Greece (or, “The Summary”)

We got back in Athens and headed to a mall to do some shopping. At the airport, we stocked up on a few other things we can’t get in Egypt before hopping back on the plane.

Athens, Santorini, and Naxos were all very different and unique experiences. But overall, Greece was amazing. (Seriously, click those links.)

We had a few observations. Ronnie had a shower thought (while we were hiking in Santorini, not actually while showering) that we probably wouldn’t have appreciated it nearly as much if we didn’t live in Egypt. In the Tri-Cities, we had easy access to good food, good wine, good views, etc., but those things are far, far harder to come by in Egypt. For me, even the difference in air quality was immediately noticeable when we got off the plane. Thank you, Egypt, for putting us in a geographical and financial position where we can actually travel, but also for altering our perspective to allow us to enjoy it even more!

There was, however, so much about Greece that was similar to Egypt, just a bit better. The food is similar, the people are just as nice. The markets, the scooters that zoom everywhere, and the somewhat lazier way of life and concept of “punctuality” all reminded us a little of Alexandria. It must just be a Mediterranean thing. Even the old, crumbling buildings reminded us of Egypt at times.

I was very glad to be there during the off season. I can just imagine how crazy it would be during the summer. Already, Monastiraki Square in Athens was a madhouse! It was disappointing that there were so many things closed on Naxos, but I guess that’s the price we pay for having beaches all to ourselves.

The other great thing about Greece — and probably the greatest thing of all —  is that we only live a 2-hour flight away and that means that it is quite affordable. Like, really affordable. We would happily go back any time; in fact, we’re kind of already planning to.

Naxos

Our final stop in Greece was on Naxos. The differences between Naxos and Santorini were huge. Naxos is much bigger so there were more people actually living there. Santorini was obviously thriving off of tourism and not much else. Unfortunately, we were on Naxos one week too early. Many of the restaurants, shops, and rental places were still closed. The buses weren’t even running yet.

Thanks to my wonderful husband, we booked an extra nice place to stay here in the town Agia Anna. The apartment was so lovely with a view straight out to the beach.

The first day there we decided to rent a couple scooters and drove them to Plaka. This is one of the best beaches in Greece according to the internet and we had it almost completely all to ourselves. Then we decided to head back to the port. There we wandered through the streets and made our way to find the Portara. That night we ate the Gorgona Greek tavern where it seemed the local fisherman came to hang out after work. I had fish souvlaki (we found out this just means on a skewer) and it was amazing, and Ronnie has mussels saginaki.

The second day after returning our scooters we walked to the beach and got some sunbathing in. Ronnie went swimming, but it was a bit too cold for me to get all the way in. That night we ate at a restaurant just on the beach. As we sat there, more and more people showed up and gathered around the TV to watch the football match. Again, it reminded me very much of Egypt.

The third day we got up early and caught our ferry back to the mainland. Out of the three ferries we took, this one was the worst. The first, from Piraeus to Santorini, was amazing. Ronnie upgraded us to a cabin so we could pass some of the eight hours with a nap. The second, from Santorini to Naxos, was on the exact same boat making its return trip to Piraeus, but the trip was shorter and the boat less crowded, so we roughed it in the regular areas. The third, back to Piraeus, was with a different company (because the first would have gotten us to Piraeus at about the same time our flight would have left), and it was just bad. The boat shook the entire time, the staff was incredibly rude all around, and the food was horrendous! Moral: use Blue Star Ferries, not Hellenic Seaways.

Of all the places we went to, Naxos is the one I want to go back to. There was so much of the island that we didn’t see — ruins, caves, monasteries, etc., mainly because we had no way of getting there.

(In case you missed the links above, Santorini is here, photos are here, and the summary is here.)

 

2015

I have to squeeze in the traditional annual review before January is over. Our 2015 theme was adventure and opportunity.  As I look back on my posts from last year, I realize how much happier we are.  We hadn’t even dreamed of living out of the country last January and in February I was looking into getting a masters degree of some sort, possibly in TESOL. It was a relief to have a reliable and consistent source of income from my job at Lewis and Clark Elementary, but teaching there was stressful and not enjoyable. Not only was the job hard, the whole state was upset with teaching, resulting in the walkout.

I was part of an after school club that empowers girls to be confident and teaches them the importance of living a balanced life. This was probably a highlight of my year teaching at Lewis and Clark, getting to know more of the students and inspire them with physical exercise.

On top of finishing off a stressful school year, there was more stress with finding another job. A phone conversation with an acquaintance who works in Spain convinced us that teaching out of the country is doable.  It sounded crazy and impossible, but she was very reassuring.  So, I began to apply for jobs out of the country.  It all went very fast from there.  Within a week of finishing my application, I had people asking for interviews. My first interview in Kyrgyzstan offered me a job within a day. Not long after I had my interview in Egypt. People ask “Why Egypt?” and a very good answer would be that Egypt was more interesting than Kyrgyzstan.  So, my incredible husband and I have been here since August experiencing not just one, but several new cultures.  We’ve been slacking off on posting recently, but check back to pretty much any post since August if you missed out on those experiences.

Speaking of Ronnie, that brings to mind the musical side of our lives. The year started off with the Planets. Ronnie got to play a bass oboe and it was easily one of the biggest productions we’ve done.  Then for the final concert of the season, we played Beethoven 9. These were both amazing to participate in.  Other shows included Cats, Guns of Ireland, and the Music Man. In Egypt, we have both been involved in the Bibliotheca Alexandria Library Orchestra.  It’s a smaller group that is just starting up, but it has been a great experience so far.

