Mostly July

We had a low key 4th of July. The clubhouse had a BBQ and games which were fun for the kids.

Averi won a few things, Limbo and the belly flop…I think, which is so ironic.

We did some local wine tasting.

I took the girls to inflatable world which had water bouncy slides. Kaili was sure we wasn’t going to get wet.

The girls made tomato sauce for pizzas.

We went to the beach.

That about wraps up July. Aside from my summer cooking class, I will tell you all about it next.

This is 8

8!

Can you believe it? I can’t.

Smoosh face.

We had family over for dinner, cake and pressies. Celebrating Averi and Aileen who have birthdays one day apart.

Averi’s cake was chocolate with vanilla frosting but I apparently I added too much lemon zest (said the girl who loves lemons) and they didn’t like it.

For fucks sake.

Aileen got a Julien apple pie, she is much easier to accommodate.

The girls went to bed and the adults played a fun game, before we knew it, the night was over.
Happy birthday ladies.

Wolfs Tail

Yes, we did make it to Great Wolf Lodge in case you were wondering. It happened sooner than we originally planned for, aka turned into a spur of the moment situation. We decided to keep it a surprise from the girls. We told them that we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s and that we were meeting them at the their pool. So the girls packed the night before and let me say, Kaili wanted to pack every damn thing, she wanted to give this and that to Grandma and I felt guilty as hell for lying. Come morning, we packed up the car and headed out. Passing our normal Laguna Niguel exit, luckily they didn’t notice with their heads in IPads. But when we got closer to GWL they meaning Shayne, realized something was off.

“Why did you say we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s? Mom guilt.

We grabbed our luggage and off we went.

Our room was ready when we checked in, so we went and dropped off our stuff so we could get to sliding.

Averi’s birthday, her choice of bed. She chose the twin, no bunk this time.

We found a table to drop our shit, thankfully, that can be the biggest hurdle. If you can’t get there early, everything is taken.

We played all day.

The girls’ Paw Passes came with it all, ice cream, golf, arcade, yada yada yada. So around 6pm we went back to the room and changed and then went for ice cream.

Then they chose their stuffies, played games and then mini golf and then and then and then. For dinner, Averi wanted McDonald’s, sigh. We had it delivered (brilliance) which saved probably $125 for not eating at the resort.

The next morning we were up and down at the waterpark when it opened, easily grabbed a table and did it all again. Once the outdoor pool area opened, Shawna and I went out and had some adult beverages in the quiet sun.

Averi decided to brave the wave pool and boogie board before we went home, we were so proud.

She did so good for her first rodeo!
We stayed late into the afternoon and then decided to make our way back home. GWL is always a fun time. Next up though, maybe just Raging Waters and a motel, hahaha!

Moving On

Even though we missed the 5th graders promotion, we were lucky enough to have pictures and videos taken for us.

We took the girls to the fair as a graduation gift, an expensive one. Rides, rides and more rides, throw in some corn dogs and farm animals, we had a great time.

I got Kaili to go on my favorite drop ride with me. I also talked her into Gravitron, remember that one? That was our favorite when I was young, loud music and spinning so fast that you can climb the walls. The girls also loved it! All of us but Averi went on a ride that Shawna and I had been eyeing, we were surprised that K and S braved it with us. It was pretty intense and I think both of the girls considered tears, but once we were back on the ground they said it was fun!

Averi however wasn’t a fan of most of the rides, she screamed for the man to “STOP THE RIDE” when we went on the one that has the cars that travel in a circle and navigate a set of hills in the process at a high speed. We started backwards and she was NOT having it. She passed on most of the rides after that, braving a fun house here and there. Oh and she did the giant slide,

Her face at the end, LOL!

We spent the next few days at the pool flaunting their obnoxious pool floaties.

Shayne got an Avocado floaty but she was not in the mood for a photo shoot.

Now we are days away from July and we have two more family birthdays coming up, AND a Great Wolf Lodge stay. The fun continues.

Delayed

Our Averi is a super fan of lemon. Lemonade, lemons with sugar, lemon soda. I told her it was because when I was pregnant with her, the only thing that soothed my nausea was lemonade. I mean, I am not wrong but she probably likes those things because…sugar. Anyhow, I was telling her that Europe has Fanta Limón, well I should say that I knew Spain had it, and I was really hoping that Greece and Italy did too. I told her I would bring some home for her to try if we ran into any. I didn’t see any in Athens, Santorini or Rome. That was, until we were inside the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.

