I will be quick with our Day 3, Day at Sea. We knew Friday night we could have fun, stay up late and check out everything the ship has to offer. Soooo we did! Joey and I participated in the “Marriage Game” and entertained the ships audiences. We proceeded to close the bar/club down at the Sky Observation Lounge. I definitely was told to get off the couch, but Beyonce was playing…so I had to dance!
We slept late Saturday, ate a leisurely breakfast in the dining room, roamed the ship, spent some time at the pool, checked out the Glass Show and generally just relaxed. We knew we needed to save our energy to enjoy Athens the next day.
We arrived in the Port of Piraeus around 6am. Our tour didn’t start until 8am, so we had plenty of time to enjoy our breakfast. We also grabbed our signature caramel macchiatos at Cafe Al Bacio on deck 4. When you dock in Athens you are shuttled by bus to the terminals (either A or B) for cruises. We took the bus to A to meet up with our tour group from Cruise Critic. We were a group of 12, so we had a larger shuttle bus. Our tour was through Private Greece Tours and Nikos was our driver.
Our first stop was The Acropolis so we could beat the crowds. We purchased the 30 euro multipass so we wouldn’t worry about getting tickets at each site. It includes the following:
North & South Slope of the Acropolis
There wasn’t a line for tickets when we arrived at the Acropolis entrance, we were able to get through extremely quick. Our one regret from this tour is that we didn’t have a guide to show us exactly what we were looking at. There are feral cats all over the ruins. Nicole and I spent our time snapping many photos of the cats in various places around the ruins, we joked about creating a Cats of Greece calendar, or Cats & Ruins. It was kind of a joke, but I think we are going to make it happen.
Let me tell you about the crowds at the ruins, they are MASSIVE! We started our journey with barely anyone there, and by the time we walked down it was crowded and uncomfortable, the line for tickets was extremely long as well, so thankfully we arrived earlier.
We left the Acropolis and our tour guide informed us that due to it being Sunday, there was a much larger changing of the guards to be seen. Since this was more of a special event than what was typical, our group decided to check it out. The four of us that were on the cruise together had concerns. We were told to stay away from The Parliment building by Celebrity in a flyer just the day before. Celebrity cautioned that there would be protests around Parliment and it could be dangerous. We were not exactly thrilled about going, but since we were the minority, we didn’t have a choice. We stood in the back of the crowd and laughed at the many people holding up iPads and various other tablets to snap photos. Travel Tip :DON’T USE TABLETS FOR PHOTOS, IT IS SUPER RUDE! I made sure to photograph the offenders…we found it hilarious!
While the soldiers were marching, everyone was to the sides of the street. Apparently, we missed some type of signal, but when the marching ended and the changing was about to take place, a HUGE crowd of people began running towards Parliment. We didn’t know what happened, but we ran the opposite direction. We decided we would much rather sit on the bus.Once the rest of the group returned we continued on our journey.
We passed The National Garden, you could see many Jacaranda trees blooming, they were absolutely beautiful. I would have loved to walk the grounds, but the group wanted to see more ruins.
We made a stop at the Temple of Zeus. We all had to go to the restroom and we are SOOO happy we did. See…I love cats, especially kittens, and there was a box of kittens by the restrooms! I mean…something interesting about The Temple of Zeus.
Obviously, we have kittens and cats in the states, but what a nice treat! We left the Temple of Zeus and drove briefly to the Panathenaic Stadium. It is completely marbled and very well preserved. I believe the guide stated that the stadium went through a renovation for the 2004 Olympics.
We drove past the National Library of Greece, The University of Athens and finally stopped for lunch in the area surrounding Ancient Agora, I believe it is called Monastiraki. There were several flea markets and restaurants serving all sorts of food. We decided to grab some Gyros. We walked over to the entrance of the Ancient Agora site and wandered through the Stoa of Attalos, I was asked not to touch the statues. LOL. One thing I will point out is the view of the Acropolis from Ancient Agora is really interesting! The pictures never do it any justice, but it is truly beautiful.
We again met up with our tour group and journeyed to our last stop of the day. The Acropolis Museum. This is where you can see all of the interesting things that were found at the site. The floors are see through, and when you walk in you are actually walking over more ruins. So make sure to look down. They kept the glass floor theme throughout the museum, so make sure not to look up when you walk through because you may be an accidental pervert….There is also FREE WIFI in the cafe section of the museum.
We made our way back to the ship after the museum. We were pretty tired from running around Athens so we were happy to grab a drink and watch the Sunset from the appropriately named Sunset Bar onboard.
We grabbed dinner and enjoyed that evening’s entertainment.
Day 5. Athens AGAIN
I will go ahead and ruin the SURPRISE. We went out in Athens for about 2 hours and returned back to the ship. Do you ever get anxiety for absolutely NO REASON? It sometimes happens to me, and sometimes I get this crazy feeling in my gut and I don’t know what to do other than listen to it. OVER and OVER again something was telling me not to go out. I fought against that feeling and soon we were on our way through Athens. This time, we decided to go out of Port B. Actually a lot closer, but it was only open due to the new Carnival Vista being in port. We joked about trying to get Vista to give us a tour of their ship. Who doesn’t love New Ship smell? Anyways, we continued past Carnival and out their port. Our original plan was to jump on the Hop on-Hop Off bus. However, a taxi saw us walking out and asked us if we wanted a tour of the city. (Looking back, this may be what triggered my anxiety) Anyways, we all agreed to a flat fare to be driven around to a few spots we missed ( National Archeological Museum, Lyccabetus, Plaka, National Garden, etc) Our first stop was the National Archeological Museum. If you are interested in ancient jewelry, accessories, pottery, burial shrouds etc…this is the place for you. I LOVE the small things, I could look at all of the tiny treasures found in archeological digs ALL DAY. This was much more interesting of a museum than the Acropolis Museum (no offense). If you are debating which museums to see, definitely make sure this one takes the cake. Anyways there we were, wandering casually through the museum when out of nowhere a wave of panic took over. I don’t know what stirred it (maybe the burial shrouds?) I just started feeling queasy and my heart was pounding and all I wanted to do was get back on the ship. Anxiety attacks are crippling, I wouldn’t wish this nonsense on anyone. So instead of continuing our journey through the museum, I went to the cafe, tried drinking water and getting my heart to stop racing. I thought maybe it was mild dehydration. Anyways our wonderful friends Nicole and Geoff were super supportive of me basically ruining the day. LOL. I offered to take a cab back to the ship solo (everyone immediately nixed this) So when our cab driver returned we let him know we would actually prefer to go back to the Port. It was about midday, and much to our surprise it seemed many of the passengers had decided to stay aboard. I went back to the room and slept for a few hours (my go-to remedy for anxiety) and then when I woke up. I felt normal, and we were able to enjoy the rest of the day.
We set sail early (on account of most of the passengers already onboard for the day) and I enjoyed watching Athens dissappear in the distance.