June 26, 2019: Pompeii

Wednesday. GT2 Day Eighteen. Orvieto, Umbria, Italy.

Despite the insane level of heat that we experienced all night, I actually got a great night’s sleep. The best night’s sleep that my watch has ever recorded. Which I have only had for less than a month so that is hardly some astounding record, but my best sleep in a month is still pretty nice. Over four hours of deep sleep, and nearly five more hours of light sleep on top of that. The bed here and the breeze were really nice, even though it was so warm, and the constant noise of the busy city street outside is comforting to me. Of course, conditions that make me sleep well make it impossible for anyone else to sleep. So all three girls got terrible sleep last night.

We were up and ready to leave early. No one wanted to hang out in the hot apartment with little Internet access longer than we needed to. And we want to get to Pompeii as early as possible so that it will be as cool as can be.

The drive from the apartment to Pompeii was super easy, maybe ten minutes. Once they get the apartment completed with working kitchen and AC installed, we would highly recommend it for access to Pompeii. Very easy.

Pompeii was surprisingly easy to deal with. We found great parking for just ten Euros right by one of the entrances.

Pompeii was amazing. But it was so hot that I could not do the Rick Steves’ Audio Tour that the girls were doing. I need my ears free for cooling, and the sweat would short out any headphones. So I just walked along and looked at everything and plan to do the tour later, but soon while the site is still fresh in my mind. I have the tour loaded up on my MP3 player, I just decided that it was best to save it for later and just focus on looking at the site while I am here.

There are no words to really describe the scale and impact of Pompeii. It is just huge, sobering, and amazing. I can’t recommend it enough, but I also can’t recommend enough doing it on a cool day off season. The crowds were heavy, but not horrible.

We put in three hours at Pompeii which was about all that we can do in the heat. If it was not so hot and the crowds were a bit thinner, I could easily spend a full day or more there. But as it was, I was glad to be going. I am sure that we will be back here when Liesl and Luciana are bigger.

We left Pompeii and were too hot to get food. We got our car and got on the road and were straight on our way to Umbria. Today we didn’t make the same mistake as yesterday and used the A1 tollway across Italy which moved very quickly.

On our way to Orvieto we went past a rest stop on the tollway that had a Burger King and decided to stop as the girls were hungry and finding food that makes them happy is hard to do. It was an easy stop. And the service was great, and honestly it had to be the best Big King Fish that I’ve ever gotten. So I was pretty happy with the choice in the end.

We arrived in Orvieto in the late afternoon. Orvieto is an extreme hill town requiring you to drive up a mountain and if you drive into town at all you are into navigating some extremely difficult streets. The town is not meant for non-residents to drive there. We drove some extreme streets and got potentially stuck. So Dominica called the host of our AirBnB and he walked down and found us and told us to keep going the way that we were. He jumped into the car in the back seat to help to direct us as the drive was so extreme.

This was the tightest street driving that Madeline and Emily got to witness. Stone walls with just inches for us to fit through. Very stressful, but we made it through just fine.

We finally drove out of town, and back in, and found a temporary parking place in a small piazza near our apartment. Then our host walked us to the apartment and we got settled in and dropped off our luggage. The apartment is really nice. Three air conditioners, a nice kitchen that actually works, a good bedroom for us and another for the girls, great views into a classic renaissance era courtyard. Very classic, the real thing. We really like this one.

We were barely into the apartment when Emily decided that we were going to do the Terme di Saturnia, the hot springs that we learned about from watching Vagabrothers. It is actually in Tuscany about an hour and a half away, but we are closer while in Orvieto than we will be later on in the trip. Emily really wants to do it, so we got back into the car, figured out how to escape town (after a few scary and hilarious loops through town where it seemed like we were trapped and could not leave) and got onto the road.

The drive to Saturnia was all back roads through the country, but pretty nice. We got there with no problem. Doing it in the evening is the recommended time from some travel guides. And with the heat the way that it is, that made sense today. The last thing that we want to have to do is to get up at four in the morning to drive out here. None of us want to be getting up super early.

We got to Saturnia and started with a photoshoot before I could get into the water because I needed to put the camera back in the car to keep it safe from the sulfur fumes. It was a bit tricky to do the shoot, but I think that it turned out well. Then I returned and got into the spring myself.