Our alarm went off early because our Uber was to be in front of our hotel at 8:30 for our 11:30 flight. I woke up to messages saying that our flight had been delayed two hours. So we rebooked our ride for later and went and had breakfast that’s when it hit us, we wouldn’t be making our connecting flight in Toronto. Fast forward an hour and a half, we were finally checked in and we were told that our luggage would meet us in San Diego. Sweet. We found a spot to grab a sandwich for the plane and that is where I found it, Fanta Limón. I grabbed two bottles, stuck them in our carry on and we were off to Toronto. Since we missed our connecting flight to Chicago, they automatically put us on another flight, but now we were headed to Vancouver. As we sat there we kept watching the screen push back our flight time..DELAYED. DELAYED, MOTHER FUCKING DELAYED. They blamed it on the galley and clean up crew, we would soon find out that all of the airlines were lacking all crew, including pilots and flight attendants. About an hour later we were finally making our way onto the aircraft and would be arriving in Vancouver at midnight. I searched high and low for a hotel to stay at but since we didn’t get our Covid tests the only option was The Fairmont in the international terminal and it was completely booked. So with that, we found ourselves a vending machine, bought some waters and cookies, found a row of open airport chairs and hunkered down for the night.

Airplane pillows, face masks, eye masks and a few melatonin later, we actually slept a few hours at a time. The security gates opened at 6:00 am so we made our way to our future 9:30 gate for our flight to San Diego. This is when when we lost the Fanta, sigh. We completely forgot it was in our carry on bag. The TSA agent felt bad and said that we could drink them really quick, and we told him they were for our kids. With a heavy heart, I took a picture for proof and we parted ways.

Everything was looking up after that and then….our flight to San Diego, the ONLY flight to San Diego was….Yep, cancelled.

The sole purpose of us leaving Rome to be home by the 14th was our girls 5th grade graduation. We promised them that we would be picking them up at school and all getting ready together to celebrate and we had surprise dinner reservations. That was when we realized that we wouldn’t be making it home in time to pick them up or even in time to make the graduation, if we even made it home at all. There were tears, lots of tears in the airport. Once we made our phone calls to our girls, we sat outside our future gate for a flight to San Diego and then decided, f#ck it , let’s drink. Nothing says eff it like morning booze. We made our way to the bar and had a couple of morning adult beverages.

Once we landed in San Fran, we had to walk miles from terminal to terminal to find our gate. At this point we didn’t’ get our hopes up, if the plane and crew showed up, great, if not, great. So we found our gate and grubbed some clam chowder.

In a twist of events, our plane was ready and waiting and our flight went off without a hitch.

After insane amount of boarding passes, we landed in San Diego at 8:30 p.m.

Can you guess what happened next? No seriously, take a wild guess.

Yep, no luggage. I mean that would be asking for too much. On top of everything, they didn’t even know where our luggage was. We had to laugh because all we thought was, thank god this wasn’t happening a day before our wedding (Sorry C and A). We finally made it home after 9:00 pm, took hot showers and were so thankful to be sleeping in our bed instead of an airport.

Roman Ending

Why do I feel like this title has a sexual undertone?

Two nuns were riding their bicycles through the back streets and alleys of Rome.

One turns to the other and says, “I’ve never come this way before”.

the other nun says, “It’s the cobblestones”.

It’s a Roman ending.

The alarm went off on our last day in Rome. We still had things to see, places to eat at and hands to shake. We strolled to the hotel breakfast which was quite good. Plenty of options and good coffee.

Originally we planned on packing some rapid Covid tests but totally forgot. We had a connecting flight in Canada which is still quite strict on their policies. We thought better safe than sorry, so after breakfast we took an Uber to a testing site. And, it was closed…so we hopped back in the Uber and went ahead with our day, silently hoping we wouldn’t need the tests.

The Vatican.

We arrived at Vatican city pretty early, but there were already loads of people lined up to go inside, hard pass.

We continued our self tour and walked towards the Tiber river, heading towards Piazza Navona.

We took a break at Piazza Navona for an adult beverage and a bathroom break.

This is when we were sure that the only people who order Aperol Spritz’ are Americans, because it’s not a good drink and the Italian’s know this.

I had a place in mind for lunch near the Pantheon but it wasn’t opening for awhile and the crowds were already crazy. So we chose another restaurant and that is the one thing I hate about myself. I need to stick to my instinct, sigh. We weren’t disappointed with where we ended up, but I know the wait would have been worth it.

Can’t stop, won’t stop the pizza!

