On the road again, Again

The tour started today, Thursday, 19 May. The Grande Bretagne thought we arrived in Athens on Tuesday so told our TD. We departed home on Monday 16 May so should in fact have arrived on Tue but did not! When did we arrive? After cocktails and just before the Welcome dinner on Thur!?!?!? Details when I’m more coherent. No Airport gate signs, just a photo of Corfu of some island just before the aircraft turned east towards Athens. We were too far south- I think I saw the Acropolis but not sure.

We were too far south of Piraeus to see the Acropolis or Parthenon.




  • I think there is a story there … launch it. (;-)

  • edited May 2022

    A few pics from Day 2 before I explain why it took us three days to get here.

    The view from our hotel during breakfast - spectacular!!

    First up today was a tour of the Acropolis followed by, the new Acropolis Museum, then the afternoon and evening free, and lunch and dinner* on our own*

    *My wife and I received, a voucher for dinner in the hotel- they (front desk and/or concierge) lost our Tauck info packet, after having used them the previous night neither of our room keys worked, and they erroneously charged our room to our AMEX!!! Thank goodness to AMEX alerts we could dispute it now instead of via long distance from home.

    The hotel is nice, historic, and right in the middle of town facing Syntagma Square- Parliament was on the adjacent side of the square. The breakfast buffet was below average. Masking indoors was mandatory everywhere and observed by all locals. Masks were not required outdoors but many wore them anyway. Everyone masked on the bus.

    Our guides were excellent. The bus doesn’t take you very close to the top of the Acropolis- it wasn’t nearly as difficult as the climb to the Monastery in Petra, but no easy task up fairly steep walkways and steps- not for mobility, cardiac, or respiratory challenged. One couple had problems. The ruins were fantastic- Propylaea and Parthenon still had some scaffolding. Weather was bright and sunny, with deep blue sky, but a bit windy! A little cool at first but perfect a little later- in summer Athens can be beastly hot!! We arrived right at opening time (8:00) with others but no crowds, yet. By the time were left (10:00) for the Museum (a downhill walk) the Acropolis was mobbed!!! Though the ticket entrance was down the hill and likely had a long line itself, there was a line to get through the Propylaea (the entrance to the ancient site) because the access narrows there, people stop for photos, and there was a bajillion tourists arriving. If you go on your own, go early or go late, but do not even think about arriving later than 9:00 in the morning until mid-late afternoon, if you can avoid it!!! The Acropolis Museum is fabulous, do not see the Acropolis without seeing the museum- it fills in a lot of the info missing, especially visually about the Parthenon. A nearly full size modern interpretation (takes up one entire floor) contains and displays original and reproductions of the friezes and other architectural features right where they should be on the real Parthenon.

    The Odeon on the south slope. Considerable reconstruction. In use in modern times- think Yanni at the Acropolis! 😃

    Exterior of the Propylaea

    Interior of Propylaea

    Temple of Nike just to the right of the Propylaea

    West end of the Parthenon

    Southeast corner

    East end (main entrance to the Temple

    The Erectheon and famous porch of the Karyatides (copies- originals in the museum except for the one in London)

    During excavation for the foundation of the new Acropolis Museum they discovered ruins of part of the old city so they built the museum over them on pilling:

    Model of how the north pediment tableau would have looked

    After our free dinner we walked over to the Parliament building to watch the guards (not the changing of the guards.)

    Our hotel, the Grande Bretagne

    Due to the orientation of the Acropolis the Parthenon and other structures, the lighting in late afternoon is much the same as in the morning.

    A large cruise ship departing the Port of Piraeus. After a drive though the city and a visit to the National Archaeological Museum we head to Piraeus to board Wind Star.

  • AlanS - How did you access my Athens photos from that tour? :D

    We appear to have the same eye for what constitutes a good photo. I hope you got a photo or two of your wife with one of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

  • Alan - Wonderful photos! Brings back memories of our visit.

  • Alan … great pix. I’ve been to Athens many times but your pix are better. Actually, my first flight as a Captain was from London to Athens on a DC-8 working for Overseas National … ONA. But, I think I missed the story about why it took three days to get to Athens?

  • edited May 2022

    If anyone is looking for a smaller hotel pre- or post-cruise in Athens, InnAthens (5 min. from Grande Bretagne, #4 on TripAdvisor) is charming and friendly...and has wonderful breakfasts. I spent several days there after an Azamara cruise Venice to Athens Oct. 2019. And don't miss the Museum of Cycladic Art.

  • Alan, your pictures are great! I thoroughly enjoyed the new Acropolis Museum. The National Archaeological Museum is also a must see for Greek and Roman sculpture and artifacts.

  • Alan, your pictures and information are priceless! After spending a Week in Puglia, we are joining the Treasures of Aegean trip scheduled for June 16. I look forward to your reports and gorgeous pictures every morning.

  • Alan your report is great. Our Greece trip was cancelled twice. Booked for next May.

