Athens, Greece: I hope the people who stole our stuff enjoy Eli’s math homework and Kyle’s completed chemistry labs

Us at the Munich, Germany International Airport


Flight from Munich, Germany to Chicago, Illinois

I noticed my phone was almost dead and my adapter was gone. Dave was sleeping. I woke him so I could scold him for taking our one remaining charger.  It is mine.

He looked at me groggy-eyed and said,

“You insisted I use it.”

Immediately, I stopped myself. I wanted to bite his head off (literally). Instead, I bit my tongue (again, literally), and apologized for jumping to conclusions.  Then Dave sweetly apologized for not giving my charger back. I am angry. I am angry at Dave. That is my uncomfortable truth. I am struggling to forgive. For that I am sorry.


Almond Milk, Athens, Greece

After twenty-five hours in transit, we arrived in Athens, Greece,  I was excited and surprisingly awake. We made our way to baggage claim, picked up our luggage, which included one case of Costco Brand Almond milk. Because Almond milk is not always easy to find, that our experiment worked, which was to check a case of almond milk and have it safely travel across the world.  With luggage in hand, we walked to the car rentals,  stopping to buy two overpriced bottles of water. Across the way we noted the pharmacy we visited the last time we were in Greece.  We were all confidant as we heartedly proclaimed,

“Knock on wood. No one had a strange allergic reaction on the plane. This is going to be a good trip.”

Then we rented our unusually nice car and were on our way. As we drove there was a light rain and sunny skies in the distance.

Our Athens, Greece Rental Car
Driving into Athens, Greece

That is when Dave happily proclaimed,

“Look at that exceptional rainbow.”

He was correct. The rainbow was exquisite. It was a beautiful day and we were finally on our adventure. Our Thanksgiving trips have become a lovely tradition. It is Kyle’s senior year of high school, and this may be our last. Consequently, to say I was excited for our time together, is a complete understatement.

Our ferry to Crete was leaving at 9PM. The boys and I would have been ok sleeping, but Dave was determined that we do something purposeful. I suggested some loose alternatives. Nope. Dave needed solid specifics (not like ambling jet-lagged around Athens is a solid play, by the way).  Dave won and we drove into Athens. Athens is actually pretty cool and very gritty.  It has some of the best graffiti and street art I have ever seen.  The food is not bad either. We were there last March 2016. And as cool as the street art is, the boys and I did not want to go back. So again I suggested we do something else. Dave emphatically shot back,

“Like what?”
“How about we find something on our drive to the ferry?” I responded.
“Like what? (He said several more times.)

The warning signs were screaming. I firmly and repeatedly suggested we pull over and look at TripAdviser and Google Maps. It did not matter.  I know Dave and knew he would not yield, unless, that is I presented him with say a business plan, a plan that included a Powerpoint presentation with accompanying handouts.  I was very tired and finally gave in.

We made our way into the city and was completely relieved a few minutes later when we were unable to find parking. I hoped Dave  would follow his typical behavior in these situations, which is to get frustrated and eventually give up. Alas, I completely underestimated Dave’s resolve. The lack of parking only served to fuel his determination. We kept driving. I stopped looking for parking. I mean pulled out my phone and searched for alternatives. Dave’s frustration mounted and I saw an opportunity. For a split second I felt like I might have a chance. I began saying things such as,

“Hey, why don’t we just go for a drive, go to the grocery store and enjoy our day,” and “hey, we are so tired. Athens is crowded and dirty, why don’t we do something more relaxing?”

My words only served to solidify his will. We were now in an unfamiliar neighborhood, a mile from the center of town. That is when Dave found a spot. As he parked I plainly said,

“We should do something else. I do not think this is safe. I think someone will break into our car. This does not feel right. Please. Dave. Please, let’s push pause and just go. Really, Dave let’s not park here.”

In response to my words Dave blurted,

“Well, what else are we going to do?”

Here is there deal. I know whom I married. I am annoyingly flexible and paralyzing considerate to Dave’s steadfast vision.  I am truly the Ernie to Dave’s Bert. In truth, we are a great match. And most days my ability to bob and weave is the perfect complement to Dave’s clear focus.  Yet I still wonder if Dave knows or has considered why he is unable to easily shift his expectations. Sometimes I fight his fixed determination. Because Dave has great ideas, most days I happily go with it. Ultimately, it was Dave’s clear resolve that built a beautiful home and has spent the last few weeks tirelessly building our addition. Steadfastness is just what he does and a strong resolve serves him well. It serves us all well.

I firmly believe that his steadfastness is an inherited trait. Dave’s mom is a force. She is single-minded and often unflinchingly fixates on an idea or a perception. As a result, when she gets an idea in her head, there is very little, if anything, anyone can do to knock her off course. Because we know this, when we traveled with her a few years ago, for instance, we repeatedly asked her with the kind of directness that seems unkind,

“No. Please do not buy the London pass. We will not use it. It will go to waste.”

Nevertheless and undeterred, she bought the London pass. Of course she was surprised and also very sad when we did not use it. Kyle also shares this same single-mindedness. In fact, I would argue that their relentless is what makes the three of them such a success.

…As we pulled up to the parking spot, my heart sank. Ok. I think I have made the point that Dave is a force. And a jet-lagged me did not have the energy to fight that force. Nevertheless, the neighborhood seemed sketchy so I pleaded,

“I am not sure, but this does not feel right. I do not think we should park here.”

Parking our rental car in Athens, Greece
Parking our rental car in Athens, Greece

Dave did not respond. As he pulled into the spot, a dude on a beaten up motorcycle pulled up next to Dave’s car door. It was weird. We all said it was weird. Then Dave finished parking the car. That is when I grabbed our passports and shoved them in my purse. Then I covered my backpack with my black jacket and shoved it as far out of sight as I could. As I got out of the car, I said,

“Is there anywhere we can hide the kids’ backpacks? How can we get them safely out of sight?”

Dave snapped,

“Like where?”

I took a deep breath and asked the boys to hide their packs as best they could.

A screenshot of the Google Map where I marked our fateful parking spot, Athens, Greece
A zoomed out view of the screenshot I took of the Google Map marking where we parked, Athens, Greece

I should have done more. I should have screamed like a crazy person and demanded that we get back in the car. I should have been more kind and willing to deal with Dave’s lack-of-a-solid-plan disappointment. I was tired so was he. Instead, I caved.

Dave shut the hatch or our hatchback our rental car. As I walked around our car, I noticed his backpack up against the back window.  Then I saw the bright orange priority labels on the Almond milk case.

“Hey, why don’t we pull those orange tags off,” I said followed by, “I just don’t think that is a good place for your backpack.”

Dave pulled the orange tags off. I should have put his backpack on the floor.  I regret that I did not try to shove all the backpacks under the seats. In fairness to Dave, we travel often and all over the world. Most of the time we rent cars. As a necessity and on travel days, we have left our luggage fully exposed. Consequently, logic and experience would dictate we were safe. Alas, it was never about not having a plan. I knew we should not park where we did. My gut feelings (and Dave’s, because later he would tell me he had a bad feeling too), could be dismissed as jet-lag, right? Wrong.