We wandered the streets heading back to our hotel.

Taking a little siesta before heading back out.

Italy was playing in England and I thought what fun it would to be watch an Italian match in Italy. So we found a pub that was televising all of the matches and hung around that area until kick off. We had a snack and did a little window shopping.

A recommended wine bar wasn’t too far away, so we popped in for a glass. Their wine list was obnoxious, The Cheesecake Factory should be jealous.

Finally we ended up at the pub with some drinks and a very uneventful fútbol match, we finished our drinks and left at half time.

Stopping off for one more sweet before bed. We had a ride scheduled to take us to the airport in the morning. We have a 5th grade promotion to catch, or so we thought….

Friday in Rome, We’re in Love!

No alarm Friday. Our hotel had breakfast available but we decided to sleep in and then go. Making our way through the streets of Rome heading to the Colosseum. It took us about an hour to tootle the 1.7 miles.

We were hungry and for whatever reason, all I wanted was pizza. We stopped and did just that.

Cheese pull number two wasn’t as grand, but the pizza’s were really good.

We strolled by the Victor Emmanuel monument.

Our end game was Campo de Fiori and it did not disappoint.

We chose a place to sit for cold cocktails and some people watching all while mentally making a shopping list.

We grabbed some fun pasta for the girls, meloncello, and the BEST apricots I have ever had.

Then we strolled through the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon to plan Saturday’s lunch.

Before we new it, it was time to head back to our room and get ready for dinner.

Our room. We stayed at the Hotel Mozart but our room wasn’t in the hotel, it was around the corner, in another building. I filmed the experience, you are welcome.

It was perfect.

Dinner….. we planned this dinner weeks before our trip.

Hotel Eden’s rooftop restaurant is where Michelin-star Chef Fabio Ciervo works his magic. I’ll be transparent and admit that the dinner started off with some anxiety. I left my phone in the Uber that dropped us off and even though the driver said he would bring it back in an hour, I had a hard time relaxing because, what the f*ck? I don’t even know why I had my phone in my hand or why it didn’t exit the car with me. I blame my cold for brain fog because that’s all I have for an excuse.

Dinner.

The menu featured a handful of tasting menu choices. We decided on three courses and dessert.

Which ended up being a very good decision because the chef added some amazing bites to our meal.

I have to say that I have never experienced this type of service before, it’s something that I could easily become accustomed to.

Amuse Bouche.

We started off with a goat cheese mousse cannoli with tomato dust. A tomato anchovy tartlet. Grape riesling foie gras and a wheat grass spritz.

Truly incredible and we haven’t even started.

Bread with three flavors of compound butter. My memory fails me but I know there was parsley butter, anchovy butter and one other flavor. The one thing I noticed this time in Europe was that the butter has been unsalted. That never was the case before. I may need to consult a chef about this.

Next up, White asparagus, Amalfi lemon and Mazara red shrimp.

Buffalo mozzarella, scallops and dried tomatoes. The first picture is with the tomato lattice on and then with it off.

First course.

Gran Riserva risotto with Franciacorta wine, oyster and rocket.

Let me pause here and talk about this dish.

Veal broth ravioli and horseradish my way.

Never have I ever experienced anything like this before. I can’t even begin to describe it but it was incredible. The ravioli was perfectly simple and the broth, the broth was so complex and in that one bite it was magic. One of the best things I have ever eaten.

Second course.

Eel with mixed herbs and Pigeon breast with raspberry and foie gras.
I did not love the pigeon, probably wont do that again. The eel was good.

Palate cleanser of mango and coconut dried ice cream.

Deconstructed Tiramisu and a view.

We thought this was the end but it wasn’t.

A box of chocolates and these amazing sweets.

We were absolutely blown away by this experience.

Thank you Rome.

Completely stuffed we walked it off, pausing at the top of the Spanish steps. We thought about a wine bar but we were done, so we went back to the room.

Buona notte

Roma

We had the entire previous morning to reschedule our breakfast for later on our last day in Greece. More like move it to the PM (if we were smart), but it didn’t even cross our minds. So after only a few hours of sleep, we were woken by a knock the door along with a chipper “good morrrrning!” Then we stumbled outside to another amazing breakfast on the patio. It’s hard to describe this hotel because it’s unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. But it’s very quiet and you rarely see anyone other than the porters carrying luggage up and down loads of stairs. So when Shawna was all “come here, hiiiiiii” in her cute voice, I was like what is happening? But then, she arrived.

