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bradpole

Viking Star Venice to Athens 5.7.2019

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Santorini Greece

(3 other ships in port; Pullmantur Horizon, MSC Sinfonia, and Norwegian Jade (which arrived at noon)).  

 

First things first, WOW was this port crowded.  There were only only two other ships in port when we were in Oia (NCL Jade hadn’t yet arrived) and it wasn’t yet high tourist season and the village was wall to wall people!  

 

Today we took the included tour, it was exactly what we wanted to do.  The included tour tendered us ashore to the ferry docks (not to the bottom the cable car), and then bused us to the village of Oia (home to the famous pictures everyone is familiar with).  Upon arriving in Oia she walked us to the town square and gave us directions on how to reach the famous picture spot and told everyone when and where to rejoin the bus. Before setting out we asked for cable car tickets and told the guide we’d most likely spend more time in Oia and would take a local bus or taxi into Thera to get to the tender back to the ship.  We then set out to take the famed photos of Santorini everyone is familiar with. This is when we realized just how crowded the village was. We were walking shoulder to shoulder up and down the streets and steps of the village. After getting the photos we wanted, abandoning plans to get more, we quickly made our way back to the meeting point so we could take our tour bus into Thera.  We couldn’t take the crowds! One thing of note, there is a public WC near the bus terminal is Oia, the price was 50Euro cents per person.

 

Once we arrived back in Thera the crowds were even worse, we didn’t even check the line for the cable car we found the top of the steps (Donkey trail) and began the walk down.  Honestly the walk down the steps wasn’t that bad. The steps are wide, maybe because it was still before noon but the path was not completely covered in dokey dung. We boarded a tender, enjoyed a leisurely lunch, and relaxed the rest of the afternoon onboard Viking Star.  If we are ever in Santorini again we’ll most likely stay onboard, the crowds are just too much! And once again we kept reminding ourselves, “This isn’t even high tourist season, and 1 large ship hadn’t even begun tendering yet!”

 

While I’m typing about Santorini, a little PSA:  Watch your belongings! On our bus the gentleman in front of me was pickpocketed and a lady had her camera stolen from her purse.  


 

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Athens Greece, overnight, and the final port.

(several ships in port with us today, as well as the next day)

Due to ferry traffic in the port of Pireas the ship docked a little late, approx 45 minutes if my memory is correct.  Once the ship was cleared we exited the terminal to find our driver for the day. Like I stated before I had pre booked with “George’s Taxi” taking the recommendation from a friend who used this company before as well as our travel agent who has referred many clients over the years to them.  Today’s tour was Temple of Poseidon at windswept Cape Sounio. Our drive Gianni was incredibly knowledgeable about Athens and Greek history and filled the time during the drive out to the temple with many stories and facts while he fought the dense traffic of Athens. We made a couple of quick stops for some photos as well including a photo at the hidden lake of Lake Vouliagmeni which is a volcanic hot spring.  Upon arrival at the temple he showed us where he’d pick us up and gave us some basic information about the site (ticket booth location, WC location, etc..). After paying our admission (credit card accepted) we made a full loop of the site admiring the view as well as the temple and the history there. Sadly once again the site was swarming with other tourists, it made the site actually unpleasant. After exiting the temple and rejoining Gianni we began the trip back to the port making one pit stop for lunch.  We stopped at a Taverna for lunch enjoying our first, of several to come, authentic Greek meals! After returning to the ship it was sadly time to begin packing.


 

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Athens day 2, disembarkation.  

Since we were independent guests for disembarkation our instructions told us we could leave the ship at our leisure anytime between 3am and 9:45am.  We left about 7:15, and were curbside with our luggage waiting for Gianni in less than 10 minutes. Literally the fastest disembarkations ever! It sure helps speed things up when there is no delay for customs and immigration as well as the spreading of the guests over many more hours than normal.  Today’s tour was “ancient Corinth” with a drop off at our hotel in the Plaka, the Electra Palace Athens. I’m a bit of a nerd so being able to see the Corinth canal in person was truly exciting! Now all I need to do is take a cruise through it! Upon arrival at the Corinth canal we get out of the van and walked over the old bridge giving us the opportunity to take some photos and to admire the engineering that went into its creation.  We then continued on arriving at the ruins of the ancient city Corinth. We had as much time as we wanted to explore the ruins and museum before rejoining the van. After the ruins Gianni took us to to the Acrocorinth up on the mountain outside of town. This is basically a walled castle built on top of a mountain. Just like in Kotor there was the option to climb the mountain for incredible views. I hadn’t planned to climb all the way up, but the further I climbed the better the views got and I eventually made it all the way up.  All I can say is WOW! Just an FYI, the worst part of the castle were the stone paths at the initial entrance, they were steep and slippery. If you have a fear of heights don’t attempt to climb all the way up the mountain. There are a couple of spots where the trail gets really narrow and there is no wall or railing between you and the cliff!


