Friday, July 21, 2017

We're OK...Just a Little Earthquake and Tsunami...Par for this Trip

So we're all a ok. 

Yes-there was a large earthquake near us. It was between Turkey and Greece on the Island of Kos. We're on Santorini. Google it and you will see. 

Nothing within our sight is affected. No one around us has any power/wi fi or knows anything. It's VERY quiet here. VERY. 

If for some reason we lose our cell signal and can't reply to anyone later let them know we are ok. 

But it's very early here.  I've been laying there wondering why the power was out this morning and picked up my phone and saw that it had blown up with news about this earthquake. 

There has been a very small tsunami. 

Don't worry about us if you don't hear from us. No news is good news. 

Love y'all!!! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Our Lebanese "COUSINS"

So EXCITED that I couldn't even sleep this morning! I snap chatted the kids to see if they were awake and no one replied.  I flipped and flopped and finally decided to get up and go out on the balcony to read. 

It was so beautiful watching the city wake up. 

I finished reading my book written by a doctor friend of ours who came over from Lebanon. It is so hard to grasp the thought of Oney leaving everything he knew behind and coming to America to make a better life. What a fine, brave, strong, man. 

Finally, I couldn't take it any longer. I went and woke Judson up. We went down to the cafe and had breakfast overlooking the Zatunay Bay and Yacht Club Area. The view was amazing. 

We went back to the room, everyone got dressed and we set out on our tours for the day. We had a day jam packed with sight seeing. We had a wonderful guide who stayed with us the whole day and she really made it fun! We went to Harissa, Jounieh, Byblos and the Jetta Grotto. You will have to google these things...too much information to explain and write about. 

Harissa..."Our Lady of Lebanon", 

Lunch at Pepe - in Byblos 

Did we mention how HOT it is in Lebanon right now???

We had a hell of a dinner with Ghada Farha Naifeh and her husband Kalifa. Don't have time to give all details now. But we really enjoyed our night.  Khalifa Naifeh told us this was one of the happiest days of his life.  Apparently Oney (the original Oney)was in his wedding in 1973 in Marjayoun.  His 12-year-old and 10-year-old grandsons were brilliant and never stopped the conversation with our kids.We brought them Charms blow pops and Naifeh's t-shirts and Yetis cups as a small token of appreciation for entertaining us. He loved the t-shirt with "his name" on it. How cute is he??? Wonderful memories made tonight! 

Lemonade out of Lemons!

Needless to say, we hit the ground RUNNING in Beirut.

We felt like cheering when we got off the plane and our luggage had made it to Beirut. We were prepared for it to be gone. We had the best possible person in Immigration/Customs. He was super friendly and really engaged with the kids and made them feel comfortable and at home. He spoke with them about their heritage and Lebanese roots. It is so nice going somewhere where they actually know how to spell your name and pronounce it correctly! 
We went straight to the Four Seasons, checked into our hotel, and freshened up to go out for the night. All of us have never been so happy to have a shower and fresh set of clothes to put on our bodies. I had been wearing some of the same clothes since Saturday morning. I packed two outfits for everyone in case our luggage didn't make it- everyone but myself! I forgot about myself! 
We decided to dress up in our coordinated outfits, go to the Roof Top for drinks, take pictures, and the go to our dinner reservations at the Grill. Smiling for the pictures wasn't hard to do because we were all so HAPPY to finally be in Lebanon. 

 Judson ordered us a well deserved cocktail! 

After dinner, we decided to go to Arabesque, the shishah lounge, to absorb a little Lebanese culture. We all had a good time with it...

SO THANKFUL that we made it today. We had a wonderful first day in Lebanon. The kids already want to come back! 

We Just Thought We Had a Rough Start!

As we were getting in line to check in at the desk, we were all SO EXCITED. The moment we had been waiting for was finally here-we were getting on the plane to Beirut! Judson and the kids were watching you tube videos of Lebanon.

It all changed in a matter of seconds. 

Holy cow, we can't even begin to explain it. But when we got to the airport to check in for our flight to Beirut this morning-we had NO SEATS. We were going to be on "standby" for tomorrow. WHATTTT??? There must be a mistake. The man told us yesterday that we were confirmed on the flight- "no problem"! 

The attendant said this flight is oversold. We do not have any seats available on this flight. We have two seats that are empty but they are in first class. 

We worked the priority desk over for an hour. Begged and pleaded. Explained how this was a trip of a lifetime and a short trip at that and if we didn't get there today then we would have missed half of our trip. We had a very nice Italian lady who phoned her supervisor to come talk to us. Thanks God we have priority status with Delta. Otherwise, we wouldn't have had a fighting chance.

He worked on the computer, called a million people, hit the desk a few times. We were all literally sick at our stomachs. Judson had broken out into a cold sweat. He offered if they could just find four seats, then he would stay behind. He even offered for us all to split up. Just please, please get us to Lebanon TODAY! 

At this point, we were not only worried about getting a seat but making it to the gate on time. We were running out of time. 

Finally-he gave Judson and I upgraded first class seats. He printed out boarding tickets out. Then one by one, he worked on the kids. He kicked three other people off the flight and assigned the kids their seats. Judson and I hugged the supervisor and jumped for joy!!! Of course, at this point we were running VERY late. We skipped every Italian in line at passport control. And being the Olympic star that I am, I even ran to the gate.  

As we were walking on the plane, I told the kids whatever you do- DO NOT give up your seat. Go sit down and DO NOT GET UP until the plane is in the air!!! 

We can't even explain the craziness of things gone wrong on this trip. But we are rolling with it! I mean what else do you do??? 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rough Start to Our Trip

Preparing for the trip takes a little time and effort from mom...

Oney just looked at his map and figured out where we are headed...

So after much preparation and planning for our "trip of a lifetime" to make sure we had taken care of everything possible... it all hit a brick wall in a matter of minutes. We drove to Nashville to fly out of there because of better flights. Basically because of bad weather in the northeast two days ago, Delta notified us that our flight out of Nashville was delayed 2 hours. This meant we wouldn't make our connection in New York to Rome. After over an hour on the phone with Delta, we packed up and hit the road to Memphis. They rerouted our flights through Atlanta to Rome.  

Once we got to Atlanta. The real troubles started. Delayed plane coming in from Amsterdam. We finally got on the plane and we had a sewage issue. More delays. The we had a passenger with a medical issue. More delays. FINALLY we took off. 

Because of our troubles, they booked 3 of us in Delta One. SWEET!!! Sorry Abby and Oney:( it was unreal. We actually had room. 

There was no way we were making our connection to Beirut. And we didn't. We were totally bummed. 

Sooooo...We are in Rome for the night. Flying out in the morning to Beirut. 

We went to a hotel at the airport, freshened up and we're headed to the city for the night. 

Let's hope the rest of the trip stays a little more on schedule. If not, we will go to plan b-or like yesterday maybe even plan F.