Elk grazing ground an hour or so later (17 miles mind you). They were so pretty and I thoroughly enjoyed photographing them, though I'll be honest it wasn't a passionate grab the right shot moment, just a fun time snapping pictures. I also got some shots of 3 wild turkey's who were hanging out. The brisk wind and the clear air - just an enjoyable afternoon visiting God's creations.

We then decided to go on our way. We had seen you could drive through the forest and come out closer to our destination so we did. By this time the GPS signal has long since been unavailable and well I can't read a map. Jack, on the other hand, knew what to do and we were mapping our way through a National Forest on one lane, gravel roads with bridges we weren't 100% sure weren't meant for foot traffic only. No cell or internet - just us, gravel and trees. It was exhilarating! 2 hours of fear, awe, and wonder. I loved it, but it did put us behind schedule.

When we came out of the forest and followed the signs for I40 the ramp was the most interesting thing. The off ramp really just went to this road, in the middle of nowhere. No businesses - nothing just a ramp into the forest. I've never seen anything like it - just amazing. Once on I40, we zoomed along until we both got a bit hungry. We stopped and ate at Cracker Barrell, there were local restaurants nearby, but I just wasn't in an experimentation mood. I was ready to eat and get on our way. So we did.

We arrived at my brother's about 8 PM and enjoyed a couple of hours visiting with them. Their home is beautiful. From what I could see given the late hour it's back aways off the road and he says I can see horses and stuff. I'll give you more details tomorrow, but the inside was just beautiful. He (and probably Tina too) have such a way with decorating. This 3 bedroom ranch home is like stepping into one decorated by a magazine. Antiques hung at just the right spot to accentuate them while at the same time making the home feel welcoming and cozy. We are staying in a hotel tonight - Wednesday due to Jack needing strong internet and phone for work. However, we are moving to Donalds for the remainder of our trip on Wednesday and I am actually looking forward to staying. Our room is decorated with the cutest little bears.

Anyway, that was our adventure today. I'll let you know what adventures tomorrow holds :)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Trip 2016 - Day 1

11/19/2016

We are going to see my brother, Donald, for Thanksgiving this year. He lives in Corbin KY and this will be our first visit to his home since he moved there. If I'm honest this is one of the very few visits I've made to his home so I'm looking forward to it. We decided given it's a several hour drive that we would break the trip up so it would be at a leisurely, relaxed pace vs. rushed. So I set out an itinerary.

Step 1 - Let Jack sleep in a little bit given he traveled and worked all week. We ventured out around 10:45

Step 2 - Sunrise Grill for breakfast. This is a weekend tradition for us and well I needed coffee. Breakfast was great as usual, though had an interesting conversation with Jaycee regarding my new cleaning lady; time shall tell.

Step 3 - Chimney Rock Park - This is where it gets interesting. We were driving the truck and as you get closer to the park you must get off the interstate and onto curvy mountain roads. Jack was driving - I was having control freak out issues and he offered to let me drive. Can you just say Thank you, Jesus! Now don't get me wrong - Jack drives wonderfully, but you can't tell my nitwit brain that when we are going around a curve at a whopping 20 miles and hour and I see certain death in my future. Make sense yet? No - not to me either. So he lets me drive and we are on our way only... we weren't. We get about 20 minutes from Chimney Rock to stumble upon the fact the road is closed. No one can go to Chimney Rock at this time due to forest fires.

Step 4........ Yea that is where the itinerary got blown all to Hades and back so we pivoted.

Deviation Step 1 - Go back to find our way to Hendersonville (which is where our hotel is). It's about 30 to 45 minutes out of the way but the faithful Google Maps helps us find our way.

Deviation Step 2 - Check into the hotel early and ask for ideas. At this point, it's 3 PM and we aren't certain what we have time to do. The clerk was very helpful and gave us a brochure of holiday events. I'd like to speak about the hotel for a moment, if you forgive the digression, it's called The Cascades Mountain Resort. It's right next to the Hampton Inn we stayed at last time, but the rooms appeared bigger on the website, the reviews were good, and the price was reasonable. I have to say overall I'm impressed so far. Clean, spacious, huge indoor pool with slide, I'd recommend it if you are in the area. Only 2 negatives so far and they are fairly minor 1) Smell of chlorine in lobby / common areas and 2) Hot water exist, but it takes a while to find your room :)

So anyway we get into the room and sit. No plans, no agenda, just well - what now? I start looking at restaurants and Jack is looking at the holiday event brochure. and we decide - dinner and a play. Their decision made, we got this, we pivot rather well, yes we do. Onward and Upward - we are back on track, no more deviation - this is the plan, let's go.

Step 1 or 5 depending on how you look at it :) - Go to Hendersonville and walk around before dinner. Yea - great idea.... wait its 45 degrees. That's ok, you have a coat. Walk - look in shop - walk - look at shop - walk..... What are we doing? It's cold.... Let's go drive through town - who says we need to actually see in the windows :)

So we drive through Hendersonville. It's cute and if I had longhandles on under my jeans I bet I would have enjoyed it's ambiance, but well - no. So on to the next item on our agenda.

Step 2/6 - Dinner. Let's try something that looks different, something local. The steak house (Binions), Nah that looks too much like Texas Road House. Let's go to Never Blue. Reviews are awesome and the menu looks interesting. So we go in - sit down and order drinks. I order a Sangria and Jack a coke. I had a Sangria in Jamaica and thought they were good.... well apparently Sangria's in the US are different, because this was strong and had an after taste that would kick you in the groin. We look at the menu and suddenly what looked interesting on my phone just looks fancy and not terribly appetizing. So I do the unthinkable... I tell the waiter to give us a check for the drink and we leave. Yep, I paid $7 to take a sip out of a bad drink and leave. Where did we go you ask? Yea, you guessed it, Binions the local steak house.

The food was good I have to say as was the service, but I nailed it with the atmosphere. It's a local TX Roadhouse - not really my scene, but the steak was good - tender and juicy. They had shrimp cocktail as a side dish, which is unique, and their roles were the light wonderful yeast rolls like you used to get at Ryan's so overall - good deal.

Step 3/7 - Play - Now this we did right and I'm glad we missed Chimney Rock or we probably would have been too tired to consider this. We went to see A Christmas Carol at the Flat Rock Theater, the NC State Theater. It was opening night of the play and was magnificent! The acting, the singing, the staging - just wonderful. They also had hot chocolate at the concession area - cold night, hot chocolate and a Christmas play, the trifecta. Honestly, it was an incredible play and they did such a good job.

We are now laying in bed about to call it a night before we finish the journey tomorrow. Our day may not have gone super smoothly, but I had a good time and really for a day meant to be fun, that is the important part right? Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our day as much as we did having it. Sleep well blogland!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Asheville Day 3

Today is the last day of our adventure, but we didn't let that stop us from jamming it full of awesomeness. We got up early and headed to the famous Biltmore. We had reservations at 9 and I wasn't sure how it all worked so I wanted to get there on time. We were actually 10 minutes early :)

Doing research ahead of time I knew I wanted to eat at the Dining Room for breakfast - what I didn't realize was taht it was not actually at the house. Well, let me back up. I knew I wanted to either eat at The Dining Room or the Village Social. We went to the Village Social first, but when we drove down and realized it was at the Lodge I decided I'd rather eat at the Dining Room. So... we drive back; get parked for The Biltmore; walk down and ask directions. Only to find The Dining Room is at the Inn, back where we came from. Now...it said The Dining Room at the Inn, buy my small brain did not register that. So we walked back, got in the car, and drove to The Dining Room.

We parked and walked in - the confusion I caused and the stress it caused me were worth it to eat here. Fine China, Linen Tablecloths were fabulous, but I could care less about that - the French Toast. Oh MY the french toast; it was good. Light, fluffy, just great. The menu had some weird explanation of it so when they first brought my plate I thought it was just fancy french toast, but the waitress laughed and said no - they brought you the wrong plate :). She went to get my food and I enjoyed the coffee (so good), the fresh fruit and the fresh squeezed OJ while I waited. Not a bad wait at all, then the real french toast came (will the real french toast please stand up?) and it was as I said above, delectable and well worth the drive!

We then headed back to The Biltmore and went into the house. It was quite enjoyable. The building itself mirrors the Chateau's we've seen in Europe and the interior work was just exquisite. One thing I loved was how much of the house was open - that was really unique for private home tours. I will say one you've seen the inside of one 18th century you've home - you've been in most. They all have a similar look/feel, this one was unique to me in 2 ways 1) Bowling Alley, Pool and Gym -- I mean come on! 2) the Kitchen/Store Room/Laundry rooms, were pretty cool.

