April 9-10, 2012 – Piraeus (Athens) Greece
Piraeus is the port for Athens Greece – another place we have never visited before, but since Chandler & Jeff were here in late August & September on their honeymoon, we called upon them for some expert…
.. travel advice. Their advice was “stick to the old stuff”, which we pretty much did the first day. Piraeus is about 8 or 10 miles from Athens, and has been the port for Athens continually for 3500 years.
Leaving the ship, we got on the Hop On Hop Off bus which had a stop right in front of the ship. These type buses, when available, are absolutely the best way to get an overview of a city, and if the routes are set up right, with stops near important locations, they are a great way to see things in depth, also. They are also much, much, cheaper than the ship’s tours, and have the additional benefit of us setting our own timing for visits.
This bus as two routes – one through Piraeus and one through Athens with an interchange at the Acropolis. One ticket is good for both routes, and for two days. The guides here are very friendly and informative – not always the case in every port.
Our plan was to stay on the bus for a complete circuit (both routes) and then “hop off” at certain spots on the second time around. We made almost a complete circuit and then decided to get off at the Plaka, for some shopping and lunch. We found a restaurant and enjoyed lunch – Greek Salad and Mythos Beer – what else would you have in Athens!
After lunch, part of the group headed back to the bus and Sally & I walked to the bottom of the Theater of Dionysus. We soon discovered that we were at the base of the Acropolis (where all the old stuff is) and hiked to the top, bought a ticket and spent the next couple of hours on the Acropolis looking at the the Theater, the Parthenon, Mars Hill, and the other sites. Unplanned, but thoroughly enjoyable.
A close up of a section of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis
Adjacent to the Acropolis, a short walk away, is Arros Pagos (Mars Hill) where Paul debated the resurrection with Athenians.
When we hiked down Acropolis Hill, we linked up with our Hop On Bus and enjoyed the brief ride back to the ship. Our second day in Athens we decided to abandon the old stuff, interesting as it was, and look at present day Athens. Once again we caught our bus just outside the port and began our tour.
Along the way, we passed these Roman Bath ruins which were uncovered while the city was preparing for the Olympics a few years ago.
Another item from the Olympics is this most unusual basketball arena.
In contrast to the modern Olympic facilities, this ancient stadium seated 60,000 for races.
As we passed the legislative house, we happened to catch a portion of the changing of the guards.
As we continued on toward city center, we got a glimpse of one of the protests that Greece has been experiencing due to recent austerity efforts by the government.
We decided to hop off and check out the main market area of Athens.
After walking a mile or two down the market street, we rejoined the bus, for the trip back to the ship, and off to our next port.
This is the view of Piraeus as we pull out. We have noticed that all of the ferries, so common in Greece, appear to be idle, and we learned that they are idle because of a seamen ‘s strike, which we observed as we passed out of the port.