Monday, February 19, 2024

GREECE | Travel Logistics

I have been wanting to write some blog posts about our Summer 2023 trip to Greece but haven't been able to find the time. It was our first big trip that I posted real-time on Instagram stories so that was a fun way for friends and family to follow along but I love having these posts with more details for me to come back to and read years later. 

How did we Pick Greece?

I actually wanted to go to Switzerland but by the time we started planning in January 2023, things were booked up already so we switched gears. Greece has always been on our list so we decided to go for it. One of Jake's colleagues has been several times and she helped us craft our itinerary which was ATHENS - CRETE (CHANIA) - SANTORINI.



Getting There 

We flew to Athens on Turkish Airlines with a stopover in Istanbul and I was happy with the deal I got on our tickets (~$1,400 each). I spent a lot of time trying to find the optimal travel plan. Should we stop in NYC and do a slower approach to get there? I wrote a post in one of the Traveling with Kids FB groups I am in and many folks suggested getting as close to our destination as quickly as possible so that's how we ended up with LAX > IST > ATH since there are no direct flights. I joke that I only travel to places with direct flights from LAX so I made an exception to visit Greece! 

I also didn't realize how far away it was! Like, exactly how far East in Europe. Greece is 10 hours ahead and we got in around 8 pm local time so we just went to bed. It was actually pretty easy to get up the next morning and start exploring. We also used the Timeshifter App which helped us prepare ahead of time and avoid jet lag. 

The Flights 

The first flight was 13 hours long red eye (cringe) and the second flight was a little over an hour. I really liked the mediteranian food on the transatlantic flight and how we got so many different meals! We saved the printed menu for our memory box. I can't imagine what kind of culinary specialities they had in Biz Class. Maybe one day!! West slept for about 5 hours and we rested on and off too. Then we took turns watching a movie or reading and West played on his iPad and watched a few shows too. Our flight was delayed so we were worried about missing our connection. I think they held the plane for folks that were on our flight because the 2nd flight was also delayed, but we made it! The Istanbul airport was huge, modern and very minimalist. I loved it! We only brought carryon's because I was worried about losing our luggage so we had to hoof it through the airport with a 4 year old (who may or may not ride in his travel stroller), 3 luggages, a couple tote bags and a kid's backpack. We eventually had it down to a science. One person would push two suitcases back to back with one hand and the 3rd suitcase with the other hand. The other person would push West in the stroller or "help" him push it if he preferred to walk and held the two tote bags and backpacks. Both flights had a VERY cool feature where there was a camera on the front of the plane so you could watch the flight while it was happening, you could face it forward or down to see what the pilots were seeing. I have a video of this on my Instagram story highlights.  

LAX, Tom Bradley Terminal

Carry-on Luggage (17 lbs max EACH)

Where Did We Stay? 

I almost booked a Costco Travel package but I realized how much I like to pick out hotels so I needed more time to research them. We almost stayed at an AirBNB in Athens but landed on Pame House in the trendy Psirri neighborhood. In Chania, we initially booked Hotel Christina but changed up last minute and thank goodness because this was my favorite hotel of the trip! We splurged for Domes Zeen and stayed in a standalone bungalow which came with our own private (unheated!) pool. Finally, we stayed at this VRBO property in Imerovigli, Santorini with a heated pool and West was able to swim like the little fish he is. I really enjoyed all of the places we stayed and it was fun to have a change of scenery every 3 days. For the last night before our flight home, we stayed at Hotel Avra in Rafina which is a seaside town near the airport.   

New (to me) Travel Hacks

-Using AirTags in Luggage, with passports and on West

-Carry on Luggage was great (except no room for souvenirs!)     

-Fold up Travel stroller came in clutch. We've used this a bit around town and constantly get stopped on the street with people asking about it. One guy bought it right before our eyes on the Amazon app as soon as we told him the brand!  

Friday, August 4, 2023

3 Years Later...

Hi Internet fam! It's mid-2023 and the last time I posted, West was a baby. Now he's about to start TK (transitional kindergarten). Time can be so fleeting and even this year is flying by. Anyway, here's what we've been up to recently. I miss blogging! 

Santorini, June 2023

The latest & greatest... 

  • We've had our rescue dog Olive for almost 6 years, she is about to turn 10 and she is still my little snuggle bear. 
  • We saw the Barbie movie today. In honor of that, here are my favorite Cat Eye Sunnies
  • Recently discovered this cute plant shop and I think I need this polka dotted plant. 
  • This summer will be known as the Whirlwind Summer of 2023. We went to Greece, Seattle and just got back from Hawaii. Should I do some recap blog posts? I think the answer is yes.  
  • I had my 20-year high school reunion last week. Again, remember time flies? Here's a fun video my classmate put together. Randomly, we also started watching the After Party on Apple TV which is also about a HS reunion... such an odd coincidence! 


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Confetti from the Sky

Editor's Note: It feels a bit strange to be blogging in the midst of a pandemic, so bear with me.  I hope my blog posts can provide a little sense of normalcy when everything else feels so unpredictable and unfamiliar. Writing is therapeutic for me, and I hope my blog can be a bright spot or distraction for you in the midst of everything going on.   