BTW Jack totally saved my trip to the house; he had brought headphones. I had my camera and the audio tour of the Biltmore are these things you hold up to your ear - odd design! Jack's headset fit though and he let me use them so I could still take pictures vs. using my hands for the device. Have I told you lately how awesome my hubs is?

After the tour of the house we wandered to the shop area and bought a few souvenirs then headed to the Stables for dinner. This restaurant used to be the Stable and was converted! The food was really good, the server very nice and being able to see the old stable architecture was cool. My only issue was that it was freezing in there - we didn't linger.

We then went and walked through some of the gardens, I regret not bringing my Macro lens - I would love to have seen some of the pictures had I had it! The Mums were in full bloom and also the rose garden was still colorful. It was so nice and the weather was perfect! We also walked through the conservatory and enjoyed seeing some of the more unique plants!

By this time it was 4 and we decided to forego Chimney Rock for another trip and headed home. I drove the first part of the trip and let me say that it took a while to get used to driving the behemoth! This truck is big! I'm typing this as Jack drives the last leg of the journey home.

It's been a great weekend - here is looking forward to the next adventure. I want to go back to the Biltmore with Mama. We also want to go up to Grandfather Mtn, Chimney Rock, back to Maggie Valley, etc. I see many mini trips in our future!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Asheville Day 2

Today was jammed packed, but awesome! So why was it awesome? Well, let me share:

We got up and out of the hotel by 8:15 and headed to a local breakfast place called the Sunny Point Cafe. It had great trip adviser ratings, but they warned us it would be packed. I put extra time in our morning to accommodate, but not enough. We had to leave by 9:40 to make a tour we had booked, and at 9:32 we still didn't have food. That being said the staff were all super nice and the waitress did rush for us -- when we did get our food, it was to die for heavenly. The french toast was awesome and the fruit was fresh! They had fresh pineapple on my plate - hWeaven!. Jack loved their maple bacon and what he got as well, though he said the eggs could have been cooked more. My only regret was that we had to rush through the actual eating part :(

We left there and went to meet our tour guide for a walking tour of Asheville. At this point we are rushing a bit... We get parked and hop out of the truck. And it happens.... my camera falls to the pavement. Not just a cheap point and shoot, but a several thousand dollar Canon 7D with a pretty nice lens on the it. The rabid strap D ring was not propely secured so when I hoped out it let go. The battery popped out; the $5 lens protector pops off and I just stare. Jack says my name and ask what happens, which wakes me up enough to move.

At this point, I'm just in a little bit of shock, but also still worried about being late -- I hate being late; it makes me super anxious. So I tell him to worry about the parking and proceed to look at my camera. I say a quick shout of thanks as the lens is fine - the lens protector did it's job. The battery pops back in and I think I'm golden. So we start to walk toward the tour guide and I'm putting the battery door back on as it just pops on and off. Jack is meandering behind me on his phone trying to get the parking meter to work (it's pay by app) and I'm thinking I've got this. I get a bit a head of Jack and go to look for the bronze pigs where we are to meet our guide, yes I said bronze pigs. You can't make this up...!

I see the oblosisk, but no pigs. They were in the middle of a craft fair, so I asked one of the vendors and she was kind enough to direct me to the pigs where our guide and group were waiting. At this point it is 10:02 and I'm late... I apologize to him, obtain our "whispers" and I go over to a wall to get settled while the tour guide starts talking. I still can't get the battery door on the camera and without it latched there is no camera; it will not come on.

So as you can imagine, I'm thinking how not having a camera is really going to put a damper on the weekend. I mean, I'm in NC to take pictures. Jack then meanders over, having taken care of the parking and I as I do just hand it to him with a look I'm sure said more than I ever could have. Jack - Oh my Jack - I wouldn't trade him for a million others. He says "yep it's broke" and proceeds to finagle it to where it's attached and 100% working again! I don't know how - I don't care. I just know Jack did what Jack does and all was right with the world again. The pressure in my chest subsided and I actually started listening to this guide we paid for.

It's funny - God shows up - in the little and the small things. On our drive over I to the city I had an urge to pray with Jack, something that is very new to us, praying together. I just simply prayed that God help the little things not to ruin our day and that we not "bicker" but really just enjoy the day. And then this "little thing" in the grand scheme of things was just taken care of. What could have turned into a real weekend dampner ended up being - just well, nothing! God and Jack were there - who needs anything else :)

So... we walked around Asheville for 2 hours with Ashville by Foot and I really did enjoy it. I'm not a huge history person so much of what he said didn't stick between my ears, but it was nice for him to point out the architecture, things I never would have noticed on my own. To be guided to areas we probably wouldn't have wondered (or known to) and well to just enjoy. Not to mention the weather was out of this world gorgous; we could have not begged for a better day!

We then ended our tour and got back in the truck to go look at the fall colors. We headed up 19N to Burnsville to eat at a restaurant called the Garden Deli. It has a wonderful outdoor patio that is just delightful. We sat, enjoyed the sun, the garden, each other and the food. It was all exquisite.

We then walked around the little town of Burnsville a bit before heading out. Not much there, but it was quaint and nice to stretch our legs after eating. We then headed back out on 19 toward Spruce Pine Town and just drove. The leaves were pretty, some orange and red... my guess is in another week they will be even more so. The articles I read said they are turning a bit late this year due to the summer we had, but I've still enjoyed them. Once in Spruce Pine we hit the Blue Ridge parkway and headed back toward Asheville.

We drove, stopped and took a few pictures (though not as many as normal, I was just enjoying being) and drove some more. We got off and went up to Mt. Mitchel, driving through some amazingly thick fog on the way - it was beautiful in it's eeriness and I could see how one could easily get lost in it. Reminded me of poetry in a way.

The Mountain was amazing - the view off of it was like looking down on clouds due to the fog. Just white as far as you could see - it was worth the drive and the hike all by itself. We then headed back down and proceeded to Asheville on the parkway. Now let me just say - I love and hate the Blue Ridge Parkway. Jack and I both love the scenic drive, the gorgeous vistas and this was no different. It was so peaceful -- until well -- you are ready to get off and go on. Finding a way off that is expedient is never easy. I remember the reaction when we drove it back from DC. We were enjoying it and then we were ready to go. the roads that parallel it to get you back to civilization are just as curvy so no real time saving, you are just stuck... until you are done, lol. That being said -- I'll probably get on it again next year :)

Once in Asheville we headed out to grab a bite to eat. I hadn't planned the restaurant ahead because I didn't really know where we would during dinner time. I know better, but here we were. So we decided to go downtown and meander around and figure out what to eat. After looking for a few minutes, having a married moment, and then getting over said married moment we ended up at a restaurant called White Duck Taco Soup. Not one I will ever recommend to anyone! Jack liked his food, I found it ok. I didn't enjoy the ambiance (similar to a TacoMac) nor the cleanliness. Just not my vibe.

After eating we walked around downtown Asheville, did a tiny bit of shopping, and then headed back to the hotel. I will say I like Ashville, it's a quaint town, but I don't know we will come back to the town itself. The area - YES - but not to Asheville per se. We like towns like Charleston / Chattanooga a bit better. Asheville has more of a artsy, funk vibe - similar to little 5 in downtown Atlanta. I like it - don't get me wrong - just not our "vibe" per se.

The area though is second ot none in the SE for waterfalls, fall colors, etc.. So we will be back for sure!

And that is day 2 - as you can see jammed packed. We really enjoyed it and are looking forward to exploring The Biltmore and maybe Chimney Rock tomorrow; we shall see how it goes.

Sleep well blogland - here is wishing you and yours the best.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Asheville Day 1

We left the house today around 5 on our way to the Asheville NC area. We bought a new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado earlier this week and are driving it on this weeks adventure. I honestly thought we were just buying a truck to pick stuff up in, haul it, etc... however, now that I've ridden it I think it is our new riding vehicle. Super comfy! Its a dual cab with leather and all the perks. Jack and I enjoyed calling people on the bluetoothe and playing with it's features on the ride up.

The ride itself was uneventful. It was mainly on back roads, which was a nice change of pace from interstate.

Once we got to Hendersonville (which is where we are staying) we stopped at a restaurant called the Flat Rock Wood Room. It had high Trip Adviser ratings and I know why. The food was pretty good. Jack had a BBQ plate and I ate one of their wood fired pizza's. The pizza was good, though I liked the wood fired pizza in Jamica better. However, the BBQ seemed to be really good and the sides were exceptionally tasty. I would come back if I was in the area again, but I'd stick with the BBQ :)

We then headed to our hotel. We are staying at the Hampton in for $20 due to points. So basically, free!!! The room is smaller than we normally get, but hey it's free - you can't beat free. It's clean, I have lots of pillows and it makes a good home base for the weekends adventures.