Life Imitating Signs, Athens, Greece

So I let go and  on a random Athens street we left our luggage exposed. Then we walked into town. I often walk with Kyle as Eli loves to walk with Dave. Kyle would probably like to walk with the guys, but is always kind and waits for me as I pause and take things in. I am grateful for the care and friendship Kyle gives me. It is often during these times where Kyle and I get real. We had a pretty long walk toward the Acropolis to the neighborhood known as Monastiraki that lies in its shadow. As we walked, I said the following:

“Kyle. I think someone is going to break into our car. As a precaution I put our passports in my purse. At least if all of our stuff is stolen, we will be able to get out of the country.”

He agreed. I continued,

“I hope Dad will listen and trust my witch sense. I hope this moment impacts him so in the future he will be willing to go off course. You know I don’t think we should leave our car. None of us do, but here we are.” Then I paused and said, “I really hope you and Eli do not have to pay for this lesson.”

In hindsight we should have at least paid for parking, Athens, Greece

Just a few blocks from the car, as we were passing a bus stop thronged with tired commuters, a gaunt young man that kind of looked like Charles Manson was bouncing erratically from one person to the next with a menacing air. As we approached, he fixed his gaze on Eli, and reached out to him with his hand, holding a lit cigarette. Dave tried to position himself between them, and hustled Eli along, looking back after they were out of his orbit, to see that the man make a similar aggressive gesture toward Kyle and me.

The antics of this street lunatic left us all a little rattled. Another warning sign?

Half way down the block, we noticed a group of heavily armed policemen on the corner, looking at the direction of the disruptive crazy man. As we walked toward them, we hoped they might intervene, but they just kind of stood around. As we passed them, we noticed a small bulletproof police kiosk on one side of the street, and a large schoolbus-sized riot van, with more cops milling around outside. They didn’t seem to be there for any particular reason, other than the fact that the area was a plaza and public park that seemed to be a decent place for locals to hang out on a Sunday afternoon.

Again it was clear that a neighborhood where 20 police officers just hang around in a group might imply that it would be a sketchy place to park your car.


Eli, Quick Pitta, Athens, Greece
Kyle, Quick Pitta, Athens, Greece

The rest of our walk to the Monastiraki was uneventful and Athens was better than I expected. We ate at Quick Pitta. I wanted to go back to the car. Dave wanted to keep walking up the hill so we could get an Acropolis view. I love the view and was happy to oblige. By then I figured if the damage was done at least I could enjoy this moment. We walked along tiny roads and paths covered in vivid graffiti. At the top we could see the Acropolis across the way. It was the time of day where the sun is a perfect sepia light. We were amazed with feral cats and tiny churches. We made our way back. I was looking forward to the ferry and seeing Crete the next day.

Athens, Greece
Athens, Greece
Athens, Greece

Kyle and I were walking side by side. As we neared the car, I cautioned,

“I will let Dad walk ahead so if the car was broken into, he can see it first.”

Dave and Eli approached the car. It is painfully comical to recall how many times the boys and I urged Dave not to go into Athens, yet no amount of humor can erase what I heard next:

“They got our backpacks! Mom. Everything is gone.” Eli screamed.

He kept screaming and his screams turned into painful tears.


Note the case of Almond Milk in the upper righthand corner, Athens, Greece
Theft in Athens, Greece

Kyle walked up —  stunned. I think he is still stunned. I watched as an eerie sadness enveloped both boys. In that exact second I knew the direction of our trip would change. They had been violated. The things that were most personal to them had been ripped away. I did not stop it. I did not protect them. I should have fought harder.

Eli was pacing and frantic. Kyle was stoic. I was shouting at Dave,

“Dave, I asked you not to park here. I pleaded with you. I demanded. You [insert advanced expletive here] refused. You [insert all caps advanced expletive here] REFUSED!”

“I know. I know. I know.” Dave cried out.

“Why don’t you listen? Why do you get so fixed?” I screamed again. “Why are you so rigid?”

I noticed people walking by and looking at me as I screamed. Our moment is dark and very sad. My boys watched me scream at their dad. They watched their dad comprehend his responsibility.

Eli pleaded.

“Mom! Dad! Everything is gone. Everything.” Eli reached into the car and cut his hand badly on the broken glass.

Dave was now more frantic. Eli was scared and sobbing. Kyle was numb. Then Dave cried out,

“I do not know what to do. I do not know what to do.”

I had no idea what to do either. One of us suggested he find the police. I figured the police would not be able to do anything, but I also understand the importance of a police report.

Dave remembered the police kiosk around the corner, and thought maybe we could ask them for help, so he ran off in that direction, leaving us at the car. As we were sitting there for a long time, Dave was having a frustrating, exhausting, and bizarre interaction with Greece’s criminal justice system.

The cops on the corner at the bulletproof kiosk had no interest in coming to the crime scene, despite having nothing in particular to do. They informed Dave he needed to go to the police station to report the crime. They helped him find it on the map. It was over in the other direction, about a ten-minute walk. Dave ran over, taking several wrong turns on his way, and finally found a darkened building with another kiosk out front, the cop on duty informed him that he should go to the third floor to make his report. Entering the building, there was no lobby: just closed doors and a dark staircase. At the landing of each dimly lit level, there was another closed door and small placards written in Greek. No markings identifying anything or looking particularly police-like. As he entered the door on the third floor, he was in a shabby, mostly empty room, with a hallway down one side and a heavy green door with an opening in it at chest-level. As Dave entered the room, a man’s face peered out of the opening, and he beckoned Dave over. As Dave approached, saying,

“Someone broke into our car,”

he got a better look a the man and saw through the opening that there were several men in the small room behind the green door, he realized that small room was a holding cell. He turned around and walked down the hall, and saw an office that looked just like the set of “Barney Miller” or some other 1970s police TV show, with a couple of hard-boiled middle aged guys in shirts and ties sitting at small desks, and a young woman with a holster on her hip. The woman stood up, and Dave explained why he was there. Like most younger people in Greece we’d met in our travels there, she spoke decent English. She explained that he needed to report the crime at the office of the “tourist police.” She typed the address into Google Maps on his iPhone. The tourist police office was another 12 minute walk in the opposite direction of our car.

When Dave arrived at the tourist police, the man at the desk was a fatherly type with salt and pepper hair. If you wanted to cast a Greek police officer in a movie, you’d end up with this guy for sure. As Dave explained the events of that afternoon, he listened with weary familiarity.

“Athens wasn’t always like this,” he said.

He and his younger colleague gave Dave a stack of forms to fill out. While Dave filled out the forms, he and I had been carrying on a sporadic conversation over text. Eventually, the policeman realized that Dave’s family wasn’t there, and asked where is your wife and the car? He was surprised that we hadn’t packed up the car and all come to the police station together. Dave explained that we had tried to get help nearby, but had been sent to progressively farther-away places. The man suggested that Dave go get his family and the car and return. They would need to take some time typing up the police report anyway. was feeling helpless and panicked, so he just obeyed each time and went to the next place.

In the meantime, the sun was setting, it was getting cold and Eli was calming down.


Kind Strangers Helping Eli, Athens, Greece

Two men walked by and then returned a few minutes later with medical supplies. They walked up, and to clean Eli’s bleeding hand, dumped an entire bottle of Betadine on, then dressed his wounds. Eli’s hand looked much worse than it was. The men did not speak English so they called someone who did. On their flip phone I tried to speak with another kind stranger.

His English was not great. I do not speak Arabic or Greek. I assured him we were ok.

They left and came back with two bottles of water.

Kyle asked if he could go for a walk. I said,

“I need you here.”