    Why is your post being flagged? Do the users think this is Facebook and thing that is a good thing? I fear you review could disappear.

  • edited May 2022

    A few spare moments- I’ll start and finish later.

    Day 3 started with deep blue skies and sun. We joined our friends from prior tours for our last breakfast at the Grande Bretagne- again what a great view. After breakfast we got ready for a bus tour of Athens, a visit to the National Archaeological Museum, then a trip to the port of Piraeus to embark on Wind Star. The bag pull was the latest we have ever experienced- 9:30!! 🙂

    The National Archaeological Museum has a lot of stuff dating back to the Neolithic period up through Mycenae and early Classic period. One item I was interested in seeing was the Antikythera device (the first computer?) used for calculating the positions of the heavenly bodies, seasons, etc, etc. About 3/4 of the time was spent with our guides, the rest on our own. While there was an elevator to get between floors, there were also steps that would be a bit of a challenge to some.

    All 32 Taucktourians tested negative- hurray! Check-in and testing were orderly and done in large air conditioned tents. Once cleared we boarded Windstar for final check in to receive cabin keys, turn in forms, have credit card swiped, etc. The process went smoothly. Unfortunately we didn’t have a good vantage point to get photos of the ship- lots over the next few days, so a took just a few random shots- A tug the helped us get underway, a square rigged cruise sailboat, sails unfurling (to music from 1492 by Vangelis), a strange-looking lion(?) statue, and a stealthy boat you rarely see until he has put a torpedo in your hull! 😮

    Our 32 Taucktourians were were joined by 71 others for a total of 103 passengers, out of a possible max of 148.

    The Olympic stadium

    The National Museum of Archaeology.

    The antikythera device.

    Tomorrow we are off to Mykonos and Delos.

  • I can see on Cruise Mapper that you have experienced your first Vangelis: 1492 Conquest of Paradise.

  • Yup. We just finished up with Mykonos/Delos so will do it again in a few hours. Another report later when I get up from my nap! 😯. Weather was fantastic- CAVU deep blue!! 😀. There was a gentle breeze so it didn’t get hot on Delos and the seas were calm. Sunscreen and hats necessary however.

    Masking indoors strictly enforced.

  • Day 4- Mykonos (and for some of us, the Island of Delos). We left the ship by tender (since we were anchored) at 8:00am for the short trip to Mykonos Town, Hora. An early start meant streets mostly empty of tourists even though there were two Celebrity mega cruise ships also anchored here. The whitewashed town was quaint and though it contained quite a few churches, it was mostly bars and restaurants which don’t open until late because they are busy until 3:00am!! After a 30 min walk through the narrow streets and alleys, we boarded a small, but packed, ferry to Delos to see the architectural site. Unlike many of the sites on the mainland, Delos contains ruins of temples as well as dwellings. The ruins were Greco/Roman. Though not hot, the sun was bright so hats were necessary. Each of us took multiple bottles of water, since nothing is available at the site. It was a perfect day.

    Our cabin- all cabins are the same size, but differ in price by location on the ship. None have windows, just two portholes.

    Wind Star

    The iconic windmills of Mykonos- since there is little or no agriculture on the island, their sole purpose in the day was to grind imported Russian barley, keep some for themselves, and sell the remainder.

    Sophia, our wonderful TD standing in front of one of the nearly 100 small churches in town (there are 600 on the island!!) with Wind Star in the background.

    The streets and alleys of town were lined with restaurants and bars. Many buildings had beautiful flower displays

    The Venice of Mykonos

    After our short walking tour we boarded a ferry to Delos with our TD and local guide.

    At one time there were few cats on the island, but cats being cats now it is overrun!

    Throughout the ruins there were beautiful wildflowers!

    Further up the hill lived the more well-to-do. Their residences were often highly decorated with architecturally decorated plaster walls, colonnaded atriums, and mosaic floors and both a freshwater system with many cisterns and clay piping and sewage system!

    Scattered throughout the site were numerous architectural elements looking for homes

    Almost no statuary remains- it was either removed to one of the museums or destroyed- only fragments remain. The site, however had large numbers of it during its heyday. Proof was laying around everywhere in the form of statue pedestals that had tell-tale foot-shaped mortises (recesses) to hold the feet of the figure!!

    And of course the iconic lions of Delos!

    Tomorrow we are off to Kusadasi, Turkey to see the Roman ruins at Ephesus and have candlelight dinner in front of the Library of Celsus.

  • This is wonderful Alan. Wow, the bed area is tight. I guess a double bed means you have to climb over your partner to go to the bathroom. Any pics of the bathroom please?

  • AlanS...sounds like you're having a good time and your photos are bringing back lots of good memories. I visited to Athens in 2005. I'm traveling there again with friends (non-Tauck tour) in late September. I'll spend most of my time in Santorini and Mykonos and planning a day trip to Delos. I have reservations at the Grande Bretagne ...hoping there are no snafus as it was booked via Amex. Any insights would be appreciated. Looking forward to hearing more from your tour. Enjoy :)

  • Hi Alan, Do the cabins have a coffee maker and hair dryer?

