Athens Trip Day 1..and 2
Why start with the first two days rather than just the first day? Because that’s how long it took us to get to Athens!
I’m still trying to determine when the best time is to start a long travel journey. Some think it’s at night, others in the morning. For me, it’s more about when the best price for the flight comes in. Our journey started with leaving the house at 3:00 am to catch at 5:30 am flight. This sounded good to me, since it was a flight from Austin to Denver, where we would meet up with my oldest daughter, Amber, then take another flight from Denver to London. The only thing I didn’t think about was the 7 hour layover! I have a very hard time sleeping the night before we travel anywhere, so I had about a two hours of sleep before leaving.
We were flying Frontier airlines for the first time ever. The airline it’s self wasn’t so bad. They had just moved to a new section of the Austin airport though, which was very small and didn’t offer much choice in the way of food in that area yet. But, getting through the little security area was quick and easy.
Reaching Denver International airport was quick, only a two hour flight, and the pilot flew so fast we arrived 30 minutes early! Wandering around the huge airport, we avoided the quickly growing security line and found a coffee and a breakfast snack, despite there only being a couple of places open. With a 7 hour layover in front of us, we found a spot close to the airline check-ins to wait for Amber and the airline to open. The girls were exhausted by then and, upon finding an empty seat next to an outlet, they all fell fast asleep. How in the world they were able to sleep on an airport floor, I have no idea! I was tired too, but no way could I have slept!
We were able to do a self service check-in, but one of the machines didn’t print out Amber’s luggage tag. So we had to wait in the line that started to form for regular check-in. For some reason the airline thought they only needed one employee to check people in, and only to check in the priority club customers. After standing in line for about an hour, I moved to stand in the bag drop line, which seemed to upset some rude priority club customer who decided to cut in front of us and get rude with me. After brushing him off, we finally got the tag for her bag and dropped all of them then headed for security. I had heard that security lines were running about four hours due to the government shut down and a lot of TSA agents calling in sick. We must have gotten there at a good time since we got through very quickly and easily.
We finally boarded our Norwegian flight to London, which was going to be an 8 hour flight. I was really impressed with the Norwegian plane. In upgrading their plane, they added “mood lighting” and started pumping in more fresh air to help alleviate jet lag. The one thing I can say I don’t like about airlines these days is that nothing is included with the airfare anymore. We had to pay extra fee’s for luggage, a meal and seat selection. You would think seat selection would be free if you have a small child, but it isn’t even for that. I have heard horror stories from traveling parents that their three year old was not given the seat next to them and other passengers refusing to switch seats with them! So to avoid the possibility of this even happening, I pay the extra for seat selection. Not that long ago, in 2012, I remember not paying anything extra for these things on long distance flights!
Once we arrived in London, we had another 8 hour layover before we would take an Easyjet flight to Athens. I was unable to sleep on the plane, which is pretty typical for me, so by now I was completely exhausted. There was no way I would have been able to stay up for the long layover and I wasn’t finding any comfy looking areas at Gatwick airport to curl up at and take a nap. Not to mention, I wouldn’t have felt safe falling asleep in public with Willow and all of our luggage. So I opted to get us a couple of rooms at one of the short stay hotels they have in the airport. I’m not sure if they have something like this in the US, but I have only seen them in Europe so far. They are VERY small rooms with only a bed and a bathroom. In the bathroom is a small sink, toilet and shower head. Which is also something I’ve only ever seen in the UK. We rented a house once just outside of London that had a small bathroom with a shower head inside. So you could practically sit on the potty while taking a shower! At the time I thought this was just something the homeowner did, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s more common! The room it’s self was just a bed. You had about 4 feet from the door to the bed and that was it. Not a lot of space if you have a lot of luggage with you! None the less, it was perfect for getting some long overdue sleep! We got a few hours of sleep and a short shower in, then headed off to check in with the airline. Easyjet is no different than other airlines in that everything is a separate charge. So to keep costs low, you can opt out of choices like seat selection, priority boarding and food. Despite my dislike for all airlines choosing to do this, I actually like Easyjet when flying in Europe. Unlike Ryanair, which will literally nickel and dime and dollar you to death. I avoid them as much as I can.