The hot springs at Saturnia is pretty cool. The water is only just above body temperature so it isn’t like you ever get burned on it or feel the need to get out. It’s just like a warm bath that is flowing. It is really pretty. There were a lot of people there, but it was not over crowded. The four of us hung out for about two hours in the springs. Emily, Madeline, and I even ventured up and got into the waterfall that feeds the pools. The pressure of the water coming down was really intense and soothing.

The drive back to Orvieto was hard. It was dark, I was heavily fatigued from a long day of driving already, was intense Italian back roads, and my glasses are blurry from the sulfur water. So the result was a painful drive back that was all that I could do to make it.

When we returned to Orvieto, it was really late. We could not park up in the town without me having to get up really early in the morning to move the car. So we put it straight in the parking garage now, took the elevator up to town, and walked to our apartment. The girls were starving, but did not have the energy to go out for food. We had to be fast as everything was going to be already closed. So Dominica and I ran out searching for food.

We got lucky that we found a cafeterria that had closed, but that had not fully closed down yet and they had pre-made sandwiches that had not yet been thrown out. We bought four from them of whatever they had and took that back to the apartment for our dinner. Four white bread sandwiches from the end of the day pile was our first meal in Umbria.

Tomorrow is our day to see Orvieto itself. It’s supposed to be a super gorgeous town. We only saw a small portion of it tonight, but it seems really cool.

June 25, 2019: Rome to Torre Anunziata

Tuesday. GT2 Day Seventeen. Torre Anunziata, Italy.

First thing this morning in Rome I returned to the bakery next door and got breakfast for the family. Cornettos (croissants) for Dominica, Madeline, and me; and a doughnut for Emily. Everyone really liked their breakfast yesterday.

We packed up and checked out of the apartment early. We have a long day ahead of us. First we hiked the very short walk to the local train station and took the Rome rail to the airport. This is our first train of the trip.

At the airport we went to Hertz and got our car. We ended up with a Ford B-Max. Not the worst car, but not the best. Good space and very comfortable. Terrible visibility between the controls being all hidden behind the steering wheel and a huge, ugly, shiny Sony stereo that acts like a mirror and puts the sun directly into your eyes anytime you aren’t driving straight towards it, and sensors that go off constantly for false things. But it handles well and has good power and shifts easily. And the girls love it, it is so spacious in the back seat that Emily thought that we were in an SUV and didn’t realize that this was a sub-compact! The back even has sliding doors, which is hilarious on such a tiny car, and the trunk is huge holding all four of our backpacks and my CPAP. Overall, a pretty nice car. But the reflective and totally useless stereo is so significant of a problem that Dominica has to shove a napkin into the CD player so that it drapes over the stereo so that I can see while driving.

The drive from Rome to Naples seemingly took forever. In reality, it was about four hours in intense sun and heat on loads of crazy roads. We aren’t sure if we used Google Maps incorrectly or if there was like an accident or something on the A1, but I was under the impression that Dominica had said that taking the highway or this route were about the same amount of time so we had chosen this one as it had no tolls. But that might have been misinformation and it might have been only two hours the other way, which would have been nice.

We got to see a lot of coastal Lazio, though. We stopped for lunch at a roadside place, which was hard enough to find. I got my first eggplant parmesean of the trip, which was pretty awesome actually. Emily got lasagna. Dominica just got caprese. And Madeline skipped lunch as there was nothing that she could eat. Roadside places are very difficult if you don’t eat the two or three things on offer. There isn’t any real selection.

We were a little early arriving in Torre Anunziato, which is a suburn of Naples near Pompeii, where we are staying tonight. We stopped at a little bar and got coffees and to our great surprise, pizzetti as it is called here or tomato pie back in Utica. It was good, but I like the Utica variety more. Very clearly the same thing, though. Looks identical. Utica style has more sauce and the sauce is sweeter.

I walked around a bit looking for our apartment, but was unable to find it. By the time that I was done, our host was at the apartment and had given us directions to drive there. So we loaded up in the car and drove one minute up the street to the apartment.