  • Hairdryer - yes, coffee maker- no.

  • edited May 2022


    No space between outboard bed and wall in two bed setup, just12-14” between them where there is a fold-up night table/shelf. When shelf folded up and beds pushed together as one, outboard person should have a narrow space and won’t need to climb over. I don’t think I have a wide enough lens- bath is small like our cabin on a Disney cruise. Will try later. Headed back to Ephesus in a bit for our candlelight dinner in front of the library of Celsus. Did I say Ephesus was wow? WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!!!. I feel sorry for those folks who didn’t get to g because of politics between Greece and Turkey.

  • PureLuxury

    Robin, will send PM later or tomorrow.

  • edited May 2022

    As long as we are talking cabins- all are the same size (188 sq ft.??), differ in price by deck (1&2) and distance from what I assume is center of cabin layout and/or the ships center of buoyancy(?). Hair dryer- yes, Coffee maker- no. 120 VAC US (and Euro 2-pin 220 volt) receptacles in bath, by tall dresser, by sitting area/fold out table, by Bose iPod dock speaker, and by inboard side of bed. No windows, just two, non-opening portholes with room darkening drapes and gauze drapes. TV, DVD player, Bose dock, telephone, stocked fridge, and drawer with mini-booze. Plenty of storage- 5-drawer dresser, misc drawers, bins, shelves, overhead bins (like aircraft), and space under beds for suitcases, etc. Small sitting area with table that folds out to double the top size. Sconces and LED gooseneck lights on each side of the bed. Two closets, w/bath robes, one with safe the other w/shoe rack, and hangars. AC works great- for our friends it worked too well-nearly froze them out. We are on deck 2. It may be a bit noisier on deck 1, but the ship is very quiet - can’t hear engine noise, blowers (Navy guys know about this). Stability- we’ve had calm seas so absolutely no rock & roll, can barely tell when the ship is underway.

    Food good, not great- We had two really tough steaks two nights ago. Breakfast and lunch are off menu or buffet (doled out by staff. Dinner is menu.. We have not had our special dinner at Candles yet.

    Gotta go!

  • edited May 2022

    AlanS - Is Pete the Pelican still a local celebrity on Mykonos? Did you see any octopus hanging from masts of sailboats?

    It looks like your picture of the Olympic Stadium in Athens was from a bus. Did you not get a chance to explore the area around the hotel? Perhaps your arrival ordeal curtailed a lot of those opportunities. To bad there were several things worth seeing in person.

  • milmil
    edited May 2022

    AlanS glad to hear you made it after the initial ordeal... Hopefully Delta will compensate somehow.
    Pictures as always excellent- you do have same photo eye as me too. I have great memories.. that all are coming back as I'm seeing your visual report. How big is the group?

  • AlanS...I somehow missed your Delta saga. Was it shared on the Forum or maybe flagged away?

  • milmil
    edited May 2022

    MarketArt Hi.
    No post yet. I just consulted my Crystal Ball. :) it was either Delta, United or American A.

  • edited May 2022

    Smilling Sam
    AlanS - Is Pete the Pelican still a local celebrity on Mykonos? Did you see any octopus hanging from masts of sailboats?
    It looks like your picture of the Olympic Stadium in Athens was from a bus. Did you not get a chance to explore the area around the hotel? Perhaps your arrival ordeal curtailed a lot of those opportunities. Too bad there were several things worth seeing in person.

    No Pete
    Due to late arrival, didn’t get to do private tour.

  • MarketArt
    May 23

    I haven’t spun that tale yet. 🙄

  • edited May 2022

    Any pics of the bathroom please?

    Just for you 🙂. Small bathroom shaped like Mikey Mouse head- sink, granite counter, mirror shelves are in head portion, toilet is in right ear and shower in left ear. Cozy, but functional. Toilet like airplane- push the button and it sucks like a loud vacuum- with a caution, Do not flush while seated!!!

  • AlanS

    Sounds like realtor lingo.

  • Wow, I thought the way SeaLaord talks about Windstar everything would be super gorgeous. Not unlike the several vacations we had on an eight people catamaran in the BVI, I even got to steer the boat and they nicknamed me the Helm Hog

  • British … it’s a sailboat. Actually, 188 sq. ft. is on the roomy side for a ‘normal’ balcony stateroom on a ‘big’ ship. Our last room on Windstar’s “Star Breeze” was around 550 square feet … actually two rooms, bedroom, and living room/dining room. The ‘Star’ boats are all suite ships, but ours was their second largest … a comp. The rooms on all of the sailboats are basically the same size but differ slightly in arrangement. We find them to be as comfortable as any non-suite stateroom. We use them to sleep and shower and change clothes. That works for us. It is not for everyone, but we like it a lot. We have spent one hundred thirty five days on their boats, and have sailed on all of them. The pictures don’t actually do them justice. They look better if the bed is made. (;-)

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