And that pretty much wraps up day 1 :) Tomorrow we get an early start and I am looking forward to some quality time with the hubs as we explore this SE US wonderland.

Sleep well blogland, praying God blesses you and yours on this fabulous weekend.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Jamaica Day 5

Today is our last day in Jamaica :( Tomorrow we head home. It's been a great trip, but if I'm honest with myself I'm ready to be home. I'm ready to sleep in my bed and pet my annoying fur babies. However, that didn't stop me from enjoying today. One thing I can say is that the days seem longer here - we seem to fit more in. So what happened today?

We woke up at 7:30, enjoyed the coffee placed by the butler elves and then headed down to the buffet for breakfast. We then meandered over to catch the bus to our River Walk. The drive over to the river was about an hour and half and it was opposite of the direction we went the other day. We drove through Negril and through Little London on our way. What I noticed most is that while the houses are small like in the other areas and it's obviously not as wealthy or comfortable as the US, these areas were cleaner. There was litter, but no more than you would see in the US - just patches here and there. People's yards were relatively clean and their houses well maintained. Some were larger and almost the size of a 2 bedroom starter home in the states, but most appeared to be the 1 room buildings that pepper the landscape here. I also noticed that the buildings here are all bright colors - colors we would cringe if our neighbor used in the US - pink, purple, green, and sometimes all on the same house.

The road was extremely bumpy - marked with pot holes and the closer to the river the bumpier it got. We saw a small boy coming back from the river with his cloths in a hamper and none on his bottom; it was super cute.

Once we got to the river; we were surprised to learn it was not a trail along the river, but you actually walked in the water. We knew you could get in the river; just didn't realize the walk was in the river... lol. I really wanted to take pictures on this excursion given I haven't gotten to really at all this trip; so I walked the trail and Jack joined the others in the water. Once they got past a certain point the guide said it would be ok for me to walk with my camera so I did -- it was fun. I wish I had brought the water proof camera and left mine, the pictures probably were not worth me missing out, but alas, a lesson learned for another day.

After the walk they served us lunch. It was fried chicken, but different than what we have. It had a Mango sauce over it and the flavor was sooo good. I loved it. We then headed back up what felt like a million stairs to the bus, where most of us napped to some degree on the way back to the resort.

Once back we came to the room and I took a much needed nap. We then got up, dressed and walked the beach while the sunset. It was a gorgeous night. We then went to the Japanese restaurant again, but we had a different cook and he was not anywhere near as good... the people we ate with were all tired as well so the conversation wasn't engaging. We left after dinner and went to the seafood restaurant for desert; they have a very good apple tart :)

Once we were so full we were about to enter a food coma we took a walk along the beach before coming back to face the reality of getting packed up for tomorrow. We leave the resort at 9 AM and should be back home around 10 PM tomorrow. We loose an hour and with the connection in Atlanta it can take a bit. I'm looking forward to getting there though; not necessarily work, but being home.

See you all soon :)

Friday, September 02, 2016

Jamaica Day 4

Day 4 in Jamaica; I could spend a lifetime here. Though I must admit the heat would probably get to me after a while. So what did we do today? mmmmmm...

Well, we got up at 7:30 and the coffee elf aka Kendrick the Butler had delivered coffee to the porch. I swear the coffee and the delivery of said coffee may be the best thing about Jamaica. We then got showers and ate room service in the room. Room service is another thing I could get used to... just saying.

We then headed down for our very first excursion off the resort - > horse back riding. The trip was about an hour and 1/2 and the driver was funny. I was once again stricken by the poverty in Jamaica, but the areas we went through today were not as bad. Another thing that struck me is how little respect the Jamaican people seem to have for the beauty around them. Trash is everywhere - if they cleaned up I bet the tourism would pick up even more. People like myself might leave the confines of the resorts and spend money in the cities... but with trash everywhere I would never feel comfortable.

We got to the horse back riding place and realized it is the same place for the ATVs so we ended up cancelling that trip we had planned for tomorrow - I don't want to ride ATVs over the same trails. The ride was fun though; a couple of good vistas, but mainly walking a trail through the forest. Our guide was Jr. and he was nice - the horse I rode was Royal and she was a princess through and through. Again I was stricken by the garbage - even at a tourist spot like this - garbage. The ride was about an hour long and I did enjoy it. We went up and down hills and the horse decided to gallop on me a few times, which was fun. She also randomly decided to eat, shit and pee - > which was interesting.

We walked with the horses through water and the areas by the sea were really pretty. Once we got back to the main staging area they allowed you to take the horse for a swim if you wanted to. Jack and I opted to stay dry, but I enjoyed watching and taking pictures. The area where you first get on the horses really is pretty and the breeze was perfect. I laid in the hammock for a bit and then wondered over to the bar area. In the bar area a couple -were feeding the stray cats so I really enjoyed that - The cats are really scared of people so I had trouble getting pictures earlier, but with them getting fed it was great. I enjoyed watching them - the were super cute.

We then rode back to the hotel and I may have taken a nap on the way back. Once in the room we changed for our private boat tour of the area. This was by far the best thing about the trip so far and well worth the extra money. We had a two hour tour on the boat - Jack and I love to be on the water and this was super special. We saw caves, drove the boat into a cave, saw bats, resorts built into the cliffs, saw Marguritaville, and walked up to Ricks Cafe. It was a magical night - the guys who took us out were fantastic.

It was funny - when we went up to Ricks Cafe they had two ladies on the boat with them - I think they were on mini-dates while working. I thought it was super funny. On the way back another boat signaled us and we had apparently run into their fishing line. Now keep in mind it's night by now and this boat has no lights so there is no way anyone could have knonw about the fishing line. They were talking in the native Jamaican language, except for the cuss words which were in English, and it was funny. That guy was obviously upset and saying the same thing over and over -- at first it alarmed me, but then I realized the staff had it well under control so then it was just funny -> a story for the trip to file away in the memory banks.

We got back to the resort and decided to forego the dinner reservations; instead we ate pizza in and I'm seriously considering calling it an early night. It was a great day and tomorrow will be as well. Sleep well my friends.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Jamaica Day 3

Today there isn't too much to write about; we took a very relaxing day. However, I do want the memories so here goes.

We woke up to coffee on the deck again - I could so get used to this. After a slow morning we meandered down for breakfast at the buffet. It is an outside area and I enjoyed the view of the ocean and the Egrets stalking for morning leftovers. They are such beautiful birds.

We then went down to the shop for a different, hopefully better, sunscreen. Came back to the room and got ready for the next item on our agenda. Jack went to try diving again and I went to our reserved spots on the beach. It is so nice - you have your own lounge chairs, umbrella and they bring you a cooler with drinks - Its pampering to the 9th degree. I sat back - read my book - got in the water a tiny bit and generally just relaxed. We are near the end of the property so I chatted with the security guard a little bit; he was friendly and checked up on me often. I think he may have been flirting a bit.

I then meandered back to the room and got into the pool - the way our deck is set up you can get in the pool, cool off, and then get right back on your lounge chair. I did this for a bit - reading as the day went on, but the heat and sun began to get the best of me. Jack came back right as I was about to call it and head into the AC.

We set for a bit and he told me about his diving or lack thereof; it didn't work for him today either. The instruction here is a bit rushed and I don't think we got what we paid for; hopefully we will get at least a partial refund. My jaw is still achy from yesterday's driving experience... Apparently diving is just not our thing -- ah well, there are always other things.

We ordered pizza to the room and chilled for a bit before heading out for a glass bottom boat ride at 4. Now I have to say this was disappointing. The guy who ran it, Price, was rude -- or at least he came across that way to me. Plus, they went to fast, you couldn't really see anything to make it out because of how fast they were traveling... I was extremely irritated with him - I hate rude people. He had me on edge from the beginning - this was my first really negative experience with a staff member here, so after 3 days I guess that is a pretty good track record.

We then came back to the room and alternated between reading and sleeping. Relaxation was the name of the day for sure.

Around 6:30 we got ready for dinner at the Italian place and the butler came to escort us down. The food was ok, but the view was great. We sat right on the water and got to really just enjoy being out in the fresh air. Very very nice. There was a man singing at the end of our meal, so we went for a walk and ended up dancing on the beach - it was as sweet as it sounds. We then meandered up to the swings and sat to listen to the music for a bit more before heading back for a late night hot tub/swim at the room.