For most of my childhood, I grew up near the wettest spot on earth, Kauai's Mt. Waialeale where it rains an average of 373 inches per year, with a record 683 inches in 1982. I don't remember it raining much when I was a kid, but I do remember lots of sunny days growing up in Hawaii. 

After graduating from college in 2007, I did a stint in Seattle from 2008-2013 where I enjoyed my fair share of rainy days. One myth about Seattle is that it's always raining. Actually, the volume of rain wasn't problematic for me. It was more so the general cloud cover that was looming most days. I had co-workers with SAD disorder who needed bright lights to make them feel better. I managed to get by without those things and honestly, I  was more worried about the constant drizzle making my already frizzy hair even worse. Ah, to be in my early twenties again...  

After getting married, my husband and I moved across the country to the Southeast where my new  hair problem was humidity, not rain. Although, I did love the occasional thunder storms and got used to listening to the rain in the evenings while falling asleep.

Fast forward a couple more years to 2016 and another cross country move, and we have (finally!) settled in sunny Southern California. We moved here in June and did not see a drop of rain for months. I remember we were driving home from Palm Springs on a Sunday in October and it started raining and it was like a dream. I had never seen the concrete dark from the rain and when we pulled into the driveway, we both just stared at each other. I took a video of the rain, I was like, wow, who am I and who knew I could talk about rain so much?! 

If you made it this far, you will know that the point of this post is not only about rain. It's also about art! When Photowall approached me about doing a collaboration, I knew it would take me hours browsing their site to pick out my favorite art piece (c/o Photowall) and that all seemed like too much work. Little did I know, I popped onto their site and within 5 minutes, I had already picked out the canvas art that I wanted. It was called "abstract clouds". I was drawn to it because it was so simple, but I liked the colors and felt like it would really fit well into our home. 

Our son was born in Southern California and has only seen rain a handful of times in his young life. His first time seeing rain was actually in Michigan when he was six months old last summer. I want him to learn to appreciate the sun and the only way to do that is to also appreciate the rain. I was looking up rain quotes for this post and found one where someone called it "confetti from the sky". That is what I am going to start calling it! 

Since living here, my relationship with the rain has changed so much. Now I get excited for it to rain! Our house didn't have gutters (1942, am I right?!) but we ended up getting a couple installed recently and the first time it rained, we watched from the window. I mean, what better things do we have to do during #covidquarantine!?

If you feel like browsing (there are a bunch of more pieces I want to order), check out Photowall. Some of my favorites are Such Beauty, Big Sur (wallpaper), and Hedgehog Cactus. I am also happy to share a 25% off discount code, just use "thevintagemodern2021" at checkout. 

Stay home (+safe), 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Wild ONE

It's my first post of 2020!

Well, what a year it's been so far.

So many crazy unexpected adjustments and we are just surviving over here, folks. I remind myself that I'm taking things "one day at a time" about 49 times a day. I started going to a new mom's group last fall and one of the things we shared was our "mom mantra". Mine was "I am enough" and whenever I feel like I'm not doing a good job as a mom or just in life in general, I remind myself of my mantra and it helps me feel better. Other favorites: "This too shall pass" and "Fake it 'til you make it". Another thing I've found especially helpful over the years is making gratitude lists. I find that really helps shift my perspective and reframe things when I start feeling overwhelmed, anxious or scared (or all of the above).

To focus on some happier news during this unprecedented and stressful time, I decided to share West's cake smash photos. Sunny Kim, who also took West's newborn photos took these pictures in late February when West was almost 13 months old. Now, he's going to be 14 months old in just a couple short weeks. Jake and I finally finished up his monthly recaps for his baby book and now I just need to order a few more monthly photos to include and it'll be pretty much done. I also put all of his monthly progress photos in a chatbook and ordered a second chatbook with photos of our family that we can start reading to him on a regular basis. I am really excited about this family book especially since we won't be traveling for a bit.

I will work on a separate post about what he's doing these days now that he's ONE (if anyone is interested), I'm sure you're just watching him grow up on my daily instagram videos. Isn't technology crazy?

Ok, enough with the recap. Here are the photos you came to see.

Cake Smash
February 2020 

We celebrated West's birthday in early February in Washington with friends and family and I struggled trying to find a photographer that would take photos at the actual party. So, friends and family stepped in and we got some really cute shots of West with his cousins and our friends that I shared on Instagram. I thought it would be fun to document his first birthday with a cake smash when we got home so that is exactly what we did. 

Suziecakes made this mini 4" smash cake and it tasted delicious. Fun fact: I actually saved the cake after the cake smash and Jake and I ate some for dessert that night. 

Maybe his hair will come in by his second birthday?!? :) I think that's what makes him look so young still. But I am not in a rush for him to grow up, so I'm okay with that... 

We had to help get him started a bit...

I love this one! The biggest bite he's ever taken of anything, I'm sure!

...and now he's double fisting!

Of course, Mom and Dad had to get in the mix a little!

I can hear his little voice when I look at his facial expression in this photo. Awww, can you tell he is sleeping now and I miss him? Classic mom move!

Happy Birthday my West!