Monday, June 27, 2011

Our trip to the Athens hospital

Right towards the end of our Greece trip I started to feel very ill. It hit me one day as we were taking a boat back from Naxos island to Athens. At first I thought I was just seasick, but once we got to our hotel in Athens it felt like my body had shut down. I was shaking and nauseous and just overall feeling terrible. I sent Luke and Jack out to play so I could get some rest and that is when the hot flashes started. I would start sweating and nothing could cool me off and I was completely out of it. When Luke and Jack got back I mentioned that I may need to go to the hospital to see what was wrong. I called my doctor back in Switzerland to see what he thought and his opinion was that if I have a fever, it is possible I got food poisoning. Typically food poisoning is not terribly dangerous, but when you are pregnant certain types of food poisoning are potentially lethal to the baby. So we headed to the hospital. 

Of course we had no car so we had to call a cab, and we had no idea what hospital to go to so we just explained our situation to the receptionist who then informed the cab driver where to take us. When we pulled up to the hospital we couldn't believe how packed it was! There must have been 15 ambulances arriving at the same time as us and our cab driver practically threw us out of his cab then told us the fee was 10 euros and when Luke gave him a 20 and asked for the change, the cabbie just drove away. We were left at the front of this hospital in a scene straight out of an ER movie. The ambulances were unloading all sorts of people in various states of sickness. Gurneys with victims kept whizzing by us as we tried to walk through the entrance. As soon as we walked through the door, the guards informed us that Jack was not allowed inside. All I wanted was to find the maternity ward and get checked out, but instead they ushered us into some back room to wait. We didn't know why we were waiting, or what we were waiting for, but we just waited. Until someone who didn't speak English offered to watch Jack while Luke and I entered the hospital. Luke and I were taken to a room and asked several questions. I think they were trying to determine why I was at this hospital when all I was really looking for was to find an obstetrician. After a while I was worried about Jack so Luke went back to check on him while I sat in the hot seat trying to answer the questions. Meanwhile, one by one, patients would come into this room and get checked out by other nurses. These were truly sick people and I was starting to feel really stupid for going to the hospital. 

Finally I got my point across that we must have been taken to the wrong hospital and my intention was to go to a place with an obstetrics ward. They called another cab for us and sent us off to another hospital which apparently had obstetricians. As we were in this second cab I was just praying for a nice OB/GYN who could take my blood, monitor the baby and make sure everything was okay so we could go home. After the carnage of the first hospital my nerves were on edge and I was wishing more than anything to be back in Switzerland where the hospitals are clean and orderly. Just then our cab pulled up to another hospital. A couple of guards came out and told us to leave, that we weren't allowed to be here. We tried explaining that another hospital sent us here, but they wouldn't buy it. Our cab started to drive away when Luke told him to stop and have the guards call inside the hospital and check. Sure enough, the first hospital had alerted this new hospital we would be coming so we were allowed to go inside. Although once we got inside all I wanted to do was leave again. This was the most disgusting hospital I have ever been in. Luke and Jack went to search for some dinner and I went to find a doctor. I felt like I was walking through a scene from a horror movie. Everything in the hospital was creepy. There were random people walking the halls, screams and moans coming from the rooms and what appeared to be homeless people sitting along the walls. I was sent to an examination room to see the doctor. The exam room was filthy. I was really debating whether enduring potential food poisoning would actually be safer than staying at this hospital. Finally the doctor came in and was very gruff. As he was talking to me several pregnant women would come in the room crying or screaming or pacing and he would say something in Greek and send them on their way. The doctor agreed that I may have an infection from something I ate so he decided to take my blood to test it. I was expecting him to pull out a dirty, used needle to stick in my arm and I breathed a sigh of relief when he pulled out one of the pre-packaged pre-sealed needles. He took my blood, then told me to wait 2 hours for the results. By this time it was probably almost 11pm so I went to find Luke and Jack. The hospital was not in a nice area by any means and just to get in and out you have to walk through guards. But I finally found them and we made our way back to the hospital to wait. 

We sat in the creepy corridor for 2 hours, listening to screams and moans and watching weirdos walk up and down the aisles. Finally, after 2 hours of waiting the doctor told me I had no infection, but that it showed I was dehydrated. That was the best news I had heard, but also I was so frustrated that I made us all go through this hospital hopping hell for no reason. The doc gave me a guide of what to eat and drink for the next two days to combat the dehydration and we left. 

I have never been so thankful for the nice hospitals I am accustomed to as I was at this moment. I will never again take for granted having a clean, well run, sterile hospital available for me in case of emergencies.  And in the future I know how important it is to stay hydrated, especially when pregnant. Who know dehydration could make you feel so ill!

I was too scared to take pictures of this creepy place.
But I managed to get one on my phone of the signs in Greek,
the language is so foreign to us I am amazed we were
even able to find our way through this hospital. 

