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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Europe:
The Mediterranean
Sights to see & things to do

Athens, Greece

The ancient city center of Athens is one of the world’s most fascinating windows to the history of civilization. By concentrating on the wondrous antiquities, the modern city’s sprawl and urban ugliness pale in the shadow of the Acropolis. Lingering among Greek Gods and Goddesses for a day or two is a pre- or post-cruise highlight of Olympic proportion. Toss in side trips to Corinth and Cape Sounion and there are many reasons to extend your stay. 

Diversions

Cruise ship passengers will find their ships docked about seven miles from Athens at Piraeus. Many cruise lines offer a shuttle service or you can take a train or taxi. The train is inexpensive and close to the pier and is the best choice if no shuttle is at hand. A taxi can be an iffy proposition—establish the rate before you get in.  Keep an eye on your valuables in Athens as well, the city is noted for pickpockets. 

The Acropolis, capped by the crown jewel, the Parthenon is what visitors to Athens eagerly anticipate. After a steep climb over slippery uneven stones, enter the Acropolis through the Propylaea, sacred gates guarding the sanctuary of Athena. Built in the 5th century BC, the Acropolis was a place of worship with the Parthenon (dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and protectoress of cities) built on the highest point. Tiny by comparison, the Erechtheion Temple is equally as lovely. Built on the most sacred spot of the Acropolis, it is here you find the Caryatid Porch, supported by columns of delicately carved maidens. From the fringe of the Acropolis is a bird's eye view of two of Athens' most famous theaters, the Odeon of Herod Atticus and the 17,000 seat Theater of Dionysos.  Admission charges include the interesting Acropolis Museum.

Within walking distance of the Acropolis is the ancient site of the Agora or marketplace. Gradually being uncovered, this is the site of the Hephaisteion, the best-preserved temple in Greece. The museum in the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos is also worth a look.

The Olympic Stadium is the 1896 birthplace of the modern Olympiad. Other sites of note are the Temple of Zeus, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the University of Athens, and the National Library.

The Archaeological Museum offers a fantastic historical journey through art and artifacts. Of particular interest are the golden artifacts from Mycenae and the colorful and lively frescoes rescued from the walls of Akrotiri in Santorini. Preserved for years beneath the ash of a volcanic eruption, the frescoes are displayed in the museum's only air-conditioned room.

The Greek Orthodox Cathedral with its ornate ceiling frescoes and religious artifacts is located on a pleasant square near the Plaka. Respectful attire is required to enter; shorts are not allowed.

Shopping

The Plaka, or the Old City of Athens with its neoclassical buildings, is the place to shop for gifts and souvenirs. Many stores contain the usual tee shirts and tourist items, as well as jewelry in many variations of the Greek key design, framed prints, and hand-made rugs and pillow covers. Ceramics, icons, leather goods, worry beads, and amulets to ward off evil spirits are also popular. US dollars are widely accepted and bartering for the best prices is encouraged. Shops do not close in the early afternoon, unlike other Mediterranean destinations. Stores on Ermou Street are noteworthy for women’s fashions and Kolonaki is where you’ll find designer boutiques and shoe stores.


Back to Mediterranean Ports of Call


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