People walked by, stared. Some stopped and asked (mostly in Greek) what happened. One woman scolded me, pointed several times, and rolled her eyes. Another man admonished,

“You parked in the bad-est of the bad parts of Greece.”

He could not emphasize this fact strongly enough. We were like,
“Dude, we know.”

Regardlesss, no one seemed to understand that we were robbed. Instead their eyes were drawn to the pool of Betadine surrounded by discarded gauze pads. It did not help that the Betadine looked like a blood bath.  A few were kind. All of them were foreigners, that is to say, non-Greek. I know this because they wanted us to know that they were not Greek. I appreciated the respect the showed us as they walked up to Kyle, asked what happened and asked what they could do.

By now Dave had been gone for some time. I was at a loss. Kyle’s phone was dead and their chargers and charger cords were gone. I knew we would miss it so I tried to get online so I could cancel our ferry. It was 8:00 AM in Utah. Eli was calm and helpful. Kyle was still quiet. I decided to text my friend Beth to see if she could get online for me. I sent her the following stream of texts:

“I need help” [send]
“Are in Greece and we were robbed” [send]
“This is Beth Adams [send]

She did not respond so I texted my friend, Emily. I did not hear back from Emily either, and wondered if she was having the same reaction.

That is when I realized Beth would never answer the phone, but instead assume my phone had been stolen. I texted:

“I am going to call you now”

It took two calls for her to answer. And yes, she thought it was a scammer.

She texted me the information I needed. Then I made the calls. While making calls and talking to Beth and now Emily, Eli stood by my side deconstructing our situation.  I love Eli’s awareness. He processes quickly and feels profoundly. Because he does, is well adjusted and heals fast.

By now we were freezing. Dave was still gone. Kyle seemed more relaxed as he talked to passers by. The two men came back with more water and checked on Eli’s hand. One of them looked at me and said,

“No English.” Then he pointed at himself and said, “Algeria,” and pointed at his friend, “He too.” Then he pulled up his flip phone again and handed it to me. I told the man on the other line that we were ok. As the two men walked off they said, “Algeria! No Greece.”

After what seemed like forever, Dave came back.

The boys outside of the Athens, Greece Tourist Police Station
The boys at the Athens, Greece Tourist Police Station
Eli’s injurred arm, Athens, Greece

He told us that the police were making a report and we need to drive back to the station so they could see the rental car. Kyle and I spread hoodies over the broken glass and sat in the back. We parked illegally (as per the policeman’s request), and went inside. As we sat on the couch, the policeman kindly admonished,

“Greece is beautiful. Don’t let this ruin your trip. You get away from Athens and you are more safe.”

As he walked away, I looked at Dave and said,

“He does not speak for us. You know that, right? Of course Dave agreed.

The boys, and Harry the police officer, at the Athens, Greece Tourist Police Station

We were at the police station for a very long time. They had a computer and a phone that we could use. Dave quickly got online to cancel the stolen credit cards and try to deal with our reservations at the ferry and hotels. Kyle and I shared my phone  so he could talk to his girlfriend and I could text Emily. Emily and Eli have a great connection and her energy is what we needed. At one point Kyle escorted me to the scary bathroom in the basement. Eli passed out on a couch. Dave and I had several tear-filled heart-to-hearts. Both boys pleaded that we get out of Greece. They were afraid. Normally I push through or assure them things would be ok. Somehow, and even if there is a lot of discomfort, they always are.  This time I knew making them stay was wrong. I also knew that logistically and financially it would be hard to stay. Just to be sure we were doing the right thing, I suggested several options like making our way to Zurich to connect with our return flights. Sure, I thought that may be impossible, but maybe the airline would take pity on us. Then I suggested we drive out of Greece to another country. I realized with most of our things stolen how impractical either of these options would be. That is when I suggested we see if we could fly home a few days early.

Dave at the Tourist Police Station, Athens, Greece

Dave made the call. That is when adrenaline faded and pure, beautiful emotion took over. I cried as I watched him sob,

“We were robbed. What they took has made it impossible for us to stay.”

I assumed they would give us a few days (like I had planned). The call agent told him there was a flight at 6AM. It was now almost 10PM. Kindly, United Airlines waived all fees and told us,

“We need to get you home.”

Me at the Athens, Greece Tourist Police Station
Kyle outside of the Athens, Greece Tourist Police Station

We found a hotel, took showers for the first time in three days, and at 4AM this morning we left for home.

Now we are on our last flight traveling from Chicago to Salt Lake City.  It is about 9:45 PM. The lights just came on. Over the loudspeaker I hear,

“We have a medical emergency. Do we have any doctor’s, nurses, medical personal, EMTs, or first responders on board? If so, please ring your call light.”

The flight attendant just made the announcement again. Then I heard a call light from somewhere on the plane. I have no idea what is happening. We heard nothing more. For the remainder of the flight there is an unusual amount of turbulence.

And maybe flying through turbulence is a good place to end. Because life is filled with turbulent moments. When we checked into our Athens Hotel, we told Dimitri, the desk agent about our robbery. He looked at Kyle and I and said,

“You have like nine or ten of these hard (turbulent) moments in your life. The sooner you learn how to move through them, the better you will be.”

Dimitri has a point.

A little family therapy. Us, Salt Lake City, Utah

Now a week out we are ok. Dave and I are ok. The boys are ok. This week has been hard. Nevertheless, I think we are closer. What I like about us is we are both willing to stretch. That is why we have agreed to listen more, especially when someone pushes pause. I love him for that. I love Dave — always.

Tagged :

Pushing Pause: Our Day in Oxford, England

The Day Before it all happened: Dave & I at theNational Trust - Middle Littleton Tithe Barn, England
The Day Before it all happened: Dave & I at theNational Trust – Middle Littleton Tithe Barn, England
The boys, The Day Before it all happened: Dave & I at theNational Trust - Middle Littleton Tithe Barn, England (What a difference a day makes)
The boys, The Day Before it all happened: Dave & I at theNational Trust – Middle Littleton Tithe Barn, England (What a difference a day makes)

Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday afternoon, July 10: I sat in my doctor’s office. After waiting for more than an hour, he walked into the room. I could tell he was upset and I knew why. Do not worry. There was no devastating news. He merely wanted to chew me out. I let him. Then I paused.

Here is what happened: Thursday, July 6, I was ready to leave for the hospital — so was Dave.  It was 9AM. The hospital wanted me to arrive at 9:15AM.  Sinus Surgery would start at 11:30AM.  As he sat on the couch waiting, I reviewed the places and times with Dave, like I had done over the last few days.

“You will be done by noon, right? I need to be at work at noon.” He urged.

“Dave, the surgery starts at 11:30AM. I do not know how that is possible.”

As the words left my mouth, Dave started to freak out, so did I. Then memories of the week before flooded my mind.

[Flashback. Several days earlier:]

Us in Oxford, England
Us in Oxford, England
The boys in Oxford, England
The boys in Oxford, England

We were in Oxford, England. Dave, Kyle, Eli and I were sitting in our car ready to leave. Dave was in the driver’s seat. In a panic he started the engine and began to drive. As the car began moving, Kyle abruptly shouted,

“Dad, DAD! Stop the car!”Dave kept driving.

Kyle insisted, “No. really. Dad please stop the car.”Dave slowed down and did not stop.

“What? What do you want, Kyle?” Dave demanded.