Funny memory in Greece

I wanted to share a funny incident that happened during our stay on Naxos island in Greece. We were staying at a fairly fancy hotel and one day as Jack was swimming in the pool I noticed his "poop" face. This is the face he makes when he needs to poop. He has been potty trained for a while now so I wasn't sure why he was making this face in the pool, but just to be sure I asked him if he needed to go to the bathroom. He said no, he didn't need to poop. Over the next 10 minutes or so I kept noticing this face, so finally I asked Luke to take him to the bathroom. Luke got Jack out of the pool and dried him off. They then walk to the bathroom which is located in the hotel lobby. They had to walk all the way across the lobby and then downstairs to the bathroom.

Back outside, I'm waiting for them to return. A half hour passes and I'm wondering why it is taking them so long. I know Jack is not a "quick" pooper by any means... but they were gone for a long time. Finally, just as I was about to go looking for them Luke comes back laughing. Apparently as they were walking to the bathroom Jack pooped and the big log fell out of his bathing suit shorts right on to the lobby floor. But at this point Luke had no idea Jack pooped so they continued walking down to the bathroom while the poop left behind was laying right in the lobby. 
Picture of the hotel lobby
Once downstairs Luke sent Jack into the stall to do his business. Jack likes his privacy so Luke shut the door to the stall and waited. Finally when Jack had finished Luke realized that somehow Jack had locked the door and now he couldn't get it unlocked. Luke had to spend quite a while figuring out a way to open the stall door. Several minutes later, once the door was open and hands were washed Luke and Jack started walking back to the pool. That is when Luke finally noticed the big log of poop in the middle of the lobby. It was still lying there, undisturbed. We will never know if anyone saw it or just ignored it, but it had been laying there for at least 30 minutes. Now Luke had to run back downstairs to get paper to clean up the mess. Finally, 45 minutes after they left, Luke and Jack returned to the pool and I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Athens, Greece

We took at 5 hour boat ride from Naxos to Athens. By this point we were all pretty exhausted from the trip and a 5 hour boat ride was not something we were looking forward to. Thankfully I was able to get Jack to sleep in the stroller and shortly after Luke and I found a table to sleep on as well. 

Nothing like a nap to pass the time. 
Our hotel in Athens was very centrally located and we had a great view of the Acropolis
On the roof terrace where we could see the Acropolis

The only bad thing about being centrally located was that we were right next to the big protests which made it very difficult for us to get around.
At this point the last thing we wanted to do was take another guided tour, but we had already booked and paid for one, so we loaded back on to another tour bus
Pretty much explains how we feel about
guided tour groups

My iPhone kept Jack occupied
The tour bus took us to some of the major sights including the old Olympic stadium
Built in 1896 and hosted the first modern Olympic games
Next we visited the Acropolis museum. The museum is built right on top of Roman ruins that are still being excavated
Under the museum you can watch the workers excavate the site
After the museum we followed the tour group up to the Acropolis. It was a pretty intense hike and I can't imagine doing it any later in the summer. Our tour group was french speaking and I wasn't able to watch Jack and listen to the tour guide so Jack and I split off from the group and wandered around the ruins. I just took pictures of everything that looked interesting, not knowing what I was looking at

Jack was bored to death of ruins and I felt bad for him. So we found a puddle and he was happy to pass the time throwing rocks in the water

Rewarded with an ice cream at the end of the tour
After we got off the tour bus, we vowed never to take another one again... at least not until we are retired.

The rest of the time we explored Athens on our own. Unlike all the stray cats we encountered on the Greek islands, Athens was filled with stray dogs

One day we decided to take Jack somewhere just for him to have fun. We asked around and were told to  take him to Allou fun park about 30 minutes out of the city. So we got a taxi that we had to pay way too much for only to get there and find it was closed until 5pm. Jack had his heart set on the park so we decided to pass the time walking around the nearby malls. Thankfully Jack fell asleep in his stroller and Luke and I escaped the heat by going to a movie theater.
Jack asleep in the movie theater
We were able to get 1/3 of the way through Pirates of the Caribbean before Jack woke up. Thankfully he was able to play on my iPhone and we were able to finish the movie. I think it was the first movie I have seen in a theatre since before I was pregnant with him! By the time the movie was finished it was just about 5pm so we walked over to the park.
Jack had a great time! They had your basic carnival type rides and even though we bought a pass for Jack, several of the rides cost additional money.