We took a trip to Seattle to see the tulip fields during spring break and several overnight stays in Walla Walla. Plus there was a summer trip to Lake Chelan where we stayed in a friend’s house.  Our travels in Egypt have included the Pyramids, Hurghada and the Red Sea, as well as various sights in Alexandria.

We are sad to have left behind a wonderful community of friends in Washington, but it has been a invaluable experience living in Egypt.  There has only been one time (the second day) that I regretted this decision.  There’s nothing we can’t live without, but most importantly we’re both happy with what we’re doing.

We’re looking forward to more traveling and adventures in 2016! And for everyone who said this would be an amazing experience and wonderful opportunity?

You were right!

Pyramids

 

San Diego pictures

Here are some of my best shots from our trip to San Diego.  I won’t bore you with a long dialogue of our every activity.  We went to the zoo and saw a lot of…well animals of course.  The giraffes and polar bear were my favorites.  ImageImageHe was having a lot of fun playing around and munching on carrots.  It’s pretty entertaining watching a huge, thousand pound bear floating around. 

It was a beautiful day for the wedding at Mission Bay.  Image

I didn’t get any pictures of the actual ocean, but my other favorite part of the trip was going swimming in the ocean in October.  Not wading, swimming.  I haven’t done that for about 5 years. 

And here’s my sunset picture I was so anxious to get.  The first night we were there, the sunset over the ocean was beautiful, but I didn’t have my camera with me 😦 But I’m still pleased with this.  Image

We don’t get many pictures together.  Usually because I’m behind the camera and Ronnie hides from the camera.  So…here’s your yearly picture of us all dressed up for the wedding. Image

School, work, school, work, and more work

That’s about how my life goes right now.  I don’t really mind it either.

My two Spanish classes at Coram Deo are going quite well.  Spanish 2 is pretty unorganized due to indecision about which books to use.  I only have two students so they can be flexible while I figure stuff out.  In Spanish 1, I always start out too fast and then the students don’t understand things and I have to go back and reteach…how to make sure this doesn’t happen…Getting students on track with pronouns and the idea of different verb forms for each person is the most important part.  Any suggestions would be very welcome.

My piano students are doing quite well.  I hope I can coordinate with some of my piano teaching friends and get a recital together for Christmas or something.   Cause what’s the point of playing piano if you never have to perform?

Work in the deli is just the same ol’ stuff.  I’ve asked if I can be trained to be an MSR (they take trays of food up to patients) just to try something new.  Hopefully it’ll work out sooner rather than later.  I worked 40 hours last week along with all of my classes and lessons.  Surprisingly it wasn’t too bad.  I just didn’t get any of my schoolwork done.

Speaking of my schoolwork.  It has gotten very tedious.  I’d rather write 50 papers than read chapter after chapter after chapter that I’m supposed to remember for a big test at the end.  I shall persevere.  I think that I get to do some class observations next term.  That should make things a bit more interesting…but it’ll also be interesting fitting it in with my schedule.  Time to start saving for my 6 months of students teaching when I can’t work…

Sadly, all this means that my other hobbies, like photography and baking, have been somewhat neglected.  Don’t get me wrong, we still eat very well, you just don’t get to see or hear about it.

My garden is still producing as well.  I think we’ve had about 6 small, tough skinned tomatoes.  The next ones look a bit bigger so we’ll see if they’ve got thinner skin.  The peppers are finally growing too so we should have some to eat in a week or two.  We’ve enjoyed fresh oregano, but the basil is just too tiny to really eat any of it.

Next week, I have the privilege of  accompanying the Mid-Columbia Master Singers on Mass of the Children.  I thinks it’s a small ensemble sort of thing with the choir.  Should be fun.

Other upcoming events include a vacation to L.A. and San Diego the second weekend of October.  The week after that is the first Symphony performance.

And it’s fall, so I have to find some time to fit in all the pumpkin carving, and baking.  Mmm pumpkin is my favorite.

Beach Vacation

We set out for Fort Stevens.  We ended up at Cape Disappointment…Every campground on the north Oregon coast was full for multiple reasons.  So we called a couple of campgrounds.  Cape Disappointment  said they maybe had 5 sites left.  It was 35 minutes away.  We got there just in time and claimed one of the three sites left.  We explored all up and down the coast, from Seaside to Long Beach.

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This is Waikiki beach.  I bet you didn’t know we went to Hawaii.

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This is the view of Astoria.  The Columbia river on the right goes in the ocean off in the distance.  Image

This is the tower we climbed to get that view.  The story of Lewis and Clark swirling up was pretty cool.

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This is Seaside.  One of the reasons they had no room for us at Fort Stevens.

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Up close view of the Astoria bridge.  It’s pretty impressive, but a little disconcerting that they were fixing itImage

We found a porcupine on a late night walk to the beach.

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There was a lot of wind.

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And a lot of fog…I don’t think this lighthouse could even do much to help in all that fog.

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Whale bones.

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Long beach.

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Columbia River on the left.  Ocean on the right.  A lot of big rocks in the middle.

And we ate some of the most delicious camping food I’ve ever had.  Remember that free burger book?  We enjoyed Greek turkey burgers.  Feta, ground turkey, and basil.  Very easy and very delicious.

Steak and potatoes.  Some of the best, juiciest steaks we’ve made.  I tried to bake some potatoes in the fire, but they ended up quite charred.  We managed to save some of the insides though.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that I burned everything I cooked.  It was so windy that if I turned the stove down it blew out.  So we had burnt chorizo, burnt leftover mac n’ cheese, burnt potatoes, and burnt bacon.  I guess I need some work in that area.Image

We also had fun making smokestacks out of reed things we found in the woods.

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It’s hard getting back into work and school…but we’ve had our fun.  Time to finish up the last of my ten papers, audition for the symphony, decide if I’m teaching, clean up from camping, and all that jazz.