The Keys to a Successful Vacation

St. Augustine once stated, “the world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page.”  This statement is about expanding one’s view and increasing one’s cultural knowledge. Although my family and I have acquired much cultural knowledge our pages our often filled with mishaps and what not to do. 

On our most recent trip my husband and I went to London where I proceeded to leave my purse in a taxicab shortly after arriving. We had just arrived at the hotel when I noticed my purse was missing and I had no idea the name of the cab company. My passport, money, etc. (basically everything important) was among the contents. However, ten minutes later there was a knock at our hotel door. When I opened it standing there was the bellman with a cheshire cat grin, swinging my purse back and forth while asking, “were you missing something?”  The cab driver had returned my purse with all of it’s contents. Page 1 of this trip: There still exists honest and good people in this world! Regardless of my good fortune, the rest of the trip my husband asked, “Honey, do you have your purse?” every five minutes!

After leaving London we met our son, daughter in law and granddaughter in Istanbul and then continued our journey to Greece. If ancient cultures and mythology intrigue you then Greece is the place where you want to visit. Also, if the clear blue waters and delicious Mediterranean food don’t entice you then you should smack yourself back into reality because this place is some place!

Many people may be afraid to go to a foreign country where they don’t speak the language, but English is commonly spoken in many countries, including Greece. It is suggested though that you learn a few common words like please and thank you. Whenever I said something in Greek they often appeared to appreciate the attempt and smiled. Unless they were laughing at me, then I take it back. 

Our first trial upon arriving was getting four adults, a baby, and five pieces of luggage in what can only be construed as a clown car. We had luggage on the back window sill and across the back floor where apparently it is the custom in Europe for the women to smoosh themselves very close and pull their legs up to their chest in order to fit everything and everyone. It’s a good thing my daughter in law and I like each other. I may be making assumptions though. Page 2: Make sure the person who rents the vehicle considers all contents that will be entering the vehicle or just make the reservations yourself.

After all the clowns exited the vehicle upon arriving we searched for a place to eat. Unfortunately it was very late and nothing was open. However, before we left I packed granola bars in my suitcase. My husband made fun of me for it. I ate them in front of him. My son thinks like me and also had snacks in his luggage, so they were good as well. Page 3: Pack snacks because you can’t count on another to share. 

The first morning literally started off with a bang as the hotel hairdryer made a loud popping sound just before it started smoking. The first thing my husband says is “what setting did you have it on?”  I replied, “I didn’t know there was a self exploding setting, but apparently that one. Seriously, why would the setting matter?” (laughing at the ridiculousness of his question) In addition, even though I brought an international power adapter my curling iron would not heat correctly because I had an old adapter that did not appear to extract much current. My husband had brought a new adapter. He did not share either. Page 4: You might want to work on sharing before your vacation. 

When in Greece you have to visit Athens, because it is one of the oldest cities in the world and where the cultural achievements during the 5th century BC laid the foundations of western civilization. Most of the buildings on the Acropolis were built during this timeframe. As my daughter in law quickly found out you are not allowed to touch, nor stand on, the 5000 year old marble just because you want a really good picture. Page 5: Don’t touch the marble!

Our next excursion was to the islands of Hydra, Paros, and Aegeana. There is a day cruise to these islands from the port of Piraeus, near Athens. Each island is unique, but the one that stands out is Hydra (pronounced heedra). There are no motorized vehicles. The mode of transportation is donkeys. You definitely want to do this as you will have the opportunity to visit parts of the island you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. However, if you look like they are asking too much they will decrease their price. I often look perplexed like I’m not sure what I’m going to do so I saved us a lot of money. Page 6: look like you just ate a sour grape when the merchant states the cost of something. 

After seeing the sights of the island we did some shopping for souvenirs. A must buy in Greece is the handmade leather sandals. They may feel uncomfortable at first, but they loosen up after a few hours of use. I also bought olive oil and honey because these products are what they are known for so I figured it must be good. I was not disappointed. What was disappointing though was spending 20 minutes looking for a homemade ice cream shop that we had passed by previously and not being able to locate it and then returning to the dock at the time we thought the boat was to leave only to find it had left. Of course I got blamed because “I just had to look for the homemade ice cream.” Luckily we found out that the boat simply had to move for a few minutes to allow for a different boat to disembark. Phew, good thing I asked someone who appeared to work on the dock before having a meltdown because there was no other way off the island for us. Also lucky was the fact that when I turned around from asking the very nice gentleman about the location of the boat I found my ice cream store! Page 7: Don’t be so quick to blame your spouse because they may not buy you ice-cream nor share. We’ve already established the not sharing issue right? 

Our last excursion was spending a few days on the island of Mykonos. Mykonos has a quaint village with several old fashioned wind mills that are picturesque. When we initially arrived we had intended on taking a taxi to our hotel, but all we found was a phone number to call for a taxi. We did not have an international phone, so I turned around, went back inside and rented a car. Unbeknown to us, this was actually a good idea because even though the island is relatively small our hotel was not near, well basically anything except the ocean. We were lucky to find this beautiful hotel though with our own private pool for a relatively inexpensive cost thanks to the travel website Expedia. The hotel also has one of those showers where water shoots out from the sides and top. Just a hint, when your spouse tells you not to be facing it when you turn it on, you might want to listen. It shot me in the face with a lot of force. Another mishap that occurred at the hotel was when my curling iron shorted out the adapter; which, like the hairdryer also made a popping sound prior to smoking. This time though it took out the electricity on that side of the building. Since we had no power, we took the opportunity to go have dinner. Page 8: Be flexible!  This is the ultimate key to a successful vacation.  You can bet that everything is not going to go as planned and mishaps will occur, but if you make the best of a situation you will have a whole lot more fun.