Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

Piraeus Harbour

Christine at Dionysius Theatre

Herod Atticus' Odeon

Christine at the Parthenon

Herod's Arch and the Temple of Zeus

Statues in Acropolis Museum

Turtle in the National Gardens

Guards and Palace at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Changing of the Guard, Athens

Traffic Policeman in Piraeus

Ship turning in Piraeus Harbour

Leaving Piraeus Harbour


We woke to find ourselves amongst the most ferries I have ever seen in one place. Piraeus has a huge harbour filled mainly with ferries and, today, a few cruise ships. We had breakfast on the balcony watching the ferries coming and going. We left to walk to the metro station which we had been advised was a 20 minute walk. In fact it was nearer to 40 minutes. However, we found it and after that were quickly in Athens. We came out of the station following the directions and could see what we assumed to be the acropolis and headed for it through the Plaka, an area of old businesses and homes. We were soon lost in the warren of streets, mainly pedestrian only, and stopped an Australian couple if they could help us. We unfortunately took their advice and headed in the wrong direction. An American couple taking photos of Hadrian's Arch set us right. In fact, if we had kept on in our original direction, we would have come out right at one of the entrances to the Acropolis.

We wandered round the ruined theatres, then entered the Acropolis proper and saw the Parthenon and other buildings within the walls. We went round the museum with various artifacts unearthed from the site, then descended back the way we had come and stopped at a cafe for lunch before going through the National Gardens which were somewhat past their best at this time of year, but we were fortunate to see a turtle wandering around. We then headed for Constitution Square and the Old Royal Palace which is now the Parliament Building to watch the changing of the guard. The comical actions of the soldiers are taken very seriously. Christine said she was most disappointed in their shoes. They looked like duck shoes with pompoms!

We walked along a pedestrian street checking out the stores on the way and noticed one called "Fiona". We did not know our daughter had started a business, never mind expanded to Greece in our absence.

We got to the Metro and returned to Piraeus where we walked back to the ship, again browsing the stores on the way. Most seemed to deal in nautical items, with the major exception being cell phones and cell phone paraphernalia, replacement faces, chargers, etc. Another phenomenon we noticed was intersections with traffic lights were also controlled by traffic policemen. Seeing the manner in which cars are driven, this could be an improvement on the Paris situation also. Red lights mean very little and even crossing with the "green man" means taking your life in your hands.

A stop like this does not do justice to a place like Athens. We only scraped the surface of the surface. A month would not be long enough to see it all. We are glad we elected to spend a few days at our land destinations, and we know we could still go back to most of them and see things we missed, but at least we had time to become acquainted with the feel of the places.

We rested and read up on the next places we visit, then watched the ship leave port. I grew up beside the sea and watched ships come and go in the Clyde. I thought I had seen every maneuver possible, but tonight surpassed them all. The harbour is large, but has a narrow entrance. Our ship backed up, turned round with the bow only feet from the dock and the stern not much further from a ferry on the opposite dock, then sailed away. It was rather like turning your car in a back alley in one attempt. Ships certainly have side thrusters, which the Clyde steamers did not have, but nevertheless, I had great admiration for the pilot's skill tonight.

We got ready for dinner and, much to the amazement of our American table mates we are unscathed after our trip on the metro AND to Athens. In particular, the lady's fear of the unknown - perhaps also the known - is unbelievable. I think she had told everybody she met yesterday about these crazy Canadians!

After dinner we listened to the string trio for a while then headed for bed.

Tomorrow takes us to Katakolon, a stop for Olympia, but I think we have seen enough old rocks for a while and will have a quiet day.

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