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The Holy Land Cruise

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Part 3 - Piraeus (Athens)

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Day 4 – Piraeus/Athens


Piraeus welcomed us with pleasant temperatures and beautiful sunshine. From the deck we could see the cruise terminal and next to the tour buses on the left we saw the HoHo buses waiting for customers

103 Piraeus Port

 

The warm, friendly light of the morning sun was shining on the Lawn Club and the outdoor space of the Ocean View, where we had had our breakfast again.

104 Celebrity Silhouette

105 Celebrity Silhouette

 

We left the ship at around 9.30 am to take one of the HoHo buses. I had looked up their schedule on the internet and had decided that this was a good time to start the day. Early enough to still have plenty of time in Athens, late enough to avoid the morning rush.

106 Celebrity Silhouette

 

At the terminal there were blue, yellow and red busses, which differed slightly in price. Before the trip I had checked the fares and routes of the red busses, which would take us to the Acropolis and continue through the city on another route. The price was some EUR 20 per person. Our plan was to first take the bus to the Acropolis, visit the ancient site and then take the tour through town.

The tour started by taking us past the Piraeus marina. During the tour we were given explanations via headphones on the historical evolution and importance of Piraeus and Athens as well as the modern sports facilities which we also passed on our way.

107 Piraeus

 

After an entertaining drive we reached our first destination, which everybody has probably already seen on photos and postcards – the Acropolis.

109 Acropolis

 

The term Acropolis simply means Upper Town or High Town and isn’t actually specific to Athens. Here, the Acropolis is actually made up of various temples, the most famous of which is surely the Parthenon. Forgive me if I keep using the familiar term Acropolis. The Parthenon as well as some other parts of the buildings were surrounded by scaffolding and partly concealed.

We bought our tickets at the entrance and, together with many other tourists, climbed the stairs towards the anncient temples.

112 Acropolis

 

From up here we also had a great view of the Agora and the Hephaisteion.

113 Agora

 

But first we explored the area up here.

114 Acropolis

115 Acropolis

 

The Erechtheum

116 Acropolis Erechtheion

 

The Caryatides

118 Acropolis Karyatiden

119 Acropolis

120 Acropolis

 

The Parthenon – the temple of Athena, the city’s goddess.

122 Acropolis Parthenon

 

It is probably the building which for many represents the term “Acropolis”.

123 Acropolis Parthenon

124 Acropolis Parthenon

125 Acropolis Parthenon

126 Acropolis

 

From the Acropolis we already got a good view of Athens and an idea of its size. On the right you can see the prominent building of the Greek Parliament.

127 Athen - Athens

 

Our bus ticket also included a walking tour, which we originally wanted to join. But in the meantime, after wandering the ruins on our own, we had changed our minds and didn’t feel like walking around in a pack.

So, passing more columns and ruins, we left the upper area of the Acropolis and walked downhill, past the Odeon Theater towards the city.

129 Acropolis

135 Acropolis

 

On our way towards the parliament building we walked along the National Gardens and decided to do make a little detour through the park.

138 Athen - Athens Park

140 Athen - Athens Park

 

The tranquility and coolness of the gardens were wonderfully refreshing. Birds were chirping and singing their songs. Fountains were splashing and ponds were home to many turtles in various sizes.

141 Athen - Athens Park

144 Athen - Athens Park

 

We left the park through a side exit behind the Parliament. We walked around it so we could see the famous guards (Evzones) with their pompom shoes in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

146 Athen Parlament - Athens Parliament

 

Moving in slow motion, the guards changed their position every few minutes. With the temperatures we had, we really didn’t envy them in their woolen socks and felt hats.

147 Athen Parlament - Athens Parliament

154 Athen Parlament - Athens Parliament

 

From afar we could hear the change of guards approach, who would replace and release those poor guys.

155 Athen Parlament - Athens Parliament

158 Athen Parlament - Athens Parliament

 

We continued on our way into town across the Syntagma Square in front of the parliament.

160 Athen Parlament - Athens Parliament

161 Athen - Athens

 

Through the modern shopping streets we made our way towards the old town.

164 Athen - Athens

168 Athen - Athens

169 Athen - Athens

 

Soon we reached Monastiraki, a “flea market district” in the old town of Athens. This area is also home to the Tsisdarakis Mosque and the ruins of the Hadrian’s Library.

170 Athen - Athens

172 Athen - Athens

173 Athen - Athens

 

Delicious looking fruit was sold across the square.

174 Athen - Athens

176 Athen - Athens

 

We turned into a side alley of the flea market with all sorts of curious shops. Leather goods, army clothes, old records – anything and everything was on offer here.

177 Athen - Athens Flea Market

178 Athen - Athens Flea Market

179 Athen - Athens

 

At the end of the alley we reached the site of the Agora and enjoyed the impressive sight of the Acropolis.

180 Athen - Athens Acropolis

181 Athen - Athens Agora Map

182 Athen - Athens Agora

183 Athen - Athens Agora

185 Athen - Athens Olive Tree

 

We crossed the area around the Agora and walked up the hill to return to the parking lot below the Acropolis, which was also the stop of the HoHo busses. Just before the parking lot was a large rock which offered another beautiful view of the Acropolis, the Agora and the city.

186 Athen - Athens Acropolis

187 Athen - Athens Agora

188 Athen - Athens Agora

189 Athen - Athens Flower

 

And so it was already time to hop on the bus and return to Piraeus. The timing was perfect. On our way to the ship the sky darkened, and as soon as we were back on board, it started pouring with rain. We stopped at Café al Bacio and had an Igloo – a kind of iced coffee with white chocolate – while a guitar duo next to the café entertained us by playing beautiful and relaxing music.

191 Celebrity Silhouette Guitar Players

 

We both enjoyed our day in Athens. But in retrospect we wouldn’t have needed to take the HoHo bus. We basically only used it to get to and from the Acropolis but walked the rest to discover the city itself. Other guests either took the train to town or an express bus, which also left from the port terminal and only cost a few Euros.

For dinner we returned to the BLU. For the first and only time on the entire cruise we had to wait a few minutes for a free table. So what … Waiting is easy when you can enjoy a drink at the Ensemble Lounge just around the corner.

192 Celebrity Silhouette Ensemble Lounge

195 Celebrity Silhouette Ensemble Lounge

 

Again, the food at BLU was excellent. The meals are served in a tranquil and cozy environment and are extremely well presented. And believe me, they don’t just look good … Here are a few examples:

196 Celebrity Silhouette Ensemble Blu

201 Celebrity Silhouette Ensemble Blu

 

For us, the BLU is the main reason to book Aqua class. All other perks are nice to have, but to us the BLU is the real asset of the cruise. The food in the dining room is without any doubt very good and the restaurant very attractive. But BLU is quieter and provides a more intimate atmosphere.

After dinner we returned to the Sky Lounge, which we had already come to like. They had a very good band performing later every evening, but we found it a little loud to end a day. So usually we’d have a drink or two and then went to listen to the sound of our pillows before others would rock the lounge.

202 Celebrity Silhouette Sky Lounge

203 Celebrity Silhouette Sky Lounge

204 Celebrity Silhouette Sky Lounge

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