Our apartment here was super nice. A really old building in a terrible neighbourhood, the whole town is terrible, with a completely modern, renovated interior. Really impressive. It had gorgeous appointments, tons of room, the girls had a nice bedroom, we had a nice bedroom, the living room was huge, a big balcony, gated parking, two nice, modern bathrooms with bidets, nice shower, a claw foot tub, etc. All super nice. But a few things were missing. Like the kitchen didn’t have a sink yet, and no running water. So you had to use the bathroom sink to get water. And the biggest thing, is that there is no air conditioning! This we knew when we booked, but that was before being in the worst heat wave to ever hit Europe. We were over one hundred degrees while in the apartment and we were just dying. It was terrible.

There was no food obviously nearby the apartment. So I set out in the heat to go looking for some before dragging the family along as it might take a while. The assumption was that something would be nearby the apartment, I would find out what it was, and report back so that people would know what the options are. It turns out that I had to walk a few miles through some pretty rough neighbourhoods before I found anything. It was insane.

Eventually I found two street pizza places, and one Turkish place. All street food. The last pizza place was actually not so far, but a good walk and in a rough area, and not at all in the direction where we had been led to believe that there would be food.

So I got back and reported on the overall situation. Dominica decided to stay behind while Emily, Madeline, and I went to the local (ish) pizza place and got two standard Margharita pizzas, and some aranchini to take back with us. At least we are getting real Napoli pizza while in Napoli. That is the number one thing to do here.

The food was cheap, and we walked back with it to the apartment to eat it in the unbearable heat. The pizza was good. Good quality, and Napoli style is good. But honestly, not as good as the pizza back in Western NY. I’ve still never found pizza to rival that anywhere in the world. And I’ve had some good pizza in some good places.

The arancini turned out to have meat in it. The girls each tried a bite and said that it was good, but both declined to actually eat any of it. Real Sicilian food and that was all the more interested that they had in it. Dominica and I ate around the meat, they were really awesome.

Nothing to do but go to bed at this point. The Internet here is really bad and we are basically offline for the night. Hopefully things will be better in Orvieto, which is where we are staying tomorrow night. We are only here for one night, so the lack of Internet and Air Conditioning are things we just have to push through. All of the windows are open and we have as much air coming through as we can get.

Tomorrow we are visiting Pompeii first thing in the morning. And once done there, we are driving straight up to Orvieto in Umbria where we will be for two days. We had hoped that we could do Pompeii this evening right upon arrival in the area, but we didn’t quite manage to pull it off.

June 24, 2019: Touring Rome

Monday. GT2 Day Sixteen. Rome.

Today is our one full day in Rome, our only day for actually seeing the city. We saw only a few blocks last night, other than our drive to the apartment from the airport, and today we have to see it all. So to start off the day, I got up and walked next door to a bakery that we had found last night and picked up a real Italian breakfast of Nutella filled cornettos (croissants) for everyone. Then we got out pretty early and walked an extremely long way around Vatican City, over the river, down a few blocks to where the “Big Bus” would pick us up to start our day of hop on, hop off tours. Just walking to the bus first thing in the morning proved to be pretty exhausting. We were so hot before we even got started.

So first things first, we rode the bus for a full circuit to get the “lay of the land” so that the girls would see the whole city tour before getting off of the bus to actually do anything. We sat on the top of the bus. I could not sit up front with Dominica and the girls, it was just too hot. I tried, but I could not cool down. The bus was not full so I got a seat midway back on the left and got a nice breeze and was able to take pictures pretty well.

On the second time around on the bus we got off at the Spanish Steps and went to see that and took some pictures there. It was so hot and bright, very hard to do anything. We had heard that it was going to be about 34C in Rome today, but while we were on the steps the local pharmacy sign showed that it was more like 38C or 99F! No wonder we are feeling so hot.

We did the steps. Then we walked towards the Trevi fountain. On the way there we stopped at a little shop and the girls got tukey salad sandwiches. Dominica got whatever sandwich came without onions. I got penne arrabiata, which I have not had in a very long time. Mine was pretty good. No one else was super excited about theirs.

We walked to Trevi, and took pictures again and again the girls did souvenir shopping. It was so hot that I just took pictures and then retreated to the shaded areas to rest.

