Posts Tagged With: santorini

H is for home.

Today, on my birthday, I am reflecting. Looking back at a blog post from this time last year, it’s hard to believe all that has happened. In that post, we had just sold our house, we had a month to vacate, and we had no idea where we were going to go. I remember that angst, and I’m happy I’m not there this year. We had nothing booked – anywhere. That was not our wisest hour.
To be faced with moving out of a house you have lived in for ten years, storing most of your stuff, but making sure you keep out the stuff you will need for the next ten months is an arduous enough task. But planning a ten month trip while you’re at it? That’s just insanity. No wonder I was having anxiety issues. And to think I had known about this trip for four years…there’s a psychological diagnosis in there somewhere, I’m sure.
Anyway, the point is, if you are planning to take your family travelling for an extended period of time, I would recommend booking everything in advance. Or at least most things. Or even some things. Or one thing. But definitely not no things.
Miraculously, though, on this particular occasion, it all worked out ok. It would, in retrospect, have been a much more enjoyable experience for me if things had been better planned beforehand, but there you go. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. And with hindsight, I might have realized how much easier the trip would have been for the kids if it had been well-planned. However, it is what it is, and they experienced the whole process, angst included.
In asking us about our trip, people often say “the kids must have loved it”, but in all fairness, they did not always love it. I’m sure I have said before that there were many times when they just wanted to go home. And sometimes, as we settle back into the routines of school and soccer and birthday parties, we wonder what, if anything, they gained from our “year out”. Of course, we know they did, really, and we know their appreciation for the experience will increase as they get older, but it’s funny how quickly it has disappeared in some ways…
For example, a week after they started back at school, the little one had to do a writing assessment on which they were asked to write about something that happened in the past. When I asked her what she wrote about (thinking smugly about all the fabulous experiences we provided for her to choose from), she told me she wrote about that time we went to Halifax two years ago when she bought a teddy for her sister. I said, “Oh. I thought you might have written something about our trip”, to which she replied, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that”! You have to laugh, really, but comments like that don’t come without a tiny little sting. Shortly after that, she redeemed herself by compiling a pretty amusing A to Z of Travels which summed up her experience, though, so all was not lost.
In actual fact, we are starting to see the experience of our travels permeate lots of things the kids do and say quite often now, and every time we see that, those little stings are replaced with another feeling. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but I know it’s a very warm and glowy feeling. Like pride and satisfaction – and maybe a little relief. When I read Mairi’s speech for school and it’s all about European foods – which are good, and which should be avoided. Or when they point out places in library books that they recognize and have been to. Or when their stories have settings they would never have had a year ago. Or even when I can see their appreciation for home. It’s a good feeling.

Here is a collection of tidbits that give me that feeling:


My birthday card


This one was accompanied by the caption: X is for exit. Where is the exit in this airport?! It is a very accurate rendition of us wondering where the heck that exit is, right down to the sour expressions on our faces!




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What Was Your Favourite Part?

