British Isles

Join me as 2018 brings in my favorite Greece and a new place for me- Switzerland. No- not a cruise this time- a land trip!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saturday May 26
A journey to Bear Park

Our final day- journey home begins tomorrow. The conference was a half-day long. Highlight for me was a talk from David Clark who was a friend to Cicely Saunders- he has just finished a biography I cant wait to read. At the end he read a passage from Cicely that brought tears to my eyes. Brought back special memories of David and I going to St Christopher’s Hospice the spring before he died. 

Einstein sitting atop the city in the Rose garden
After the conference we set off for the famous Bear Park. Its really neat- on a hillside by the beautiful glacier fed river that runs through town. A male, female and daughter bear- we only got a glimpse of daddy but he was cute. We went shopping for chocolate only to find everything but restaurants closed on Saturday and Sunday- insane. Found Einstein along the way- he spent some time here in Bern, however sources differ on how long. 

Everything is VERY expensive here! Our wonderful buffet breakfast today $26- but two pastries yesterday were half that! Food that made me sick the first night was $30- pizza $30. Last night good food but  also $45. Tonight great PK Chang type Chinese buffet at hotel $64 but we finally got full!

Beautiful glacial river runs through the city

Its been an amazing trip but Im beyond ready to go home and see my new house and get moved in! I miss you Ollie and Parker and everyone else as well. Its been a fantastic time away- and you know that when you are ready to return. Ill stay overnight in Philly on Sunday and home to KC on Monday- and I got upgraded to first class so life is fantastic! I close on the house first thing Tuesday morning. 

Above all I am so very lucky that my best friends are also my collaborators. We work hard but we also have an amazing time. We have lived and traveled together for almost 3 weeks and still enjoy one another. These are the things that matter most. Thanks for joining my journey! See everyone soon!!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday May 24, 2018

Our day began early, as we had to rise at 4:30am and get to the airport. We boarded our Allegan Airlines plane and headed to Zurich. Interesting that some Syrian refugees also boarded. Greece has entire communities, as they and Italy have been the only countries to provide refuge for these poor people. This family had clearly found a sponsor to come to Switzerland- I can only imagine the things they have experienced. George and I sat in Business class and enjoyed space, free luggage, and a nice breakfast. Karla had fun making eyes at the Syrian baby. We get our prearranged taxi and the driver is thrilled with us as he is Greek. A two-hour drive in mostly stopped traffic was met with sleepy passengers and thus we did not see a lot of the countryside.

We arrive at the hotel and are informed the taxi 230 Euro trip needs cash and not credit cards! We scrape together the Euros- lucky George had $200 and pay him- I had given my credit card but was never told they need cash in return! At least we know for the trip home. The train strikes made this trip a bit more expensive. And everything here is off the charts expensive! We are starved and have lunch and decide we must rest before the 4:30 sessions begin. I was informed by email this am that my poster won an award and would have a ribbon. It was in the category of communication and was one of the top 3 out of 108. Tomorrow morning they apparently announce awards from all they category winners. Nice surprise!

 Afterwards we take the free trolley type car down to city center and try to find something to eat. You will not see food photos as we could not find any Swiss restaurants- most are Italian or German. Expensive and not anything to write home about! The chocolate on the other hand- if only you could survive on that! We saw a Big Mac at McDonalds- $8.50!

Heaven must surely smell like this!
Ollie they told us there is a park here with Bears. Its not a zoo but a “bear garden” where bears roam free. We hope to see it before we go- sounds interesting! There are bear cookies, toys, flags, statues, everything so its a pretty big deal. Home early as we are all exhausted.
Waiting on our trolley 

Poster ribbon!
A taste of home but at $7.50!

Beautiful buildings

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday May 23, 2018

We saw Kerry off to the US and our cab went on an excursion to find our hotel. I gave him the address and phone thinking he could then find it- he spoke not a lick of English. Finally after searching Karla came to the rescue with the website and he successfully called for directions. We walked into a place that made us feel like we were queens. An ocean view room, a special breakfast since we leave early, a free airport shuttle and an early check in- we had it made. We went to the amazing pool and decided to get a massage. This spa was amazing! An incredible special hydrotherpy pool and 70 minutes of an olive oil massage and we are like new! Up early in the am to Switzerland!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday May 22, 2018

The Flying Cat 6 is our transportation to Hydra

Today is the day we go to the nearby island of Hydra. George and I were there many years ago and dreamed of writing a book and doing sybatical there. It is a beautiful island, fairly isolated. Ollie this island does not have cars, people walk and use donkeys to move their things. In his book Rick Stevens says its the best island. We board the Ferry (FlyingCat6) and head off. There is not so much “to do” here as just to relax and enjoy the beauty.
Ollie this is in place of cars here!
We get off and head up the outer shore away from the crowd to a small restrauant I remember that is near a “beach”. The beach is not sand- it is concrete built so you can swim in the rocks and near a cave. Karla and Kerry head down while I sit and enjoy the breeze and grab a drink. Karla jumps into the cold water and swims inside the cave before finding out you are not supposed to!  Its a short swim and Team Washington returns and joins me for lunch. The menu is very different with Cackels and sea urchin and every kind of sea food. Karla orders a prawn soup that is amazing. I have the best chicken pilaf in history- covered in goat cheese- yummy. Kerry is disappointed in his salad. After some shopping we board the ferry for the 2 hour journey back to Athens.
Karla (far lower right peaking from rock) swims

View from Lunch table

Beautiful island!

