Visiting Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece is one of the oldest cities in the world.  It is the birthplace of democracy and home of Athena.  Prior to visiting, I didn’t think much about Athens.  I know of the economic turmoil that plagues Greece, and of the recent riots in the downtown area.  I know that Tony visited Athens in high school as part of his Greek studies.  I know that I like Greek food.   But Athens is way more than all of these things.  Nothing could have prepared me for how much I would fall in love with this incredible place.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with the most pleasant weather.  The entire trip, it was 65 degrees F (about 18 C) and sunny.  The temperature made it perfect for exploring by foot.  Our first night, we ventured around the down town area and ate a quick dinner at Feyrouz, an authentic Lebanese restaurant.  The owner’s son served us and our interaction with him set the tone for the trip – everyone in Athen’s is so incredibly nice.

I couldn’t tell you what we ate, but I can report that it was fast, cheap and delicious.

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First view of Athens

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Feyroux

The next morning we ventured off to the National Library to start our free walking tour.  Tony and I have taken a lot of free walking tours and we both agreed that this was by far the best.  Our guide was Alex and he is an actual anthropologist.  The tour was informative and interesting because Alex was passionate about his home town and the history of Athens.  For example, we learned:

  • Athens is named after Athena – she gave the Greeks the olive tree which provides food, oil and wood
  • Owls can be found in much of the architecture and artwork in Athens – it is the bird of Athena
  • Owls are native to Athens, and their usage is also symbolic – Athens spawned many intellectuals, and since owls can see in the night, it is representative of intellects being able to see and think clearly during difficult times
  • The anatomy of the marble statues was finally explained – the big heads and chest represent logic and ethics, while small genitalia represents addiction
  • Before they were round, ancient coins were shaped to be miniature animals (i.e. cow) as that is what used to be traded for goods
  • Given the history held in Athens, archeologists have to accompany most construction efforts, and many projects are delayed due to ancient discoveries

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Owls everywhere

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National Library

The following day, we visited the Parthenon and took a cooking class.  The Parthenon was one of the most magical places I have ever been, even rivaling my beloved Eiffel Tower.  It was so surreal to be walking on rocks that hosted footsteps from 2500 years prior.  It was difficult to truly comprehend the work that went into these buildings, the time taken, the tools used.  We spent a lot of time here, but the hours spent left me wanting to stay even longer.

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Matilda wasn’t as impressed as we were

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In our cooking class, I learned how to make one of my all time favorite food items – tsatsiki.  The class was held at the Greek Kitchen and even though I hate cooking, I really enjoyed eating what we made.  Especially that incredible tsatsiki, yum.  The only downside was all the onions used.  My friend and I had burning eyes almost the entire class.  🙁

The last thing I want to highlight about Athens is the juxtaposition of the old and the new.  Given that Parthenon sits on top of the city, it was almost always in the background of the graffiti art that covered the city.

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Meandering through thousands of years of history, great food and kind people made Athens one of my favorite cities.  It is worth the visit and the history lesson.

Until next time, αντιο σας!

Traveling with a Baby – The Supplies

For those of you that follow my blog regularly, you have seen what an avid traveler Matilda has become.  We have taken her all over Europe, and next week is her first visit to the United States.  It’s no surprise that good baby travel supplies are important to us!

Part of our travel success with her does stem from her chill nature.  Matilda is a very flexible baby and I thank God every day for this.  But there are also a variety of items we heavily rely on to help in our baby travel success. In today’s blog, I will list out our favorites.  I hope these prove helpful to those of you traveling with a little one.

Moby Wrap

My husband especially preferred the Moby Wrap when Matilda was smaller.  It is comfortable and soft, and very easy to clean and use.  He loved being able to wrap Matilda to his body during our walks throughout Milan.  It also made it easier for him to enjoy his espresso in one hand and Parma ham with the other.  😆

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There is a baby in a Moby under that coat!

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Moby Wrap

 

Fuel Baby Bottle

The Fuel Baby bottles are a true gem.  I stopped pumping one month ago and am so thankful for these bottles.  The bottom compartment is for powdered formula and the top compartment for water.  I have been able to prep multiple bottles well in advance and quickly pull them out as soon as those hungry cries start.

With our recent Easter road trip to Poland, the bottles were ready like the shake of a Polaroid picture!  When flying to Naples, the bottles were prepped with the powder in advance, and after passing through security, filled with purchased bottled water.

Not only are these amazing for travel, but we also use them at night!  The bottle is ready to go on the nightstand and as soon as we hear Matilda cry, we shake shake shake and feed.

I can’t forget to mention they are dishwasher safe!  Phew!

 

Babyzen Yoyo Stroller

A good friend of mine introduced me to this stroller and I am IN LOVE!  This stroller is perfect for travel, especially plane travel.  It is extremely light (15 kg!) and folds up small enough to be a carry-on item.  It also opens up easily with one hand, so like the Moby wrap, you can use your other hand for something else….like holding your baby or if you’re my husband, eating Parma ham.

This stroller has already accompanied us to hilly and winding Sorrento, the rocky beaches of Capri, cobblestoned Vienna, and of course, throughout the streets of Zurich.  It’s a real winner!

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BabyZen Yoyo in Capri

 

Medela Freestyle Pump

When I was still pumping, I found this to be the best for traveling.  It is small and compact, comes with its own carrying case, and also provides a traveling cooler.  It has a chargeable battery and was easy to clean.

On top of its travel convenience, it is comfortable.  I didn’t need creams and there was no pain, no matter how often I pumped.

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These are some of my favorite baby travel items and I would love to hear yours.  Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Happy Travels!

Putting Your Baby to Sleep

Putting your baby to sleep can be a very difficult task.  As a “Type A” mom, Matilda’s naps are especially important to me.  Her nap time is when I am able to get things done around the house.  In her 2 shorts months on Earth, I’ve found a few tricks that work through trial and error.  These work most of the time but never every time.  For example, my little miss is not sleeping right now, making it difficult to write this blog 🙄 .

These tricks include…

  1. Warm Milk – Matilda tends to get sleepiest after a full belly.  She also becomes very rubbery, making it easy to place her in her crib.  I try to throw in a fresh diaper either before or during feeding to prevent sleep interruptions due to a wet tushy.
  2. Swaddling – Matilda loves to be cuddled, and wrapping her up tight helps facilitate sleep.  She cozies up after her warm milk and closes her eyes sweetly.
  3. White Noise – White noise, especially at night, helps ease Matilda into a deep slumber.  The noise comes from the Sound Sleeper app.  Download it for free!  Her favorite right now is “hair dryer”.
  4. Rap Music – say WHAT!?!?

Yeah, point #4 needs a bit more explanation.  Matilda loooooves rap music.  During the day, after she has been fed and changed, I will put on some rap music and she dozes off.  I have heard that this could be due to the repetitive bass beats included in most rap songs.  Of course she has no idea what the lyrics mean (thank goodness), but it works.  Her preferred artists are Wiz Khalifa and Bone Thugs.  I laugh out loud just typing that!  😆

She clearly isn’t the only baby this music works for either…

What helps you when putting your baby to sleep?  I would be curious to learn of other ideas, so tell me in the comments!

And by the way, Diddy was able to put Matilda to sleep by the time I finished typing this blog.  🙂