From the fountain we walked to the Pantheon. Not a long walk, but the heat is really getting to us. The Pantheon is free, but has been taken over by the Catholic church and the guard almost didn’t let Madeline enter to see it because of her outfit. What a pain, especially on days so incredibly hot. And not even to see something Catholic, but just a pre-Christian architectural wonder. Completely inappropriate, but at least they let her in. But disgraceful how they treat what should be a public work. But shows how openly in Rome Catholics have embraced that the Catholic church is just the Cult of Jupiter renamed and rebranded and mostly reverted to its original form, even sharing the same monuments and places of worship and “Pantheon” of deities. It’s an interesting place to see the new Jupiter and the old side by side conflicted, but united.

After the Pantheon we were tired of walking. Back on the bus for a little while to the Colloseum. We got off there and did pictures. We had considered touring it, but Emily rightfully decided it was too hot for that. So just pictures and back onto the bus. Then we rode the bus for a few hours because the girls were all feeling too worn out to get off of the bus and walk back to the apartment. So we did a full tour of the city about five times today on the hop on, hop off bus. Really, the main attraction was that the bus was not so hot and had free wifi on it. So the girls were not listening to the tour, nor watching too much from the bus, but were just using it as a semi-confortable place to be able to be on their phones. A bit disappointing as later it turned out that they had not listened to the tour through even one time in all of that time as we couldn’t discuss things from the tour as they had not heard them.

Once we finally disembarked from the bus we went looking for dinner. The girls are already tired of Italian and wanted Chinese, something more familiar from home. We learned that Madeline really likes Asian fusion, but calls it Chinese (making it pretty challenging to find what she wants.) But Emily has not had Asian fusion and likes Chinese. We tried to find an Asian fusion place, but our location near Vatican City limits the selection a bit. We did find a nice Chinese place called Er Primo that was close to our apartment and the highest rated Chinese restaurant in the area according to Google Maps. So that was an easy choice.

Dinner was good. Madeline got sweet and sour chicken. Emily got a chicken in pineapple sauce dish. Dominica and I both got pineapple and pine nut fried rice. The food was quite good. Our fried rice was nothing like how are rice is fried at home, but very tasty. The girls were shocked that that was all that we ate. But this is one of our standard Chinese meals.

After dinner, Dominica found a crepery near Vatican City so we walked there. The three girls got crepes, but these were not the best that they have had on the trip. Maybe they were the worst. I tried a bite and didn’t like them. But I am not a crepe fan in general. They have to be perfect for me to care.

After crepes Dominica walked us to Vatican City and the girls got to go to their third country of the trip! That was very fast, there is not much to do there other than to walk through, marvel at how it looks, take some pictures, and head home.

Back to the apartment and off to bed. Nearly everything that we have has now been uploaded! The family and friends back home can not just see little snippets on Flickr and Instagram, but can now watch the long form discussions on YouTube. Way more content there, in much higher quality.

Tomorrow we leave Rome in the morning. We are renting our last car of the trip, hopefully a Fiat 500L, and driving all over Italy. First down to Naples and Pompeii where we will be tomorrow.


Vatican City.

June 23, 2019: Traveling to Rome

Sunday. GT2 Day Fifteen. Greece to Italy Travel Day.

Today is our day to switch from Greece to Italy. Traveling all day, even though it is not really all that far. It just worked out in such a way that we need to be traveling all day to do what we need to day.

Up at eight. Got all packed and ready and into the car. We did some last minute videos and were on the road at nine. It is a two hour drive to the airport on the far side of Iraklio.

Everyone was tired this morning and not looking forward to the long day ahead of us. The drive went just find, though. We made good time. And we had no issues finding the place to drop off the car at the airport with Athens Car. We had to run out and fuel it up, as well, before turning it in. But that was fast. I dropped Dominica, Madeline, and Emily off at the airport and then dropped off the car, and then walked down to meet them.

We were now stuck at the Iraklio airport for a really long time. We arrived at eleven and our flight is scheduled for three forty five! That’s a long day of doing nothing.

