Naxos Adventures

Today we spent a great day exploring Naxos.

First, we ate breakfast at our rental (which is included in the stay). The wonderful property manager, Stefanos, serves the breakfast and does a great job making you feel relaxed and taken care of. He brought out a beautiful bread basket with pastries, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with honey, muesli, and Quince marmalade, plus scrambled eggs. It was all wonderful and a great start to a long day.

Breakfast views
Laundry

After breakfast, we headed out to explore the island. Our first stop was Demetres Temple. I believe it was built in 560 bc (or around that) as a temple to a God for fertile land.

Next, we stopped at a handmade pottery/ ceramics shop. They had beautiful vases, flower pots, mugs etc. We bought a few things and watched the potter make a vase. Of course, James suggested that we order him a pottery wheel from Amazon when we get back. I’m sure the results will be about the same

After that, we stopped at a town called Chalki. We stopped at a distillery that makes an alcohol called Citron out of the leaves of a fruit plant.

3 different colors of Citron: green, clear, and yellow to designate the alcohol content.

We also stopped in a shop and sampled some Greek candies and honey.

After that, we headed to lunch at Poterou. It was a strange time (around 2-2:30). The place was empty with just an older Greek gentleman in there. He said that he could make us a Greek salad with some Tzatziki. Perfect. It hit the spot. James pretty much just ate a loaf of bread, but whatever. At the end, he brought out a complimentary dessert. It was a candied fruit (like a lemon rind) in a sweet syrup. I don’t know what it was, but we all loved it.

James with his dessert.

After lunch, we visited another town called Apiranthos. This is referred to as the marble town because all the walkways are made of marble stones.

Our next stop was Kouros. Here, there is an artifact statue. According to James, he was be excited to see this.

On our way back down the mountain, we saw a marble quarry. It’s hard to see in the picture, but I can’t imagine how many counter top slabs were cut out of this mountain.

Lastly, it was time for dinner. We ate at Georgis. It is a charming restaurant where husband and wife are the chef and waitor. It was delicious and we left totally stuffed. They even made James some fresh squeezed lemonade.

Top: complimentary fava puree, grilled bread, eggplant with red sauce and cheese.
Bottom: cheeses from Naxos

James eating the eggplant starter. I’m so proud of all the different foods he is trying.
Complimentary dessert: Greek orange pie (it was delicious). After a quick Google search, it’s made with yogurt, egg, phyllo, orange, and spices.

Back to the rental where James jumped in the pool for a little while then took a bath.

I think we are going to take it a little slower tomorrow and spend the first part of the day hanging at the beach.

Travel to Naxos

We spent the rest of the time in Santorini relaxing and enjoying the beautiful views. James and I did some souvenir shopping and Justin took some long walks to take pictures. Overall, we had a wonderful time and none if us were ready to leave. My favorite part was sitting on the upper deck in the morning drinking coffee and enjoying the incredible scenery. There was also some great people watching.

James loved the little loft that he slept in. It was his special nook.

The food has been incredible. Vine leaves, tzatziki, meatballs, octopus. We are eating it all.

On the last evening, Justin took out his tripod, and we attempted to take some family pictures of the three of us. We MAYBE got a couple good ones. We spent most of the time laughing.

We took a ferry from Santorini to Naxos. It was alot like hearding cattle to get everyone on the boat, but it was mostly organized chaos and an uneventful trip. It was about an hour and a half ride. James got something to eat, which he enjoyed.

Waiting for the boat
Enjoying his pizza sandwich on the ferry

Our car rental meet us at the Port, and we drive to the Villa Paradise where we are staying in Naxos. It is absolutely beautiful. Naxos is known for its beaches and there are plenty of them.

Stefanos, the property manager checked us in and showed us to our room. The only small issue was lugging my huge suitcase up the many steps. Stefanos (who is somewhere in the 50-60 year range) threw that suitcase on his shoulder and powered up the stairs. Wow.

The villa is gorgeous with 3 bedrooms, an infinity pool, AND a washing machine (no dryer).

Sunset views from the villa

We got something to eat (over ordered as usual) and hit the supermarket for the essentials: water, wine, and coffee.

A quick visit to the beach before the sun goes down. The water is freezing.

Looking forward to exploring this island!

Greece 2022

International travel with James…… it’s been a while. But, when Justin pitched the idea of Greece, I thought it would be a great trip to bring him on. He is much older and MUCH easier than he was when we went to Spain/ France in October 2016. He carries his own suitcase and tends to his own things (mostly).

On the way there, we went from Dallas to London to Santorini. I’m sure Justin will give alot more detail on the trip/ flight planning, but I’m glad our “points fairy” could figure out a way to get us first class/ business class status. It just makes life easier and more comfortable. I know that we are very lucky.

There was a Harry Potter store in the London airport, so, obviously, we had to visit that.

Harry Potter store, Heathrow

It was an uneventful trip to Santorini. James and I probably slept a solid 3 hours of the 9 hour flight. It’s about 4 hours from London to Santorini, and James slept most of them, so not much to report there.

I would have to be put in traction if I slept in some of the positions that he sleeps in.