Finally arriving in Athens
The last flight was just under four hours and not so bad since we had a little rest beforehand. All of the girls did pass out as soon as the plane took off. Willow was reading the flight instructions to me, and I was showing her how to place her hands behind her head, when I accidentally elbowed her in the head. Wouldn’t you know I would make her cry on a full plane before we even took off! Lucky for me she didn’t cry long, fell asleep and slept through the whole flight! We landed a little early, which was nice, and quickly made our way through customs and to get our luggage. I was very happy I decided to arrange a private shuttle ahead of time to take us to the apartment we rented. He was standing outside with a sign, then Kindly took our bags to the van and we all piled in for the 30 minute ride. Since we arrived at night, there wasn’t much to see as we drove. Once we reached the apartment, the owners were outside waiting for us. We got all our bags out of the van and were anxious to get upstairs to finally have a good rest.
The owners of the apartment are a very kind older couple, Kostas and Sofia, who only speak Greek. Sofia was instantly fond of Willow. She cooed over her, petting her and stroking her cheeks, calling her “bonita” and telling her she loved her. This is a reaction I have found to be very common in older women outside of the US. Willow also got this reaction a lot in Spain and Mexico. They really seem to love children!
With the aid of google translate, and a whole lot of looking confused and trying to understand, they explained everything about the apartment. It’s wise to listen since, my experience so far is that, homes in Europe run differently than homes in the US. For example, you can turn an outlet on and off with a switch in some places. I found that out during a stay in Dublin when it took me at least an hour to figure out how to get the stovetop to turn on! I finally realized it was on a switch that was turned off! Here, they want you to use the breaker box to shut off appliances you aren’t using and turn off the whole apartment when you leave. It’s not common to have a dryer, so you learn very quickly how to line dry clothes. We have gotten places with washers, but they are different than in the US and I usually have to find a manual to figure out how to use them. There are also metal shutters over the doors and windows that you can close at night, some have kind of a learning curve when you first encounter them. Even the way doors lock are different!
Finally getting through it all, we were starving and had spotted a pizza place up the street as we drove here. Jenna and I walked to the pizza place and ordered some dinner, which we all ate quickly then went to bed.
I thought for sure I was going to sleep like a log when I finally hit the bed! Wouldn’t you know, that wasn’t the case. To start with, it was night here, but my body was used to it being afternoon. Add to that, I’m used to the white noise of a fan and the whole apartment was completely quiet, except for the cars passing by on the street. Oh yes, and the radiators ticking every time they started heating up. The bed that felt like we were sleeping on a piece of wood. I slept for a few hours, then woke up about 3:30 am and wasn’t able to fall back to sleep. Amber, Willow and I ended up getting up and milling around the apartment while Jenna and Ashley slept. We decided to pull out the futon couch in the living room area, which was way softer than sleeping in the bed, and fell back to sleep for a bit more. It was afternoon before any of us got up.
We all felt horrible and our internal clocks are completely off. Willow was totally zoning out and started vomiting after a bit. It seemed like she couldn’t even keep water down. At about 6:00 pm Amber, Ashley and I walked to the pharmacy to get some electrolytes for Willow and some dinner. We got some snacks from the shops nearby and some sandwiches from the pizza place, that is really a pizza, pasta, burger, salad place.
Willow finally started to feel better and was able to eat and hold down her food. We all finally went to bed at about 1:00 am and I thought I would sleep the night away. No such luck! 3:30 am and I was wide awake again! I don’t recall having this much issue with acclimating to the time change in the past. I’m not sure why we are having such a problem with it this time. All I know is, I hope it gets better quickly! On day three, we are going out no matter what!
Despite all the ups and downs, I really do love travel. Even the getting there is a journey and has lessons you can learn along the way. Patience is a really good one that not everyone has learned. Understanding that everything isn’t always going to go 100% perfect and that’s ok! It’s learning how to get through it all with a good attitude that matters. So now I’m just looking forward to getting out into the city and experiencing some new and amazing things!
3 Top Reasons Why We’re so Afraid of Change!
Why are we so afraid of change in our lives?