For our first few hours, we were stuck outside of security because it was too early to turn over our luggage. We found a Greek cafe upstairs at the airport, the only thing that is up there, and the girls camped out there. They got a little food, but did not like it very much. They just wanted to sit and read or whatever on their phones. I wanted to get some exercise, since the time was just going to be wasted anyway, so I left them there and for two hours just walked laps of the upstairs of the airport, which I essentially had all to myself. This was actually a super good use of time since I was able to get in around eight thousand steps just during that time, getting my daily number over ten thousand before even going through security, instead of sitting. And while I did laps I could constantly see the flight status boards so was completely on top of the flight updates so that the girls did not need to check in on them. Other than being a lot of time that could have been used to do something fun, it worked out pretty well for me.

Like many European airports, here you get your flight updates at pretty much the last second. So ninety minutes before our flight suddenly our flight was added to the departures board along with information as to what gate we would be leaving from and what check in desk was handling us. We got thirty for. So as soon as that was put up I went and got the girls and we went to desk thirty four and dropped off all of our luggage. We are flying Neos today, for the first time ever. We don’t know this airlines but reviews of them seemed good. The baggage drop was nice and easy, at least.

Then we went through security and had more time to kill on the other side, but not nearly so much. But now we don’t have to carry our luggage so we are feeling much more free. The girls were hungry so went and found an Everest sandwich shop and got sandwiches. I wanted something Greek as my last meal, so found an It’s All Greek and convinced them to make me a vegetarian pita sandwich. They felt badly that it cost so much with no meat, so they gave me a free Coke to go with it.

After eating, it was almost time to board. A good use of our time. We did not eat a lot, but enough that we would not be hungry on our way to Rome.

Boarding was via a bus taking us out to the tarmac. Not surprising, given what a small airport this is. The plane was a Boeing, which I don’t prefer both because, of course, they are a bad company that doesn’t look after their customers and passengers, but also because Boeing seats aren’t nearly as comfortable as Airbus seats. Airbus is the better plane, almost every time. But this flight was not busy and I ended up with a whole row to myself, as did Dominica. And the girls had their own three seats. So loads of space. But even with the whole row, Boeing does that “arm rest that only goes halfway up” crap, so even with all the space in the world, the seats are horribly uncomfortable.

A big surprise for us was that even on this super cheap, super short flight Neos provided a full meal for us. And not just “a” meal, but a really great meal. Cheese, cold cuts, salmon, parsley potatoes, bread, olives, serious chocolate ricotta torte desserts and more. Plus everyone gets a bottle of water, a glass of wine, and coffee service after the meal! And they come around offering “unlimited” bread rolls, too! This was ridiculously posh. I read in the in flight magazine that Neos takes their food extremely seriously as they see it as an important part of Italian culture and being Italy’s airline for Italians. Italians expect a certain level of food quality and Neos aims to please. And all of their food is Italian traditional food, from Italy. Emily just about fell over in shock from what they just handed out to us, she was not expecting something like this at all.

I looked up and Neos flies between Rome and Cancun. That might prove to be handy in the future.

Our flight went well. Very high turbulence landing in Rome, though.

We got into Rome and did all the customary stuff getting out luggage and what not. Once there, we had limited time to get to our apartment so we grabbed an Uber, even though it cost more than the train. That was quick, comfortable, and easy though. We were definitely on the mood to pay penalties for arriving late after hiking all over Rome with our backpacks on.

We got into our apartment and that went really well. Nice and easy. The apartment is tiny but super nice. We just have one “big” room but the beds are comfy and the place is very well appointed. We have great Internet too, for the first time on the trip (hopefully not the only time.) So before anything, I started uploading what media that I could as we are now very far behind from having our Internet out for a day and so many failures. And we got so much good stuff last night that people want to see. The apartment is super cool, in a basement with vaulted stone ceiling. And it has air conditioning, thank goodness.

Once we were settled in we immediately set out for a restaurant for dinner. Time for real Italian eating! We found a cute little place just around the way that was quiet, local(ish) and had food that we thought that everyone would eat. Our location of our apartment is right down the street from Vatican City, so the entire view on our street is St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s crazy how close we are to it.

Dinner was awesome. Dominica got the cheese and pepper dish popular in Rome. I went for something more unique, but wish that I had gotten what she got. The girls ordered spaghetti pomodoro and separately meatballs and combined them to make the American dish. It’s kind of their first Italian meal. At least Italian ingredients.

