Sunday, September 21, 2014

Traveling with .... Virginia's Pet Cat Alexia!

Hi, this is Alexia! As some of you know, Virginia takes me EVERYWHERE when she travels with her family. I know, life can't get better than this. Well, today I am taking over Virgina's blog to share our traveling with you.

Our trip started in Venice! After arriving to our hotel via the super expensive water-taxi, we were pleasantly surprised by an upgrade to a suite that faced the Grand Canal. The view from our room was amazing! Needless to say, Virginia's family was feeling spoiled. The included breakfast at the Principe Hotel was also great. Virginia particularly liked the coffee machine that could make 8 types of coffees with the push of a button. How convenient, eh?
 As you can tell from the photos, Venice is GRAND! But it is also very old and expensive! Lots of buildings were sitting pretty and vacant. With 4 days in Venice, the Lu's visited (and paid a hefty price) to see the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Basilica, Rialto Bridge, Correr Museum, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Accademia Gallery, Campanile, Bridge of Sighs, etc.

This was the treatment I got when we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Very funny, everyone. Yes, I may have indulged in some gelato while in Venice...
 Athens, Greece was next! With one day to sight-see, they visited the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Arch of Hadrian, Plaka (Athen's Old Town) and a lookout over Lykavittos. Phew!

It was one of the hottest days during the trip, but visiting the Acropolis Museum (with AC) helped to ease the scorching heat while we went from one amazing place to another.

After that was Istanbul, Turkey! It is definitely not the place to go if you want a quiet and relaxing place to visit. David called it "hectic",but Stephanie enjoyed it because it felt most "exotic" to her. The Lu's had quite an adventure there as soon as they got a taxi to see the sights. They went to the Underground Cistern, Hagia Sophia (pronounced eye-ah soh-fee-ya, or hah-gia so-phi-yah if you're David...), Blue Mosque, Tokapi Palace...and ended up unexpectedly in a carpet store! Our taxi driver's "nephew," who first acted as a personal tour guide turned out to be the owner of a luxurious hand-woven carpet store. Hm, was that planned?!

Even though the carpets were exquisite (especially those silk ones, wow!), we couldn't help but feel a bit surprised by the immediate pressure we felt to buy one. Because they cost thousands of dollars, Dr. John had to tell the owner that the Lu's saved their money to travel and had no budget for a Turkish carpet. Sorry! Virginia also had to add in the fact that all our carpets at home are from the luxurious IKEA. By looking at the owner's face after she said that, I think he got the message!

  After a few tense moments and awkward silences while drinking up our Turkish coffee, our taxi driver returned to take us to the ship. Can you see David's "nervous" smile? Although our carpet experience seems to be a common one for tourists in Turkey, it definitely added a bit of suspense and excitement to our visit. The next day, I went along with Virginia, Stephanie and David to the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar (see here).

Apparently Virginia was having too much fun in having me pose for photos!
Of course, when we weren't busy sightseeing, we were enjoying our time on Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam. We stuffed our faces with delicious food, took relaxing naps on the balcony, and appreciated the wonderful service on the ship.

They say "Save the best for the last". It was happening for us in Santorini, Greece.
 Virginia finally got to meet her long time blog friend Vicky (the guest designer for Virginia's View Challenge) and her awesome hubby Aris (the brain behind InLinkz and now HangATag ).

I had fun photo-bombing...look at the happy smiles! Need I say more? Vicky and Virginia chatted about card-making and blogging! Meanwhile, Dr. John was helping Aris scout out the perfect house in Santorini. Perhaps some day... after Aris makes his millions with his ingenious and innovative programming. Aris was not convinced though. 
It was a super hot and busy day in little Santorini. But I sure can see why this place is so iconic and popular as it was full of tourists like myself!
Well, with this magical photo, I am finishing this post with a high note!
Hope you enjoy the trip as much as I did!
Bye ...until next time I travel :)


Niki G said...

Such beautiful pictures with what seems perfect weather! Thanks for sharing!!

Dawn Turley said...