I love having the pool right here - in /out no big deal. I love it. Now I am about to call it an early night; tomorrow we are up early for horse back riding :) See you then!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jamaica Day 2

... today was well awesome. It's hard to believe we've only been here 1.5 days; it feels longer, but in a good way. This place is so welcoming. I'm often uncomfortable with new people/places and I won't say I'm much more than a wallflower here, but we've met some really great people and the staff just brings you out of your shell no matter who you are. It's special. So what did we do today ? So So Much! Lets break it down:
First and foremost - I woke up to coffee already set up on our outside patio but our wonderful Butler Kendrick. Can you say heaven ? Coffee delivered to my door where I can sit and listen to the waves? OMG and the coffee is good here - really good. Its a Jamaican blend and OMG I want it at home. For those of you who really know me you know I'm a coffee snob and a total Dunkin girl, but this could seriously compete... especially when it's brought to my door.

We then ordered room service while we read our dive books - yes homework during vacation - don't ask me what we are thinking. Once breakfast was ready we promptly headed over to our scuba diving lesson at 8:30. Why we read even part of the book I'm not sure, because he gave us the answers to the test... literally. We then proceeded to get in the pool --- the rest needs some backdrop.

Ok, here goes - I can't hold my breath under water - never have been able to - never will be able to. I have to pinch my nose. Yes I know I'm old and should be able to do this, but no dice. It's actually one of my worst fears and I asked about 15 times yesterday if it would be a problem and I was promised no- the face mask covers your nose - all good. Well, not all good - not even by a long shot.

We get in the pool and he teaches us some basics, then we get to the "Clear your mask skill" where basically he puts water in your mask and you have to get it out. Enter me so close to a panic attack I was fighting back tears. He was nice though and the class was just me, Jack and one other girl so it wasn't as embarrassing - although the guys in the bleachers doing something else were sure to get a good laugh out of the girl who can't hold her breath. The instructor was nice and walked me through it several times and I mean SEVERAL. He finally got me where I could do it enough but it was terrifying. I mean terrifying. I was so glad when he moved on. However, it shook my confidence in this "diving" thing pretty deeply.

Some of the other moves involved removing your breathing device under water and putting it back -- saving a buddy with no air, etc... None of which gave me warm fuzzies. So then it's time to get on the boat and go out to the ocean. I had bought an underwater camera for this, but realized I was going to need to concentrate on breathing and staying alive, so it stayed on the boat.... I however jumped willingly to the depths of the ocean so I could pretend to be a fish and swim along the bottom.

A few minutes into the dive I realized that Jack is nowhere to be found. The instructor obviously knew I was the weak link of the group and he stayed with me the entire time and he was basically my "diving buddy" but when I couldn't find Jack - he saw my distress and motioned to me that Jack was ok and for us to keep going. This made me feel better and we continued the dive. As you dive you have to equalize the air in your mask so that your ears adjust - imagine popping them on an airplane - well throughout the dive I struggled with this; he had to stop several times and help me equalize. I do have to give the instructor credit - he recognized me and wanted me to have a good time despite my weakness and fear. He held my hand and showed me the wonder of the ocean - he helped me to enjoy it despite the imminent fear of death.

The fish were smaller than I imagined, probably because of where we were. They reminded me of aquarium fish - the coral was unique and pretty. He did some neat tricks with the water and blowing bubbles, showed us some unique fish and sea life and generally kept us safe. The other girl in the class had her husband, an experienced diver, with her so she was with us, but he was able to focus a good bit on me. I have to say I'm not sure I could have done it otherwise.

We came back to the surface and finally I found out what happened with Jack - he didn't get to dive. His mustache was allowing water in the mask :( He will go back tomorrow and I imagine he will love it. The class requires 2 dives for the certification so Mr. Instructor had me back in the water to go back down. We made it maybe 10 feet, but I could not get my ears to equalize and he had said something about swapping breathers at the bottom of the ocean for my training, which didn't enthuse me at all ... so I gave the signal to go back up. I told him I was done for the day and we got back on the boat and headed to pick up the more experienced divers who dived some ways away.

Tomorrow Jack will dive again and he will love it - of this I have no doubt. I will let him have this hobby, it simply isn't for me. However, I'm proud of myself. I faced maybe my biggest fear and while I can't say I tackled it -- I did it! So Yay Me! I could go back and 2 the second dive and be "certified" but, no - I'll take this victory for what it is and let it sit deep in my soul. Meanwhile hopefully we can get at least some of the money back given I didn't do the 2nd dive and am not getting certified. If not - ah well, I still win.

After our diving adventure we came back to the room - got showers (BTW Scuba mask + pool water + ocean water = screwed up hair) and headed out for a bite to eat. By this time it was almost 2:30 and most places are closing for lunch, but we asked this one staff member and she told us to come with her to the Sundown restaurant. I thought we were under dressed for it, but she insisted we were not.

I'm so glad we followed her advice. It was really nice and we were the only customers. I had this mango lemonade which was great, a fabulous salad and Jerk chicken. The food here overall has been fantastic.

After lunch we wondered around, bought some things at the local merchants they allowed to set up on the walk ways, and headed back to the room. Where we enjoyed our pool and relaxed. Jack then took a nap and I got out the camera. The wife of the couple next door just got a Sony and we chatted about cameras and enjoyed some good conversation. It was nice to play with the macro and I also got some good sunset pictures (I hope). Once I got back to the room we relaxed a bit more and then got dressed for dinner.

We got dressed up for dinner - I wore my new black cocktail dress - and headed to the Japanese Hibachi Grill. This is the best Hibachi I have ever had. Not necessarily the cook because this guy sung in a joking manner, which was funny, but he didn't do all the fancy throwing etc. However, his food - OMG - his food was out of this world good. Seasoned just right. It was ALOT of food, but it was so delicious. However, the best part of the night was our dinner companions. A gentleman named Smurf (yes Smurf) and Tatiana. They are newly married and were really fun to have dinner with. He is a music director for artist in Atlanta and she is a professional dancer. They met touring the world with various artist shows. It was really fun chatting with them and such a small world to find another GA couple here in Jamaica.

After dinner we headed out and were going back to the room, but we heard music, good music. They had a party on the lawn with a fabulous singer so we hung out, danced and listened. Please note it was apparently a white apparel party and I was in all black -- I danced anyway :) It was a nice cap to an already great day.

Once that was over we meandered back ot the room; stopping to get a cup of coffee and sit by the fire. Our butler outdid himself once we got back to the room. There was music, a strobe light (like in a disco, but colored), flowers on the bed and pillows in swan and hearts. We also had chocolate covered strawberries... it was really nice and thoughtful of him.

I'm sitting here now looking at the flowers -- we moved them to the dresser and enjoying the room. It's an amazing adventure so far. Tomorrow is a relaxation day and I am looking forward to having a quiet - sleep in - morning.

Til tomorrow blogland - sleep well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Jamaica Day 1

Today we left Augusta on an adventure. We have been married 12 years this week; together 15 and we have never taken a vacation where you just rested and relaxed. That is until now; we are taking a few days at the Sandals - Negril resort in Jamaica. It is an all inclusive resort tailored for couples and so far we love it, but let me back up - you know how I like to catalog the journey.

We got up this morning at 4:45 AM - yes AM - and headed to the airport. We were promptly upgraded to first class, which was a first for me. It was a short 30 minute flight to Atlanta, but having the nice seat with the drinks served was pretty cool. We then got to Atlanta and made our way to the gate for the Jamaica connection; everything today flight wise was flawless. No delays; no astronomical layovers, just perfect.

Once we arrived in Jamaica we went through customs and went to the Sandals lounge where they take your bags and promptly and you wait for the shuttle. We only had to wait about 10 or 15 minutes and we were on our way. The drive to the resort was about an hour and a half and it was sad. There is obvious abject poverty in this nation; with people living in shanties and trash in the streets. For such a beautiful place with such a tourism economy it made me sad to see this level of poverty. Hopefully our tourism money at least gets some what back to them in some way... I had been told, but still sad to see it first hand. I didn't even get my camera out for the drive over - this is not something I want to remember in pictures; at least not at this point.

We arrived at the resort; tipped the driver and were promplty spoiled rotten. Fresh lemon towels to wipe our faces with - escorted to the private check in area where we meet our butler. Yes, a butler - we figured if you are going on a second honeymoon then do it right. He walked us around the property and escorted us to our room. I felt sorry for him as he insisted on carrying my Kelly bag with the camera equipment; that thing weighs 40+ pounds and it's hot in Jamaica!

Anyway, he brought us to our room where we had cheese/crackers and got the highlights spill. Our room has a pool entrance and you can see the ocean fro the double doors.... Four poster bed with living area ... whirlpool bath tub, stand up shower, gorgeous tile, just breathtakingly beautiful and decadent.

After settling in for a minute we walked down to the bistro for a quick bite. It was ok - the waitress was obviously having a day, but we enjoyed it never the less. The egrets are like pigeons here; they come right up to the table. In case you don't know those are the white birds with yellow beaks you see in the marshlands of S. GA/ Florida. They are my favorite birds; so beautiful and graceful. It was cool to see them up close and I wish I would have had my camera with me -- I have a feeling I will see them again tomorrow.