Just the thought of a big life change can be intimidating and scary for so many of us. For me, the choice to pursue a life of worldschooling with my kids was a intensely scary choice! One might think that it’s a really easy choice to take off and travel to amazing places around the world, but for an over thinker like me, this was a really frightening choice! We decided to sell the home that our daughters were practically born and raised in, sell the majority of our belongings, downsize to a small place and figure out exactly what we needed to do to become full time travelers. These are terrifying choices to make!
1 – Fear of the Unknown
It’s been 5 month’s since we sold our house. Since then, the girls and I have since spent a month in Mexico, a few weeks in Colorado and we leave for a month long visit to Greece in only 6 days! I toiled for weeks before I finally made the decision to make the travel plans for Mexico! I’m sure most people think it would be exciting to make the plans to travel to exotic locations, and it is, BUT! It is also very intimidating for me to do. When ever I talked about traveling to Mexico, most people expressed a nervousness, and sometimes fear, about such plans. When others express fear, it can sometimes create a fear within us as well. I knew so many that were already traveling there, so it couldn’t be such a scary a place! I pushed past that fear, made the plans and traveled to Mexico! We spent three weeks in San Miguel de Allende and a week in Mexico City. We attended the Family Adventure Summit, met some amazing new friends, visited parks and pyramids, learned about the Day of the Dead culture, ate some delicious food and created life experiences that will be remembered forever! All things we would have missed out on if we had let our fear of the unknown be our deciding voice!
2) Too Comfortable in Everyday Life
Sometimes it’s just easier to continue in the very comfortable life that we have created for ourselves. I am all about comfort! I am like everyone else and revel in the comfort of just being home. I love my comfy bed and chilling on my comfy couch. I love being in the community that we have lived in for so many years now, and socializing with all the people that I’ve known for so long. It’s just comforting and easy! But is that a good thing if we never step out of that comfy place and change a little? So much I’ve read says no, it’s not a good thing. It can cause you to be complacent and scared to change anything. For me, I NEED change in my life. I start to become restless and unhappy. I spent a lot of years in my life feeling depressed and unhappy, unsure of why and what I could do to change it. I longed for something, yet I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until after I walked the Camino de Santiago for the first time that I knew what I was missing…change. Not just change, but the experience of life! It took some years to figure out that this was my passion, but once I did, I’ve been happy ever since! So get out of your comfort zone! Change your attitude, change your life!
3) Doubting Yourself
It’s so easy to doubt yourself when making any decision of change. I do it every day of my life! We certainly didn’t make the decision overnight to sell our house. It was a discussion over years! I didn’t decide in one day to change all of our lives with travel. No, I thought about it and thought about it and my husband and I discussed it over and over. All because I doubted myself. What if I couldn’t do it? What if my kids ended up hating it and then hating me for completely changing up their lives? What would we do without a “home”? How were we going to make this work financially? Would we even be able to?! Yep, I was full of doubt, even if I didn’t show it outwardly to everyone I talked to about it! I finally just had to stop doubting myself, get past all of those fears, get out of all my comfort zones and make the decision to JUST DO IT! It doesn’t matter what you want to do, the first step to doing it is just doing it! Take the leap!
I can’t say that I don’t still go through all of these things when making my decision, because I do. I just try not to let fear be the deciding factor in my life. My husband and I are still mulling through the choices we need to make financially and what he should do for work to allow him to travel with us. As the bread winner of our family, these are even more terrifying choices for him than they are for me, which is understandable. It’s just a matter of both of us together deciding what we want and taking the actions to do it.
Patience is a Virtue…So They Say
Do I Need More Patience?
I was really hoping we would be one of those stories, like I’ve read so often these days, where our house was sold super quickly and we would be able to move on with our plans right away. It almost was! But no such luck. Here we are, four weeks later and I feel like we are starting over again. Probably because we ARE starting over again.
I’ve truly tried to remain patient these last four weeks. I have even just had a conversation with my 16 year old about how it’s just better to be patient when you really want something. To occupy your attention with something else and the time will just pass. So for me, patience hasn’t really been the problem with selling our house. I’ve had moments of being overwhelmed and ready to just get done with all of this, but I’ve managed to stay fairly patient. So why do I feel like we are starting over? We have just removed the listing from the market, redone the pictures and it’s being re-listed today, after being off the market for a few days. Only, we are re-listing with a new agent.