As I held my bloodied and swollen hand I said,

“Dave. Please stop the car NOW!”

Oxford, England seconds before I fell.
Oxford, England seconds before I fell.

In the middle of the parking lot, Dave slammed on the breaks. Then I asked Kyle what he wanted to say. Kyle wisely uttered the following:

“Guys. Stop. Look around. Just pause. We need to pause. We need to catch our breath. We need to make sure we are not missing anything.  Think. Are we missing anything? Take a second and pause.” We did. After a moment, Kyle continued, “Not pausing is how we got here.”

He was right. I took a deep breath. We collected ourselves and then Dave drove us to the hospital.

It was Monday, June 26, and we were near the end of our three week UK adventure. The boys were completely over the trip, their parents and each other. Kyle and Eli wanted to be home. I knew they were on their last legs as I gently urged them out of the car. Eli put his shoes on slower than a snail’s pace. Honestly, it was painful. I was fried and didn’t know how much glass-half-full I could muster. As we locked the car, Kyle complained about how boring the day would be. I assured him it might be. Then we worked our way out of the tiny car park, through a long alley and unto the Oxford city streets. We stopped, looked at our online itinerary (I found a last minute walking tour online), and Dave led the way. Now the boys were both complaining and swatting at one another. I raised my eyebrows then offered up a bribe: Anyone who makes it through 60% of the day with a good attitude will get a prize:

“Dudes and I will pay you cash!” I paused then said, “Dave, you can play too!”

Kyle outside the Tower of St. Michael at the Northgate, Oxford, England -- and he is thrilled ;)
Kyle outside the Tower of St. Michael at the Northgate, Oxford, England — and he is thrilled 😉
Dave and the boys in front of Oxford, England's "CLOSED MONDAYs" Ashmolean Museum
Dave and the boys in front of Oxford, England’s “CLOSED MONDAYs” Ashmolean Museum

They boys did not care.  They continued telling me how much the other was annoying them, and when they were not complaining, they were fighting. When they were not fighting,  they were pouting.Dave did not notice. My bribe was lost on the three of them.  Guilt had no effect. No amount of telling them how grateful they should be for their super special and blessed lives  mattered. Each new landmark became a nuisance, and the museum Dave was excited to see was closed. [insert that hands pulling on the face emjoi here]. Do not worry. I became an active participant in our collective doom. But then I had a flash. Money is not working,  how about I bribe the boys with new books?  (Please know I have not bribed the boys since they were like three and in the throes of potty training). Nevertheless, I was desperate. So, with my book bribe uttered, Dave and I took the boys to Oxford’s famous Blackwell’s bookstore. Dave encouraged me to buy a book too. (He is also good at bribing.) I fell for it. I knew what I wanted, yet was not sure where to find it.

“Ask the lady for help.” Dave urged (several times).

I finally did.  

As the words left my mouth, immediately I recognized  the up and down look this young Oxford student was so clearly giving me: contempt. When I asked for books on memoir writing,  she directed me to the “self help” and “bestsellers.” Then she succinctly stated:

 “the academic books are down here. What you want is upstairs.”

That is when our day turned around (sort of).  Kyle witnessed the entire exchange as I said something like,

“You have judged me to be an incompetent, suburban mom, American tourist, haven’t you?”

She nodded.

“You are only partially correct.” I responded.

We purchased a copy of "Nudge" at Blackwell's Bookstore in Oxford, England. We left our library copy in our AirBnB in Devon, England (that is another story for another day).
We purchased a copy of Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein’s, “Nudge” at Blackwell’s Bookstore in Oxford, England. (We left our library copy in our AirBnB in Devon, England — that is another story for another day.)

By his own admission Kyle was totally impressed  with me. From my observation, his elevated mood lasted for like thirty-five seconds. Then he asked if he could go outside to participate in a Pokemon RAID battle. “Whatever it takes to make them happy today” is what I thought.

Moments later we found ourselves standing next to Kyle and like several Oxford college students. One asked me if I would be fighting too.

“No.” I smiled and laughed.

Kyle & Eli standing with a group of dudes (Oxford college students) finishing their Pokemon RAID battle outside of Blackwell's Bookstore, Oxford, England
Kyle & Eli standing with a group of dudes (Oxford college students) finishing their Pokemon RAID battle outside of Blackwell’s Bookstore, Oxford, England
Kyle finishing his Pokemon RAID Battle with Eli and Dave walking ahead to the next "nuisance" landmark, Oxford, England
Kyle finishing his Pokemon RAID Battle with Eli and Dave walking ahead to the next “nuisance” landmark, Oxford, England

The Pokemon RAID battle was complete. Eli had his new Douglas Adams anthology in hand,  and Kyle was carrying a new copy of a book we lost earlier in the trip.  To answer your question: Those books elevated the mood for maybe another two minutes. And yes, it was totally worth it.

Me in Oxford, England
Me in Oxford, England
My team players, Oxford, England
My team players, Oxford, England

We walked. I snapped photos.  I wanted to remember this place I have never seen before.  Eli was also hungry and so was I. And the bitching only escalated. Thank goodness for bright spots in snotty college towns. The folks at Noodle Nation, where we ate some great pan-asian cuisine, were a dream. I highly recommend this restaurant. The food is great and the customer service is warm and friendly.

Noodle Nation, Oxford, England (they offer student discounts, by the way)
Noodle Nation, Oxford, England (they offer student discounts, by the way)

Now fed, the boys could not implore us to leave Oxford fast enough. After buying them some last minute fruit pies (yes, more mood bribes), we found ourselves racing to the car. The parking meter was past due. Dave is 6’2”. Eli is over 6’ and Kyle is just about 6’. I am barely 5’4”. Like I often do, as we left the Oxford indoor Market, I snapped a few more photos. Snapping those photos only put me farther behind. Like Kyle often does, he waited and ran along side me.  I watched as Dave and Eli ran across a street. In full sprint, Kyle and I ran to catch up. With my phone in one hand, I heard the beep, beep of a car horn coming from my left. I turned to looked as my feet kept their pace.

Fruit Pies from Oxford, England's Covered Market
Fruit Pies from Oxford, England’s Covered Market
Oxford, England's Covered Market
Oxford, England’s Covered Market

Before I realized what was happening, my sandal caught the edge of median I had not seen.  I extended my right arm. And as Kyle observed (with full arm motions),

“You dropped hard and then you slid — also hard.”

Even though I could see my pants were not ripped (Props to the durability of the Athleta Trekkie Jogger), I could feel my knees swell and see the blood begin to seep through the fabric.  My right hand was scraped, purple and swollen.  I was mortified as I lay splayed out in the street.

Me wearing the sturdy Athleta Trekkie Jogger the day before in Stratford-upon-Avon, England the day before (the clothes were at the end of the trip too)
Me wearing the sturdy Athleta Trekkie Jogger the day before in Stratford-upon-Avon, England the day before (the clothes were at the end of the trip too)

Kyle ran to my side, helped me up and screamed for Dave.  Within seconds, Dave and Eli were at my side helping me walk. Dave asked me if I wanted to stop.

“Why don’t you sit here for a minute. Let’s make sure you are ok. Really. Beth. Let’s just stop.”

Tears streamed down my face. I was embarrassed. “No. No. Let’s get to the car. I will collect myself there.”