Justin arranged with the vacation rental for a driver to pick us up from the airport. We got to the rental without any trouble

We are very centrally located in the Oia area of Santorini. Directly outside our vacation rental seems to be a hot spot for selfies. Lots of good people watching.

Random woman taking a selfie right outside our rental…..not me 🀣🀣

We forced ourselves to stay awake with some walking around and an early dinner in order to avoid major jet lag issues. And, mostly, we were successful. James slept until 11 am the next day.

The following day, we were excited to get up and start exploring. We headed to the Ammoubi area which included a very steep downhill walk to the coast. Each view was more beautiful than the next.

πŸ“· by James Ittmann

After walking around a bit by the coast, we got lunch at a restaurant by the water. We probably over ordered, but there is so much to try! We got Taramasala (fish roe dip), grilled feta, octopus, mussels, and Greek salad (along with some other things). Everything was so delicious and so fresh.

James trying mussels
Grilling up the fresh seafood
It doesn’t get fresher than this. Right off the boat to the restaurant.

So, after lunch we decided to take a taxi to Thira and attempt to walk back to Oia. Justin presented this as a 1.5-2 hour walk. Supposedly, this is a great thing to do with kids in Greece. Well, not my kid.

After about an hour of walking (largely uphill), Justin checked and we had only made it about a quarter of the way. That’s when the group started to fall apart. The idea of taking the bus back was presented, and after alot of internal struggle and a few tears, we decided to go to the bus station. Long story short, the bus didn’t work out, but we got a cab and made it back.

We hung out for a little while then it was off to dinner. We ate at Elinikon. We didn’t have reservations, but they squeezed us in early and said we had to be out by 7:20. No problem. We had some delicious hummus, stuffed grape leaves, calamari, and other things. Everything was delicious. I’m so proud of James for trying lots of new foods today. We were done in plenty of time and they even sent us off with a taste of sweet Greek wine.

We passed on dessert at the restaurant in favor of gelato at a nearby shop.

After that, James had his heart set on going to a souvenir shop to buy something that caught his eye yesterday.

I guess you can never have too many knives πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Overall, a very successful first full day!

I’m not sure how much I’m going to blog. Probably not every day, but maybe every other day. Looking forward to exploring this beautiful country.

Monaco

Today, we traveled about 30 minutes to Monaco for lunch. I believe it’s technically another country but there was no border control. We ate at Le Louis XV.

Immediately, I could tell that Monaco is a place for the super rich. It has casinos, yachts, expensive cars, and designer shopping.

Casino de Monte Carlo (some James Bond movies and Oceans Twelve were filmed here)

Lunch was in an absolutely beautiful room, probably the most beautiful we have ever eaten in.

Fish steamed at the table
Butter and olive oil
Justin washing his fingers in rose water before dessert πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Amazing pear souffle

Everything was wonderful, but I’m happy to be heading home tomorrow. It’s time to return to normal life and normal eating!! It truly was a “finer things” extravaganza.

We spent the rest of the evening packing up. Justin spent quite a long time packing up the wine. He bought a suitcase and got some bubble wrap from the hotel. Hopefully, it all gets home safely!

I’m so ready to see James!!

We have a long travel day tomorrow. We go from Nice to London to Miami to New Orleans. We land at 9pm (New Orleans time)……4am France time.

Covid tests and South African/French Fusion

Today was mostly a low key day, EXCEPT, it was Covid test day. I’ve been anxious about this moment pretty much since we left for the trip. I realize that the chance of us testing positive is extremely unlikely. We have both been vaccinated (Justin about 6 months ago), and I got my booster before we left. However, the thought of having to delay our return home and the commotion the whole thing would cause, was enough to make me freak out (for lack of a better term).

Justin bought 6 self administered (Binax) tests that are monitored via telemedicine. The whole process was fairly easy. You have to create an account and follow the steps, and they walk you through the whole thing.

In his usual fashion, Justin played it calm and collected. I played the opposite role. Luckily, we both got a negative result. A pdf was emailed to us that will be uploaded onto both the British Airways and American Airlines website.

Following the very specific instructions
Swabbing
Negative
Negative….. Thank God

A positive result would have been very surprising. We typically avoid crowds, have spent most of our time in small towns, have been vaccinated, and restaurants don’t let you into without a vaccination or negative treat. Even so, I was still nervous and so very glad that is over with!!

After that, Justin went on a unsuccessful hunt to find wine boxes to check on the plane. This situation is still pending.

Then we walked around the promenade some more and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

Checking the water temperature…. not too cold
Pebbles

Dinner tonight was at Jan. A South African/French fusion restaurant. It was so good!! I also loved the music….Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, even the “sister” song from White Christmas. I was feeling it. Although, I have have also been feeling the wine pairing.

My favorite part of the meal was probably the field trip. We walked across the street to another space they own that was set up with a huge cheese, nut, fruit, and bread table.

Tuna Nicoise salad…yep, that’s a salad with a tomato juice drink that was amazing
Pretty sure there was lobster in there
Beef with plums and some other things???
The cheese room πŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ
Cheers to our last dinner

Tomorrow, we go into Monaco for lunch and then time to pack up for a long travel day home!