Gorgeous photos. You and the Lu's had an awesome time by the look of it. Thanks for taking us on the journey as well.

Vicky said...

AMAZING trip and I just love all the photos!

It was so exciting to give you a hug after all this time we've been blog friends! The whole Lu family was a pleasure to meet and I will treasure the memories and photos !

Kristie Goulet said...

AMAZING photos! Thank you for sharing and how lucky of you to meet up with Vicky and her husband. Awesome!

~amy~ said...

Such an awesome trip and just love all the photos! That made me chuckle about your ikea rugs:)

cm said...

Your Ikea rugs comment made me laugh; perfect response to some heavy pressure, indeed! Your photos are wonderful and your travelogue absolutely engaging. Alexia is adorable; a most delightful traveling companion! Meeting Vicki - what a treat for both of you! Thank you for sharing your trip with us!

Cindy C. said...

Hi Alexia, thanks for fabulous photo tour!! And you look great in all those pictures, and clearly you had a wonderful time travelling with the Lu's!!

Brenda & Ian said...

Looking at your Santorini photos brought back memories of our visit there. I would love to return to any of the islands in the area. As we walked up and down the hills, we felt as if we were in a postcard... almost surreal!

Might I ask what you are using for your photo collages? I have been using Pic Monkey for my travel blog ( and have been so happy to have found something to share our travel photos, without adding a long string of photographs.

Very much enjoy your travel records. Travel till your feet drop off. You never know what tomorrow will bring. We were not able to put that notion into practice till retirement, so we have lots of catching up to do. You are fortunate to be starting so young.

Brenda in Maple Ridge, BC

Anni said...

It is always so much fun to read about your vacation! And the photos are so beautiful!
So eine glückliche Familie!
Liebe Grüße

Virginia Lu said...

Thanks, everyone, for your sweet comments as they do make me smile:)

For Amy and cm: when I said that our area rugs at home are from IKEA, I meant "business"....thankfully, the Turkish merchant backed off--it was a huge relief! :)

For Brenda: I used Picasa editing software and love using it for all the multi-photo format in my blog. It is user-friendly! Hope this helps!

Carole said...

Looks like you all had an amazing trip, how lovely to catch up with a blogger too x

conil said...

What a terrific I hope to take one day. Venice is stunningly sad about the erosion there. Greece and Santorini look like there right up my alley...I'd like to meet Vicki myself. Alexia, you look like you had a ball. Virginia really knows how to put together a travelogue.

Jennifer said...

Looks like it was an amazing trip! So much fun to read and see all the exciting things you all did, especially from Alexia point of view! Such a great looking family too.

alexandra s.m. said...

Your post is MAGICAL my Friend!
I'm so touched you love Alexia.
May she always bring you good luck!
Thanks for the adventure!

Miriam Prantner said...

That Alexia is one lucky cat! Great pics!!!

Barb Ghig said...

I have to apologize, as once again, I'm not getting notified of your posts...I LOVE all of your photos...WOW! You all look like you're having the time of your lives, and how fun that you got to meet Vicky and her hubby! I'm really enjoying seeing all the photos...thank you so much for sharing them with us!!!

Cat Craig said...

wonderful post Alexia!

Cris G said...

Yay Alexia, thank you for sharing the fantastic trip you took as a guide to the Lu family :). The pictures are fantastic, and it's great that you could meet Vicky and Aris. Santorini is in my wish list :).
Now seriously, you should be very careful and try to always travel in group, the bigger, the better. A friend of my husband's friend traveled alone by motorcycle in the North Africa and he was literally forced to buy a carpet... by one of those supposed guides. They kept his motorcycle and documents until he finally bought a very expensive carpet... Try to get a professional guide in tourist agencies when you travel abroad.I'm glad it all ended up happily for you!

Shelly said...

Simply, beautiful! :)

Laura B. said...

wow, wow, wow! That has got to be the luckiest cat in the world!! What incredible photos! So fun that you got to visit Vicky! Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories..oh man, the food, the views, the elephant towels!!