Will someone please remind Kelly that my bedroom at our parents house will ALWAYS be mine?
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Will someone please remind Kelly that my bedroom at our parents house will ALWAYS be mine?
Alex is down to 31 days until her college graduation and she is done. DONE. And when I say done I mean it in two different ways: one: she will be graduated and two: shes tired of school and ready for it to be, well, done. I think right now the latter is her biggest complaint.
Who doesnt remember your final quarter/semester of school?! All you have to do is make it to the last day and then youll be done forever….or until you go crazy and decide to go on to higher education – me I havent hit that point yet! The last couple of weeks Alex has really been down in the dumps and with her birthday coming up (today!) my family hatched a plan, one that would surely put a huge smile on her face! My parents had already been planning on sending Kelly to visit Alex in a couple of weeks, and Alex was aware of it but had no idea of the earlier visit.
All weekend long we racked our brains on the best way to do it. Kelly quickly was nominated for the travel role but we had to figure out how to get her there. Mind you we all will be driving the 12 hours in just a couple of weeks for graduation. Do we fly Kelly down? Does she take a friend and drive over? How long will she stay? If we fly her down do we buy her just a one way ticket and have her stay until the graduation? Or just fly her home in a week or two? All these questions were hashed out at the breakfast table Sunday morning.
The final consensus was to fly Kelly one way into Salt Lake City and then either my mom or Jeff will drive over in a week or so and bring her home. However due to the last minute nature of this the only flight option got in at 7pm and we would have to get Kelly up to Rexburg, a couple hour drive. We figured by the time Kelly would make it into Rexburg Alex would be asleep and her birthday over, so just showing up at her door wasnt an option so we hatched plan B which we recorded….her response wasnt quite what we were expecting….
Happy Golden Birthday, Alexandra Nicole!!!!!!!! We love you!
I’ve been home for almost 24 hours now and am trying to readjust to a time zone that’s 9 hours behind what I’m used to. However, the previous 24 hours were extremely long and tiring as we journeyed from Rome to Seattle.
The morning started out pretty early, we had to be up, packed and in the Moderno Restaurant by 8:30am to meet Bruno who would help us with debarkation and loading our minibus. We all had one last breakfast in The Haven, said goodbye to our towel animal friends who had kept us company for 21 days and took a couple last pictures.
After the 1.5 hour drive from the boat, we arrived at the airport which is very odd. Well, maybe not the airport but the check-in flow.
We walked in and went up to a counter that we assumed was the check-in counter (we had already checked in online, but apparently had to do it again at the airport). There they looked at our passports and asked us the standard questions: have your bags been in your possession since you packed them? Did anyone ask you to take something for them? Etc. Once we passed that test we were handed a clear plastic bag and told to put any and all cameras and electronics in the bags. This may seem like a simple endeavor but for me I had my iPad, computer, cell phone, camera, extra lens, power cords and chargers. By the time I got everything bagged up and closed all my luggage I had only voiced my complaints a couple of times I had a plastic bag that was ready to rip. I was hoping that once I went around the corner security would be the next step. Wrong.
Once around the corner we got into another long line to check our baggage. This time we had to scan all our passports, weigh our luggage and officially get checked in. (What the heck was the first check?!) By the time we made it through this line my clear bag was closer to ripping but we weren’t done yet.
My mom had bought a ring tax-free (??) that needed to be declared, so we had to go to the customs office to get something signed. One step closer to my bag ripping.
FINALLY we made it to security and could put all the electronics away before they went crashing to the ground.
It wasn’t long before we boarded our plane that would take us to JFK in New York City.
The 8.5 hour flight from Rome to JFK was great and shockingly the time flew. I watched three movies, a couple of television shows and before I knew it we were landing in New York.
This is where the fun started as we had about an hour to make our connecting flight.
Grandma needed a wheelchair to get from gate to gate so we got a personal escort, who ended up becoming a lifesaver in helping us make our connecting flight because the customs process at JFK was a long nightmare.
We started by scanning our passports and receiving a receipt, standing in line and going through customs. Then we had to go claim our luggage and drag it 10 feet to another line which was super long. At that point Grandma’s wheelchair pusher took matters into his own hands and cut through the HUGE customs #2 line. All eight of us were running behind him to not get lost or stuck in the line. Had we waited in line, like we should have, it would have been at least a 30 minute wait, time that we didn’t have.
We made it through customs line #2 and now had to rechecked our luggage. At this point we had about 20 minutes until our flight began boarding. Again, Mr. Wheelchair Pusher pushed us to the front of the line and assisted us in the rechecking process. He then told us we needed to keep-up as we would be moving extremely quickly to make our flight, especially because we still needed to go through security…again.
