Day 6 - On the boat
It was a cruising day today. I worked on blogging and pictures as well as some laundry and caught happy hour with Sal and Pat. The boys went from basketball and soccer on the top deck to video games in the kid hangout room. It was formal night, so we ate formally (without the kids, of course, who RUN from that kind of thing), then watched a fantastic show by a lady named Jeri Sager who has been in several Broadway musicals and sang show tunes.
Day 7 - Athens, Greece
We docked in Athens this morning. We thought we'd get room service (no charge) for breakfast, as it should have been quicker to get us fed than fighting through the Lido restaurant. We had a choice of half-hour blocks and chose 6:30-7am for delivery. At 7:10, Jim called to see where it was - "it's coming, please wait a little bit". At 7:20 they called back to say please wait a little longer. At 7:30 Jim called to cancel so we could fight the crowds and get breakfast in line at the Lido. We made it off the ship by 8:15 in spite of it all. When we got back there was a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries in the room with a note of apology. I took some down to Sal & Pat to share and the lady in the elevator said, "looks like you didn't get breakfast either…" They still seem to be ironing out some of the kinks in their system.
We grabbed a taxi to the Acropolis and walked the city of Athens for 7 hours. Parthenon, Agora (marketplace), Dyonisis' Theater, temple of Zeus, and the new Acropolis museum.
We thought the museum was really well done - it gave us a little bit of perspective on all those ruins we had been looking at all day. The British (Lord Elgar) came through and chipped the front friezes off the Parthenon and took some of the statues back to display in the British Museum in the name of "conservation" many years ago - seemed the right thing to do at the time as they had been looted and damaged in the past. The new museum has taken plaster cast replicas of the British Museum artifacts and placed them in position in a great display along with some original ones that they have removed themselves (and replaced with replicas) for preservation off the standing building. It was quite evident which panels had been taken by the Brits and which were the originals. After seeing the display, I was convinced the originals should be returned to the Greeks (I had the opposite opinion before I started).
We felt like we had gone back in time again in seeing all the ruins - another century older than Split. At the end of the day, I felt like I had just swept in and took a look and were sweeping back out. Other than our taxi driver (whose sole goal in talking to us was to convince us to hire him for the day), we didn't interact with any locals. I did ask a few questions of our driver to get a little idea of what life was like though .As we passed a few of the Olympic venues I asked what the most recent games had done for the country. He said that there were a lot of improvements in infrastructure and cleaning things up, but mostly it just bankrupted the country. They spent four years fixing and cleaning and spending money for a two week party. Mostly people/business/government didn't get back what they had put into it.
Sally and Pat chose to go on a shore excursion tour as the arrangements for getting to the important sights (and getting around the city) weren't very conducive to Pat's inability to get around. They didn't sign up early but were first on the waiting list, and two people called in sick, so they were able to go. Pat was bummed by not getting to see much in Venice or Split, so it was good that they got to go.
Noah's reaction at the end of the day - "boring - I learned it all last year in school - we did a whole section on Ancient Greece. There was nothing new."I told him he should have been giving the tour to us!
Noah noticed right away that there were cigarette butts all over the place. The streets were rather dirty, but like Venice, they were working to clean up stuff like the ruins and statues. The ruins were "museum-like" - roped off, and they had "etiquette police" who blew whistles if you walked on the wrong spot. They had lots of benches under trees and water fountains to help people stay cool. Again, it got HOT, but we got there early and it wasn't bad in the morning with a breeze. We took the train back to Piraeus where the boat was docked - our one nod to going "local".
Tonight's show onboard the ship was a piano playing comedy duo - Katzenjammer. Very entertaining. We tried to get Zach to go, but he wasn't sure it would be interesting, so he decided to hang with Noah instead. We ended up buying him a DVD so he could watch them later.