We were SO excited to have Ashley, Macie, and Marley visit us in June. We seriously had the best time with them! Tons of great memories and pictures to look back on.
The first few days we spent doing day trips in Germany. We went to Rudesheim, where we unfortunately ran into a rather large and obtrusive Harley Davidson Convention. Sort of ruined the atmosphere that we were hoping for. But we took a Rhein River Cruise instead, toured one of the many castles along the river, and ate some delicious dinner in a cute restaurant off shore.
|Taking off on from our port in Venice|
Our first stop on the cruise was a little Italian town called Bari. While there, we shopped, ate gelato and pizza, visited a church, and just walked around getting a feel for Italy.
|This was during dinner on the boat...at one point we all had to wave our Italian napkins around in the air. As you can see--we all got into it (some more than others)|
Our next cruise port was Olympia, Greece. We got to go visit the ancient Olympic Stadium
Violet stopped running halfway down and burst into tears when she realized there was no way she would win. Poor Boogie.
Fancy face paint from the kids' club
Our 3rd stop was Izmir, Turkey. Here was decided to leave the kids on the boat in the kids' club, and take an excursion with the cruise ship company to the ancient city of Ephesus and Mary's house. The first picture is outside of what they believe might have been Mary's house, after Christ's death. Whether of not it really was her house, it did seem to be a nice place on top of the mountain. Sort of an oasis amidst the dry terrain of Turkey.
We then stopped in Ephesus. This ancient city was buried by earthquakes over centuries. It's only been over the past 40 years or so that archeologists have begun uncovering and rebuilding its' structures. Despite the scorching heat and almost no shade, it was really cool to imagine this place as a booming metropolis back in the day. Especially cool to imagine Paul as a missionary here so long ago. On a cooler day, we would have loved to spend more time here. The excursion tour guides were eager to whisk us away to a 'genuine leather shop' where we had to endure a fashion show of sorts and a sales pitch for high end leather products. Blah.
Port #4 was Istanbul, Turkey. Again, we left the kids at the kids club. Our first stop there was the Grand Bazaar and spice market. That was a fun (and exhausting) experience! But we did come away with a few treasures of our own. We then had a yummy Turkish lunch and made our way to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia--both amazing structures. It was fun to see something that I remember seeing in history books all through my school days.
|Reunited with our kids on the boat. We were SUPER worried that the boat was going to leave without us! Our taxi home was stuck in standstill traffic. So suspenseful!!|
|Everybody loves a Pina Colada|
Our last stop, before returning to Venice, was Dubrovnik Croatia--and my favorite of the trip!! We walked on this wall around the old city, and the views of orange rooftops against the backdrop of the ocean were just breathtaking! We even got a little beach time in before having to go back to the boat. It was heavenly.
|Leaving our cruise ship|
Back in Venice. Although we were all pooped, we ventured out for one last adventure with the Thelins that afternoon. Took a gondola ride, ate some pizza, and parted ways. It was a sad goodbye! Sawyer sobbed for at least 20 minutes after leaving his cousins. Ashley and the girls were so fun to have around. They had one more week left before flying home, and so they toured Italy on a solo trip. The 4 of us stayed the night outside of Venice and then drove back to Germany on Sunday morning. We had had such an amazing adventure, but were so excited to be reunited with our little Isla Bea!!