Dave held me up as we quickly walked. The boys were behind us. The crowd was large and moving slow. With each impatient  breath, the crowd only seemed to move slower. Within seconds, I grabbed Dave’s left arm, nudging him a little and said,

“Let’s pass these people. They are moving  way too slow.”

As I pushed on his left side, Dave stepped into the street.

As he stepped, we heard  loud, panicked screams. It was a woman.

“NO! NO! NO!” she cried.

I watched as her bicycle hit the ground as a car swerved to miss her. She kept screaming. I held my hand. The car missed her within inches, continued honking and drove away. The crowd stopped. Now all those slow walking people were screaming too.

“Ma’am, are you ok. Ma’am!” I heard them shout.

Her left pant leg was ripped at the knee. I did not see blood. She was wearing a helmet. Thank God!

“Yes. Yes. I am ok. I am ok. I just need a moment.” She shouted as her tears fell.

People walked her over to the side of the road. Dave gathered her bike from the street. We stood there. We asked. We wanted to know she was ok.

“Yes. Yes. Yes. I am ok. I am just late.” She trailed off.

An older woman in the crowd took over. Within seconds the older woman had the injured biker’s phone and was making calls. And from behind I hear a quiet, calm voice. I turned to look. It was a priest on a bike. He was probably 70 and about my size. He tried to help the injured biker. When he saw the older lady take over, he began to talk with us. We watched. We stayed. We asked. We made sure she was ok. Several moments later and when we knew she was more frightened than anything, Dave quietly asked the priest,

“My wife just fell. We need a hospital.”

I showed him my hand and he said,

“Oh my! Yes you do.”

He pointed us the way. Dave and I said nothing as we rushed to the car. Then we said everything. Mostly we were shocked and completely grateful  that the woman was ok. Seriously, I can still see the rapid chain reaction.

This kid has my heart. Eli stood by my side quietly & calmly made sure I was ok. Here were are at Snowdownia National Park, Wales
This kid has my heart. Eli stood by my side quietly & calmly made sure I was ok. Here were are at Snowdownia National Park, Wales

In the past few days, via an MRI and x-rays, I had it double-confirmed that my hand is broken (a minimally displaced 5th metacarpal fracture and a minimally displaced hamate fracture).  My hand still hurts, is still swollen, and my arm is still numb. In a month we will see if there is anything else to address. Honestly, I feel lucky and my guess is everything will heal.

The people I love most, Oxford, England
The people I love most, Oxford, England

[Flashing back again to that Oxford, England, parking lot:]

After falling and after the woman crashed, it made complete sense that Kyle was insisting we pause. So  last Thursday I wanted to correlate Kyle’s wisdom. When things were falling apart, and it was time to leave for my sinus surgery, I took a deep breath and asked Dave to pause. Then we both sat down.

We caught our breath, readjusted, and re-grouped.  Sure, I could have gone to my surgery alone, but it is my surgery, my body and I did not want to be alone.  Instead, we canceled my surgery. Then Dave went to his meeting.

Ultimately, Dave and I took responsibility. The doctor goofed up too, changing times and mysteriously canceling the original surgery the week before.

Us, Cecret Lake, Albion Basin near Alta, Utah, Sunday, July 9
Us, Cecret Lake, Albion Basin near Alta, Utah, Sunday, July 9

[Fast Forward again to Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, July 10:]

As I mentioned, the doctor asked me to come in.  He is a good doctor so I obliged. Nevertheless, even good doctors overstep, and I think that is what he did when he chewed me out. I felt shamed, humiliated and scolded. As a result, I really wanted to have my say. I thought about posting a Google review. I considered saying something like,

“This doctor had to prove he was right. He wanted to punish me. He is immature and self-centered. Be careful.”

Sure. I think he was immature and self-centered. I definitely felt punished. I also have compassion. He is frustrated and my guess is he is not getting the full story. Miracles do happen. As he rebuked, I took a note from Kyle.  Instead of screaming, I paused. I apologized for any misunderstanding and offered that I could see another doctor. He said, “No.” 

 I am no saint. I am human.  And because I make a lot of really awful mistakes (especially via my words), I get it. I also appreciate that he was willing to move forward.  In reality, it was the chain reactions of the past weeks that remind me to consider all sides. See, in all of this, it was my impatience and self-focus that almost got a woman killed. You know what else? Instead of screaming at me or telling me it was my fault, she had perspective. She was rushing and admitted she was.  So were we. She did not scold me. She was kind and she was forgiving.

I am grateful she was not run over by the car. I watched it all.  And yes, it was completely in slow motion horror. I do not know how the car did not hit her. Wow! I am grateful for the people who were there to help her. I am grateful for sweet priest on the bike.  I am grateful Dave, Kyle and Eli were there to help me up. And when I needed it most, Eli quietly put his arm around me. Then as Dave ran ahead to pay the meter, both boys slowly and sweetly walked me to the car.  (By the way, we did not get a parking ticket.)

Even in "lame" estate homes, the boys always seem to make the best of it. I am really lucky to travel with these awesome humans. Wightwick Manor & Gardens, Wolverhampton, England
Even in “lame” estate homes, the boys always seem to make the best of it. I am really lucky to travel with these awesome humans. Wightwick Manor & Gardens, Wolverhampton, England

Bonus: The day was not a complete dark hole of awfulness. After my fall and the bike crash, the boys rose up and regrouped. Then they patiently sat with me in an Oxford hospital as we tried to figure out what to do. They did not complain. They kindly waited and laughed when all we had to pay is 6 dollars US.  On our way back to our hotel, we stopped for 3 GBP meals and enjoyed the rest of our night. We are lucky.

My Broken hand with its most awesome fashion splint, Salt Lake City, Utah
My Broken hand with its most awesome fashion splint, Salt Lake City, Utah

And of course there is an obvious moral to our story: If we remember to stop and pause, maybe we would not miss appointments,  break our bones,  or hurt so many others. I hope it will stick.


Keeping it Real As We Make Our Way Home

Our Flight Seattle, Washington to Salt Lake City, Utah
Our Flight Seattle, Washington to Salt Lake City, Utah

[Be warned: Not only did we cover a lot of physical territory on our return flight, my words here are all over the map!]

It is 6:30 AM.  We are on the last leg of our epic adventure, traveling on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Salt Lake City. The sun is shining through the window bright. I am sitting in seat 17A.  The middle seats are empty, and our family has the entire row. Seconds ago I stole my neck pillow back. I feel a little guilty. Dave really seemed comfortable.

Us on our flight from Seattle, Washing to Salt Lake City, Utah
Us on our flight from Seattle, Washing to Salt Lake City, Utah

Over the intercom I hear a voice. It is the captain:

“We are at a cruising altitude of 39,000 feet …Mad props (yes, he did say ‘mad props’). The captain continues,  “We are going to be on time, or very close to it.  We are lucky to have four of Alaska’s top flight attendants with us today…Enjoy the flight.”

Kyle at the Liechtenstein Main Square, our last day, April, 2017
Kyle at the Liechtenstein Main Square, our last day, April, 2017

The return travel portion of our journey home began approximately thirty-four hours ago when I heard the beep, beep, beep of my alarm. I had no idea what was happening. Confused, I said,

“Stop that noise! Seriously, turn it off.  Whose alarm is that?” (It was mine.)