I nicknamed her Evil Eyes only because that is what she had, but she was super sweet, a nursing mama in search for food. She liked, eggs and bacon, disliked, Greek yogurt.

Our transfer to the airport didn’t arrive until 1:15 so we wandered back into the village grabbing souvenirs and a last lunch.

We had no problems getting to the airport, getting on the airplane, getting to Rome and then getting to our hotel. We booked a stay at the Hotel Mozart. It checked the boxes of walking distance to certain landmarks, had a lift, breakfast included and a cafe next door.

We were right around the corner from the Spanish Steps. Once we checked in, that is where we headed.

We ate dinner not far from Piazza de Spagna.

Wine, pizza and pasta.

Cheese pull number one! Dinner was delicious.

We decided to head over to the Trevi fountain because, why not? And it’s more majestic at night, well I think so.

We headed back towards our hotel when we ran into Giolitto. I mean by the amount of people in line, we couldn’t pass it up.

I ordered way more than I could handle. Dark chocolate, coffee and pistachio…in a cone, sigh….

She ordered almost the same but in a cup.

Verdict; the dark chocolate was too much (who am I?) the pistachio was amazing, the coffee was good.

Why the line of people? No idea, but I also don’t understand ordering an Aperol Spritz on purpose, so maybe I am getting old and it’s lost on me.

Full and tired, we headed back to our room.

Oh, I can’t wait to show you the walk to our room!! And pictures of the Colosseum and our spectacular dinner at a multi Michelin star restaurant, swooon!!

Greek Wedding

My coughing has been making my nights really sucky.

So when we woke up to our breakfast being delivered, I made it outside with barely open eyes.

But if there is anywhere to just sit and soak it up, this is the place.

We had no agenda for the day except making our way to my brothers hotel for his wedding. So we ate, napped and read until it was time to get ready. A very nice lazy start to a fantastic day.

All of us that were in Santorini for the wedding arrived on Monday, Casey and Aileen were also supposed to arrive on Monday however their travel plans came to a halt in Munich. Their flight was delayed and then canceled, forcing them to stay the night in Germany. After a lot of shuffling and money, they were able to catch a morning flight on Tuesday getting them into Santorini by the afternoon. They made it, however their luggage did not. Can you imagine? A day before your wedding and you have nothing.There was no ETA on when they would get their luggage either, but luckily they were able to go shopping and expense what they bought. Santorini isn’t a terrible place to shop, they had a lot of options. A day later Casey had new wedding attire and they had bought beachwear, luckily Aileen’s dress was brought there by a friend who’s luggage did make it.

We walked with our wedding shit, in the sun, up hill to their hotel but not after getting lost…of course. We really have become accustomed to getting a ride when we want it, and I will not take it for granted again. Sweaty and sunburned we climbed up and down more stairs until we were in their hotel room and laying on the air conditioner.

Then we popped some Champagne and toasted to the soon to be husband.

When summoned, we made our way to the ceremony.

Have you seen a more dramatic back drop for a wedding? I haven’t.

Casey looked mighty fine for shopping that morning for an outfit, his friends did good. And Aileen was a stunning bride. It was a beautiful wedding.

While the bride and groom went off for photos we made our way down to the bar for some adult bevarages.

Then they did the cake cutting before the sun set.

Followed by the most incredible wedding dinner. I can see how the rich and famous get used to this type of lifestyle, it’s not too bad.

We were served a seven course meal over 3 maybe 3.5 hours. Every bite of food was phenomenal. I terribly regret not taking pictures but I wanted to be in the moment.

Once we finished the dessert course we all got in a transfer back to the Oia village to the Hassapiko bar.

We hung out and danced until the early morning.

It was a night to remember.

Next up, Rome.

Destination Santorini, hopefully

Setting: Santorini, Greece

Reason: Wedding

Our alarm went off at absurdly 3:10 a.m.

I know what you are thinking, I thought the same thing… it’s for a vacation, that’s exciting right? Well, we all had a bad cold leading up to this, and sleeping wasn’t what I was getting much of at the time, so ya, 3 in the morning hurt. But, we got to the airport, on the first flight without any hiccups or coughing fits, thankfully. I literally had to have a cough drop in my mouth at all times.

We left San Diego early and got to NYC on time as the picture suggests. The layover in NYC was simple and then we were on our second leg to Athens. This leg was a good 9 hours and I started out by playing a game.

But after this rude comment, I switched to my book. (which is Book Lovers and as good as I imagined it would be.)

Finally we made it to Athens.