After dinner we went back to the apartment and dropped off Dominica and Madeline. Then Emily and I went out walking and found a Carrefour grocery and did some late night shopping. It was an experience for Emily as she got to see real Italians get into full out screaming fight over check out lanes in the grocery. A real cultural experience. It’s like getting to be in a movie.

From there we walked back to the apartment and everyone was off to bed. Tomorrow is our day to tour Rome.

June 22, 2019: Cretan Dancing

Saturday. GT2 Day Fourteen. Aptera, Crete, Greece.

Two weeks we have been in Greece now. It is hard to believe!

Last night was our night to sleep in and get some rest, because today is our last full day in Greece and Emily wants to spend the day at the nearby beach, and tonight at the Cretan Corner in Aptera for authentic Cretan dancing. Then tomorrow we have to be up and on the road early to drive to the airport in Iraklio where we have to drop off the car at eleven and catch our three forty five flight from Iraklio to Rome and our adventures in Italy will begin. We are in Italy about as long as we were in Greece. We have two days in Rome, one day in Naples / Pompeii, two nights staying in Umbria, and finally four nights in Tuscany back in Montecatini Terma, where we took Liesl and Luciana on our GT1 trip in 2012.

This morning we discovered that rather than getting cooler as we head into more northern bits of Europe that it is actually going to get hotter! We have had eighty six to eighty eight degrees with unblinking sunlight for all ten days that we have been in Greece. With the humidity here and lack of strong air conditioning, and constantly being outside in the sun and moving around, that heat is unbearable. At least we were only in a city for a short time, being out in the country helps with the heat. But going to Rome, we are looking at temperatures more like ninety six and higher in the big city. And going to Naples we are looking at maybe one hundred and three degrees, and our apartment there does not have air conditioning! Our time in Italy is likely going to be extremely painful.

I got up at eight this morning and got to work getting media uploaded for everyone. Now that we have Internet again, we are at least getting a few last minute things posted before we start moving heavily again. And who knows what kind of Internet options we are going to have while we are in Italy. As of this morning, Flickr and Instagram are actually caught up. But we will be generating more media throughout the day. But at least those are not behind. YouTube is not caught up, but is way ahead of where it was. I will be uploading to YouTube all day today. Because those videos go up in 4K, they truly take just forever.

Dominica got to work this morning on laundry. Today is the last laundry day for a while, and everything needs to dry before we leave in the morning.

I managed to get caught up with SGL posts by about noon. And got everything uploaded that is going to be uploaded except for the “Emily Interviews” which are running now. I am hopeful that at least one more of those (one is already uploaded) will make it before we leave Greece. If we are really lucky, there will be two, but after today there will be more Flickr and Instagram uploads to do so that will take precedence.

For lunch I just reheated pasta from Don Rosario from the other night. I ate the girls’ leftovers as they don’t really eat leftovers. They ate some pastries from the bakery that we went to last night for their lunch.

Dominica decided to hang back again today. She says so that she can do laundry and get stuffed packed. But really, she just likes being away from all of us and it makes for a good excuse. She and Madeline are always looking for chances to read or watch movies. Emily and I are the only ones actually wanting to go out and do stuff, most of the time.

So by early after lunch it was just Emily, Madeline, and me driving down the hill and slightly east to the nearest beach to the house. On the way there we stopped at the Cretan Corner to make reservations for our dinner even tonight. It is down a tiny back road and there isn’t much there, but the Almy Hotel is there with a bar and chairs on the beach, so it was perfect. It was hot, but bearable for laying out. We got some chairs, which are free there, and hung out. It is a really nice beach and was decently busy, but certainly not crowded. The water was nice and people were swimming.

It took almost two hours, because the waitress didn’t know how to take a cocktail drink order as cocktails are almost unheard of in this part of the world, and because she forgot to bring us menus. But after nearly two hours, we managed to order hurricanes for Madeline and I, and a Blue Lagoon for Emily. In order to make them, the waitress had to take pictures of my phone with descriptions of the drinks so that the bartender could try to make them with the ingredients that they had. They were happy to try, but it was all something that they didn’t know about. So when our drinks finally arrived they were good, but not the same as those cocktails back home, that’s for sure. But it was really nice having drinks on the beach. Very refreshing.

