Welcome to a day in my life. I can't guarantee that this will be an exciting read for anyone. My life is filled with all the mundane activities of a stay-at-home-mom just trying to raise her three sons to be the best men they can be.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Day 6 - Athens

If you're wondering what happened to Day 4 and 5 - you didn't miss anything.  I haven't included them because the first two days on the cruise were both sea days and we didn't do much except lay by the pool, eat, and catch up on much-need sleep.

Our first cruise stop was in Athens, Greece.  We were all very excited about this stop.
We didn't have an excursion booked as we had read that we could just grab a taxi into Athens and then walk to everything that we wanted to see.

We found a taxi as soon as we got off the ship, and all 5 of us crammed into 4 seats - something we would never dream of doing normally!!

Our driver was great and told us where to go and what we needed to see. He acted as tour-guide on the drive to the Acropolis.  He dropped us off at the Acropolis where we spent two or three hours wandering around in awe. It was great having a walking encyclopedia along with us!  Matt was able to feed us lots of information about the acropolis along the way. He was totally in his element.  He was immersed in everything he saw ... so much so that we had to keep finding him.

Once we finished there, we started weaving our way through the streets to find more of the ancient ruins (which were everywhere, by the way!). We stopped at a Greek family restaurant along the way. We paid a lump sum and then they brought about 20 different dished to the table and we were able to choose 12 of them.  We had the best time trying different foods, sitting next to the street, and watching Greek Life pass us by.  It was very relaxing.  The food was great and we left feeling very full.

After lunch we made our way to the ruins of the Roman Forum.  There wasn't a lot left standing, so it was hard to see what we were looking at.

From there we made our way to the Ancient Agora.  This place was very cool.  We wandered around the Stoa of Attalos, which has been rebuilt and houses a lot of artifacts.  Once again, we lost sight of Matt as he was soaking it all in. 

In the Agora, there was also a well-preserved temple which was amazing to see.

As a side-note - it seems that Spencer would easily pass as a Roman.  We were always seeing him in statue form every time we turned around!

Our last stop for the day was the Temple of Olympian Zeus.  Again, it was amazing to see, but we were all tired by that point and, after seeing so many ruins, we didn't really appreciate it as fully as we should have.

Our taxi driver picked us up there and we all crammed back into the car and he took us back to the port where we limped, still in awe of what we had seen, back onto the ship.

Monday, June 01, 2015

The Hostel

Have you ever stayed in a hostel before?  I hadn't!  I had lots of pre-conceived notions about what a hostel would be like - filled with young people sleeping in dorm style rooms, shared bathrooms, and no real community spaces.  When we were looking for a place to stay in Venice, we left it rather late (three weeks before our trip) and so we had little choices.  We could either stay outside of Venice, or pay $1000 and up a night to stay right in Venice.  Neither of these were a great option for us. 

During my searches, the Generator Hostel kept coming up.  Out of desperation, I started looking at it.  I saw that they had a family room that would accommodate all of us - and for a very reasonable rate. Since the location was great, we decided to book it.

Well, both John and I were very pleasantly surprised by the Generator when we got there! There were a lot of younger people, but there were also some who were a little older (although I'm pretty sure we were the old people!)

The hostel has a very young, and hip vibe to it.  Here's an excerpt from their website:

Gen Venice is a beautiful converted grain house sitting on the waterfront of the Giudecca. The property exudes true Venetian charm and a twist of modernity; with pristine Fantini mosaic flooring, elegant Rubelli textile curtains, a Murano glass clown chandelier hanging gallantly from the ceiling and a homey stone fireplace reminiscent of 16th century Palladio craftsmanship. You’re just 5 minutes away from Piazza San Marco- bask in a hub of ancient history at the drawing room of Europe. Go rustic with a stylish attic room or go for a shared room with views of the sea.

The location, for us, was perfect!  It sits right across the river from San Marco.  The water bus stop was a 30 second walk from the front door, and 5 minutes later we were right in Venice. It was so easy to just pop back to our room to change clothes or to drop things off.