We then headed down to confirm our diving lesson for tomorrow. Jack wants to learn to scuba dive and I'm going along for the ride - he's done enough I want to do over the years. We went ahead and paid the fee so we will be certified and can dive anywhere. If you are going to do it - do it. I must admit I'm slightly terrified, I'm not a "water" person generally, but hey. We will have fun.

Once all signed up we came back to the room for some much needed rest. We then got up and went to the seafood restaurant; or let me correct that. Our butler came and got us and escorted us to the restaurant. Its kinda nice; he took our drink orders so we didn't wait and made sure we were good to go. Its funny - we really don't drink alot. I ordered a cocktail but Jack ordered a virgin daquiri; the wait staff was trying not to laugh at us. Ah well...
This restaurant is right on the beach; the waves were within 10 feet. The food was so good and just the right portions. It was peaceful and could have been romantic, but we are both tired so peaceful was the mood we let it set. I really did enjoy it though; the waiters were funny and the setting ideal.

We then went for a walk around; saw a brave crab who had wondered up to the bar area. He was huge; again a moment I wish I had my camera, but today was nice just to be without it... tomorrow or the next I'll get it out.

We came back sat in the pool area of our room for a bit then I got a bath in the whirlpool tub - I think it should be called the mini pool; it was so relaxing. Now I'm about to start reading the dive book for tomorrow before I go to sleep. Have to be over there before 8:30 :(

Good night blogland - hope you are enjoying your day - I know we are.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Charleston Day 2

Sunday, July 10, 2016

So I'm a little late in posting this, but did wanted to go ahead and post before I forget the details.

We enjoyed sleeping late and then got up to head out to Toast for breakfast. I had a french toast with cinnamon apples baked in it. It was really good,but after having that Cinnamon Bun French Toast yesterday it just doesn't compare. Next time we come to Charleston the Another Broken Egg is my go to breakfast spot!

After breakfast we headed out to Boone Plantation to spend some time. It was sooo hot - I mean unbearably hot, so it did put a little of a damper on our enjoyment of the plantation. I want to go back in the fall. That being said we did enjoy it. Below are some details on our visit:

1) the tree lined drive was gorgeous. I wish cars would have stopped coming so I could get the picture I really wanted of it.
2) they have horses that are super pretty.
3) the house was pretty, but reminded me of several other older homes we have visited. What I did find interesting is that the owners when on site actually live upstairs. It is owned by an elderly brother and sister and the sister was in residence when we were there.
4) it has acres and acres of gorgeous land. Most of which is actively being farmed for produce. This plantation has been in business, in one way or another, for centuries.
5) We took the bus tour of the land and I really enjoyed it.

They have a big maze at Halloween time I really want to come back and do - in fact Jack wants to more than I do which makes my day!

Once we left the plantation we went for homemade ice cream, drove through the Isle of Palms area to see how much it had changed since Jack lived here and then headed home.

Overall it was really an enjoyable weekend - I enjoyed the town, but more than that I enjoyed the relaxation, the connection with my husband, and well just the stress free time. I need more of that!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Charleston Day 1

2016 Jack and I decided to live so I planned a little something to do every month. This weekend, my birthday weekend, it is a trip to Charleston. We left last night after work and headed out to Charleston -- we desperately needed a weekend away. I know we just were in Greece, so we shouldn't need another vacation, but I did. I don't know if its how unhappy I am at work right now or Jack being away, or just where I am in my life right now but this has been great.

The trip here was uneventful. We stopped in Columbia and ate at a restaurant called Cooper River. It reminded me a lot of Carolina Ale House, just wasn't as good. I did like the little shopping center it was in though -- and by little I mean humongous. It has all kinds of little stores; even a beef jerky store Very cool.

We then headed on to Charleston or rather Mt. Pleasant. To get from Charleston to Mt. Pleasant we drove over an extremely large suspension bridge that reminded me of the Dames Point in Jacksonville - just longer. It was pretty.
We are staying in the Hilton Garden Inn using our points and it is only a mile or two off the bridge. The room is nice and well - you can't beat free.

This morning we got up early and went and ate at a restaurant called Another Broken Egg for breakfast. I loved the decor, the coffee was ok, and the Cinnamon Bun French toast was out of this world good! Awesomeness. We then went for a horse drawn carriage tour which was really enjoyable. The guide was nice and extremely knowledgeable. Plus the horses were moving slow enough I could actually see things and take pictures. Really liked it.

Once we got done with that it started to rain. Jack and I went back to the hotel so I could change out of my sundress and to see if it would stop raining. By time I changed and we left the rain had left. We then went and walked around the open air market Charleston has. I really liked it, lots of handmade crafts, great atmosphere - really really nice. And they have a fresh made lemonade stand that was also incredible.

We then and ate lunch at Low Country Bistro which was nice. It has exposed wood beams inside which was cool. I had a shrimp salad and I did like it. Wasn't exceptionally hungry, but the air conditioning felt good, the service was good as was the food so I can't complain. Once we got done eating we went and rented bicycles so we could drive around the residential areas and see the houses a little easier.

I loved the bikes - I had my camera and we were off. We rode down several streets, and along the battery just looking - pausing to take pictures - trying to not get ran over. I loved every minute of it, that being said it was in the high 90s today and sweat was rolling down my back. Not necessarily from the bike ride because it is all flat, but the heat - wow it is hot here. This summer in the southeast is going to be killer for sure.

So after an hour and a half we headed back, turned in our bikes and came hunting for a shower at the hotel - deviating to get more lemonade along the way. Once we were cleaned up we headed out again - this time destined for a cruise of the harbor. The captain warned us all it may rain and that we could come back another night, but we (and several others) decided to risk it and boy am I glad we did. The clouds and impending rained cooled us off, but we didn't get not one drop on our cruise. The weather was just perfect! The guide was also good - he had a dry sense of humor and I loved his southern slow draw.

The cruse had several dolphin sightings which was also really cool. We had a really nice time.

We then left and headed to Charleston Crab House. The wait was about 20 minutes for a table so we shopped in the market area some more. They have a candy shop and I may have went a little crazy :) We then got our table and had an excellent meal. I had steamed shrimp, crab legs and crab cakes. Delicious!!! I highly recommend this place if you are ever here in Charleston.

Overall I could not have asked for a more perfect day. Now we are sitting here on the bed relaxing. Hope you had a great day as well... see you tomorrow blogland.

P.S. One thing I don't want to forget that didn't make it into the narrative above, 2 actually...

1) Pelicans dive bombing into the sea for food is awesome to see.
2) Being on a trip with just Jack has been a while and while I love traveling with others, this day of just us has been nice. I love him and glad to have this time to connect.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Greece Day 13

6/14/2016 (written 6/15/2016)

Yesterday we got up, ate breakfast and headed out to the airport to head home. The hotel we stayed at, Crowne Plaza, was extremely nice and we loved the orange juice machine in the morning. It squeezed the fruit fresh for you right there; very cool. Overall we had a great time, but you could tell this morning that we were already to be home.

We headed to the airport -- checked in and headed to the gate. Overall, not too big of a hassle. We did have to argue with the Air France representative about the bags. Jack is Platinum with Delta which means we get 2 bags per person and we needed it coming back (I bought a few things). We booked through Delta, but they had us flying Air France for this leg of the journey, one of their partner companies and they wanted us to pay 80 Euro per bag for the 2nd ones coming back - um, no. We finally got it straightened out... there is no way I was paying that. Once we got through that hassle, we made our way to the gate. The security at the Athens Airport is by the gate so not a lot of drink/food options once you are in so we just sat and surfed the internet -- well most did. Somewhere between breakfast and the gate I lost my phone. Luckily it is insured so I'll call them later today and get a replacement :(

We then arrived at Charles De Galle Airport in Paris. Now I don't know if you all remember my tales from our trip to France in 2014, but this trip just further confirmed - this is the worse airport in the World! We had arranged for Mama to have a wheel chair because we knew the connection was tight and she gets out of air if she has to walk fast... I'm so glad we did, because there is NO way we would have made our flight otherwise. Our flight was delayed so we had literally 20 minutes between landing and our next flight boarding. We got off the plane and the elevator from the gate down to the wheelchairs was broken so... they put us on this cargo thing out of the back of the plane that had seats on it. Then they drove us across runways to a door where representatives met us with the wheelchair (there was another family too). Jack got very irritate with the flight personal because they were just saying "go here", "go there", but were not telling us what was actually going on - what they were doing. It was extremely disconcerting, though I'm not sure Jack snapping his fingers at the French flight personal who already hate Americans helped any, though I was about to do worse so... It was funny looking back - the Frenchman just snapped his fingers back and gave a half answer. Paris France - not my favorite place.

