An Excerpt from Musing Mediterranean – A Travel Experience

scaffolding on the Parthenon in Athens Greece - an excerpt from Musing Mediterranean

More from Musing Mediterranean

This week on the blog, I am sharing two excerpts from my book, Musing Mediterranean, which chronicles a 2012 family trip to Greece, Italy and Turkey. On Monday, I shared an excerpt talking about our time in Rome, Italy. Today, I share a moment from Athens, Greece.

My goal in writing this book was to convey a true travel experience from beginning to end. With that, there are good times and, sometimes, not so good.

In this excerpt from Musing Mediterranean, I reveal a moment that fell short of my expectations. Despite some disappointment, I was still glad to have made the journey.

An Excerpt from Musing Mediterranean – The Parthenon

I suppose the fantasy of Greece that I’d created in my mind would have been hard for any reality to live up to. I’m not saying it wasn’t great, but not quite as life changing as I thought it would be. For me, the pivotal moment in Greece came early in our travels there. The place I most wanted to see was the Parthenon. The image of this massive temple had always been distinctly emblazoned in my brain. The notion of actually seeing it and walking through the sacred grounds of the Acropolis became something of a quest. From the time I was a little girl, my family, including aunts, uncles and cousins, would spend time together flipping through my Yia Yia and Papou’s photo albums. They traveled a lot and while their photos from Spain, Hawaii and many other places were fun to look at, nothing stuck with me more than the photos of their trips to Greece. Something about their proud expressions as they stood together, most often with my grandmother’s sister Stella, left me with a strong desire to go where they’d gone and see what they saw. I always knew that someday I would see the Parthenon myself.

My grandparents’ photos of this prominent example of historical architecture have always remained at the forefront of my memory. The same is true for a particular piece of jewelry that my mother and aunts each wore, and still do to this day. They were gold pendants, probably about two inches in diameter, each featuring a dazzling rendition of the Parthenon. My Yia Yia had gifted one to each of her three daughters-in-law. Each woman, none of whom is Greek, has always worn hers with pride.

Upon arriving in the vicinity of the Acropolis, a hot trek up the hill to see the hallowed grounds and the Parthenon itself was required. This day, more than any other, was super steamy. So much so, you could see the haze in the air. The temperature had to have been in the mid-nineties, if not higher.

I’m strong in many ways, but heat is my kryptonite. I may be the only New Englander whose least favorite season is summer. I just can’t handle the unrelenting sun. While others thrive in the warmth of the summer months, I slowly fade away, trudging through the heat and humidity desperately awaiting the arrival of fall.

With every effort to shake off my funk, I forged ahead. Beautiful Kalamata olive trees grew in groves all around us. Stray dogs slept in any shady area they could find. The ten minute walk seemed much longer in the heat, but we were all thrilled to at last set our eyes on the Parthenon at the top of the hill.

“What the hell?” I scowled as I first laid eyes on the structure. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The entire face of the Parthenon was covered in scaffolding.

I had expected this to be a real “ah ha” moment. Instead, the words I blurted out were, “This is such an eyesore – I am so disappointed.”

Apparently, the Parthenon had been under renovation for eight years. Unfortunately, none of our travel literature had alerted us to this fact. Not that we wouldn’t have come, but at least we could have altered our expectations accordingly.

“I can’t believe this,” I said to everyone in my party. “This is such a letdown!”

“I know,” Karla agreed. “I had no idea it would be like this. What a shame.”

“Would you two relax,” my Dad said dismissively. “It’s fine. You can see through the scaffolding and you know what it looks like anyway.”

Thank You

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Musing Mediterranean, and I welcome your feedback.

Have a great weekend!

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An Excerpt from My Book, Musing Mediterranean

Julia and Ally eating spaghetti in Rome - an excerpt from Musing Mediterranean

Musing Mediterranean

In the past week, I began final edits on my book. I started writing Musing Mediterranean in 2012 following a remarkable family trip to Greece, Italy and Turkey It has now been reviewed, revised (at least six times) and professionally edited. This week I will finalize it before seeking representation by a literary agent or publisher.

I can’t believe I’m finally at a stopping point – it feels good to have seen it through to completion. It’s also scary to now subject my work to critical review. Whatever happens with my book, I did what I set out to do. I wrote something longer and more significant than a magazine article and for that I am proud.

Back in August, I posted about the book calling it My Never Ending Story. It’s a light-hearted read – I like to describe it as Eat, Pray, Love meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding. More than a travel book, it’s a travel experience. In it I discuss food, family and the faraway places we visited. I also talk about the travel anxiety that nearly prevented me from taking the trip in the first place.

This week on the blog, I would like to share two excerpts.  I welcome your feedback and I’d love for you to share this post if you are so inclined.