I didn't get great pics of the inside of the communal areas, so I've grabbed some pics from the Generator Website.

 Our room consisted of two bunk beds and then a single.  We had our own shower and bathroom. The ceilings were very high which gave it the feeling of being in a loft.

The best part?  The view from our window!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Day 2 and 3 - Venice

One thing that I really wanted to do, while I was in Venice, was to go over to Murano, and check out all the glass. Our plan for that day was to just wander Venice for a while and then hop on the water bus and go over and see what if we could find a glass factory. When we got off the water bus in Venice, we started to talk to a guy who offered us a free taxi ride over to Murano. The catch was that we would have to go to a certain glass factory and see what they had.  That was great for us, since that's what we wanted to do anyway.  We jumped at the offer.

One of the bonuses of this was that we got to ride through some of the canals that the water busses don't go.  It was beautiful!

We had a private tour of the glass factory and were able to watch the artists at work.

Of course, at the end of the tour, we were able to purchase some of the beautiful pieces.  I know that was the whole purpose of getting us over there, but I was more than happy to oblige.

After the tour, we wandered around Murano for a bit.  It was such a pretty place. We were serenaded by one of the locals.

We spent the rest of the day exploring Venice. We had to cross over this bridge several times during our time there, and each time it made me laugh - it was a Venician traffic jam!

Venice is a very cool place.  I loved every second that we spent there.  It's so amazing to see all the canals and waterways, and how everyone gets around by water. We had a waterbus pass and so we spent the time hoping on and off as needed.  I look forward to going back one day and spending more time there.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Day 1 - Arriving in Venice

Matthew and I left yesterday morning, to catch our flight to Venice.

We were meeting up with John, Spencer and Cameron who were already there.  They got a head start on our vacation by leaving on Saturday.  Matt and I couldn't leave until Monday as Matt had to work on the weekend, and I had a retreat that I needed to be at.

We had a flight out of Toronto at 11:40 a.m. which meant that Matt had barely enough time to get home from work, change, and organize a few things before we had to leave for the airport.

We had a connecting flight out of Philadelphia, which meant that we had a 5 hour layover.  It was ok, for the most part, as it meant that we could get a good lunch and relax a bit before the second flight.  By the time we had to board, though, Matt was exhausted! Poor guy!

Our second flight was straight to Venice. 8 hours in the air! Matt was able to get about three or four hours of sleep, but I was only able to nap here and there.

Once we got to Venice, it was fairly easy to get to out hotel. by bus and then water bus.  The hotel is actually a hostel.  It's a very cool place and is across the canal from St. Marks Square. The hostel has family rooms, which is where we are staying - so we have our own bathroom and shower right in the room.  It's quite a hip spot, filled with a lot of younger people, and a handful of older ones.  I love the whole atmosphere of this place.

After we dumped our bags, we jumped back on the water bus to go over to San Marco to do a little exploring.  I immediately fell in love with Venice and all the canals!

We walked around for a little while.  John, Cameron, and Spencer showed us a few places that they had already discovered. 

Then we jumped back on the water bus to head up the canal to get some lunch. It was a huge mistake to stop for lunch, because once we did that, both Matt and I hit a wall of exhaustion.  We were spent. We ate quickly and then he and I went back to the hostel to get some much needed sleep while the other boys stayed out to look around some more.

I woke up in time for supper, but we couldn't drag Matt out of bed, so the rest of us went out for something to eat and then came back and crashed again.

It was a very long day from start to finish!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Clayton Clan Family Vacation - aka Spencer's Grad Trip

It's finally here! After months and months of planning, our big family trip has arrived.

Yesterday we left here

to go to here

with all these guys
where we are going to spend a couple of days doing this
before getting on this
to do this
to see things like this
and this

and probably doing  some of this
  hopefully not looking like this

but having lots of this
and this
which will likely look more like this
and finishing here
before returning here