It was 3:30 AM — Zurich time. Somehow we showered, packed, ate breakfast, and made our way to the airport. I was patted down in Seattle. At the Zurich airport, both Kyle and I had our bags searched. Then the sweet Swiss airport security agent lady held the two tiny jars up high.

“That is my jam for the plane.” I said, and then I looked at Kyle and mumbled, “Not music, but like real jam.”

Examining them she mumbled, or better, spoke German, “[insert German words here].” I listened incomprehensibly. Then smiled when I heard the word, “marmalade.”

“Yes, the marmalade.” I proclaimed.

“Marmelade. Yes. Marmalade.” She laughed and concurred.

She placed the marmalade with my little toothpaste as she crammed all of my small items into one plastic bag. Finally, she instructed me to keep all items in that bag.  As I watched her, all I could think was,

“my jam is with my toothpaste. That’s weird.”

A picture of one of my little jams that made it home from Zurich, Switzerland, April 2017
A picture of one of my little jams that made it home from Zurich, Switzerland, April 2017

We made our way to the gate and as we were boarding, I heard,

“If your name is called, please come and speak to a gate agent.” I heard the name “Adams,” and said, “Dude, they just called our name.”

Uncertain, he listened again, “Adams.”

Sure enough, his name was called, which ultimately meant he was bumped to first class.

Kyle piped in and said, “Mom should get the seat.”

Let me preface this next part and to tell you that in all the years of flying, flights and upgrades, I have never taken the first class seat. Nevertheless, Dave always offers. And yes, on occasion, we have upgraded together. But, because I seem to be allergic to all food, which means I would not fully enjoy the luxury of a first class meal, and because I am also small in stature, which means I fit in a middle seat between the boys more comfortably, I always feel guilty taking the upgrade.  The closest I came to taking him up on his offer is when I suggested we give the upgrade to his mom, who was traveling with us.  (*Hold up! Do not think I am a sweet daughter-in-law because I suggested Dave give his mom the upgrade. Sending his mom to first class was as much as a gift for me as it was for her. We were at the end of a long journey, a journey, where, for two weeks, I listened to her talk at great length as she detailed her previous trips to England including, but not limited to, things such as the intricacies of every meal, a full-blown accounting of where she ate, details such as how the restaurant was decorated, how many people were also eating at said restaurant, then an exhaustive listing of what she and her companions ate, how the food was prepared, and how long it took for her to eat compared to everyone else. **By the way, I bumped her to first class in the van too.  Of course and in truth, I  wanted her to be comfortable as we traveled across the country. As a result, I insisted she sit in the front passenger seat. I sat in the far the back. It was great. Dave drove. She talked. I hid. *Please be hard on me and not her. For more than forty years she was an English professor. And is much more accustomed to an audience. When it came to our return flight, I knew I had no more energy to listen so I insisted she have Dave’s first class upgrade.)

Dave and his mom, DeAnne, Hampton Court, England, July, 2014
Dave and his mom, DeAnne, Hampton Court, England, July, 2014
Me in the back of our rental van somewhere between London and Brighton, England, July, 2014
Me in the back of our rental van somewhere between London and Brighton, England, July, 2014

Of course Dave happily obliged.

Yesterday was different. A voice screamed. Ok, my voice screamed,

“Beth, take the seat!”

I was exhausted. I needed a break and I really needed a moment alone. So I took a deep breath and I took the seat. Of course I immediately offered to split the time with Dave. (You can check my text messages for proof. It was sort of ridiculous actually.)

Dave insisted,

“I think you should stay there the entire time.” Then he demanded, “But you’d better sleep.”

Air Canada 787 Business Class Seats
Air Canada 787 Business Class Seats

I did. I slept. Even after two flight attendants woke me up, I forced myself back to sleep. Sure, I went back and visited Dave and the boys a few times. Of course I had moments of lonely. I hate being alone all those hours. But people it was awesome.

Dave in Toronto Airport's Plaza Premium Lounge -- the only picture I took, April 2017
Dave in Toronto Airport’s Plaza Premium Lounge — the only picture I took, April 2017
Dave & the boys at the Zurich Airport Aspire Lounge, April 2017.
Dave & the boys at the Zurich Airport Aspire Lounge, April 2017.

We landed in Toronto, where we had a six-hour layover, a layover where I sat in the exact same chair in the Plaza Premium Lounge for exactly five hours. For the past few days prior Eli had been bugging me because he wanted to download some Netflix shows. Apparently you can only download Netflix shows on one device at a time and my iPad had the shows.  So to help out a brother, who is really my son, I sat and watched my remaining downloads, which were the last three episodes of the teen-suicide drama “Thirteen Reasons Why.” See, I have been watching the show in tandem with Eli.  He read the book in 7th grade. And after watching the show, I am now retroactively questioning another parenting choice. I can’t change the past, but I can address the now.

I finished the last episode, and with our food-stained yet comfortable airport lounge chairs facing each other, I announced,

“I am done.”

Like the great literary deconstruction specialist he is, Kyle asked, “What did you think?”

“I have mixed feelings.”  I responded.

He shook his head affirmatively and asked, “Like what?”

“For starters, Hannah, the girl whose suicide was graphicaly depicted, announced her despair throughout the show.  She clearly stated that she felt:  flat, hopeless and apathetic.  Consequently, I would argue that it seems a little incongruous that in her hopeless state she had enough energy to make thirteen, very detailed, sixty-minute cassette tapes — not to mention the fortitude it took to procure a cassette recorder … That is a lot of energy.”

“I agree,” Eli piped in.  “And to tell 13 specific people why they played a part in her suicide, well, that is a lot! Mom, there were so many things that did not make sense.”

Colmar, France, April, 2017
Colmar, France, April, 2017

We continued talking about things like teen suicide, rape and why we think narrow literary stereotypes are lame.  Through our analysis we compared the merits of real life versus making a best-selling teen novel turned Netflix-binge watch.   We all agree. Reality and being yourself should win, including the dirty, less glamorous parts. We also concluded (again), that suicide and suicide prevention was not portrayed accurately or well in this Netflix series. 


Our conversation wound down and soon we were on our way to our next flight: Toronto to Seattle.  I convinced a tiny, curly haired, and very entertaining teen to trade seats with us. I noticed he was flying alone. I convinced him by telling him he would be sitting behind my sons who would both be happy to talk with him about Pokémon or whatever. He agreed and probably would have moved regardless.  But he did move with a lot of back and forth regarding Gameboy Pokémon compared to travesty that is Pokémon Go. And yes, as a level twenty-four Pokémon Go player, I participated in the trash talk.  (I am not kidding. In fact I leveled up on this trip.) Huzzah!

When I noticed no one was sitting in the seats in front of Dave and me, I urged Kyle to move so both boys could have their own row. As they stretched out, I asked Dave, “should I have offered the Gameboy kid the empty seats?”

To which he said, “No way! If he’d stayed in the seat he was given, he’d still have someone sitting next to him.”

View from a plane at the Toronto, Canada International Airport, April, 2017
View from a plane at the Toronto, Canada International Airport, April, 2017

I let it be, wrapped my clean (because I keep it in a backpack) neck pillow around my neck and turned on a video on the in-flight entertainment system. Ben Affleck was saying words and I could not stay awake.  We landed in Seattle delirious and moments later we met up for a quick bite with one of our favorite humans, Justin. And because it was Seattle and because I stated out loud that I have celiac, the Cheesecake Factory wanted to get my order right. They re-made my dinner three times. I did not ask them to keep remaking my food. It was Jen, our waitress, followed by her manager. They insisted.