The featured photo is one of my favorites from our time in Rome.  My girls were so little then. This quintessential Italian meal followed our visit to the Vatican.  It was a holy day, but what I’d learn, well after we returned home, is that nothing is ever too sacred for my husband and brother-in-law to find an excuse to celebrate.

I hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from Musing Mediterranean.

After The Vatican – An Excerpt

Most of the grown-ups imbibed in typical fashion – reserving “adult refreshments” for dinners, happy hours, night caps – you get the idea. Bob and Tony, however, never missed a chance to sample a European beer, shot or glass of vino. Lunch, brunch, dinner; it was all great timing for them. They are big guys so they could handle it. I, on the other hand, would never make it out of my cabin if Mimosas or Bloody Marys were on the menu before noon. Courtesy of Bob and Tony alone, we have so many photos of bottles of beer that I was seriously thinking about censoring the family photo album.

In one photo taken in Rome, snapped surreptitiously by Bob, Tony is pictured holding something in a shot glass alongside a waiter by the name of Giorgio. This adorable, Italian young man served us a wonderful meal after our day at the Vatican. It all seemed very wholesome as we enjoyed our outdoor seating: Julia and Ally slurped spaghetti and Paolo and Ivana told us where they were headed after Rome.

Meanwhile, inside, there was an impromptu celebration happening at the bar.

When I first opened the photo link that Bob sent me and saw this picture, I had to stop to think about where we were.

Tony, why is it that no matter where we are or what time of day, you manage to make it a party? I said pointing to his photo with Giorgio.

What do you mean? Oh that, we just wanted to toast Giorgio for his great service.

When did Bob and Tony slip away from our quaint sidewalk table to sneak a shot of some random Italian spirit with the waiter? To think that we had just spent a holy day at the Vatican complete with knees and shoulders covered.

For the record, Tony would not let me post the photo of him and Giorgio!

Thursday’s Post – Another Excerpt from Musing Mediterranean

Thank you – stay tuned for another excerpt from Musing Mediterranean this Thursday featuring The Parthenon.

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New on the Blog – A Few Twists at 3 Olives & a Twist


3 olives & a twist Pinterest board
Some of the things I love on Pinterest! Look at those Schnauzer slippers!!


Hi Everyone! I hope you’re having a great week.  I feel like I’m not quite back in the swing of things since my little trip to California. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. I think a touch of holiday anxiety might be holding me back. I’m admittedly freaked out that Thanksgiving is over and it’s officially December.

Holy cow! How did that happen? OK, deep breath, it’s all good – everything that needs to get done will get done. Sure, I’ll just keep telling myself that.

Our tree is up but not decorated, pumpkins are still on the porch, a Christmas card photo has yet to be taken and please don’t even ask me about presents – that will get done the week before Christmas, just like it always does. Try as I might, there really is no escaping the crazy that is Christmas season. Add to that, some changes at 3 Olives & a Twist and my head is spinning. I might as well have some fun with it, so I’ll just pour my favorite martini and spin away right into 2017.

Since March 2016, when 3 Olives & a Twist first launched, I’ve been having so much fun writing posts, taking pictures, meeting people and getting out into the world in a way I’ve never done before.  The more I work on the blog, the more engrossed in it I become. So recently I made some updates I’d like to share with you.

New On the Blog: More Conversation

3 Olives & a Twist is all about conversation and I love reading your comments. Up until now, my responses have only been viewable on the blog.  If you made a comment, you’d have to return to the blog to see my response. I’m guessing you’ re all probably too busy for that; so now you can opt in to receive email notifications when I reply to your comment or a new comment is posted. I’m so happy to have this option and hope that you’ll opt in so that, together, we can keep the conversation going.

new blog feature - comment notifications
Be sure to opt in for comment notifications so that I can talk back to you.


Also New… I’m on Pinterest!

3 Olives & a Twist is now on Pinterest. You can check out my boards and pin my blog posts to your own Pinterest boards. To do so, just look for the little [icon name=”pinterest” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] at the bottom of each post and share away! Today’s featured image is a sneak peak at some of the boards I’ve created in Pinterest so far, but I’ve got some work to do and could sure use some help. What types of boards do you like to see on Pinterest? What favorite boards have you created? Follow me there and I’ll follow you back to get some fun, new ideas for 3 Olives & a Twist on Pinterest.

Finally, New Ad Opportunities

I’m excited to report that I have begun partnering with owners of local businesses to spread the word about the great things they are doing, and the significant value they lend to our communities. I will not only be posting about businesses and products I genuinely believe in, but I will also be sharing space on my blog for small ads that directly link to these businesses’ sites. Give one a click and you can see for yourself all they have to offer.

Stay tuned next week for a post on a wonderful gift and home décor shop in Andover, MA – Helen Thomas Simply Smashing.

