We arrived in Athens after an unexpected day on the ship. On Thursday, we were supposed to go to Mykonos, but the ocean was rough and it was not safe to go into the port. So, we had a nice day of relaxing on the ship before we went back to Greece for our day in Athens on Friday.
We arrived in port and took a very expensive taxi into the city. We arrived at the Acropolis and joined the security line to climb up to the Parthenon. The first thing we saw was an outdoor theater, which is still used for concerts. They were setting up for one when we were there. Brennan said he remembered a CD they had when he was growing up that was recorded here.
There were SO MANY PEOPLE visiting the Acropolis. It was basically just a mass of people moving all at one time all the way up to the top. If you are ever able to go to see the Parthenon, it’s worth waking up early to avoid the crowds. Thankfully, we were able to listen to another Rick Steves audio tour while walking, so we knew what we were looking at all around us. After seeing pictures of the Acropolis and all the significant buildings that have existed here for so long, it felt amazing to be looking at it in real life.
This building below was my favorite part. I love the statues of the women who are holding up the building like columns. These are not the original statues-they were moved indoors because the outdoor elements were beginning to ruin them. These are exact replicas and still show so much detail. This building is called the Erechtheion and was built as a temple to Athena and Poseidon.
This is the view from the Acropolis hill, looking out over Athens. It makes sense that temple would be on this hill-it’s beautiful to look out over the while city.
It was so windy the whole time we were at the site. Brennan lost his hat once and had to turn it around so it didn’t fly off his head.
The large rock we are standing on is Mars Hill (or the Areopagus) where Paul made a speech while visiting Athens. Again, it’s surreal to stand where we know history happened.
After we finished touring the Acropolis and Parthenon, we walked to a grab and go gyro shop to get lunch. We sat in a plaza and enjoyed the sunshine while we ate. There were so many pigeons hanging out and a man was feeding them. Thankfully, they left us alone and scattered before we had to walk past them. We headed to the market next door to the plaza-I thought it would have a variety of food and products, but most of the stalls were selling meat. We did a quick walk through (because the whole animals grossed me out a bit) before continuing to walk around the city. We stopped in a few other shops before heading back to the ship. We used the metro to get back to the port, then had to walk for nearly an hour to make it back to our ship. The weather was nice, we had water with us, and we had plenty of time before we left port.
On Saturday, our ship was in port in Katakolon, Greece. We could have gone to Olympus, but we decided to go to a beach instead. After seeing several different ancient sites, we were ready to see some sand and bright blue water. We found this at a beach resort. We had an entire section of the beach to ourselves. The water was so clear-the picture below with the rocks shows how it looked like glass. We had a late lunch at the resort restaurant on their deck, enjoying the sun and view of the water. After lunch, we went back to the ship and spent the evening around the boat.
Our next port was Messina, which is on the island of Sicily. We didn’t have much planned for the day, but I wanted to see the clock tower that rang at noon. It was quite the production-the entire show lasted for about 15 minutes and went through multiple stages where different parts of the sculptures moved. After the show, we were able to go in the church the clock tower is next to and see the ornate decor, especially on the ceiling.
We decided to go up in the clock tower and look out from the top. While we walked up, there were explanations of each level and the significance of them to the story of the clock tower. I took pictures of the explanations, because there was no way I could remember all the details. The view from the top was nice and let us look out on the rest of the city.
Our last day on the ship was a day in port in Naples. We booked a food tour through AirBnb experiences and spent the next few hours with a French couple and our tour guide who grew up in Naples. She explained what areas we were in as we walked from stop to stop and pointed out details we wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.
Our first stop was at this pastry shop, where we had very strong espresso and bite size pastries. Everything in the bakery case looked delicious! Our coffee and pastries were a great start to the tour. The next stop was for nutty, hard, bagel-like bread (on the right below). I never would have tried these on my own, but they were very good. She said they are a very traditional snack in Naples.
All around the city, there are these shrines set up. The tour guide told us that in the past, they were used to help light the city, as people would light candles and keep them there before electricity was prevalent.
This folded pizza was our favorite thing we ate on the tour. It was much lighter than most pizza we have tasted in Italy and was layered. It is another snack and our tour guide said she would stop and get them on the way home from school if she needed a snack.
I did not realize these came from Naples, but Christmas scenes called presepio are traditionally from this area. Our guide said it used to be a tradition for families to create these nativity scenes together using parts purchased and they would be added onto each year. Now, she said they are not as popular as they used to be (because people are busier), but that most families still have one in their home. We saw so many different parts, even figures that looked like US presidents, the Queen of England and celebrities. All the parts of daily life are shown in the presepio-markets, herding animals, even windmills and running rivers!
You can see how large this presepio is-it had electricity, running water, and was more than 10 feet long! All the detail in these are what make them so interesting and special. If we had unlimited room in our suitcases, I would have bought several parts and created our own scene!
We ended the tour with pasta and pizza. These were both delicious too! The tour was great and we enjoyed walking around the city and tasting different things than we would have tried on our own.
We headed back to the ship and spent our last night on Carnival Pride before arriving back in Civitavecchia early the next morning. We had a great time around the Mediterranean and added 2 new countries to our list (Greece & Turkey)! I enjoyed this cruise more than the last one and would go back anytime to Italy or Greece.
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.