Friday, 31 March 2017

Athens in 3 days

One of my dreams came true when we visited Athens, the capital city of Greece, for three days, about two years ago. It was a stopover as part of a longer trip.

I booked a room at the Attalos Hotel for our stay.  I chose the hotel since it is a direct metro ride from the Athens International Airport, and is within walking distance to the major sights in central Athens. I receive no commission to mention the hotel name here on my blog.

We flew overnight from Toronto and arrived in Athens the following morning, around 10 local time. It was easy to follow the airport signage and buy the metro ticket to get on the local train. The ride from the airport to Monastikari station was comfortable and we experienced using public transit as Athenians do. Our hotel was about five minutes walk from Monastikari station. Check in was quick. Our room was clean and quiet. The hotel has a roof top patio bar with a nice view of the Acropolis.

With only three days to spend, we made the most of our time in Athens. We visited some of the glorious ancient temples such as the Acropolis and its iconic Parthenon, Ancient Agora, and Roman Agora. We did people watching at Monastikari Square and Syntagma Square. We enjoyed delicious and inexpensive Greek food at various small restaurants. We walked everywhere and just enjoyed being in Athens.

I’ve attached some of my favourite pictures from my visit:

Parthenon 447-438 B.C.
The Acropolis at night
Beautiful stadium at the Acropolis
Old Temple of Athena
The Erechtheion 421-406 B.C.
Ancient Agora in Athens
View of the Acropolis Museum
More Greek columns
Entrance to Roman Agora
Roman Agora ruins
A cat at Roman Agora
Monastikari Square
So much history, ancient architecture, and a vibrant city to experience. I hope you enjoy my picture selection. Have you been to Greece? Would you visit Athens?

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sunday thoughts 2017/03/26

I had a productive week by staying focused and positive. There were tasks that I prefer not to do but I’ve talked myself into finishing them. Disciplined 1, Lazy 0 :-)

Happy I accomplished this past week:
  • I completed my one-hour exercise every weekday (workouts in the gym on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and yoga on Tuesday and Thursday).
  • I walked briskly for 4 km (2.5 miles) on Saturday and another 4 km today even though it was rainy and soggy on Saturday, and grey and windy this morning.
  • I learned Spanish online fifteen minutes every day. I actually did more than fifteen minutes on some days.
  • I saved more than I spent. My biggest discretionary expense will be travel! I look forward to travelling again soon.
  • I’m checking off my “to do” list for my parents’ move next month. I ordered moving supplies and booked movers for them. I also arranged for health care and utility services at their new address.
  • I got my regular house chores done (e.g. laundry, groceries, cleaning, cooking, etc.). A vacation from all of this is welcome!
  • I decluttered my closet while listening to music to make the task less tedious. The closet is now neater and has empty space.
  • I donated clothing items to the Salvation Army.
  • I made a Spring activity list, and changed the display theme of my blog, from white background to charcoal background. I like the contrast but is it too much? Please let me know what you think.
Good things that happened this weekend:
  • My DH baked home made cookies. The aroma and freshly baked cookies are simply wonderful. Our coffee chat time is fun and priceless.
  • I had a frugal win at the local grocery store: A $8.19 refund and a free 16-pack yogurt due to a scan code error. Glad I checked my receipt before leaving the store.
  • Warm family time at home on a Sunday afternoon while the wind is gusting outside.
What I’m looking forward to next week:
  • Making next week another productive week.
  • Taking time out to visit a contemporary art gallery.
  • Reflecting on the first quarter of 2017 and planning for the next quarter.
  • Putting some creative ideas that have been dancing in my mind into words and pictures (e.g. Write about my visit to Athens or Lisbon, and post some pictures.)
How was your week?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Spring activity list

Every spring, I see these plants and flowers in my neighbourhood. I like the light yellow colour.

