Mediterranean Cruise 2012






Links to Port Pages



Monte Carlo

Livorno (Florence)

Civitavecchia (Rome)




Day at Sea 1

Piraeus (Athens)

Day at Sea 2



Athens, GREECE by way of the Port of Pireaus

Saturday, 24 March

What a glorious morning when we arrived in Piraeus, Greece. The temperature forecast was 66 degrees and it was perfect!

Off the ship bright and early we met our guide Anna Benaki. She was waiting outside the terminal with a large mini bus and driver for our day long excursion. She told us we might have asked someone else to join, so she wanted to be prepared! Same cost - no problem. The four of us instantly knew she was the right guide for us!

Anna planned the day starting at the Acropolis when we are all rested and before the heat rises. While it was in the 60's it was warm on top of the hill.

Our favorite photos from the Acropolis

Parthenon from the east side
Up close view of the columns
Erechtheum and Carytids (Porch of the Maidens)
Carey with the Propolyea in the background
Randy - west side of the Parthenon
Carey - east side of Parthenon
The Klugs - at the Parthenon!


From the Acropolis Hill we headed down and walked the old road to the Agora which sits at the base of the Acropolis to the northwest. We could see the Agora and one of the few buildings that is mostly intact - the Temple of Hephaestus - from the hill.

Walking along the road and down the hill we had the sense of the intense history of this ground. Amazing and slightly overwhelming at the same time. What is sad is that many of the structures, here for thousands of years, are marked with graffitti. We are here to see and appreciate the history and the people who lived here many years ago. The people of today's Greece treat their home the same as we see in large american cities with no sense of respect.

Stone detail
Paved Road
Road to the Agora from the Acropolis
Church of the Holy Apostles
Built ca 1000 AD on edge of the Agora
Repaired Stoa of Attalos
The porch of the Stoa
Details -Stoa of Attalos 159-138 B.C.
Two Greeks - probably nobles
Head of a Triton
Greek woman
Statues along the Panathenaic Way
Emperor Hadrian M.X. 117-138 AD
Anna explaing to us about Hadrian and the statue
View of Acropolis
View of the Acropolis from the Agora
Temple of Hephaestus
Temple of Hephaestus viewed from Panathenaic Way
Temple of Hephaestus
Hephaestus detail
Temple of Hephaestus columns
Temple of Hephaestus columns
Agora Sign
Athenian Agora plan
Stoa of Attalos

As we left the Agora we walked along the edge of the Plaka with Anna and then into the Roman Agora. The Roman Agora was built in the 2nd half of the 1st century B.C. with the aim of transferring the commerical center of the city from the Ancient Agora. Donors for the construction included Julius Caesar and Augustus!

Walking to Agora
Romand Agora
Walking along edge of Plaka from Ancient Agora to Roman Agora
Ancient building along the walk
Roman Agora
Gate of Athena Archegetis
Information sign
Roman Agora
Roman Agora
The Roman Agora
Looking down the agora to the Tower
Tower of the Winds
Tower of the Winds
Detail sign of the Tower

As we left the Roman Agora we headed into the Plaka with its shops, restaurants and homes. We took a break at an outdoor restaurant and enjoyed iced coffees and a little rest time. Anna lives near this area and enjoys meals at a local family restaurant on the Tripodon northeast of the Acropolis. She had set up a reservation at a "fancy" restaurant for us a little later but we all agreed we would rather come back to her restaurant!

Walking through the streets in the Plaka
Restaurant on a side street
Church of the Metamorphosis (Transfiguration) late 12th or 14th century
Restaurant along the way!
Amy, TJ, and Anna waiting for our Iced Coffees. Anna takes the time to mark up maps for us to show our travels for the day. A great memento and reference.

After a great break it was time to head to the bus and go to the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian's Arch. The temple is located to the southeast of the Acropolis on a large flat area of land. Numerous rulers worked the construction from as early as 6th century BC but it was Hadrian who finished it and inaugurated the temple in AD 131. The temple was one of the largest in the world. The Athenians constructed Hadrian's Arch in honor of his accomplishment.

Hadrian's Arch
Hadrian's Arch
Entering the Olympieion
Temple of Olympian Zeus
View of the Acropolis
Temple of Olympian Zeua
Temple - 16 columns remain of original 104!
Detail view
Signage from Ministry of Culture


From the temple we re-boarded our van and headed to the National Archaeological Museum. Along the way we saw the National Library and the Academy before arriving at the museum. The National Archaeological Museum was actually started in 1829. It's current location was constructed between 1866-1869 and is neo-classical in design. We were surprised when we went in to realize that this museum houses a permanent exhibit of Mycenaean antiquities including the Mask of Agamemnon. While we only spent about an hour and there are many treasures to explore, our visit was incredible. The plus - the museum allows photography without flash so we were able to capture some of our own memories of our visit. To see more about the museum go to their website here -

National Archaeological Museum

National Library
Carey and Amy in front of the National Archaeological Museum
Golden Mask of Agamemnon
Golden bracelets and adornments
Gold cups
Funerary statue
Parian Marble Funerary Statue
Signage for funerary
Bronze of Zeus or Poseidon ca 460 BC
Zeus/Poseiden Information
Close view
Closer view
Bronze sculpture of child on horse
Ox Head
Ox with Golden horns and ring
Bone helmet
Funerary Lykethos

After a very busy morning and early afternoon we were all ready for lunch. We headed back to the Plaka to Anna's favorite restaurant, Scholarhio on Tripodon. What a wonderful meal. The restaurant is a traditional family style place. For a price per person, they bring out all 18 Greek specialty dishes they have on a platter that would fit two tables. You get to select the dishes you want and the number depends on how many in your group. So for five of us we chose 12 dishes. The meal also included water, bread, ouzo, and house wine. We sat on the porch and could watch the people walking up and down the street. We enjoyed the meal so much that we forgot to take any pictures. I did copy a picture from the Scholarhio website and it is below with the restaurant card. If you ever go to Athens, make sure you go there for lunch or dinner. You won't be disappointed!