I never realized how stressful a process it would be to sell our home. From all the updating we did to it, all the money we put into it for updates and repairs, staging and getting it ready for market, listing it and then keeping it in model home condition so that we are can run out of the house at a moment’s notice if an appointment was booked to see the house. All of this is very stressful and I can see that stress taking it’s toll on my family. One thing is for sure, we are going to need a vacation when it finally does sell!
Well add to that, the feeling that Shawn and I were having that we just weren’t on the same page as our realtor. From the beginning it felt that way. Though it was about what the house should be listed for, so I thought that should be expected. I felt like it is probably common that people feel like their home should be worth more, and the realtor is there to show them why their expectations are a little high. I have never felt like my expectations where too high or that the price I felt we should be asking was too high. Our home is in a curious situation in that it’s in a housing market that is just exploding right now. The population is expanding every day. When we bought our house here 15 years ago, we moved to the outskirts of a town of about 10,000. In the last 5 years that number has grown to 60,000 and if you count the outskirts, about 80,000. The neighborhood we live in is now closer in due to things growing out this way. What used to be a 8 minute drive to the store is now a 4 minute drive to the new store. We used to be a small neighborhood of about 50 homes and that has more than doubled due to a custom home builder buying land behind our homes and expanding the neighborhood. All of this has, what we consider, skyrocketed the price of homes, property taxes and cost of living here. So if you’re looking to sell your house and move, then it should be great for you financially. Unfortunately for me, we had two homes in my neighborhood sell at the very same time for under market and extremely fast, despite no other houses doing this. This is causing a huge problem for me in that our realtor felt like we should be doing the same thing. Sell low and get it sold fast. To be fair, as she kept pointing out to us, we aren’t a custom home with high end upgrades, which is what is being built all around us now. But to be fair to me, a house on the same street as those houses, which wasn’t a custom home with all the high end upgrades sold for $80,000 more than those only a few months prior, yet I wasn’t being put into the category with that house…only the two lowest selling ones.
Now I would agree that we were over priced if we had gotten no traffic to the house, but that just wasn’t the case. In the first week we received a contract for the full asking price. For unfortunate reasons, that didn’t work. On the second week we had someone come out to view the house twice then ask our realtor if we were “motivated” because they would want to do some upgrades. Her response was we had only been on the market for 13 days. The third week we received two calls of interest. One of them came back twice and were measuring the rooms. In total we had 15 viewings of the house, not including a few from an open house and a parade of realtors. The common opinion of the majority was it was priced well, clean, staged well and nice. For some it was too far out of town, priced too high for one realtor and one didn’t like our cat roaming free in the house during showings. Overall, it was positive feedback. The traffic was there and the interest was there, but nothing was happening. The last one interested was trying to buy at the top of their price range and had not put in an offer, yet we felt like our realtor was doing everything she could to try and talk us into dropping our price, and not just a little. It just felt to us like this was the wrong selling tactic and didn’t sit right with us. It was obvious to us we just weren’t having a meeting of the minds with her and probably wouldn’t. She was determined to sell our house low and fast and we aren’t. So, it was time to find someone who thought more like we did. Nothing personal, but we are talking about the biggest investment we own.
I was already talking to someone else before we even listed the house. Someone who had been selling homes for a lot longer and this wasn’t their first listing ever. Someone who had actually sold a home in my neighborhood before. That had been doing it for so long that it isn’t just about a paycheck anymore. When I didn’t understand our realtors responses to situations that were coming up, I called him to ask him about it and his thoughts were exactly the same as mine, without me even revealing to him what I thought. He gave me his unsolicited opinion without ever asking for anything in return. Simply because we had a mutual friend who had given me his name for a second opinion. So after calling him a couple of times, it just seemed more logical to us to be working with someone who had the same train of thought as we did, rather than fighting with someone through an already stressful process. So we decided to switch realtors in the middle of the game. This meant nearly a week off the market.
So here we go again. Everything is being put back on the market today. We had a nice break of a couple of days without worry of keeping the house in show home condition (though it’s become a habit so it stayed that way anyway) and not needing to worry we may have to run out of the house in a minutes notice. It was so nice!! It will be even nicer once the house sells though, so I’m ready to start it again and will keep all my fingers and toes crossed that we will still get the traffic and the interest, but have someone working for us that believes in what we have and will work to get us the best return possible on our investment.