 

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After making our way back down the path to the van we began the drive into Athens and Gianni dropped us off at our hotel with our luggage.  As we were making our way through the Plaka district towards our hotel I was given yet another confirmation that our decision to not rent a car in Athens was a good one!  Some of the streets he was driving down I would barely considering them bike lanes, let alone a street for a car! Thankfully our room was ready and we were able to deposit our luggage and then head out and being our exploration of Athens. We had no real plan for today other than simply explore the area around our hotel.  Our first stop was to explore the small neighborhood named Anafiotika Plaka, which reminded us a lot of Santorini, and then a quick visit to the Roman Forum. Afer a wonderful Greek dinner it was time for bed for some much needed rest!

 

Overall we were very pleased with our Hotel, Electra Palace Athens, it offered a great location, decent sized room, rooftop pool with view of the Acropolis, and an excellent breakfast with American, British, and Greek offerings.  

 

Friday in Athens was our “big day.”  After breakfast we made our way to the side gate for the Acropolis and were numbers 2 and 3 through the gate when the opened at 8am (well a little after 8… or “8 am Greek time”).  Knowing how crowded things were going to get we immediately made our way up the mountain to the main attractions. Then slowly made our way back down taking time to explore the other ruins on the sides.  

 

Our next stop was that Acropolis Museum, well worth a quick visit.  I especially liked how they built the museum around uncovered ruins and have glass floor panels so you can see what was once there.  

After the museum we climbed the hill to view Monument of Philopappos and see the excellent view of the Acropolis and surrounding Athens.  From up here we could also just make out Viking Star docked in the distance. We then slowly made our way over to the The Pnyx in the same park taking in yet another great view of the Acropolis.  Our next stop was the Ancient Agora, well worth a visit! After a quick lunch we then made our way over to Hadrian's Arch.


 

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Bradpole,

Thanks for your review, ideas and insight.  I found it interesting and valuable and your pictures are fabulous.

Can't wait for our trip starting on June 18th.

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Bradpole - thank you so much for your detailed review and wonderful photos!  We are sailing on this same itinerary in September.  Did you attend any of the port talks or lectures?  Who were the resident historians?

 

 

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2 hours ago, BrendaEDH said:

Bradpole - thank you so much for your detailed review and wonderful photos!  We are sailing on this same itinerary in September.  Did you attend any of the port talks or lectures?  Who were the resident historians?

 

Sadly we did not, we saw them listed on the daily schedule but never had the opportunity to attend them.  On our cruise the Viking Resident Historian was Ms. Erin Barr, and the two guest lecturers were Dr. Patricia Andrew and Dr. Dan Jones

 

6 hours ago, worldtraveler1234 said:

We are on the reverse Athens to Venice 9/19. We usually try to find local markets. Did you see any ?

We normally local markets as well, it can be interesting to see local residents going about their daily shopping as well as seeing the variety of [hopefully] local products that are available.  I'm drawing a blank on markets for most of the cities.  We do remember stumbling upon a floating produce market in Venice.  We did pop into several of the local grocery store chains when we had the opportunity. Anyone interested in some American mustard priced ridiculously high?  😁IMG_9882.thumb.jpg.e4dd3e4ccf394e4e5114c202304c1d8a.jpg

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Hi Bradpole, Really enjoyed your review and your constructive comments, you clearly have a photographic talent. Particularly enjoyed your Venice  comments/photos. My wife and I have visited Venice on two occasions on Cunard Cruises which gave us a wonderful flavour of Venice. We are intending to make a separate trip and stay for a few days. Would really appreciate if you can advise the name of the Hotel you stayed in.    

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Coaster 19 said:

Hi Bradpole, Really enjoyed your review and your constructive comments, you clearly have a photographic talent. Particularly enjoyed your Venice  comments/photos. My wife and I have visited Venice on two occasions on Cunard Cruises which gave us a wonderful flavour of Venice. We are intending to make a separate trip and stay for a few days. Would really appreciate if you can advise the name of the Hotel you stayed in.    

 

This is the hotel was used:

https://www.hotelcazose.com/en/

Enjoy your trip!

 

Edited by bradpole
typo

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