We then got in the wheelchairs and a very nice lady wheeled us to the gate. We would not have found it without her and because of the chair we got to the front of every line, so bonus. We then got on the thing that connects the airplane to the gate only to find the door to the plane (glass) shut and locked. We could see in the plane because it's door was still open, but we couldn't get in. An attendant finally came about 5 minutes later and opened it, but even the airport lady who was pushing Mama was confused.

We then got on the plane and had our 8 hour flight home. It was ok as we were in Comfort Plus and the Delta staff were great, but 8 hours on a plane is never fun. Once we got home, we grabbed Mama another wheelchair.... I think she would have been fine at this point because we were not rushing and because she actually slept on the plane, but it was there so we used it. She does qualify for handicap access and has a card so why not? I can't complain we by passed the lines and were out of the airport within 40 minutes of landing.

We then got into the area where you walk out of the airport and realized we had no idea where the car key was so we had to take bags apart to find it. It ended up being in the first bag we checked, but we of course looked past it and took 4 others apart before we found it. We were all tired and just not quite 100%. Jack then went to get the car and Mama and I waited with the bags. He took the wrong shuttle so we sat for a good 30 minutes, but it was nice outside and we were just glad to be back on American soil.

I then drove us about 1/2 way home and swapped out driving with Mama for the next half. I could not hold my eyes open - Jack was snoring in the backseat - and Mama was wide awake so it worked out.

Now we are home - Kitties are begging for petting and we are happy to be home. It was a great vacation, but I was grateful to sleep in my own bed.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Greece Day 12

6/13/16

Part 1

Today has started off extremely early. The alarm went off at 5:30 and we were eating breakfast by 6, off the ship by 6:50. We are now waiting in a lobby of a hotel for rooms... which won't be available til noon. Beth, Jack and Mama are all sleeping; I'll wake them up in an hour or so to go explore. I will say I did expect to have rooms ready for us and/or to have a Globus person here at the hotel to help us as needed throughout the day vs. being droppod off and virtually left. Our bags are sitting int the hotel lobby with the porter watching out for them... yea that gives me great comfort :(

The last "extension" leg of this trip with the crusie and this "free day" has made Globus go down a few knotches in my eyes. It will take them a bit to recover. I'll post more once we explore for now I'll sit and watch them sleep and watch to make sure no buggers get us :)

Part 2

They put our luggage into a secure room around 10 am, I woke the sleepy heads up and we were off. We stopped at the Temple of Zeus and took some pictures and then we walked over to Placka. Placka is basically a pedestrian shopping area and we did lots of shopping. I bought several souveniers and one nice piece of ceremic art for the house.

We then headed back to the hotel and rested for three or four hours, got up and ate dinner, went to get a couple of things for traveling and came back to get our luggage sorted out for tomorrow. I'm dissappointed that the vase we bought on day 1 or 2 is already broken :( I'm taking it home to see if I can try to and glue it back together, but really bummed it hasn't survived the trip. We had it in a carry on and thought we were being gentle with it, but apparently not.

Tomorrow we head back to the States. I'm ready to be home - to not be living out of a suitcase, but I'm not ready to return to reality. I'm not ready to face American Politics and the fact that Donald Trump is actually a legitimate nominee for the US Presidency, come on Republican party, seriously? Micky Mouse or the Cookie Monstor would have been better choices. I'm not ready to go back to work. I'm not ready ... But I am ready for Dunkin Donuts Coffee. . I wish I had taken the rest of the week off, but I'm back to the office on Thursday - I at least get one day at home to rest first. Overall we had a good time and I'd love to come back to spend more time on the Islands, maybe with a decent cruise ship or in a hotel.

See you tomorrow ... Sleep well blogland.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Greece Day 11

6/12/16

Today was great, same complaints with the ship, but the excursions have been wonderful. We started the morning bright and early with breakfast at 6:50 AM and left for Crete at 7:50. Crete is supposedly the birth place of Zeus; king of the gods. We arrived in the city of Heraklion and then drove up to see The Palace of Knossos. This palace is was built in 1900 BC (the first one was destroyed via Earthquake in 1700 BC. It is the palace of the Minoan civilization that once inhabited this area. Much of it is reconstructed, but it was still neat to see. It is believed this is where the myth of the labyrinth with the Minotaur is founded from as the palace was built to be very maze like; and the King was King Minas.

After visiting the Palace we headed to the city square. The city has Venetian roots and it was evident in the atmosphere of it; it had a similar feel to Venice. We saw the fountain of the four lions and then headed down to the church of Agios Titos; this church is still in constant use and the frescos were quite bright and pretty. There are two unique Frescos in it, one depicting the Virgin Mary’s birth and one depicting Paul on the road to Damascus. There is also the supposed scull of King Titan in the church. It was pretty, but at this point I think we are all a little “history and relic’d” out.

We then left there and had free time to wonder back to the ship. We got a drink, relaxed for a few in front of the Loggia which used to be a meeting haul for nobility, but now serves as their city hall. And then of course we went souvenir shopping. I’m totally addicted to postcards, t-shirts, picture frames (which I haven’t seen many of) and plates… at least it isn’t expensive jewelry.

Once back in town we boarded the dingy back to the ship and went to lunch. Mama and Jack then took a nap while Beth and I went to get details for the next excursion. The next one was Santorini and I know why it is so popular; it ties for my favorite place in Greece (with Mykonos). The water is so pretty and the white buildings. Oh – glorious. We took a windy road to get to the main road of the island and then we traveled to Oia; a gorgeous village that is just amazing. It’s mainly a walking town filled with shops, café’s and glorious views. I could live here – seriously. It is so pretty and I wish we would have more time. We bought some souvenirs and took pictures but it does not compare.

We then drove to Fira (after getting stuck in some traffic). I couldn’t have squeezed a sheet of paper between us and the busses we were going by on the road; it was crazy. We got off of the bus and walked through the town a bit, taking pictures along the way and then came to the Cable Car area. I expected a trolley, but no it’s a car that goes up and down the mountain between Fira and the Port of Skala. It was fun to go down; Beth got so excited she was like a little kid; it was really fun to watch.

We then hopped on the dingy back to the boat and I set outside; I got some great pictures of Santorni with the sunset; I hope they turned out.

Upon getting back onboard we went to dinner and ended up sitting with three ladies from Atlanta. It was actually fun to visit with them. One works for Delta, one Coke and I’m not sure about the other one. We had a lot of fun dining with them. We are now in bed getting ready for bed and are putting our bags out for the porters. 5:30 AM comes early  See you tomorrow – sleep well.

Greece Day 10

6/11/16
We woke up bright and early this morning, grabbed some breakfast (no the buffet has not improved) and met our group at 7 AM to head out to Turkey. Our first step onto the Asian continent. We were going to see Ephesus, one of the largest and best preserved cities in the world. The guide was good and told us about Turkey on the way. The ruin itself was amazing; they were able to stand the library façade back up with minimal reconstruction; it was amazing. Ephesus is the church that they Ephesians was written too; John and Paul walked the same streets. As with the last biblical location I thought I might feel more, but no. I enjoyed it for its archeological significance and its beauty, but it was a ruin, no spiritual stirring.

I did however thoroughly enjoy petting the hundreds of cats (or what felt like hundreds) wondering around. They are very used to people and come begging for petting and food, mostly petting though. I saw the staff feeding them at one point so I am not worried about their well-being. They were scattered throughout the area and just fun. I tuned much of the guide out, but did enjoy the tidbits I tuned into and taking pictures.

The tour took an hour and ½ and by time it was over we were ready for a cool drink so we grabbed a water and headed to the bus. They have a shopping bazaar set up along the way (of course) and it’s Turkey so the experience is unique. The shop owners come out and entice you to buy from them and haggling is the name of the game. One spot had a camel that Beth paid to get a picture with … lol.

We then went to a carpet store where we learned how they make the carpets (by hand) and how they harvest silk. The rugs were gorgeous, but even with haggling it was just too much. They do a hard sale over here and don’t take no for answers easily in Turkey, but finally no was no.

We then headed back to the port and walked around the bazaar. I got ripped off more than once I am sure because I don’t haggle well. For example I bought mama an eye glass case -- $2 Euro; later I saw them for sale 5 for 2. However, I got a couple of cute trinkets and I will remember it. The shop owners enticing you to come in and the hard sale is not for me though. I don’t enjoy haggling or being bothered while shopping. Beth enjoyed it though… for me it was an experience.

We then went back, grabbed lunch with a couple who had just gotten off of an Israel tour, which sounded fascinating and then … you know it, bed. I slept till tile for the next excursion.