I’m keeping up the patience!
#toddler #caminobabies #changeyourlife #familyadventures #familytravel #forgetnormal #holidaywithkids #LPkids #sellthehouse #teentravel #toddlertravel #travelwithkids #traveldeeper #worldschoolers #worldschooling #caminobaby #bebrave
When Exactly Does a Journey Begin?
Finding the beginning
One would think that a journey of travel begins once you have reached your travel destination. I’m here to say that is absolutely false. While planning my first Camino I discovered that the journey actually began when I decided to go, then started researching all the plans and travel to get to the Camino de Santiago. There was so much that needed to go into it! Deciding where to start walking, deciding what city to fly into, figuring out which plane, train or bus to catch to get to the starting city, finding where I was going to stay and what places along the way took reservations and which didn’t. I could go on and on! It felt like there was so much to figure out and do!
Life is crazy!
Deciding to switch from homeschooling to worldschooling has been the same. We talked about it a lot, just here and there, as an idea we tossed around for many years. It seemed more like a dream rather than something that could become a reality. When we finally decided to make it a reality it was time to start working on our house, updating it and getting it ready to sell. That was a journey within it’s self! We started to do updates to the house, but our schedules were so busy that it was a couple of years before we actually had time to seriously start working on it. I hired out the hardest work so that it would get finished as quickly as possible, but did the rest myself. Lets just say I have done enough house painting to last me the rest of my life! As it got close to being ready I brought in the realtor. This actually made the deadline I had given us a hard reality. It also brought more stress to the table! There were contractors, paint, repair, daily visits to the hardware store, dealing with teens, dealing with a toddler, the husbands busy schedule that didn’t allow him to help, softball practice, softball games, what’s for lunch?, what’s for dinner?, selling off some stuff, but not too much, storing other things, stagers, photographers and so much more! Working my butt off every single day, I ended up still needing to push the deadline back, but finally it was finished and was ready to go on the market! It felt like the victorious end of something great! In reality, it was just the beginning of the next leg of the journey.
So many emotions
This is the first experience we’ve ever had with selling a house. We bought our home 15 years ago and that’s where we have lived ever since. I felt as though it was just a house and selling it would be the beginning to the next chapter of our lives. That is until we received the first offer. It came only a week after we had the house on the market. I was amazed at how fast it was! They came in at full asking price and weren’t asking anything more than what I was willing to give them. It seemed perfect! We all signed the contract that day! I was so excited! Until my excitement turned to something else, not sure what to call it, maybe fear. Realizing we would be leaving the only home my children have ever known and it would be in 30 days! Would they love the house as we have? There have been so many happy memories here. Would the home enjoy even more great memories? They included a letter with their offer that told us how this was the house of their dreams. They had laid under the stars and talked about all they wanted in a home and THIS was it. They looked forward to raising their little family here and all the wonderful things they would do with it. For me, this was perfect! The letter brought me to tears. I sat with my husband, after a long day of softball, tearing up and talking about how perfect this all was and how it seemed meant to be. At least until 10:00 pm that night when I received the call that the deal was “going sour”. It was their perfect home until they researched the internet options and didn’t like them…..seriously.
Learn some patience
It’s been another week now and I’ve decided I won’t be reading any letters that come with the offers. We have had an inquiry from someone who wanted to do some “upgrades” and wanted to know if we are “motivated sellers”. Since the house has only been on the market for 13 days and priced really well for our area, I can’t say I’m motivated enough to pay for their upgrades. It was probably the best choice for them not to put an offer in. So this journey continues. The one of emotions on a rollercoaster. I get anxious every day for the house to get sold, then remind myself that it will and I just need to be patient. Rather than the planning or the repairs it’s now, when will it get sold, how much will it sell for, is it priced right, will we need to drop the price, getting out of the house on a moments notice so it can be viewed, cleaning it daily and on and on.
The good stuff
If anything is learned from all this, it’s that every experience in your life is a journey. Enjoy the great things about it and learn from the not so great things. I’m just waiting to get to the good stuff now. The planning of the travel and the getting there!
#toddler #caminobabies #changeyourlife #familyadventures #familytravel #forgetnormal #holidaywithkids #LPkids #sellthehouse #teentravel #toddlertravel #travelwithkids #traveldeeper #worldschoolers #worldschooling #caminobaby #bebrave
Where to begin?