It has been some time since the last blog post, but I have been re-inspired since returning home by the number of people who have told me how much they enjoyed reading it. It’s funny to run into acquaintances, friends, and neighbours who have been reading along with our travels, because you never really know who’s out there while you’re actually writing. And when you see people for the first time, it really changes that initial conversation completely. You start in a totally different place.
People who have followed the blog ask about a specific place, or tell me how much they could relate to a certain post, or how much they laughed over me hiking in the Pyrenees in flip-flops, for example. Because they know where we were, they know which parts were good, and which were not so good. They understand the joy, or the frustration, of the experiences that moved me to write.
People who haven’t been following along ask me, “what was your favourite part?” And I am struggling to come up with an answer to that one. The girls have said the same thing – the experience seems so vast, that it is very difficult to come up with a favourite part. Or even a favourite place.
I don’t think there is anywhere I can honestly say I would never want to go again; almost every place we visited seemed to be cut too short, if anything. Even after spending several months in the UK, I feel like we only just scratched the surface. Some places were like appetizers; we spent such a short amount of time in them, and in a way, it would have been smarter to see less, but give ourselves more time in each place to really absorb the culture. On the other hand, even being exposed briefly to places like Cinque Terre and Santorini makes me want to come back for the main course some other time. Places as magical as those inspire you to plan future travel. And to be honest, some places are well worth a visit, but you wouldn’t want to stay longer than it takes to see the iconic sights. Venice, for example – a must see, but too busy and expensive to spend more than a day or two. And Athens – again, you are sort of obliged to go for its historical and cultural importance, but really, you wouldn’t want to stay! You really wouldn’t.
Anyway, I do have a lot more to say about this trip. There are still many unrecorded places and adventures. Sometimes, too much happened in the space of a few days to blog about it all. Sometimes, I didn’t have any Internet for a while, and when I finally did get it again, we had moved on. Sometimes, I didn’t have time. And sometimes I just couldn’t be bothered.
But it’s not over. And I look forward to writing about the missing bits. And the learning that no doubt will continue for a long time, despite the fact that we are home. Sort of. Actually, I wonder if it’s possible to seamlessly morph this roadschooling blog into a building-your-own-house blog.
I have a feeling there may be some interesting moments to come…
Cinque Terre



And Athens



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I am currently sitting at Kamari beach, Santorini, watching the kids pop up out of the water occasionally and yell excitedly to each other about the new kind of fish, the size of the fish, the number of fish, or the really cool seaweed directly below them. They have been enthralled by these beaches, from Monterrosso in Italy where the snorkeling craze began, to each of the beaches we have visited in Santorini.
Now, I have always said we are completely spoiled on PEI, and we are. We have the most amazing sandy beaches. But this is different. We have been avoiding the sandy replicas of PEI beaches, and heading to those that are more unfamiliar and interesting for the kids. The black sand of Perissa where the ocean floor is just a big volcanic slab, the charcoal gray pebbles of Kamari, and the creamy pumice cliffs of Vlyxada have all been favourites, each one surprisingly as good as the last (even though they only ever want to go to the last one they went to!). There is a very famous red beach here as well, and we did go check it out, all the while thinking “what’s the big deal, we have tons of red beaches”. And although we didn’t venture down the cliff to get to the actual beach, it was interesting to see. Not like ours at all really except in colour – massive red volcanic cliffs, and red porous rock almost like pumice, but the wrong colour. Not sandstone.
It has been such a pleasure to see the kids exploring these new ocean playgrounds and listening to their tales of exotic creatures!
We even do “beach math” with pebbles!






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Greek Redemption: Santorini

Everyone needs to go to Santorini. All the hassle of getting here, and the disappointment of Athens has disappeared into the Agean sunset. This island is incredible. We have four nights here, but we are wishing we stayed for a month. I have some actual travel advice to impart now:

1. Don’t take the seajet to save time as we did. Yes, it is about three hours quicker than the regular ferries, but you can’t go outside, you can’t see any of the scenery as you approach, and you can’t even really walk around because it’s rough. It’s like a plane, assigned seats and everything. Take the ferry and enjoy the freedom to move around and the spectacular views.

2. Do rent a car or some other mode of transport. I was skeptical at first, but the island is small, and has an incredible variety of things to see, so by the time you pay for buses or taxis, it’s well worth the cost of the car. Surprisingly, the roads are not too hairy either. We got a car for four days from some guy at the port for about 70 euros. Hotels will quote you 35 a day.

3. Do stay in Fira. Oia is probably even more stunning, but Fira is so central you are never more than twenty minutes from anything really!

4. Do eat lots of gyros. It’s very yummy, and cheap too.

5. Do not try to find ancient Akrotiri on your own. We did and it was a massive fail. We will be trying again tomorrow, so I’ll keep you posted.

6. Do explore lots of different beaches. There are black volcanic sand ones, pebble ones, red ones, white ones, ones with pumice cliffs, ones with no cliffs…look how many days you need just to go to the beach!
In the meantime, go ahead and plan your trip. But stay a while.







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