Tag Archives: Greece

P = Piraeus, Greece

A to Z Ports: Piraeus, Greece for Athens

Piraeus is a major port for Greece and the closest one to Athens. It is very busy, with ferries that sail to all the Greek Islands, three separate docks for cruise lines, commercial operations and military ships. If you like ships, you can see just about any kind here. But few cruisers spend a day in Piraeus, especially with Athens so close. And most cruise lines will arrange various excursions to help you see the most of the highlights of Athens. But, if you’ve been there before, or if you want to go it on your own, it is very easy to get to Athens from Piraeus. From most of the cruise docks, it is about a twenty-minute walk to the train station to catch a train to Monastiraki Plaza. The train will take about the same time as a cab — and the cost will be much less!

Sights on my walk to the train station in Piraeus

 

Monastiraki Plaza which is a great place to start your journey in Athens. It is at the heart of the Plaka — with the flea market on one side, a collection of restaurants on the other with lead to the shops of the Plaka. It is also below the Acropolis, near the Agora and, if you get there before 10 AM, you can easily walk down the pedestrian street to the Parliament buildings to see the Changing of the Guards.

plaza

Of course, you can spend an interesting day in Piraeus and miss all the crowds in Athens! At the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus you will find a collection of sculptures that include grave monuments and dedicated reliefs, pottery and a bronze statues of Apollo from the 6th century BC. There are plenty of tavernas — the better ones are a bit farther from the port.

Here are links to some of my past posts about Athens:

#atozchallenge

O = Olympia

A to Z Ports = Olympia’s Katakalon

Katakalon, Greece is a very small port and resembles a sleepy town, until a cruise ship enters the port and can more than triple the number of people. Why do cruise ships call into this port? It is the closest one to Olympia — the site of the original Olympic games. Of course, there are ship excursions to the site. There is also a train the runs from the port to Olympia. How you go, is up to you — the trip is worth it.

Olympia is a large archaeological site. Next to it is a museum and the town of Olympia that has shops and restaurants catering to the tourists.

Here are a couple of past posts about Olympia

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G = Greece

A to Z Ports: Greece’s Port of Rhodes

One of my favorite ports to visit is Rhodes, Greece. I visited it on my first cruise and I decided to forgo a group tour and explore Old Town Rhodes on my own. I had prepared and studied the maps of this port and yet, I learned an important lesson. I can get lost in a walled city, but I can also find my way back.

Cruise ships dock very close the one of the gates in the wall that surrounds Rhodes. From there, it is very easy to wander your way through this charming, ancient Greek city.

The walls were originally built by the Knights of St. John who made this their headquarters until they were defeated and forced to relocate and ending up in Malta. There is the Palace of the Grand Master and the Avenue of Knights that tells their story.

There is also a Archaeological Museum and, at the base of the Avenue of Knights, are the ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite.

And, of course, there are cafes where you can sit and watch the world go by. Of course, I had to get my usual cup of espresso (with a thanks to my waiter who took the photo.

IMG_0576

Rhodes is a place I enjoy visiting and would love to spend more time there.

Here is a previous post about Rhodes.

#AtoZChallenge

 

A to Z Challenge: O = Olympus

O = Olympus

OThe ancient site of Olympus sits near the western coast of Greece. Cruise ships dock at Katakalon, a nice fishing village about 40 minutes from the site. While most ships do plan excursions to the site, it is also easy to take a taxi or a train to get to Olympus. Unlike many archaeological sites, this one feels like a park, with lots of trees, flowers and other vegetation. The day I went started out with rain, but once I got to Olympus, the clouds opened and it was a very nice, clear day.

 

Clouds over Olympus
Clouds over Olympus
Olympus
Olympus
Temple of Zeus
Temple of Zeus
Temple of Hera
Temple of Hera

The museum close to the site contains some of the statues found in Olympus, including an amazing statue of the Greek God, Hermes. This is also the museum where my friend left her camera (the story is part of the Excursions post).

Definitely worth a visit – you can even try running a race using the marble starting blocks!

Bryan at the starting block
Bryan at the starting block
Racing track
Racing track

A to Z Challenge: A = Athens

A to Z Letter A
A to Z Letter A

 

A = Athens

On my first trip to Athens, I was not sure I ever really wanted to come back — the traffic, the dirt, the smog, etc. Then, I walked around the Plaka and saw the views from the Acropolis and meet some of the people — and I love Athens enough to have returned several times.  Here are some of my favourite things in Athens.

 

Acropolis view from rooftop bars
Most hotels have rooftop bars that advertise the “best view of the Acropolis.” There are two places I can recommend. the Attalos Hotel on Athinas Street and the AthensStyle Hostel on Agias Theklas Street. Both are just off Monastiraki Square, with easy connections to the airport and the port of Piraeus via the Metro Blue Line. At the Attalos Hotel Bar, the view at night was amazing. The AthenStyle Hostel view was not quite as good, but the 2 for one drink happy hour is perfect!

View of the Acropolis at night
View of the Acropolis at night from Attalos Hotel rooftop bar
Cat & Sue and the Acopolis from the Attalos Hotel rooftop bar
Cat & Sue and the Acopolis from the Attalos Hotel rooftop bar

The New Acropolis Museum
I love this museum.  It is so well done. My favourite room is the one with all the Kore statues.  It also has a perfect, but different, view of the Acropolis.

New Acropolis Museum
New Acropolis Museum
Entrance to the New Acropolis Museum
Entrance to the New Acropolis Museum
View of the Acropolis form the New Acropolis Museum
View of the Acropolis form the New Acropolis Museum

The Poet Sandal Maker
Near Monastiraki Square is the Poet Sandal Maker where you can get custom-fit leather sandals. During summer, I practically live in the ones I got! It only takes about 20 minutes from the time you pick out the style you want, to the time they are fitted and you are ready to walk through the streets of the Plaka!  I even wore them on a whirlwind, one day walk around Rome — comfortable and no blisters!

My new Greek-style sandals!
My new Greek-style sandals!

Shopping in the Plaka
I am not a big shopper, however there are a couple stores here that always get my attention — the Dimitri Cotton Club is the name I remember. All over Greece, you can find nice, cotton shirts, however this place has the largest variety of styles, colours and best prices. I have several tops and dresses — and brought some back as gifts. There are also lots of places for Greek statues and I have bought a couple of rugs here.

Take-out food
Next to Monastiraki Square, where all the different restaurants are, there is a take-out window — quick and easy and cheaper than sitting at one of the tables.  Grab something to eat, sit in the square and watch the show!

"Restaurant row"
“Restaurant row”
Monastriaki Plaza before the crowds
Monastiraki Plaza before the crowds

The Metro Blue Line
This is a very convenient Train that runs from the airport to Piraeus. I’ve used it a lot to travel to and from the port. In Piraeus, it is about a 20 minute walk from where most cruise ships dock to the station. So easy to get around! The main entrance to the main Monastiraki stop is in the photo above.

Changing of the Guards
The Changing of the Guards occurs at 10 AM and is an interesting combination of military precision and dance!  You can really get close!  The are some nice city gardens and the Temple of Zeus within a 3 to 5 minute walk.

Changing of the Guards in Athens
Changing of the Guards in Athens

 

Here is more information on the #atozchallenge.