And so it began!
We survived the 22hours of flights, miraculously with no major meltdowns, vomit or lost items and landed in Athens, Greece, delirious but intact. Our adventure was underway. First on the itinerary was a week filming for a documentary project we’ve been working on for a few years. Due to my anxious and slightly paranoid concerns about having the boys cared for by sitter I don’t know, I was very relieved to meet the two capable and qualified ladies we had engaged for the week. One was a child psychologist and the other a psychotherapist and together they run a center for children, if nothing else, at least by the end of the week I’d know if my kids are as crazy as I suspected! The boys loved them and instantly bonded. After being spoiled rotten with trips to the zoo, ice cream and park adventures, they were in fact, quite disappointed when we returned from work each day!
Alien in the park
Athens itself was great and the people we were working with were quite wonderful. We had a day as a family where we explored the Acropolis, surrounding streets and roof top bars where the locals enjoy coffee and conversation.
I also managed an afternoon off to take the boys out to the park. That was an experience in itself. Jack had been to the local park with the sitters so he was completely up to speed with the layout of the playground. When we arrived there were many mums with their children and many plastic toy cars and trucks around the playground and this is where my kids casually started playing. I didn’t think much of it, as no one seemed to notice us at first. My youngest, being a stubborn and determined two year old, set his eyes (and grip) on a particular truck and took it all around the play ground with him.
Before I knew what was happening a mother came over to us, screaming at me in Greek and waving her arms around in great fury. What had we done? I looked around in confusion; I didn’t understand a word she was yelling. She started pointing at my son and I realized the truck must have belonged to her and she wanted it back! I climbed up the ladder to where my son was cowering and asked him for the truck. He tightened his grip, looked defiant and started to back away from me. In my sternest mothering voice I asked him to give it back, all the while the woman screamed in Greek. I lunged at the truck and pried it from his grip, he screamed blue murder, the woman screamed Greek and my other son screamed for us to go. It was ridiculous and nothing short of a spectacle. I couldn’t help it. I had to laugh. Fearing she’d view this as an insult I threw the truck to her and we rushed from the park as quick as a hysterical two year olds tantrum would allow, never showing our faces in the playground again.
The picturesque Island of Rhodes
We thought ourselves very cleaver by visiting Rhodes in early May just before peak season as we had great weather, no crowds and the pre season prices were heavily reduced. Perfect! For once I was super organized and brought a booster seat with us for our youngest so even the taxi from the airport was a breeze. We arrived at the stunning La Marquise Resort around lunchtime with minimum dramas. The resort itself was sensational for kids with a kids club, kids pool and playground and very friendly staff. Big pats on the back to my husband for pulling this one together!
The Pretty Woman Moment
As we wondered around resort I noticed a small sign that at first I mistook for a ‘keep of the grass’ sign but it actually said ‘Adults only’. I began to wonder, a whole section of the resort where children can’t go. What goes on there? Did my husband and I dare try to infiltrate or prefer to live in wonder at the idea of a child free zone? I dared not venture further as I feared I’d trip an alarm that detects maternal instinct and be shamefully removed. I began to imagine the world beyond with waiters carrying trays of cocktails while sophisticated, elegant, unstressed bathing beauties casually chatted, uninterrupted about topics I can only dream of having the headspace for.
At dinner I used my best hushed but stern tone to beg my children to stop fighting but I was somewhat distracted by the fantasy of what went on in the world behind that sign. Did they walk among us at the buffet, sullenly cursing that they had to share the space with little people and making a quick exit to the tranquility of their retreat? All the while my son promptly collected more food on the floor around his chair than in his mouth or was ever on his plate to begin with. A relaxed waiter casually floated around us and I looked down to see him subtly sweeping away the contents of my sons’ dinner. I had a fleeting memory of the scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts flings an oyster across a five star restaurant into the hand of a relaxed waiter as though nothing ever happened.
I am the donkey!
The Island of Rhodes is truly a spectacular spot to visit. We hired a car to get around which was very easy as the roads are quiet and it’s only a two-hour drive from one end to the other. The Acropolis of Rhodes was an absolute highlight. The town of Lindos is at the bottom with small winding streets and alleys filled with interesting shops and cafes. It was a hot day and my little two year old was in the pram as we set out thinking it was the easiest way to get him to the top. Why I don’t know because if I’d paid attention and looked up at where we were heading I’d have realized it was at least a kilometer straight up!
