An 11-inch holly blog with a phoenix feather core
by Rebecca on 2008-12-04
Happy Anniversary to William and Rebecca! Today was the first of our blockbuster ports, Athens! We were up fairly early because we were meeting Tony and Amy to take the subway into Athens. They had asked if they could come into town with us, so Iʼm glad that we conveyed an air of knowing what we were doing.
The cruise staff had warned the passengers that Athens would be in a state of anarchy due to a student demonstration taking place in Syntagma Square that day. No one actually used the word anarchy, but they seemed to think that we could all be in great danger if we ventured out on our own. Some shore excursions were even canceled due to the demonstration. But we figured that we would just try to avoid that area and get there early in the morning. And we were just fine all day long. No signs of trouble anywhere. We even talked to someone who had booked their shore excursion through Celebrity, and they were annoyed that they had paid so much just to take a bus into town, when there clearly were no signs of trouble anywhere. We paid the equivalent of $3.60 for our transportation for the whole day, which was pretty nice.
We rode the metro into town chatting with Tony and Amy the entire way. They are such friendly people, and they said that they liked hanging out with us because it was like hanging out with their kids. Our first stop was at the Acropolis, so we hiked up there and took a good look all around. It was fairly crowded for so early in the day, mostly because both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean had docked there and sent hordes of people on shore excursions to the Acropolis. We still managed to get some nice pictures of the Parthenon and the Erechtheion. Rebecca even gave a little bit of a tour about the history of the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Next, we hiked down to look at the Theater of Dionysus at the base of the Acropolis. From there we walked over to the remains of the massive Temple of Olympian Zeus. That thing must have been a sight to behold back in its glory days.
At that point, we split up with Tony and Amy and headed into the Plaka on our own. We both had to go to the bathroom, and it is a nearly universal truth that museums in Europe will have generally clean bathrooms with toilet seats. And we had just stumbled upon the soon-to-be opened Acropolis Museum, which has no actual exhibits but is already open to the public. So, we freshened up in there, got a drink of water, and headed out back. Our next stop was a café in the Plaka for lunch. We each ate gyros, French fries, and Fanta. The gyros were so so, but the Fanta was excellent, as always. We also hiked part of the way back up to the Acropolis to see Mars Hill of Acts 17 fame. Mars Hill has actual steps now (probably built for the Olympics in 2004), so no more slipping and sliding across the ultra-polished marble to get to the top. And it has a great view of Athens so we took a break up there. We decided to take the back way down and almost walked off of a cliff. But after a few scrapes and stumbles and a sighting of a man peeing in the bushes, we made it down and found ourselves in a very pretty part of Athens. We spent more time exploring ruins there: the Roman Agora, the Theseion, and the Ancient Agora. And thatʼs where we finished up our day in Athens.
We had seen clouds in downtown Athens but no rain, so we were surprised to find ourselves back in the Piraeus in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. The metro stop in Piraeus is a 30-minute walk from the ship, so we walked the entire way back in a downpour, stepping in puddles, trying to avoid big splashes from cars driving by, and being generally miserable. Our shoes and pants were completely waterlogged by the time we made it back. We were pretty darn pitiful.
After we had gotten out of our soaked clothes into something dry, it was time for us to go down to the theater for the eveningʼs performance. The performer played several classical pieces and talked about the history of each piece. He was a very engaging performer, and we really enjoyed hearing him. And then it was time for dinner.
Before the cruise, I had ordered some snacks and chocolates for William for our anniversary. When we got back from Athens, we found the snacks, but no chocolates. So, I asked our stateroom attendant about the chocolates and she checked with someone more important who told her that they would be delivered at dinner. But then at dinner time, several waiters and the maître dʼ came out with a giant chocolate cake that said “Happy Anniversary.” What? Where did the cake come from? And then they sang “Happy Anniversary to You” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” It came out kind of like “Happy ʼversʼry to you. Happy ʼversʼry to you” and so forth. So, thatʼs the story of how we got the giant chocolate cake (instead of the chocolates that I had ordered).
Then we had to get the cake back to our room. Youʼd think that the wait staff wouldʼve dealt with a situation like ours before, when we had a giant cake and a very small fridge to keep it in. Our waiter tried to convince us to take it back to our room and even gave us a tray for it. But no plastic wrap or anything to keep it fresh. The maître dʼ came over and said that he would have someone send it up. So, we went back to our room and waited for someone to bring us the cake. And they did, by putting the first tray on a second tray and still without plastic wrap. Then we enlisted the help of our stateroom attendants who agreed to clean out our mini bar, cut the cake into smaller servings, leave us one serving, and keep the rest of the cake in their fridge. The whole spectacle was quite amusing, since no one seemed quite sure what to do with people who had a giant cake.
And thatʼs our first anniversary. What a day!