View from our Stateroom | The Brilliance at Dock
Today the Brilliance docked in Piraeus, Greece. Piraeus is the port city for Athens, ancient and modern capital of Greece, and a beautiful city. We left the ship (joined by two friends from Chicago) early – 7 am – and used a Taxi to drop us at the Acropolis. Although we arrived before 8am, the gates and ticket office did not open until 8:30am so we had about 45 minutes to kill exploring. We climbed up a large rock which gave us uninterrupted views across Athens, which gave us our map for the rest of the day.
View from near the Acropolis | Odeum of Herodes Atticus
Once the ticket office opened, we ascended the Acropolis. As (by the time we entered) there were quite a number of additional tourists around, we made our way directly to the Parthenon at the very heart of the Acropolis. This proved to be a great plan, and we had the entire top section to ourselves for a good 15-20 minutes. Once other people started to arrive, we made our way down, checking out the sections we missed on the way.
Parthenon | Odeum of Herodes Atticus (close up)
Highlights included an Odeum of Herodes Atticus, the Propylaia and the Theatre of Dionysos . We exited the Acropolis via the north eastern exit and made our way to Hadrian’s Arch and additional remains behind it. Our ticket from the Acropolis gave us admission to all the additional sites. Once we had viewed the remains (including one exceptional fallen column) we walked to the main stadium of the 1896 (first modern) Olympics which is believed to have been built on the remains of the ancient venue of the Greek Olympics.
Original Olympic Stadium | Baklava at Erato, Plaka
Continuing on, we made our way into the Plaka district where we threaded the small and neat streets before locating a Greek restaurant for lunch. What a lunch it was – the finest Greek food I’ve had the pleasure to dine on – without a doubt one of the highlights of the cruise thus far. All four of us were in agreement, it was simply sublime. Many thanks to the proprietor Nicolas who really put together an outstanding selection of food for us.
After lunch we continued walking to the Greek Agora which contained numerous ruins of columns (formerly Hadrian’s Library) and a large tower, mostly still intact, as well as a well preserved mosque. We continued over to the Ancient Agora which was further along as we traced our route around the side of the Acropolis. Inside we found various ruins and one restored (and impressive) building. Towards the centre of the area still stands the temple of Theseion which remains largely intact and in a grand location, overlooking the rest of the Agora.
Temple of Theseion | Rob, Toni and the Acropolis
Afterwards, we found our way back to the subway and took a metro train back to Piraeus. We discovered a number of Greek Orthodox churches decorating the roads running around the harbour, and walked the distance back to the dock and boarded the Brilliance.
All-in-all we loved our time in Athens, it is a wonderful city with an amazing collection of antiquities, friendly people and great food. We will return some day.
Tomorrow we are bound for Rhodes, Greece – which used to be home to the famed Colossus of Rhodes!