Scholarhio Card
Scholarhio - picture from Scholarhio photo gallery Restaurant link above
Card and location of Scholarhio

After lunch we walked up the hills in the Plaka to an area of white homes and winding paths. Anna told us this area was populated and built by Greek people who moved here from the Greek islands. They painted their homes white, like in the islands, and have wonderful views all around.

Plaka - "Island area"
View of the Acropolis
PLaka view
Looking out towards Lycabettus Hill

We walked back down the hill and through the Plaka headed toward the Parliament building. Anna wanted to take us to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guards. The next change was at 6 pm and we would be just in time. As we reached the Syntagma Square across from Parliament we could hear chants and song. Protesters were marching. We finally learned that they were from Egypt and the Egyptian Embassy is right across the street from Parliament. We don't know what they were protesting, but we must say the Athens police and forces dealt with it very well and kept them controlled, but able to have their say and protest.

To get to the Parliament from Syntagma Square you have to go through the metro underground and then back up on the other side of the street. In the metro station are areas that are "exhibits" where they found relics, graves, etc. during the excavations, and actually preserved some of them.

The Evzones, Presidential Guards, wear the uniforms reminescent from the time of their revolution in the 1800s. The step they use represents when they had to run up the hills to fight. It was really special to see how the Greeks honor their fallen and their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier similar to how we honor our fallen in Arlington Cemetary. Here is a short video made to put together the pictures we took at the tomb.

As the sun began to set we got back on our bus and headed to Lycabettus Hill. What beautiful views. There was an older couple there sitting on a bench together watching the sun set. All four of us smiled when we saw them holding hands so sweetly and lovingly.

Lycabettus Hill
Sunset from Lycabettus Hill
Randy on Lycabettus Hill
Acropolis from Lycabetus Hill
The couple watching the sunset - wonder how often they come up here.
Carey on Lycabettus Hill
Carey - up close with Acropolis in the distance

We then headed back down the hill and as we made our way to a restaurant for coffee and dessert and a view of the Acropolis at night, we drove to the Panathenaic Stadium. The Panathinaiko or Panathenaic Stadium, also known as the Kallimarmaro, i.e. the "beautifully marbled", is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Reconstructed from the remains of the ancient Greek stadium, the Panathinaiko is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble (from Mount Penteli) and one of the oldest stadiums in the world.

Panathenic Stadium
View of the Acropolis
Panoramic photo of the Panathenic Stadium


Only one more place to go - Dionysos by the Acropolis. What an incredible place. While we enjoyed the outside seating with direct views of the Acropolis from the southwest side of the hill, the food is probably tremendous also. We enjoyed dessert and wine as the capstone to our day while listening to music and seeing the lights on the Acropolis. The perfect end to an amazingly perfect day.

Dionysos View
Dionysos View
Views of the Acropolis lit up
Dionysos View
Dionysos View
Top of Acropolis Hill
Lighting change
Dionysos View
Dionysos View
Different lighting view
Dionysos by the Acropolis


All that we had planned and hoped for, was brilliantly executed by Anna. She is a real treasure and so willing to be flexible and make the tour unique and to your taste. We didn't want fancy restaurants, so we ate at her local favorite. We didn't want to rush in certain places, so she took her time. She showed us places we would never have seen (the homes where the Greek islanders live), and places everyone sees. If you are planning a trip to Greece, especially Athens, contact Anna to be your guide. She also travels the entire country and is licensed. You won't be disappointed!!!

Annas card

Anna and our bus returned us to our ship about 9:30 pm. More than 12 hours on the go! What an adventure and what fantastic memories.

So, back on ship we all took a quick jump in the hot tub and hit the bed for a good night's sleep. The next day is a day at sea and time to start packing as we disembark in Istanbul, our next port.



Postings before the Trip:

We are scheduled to arrive at the port in Pireaus, Greece to go to Athens Saturday morning 24 March 2012 at 8:00 am. This is the revised schedule and actually is better as we will not be in Athens on a Sunday. That may have limited what would be open for us to visit.


From Wikipedia - "Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica periphery and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent. Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece and it is rated as an Alpha world city.

The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1833, include the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics. Athens is home to the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum."


Update 22 January 2012: We were not enthused by the excursions offered through the ship. Since we do not sail until very late in the evening, and sunset will be around 6:30 pm, we all agree we want to stay in town and see the Acropolis lit at night. We are working up a private tour in Athens so we can see all that we want to see, and perhaps have dinner in view of the lighted Acropolis? Sounds like a plan!





Home Page About Us Cats Klug Photos Links Mediterranean Cruise 2012