This time we didn’t cut to the front of the line, but we went through the employee and VIP line and made our way to the security machines (what are they called anyway?). Once again we emptied our pockets and bags of electronics & liquids, took off shoes, coats, and waited for our turn to go in the machine. I apparently was in a rush because I stepped into the machine and immediately through my arms over my head so I could be scanned. I must have startled the TSA agent because he laughed and said “this looks way to natural for you”. Hmmm….
We made it to the gate to find out that the arriving plane was delayed. So in the end we ran for nothing! Oh well, it was nice to have a chance to use the bathroom and get water before boarding our flight to Seattle.
Flight to Seattle
We were hoping that the 5.5 hour flight to Seattle would be as smooth as the transcontinental one we just got off of, but no such luck. This plane was much smaller, with far less leg room making it really hard to get comfortable. To make things worse we were exhausted as it was now well past midnight in Rome.
About two hours into the flight we hit major turbulence and were stuck in our seats for the remainder of the flight. I’d never felt turbulence this bad before, the captain even made the flight attendants to buckle up for more than an hour. It was crazy bumpy. At first it was fun, but after awhile I began to get anxious and suddenly it wasn’t that much fun anymore. I was happy when it stopped and we began to fly normally again.
We landed in Seattle about 10:30pm (7:30am Rome).
It didn’t take us long to collect ALL of our bags and make it down to ground transportation to meet the van that would bring us back to Duvall. However, the driver was NOT prepared for the amount of luggage we had with us. He loaded up the van and then realized he only had half the bags. He panicked and called his supervisor to tell her it wouldn’t all fit in the van. We calmly told him that we had the same size van and amount of luggage when we headed to the airport and that it all fit. He wasn’t so sure and when his supervisor came over she laughed at him and told him….”Well, this looks like you have some work to do. Pretend it’s Jenga or Tetris and MAKE THE LUGGAGE FIT!!” He didn’t seem to like that answer, but with the help of my mom and dad (who actually loaded most of it) we headed home.
We got home about midnight and it was a mad rush for a shower and to find something to eat. By about 1am we were winding down, but still pretty well wired however, by the time my head hit the pillow I was out.
Today was LONG. I woke up about 7am (early for me) and was wide awake. By about 1pm I was soooooooo tired, but had to stay awake so I can sleep tonight and hopefully reacclumate to the time. Right now it’s 9:30pm, I did it!! Now it’s time to go to bed!! GOOD NIGHT WORLD!!
This morning bright and early we set off for a tour of the Blue Mosque and then to the Grand Bazaar. While the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar were really cool, I didn’t take many photos, I think I’m beginning to be tired of taking pictures. I’m already on my second memory card after filling up a 16gb one and have a good start on my 8gb one. I hope this one will be big enough to finish the trip because after this I just have a couple of small 1gb ones that hold like 100 photos!
Here are some of the highlights of the very few photos I took today and there are actually no photos of the Grand Bazaar,I was too busy shopping to take photos!
Today was also part 2 of the Gin Tournament and Grandma and Mom will be moving onto the finals tomorrow. I’m still a bit annoyed that I was knocked out in the first round, but I’m trying to be strong….that and have refused to play ever since! That’ll show them not to beat me!
Tomorrow is an at sea day, followed by another at sea day, Naples on Friday where I’m going to Capri to ride the chairlift that Keri Smith said was a must see and sadly on Saturday we disembark and began our long journey back to Seattle. It’s crazy that this amazing trip is coming to an end, but there is still three more days of fun ahead of me and I plan to make the most out of it!
This morning we docked in Kusadasi, Turkey and got a taxi to head to Ephesus, about 40 minutes from the boat. We did this tour completely on our own, got our own taxi, bought a book outside of the Ephesus and my mom played tour guide to the best of her ability as she pointed out and highlighted different relics and ruins she saw in the book. Since my mom bought the book I can give a little bit more information on what we saw and don’t just have to rely on my memory, here are a few of the highlights!
Ephesus was built during the middle of the 7th century BC as a a major thorough fair for the great trade road and it was when Christianity was beginning to spread across the area. At the theater in this city, the Romans protested the doctrine that St. Paul was sharing. Ephesus is also where St. John brought the Virgin Mary during her last days and where she died. St. John also had many divine inspirations while in Ephesus. And in 431 AD, the Third Ecumenical Council met in the Virgin Mary Church and accepted Virgin Mary as the mother of God. After many centuries of attacks, revolts, takeovers and captures the town became smaller and smaller until it was no longer a port city or a trade center. By 1090, most people had left Ephesus.
It was pretty surreal to be walking on the same streets that the Virgin Mary, St. John and St. Paul had walked on many, many centuries ago.
It didn’t take long before we realized that there were TONS of cats living inside the Ephesus gates, around every corner we saw cats and the girls were loving, loving on the kitties. Kelly got a little to close to one kitty and he scratched her, oops! Other than that cat, they were all really sweet, Alex was even able to hold one and that kitty then followed her around for awhile (we got it on video, but again the internet isn’t strong enough for me to post it!). At the beginning of our visit, before we had figured out what we were doing and seeing, my dad had to laugh that we spent hundreds of dollars to visit a cat sanctuary!