“We are closing down our kitchen, but we want to get you something you can eat.”

It was a moment of kindness after a very long flight. I was grateful. They continued,

“We don’t want you to get sick or have some weird allergic reaction.”

Us with Justin, Seattle, Washington, April, 2017
Us with Justin, Seattle, Washington, April, 2017

The food was good. We ate up, found our way back to our hotel. Said goodbye to Justin and found our way to our room.

Here I sit. Around my neck, my pillow snakes. I am wearing noise-canceling headphones, listening to my Spotify Mix and typing away. Now hovering over Salt Lake City, I feel super reflective. I feel reflective as a means to distract me from the mad, turbulence.  Our flight path had us do a bunch of wide circles before we finally came in to land.  As I cross my fingers and hold a hand to the ceiling (not really), I feel grateful. Truthfully, I am grateful we have embraced the what-you-see-is-what-you-get aspect of life, especially as far as travel goes. As such, I own the moments like when I bring marmalade on a plane, or that I would selfishly help my mother-in-law as a means to help myself, or that for my boys I would totally sit in a seat for five straight hours (because I did) and binge watch Netflix. Instead of shame, I think it is cool that the boys and I have played Pokémon all over the world.  And finally, I am so glad that I have learned that profound experiences do not need to be orchestrated by, say, taking the kids to every self-important, humble-brag-to-your-friends museum such as the Louvre or the Prado, unless, that is, you can run them through said museum in less than an hour on “free” museum days.

Easy E outside of the Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, November, 2016
Easy E outside of the Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, November, 2016
Kyle in the Prado during our "free last 2 hours of Sunday" visit. We did the museum in under an hour. I surreptitiously took this photo. I am not a fan of "no photo" policies.
Kyle in the Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, during our “free last 2 hours of Sunday” visit. We did the museum in under an hour. I surreptitiously took this photo. I am not a fan of “no photo” policies.
Dave & I outside of the Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, November, 2016
Dave & I outside of the Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, November, 2016

As You Go, Write it Down: Chronicling Greece Part Two, Including a Little San Francisco

I cannot say this enough: When you are on the road, and for that matter, anytime you feel inspired, and even if you photograph said moment, you should still find a way to jot the moment down.

A most special moment indeed.
A most special moment indeed.

We are all busy. We all take pictures. As many pictures as we take, and as much as we try to remember, we often forget. I know I do.  I am far from a perfect chronicler. If I had a dollar for every yummy Thai restaurant I find, then forget its name and location, I could use that money to go on the best yellow curry tour our world has to offer. There is magic in visually capturing a moment. I would argue that there is also magic in note taking. Writing moments down and capturing the tiny details allows us to remember the nuance of our journey.  Great lodging, crazy places, odd encounters, and yummy restaurants (if I remember to write them down) are accurately recounted.  My notes remind me why something is so trashy, or why a restaurant is so good in a very personal, “best yellow curry ever” sort of way.

Sure, the pictures of the San Francisco Airport Centurion Lounge show, tucked away in the San Francisco airport, a hip, contemporary-designed foodie paradise. Notes, on the other hand, can convey the dirt, such as what really happened while we waited. In the lounge Dave and I sat on each side of this very peculiar lady. She was sitting in the quiet area on one of three chaise lounges. She would not move and I needed to rest. While I rested, she filed her toenails. And yes, her use of her cellphone’s speakerphone pushed me over the edge.  At once I knew that I needed to up my airport-lounge-game. Next time I will be more creative about getting a good seat.  Odd folks or not, I keep going back because Dave has a membership. I also know the Centurion Lounge has really good food and serves alcohol — both served the weird lady well. See, once the weird lady took a break, ate some food and drank a glass of wine, she became delightful and conversant. I remember these little details because I wrote them down.

Sutro Baths, San Francisco, California
Sutro Baths, San Francisco, California
Me and Big Daddy at the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California -- I finally walked all the way across! Woot!
Me and Big Daddy at the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California — I finally walked all the way across! Woot!

Last weekend we ate at a San Francisco-based Burmese/Thai restaurant. I did not write the name down so I had to search. Thankfully, I found it.  We were about one-third of the way on our coast hike from the Sutro Baths to the Golden Gate Bridge. I was hungry and needed to pee. We left the path, crossed the street, and walked along a golf course.  We walked up and over a hill, I think, and into Lincoln Park, which of course reminded me of the OPI nail polish color, “Lincoln Park After Dark.”

Then I said it out loud: “Lincoln Park After Dark.”

It was early afternoon and as we walked closer, Pagen Restaurant appeared closed. We read the sign: Open Fridays from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

“Isn’t it Friday?” I asked.
“Yes it is.” The boys answered.

California Coastal Trail, San Francisco, California. In this photos, I believe Dave is searching for a bathroom.
California Coastal Trail, San Francisco, California. In this photos, I believe Dave is searching for a place to get a snack.


My last “Notes on My iPhone” post was on our third day, (March 14).  Since then I have been distracted  writing about such things as beautiful and historic Greece, Greece’s crumbling economy, and all of my various existential crises. Now home, it is time to share these notes with you. Between loads of laundry and refilling my cup of Clipper Brand Organic White Tea with Vanilla (yes, I wrote the brand and flavor down when I found this tea at the Kensington, London Whole Foods — and now have it shipped right here to Salt Lake City, Utah),

Clipper Brand Organic White Tea Vanilla. (And no, I am not being paid to post this he he.)
Clipper Brand Organic White Tea with Vanilla. (And no, I am not being paid to post this.)


I present to you, The Adams Family Takes on Greece Par Deux (of course with some editorializing along the way)!

Never fear.  I do not have time to edit and post all of the notes here (and I don’t want to overload you in one offering).  I promise  that over the next bit that I will iPhone-note you through our entire “San Francisco to Greece and Back” journey. Enjoy.

The Arrivals area of the Santorini, Greece, Airport
The Arrivals Area of the Santorini, Greece, Airport
The Arrivals Area, including the Rental Car Area of the Santorini, Greece Airport
The Arrivals Area, including the Rental Car Area of the Santorini, Greece Airport -To orient the two pictures note Kyle’s foot is on the lower right.

Leaving Santorini (Morning, Day 5)

[I love Dave. I love Dave’s reactions to things. The following took place at the Santorini Airport.  The airport car rentals are located in a very small part of the arrivals area. The boys were sitting on the floor. I had asked a man to move over so I could sit on the bench. He hesitated, picked his bag down, and let me sit. I watched the following.]

Dave is talking to the Hertz agent. The Hertz agent leaves and comes back. They talk. I can see that Dave is annoyed. He  just stormed out of the airport, mumbling something about the half full tank. He has been gone, I mean, disappeared for the past 15 minutes, apparently long enough to put enough gas in the car.  Dave is back. The Hertz guy just went to check our tank again. I’m waiting for him to return and tell Dave that there is still not enough gas. In the meantime, I recommend that Dave tell us where he is going next time.

He agrees. Dave tells me that Hertz would charge something like 43 euro to put in another two gallons. That’s lame. I am with Dave. [Additionally], that same Hertz  dude argued with me when we rented our smashed up Hertz car.

“What’s the problem?” He asked.
“It’s smashed on the outside, not the inside.”  I responded.
“It doesn’t change how the car runs, does it?” He snapped.