Patmos was our next Port. At this point we are back in Greece and the feel of the city is back to what I’m used to – The line between Europe and Asia is very distinct culture wise. We took a tour that took us a great view of the city, we walked through the capital area, took picture of the rebuilt windmills and then headed to the highlight where John was given the book of Revelation by Jesus via a vision. The cave was small and again I wish I felt more, but it was interesting. We then headed back, got a free ice cream (part of tour) and did a little shopping for souvenirs before needing to be back on the boat at 8:45.

Upon re-boarding we waited for our turn at the dining room, ate dinner where we told way too much of our life stories, and then headed to bed… and that was our day :) Bright and early again tomorrow so good night.

Greece Day 9

6/10/16

We woke up this morning, ate breakfast and headed for our cruise. The next bit was frustrating; I’m going to tell you about it here, but you better believe Globas will be getting a letter from me. First and foremost Globas is a trusted company, I’ve traveled with them on multiple occasions and pretty much just trust now that if I travel with them it will be great. The land tour of Greece up to this point met those expectations. Vivian our tour guide was phenomenal, however since she left it has gone down hill.

The dinner last night was awesome, but I didn’t really care for the lady who “hosted” us and took us to the restaurant. I figured it was a personality clash and let it go. Well, this morning we meet our tour guide for the cruise portion of the trip and she is not up to Globus standards either. She is spouting facts to us a mile a minute on the way to the port, she is hard to understand and she is just … well not good. Then we have to handle our own bag from the coach to the ship porter vs. it being handled…

We were fast tracked on board which was good, but I quickly realized this boat is not what I expected. It ranks right up there with Carnival. Globus is a top of the line touring company and they partnered with a cruise line, Celestyal Cruises that ranks right up with Carnival. Cheap – Cheap – Cheap. We had purchased an “upgraded window room” which was equal to a closet with a window. No, No, No! They had our rooms messed up with Mama being with Jack and Beth with me, again.

The Globus tour person told us to go to reception to handle it. I thought that is what we paid them for. Then we go down and Jack or Beth had the forethought to ask for an upgrade so we paid 140 extra per person to get a suite. This room is much better with room to move around, but is no comparison to the Celebrity cruise we took to Alaska. I hated that cruise because I felt the excursions were too short and the disembarkation was too disorganized, but I have a brand new appreciation for them now. Please give me a Celebrity cruise.

The dining room here is cramped, the buffet lacking, the entertainment good but not top quality, the food ok, but not great and the wait staff is understaffed. I will never cruise with them again and Globus will get a piece of my mind for partnering and therefore giving their stamp of approval to this company. Globus better believe I’ll be triple checking everything from now on.
Now that being said they had a very organized exit and because we were with Globus we got off rather quickly. We made it to the island of Mykonos today and had a good 3 or 4 hours to wonder around. We took part of the guided tour with Vasilica our Globus guide and then went off on our own. I love the shops and the atmosphere. Reminds me of Venice – the feel of the city, but it looks nothing like it. Gorgeous white buildings against the blue Aegean sea. Sunsets that are out of this world and well just a great little town. The island itself is large and we only saw a small piece of it.

We bought several souvenirs, wondered around, stopped for a drink and a snack, watched the sunset and then headed back to the ship. You catch another boat to get on and off which is cool.

Once back on the ship we went to the buffet. A waiter could not be found to bring us our drinks so Beth went to get them. The food was ok, not a lot of choices, but it was ok. Mama and Jack headed up to the rooms, but Beth and I went to the show. It was a mixture of all kinds of music from different countries and eras. They were dancing and singing. Overall it was enjoyable; some costume malfunctions, some humorous moments, but mostly they did really well. There was a lady dancing on silk ribbons that was great and until they tried to do country I thought it was all good, but Lord they can’t sing country music.

I’m now up in my room which is apparently over a bar… I can hear the music like I was in the room with them. You would think there would be soundproofing or something. Cheap Ass Cruise Line, never again -- never! But alas, I’m going to try to go to sleep to the Cuban melody. See you tomorrow. Well actually this won’t get posted til I get back to Athens, but ah well.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Greece Day 8

6/9/16

Day 8 -- I think that is the longest I've ever been on a vacation. Day 8 and it's not over yet - woo hoo.

Today was alot of traveling as we needed to cross most of Greece to return to Athens, but some interesting events did occur and we saw some things. So what you ask? Let me tell you:

We ate breakfast and Mama mentioned this was the last day with our land tour guide which reminded me we needed to tip them. It is customary to tip 4 to 5 Euro per day. I had prepped prior to leaving the US and gotten the money in the envelopes and in a safe place. Well I thought that safe place was in the inside zipper compartment of the luggage and I sent Jack up to get it before the luggage was loaded on the bus. He went up - in the middle of his breakfast (yes he is a good man) and hunted for it, only to come back down and tell me it is not in the luggage. So I say "yes it is" and go look for it myself, but alas, no envelopes. Its not a huge deal -- we have the money on us to tip them -- but it's over 300 Euros for all of us so I'm obviously thinking, where is it? After much deliberation in my feeble brain I think and hope it is in my Kelly camera bag that I decided at the last minute to leave behind. It has safe spots inside and would have made sense for me to place it there. I will find out when I get home, that is for sure.

After breakfast we headed to an icon workshop where they make the religious icons. For those that have no idea what that is, because I didn't, it is the paintings or decor with the halos. See wikipeida for more information :) They hand craft them here, down to the chiseling of the wood and the painting. It was neat to see that art is still being taught and handed down from generation to generation. The facility is ran by a priest and his family. My favorite part was going in the main painter's workshop; he was not on site and it felt slightly like an intrusion. However, I think I got some good pictures and it gave you a different view into the man and his art. I'm not much one for religious stuff sitting around my home, but given this is hand made I had to buy a little something to support them.

Afterwards we headed on toward Athens with a brief stop to take pictures of the Stork nest and the young Storks. They were pretty and I will continue to think so as long as they do not bring me any presents. No babies for me.

We then got in the bus and headed back to Greece. The trip was uneventful. We stopped at a gas station that has a restaurant in it for lunch. I ordered a hamburger patty with cheese on it from the Piccadilly line and well... it was the first bad food I've gotten here in Greece. I didn't know you could ruin a hamburger patty, but well know I know - you can. Jack got the same thing and I don't think he liked it either - he didn't hate it as much as I did, but he was quick to offer to go get us grilled cheese sandwiches. He had to instruct them on how to make it; apparently it is not a common order here in Greece. It was made with a different type of cheese than we are used to, but it was good.

And then we were on the road again. The next stop was the statue of King Leonidas in Thermopylae ... We passed some hot springs on the way and you would think they put the statue there, but no - it is just on the side of the road. It is built to honor the 300 Spartans who delayed the Persian army long enough for Athens to be warned and they really don't know where the battle happened, so why they choose this random spot for the statue is beyond me. The statue itself was ok, certainly not a highlight of the trip. Vivian had the group assemble to take pictures and they were changing cameras of the group to take several different pictures of the group for people to have. It was humorous to watch them -- watching her and Yanis the driver take pictures and change cameras was so cute. I loved it.

Vivian also told us the history before we got off to see the statue and that was good. I took several notes and love King Leondias famous saying; "if you want our weapons - come and get them".

Once that was done we were back on the bus headed for Athens. Vivian detoured a bit and drove us by the 2004 Olympic Stadiums. They had to build several and I wonder what they do with them now... I don't think we built stadium upon stadium to house the games in Atlanta, at least I don't think we did.

Once back in Athens we turned around almost immediately and headed out to the Optional excursion dinner. It was down by the port and was quite nice. I actually think Mama really enjoyed it; first time I've seen her have fun all trip. The food was good - conversation flowed and well it was just nice. It is a port with very large yachts and the sun was setting so it was quite pretty. Lots of foot traffic as people came to eat and visit; great atmosphere overall. I enjoyed it though by the end of the night I was quite cold.

And now we are back at the hotel... my eyes are dropping so I'll cut this short. Tomorrow we get to sleep in a bit -- 7 AM and then we head off to the cruise. See you then and have a fabulous evening.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Travel Journal - Greece Day 7

6/8/16

I think today was my favorite so far. One of the main reasons is that Mama seemed like Mama again - she was jovial and seemed to have a good time. She still isn't 100% herself, she would argue with me on that, but she is better. The other reasons you will see as this journal unfolds. So what did the half way mark of our vacation hold?

First we walked up Delphi, the place I told you about yesterday. It was raining slightly so we had to take it slow, but it was really nice. The Athenian treasury building had been put back together with mostly original parts and it was a site to see as were the columns and the view; oh the view was amazing. We stopped where our tour guide did, but several on the trip went all the way to the top; it was cold and rainy so I took my pictures from where we were.

