Europe Trip 2008 Day #17: Spending the Day in Athens, Greece

There are some stops like Cyprus where I had no expectations going into it what to expect, I just went and waited for whatever came along with it. Today was Athens, Greece and since they held the Olympics there in 2004 I have always wanted to visit the city. I had seen so many great photographs, and coverage from NBC during the time that it really made me want to go, so me prerequisite for the cruise was to visit Athens, and once again this cruise fulfilled that requirement. This morning we disembarked at around 8:00 AM and made our way on a very short 4 hour sightseeing tour and a tour of the acropolis.

Before going on this tour we had originally planned on figuring out Athens on our own, and we all agreed after this was over that would have been the more cost efficient way of doing things. The fact is however that you really never know what to expect from each port until your actually there, so we went with the safe route and booked a small tour. The tour guide reminded me of the man on the Motel 6 commercials, completely uninspired and uninterested in what she was talking about. When we left port we realized within a minute or two that her English was so-so and as I said her interest level was pretty low so we gave up on her relatively quickly.

Europe Trip 2008: Athens Greece Day 17

At the Acropolis

Europe Trip 2008: Athens Greece Day 17

At the Acropolis

I for one am very impatient on tours, and my now soon to be wife feels the same way. When we made it to our first stop the acropolis, we gathered our stuff and ditched the tour and went to the acropolis and toured it on our own. I have to say that this really made the trip for me, I always love seeing things with Jenn on our own, and for at least the hour we were at the acropolis we got to enjoy each others company and enjoy the beautiful architecture and view from the acropolis. The acropolis is perched up on a hill that from what I could tell seems like the center of Athens and thus gives off one of the best panoramic views I have ever seen. Athens is really a gorgeous city, it reminds me a lot of Rome in that it has a ton of the sidewalk cafe’s and everyone seems extremely friendly. The city was also a nice change from Egypt as it looked extremely clean and the kind of place that you would feel safe walking around at night in.

The only thing I have left out from our experience at the acropolis is the weather which was by far the hottest today then we have experienced at any other stop on this trip.They gave us water before we left out on our trek to the acropolis, but Jenn and I went through those like they were nothing, it was truly one of those times where you just feel like your melting.

Overlooking the City of Athens

Europe Trip 2008: Athens,Greece Day 17

Some of the Best Views in the City

When we finally did leave the acropolis we made our way to a gift store which was an obvious Royal Caribbean designated stop. We were told that we would be receiving 20% off our purchases of 5 euro or more, so as we were checking out buying just a small item from the store, there was a husband and wife in front of us buying like 4 or 5 small magnets that cost 4 euro per item. Well the tour guide made it sound like if you bought more then 5 euros at the store you got the 20% off, well it was on a per item basis so the customer got no discount, and boy did this man lose it. He just flipped out on this older gentleman working behind the counter, saying what a scam this was, and using a variety of four letter words that I will leave out of this entry, but you get the picture. Well the arguing ensued and it wasn’t until a few minutes later is wife started yelling at her husband telling him to calm down. From what I understand the gentleman left the store, yelled at the tour guide for taking us to this obvious tourist trap, and went back into the store and yelled some more. He would have saved 4 Euros with the discount, I know things are tight and the economy isn’t the strongest its ever been but if your going to flip out over 4 Euros then maybe you shouldn’t be buying the stuff anyways.

Whatever the case, that didn’t put a rain on our parade because the next and final stop of this short tour was to the original olympic stadium used in the 1896 Olympics and used a little bit in the 2004 Olympic games. This was such a great stop, the stadium is still in fantastic shape. We only spent ten minutes or so at the stop but I know I was gleaming from ear to ear, I really enjoy sports, and great sporting events like the Olympics are great for the world so seeing where the revival of the games began was a real treat. What was even better about this stop is that I didn’t even know we were going to stop here originally so it made the stop even more of a pleasant surprise.

Europe Trip 2008: Athens,Greece Day 17

At the original Olympic Stadium

We had the option to get off the tour in the city center and shop, or take the bus back and so we all decided to head back. We had lunch when we got back at the Windjammer Cafe (or the buffet) and realized why we don’t usually eat there. Jenn and I both aren’t huge fans of food sitting out in the open like you have in buffets and unfortunately the food wasn’t all that red hot either. We went down afterwards and got Jenn and cranberry juice and I decided with a lot of the day still remaining to order a drink, and went with a Rum and Coke which was fantastic, I think it may be my new favorite drink. Jenn and I sat in the room with our drinks talked about how great the trip was and Jenn took a nice long nap.

I am so glad we didn’t do an all day tour today, I am really all toured out. We still have a full day in Naples where we go to Pompeii, Capri, and Cerento which should be nice but after a while the tours really begin to wear on you, and today’s although the guide was far to bland the tour of Athens was actually really nice. It was the first place for me that I really want to go back to and spend time in. I know Jenn would love to go back to Mykonos and relax by the beach but Athens has a lot we didn’t get to see today and I would love to go and spend more time enjoying the city. Whatever the case we are a bit drained from the tours so being able to relax a bit today was a really nice touch.

We went for Bingo again today, I am not a huge fan, but Jenn and her parents are, so we have been going almost daily for the second half of the cruise. We haven’t won yet all cruise, it has been a bit cold in terms of our luck, but it has been pretty entertaining going to play. Dinner was the next stop on the agenda, tonight I had a Shrimp Cocktail, Steak Diane and Jenn had Split Pea Soup, Steak Diane and her always constant vanilla ice cream. The steak was really good, and the shrimp cocktail is always a sure fire winner.

We of course went to tonight’s show which was our last chance to watch our favorite Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers who actually stepped up there performance tonight with a show called Swing Town. The dancing was far better in this show, and the singing still was on par with the second round of American Idol at best.

The day ended up being a really nice and relaxing day, I would have liked to have seen more of Athens but maybe another time, for now I have to say it was probably the nicest city I saw on the cruise, but Mykonos is the nicest on the eyes. Tomorrow is our final at sea day, it is our final formal night as well. I cannot believe how quickly this trip has gone, but I suppose we say that for every trip. After tomorrow we are off to Naples and then its off to the treacherous flight from Rome to London and London to Los Angeles. Let’s not think about that yet, there are still two fantastic days yet to come, and I will be enjoying every last second of it.