Where do you even begin to decide to change your whole life? Leave everything behind and head off into the wild blue yonder? Well first you have to get past the feeling that you are totally crazy to even consider something that is sooo out of normal society. That’s probably the hardest part since I feel like I will be doubting myself throughout this whole journey when it comes to what is “normal”.
The American Dream?
I know most people would see what we have achieved and wonder if we have lost our minds. Isn’t the dream supposed to be to work for that big house in the ‘burbs with the great schools and the super awesome, high paying corporate job? Well we got there and it just didn’t feel like it was all that and a bag of chips. We put all of our time into work for the corporation, raising our kids and crazy amounts of time contributing to our community. It is a fantastic feeling to be a part of this, until it’s not. What were supposed to be the great schools felt like they were just letting our kids down, day after day, rather than educating them. The corporation just seemed to be cutting the benefits over time. The cozy community started exploding with populating and the heart that was once there was lost. Everything that once was just seemed to be fading away, all around the same time. When someone like me, that has been thinking thoughts of world travel for so long see’s all of this coming to a head, it’s only natural to think the time is NOW. Then it’s only a matter of getting the hubby on board!
One Dream, One Couple
My husband, Shawn, is one of the best people I have ever met in my life, other than my mother. He has always been the level headed, logical one. Not to say I’m not level headed or logical, but I have always been more of the dreamer than he is. I have had to desire to move and travel since before I can remember. He has always been the stay in one place forever kind of person. In the 24 years that we have been together we have had one apartment and two houses. The last one we have been in for the last 15 years. So we have defiantly done is staying in one place thing. Over the years I have harassed him so much about moving and traveling. I finally started traveling myself. I started with traveling to Spain and walking the Camino de Santiago by myself. It was the first time I had ever done anything like that on my own! It was scary and awesome all in one, and I was hooked. I then went back to walk again, this time taking my oldest and youngest daughters. It was a totally different experience, but still amazing. My husband, mother, other two daughters and (soon to be) son in law then met us in Europe and we spent two weeks traveling three countries. I was thrilled to have my husband there, hoping he would feel some of the desire I got from travel. It must have worked! A year later we are rolling with the plans to change it all and forget “normal”!
Moving Past Normal
So, now you’re past being normal and have to figure out exactly how you are going to fund this insanity. Most people don’t have so much disposable income that they can just fly off to another country on a whim and travel the world. I know we certainly don’t. There is a great worldschooling community online that is so helpful when it comes to figuring this stuff out, which I looked through frequently. Ultimately we decided the best thing for us was to sell our huge house, downsize and figure it out from there.
As of right now, our plan is to sell the house, buy a 5th wheel to park somewhere, invest our proceeds into some rental property and the girls and I will travel. The hubby will only be able to travel occasionally. Honestly, it makes me happy to take the girls to see new things, but it would make me even more happy for Shawn to be there. Through all the conversations about this we have always discussed the girls and I traveling and Shawn joining us full time after he decides to retire. Despite the fact that he always said he was perfectly happy with this and it made him happy to see us traveling, it did make me feel guilty. Especially if we had decided to sell the house and get an RV that he would be living in alone while we are off seeing the world. Though, if you knew my husband, you would know that being being in an RV and having the freedom to put his time into all his hobbies when ever he wanted to would make him as happy as a clam. So imagine my surprise when he told me he wanted to retire from his job in a year and travel full time! Maybe it’s all the travel shows I watch, maybe it’s the blogs I read him by people who did just that and are surviving better than fine. Which ever it was, his decision surprised me! So now the plan, for today, is to get the RV, the girls and I travel and he will retire in a year. This will give us a year of his income without the amount of bills we have now so that we can save more money. We are still up in the air about the investment property. No doubt we will decide once the house sells.
Here We Go!
So the house is for sale now! It’s all just a waiting game until it sells and I’m going crazy after only a week and a half!
#worldschooling #worldschoolers #familyadventures #traveldeeper #holidaywithkids #mytinyatlas #travelwithkids #familytravel #lpkids #caminobabies #caminobaby #sellthehouse #changeyourlife #forgetnormal #travelteens #teentravel