Today would be our first time to Greece and we were looking forward to seeing the Acropolis that we have heard so much about. We arrived in Piraeus right on time and the weather was near perfect with beautiful blue skies, a few puffy clouds and temperatures forecast to stay in the 70’s .
We were booked on the HAL tour “The Best of Athens” with the details below from HALs website and HERE.
The Best of Athens
“If you are visiting Athens for the first time, this outing provides an excellent introduction to one of the great cities of the ancient world. Visit the Acropolis, a symbol of the glory of ancient Greece. History opens before you as you reach the Propylaea, one of the masterpieces of classical architecture, serving as the entrance to the complex of buildings. You’ll see the Temple of Athena Nike (Wingless Victory), and the Erechtheum with its classical Porch of Maidens, the Caryatids. Stand in awe as you visit what is considered the most perfect example of classical architecture in the world—the Parthenon—designed as a shrine to Athena and at one time housing a massive gold and ivory statue of the warrior goddess. Re-board your coach and head towards your lunch venue. You will enjoy a Greek lunch and have some time to relax. Then, you’ll head to the National Archaeological Museum, which boasts the world’s finest collection of Greek antiquities. The highlights here include the golden mask of Agamemnon, Minoan frescoes unearthed at Akrotiri, and the superb bronze Poseidon. Complete your introduction to Athens with a scenic drive through the city, passing some of the most important landmarks of the city. Watch for the marble Olympic Stadium, where the Olympic Games were revived in 1896, Hadrian’s Arch and the former Royal Palace. Your coach will park close to the plaka (Old Town) area, and you’ll disembark for a guided walking tour of the historical center of Athens. Free time will be allocated for shopping and watching everyday life in Greece before you return to the port.”
The tour met in the Queens Lounge at 9:15 with a scheduled departure of 9:30. A few minutes before 9:30 they called our tour and we were on our way. There were two buses on the tour and we were on bus number 6. We wouldn’t be spending that much time on the bus today, so getting seats wasn’t as important as it may be on longer tour, but it is still nicer to sit closer to the front.
We were close to the table where they passed out the tour dots so once they called the tour we were one of the first people down to the gangplank and off the ship. The Cruise Terminal was a couple hundred yards away, and after we passed through the terminal, (there wasn’t any security or immigration) we walked to the waiting busses which were another 100 yards or so out to the parking lot.
A helpful guide spotted our number 6 on our shirts and directed us to the correct bus. Plenty of good seats up front were still available and as it turned out there would be 28 people on this 40 passenger bus so everyone had plenty of room.
As we were pulling out, we noticed what appeared to be a local TV station getting ready to interview Henk and video some of the busses as we left the parking lot. With as many cruise ships that visit Piraeus – we learned later that they usually get at least one a day and sometimes up to six – we wondered what made our visit remarkable enough to have local reporters appear on the scene.
Acropolis would be our first stop in 45 minutes away and we were able to get a windshield tour of Piraeus and Athens along the way. Piraeus is adjacent to Athens and there wasn’t any way to tell when you crossed from one city into the other.
At 10:30 we pulled into the parking lot for Acropolis and started to hike up the hill toward Propylaea and the other ancient structures in the complex. I estimate it requires about 100 feet of climbing using steps and sloped trails to reach the summit. We moved slowly and stayed together, stopping to regroup every so often. There were numerous other tour groups all following the same path and our group was absorbed into others as we all marched forward. Our guide carried a Holland America Tour Sign with our bus number so it was fairly easy to keep her in sight.
In about 30 minutes we reached Propylaea, which is the western entrance to the complex. The entrance here is fairly narrow and you can wait for a bit here during busier times. Today, the crowds were relatively light so we didn’t have any delays entering Acropolis.
After we passed thru Propylaea, the walking path turned into a mixture of smooth rocks and marble, which can be slippery so be careful walking around.
We were now inside the Acropolis complex and the Parthenon was on full display against the blue sky. The Parthenon would be a visually stunning building in any age, but when you consider how long ago it was built and what technology was available, the building is even more impressive. After our guide explained some of the history of various buildings we were on our own to explore the grounds for about 30 minutes until it was time to head back down to meet our group in the parking lot where our bus would be waiting.
After we were back on the bus, we drove about 20 minutes until we reached the National Archaeological Museum. We spent about 1 hour going thru the museum which had an incredible display of ancient Greek sculptures and art. Most people, including us, chose to go to the gift shop for our last 20 minutes in the museum rather than browse more exhibits. The pieces of art are very impressive, but they are not particularly interesting to us.
Lunch was our next event and was being served buffet style, in the lobby of the nearby Radisson Hotel.
We had a choice of the following items and they were all very good.
- Potato Salad
- Herb Pie
- Greek Salad
- (Pastitsio) Macaroni Pie with minced meat
- Rice with Vegetables
- Baked Potatoes
- Roast Chicken
After Lunch we drove about ½ hour to the old town area where we only had 30 minutes to shop and look around. Given the choice, I would have spent less time at the museum and ate a box lunch in order to get more time exploring old town.
In the time we had, we couldn’t really explore more than a half block of one street. This part of town didn’t seem all that old, but there was probably more to see if we had more time.
We left Old Town at 4pm and were back on the pier at 4:15.
While walking back to the terminal from our bus, we encountered people selling Iphone 6’s – no telling where they came from or whether they would actually work. We were back on the ship at 4:30 and only had a few minutes to freshen up before our we were required to attend the muster drill which is a monthly requirement on longer cruises.
During the sail away we were able to see some of the tents that were being used by Syrian refugees. These tents were set up near the old cruise terminal and could be seen pretty easily from the open decks.
For Dinner I had the Yellowfin Sole filet with Lobster Dumplings while Judy enjoyed the Herb rolled pork loins. Both of these items were very good.
Rita Rudner, was on the main stage tonight. She has the longest running comedy show in Las Vegas selling over 15 million tickets over her 15 year run (and counting).This entry was posted in Uncategorized