(If you don’t see this video because I am in a different country and my computer doesn’t comprehend.)

Once we reached Athens, we hit the ground running, until we weren’t. The Santorini airport was unlike anything else I have experienced. We should have had over 2 hours to play around at the airport, however that didn’t happen. Long story short, an hour was spent getting our luggage checked, and then we had to wait for a bus, yes a shuttle bus to take us out to our plane. The bus was a few hour late meanwhile we were only in the air for 26 minutes. However, we made it and was pleasantly surprised that our luggage made it as well.

The four of us took a transfer from the airport to Oia, pronounced Eeee-Uh. Our hotel was located at the beginning of the Oia(n)? village. This is the area you see in all of the movies. White buildings that look like sugar cubes perched on the rugged cliffs over looking the Aegean sea. There are blue domed churches dotted along the way, the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.

There are cats and dogs happily sun bathing all over the village.

Once we got settled into our amazing room at Thirea Suites and Studios, and took a much needed shower, we met up with my parents for dinner.

Amazing right? Everything about this hotel is wonderful, except these.

Doesn’t look too terrible but I assure you this isn’t all of them. We counted and there are 139 steps. Let me tell you, after a week of coughing and the Mediterranean sun, 139 steps is no small feat. But it’s worth it when you reach the top.

We planned on walking through the village and down the 300 steps to Ammoudi bay however I didn’t have it in me. Not enough sleep and still fighting my cold, I wasn’t confident I would make it back up. So we stopped into a little restaurant that served traditional Greek dishes and had a nice dinner.

I ordered the Mussels Saganaki and a dry white wine (I can’t remember the varietal) and it was all really good. After dinner we popped into a little market by our hotel for some wine, water and snacks because no one wants to be left without options on vacation.

We poured a glass of wine and soaked in our jacuzzi, winding down from a couple of long travel days.

The one thing we didn’t prepare for was how difficult it is to find rides on the island. So if you come here, come prepared. There are very few taxis and even less Uber’s and transfers need to be reserved ahead of time or you’re left waiting.

I had made reservations at a winery a few weeks before we arrived. We forget to arrange our ride the day we got in so after climbing all of the stairs and coughing for a good 10 minutes in the sun, we finally managed to get a ride, although we ended up being an hour late to our reservations, but we made it.

We had four wines paired with two courses. The food was really good, the wine was just ok.

From the winery which was located in the middle of the island, we wanted to catch a ride on the bus down to Perrisa beach which is on the bottom of the island. We had to hike a ways back up the road to get to the bus stop. The bus is really convenient and a cheaper option to get around but it takes time to get from one side of the island to the other. We hopped off the bus in the town of Perrisa and walked seaside until we picked a beach bar to pop a squat. I don’t know why all the countries have amazing beach bars and we live in California and we have nothing like this.

The beaches were lined with shops and bars and they all offered chairs and umbrellas, all of them.

We changed into our suits, ordered a drink and soaked up the Mediterranean sun, literally, for hours.

The beaches are all black sand (rock beaches) thanks to the volcanic lava and ash. Hot as hell is what is was, like it literally did just came out of a volcano.

The water was chilly but it felt good. It was crystal clear and so refreshing to float in. I wish I could walk right into it right now.

We called our transfer for a pricey ride back to our hotel because we didn’t want an hour long bus ride.

The rest of the crew were all going to do a wine tour/dinner that evening, we were the only two losers that didn’t go. We had already done the wine thing and wanted to have a nice quiet dinner, but I did feel slightly guilty for not going. But they all had a good time, the didn’t miss us, I’m sure.

We tootled through the village, stopping for a couple of adult beverages and people/sight watching.

First up, two espresso martinis with a sea view.

We found a pharmacy and got some more cold meds because my cold is hanging on for dear life. Then we ran into this cute place with an amazing drink menu.

We found a bench and just soaked up the fact that we were in Greece.

Back to dinner, you guys, this meal was incredible.

We started off with grilled octopus with fava bean puree.

Ridiculous.

Then we both ordered risotto.

Me, pistachio risotto with sea bass. Her, wild mushroom with smoked bacon risotto with truffle oil.

Again, so so good.

For dessert, creme brûlée.

Completely satisfied, we walked back up more f*cking stairs.

And made our way back to our room, where we once again soaked in the jacuzzi until sleep beckoned us.

Tomorrow I hear there is a wedding. Although, it didn’t start of very pleasant for the happy couple. More on that next time.

καληνυχτα (good night)