After encountering more stairs than I care to remember and carrying both baby & stroller and complaining five year old up them, a man, smiling kindly, greeted me at the top and asked if I’d like to rent his donkey? He’d have done better business at the bottom! I tried to explain that for my children I was the donkey but my Greek failed me. Despite my complaining, it was a site to behold and an absolute must! On the way back down we took mercy on ourselves and stopped at one of the many roof top restaurants and enjoyed some souvlaki, wonderful views and rehydrated.
When I went to pay the bill, my husband took the boys out the front and without warning my son decided to push the huge round marble ball sitting at the entrance. I don’t know why they put a huge marble ball at the front door of a restaurant at the top of a long narrow downward sloping alley, but if you’ve seen Indiana Jones running from the bolder then reverse the scene so that it’s Indiana (or in this case my husband) chasing the escaping ball as it gathers momentum and hurtles down the alley. Fortunately, it was a much smaller ball and my husband is fit. He caught it without further incident but like Indiana, the skill in retrieving it was lost on the locals. I was just relieved we got out unscathed; I was having visions of a life size game of pinball through this beautifully maintained historic town!
A Bootiful Beer
While searching for a laundry mat in the main city of Rhodes we decided to stop for lunch. On the menu they had a picture of a cute little glass boot filled with beer- ‘why not?’ we thought ‘when in Rhodes’. However when they came out they were not so little, in fact they were life size, a full two liters. We roared with laughter as we tried to drink them, thinking this must be some sort of homage to the Colossus of Rhodes, even the kids thought it was funny. But as we looked around at the restaurants we passed that day, we realized that all the older ladies were drinking beers this size with their lunches. It wasn’t a crazy tourist trap, for the locals it’s normal!
Husband vs Sand
It wouldn’t be a true holiday without a rental car incident. We found a sensational little town and after navigating the very narrow laneways we found a great parking spot under a tree just a short walk from the beach. We enjoyed a swim, ice cream and sunshine and then some family photo’s. We found ourselves in a big sandy area with a beach bar of sorts. It was completely empty and my husband though it would be easier to bring the car to the kids than lug them back to the car. I was skeptical, a big area right next to a popular beach with no other cars? Minutes later I watched with amusement a local frantically waved his arms and call out what I assume was ‘stop’ as my husband bogged the little Nissan Micra rental in the sand just meters from the entrance.
Even my two year old was teasing ‘car stuck daddy, ha ha, car stuck’! Fortunately the locals were very helpful and had us towed back on the road in no time. The look on their faces was not one of surprise; they’d seen it all before!
There is so much to do in Rhodes I feel like we barely touched on it, the old city, the beaches, the towns and more but for us the two great highlights beyond the Acropolis were a lovely little restaurant with traditional Greek food O Gialos in Stegna and the Water Park which was conveniently located 700meters from our hotel. We had a sensational day on the waterslides and in the kids’ pools. I thought I was brave at one point and threw myself down a slide called the ‘Space Dump’ only to terrify myself half way down when I realized I had no control and was speeding like a bullet. I was then dumped into an enormous funnel that spun me down and literally dumped me into a deep pool of water. I was so disorientated I couldn’t find my way out and as I flailed around in the water the attendant at the side asked if I was ok, all I could stammer in my state of shock was ‘wow, that’s really fast’. As I meekly waddled away trying to catch my breath, now fully aware of my age and how ridiculous I must have looked, I bravely told my children that it was ‘Great’. I had now firmly cemented the fact that I was middle aged in my mind and would stick to the kids pool from here on in!
Over too soon!
The staff at the La Marquise are truly incredible, they never once made me feel that I should be able to control my own children, I never saw an eye roll or a sigh, they let my stress roll right over them and indeed by the end of the week my kids seem better behaved, the excitement induced hyperactivity seemed to have stopped or maybe some sleep was helping me deal with them better, or it could be the cocktail induced coma? Whatever the reason the result was the same, the family was relaxed and we had a great time.
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