The other funny part about our visit was when we were overlooking a beautiful castle like structure, my mom announced that this was actually the brothel. We were all confused to way the most beautiful and intricate building in the city was the brothel, as we began to see this beautiful structure in a new light she announced she was wrong and it was actually the library. Phew!
The Brothel The Celsus Library
Here are more photos of our excursion to Ephesus today:
Tomorrow is our first day in Istanbul, Turkey, we’ll be there Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m not quite sure if we stay docked for both days or if we move during the night and then re-dock in the morning. I’m guessing the latter because the shops and casino can’t open if we’re in port, but we’ll just have to wait and see. We don’t arrive until about 1pm tomorrow and then just have a day to tour on our own. On Tuesday we will have an official excursion to the Blue Mosque and then to the Grand Bazaar!
I went to bed last night thinking that today we were going to see the Acropolis in Athens, only to find out this morning we were going to see the original Olympic stadium ruins. Not that I’m complaining, just was confused! Like I say every night it was pretty darn amazing to be walking through such a historic monument that’s been standing for thousands of years. It’s pretty cool.
I apologize ahead of time for the number of photos, I normally just grab photos of my camera (or one camera if I didn’t take any that day), but today I knew I wanted a couple pictures of my dad’s and Brandi’s cameras so there is a lot!
Okay, so TOMORROW we’ll be in Athens and will see the Acropolis….at least that’s what I’ve been told…we shall see!
This morning we got up early and boarded our tour bus for the ancient ruins of Pompeii. 1700 years ago (on my birthday, August 24th to be exact!) Mount Vesuvius erupted sending ash and pumice stones onto the city of Pompeii. For three days homes were hit and people eventually suffocated to death. Today, they have excavated a lot of the town and it was amazing to be walking through these ruins.
A couple of nights ago I put $10 into a slot machine in the casino and with one pull and .30c I won $45! Once I had won I played two more rounds before I cashed out and was super excited to receive the $43.75 in cash!
Today is also the last night of the first cruise and there are a bunch of sad passengers. I’m pretty ecstatic to be getting ready to start all over and begin a 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise! Bring on 10 more days of five-star fun!
It rained all day long today, icky drizzly Seattle rain. We headed out with raincoats, hats and umbrellas as we ventured through the throngs of taxi driving, umbrella sellers. Up and down the streets we walked only to find out that the majority of Palermo is closed on Mondays. That didn’t slow us down to much, we still saw a lot of pretty buildings and even a haunted mansion before finding a quaint café where we ordered bruschetta, a cutting board of Italian cheese and meats, and then a big plate of French fries! My dad wanted Pellegrino, but the look on the waiter’s face made it clear he didn’t know what he was asking for. Kelly apparently knew that by asking for “aqua with gas” meant carbonated water! (Oh and no Brandi didn’t lose a leg on the trip, even though the picture below makes it look that way!!)
When we got back to the ship Alex and I quickly got signed back in, but Brandi ran into some problems. When they scanned her card nothing happened, they tried it twice before sending her over to a different security guard to solve the problem. The guy who was helping her was super confused, he couldn’t figure out if Brandi was trying to get back on board or get off. Apparently, when they signed her out it never registered so the entire time she was off the ship it still showed her as on. It’s a good thing she didn’t get lost because the ship wouldn’t go looking for her for a very long time!! The security guard kept asking her, “so you want to get off the ship?” Brandi finally convinced him she’d been off all morning and now wanted to go home!
Once we all finally got back on board we met up with Grandma for lunch by the pool. At the time we had all just eaten, so we decided not to order, she ordered Mexican tortilla soup. Once it came we all ooh’d and ahh’d over how good it looked and I ended up ordering one with a lemonade. Kelly piped up and said she wanted a lemonade too, but when Benny brought the drinks, he brought me my lemonade and Kelly a bowl of soup! We all laughed and laughed and Kelly modeled “drinking her lemonade”.
For dinner tonight we ate at the Italian restaurant, La Cachina. All week I’ve been looking forward to this meal because I love Italian food, however my excitement was quickly squashed because it was the slowest.service.ever! Alex got so bored that she cut up the plate of cheese Kelly had as an appetizer and created cheese flowers!
To make things even better I received my Caesar salad and saw a bug go scurrying across the lettuce. Blech. Even after I sent my buggy salad back the service continued to be slow, in an empty restaurant it took us nearly two hours to get our food. Most of us didn’t even get dessert because we didn’t want to miss the big final production show at 7:30pm. Kelly, however, managed to do both by bringing her dessert with her to the Stardust Theater!
Tomorrow we’re in Naples, Italy and will see Pompeii and then back to Rome on Wednesday which will conclude cruise #1 and on to cruise #2!!
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