We then headed over to Meteora. The drive as a couple of hours and it was very windy, but gorgeous. They should really market their views and people would realize how much more Greece has to offer other than the islands; I mean wow. We were driving along and possibly through the Grammos mountain range and it was spectacular. We then stopped at a gas station for restrooms and snacks. I got a coffee and cookies. What amazed me is that when we went to sit in the restaurant area they were smoking. I've seen ashtrays here and there, but never really had anyone smoking inside the buildings before... grateful most of America is now non-smoking inside that is for sure; it took my breath away. Plus there were kids everywhere; apparently they were on a field trip and goodness - just a reminder of why I do not want children.

Once we stopped we headed on to Kalampaka which is at the foot of Meteora. We ate lunch in a family restaurant where the Grand mother, daughter and daughter-in-law all cook together. Vivian told us that in this part of Greece the women only work in the family business; they do not have careers and do not think other women should. Before Vivian got married they always tried to set her up adn bring her to live up here. They give her hard time about leaving her Son to work as well --- all well meaning of course, just that is their culture. Vivian stated it is the difference from Southern Greece (Athens) and Norther Greece where we are today. The food was amazing. You actually get a plate and walk through the kitchen where the grandmother tells you the dishes and fixes your plate. The portions were huge!

The decor was also interesting - beer bottles from over 40 years lined the walls, Religious Icons hung on the wall beside them. It was great. I enjoyed it, but wanted to get up and walk after being on the bus. So after eating we wandered around and bought a few souvenirs; some gifts for those back home, etc. We also took a few pictures -- of course.

And then we headed up Meteora to the monasteries and OH MY GOD. The views are out of this world as are the monasteries. They appear to have been built right out of the rock itself. It is just amazing; I have no idea how they built them, but they are just wow. We visited 2 -- one with quite a few steps (over 100) and Mama made it to the top. Let me digress for a moment and tell you about Anita. Anita has a cane and struggles to walk - I think she needs knee surgery if I remember correctly. However, she has been with us almost every step of the way. She fell once today on the way up, but that did not stop her from making it to the top. She is inspiring as are several men on our trip. There are a couple that you will see purposely stay back to help her ...she doesn't ask, and they are not traveling with her, but always one of them are there to make sure she is ok. This one day she was alone and she fell, but one of them quickly was there to help and stayed with her the remainder of the journey. Human Kind at it's best.

Ok, back to the monasteries. The first one we went into is Varlaam. It is original and has the original frescoes from the 1500's. They are dark from the time and unfortunately no pictures were allowed inside the churches, but they were neat to see. It amazed me that they survived this long. The second one, St. Stephen Monastery, had little to no stairs and was rebuilt after it was bombed in WW2. It is a nunnery and you could tell that women lived there vs. men because they had rose gardens and pretty areas meant to sit and rest. The difference between men and women exist even there :) This building is newer given it was rebuilt so the Frescoes are newer and much brighter. It is easier to depict the stories told in them. It has me interested to really study to the difference between Greek Orthodox, Catholicism, and Protestants. Mama as well - though I think she wants to understand the Greek mythology a bit more as well.

What was also funny, at least to me, is that the Greek Orthodox church has this super sacred area. It has curtains pulled and no woman is allowed back there. Well, today one of the curtains in the 2nd church was partially open in error so me being me peaked in. Their "sacred" area is really where they get ready ... someone had left out the ironing board and spray starch. It just cracked me up to no end. No wonder women are not allowed; it's a dressing room for the male priest.

So, yes the monasteries were fabulous, but more than that the views. Oh they were breath taking! And the rock formations, oh, pictures (and yes I took hundreds) can not even begin to show the grandeur of this place. You have to see it for yourself.

We drove around and were allowed to get out and take pictures of all 7 monasteries before heading back to the hotel for dinner and rest. Tomorrow we head back to Athens with several stops along the way. Til then sleep well blogland.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Travel Journal Day 6 - Greece

6/7/16

Today was lite in comparison to the others and we needed a lite day. Mama is starting to kinda be her old self; kinda and tomorrow she will need it as it will be a big physical day.

But today -- what did we do today?

First we got up and ate breakfast. I still am pleased with the breakfast overall; I tend to get coffee, fruit, croissants and fresh jelly. Then we left for the museum of Olympia. I listened to the tour guide on the whisper device we have but stayed in front of the group taking pictures. I think I got some good ones of the various sculptures and artifacts. There were several great pieces, but the highlight was the Statue of Hermes by Praxiteles. It reminded me of David that is in Rome and later she stated that the David Michelangelo did was inspired by this statue; so it made sense. It was well done and overall the museum was enjoyable. It was kinda of awesome actually; because we went so early we were the very first group there. So we basically had a private tour.

After that we hopped on the bus for a 2 hour drive and nap to the largest cable bridge in the world, the Rio–Antirrio bridge. It was opened in August 2004 and the very first person to ever cross it was the athlete carrying the 2004 Olympic torch. We walked over the toll booth and took pictures of it. The bridge replaced a ferry system, that while still running today gets much less traffic. It was a much needed addition. On either side of the bridge is an old fortress where they used to inspect the marine vessels and their cargo. The bridge and surrounding area is pretty and made a nice restroom stop in our drive.

We then continued another hour and a half to have lunch by the sea. This drive envied US 1 near San Francisco - just gorgeous. Mountain meeting the small quaint villages and seashores; it was just magnificent. I took pictures, but I doubt the captured the sheer beauty of this area. It was breathtaking.

We then stopped for lunch in a small coastal town. It was a fishing village and we sat at tables by the sea. It was raining slightly and we chatted some, but we mainly sat and just enjoyed the scenery and the rain. The service was slightly slower than we are used to, but I suspect that is part of not being where we are used to being -- slower pace of life, which is ok by me. Vivian warned us that fish are served with the head on so I didn't go that route. I ordered Calamari which was not fried quite as much as I'm used to back home, but it was ok. Jack and Beth both got the pork chop -- odd choice for the seafood restaurant by the sea, but I wish I would have followed their lead. We then wandered around a bit and explored the little village. I think we walked the way of the Greek people vs. the touristy area, but ah well. One thing we found interesting is that there are fruit trees just growing on the streets. No one should ever starve in Greece... fruit is everywhere.

We then drove on up to Delphi and stopped at the Museum of Delphi. Delphi sits in the middle of the mountains and the ride up was extremely curvy. Sheer cliffs with 1000 foot drops - lets just say I'm glad Globus hires only the best. Tomorrow we see the archeological piece of Delphi with the ruins, but Vivian moved it to in the morning vs. this afternoon at first because of the heat but then it came a surprise shower so we were doubly glad it was moved. So today it was the museum.

Delphi was once thought to be the center of the earth and in fact Greece does often find itself in the middle of the East (Arab, Turkey) and the West (Italy, etc..) and is often brought into their "issues". Delphi was the place people came to see guidance from Apollo through his Oracle.

The Delphi museum houses many of the sculpture and items found during the excavation of Delphi. The museum was nice -- it shows Greece history through the various ages with the change in artistic style, from the 7th Century BC through the Roman period. Lots of unique pieces and I thought some of the relief pieces that used to be on buildings in the gold room were neat. I hope my pictures turned out. The pieces I liked the best were the small tiny relief piece and the The Twins of Argos (2 Egyptian looking statues that are huge). The "highlight" which I didnt' think was the highlight is the Bronze Charioteer. It was a bronze statue that was well done, but i liked the other stuff better. Or maybe it was because at that point my camera card was full and I had to limit my photos of it .. how knows (more cards were in the bus). But he was in the last room of the museum anyway so I didn't miss anything.

We then headed hotel and took a small nap before dancing lessons. They had a Greek dancer come in and teach us all Greek dances. Mama opted out, but Jack, Beth and myself went to learn to dance. The dances were simple, but I still struggled with them. However, it was fun and the teacher was really nice. Beth was teaching others by time it was over... After dinner, we ate dinner at the buffet and it was good, however the desert was a chocolate crepe that was awesome!!! Mama elected to skip dinner, but Jack did fix a plate and take it up to her.

Mama, Beth and I then walked down to the village. We bought a few post cards and the like, but overall the village wasn't really much. Some stray cats, a few tourist shops, some vacant shops and some smelly trash. So we came back up to the hotel and settled in.

Oh the hotel -- I forgot to tell you about our room. It has a huge balcony door looking over the sea and mountains and OMG the view is amazing. Jack and I are sleeping with the patio door open and letting the air in (we are on 4th floor). I can't wait to see it tomorrow in the morning light.

And with that - goodnight dear friends.

2019 What Do You Hold???

I’ve mentioned several things via FB live regarding the New Year, but there is something therapeutic about putting pen to paper and writin...