After posing for a few pictures at this overlook, we followed the trail down to the beach. Let me tell you, it was a lot more fun going down than coming back up, ha! But the kids were such great sports and super adventurers. It was a privilege and a blessing to spend my birthday with my family!
Once we reached the main path again (huffing and puffing), the kids insisted they were up for a continuation of the hike. The road we were on wound its way along the southeastern side of the island, and we still had a couple of hours of daylight left (we thought), so off we went. We took it fairly easy; Lucan was, after all, on foot, and a three-year-old cannot be hurried. I was amazed at his perseverance and winning little attitude! He was so cheerful and such a delight to hike with, despite some extensive stints of climbing stairs that were about 1/3 of his height--that HAD to be exhausting! I tried to encourage the kids multiple times, thanking them for not complaining and telling them how much I appreciated the experience that we could share together. It really WAS the best birthday gift they could have given me: enjoying the adventure we were on, living in the moment and creating lasting memories.
But let's be honest--it was a grueling hike after we had already expended so much energy. And with the sun setting faster than the trail seemed to be ending, we had to skip seeing the Natural Arch and settle instead for reaching "civilization" again. We did come across a big cavern area that ignited the boys' imaginations and had Kenna and Lucan shouting for joy to hear their echoes. Charis sat on the wall and caught her breath, and then we made it up the last seemingly endless set of stairs and voted to find a restaurant instead of pressing on to see the arch...which we probably couldn't have seen anyway due to the sun setting and a severe lack of artificial lighting on the island!
Winding our way back to the city center in near darkness was a whole different adventure! There were a few street lights, and people were starting to come out and about...it seems the island almost shuts down in the afternoon (maybe that's because we were there in the off season?), but Italy comes alive for late and long dinners! After awhile we began passing more and more store fronts, and finally...FINALLY...we emerged at the piazza where we began our journey in the afternoon after arriving on the funicolare. Below: Ted consults our map to make sure we are going in the right direction.
We patronized a charming little restaurant whose owners/servers had hailed us earlier in the day. At the time we weren't looking for an eating place, having just arrived after lunch, but now we were starving! My snack supply did not have nearly enough calories to fuel such a strenuous afternoon! It was only about 5:30 p.m. but it felt much, much later. The men who took care of us at the ristorante were so kind, and they promptly fell in love with baby Zaden! They pushed tables together for us and bent over backwards to accommodate all 8 of us. The kids opted for pizza Margarita, while Ted chose fried calamari and I had gnocchi. He and I shared a Greek salad as well. Oh, it was all so wonderful! We had nearly a whole pizza leftover to take home with us, which we saved for lunch the next day.
We made use of the big whirlpool bath tubs back at the hotel, washing the sweat and grime and sore muscles away before turning in for the night...time to rest up so we could be ready for another day of exploring on Friday!