Spring is the season for new beginnings or to resume activities after a long hibernation in the winter months. I have 20 items on my Spring Activity List, mostly under the categories of Fitness, Family, Friends, and Fun.
  1. Exercise in the gym three times per week.
  2. Practice yoga twice per week.
  3. Go for a long walk outdoors once per week.
  4. Learn Spanish online fifteen minutes daily.
  5. Sign up early for a 5K running race in September.
  6. Co-ordinate my parents' move to their new home.
  7. Meet up with my sister from out of town.
  8. Enjoy a family weekend getaway.
  9. Celebrate two family birthdays.
  10. Share some decadent chocolate with my family.
  11. Call to chat with my friend on her birthday.
  12. Go for coffee with a friend.
  13. Write to my friends overseas.
  14. Complete bookings for our trip to Costa Rica in June-July.
  15. Start booking a second trip for the summer.
  16. Read about my summer travel destinations.
  17. Post once a week on my blog.
  18. Get a haircut before going to Costa Rica.
  19. Declutter my closet.
  20. Donate twenty unused items.
Hope you're enjoying the season. Have you got a list to share?

Update - For additional fun Spring Bucket Lists:

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Mid-March 2017 review

I made chicken fried rice for dinner on Monday night and remembered to take a picture of my work. My family loves this dish and everyone eats it all up every time I make it. It has protein, carbs and veggies and is easy to prepare.

Natalie's chicken fried rice

I had a busy schedule in the first two weeks of March. So far this month is an improvement and is looking better than last month for me. I’m thankful for having a close knit family and a good health care system. I focused hard to complete my personal goals and did some fun activities.

Fitness: I got my exercises in and learned Spanish every day. The time spent on these fitness activities is my time to strengthen my mind and body. It is also very good for stress management.

  • I’m on track with my savings target.
  • I dined out once with my sister at a Korean restaurant. Our talk time together was priceless as we’ve both been very busy.
  • I made reservations for a family weekend getaway next month.
  • I booked our tickets to go to Costa Rica this summer. We’ve got group rate for our air fares, and saved about $175 per person. This saving will go back into my Travel budget.
  • I’m on track with posting weekly on this blog.
  • I enjoyed watching the movie “Crazy, Stupid Love” on DVD.
  • I tried a new Korean restaurant when I went out with my sister. The restaurant has been around for a number of years and I was a new customer. It was packed when we arrived. This is a good sign! We had to take a number but didn’t have to wait too long. Our dinner was tasty with big portions.
  • I’m reading about various travel destinations, partly to plan for our upcoming trips, and partly because I like to read about places.
We had an extreme cold alert and a snow storm this week. This is also March break week for school children and teachers in Toronto so the airport is typically busy with family travel on the Friday before and the weekend after the break. I just read on the news that many flights were cancelled due to the snow storm. So glad I’m not on one of those flights.

I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures and nicer Spring weather. In the next two weeks, I should be able to wrap up the accommodation bookings for our trip to Costa Rica. Then I’ll move on to planning for a second trip.

Hope March has been good to you. How are you doing with your goals?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Travel plan 2017

Costa Rica encore!

Howler monkey, Costa Rica
It’s been a busy week here at Mi Casa. I was juggling my schedule, my family schedule, and elder care activities. Everything seems to take so much time, however, all move in the right direction so I’m cautiously optimistic.

On Friday, we’ve got some good news that enabled me to start booking our first summer trip of the year. This is an exciting moment for me since I can now see our travel plan takes concrete shape. We’ll be going to Costa Rica for nine days at the end of June. We’ve been to Playa Grande, Costa Rica before and had a fantastic family vacation. I look forward to hearing the expression “Pura Vida” and another great stay in the country.

I usually handle the essential travel bookings for my family, such as flights, airport transfer, and accommodation. I’ve created a travel checklist that I re-use and modify for each trip as needed. The modifications are typically due to the trip duration, local weather during our stay, and activities at the destination.

I’m one of those people who travel light with one handbag and one carry-on baggage. I seldom leave home with a full carry-on. The top must-haves on my list include my passport, boarding pass, some cash, and a credit card. These days a mobile device seems to be an essential item as well, although I’ve gone on trips without one, and just managed when I arrived at my destination. My carry-on includes some clothes, a pair of shoes and toiletries. I’ve experienced luggage delay for up to 48 hours before and did not suffer much.

How about you? Are you an experienced traveller? Do you travel light?