Categotry Archives: Cruise 2010

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Day 6: Athens, we love you

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Categories: Cruise 2010, Greece

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ancient Agora

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.

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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!

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Day 5: At Sea

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Categories: Cruise 2010

We had a nice thanksgiving dinner with friends at the previous night at Chopps Grille (a specialty restaurant).  We had a really excellent Filet Mignon which was very welcome at our table.  Later in the evening we went up to the top deck to watch the Brilliance pass through the Messina strait on our way to Greece.

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Passing the Messina Strait

Today we are at sea, and making use of our time to exercise, learn (I am presently listening to a presentation on Athens) and relax.  Tonight we are eating at Portofino (another specialty restaurant) which will involve food and wine pairing.  I’m going to add a few new photos for you here – a random mix.

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Pacifica Theatre | Presentation on Athens

 

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Fortress on a hill in Palermo? | Looking Forward at Dock

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Greeting you at the port in Palermo | Side street in Barcelona

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A Building near Park Guell | Rock Passageway in Park Guell

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Day 4: Palermo, Italy

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Categories: Cruise 2010, Cruising, Italy

 

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In the Port | The View from our Stateroom

Today the Brilliance docked in the capital of Sicily, Palermo.  This city has seen some real action, and is home to a hardy and congenial people who are passionate and animated.  Sicily is the birthplace of the Italian Mafia and also home to some amazing landscapes and great food.

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Dressed Up

Last night we had the formal dress dinner.  Guests were dressed in their finery, and turned out for an excellent meal.  We hung out with two other guests from Miami (PC!) and attended the post dinner show with them.  The show featured ‘American Dream’ and they presented a tribute to Motown and select songs by the Temptations, the Platters, the Four Tops and many others.

Our day began at around 8:30am as we made our way to the Windjammer Café for a quick breakfast.  Wasting no time, we departed for the shore and in no time, we had cleared the port and started walking aimlessly into Palermo’s main city district.  The blocks are low rise tenements, the streets are narrow and the plazas are a wonder.

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On the Bus

We met with a couple from the Cruise Critic meet and greet, and followed them onto the ‘Hop On/Hop Off’ tourist bus (which cost a small fortune).    The bus ran through several main streets before it inexplicably doubled back.  At we were heading west on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, after passing some amazing buildings,  we were stopped suddenly by a large group of student protesters.  As they were passing the bus, it started to rain, s it became a lot more cold and miserable.

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Protesters | Rain!

After about half an hour the protesters passed the bus and we continued on past the Palermo Cathedral, and then looped back to where we had hopped on the bus originally.  At that point the bus hit the same protesters again just near the Garibaldi Theatre, so we decided to get off and go via foot.  We walked north up Via Settimo until we reached Giardino Inglese (a large sculptured park) which had, ironically, not much of interest a round it that we could find.

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Garibaldi Theatre | Cathedral

This part of town was very up market, lots of high end fashion stores and official looking buildings, but we decided to backtrack towards the catacombs and made our way to the corner of Via Maqueda and Emanuele, where we then tracked west to see the Palazzo Dei Normanni. 

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Piazza Vigliena

We met another couple from the Cruise Critic meet and greet and had a chat before we spotted the Red ‘hop on/off’ bus again.  Deciding to get value for money, we jumped back on the bus and arrived back on Via Enrico Amari.

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Palazzo Dei Normanni

We decided to try and find a restaurant I had found on Trip Advisor, which was up near the Inglais park.  We walked up using side roads, taking photos every now and then.  The restaurant was closed Sad smile We back tracked through the roads, carefully staying away from the tourist areas, and eventually found a small Italian restaurant which seemed like a local Sicilian place – no other tourists – but plenty of locals.

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Area near where we ate

Here we ordered bread and Spaghetti and soaked in the atmosphere.  The meal was exactly what good Italian should be – not oily or sticky – but well cooked and tasty.  We paid and left to return to the ship around 2:30pm.  Once back on board Toni rested and I went around the top decks taking photos before also returning to the stateroom for about two hours light sleep.

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Brilliance at Dock

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