Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: Fun in the Sun and Dalsnuten Hike!

This week's wrap-up is short since most of the week was spent on the last bit of our vacation in Greece. You can see the post here and look at some of our amazing pictures (courtesy of Jason) here.

The weather in Stavanger has been phenomenal! I mean, the temps are rivaling what we saw in Greece!! We've tried to take advantage by spending as much time outdoors as possible. That meant playing on the patio on Friday, watching Daddy mow the lawn (and laugh every time he came towards us) and playing in our new splash pool on Saturday, and then hiking Dalsnuten and going to a friend's BBQ on Sunday.

Oh and you'll notice Madi standing on her own more and more in the pictures from Dalsnuten. Little punk took her first steps this week. And so it begins...


The hike wasn't far from where we live (maybe a 25 min drive) and it was a pretty easy hike. The elevation was only 325 meters. It was our first time using the hiking backpack and we were impressed! It worked really well and Madi seemed to love being able to use her hands and see everything around her.

I feel like these next two pictures need a caption... anyone?

Hope you had a fabulous week! :-)


Friday, April 25, 2014

Greek Enchantment

We decided we'd love to see Greece over Easter and started looking into options for traveling there. The idea of packing and unpacking baby stuff multiple times in order to see more of Greece and the islands was not appealing to us and we opted to book a cruise instead! (I'll do a separate post with my review on the cruise line and thoughts on traveling with a baby on board for those who might be considering one in the future.)

There are a lot of pictures from the trip as you can imagine. Instead of posting all of them on here (especially after seeing my top pics for Ephesus... which totaled 80 pictures alone...), I've highlighted just a few pictures and you can browse through all the rest here. Enjoy!


We had a very early flight to Rome in order to catch our ship, which left from Civitavecchia (a port about 45 min northwest of Rome). That meant I got Madi snuggles and to watch the sunrise from 10,000 ft. #happy

We boarded the MS Eurodam and got to exploring our room and the ship. Madi absolutely loved being around so many people. I think we are going to have a social butterfly on our hands! The crew and the other cruisers absolutely adored her and she was a little ham waving and smiling and talking to pretty much everyone. It was a great reminder to Jason and I with just how blessed we are to have her in our lives.

Katakolon, Greece
We had one day at sea before arriving in Katakolon. We met up with our tour group and headed to Olympia, the site where the ancient Olympics used to be held. We also toured the museum onsite afterwards.

Santorini, Greece
The following day we arrived in Santorini. We didn't book an excursion and instead decided to wander around ourselves and potentially tackle the Fira to Oia hike. I tried researching reviews online beforehand about hiking with a baby and just kept finding the same review quoted that the person did not recommend the hike due to the hot July weather. Since it was April and I couldn't find anything about the technicality, we decided to go for it. And I am so glad we did!! The hike was not very technical at all and I was perfectly fine carrying Madi in the Baby Bjorn. It took about three hours (including a stop for feeding Madi) and towards the end started to get a bit warm so I would definitely recommend starting out early like we did. We took a bus back to Fira and enjoyed walking around the city for a bit before getting back onboard.

Rhodes, Greece
The third port for our ship was the island of Rhodes. There weren't a lot of excursions offered here as it's a smaller location and we decided to just walk around since the previous two days had been pretty long. The city has an ancient wall around part of it and we explored some inside and out as we ventured to the aquarium with Madi. There was also a small strip of beach where we introduced Madi to sand and let her get her feet wet. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and a more relaxing day!

Kusadasi, Turkey
Turkey was the next stop and probably our favorite of the trip (and not just because I got Starbucks... twice!) We booked a private excursion for the day and I am so glad we decided to do that. We had our own van and were able to go at our own pace without feeling rushed to move on. Our tour guide, Tugrul, was phenomenal and so patient with us and with Madi. He loved playing peek-a-boo with her and listening to her talk! Our first stop on the tour was Virgin Mary's House. Afterwards we headed to the ancient city of Ephesus. We spent a few hours here walking around, taking pictures, listening to the history, and just soaking in the expanse of this Biblical city. When we were finished we visited the Basilica of St. John, which stands over the believed burial site of John the Apostle. Tugrul then took us to a delicious restaurant and ordered us a few different dishes to try. The staff adored Madi and took her back to the kitchen to see the ladies cooking. After a long day we were grateful to head back to the ship...but not before making a second Starbucks stop! :-)

Athens, Greece
Athens we'd booked another excursion. I think this was a hard city because there's a lot to see and they tried to pack quite a few things into one day. It felt a bit rushed as we stopped at an overlook for 15 min to see the city landscape, followed by one of the Athens Olympics modern stadiums, then hit the Temple of Olympian Zeus for a strict 25 min so that we could head over to catch the changing of the guard at 11:00 before then finally heading to the main event, the Athenian Acropolis where we would be walking around Parthenon. The end of day included 1.5 hours of free time at Plaka. Personally, I would have rather skipped the free time (who needs to eat when they are sightseeing?!) and taken the beginning part slower (and maybe skipped the modern stadium since we just saw the outside of it or the overlook of the city). Overall, it was still a good tour and we enjoyed it, but Athens is definitely a city that cannot be done in one day on a cruise ship port. Guess we'll just have to go visit it again! ;-)

Gythion, Greece
Our last port was the Gythion and we had to tender onshore. Since it fell on Easter Sunday and we'd had a couple busy days with Ephesus and Athens, we decided to walk around a bit and relax. The ship wasn't in port for very long either and the weather was fabulous for being outside. We walked to a small lighthouse before heading the opposite direction and stopping at a local park to play. Madi absolutely loved the swings and was laughing and smiling! We grabbed some ice cream and Madi had a giant meltdown when I wouldn't let her grab my ice cream as I was trying to let her just try it. The port was mostly full of our fellow cruisers and multiple people commented that it was the first time they'd heard her squawk at all! At least they believed us now when we told them she does indeed cry. ;-)

We had one more day at sea to head back to Civitavecchia. We left straight from there to go to the airport and had a full day of traveling before arriving home late that evening. Rome had a nursery that Madi could play in and since she didn't have a walker, her and Daddy engineered one. #futureengineer By the end of the day though she was one tired little baby and we were ready to be home!

Overall, it was a fabulous trip and we had a ball! Greece was beautiful and I would definitely recommend visiting there if you ever get a chance!

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