An update on George. He had to stay behind as he finally got his passport! He picked it up in 5 minutes however had to then go to the American Embassy to link his permanent resident card to it- initially they said it could be done online but in fact he had to go in person. He was number 50 of 350 and waited in the waiting room 3 hours- despite getting there in the morning! But at least he now has all that finished. His new passport is a “temporary” one- good only for a year so sometime in the next year when he is back he must get another- but at least it wont involve the police!
A terrific end to the Greek part of our trip! Dinner below the Acropolis
We head for a special going away dinner for Kerry. In a magnificient setting under the Acropolis we head to a top rated place for a terrific meal. I had marinated chicken, George had Beef Stew (which is not stew), Karla had lamb chops, and Kerry had Sea Bass. We finished with desssert and headed back to pack. Tomorrow morning Kerry heads back to Columbia and we chill a day and move to an airport hotel so tomorrow we can fly to the conference. We laugh as the conference has notified us of the train strike and basically wished us luck getting there. Thank goodness we were one step ahead and figured it out!

As we review our highlights we all agree Santorini was the place and the day we had lunch in the little seaside community is top of the list. We have experienced the city, the rural countryside, the islands, the cuisine, the history and loved it all. Kerry heads back for golf and we start back to work a bit more gently through the conference. Stay tuned as we head to Zurick and then Bern!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Monday 21 and Sunday 20

 We were picked up at our apartment by Coskas in a less than ideal size vehicle. George had said we were all big and tall and needed a minivan and we were promised one. Well shall we say it was a mini mini. Team Washington and I cram into the back seat and poor George stuffs into the front for our two day driving adventure. Coskas and the greek drivers continue to terrify us as we pass on two lane roads going excessively fast while when possible the other car goes to the shoulder- when there is one. Coskas has little English so George got to interpret for us. First stop is a 2500 year old Monastery in the middle of a rural area. Beautiful and full of Byzantine art it is simply magnificient.

Next stop is Delphi. It is incredibly crowded. George and I scan the museum and skip the hike straight up the hill. Team Washington goes- a two hour hike in the sun- we are proud of them! We head to lunch at a beautiful place nearby overlooking an incredible valley. 

We see cute villages including a small fishing village and finally land in Nasf. The local soccer team won and had a fun celebration right outside our window at the ancient port while we were eating dinner. We had fun watching. Our hotel was nice and we enjoyed the evening.

Monks "cells"

Winning soccer team
Fishing Village
 Up for a great breakfast and 2 hour backroad drive to Olympia. I had been there on my honeymoon cruise 20+ years ago and am amazed at the changes. Kerry and Karla enjoyed running the track. We beat the crowd this time. A great lunch and continued adventure through the countryside. Coskas figured our fear of the curvy back roads and gave us several choices- his least favorite the highway- which we jumped on! There are numerous tolls and we guess that was his hesitation. There were no visible speed limits and we got up to 164KM which is 99 miles an hour. A new record for all of us. This was still safer than the back road (filled with memorials) as there were hardly any cars on it. You can imagine many more stories but Ill save them and share more photos.

Tomorrow is Hydra!

olympic village

Olympic stadium
Yes Ladies- try to use this restroom!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lunch below the Acropolis (top right corner)
The patio and ruins at Acropolis Museum
Saturday May 19 Athens

Today was an Athens day and began bright and early as Team Washington and I made the 10 minute walk to the Acropolis. We walked up the slopes among the history and made the climb onto the Acropolis to experience history. We were the second to buy tickets and it was amazing how few people we encountered. I have been several times but none as amazing as this given no crowds I could see everything! It was also an amazingly clear day and the Sea was not only visible but so were the ships! Afterwards we went to the Museum and walked among the artifacts. For those who have never been it built on top of historic ruins and so they have put glass floor over alot of it, including the entrance patio, and you feel like you are walking in ancient Greece. George met us in the coffee shop and took us to a hidden spot at the foot of the Acropolis for lunch. We had an octopus and shrimp salad. Sadly they had run out of a couple things we wanted but the view from the terrace and the breeze made any disappointment fade away. We came home and watched the Royal wedding and did laundry. Karla and Kerry took time to run the modern Olympic stadium. 

Team Washington
Coins found among the ruins near Acropolis from 300 BC

Love the Ladies of the Old Temple to Athema

A rare site of the port from the Acropolis