John & Connie Europe 2013 travel blog

Ampha Theater

Acroplis Ruins

John & Connie

More Ruins

We arrived in the Greek port of Piraeus, the main docking area for the cruise ships. Piraeus is the adjoining to Athens, Greece. Together, the two cities have a combined population of over 5 million people.

After breakfast we met in the Liquid Lounge to await departure for our shore excursion. The excursion we had chosen for this port was called Acropolis and Plaka. We soon realized that it was going to be a busy and crowded day ashore as we were told that there were 10 other cruise ships in port that day. You do the math 11 x 3,000 passengers each, all going on excursions.

On each shore excursion we are given a number. That number coincides with the bus number and a tour guide that accompanies each bus. John labelled this tour “My Big Fat Greek Tour”. You will know why as you read further. There was some confusion and a delay at the start of the tour while we waited for three passengers to show up who never did appear. This wait made us the last bus to leave the parking lot. As we drove through the streets of Athens it became apparent that the trip would take a while as traffic was extremely congested.

Our tour guide was a Greek lady with a heavy accent and as we neared our first destination she asked if we would need a toilet break. This was not a pleasant experience, especially for the females in the group as there was no toilet paper to be found and no toilet seats either. It was a “hovering” experience. Our arrival at The Acropolis was a scene of mass confusion of tour buses and people. The Acropolis was the center of the ancient Greek civilization and is located on top of a high hill. A steep and slippery marble pathway leads to the ancient ruins built around 500 BC. The Acropolis and its pathways were very congested with the tourists from the 11 different cruise ships in port that day. The temperature quickly reached 35 Celsius. Using the radio headsets provided for each of us, our tour guide did her best to explain the three ages of architecture (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian) found in the area. John and Doug had a difficult time following the guide as she spoke. The numbers of people, the heat and the difficulty of the pathways made for a very tiring experience. After the Acropolis our tour stopped at the stadium where the Opening Ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics Games held in Greece took place. The bus drive to the Plaka (market) continued to be challenging because of traffic congestion, the narrowness of the streets, and the number of cabs and small motorcycles on the roads. Our time to shop at the Plaka was very limited – just long enough to have a quick look around and then find our way back to the bus, not enough time to help the Greek economy by spending some of our tourist dollars.

Our experience in Athens was disappointing – the country’s debt crisis is obvious everywhere with the high number of businesses that are closed, the destitution of the abandoned buildings, and the amount of graffiti spray painted everywhere. While the tour buses are very modern and comfortable, we were glad we had only booked a 5 hour tour for Athens so that we were able to return to the ship in time for lunch and to use a proper toilet.

The ship set sail for our next port at 5:00 pm and we were able to view the many ships still in harbour as we left. Because he had felt a cold coming on that morning John retired early this evening. Judy, Doug & Connie took in and watched the Comedy Magic of Danny Buckler in the show lounge and then joined the Sing-a-long with Seth in the Piano Bar.

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