I hope you’ll enjoy these updates that are new to the blog, and I would love to hear from YOU. What would you like to see on the blog? Are there topics you’d be interested in reading about? Let me know!

See you back on Monday – Have a great weekend.

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Next Steps in My Writing Career

Beth and her schnauzer step into a sunset of new opportunity
Image from Merrimack Valley Magazine. Art by Ken Bonin.


One Crazy Week!

Between the time change (Oscar’s now up at 5am vs. 6am), no school for the kids on election Tuesday, the election aftermath on Wednesday and a few other personal shakeups of minor significance, I have completely lost track of the week.  So much so, I actually forgot to post yesterday because I thought it was Wednesday not Thursday.

Well, better late than never and today, Friday; Veteran’s Day (thank you for your service!) and no school again, TGIF never rang so true. 3 olives and a twist, here I come.

Mike's Magnificent Martini


The 2016 Election

While the presidential election certainly took center stage this week; it actually affected me less deeply than some other matters. Not to diminish the relevance of what went down, in fact it left me feeling rather unsettled, but I had steeled myself for either outcome. From the beginning, I was dispassionate and disheartened by both candidates – arguing or even discussing my vote was never an option. As much as I tried to stay off of social media on Wednesday, purely in an attempt at self-preservation, one slight glance revealed the train wreck that it was. And as train wrecks go, I found it hard to look away. I have no other words for it other than, wow – just wow!

Beyond Politics: Taking on Personal Change

All that said, in addition to the political shift, this week brought about a change in my writing career for which I also have mixed feelings. This week marked the end of my contributions to Merrimack Valley Magazine. The November/December issue dropped and in it was my farewell, Matters of Life & Beth column titled, “Time Flies.”

After eight years with the publication, I made the difficult choice to move on and seize new opportunities in my life and writing career. In addition to continuing work on this blog, I hope to take the next step with my book which is soon to be back in my hands after a second round of professional editing. I also hope to pursue new writing opportunities as I look to grow and reach more readers.

Not long ago, I blogged about being at a Crossroads. I didn’t say it then, but I was in the midst of deciding whether or not to take this next step. I was very torn and feeling out of my comfort zone, but something kept telling me that it was time. Well, after much consideration and guidance, I chose to walk away from a good thing in pursuit of what I hope to be something great, for me anyway. As someone who is not a risk taker, this was an extremely difficult decision.  One that I’m still not sure about today, but as I work on opportunities for the blog, I’m feeling excited about the possibilities for my writing career.

A Year of Change

It’s been a year of change and hard to believe we are closing in on 2017. While change is most definitely hard and sometimes scary, it can also be good and necessary.  I pray for myself and for this country that the changes we’ve experienced in 2016 will lead to great things in 2017 and beyond.

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Writing a Travel Book: My Never-Ending Story

pictures and pages from Beth's first travel book

So, I’ve written a travel book. Well, some might call it a travel book, a travelogue or a travel memoir, but really what it is, is a travel experience. I like to call it “Eat, Pray, Love” meets “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I started it in 2012 and here I am in 2016 working on what I hope to be a final revision.

The process of sticking with it has sometimes, most times, been tough. I know some fellow writers who will understand this and I wonder; why do I, why do we put ourselves through the pain?

The book is about my summer 2012 journey to Greece, Italy and Turkey. My parents, sister and her family, and my own family unit traveled together for our first, big family trip. The experience was so hilarious, momentous and memorable that I left the Mediterranean thinking, I could write a book about this. So I did. I call it “Musing Mediterranean.”

When I began MM, I didn’t have my magazine column, “Matters of Life & Beth” nor did this blog exist. My writing style was very different then. Over the years, I have found and come to enjoy the writing voice I use here and in my column.

Now, after going through multiple revisions and having the book professionally edited, I am starting over from chapter one to take what I have and rewrite it using the conversational voice that suits me now and the writer/author I want to be.

There are days when I feel like the edits will never end. There are always changes to be made and after reading and re-reading the story, what feels like a hundred times, I feel like it will never be done.

I have never been so dedicated to a personal passion so much as this. Tony will often say, “I can’t believe you are still working on that.” Honestly, neither can I. I am more of an immediate satisfaction type of person. If don’t see short term gain, then I usually move on to something where I can.

My book is different. I believe in it and I enjoy immersing myself in it even when I dread and severely procrastinate opening the file to get started. It’s a strange contradiction. I sometimes worry that if I dread working on it so much, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it; but I keep going. There are also days when I fear that it is boring or stupid; but I keep going.

If ever I understood a labor of love, I think I can fairly say that this book is mine.

I don’t know what the end game for this book will be, but for now I am going to work through this final, or near final, phase and hopefully soon revel in the glory of completion.

Do you have a labor of love?

To learn more about my travel book “Musing Mediterranean,” visit my website.

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