This is a blog about our holiday to Europe in 2014. We started off our travels in Venice, where we began a cruise of the Adriatic and Aegean seas, ending in Rome. We then travelled from Rome to the Netherlands by rail, stopping in various places along the way. We are: Me - Gill, my husband - Grant, my daughter - Paula; my father - Neil and his partner - Astrid. We are South Africans, from the lovely province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Our friends Lisa and Trevor joined us from the UK for the cruise portion of our holiday.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Athens Greece

We docked in the port of Piraeus at about 6am.  As we had an early meet-up time of 8:00 we decided to order room service for breakfast, we've done this a few times and it's so convenient.  You hang your order on the door the night before and about 10 minutes before your breakfast arrives at your stateroom you get a phone call to tell you it's on its way - an alarm clock and breakfast all in one!

Today we had a full day private tour of Athens with Private Greece Tours, our driver's name was Tarsus and he was fantastic.  

The drive from Piraeus into Athens took about 20 minutes.  Our first stop in Athens was the Temple of Zeus.  It was very quiet there, so we had a pleasant wander around.  

We make a point of trying not to look like tourists at the various sights, as can be seen from the photo below...... 

^^^ Paula and I popped into the loo and found this sign... it was really strange for us South Africans to comply with... felt SO weird tossing instead of flushing!

Our next stop was the Acropolis.  We had hoped to beat the tour buses, but no such luck! (perhaps because Paula and I spent so long perfecting our untouristy photograph above...)
The acropolis was literally crawling with tourists and we swelled their number by a further 5!  We braved the throngs and climbed up and had a good look around.   

To be honest the Acropolis was rather a disaster for us - firstly, I had painstakingly written up a self-guided walking tour of the Acropolis for us to do, it took me many, many  hours to produce this document.. gathering info from various sources, making it user-friendly for us...., and it got left on the ship!  So we arrived completely unprepared and my mood when this fact came to light deteriorated rather rapidly.... flaming wild comes to mind.   Then, as mentioned before, the entire place was but crawling with people, and cherry on top, there were parts of it covered in scaffolding.  So, it wasn't our greatest success story, but we made the best of it!

Afterwards we wandered down a fairly deserted path and found a geocache in a lovely quiet glade just below the acropolis.   Tarsus gave us a walkie-talkie to contact him with, which was such a brilliant idea - a few minutes before we were ready to be collected we simply buzzed him on the walkie-talkie and we'd then arrive at the pick up point and he'd be waiting.

We made a quick stop at the site of the first modern olympics, which was great to see.

Tarsus then took us up to this amazing viewing point, with stunning views of Athens.

Back in the car and off to the delightful Plaka area.  Shopping, beer and free wi-fi... fantastic!

So many shops, so few Euros.....

In our continuing efforts to not appear touristy.... Astrid bought a CD of traditional Greek music in the Plaka area, so once back in the car we asked Tarsus to play it for us, entering into the spirit of things he cranked the volume right up!  The looks we got at a stop street.... you could just see people thinking "those are locals for sure!"  Yeah right!  
Tarsus then took us to a really nice restaurant for lunch.  We had a lovely meal.  Again we ordered a few dishes and shared them, which works so well for us.

After lunch we went to the changing of the guard.  It was fascinating to watch. 

Then it was time to head back to the ship.  We had supper at Oceanview and then went to the show.  After the show we took a walk up to the top deck to catch the sunset.  Amazing!

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