Nice, day 1

Today was our first day in Nice. It is such a beautiful city and very different from the places we just visited. First, it’s much warmer. People are wearing short sleeved shirts and sandals. It is on the water, although the beach is made of pebbles rather than sand. The town is very lively– plenty of shops, restaurants, and markets.

Old Town Nice
Flowers at the market
olives
Spices

After walking through the town, we walked along the promenade and stopped to have a drink at one of the cafΓ©s on the beach.

The water looks very pretty and clear
Pebble beach
Promenade

For dinner, we ate at Mirazur. It was about a 40 minute car ride from the hotel. Justin said that it was voted best restaurant in the world 2 years in a row recently.

They rotate their focus between 4 different “formative forces” linked to different parts of the plant: roots, leaves, flowers, and fruits. I realize how goofy this sounds. Depending on what day you visit the restaurant, the menu will focus on one of those 4 things. We got root.

So, at first I was thinking, oh great, root, that must be the worst one. But, if you think of all the root vegetables, plus potatoes, garlic etc…. it’s a win, I think.

Spring onion tart with alot of caviar
Squid with sweet potato
That is actually carrot infused butter… shaped like a carrot πŸ€ͺ
Garlic with potato and a ton of caviar underneath (can’t really see)
Duck with red onion

Everything was so delicious. It is definitely in the running for favorite meal of the trip. My only complaint (and this isn’t a knock on the restaurant) is that I don’t like beets. It’s probably the only thing I don’t like. I have tried them so. many. ways! Since beets are a root, there were a few beet elements to the meal that I wasn’t that into. Other than that, I think it was probably my favorite.

Tomorrow, the only thing on the agenda is a dinner at 9pm. Other than that, we will walk around the city some more, and Justin needs to figure out how to get all the wine home that he has bought along the way.

Also, we have to take our Covid tests to get back home. I’m extremely nervous about how all of that is going to go. Apparently, we bought tests that we administer ourselves over a telemedicine appointment.

If anything goes wrong and there is any delay in my return home, I will have a meltdown of epic proportions. Stay tuned for how it all turns out 🀞🀞.

I know I mentioned this in the beginning of the trip, but we had to get an app that we uploaded our vaccination informant onto. It gives a QR code. Everytime we go to a restaurant or museum, we have to get our “pass sanitare” scanned. I believe it is the law in France. Vaccination or negative test to go to many indoor public spaces. There are tents set up on the streets that I saw in Paris and Nice that are administering Covid tests.

Covid test tent in Paris
Covid test tent in Nice

On the road again…..to Nice

Today we left the Rhone area, and all the vineyards, and headed to our final destination on this tour de France. Our last stop is the French Riviera, particularly Nice. It was about a 4 hour drive that we broke up by visiting some cool sights along the way.

Because it’s on the border of Italy, there are alot of Roman influences in this area of France. It is referred to as Gallo-Roman. Although, I’m no authority on ancient history!

The first thing we stopped to see was a Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard. It really is incredible what the Romans were able to achieve. Justin, in particular, appreciated this stop. The sheer engineering of the whole project is mind blowing.

After that we drove to a city called Nimes that has heavy Roman influences. We toured the amphitheater and enjoyed walking around the city a bit.

After Nimes, we drove 3 hours to Nice. Along the way, sign ups for after school clubs opened, and I made sure to sign James up because momming never stops.

I can already tell that Nice is going to have a totally different energy than the other places we have been so far. It’s warmer and seems more alive (potentially more touristy). The little wine towns were, overall, small and quiet. I actually saw someone wearing sandals, which is a first since we have been here. Our hotel is on the water, but it was already dark when we got here so we haven’t seen it yet.

We don’t have a ton planned while we are in Nice (except for a few meals). We will mostly be walking around and visiting the highlights!

The Rhone

So, we have spent the last couple of days mostly going to wine tastings with some yummy meals mixed in!

We visited: Marc Sorrel, M. Chapoutier, Alain Voge, and Franck Balthazar on Monday.

It’s hard to go into detail about each one, but the wines were very good. I especially like visiting the small wineries and meeting the winemakers.

While we were at Marc Sorrel, they suggested going to visit a chocolate factory called Valrhona. I mean, who would say no to that?

Barrel tastings at Marc Sorrel
Chocolate shop
Drinking mushroom tea (non-psychadelic πŸ€ͺ)

After the wine tastings on Monday, we drove to the restaurant RΓ©gis & Jacques MARCON. It is a Michelin restaurant that is based on mushrooms. We stayed in a hotel near the restaurant to avoid having to drive the winding road at night!

On Tuesday, we did multiple other tastings at: Yves Cuilleron, Domaine Rostaing, and  Domaine Gonon.

They were all excellent and, often, the winemaker is the one doing the tasting.

This is a very busy time in the area due to harvest and vinification. It was very nice of them to take time to visit with us.

Tomorrow, we leave for Nice. We are going to stop along the way at different towns. The drive is about 4 hours so it’s going to be a long day.

We will spend 4 nights in Nice then back home!