It was nice to take a break from touristy things for a while

Next to the park was a Ruby Tuesday. We had them in Colorado and decided to stop there for dinner. We ordered the sampler platter of 6 "mini" burgers to share. Now I have to say that the waiter spoke no english and couldn't even understand us when we pointed at what we wanted on the menu. The waiter ended up grabbing a customer to translate our order to him. So when our order came we were surprised to see 6 full size burgers. Not only was it way more than we could ever eat, but they were terrible burgers! I think we managed to eat 2 burgers before we felt sick.
After dinner we tried to find a taxi to take us back to our hotel. But since we were right in the middle of the protests none of the taxis wanted to take us there because all the streets were closed and it was a mess. We spent a good hour or so walking around trying to find a taxi. Finally Luke was able to find a taxi and told him we would give him 15 Euros to take us back. We think the taxi driver heard "50 Euros" because the majority of the way to the hotel he kept saying that 40 Euros would be the most he would take for the trip... and even that would be too much. I think it came as a shock to him when he realized Luke had said 15 and not 50 euros.
The protestors posted signs all around the city

Protestors marching down the streets. Making it very difficult
for us to get back to our hotel

Our last day in Athens we visited Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus
Hadrian's Arch
Unfortunately the Temple of Olympian Zeus closed at 1pm so I was only able to snap some pictures from outside the gate
It was pretty impressive, but by this time I had seen so many ruins they were all starting to look the same

Our flight back to Geneva was Saturday morning. We were able to find a tasty greek bakery for breakfast.
And we were completely surprised when Jack ate and entire donut almost the size of his face.
We were happy to return to Switzerland. Greece was a bit of a disappointment to us as it was way more expensive then we ever imagined. Eating out in Greece was just as expensive as here in Switzerland yet most of the areas we visited were very undeveloped and pretty dirty. I think if we go back we will focus on one island and stay at the beach the whole time.

And just as a side note for those with kids in car seats. We took several taxis in Greece and each time I would request a car seat, but from the 15 or so taxis we took only 1 provided a car seat. About half of the taxis didn't even have seat belts! We finally found that the Mercedes taxis had a special seat in the back where the bottom pops up to lift the child a little. It's no where near as safe as a car seat but at least it's something. So from then on, we only took the Mercedes taxis. But in the future, if you travel to Greece I would recommend bringing your own car seat.
Jack in the pop up seat

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Naxos, Greece

We arrived in Naxos late Friday afternoon. Jack was so happy to have a sandy beach to play on!

We stayed in a hotel at St. George beach. I had read that it was a very family friendly place and indeed it was a great beach. There were several restaurants right at the beach so we could eat lunch or dinner while Jack played in the sand

Sunset our first night in Naxos
The main center of Naxos town was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We really liked this town as it didn't feel "touristy." It seemed that we were mingling with mostly Greeks and their families. 

There were several little rides set up along the boardwalk for the kids

Looking for a place to eat dinner

The two main beers in Greece were Alfa and Mythos.
Luke preferred the Mythos. 
At the edge of town you can walk along a causeway to the Portara, one of the many ancient sights on this island. 
Walking down the causeway with Naxos city in the background
The Portara was built 2,500 years ago and at that time it was built on a hill at the edge of the island. Since then, the Mediterranean has risen a significant amount and now the little hill is actually an island connected to the main city by this causeway

Naxos city in the background

The Portara is the doorway to what remains of an unfinished temple either dedicated to Apollo or Dionysus (protector of the island)

Mythical Naxos was supposedly the island where young Zeus was raised, thus the largest mountain on the island is named for him. Naxos is also one of the largest of the Greek islands so we rented a car to drive to see some of the other famous sights. We had intended to see many of the sights, but the signs were so confusing and the roads were very undeveloped so it turned out we only got to visit one, the Temple of Demeter which dates from the 6th century BC. 

Walking back to the car

Our rental car
After visiting the temple, we drove to a secluded beach that our car rental agent recommended.
The sand dunes and the cyprus trees lead right up to the water
It was indeed secluded, but it was also really windy so we didn't stay long

Jack thinks its funny to beg Luke to carry him and then rough
house with daddy while Luke is trying to carry him. 
We spent the rest of our afternoon driving around looking for "Aquaparc" (a water park we had seen advertised all over town). Jack was so excited to go on some water slides so we spent hours driving around desperately trying to find it. Sadly we couldn't find it and had to come home with one very upset little boy. 

Back in town we walked around a bit and explored the back streets to see what we could find

Just about every night we ate dinner at this Pizzaria which served some of the best Italian food we have ever eaten

By far the best pizza ever!
We also found a place that makes our favorite Greek dessert, loukoumades.
They are small fried donuts covered in a honey cinnamon sauce
Another favorite stop of ours was the "Waffle house." Here they made fresh waffle cones hot off the press. They also made homeade ice cream every day

Luke and I would share a big waffle topped with two scoops of ice cream and chocolate syrup
The rest of our time on Naxos was spent at our hotel swimming pool or at the beach. Jack seemed to prefer the swimming pool because he loved being able to swim freely with his floaty arms on and the pool was a bit warmer than the ocean 

But since we were in Greece, we also wanted to get in some beach time
Short walk to the beach

Sandy feet
This was the perfect beach for kids because the water was very shallow
St. Georges beach

Jack spotted the slide boats across the beach and said "there's Aquaparc." He was so excited to go on a slide so we rented the boat for 30 minutes and took him out

The water was still pretty chilly so Jack was ready to come back after our 30 minutes was up
Our time on Naxos was great! I only wish we had skipped the cruise and stayed here for the entire time. I can't wait to come back again.