After an hour, the drinks were gone and it was hot. As it is our “drink on the beach” day, we did one more round. All Blue Lagoons this time, to make it easier on the waitress. Later we would find out that not only was Emily secretly stealing sips from Madeline’s drink, but when I took Emily to the restroom at the hotel, Madeline poured her drink into Emily’s and didn’t tell her. So Emily ended up with more than three drinks, when we only knew that she had ordered two. Something she would regret later.

We could only stay on the beach until six thirty because we had reservations at the Cretan Corner for dinner and a show tonight. So at six we did the obligatory beach photo shoot. The drinks were already hitting Emily and she was noticeably needing Madeline to keep her upright for much of the shoot. She noticed a day later in the pictures that you could see from her expression and stance that she was pretty tipsy. Emily has to remember that Europe is not like the US and getting a drink is not a challenge, so stealing drinks just to get some isn’t good because all you do is lose the ability to monitor (and be monitored) in what you are drinking. And Madeline needs to learn that sneaking alcohol into someone, especially in significant “percentages of their tolerance” quantities is a really bad thing to do and can have dangerous consequences because absolutely no one is checking volumes in that case. For Emily, one drink is a lot and two is the limit. She is very similar to Dominica. Dominica can feel one, is totally tipsy at two, and three will need help to do anything. So throwing either of them off by even half a drink from what they think that they have had, is a huge percentage of what they can handle. For someone like me, sneaking me a six pack would likely not even be noticed.

We packed up and were off of the beach right at six thirty. We ran to the grocery store near the beach, the same one that we went to on our first day here, and picked up some necessary supplies. Then were back up at the house to shower, get Dominica, and head to dinner.

Dinner is officially at eight. But they had recommended that we get there by seven thirty. They were right. I would recommend more like seven fifteen, although seven thirty worked just fine. You could get there later, but they will serve right away and it is best to get a lot of your meal out of the way early, you don’t want to be mid-meal during the show, as it turns out. It was fine for us, but anyone looking here for guidance, I’d lean towards earlier. And plan for a long night, the show was not short (and SO worth the money.) Great value for the food and the show, if you are in the area, do this for sure.

The restaurant was pretty full. Dinner was great, it is a full, traditional Cretan meal. Dominica had to make due with a lot of substitutions to accommodate her onion allergy. The girls both did chicken and, of course, I did the vegetarian meal. The food was excellent. I was especially into the salad. Real Greek salads are amazing and I could eat them all day. In the US the feta is just not the same and I don’t really like it. It’s funny how much I love feta in Greece and can definitely do without it in the US. But it just doesn’t make it over the same.

The show was fantastic. It started out with some “simple” traditional Cretan dancing. And the dancers would go for a little while and then take a break. And come back after resting a bit. Giving you a chance to watch, then eat, then watch. It started around dusk, so there was sunlight. But as it got darker they turned up the music and the dancing got more intense. Before long they were grabbing people from the crowd to come dance with them.

We all got pulled into a Cretan “conga line” that was very energetic. Emily and Madeline got pulled into all kinds of dances, they were very popular. I managed to get loads of video of them dancing. We had so much fun. The show was about three hours long, we didn’t head back home until nearly eleven! We had no idea that the show would be so thorough and entertaining, nor that it was go for some long. So much fun and such a great evening. And something really cultural that really showed off the local Cretan heritage. We had a great time and this is easily the best thing that we’ve done so far on the trip. A huge highlight, for sure. We are so lucky that Emily and I randomly drove past this one week ago and just decided that this is what we were going to do tonight.

We had to get home and get packed and to bed. Tomorrow morning we have to leave early and get on our flight to Italy. This was our last full day in Greece. Our flight tomorrow is not early, but to make it there we have to leave quite early as we are scheduled to drop off the rental car in Iraklio at eleven. Technically, with no traffic, it should be only two hours away, Crete is not that big of an island, but we need a little buffer time. Everyone is expecting to be up at eight and rushed out the door by nine.

Tomorrow is an “all day travel day.” From the moment we wake up until we get to bed in Rome. So there will be very little on interest tomorrow, unlike today which was full of activity.