[Another crazy thing is the lack or inconsistent security at the Greece airports. Santorini is no different. My favorite, and really a non-security, item is the following]:

Small Sterilite containers, like you might buy at Wal-Mart, to place items in to go through security.

The roads of Greece are covered in variations on this style of roadside memorial.
The roads of Greece are covered in variations on this style of roadside memorial. Different parts of Greece have distinctive architecture for their churches, and the roadside mini-churches mirror this.

Back on Mainland Greece

The Athens Airport is very nice and very modern. My very favorite part was the pharmacy located in the arrivals area. I think I mentioned that I had a crazy allergic reaction somewhere between Boston and Frankfurt. I nearly itched all of the skin off of my very swollen ankles and calves. The Athens airport pharmacist was competent, spoke really good English, and gave me what my at-home doctor recommended. The rental car was a different story. Here is what I wrote. By the way, that car grew on me. 

Avis Athens, [on the other hand], was not as awesome. Avis, thank you for renting us a car that smells like a freaking ashtray. We are Avis preferred. Your Mazda 3 is smashed up and has nearly 57,000 km on it. Bad job.

Lobby of the Elefsina Hotel, Elefsina, Greece
Lobby of the Elefsina Hotel, Elefsina, Greece

Elefsina, Greece (25  miles West of Athens)

[It is now March 18.  We are at our first mainland Greece hotel, the Elefsina Hotel in none other than Elefsina, Greece. It is a very nice, business-style hotel in an area where there are no other hotels. It was late when we checked in and the Americans in the room next to ours were partying like rock stars. Ok. They were not partying like rockstars. They were very loud. I commend the hotel for dealing with the noise. And I applaud those American girls for quieting down when asked. Your mothers would be proud. The breakfast was not special, but good. The best part was the music — at breakfast, that is. There is nothing better than being in a place where no one speaks English and hearing one of your favorite songs.]

The Head in the Heart’s, “Winter Song” is playing right now at the hotel breakfast. It feels like home.

We left the hotel and began our five day four night Greece road trip. What an eye opener.

Roadtripping in Greece
Roadtripping in Greece



  • When planning Greece lodging, I think it is important to mention that we found the hotels, VRBOs, and Airbnbs are located in the same general areas with few hotels in between.

Europe Summer 2015: Our Day in Bruges


Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium

Ok. Hello there. Here is the deal. Blogging on this particular trip has not been the easiest. We are offline more than we are on (which is not such a bad thing, by the way). Anyway, today, I decided I would start sharing the notes I take along the way. Let me know how you like them. Do they make sense? Or, are they too crazy to follow?

Right now Dave is telling us that it is time for bed. It is 12:51 PM. I think he is correct. We are spending our last night in Belgium. Tomorrow we head to Amsterdam. Our trip began in London. Then we headed to Paris, Brussels, and today we spent our time in Bruges. Train travel is new this time around. (We usually rent a car.) Eli and I also agree that we miss visiting random grocery stores and seeing little towns along the way. For the most part, however, I would say we have all really enjoyed the trains.

Notes from Bruges PAGE ONE
Notes from Bruges PAGE ONE
The Lovely Lady who tripped into Eli on the Train (See Page One)
The Lovely Lady who tripped into Eli on the Train (See Page One)
Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium
Our Day in Bruges, Belgium PAGE TWO
Our Day in Bruges, Belgium PAGE TWO
The Dark Chocolate Skull Candy I am obsessed with
The Dark Chocolate Skull Candy I am obsessed with
The Chocolate Line, Bruges, Belgium
The Chocolate Line, Bruges, Belgium
Us in Bruges, Belgium
Us in Bruges, Belgium


    • As I was Googling The Chocolate Line (you know the chocolate skull candy store) I learned they have an Antwerp location. My heart be still. Before we leave Antwerp in the morning, I will track down those skull candies. Cross your fingers!
    • Here is my Ellis Gourmet Burger review I wrote on my phone while sitting in their restaurant: “Be aware. As adorable as the city is, Bruges is a tourist town and they are in the business of fleecing tourists. This restaurant is no different. So technically because everyone in Bruges is fleecing tourists, in context, this restaurant is good. This being said, we are annoyed that they can only leave ketchup or mayo OFF the burger when they deem it not to be “too busy.” Oh and the 10€ pitcher of lemonade is the size of a large glass. Seriously, the pitcher is the size of a 20 oz glass.
      Don’t order the chicken sandwich. The grilled vegetables consisted on green pepper and onions. Gross!. And the piece of chicken I was given was tiny and overlooked. The burgers were actually quite good, and if the lemonade would have been larger, or refilled for free, we would be much happier and more satisfied. Our waitress was very nice. Best part of the restaurant is the FREE bathrooms! Everyone else charges 50 cents. Oh, and to use the FREE wi-fi you MUST check in to their Facebook page. When I checked in to the FB page. the review for me to fill in popped up. Well, burger people, you asked for it…” (In Bruges, everyone charges 50 cents to use the bathroom).
    • Ok. I know the reviews for the Pita House are good. My issue was the non-English menu. I imagine it is time I learn Dutch. Aside from the fight Dave and I had in the Pita House, it was really our inability to translate the menu, the 2 euro small bottles of water, and the unhelpful wait staff that made this place a place to leave. Sorry pita house. As soon as I learn me some Dutch, and learn your cultural direct, yet non-emotive-ness, I will be back.
    • In Bruges, we highly recommend the canal tour. I wish I could remember our guy’s name. Any tour will do. They are friendly, and we were so delighted that they spoke French, English and Dutch. What a treat.
    • Dave mentioned Little Sebastian from “Parks and Recreation” earlier and the day, and then Little Sebastian became the theme of the day. Yay, Little Sebastian!
    • If you are in Belgium and you know you will be in both Bruges and Belgium, buy the waffles in Brussels. They are cooked and made fresh while you wait. The are less expensive and they taste better. Don’t bother with the waffles in Bruges. Instead spend your time walking around and enjoying this beautiful city.
    • Final thoughts on Bruges: 1. Bring a picnic lunch. The food os overpriced and the restaurants are not accommodating. 2. Take a canal tour. 3. Walk off the beaten path. Bruges is such a beautiful town. Get away from the tourists. Find the secret parks, and walk as far as you can along the waterways. 5. Whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET TO BUY YOURSELF SOME CHOCOLATE! The town is famous for it, and the do it right! PS. Ask for Britt (yes, two t’s). She is lovely, speaks fluent English, and will help you find your favorite treat!
    • Oh oh I forgot to mention Elizabeth Bishop again. “In the Waiting Room,” is the poem I mentioned.
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Travel Helps Us Manage The Limbo

Expressing myself in other peoples’ words and ending with a few of my own.

“Theres a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t sit still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest; Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.”
― Robert W. Service


Easy E Northern Virginia, Shooting off rockets with the Rocket Society
Easy E Northern Virginia, Shooting off rockets

On travel…

“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.”
― Freya Stark

And why travel helps us manage our current in between…

“The true fruit of travel is perhaps the feeling of being nearly everywhere at home.”
― Freya Stark

Yes, wanderlust somehow found its way into our hearts and I am grateful, especially right now when our life is so up in the air. Even if we knew how to rest, resting is not a current option. Consequently, embracing a life of travel and exploration fits right in and reminds us that home is where the four of us are! High fives to that!
― Me