Saturday 16 July
Leave Athens and journey to Patras for embarkation on the ferry for the Ionian Sea crossing back to Italy. Departure is in the early evening. (B)Hotel: Ferry
What we did:
Up at 6:15 to get a two day overnight bag ready for the ferry and San Marino since there's insufficient room for our big bags in the rooms there. The same wonderful breakfast buffet this morning before leaving on the bus at 8:10 for a guided tour of Athens and the Acropolis by Vicki
. We hit the hill about 8:30 and Vicki’s guided part finished at 9:20 so we had until 10:15 (at the bus) for free time. This seemed to be about the right amount of time and I appreciated the early start since mobs of tourists were coming up the hill as we were leaving. The site has been in continuous use for around 2000 years and does look ancient but smaller than I expected. At 10:15 we did some more guided touring of Athens and Vicki pointed various things out. Athens is a tough go for a tour guide as many sites are obscured by trees and not many buildings are very distinctive other than the ancient ones. At 11:00 we stopped at the Athens main government building and watched the changing of the guard which is more interesting than The Buckingham Palace guard change. Athens is mostly a massive urban sprawl that contains 50% of the Greece population. We said goodbye to Vicki and left Athens by 11:30 to catch the 5:30 ferry at Patra for our return to Ancona Italy. We stopped for pictures of the Corinth Canal and then had lunch at the same Perama restaurant we stopped at on our way to Athens from Olympia. We took a vote to see if we would eat at the restaurant by the Canal, or go to the Perama Restaurant. Chiara let the ones stay (3) to eat at the restaurant with AC where we were, and the rest went to the Perama (no AC) but to pick them up on the way back. Everyone liked their meals again as did we and It was only 25 Euros for two hearty meals of Musaka, chicken Shishkabob, two wine and two half litre beers
. So the lesson would appear that most tourists vote with their stomachs and not their comfort level. Also you have a view right on the canal from the Perama patio so why go inside except to use the bathroom. We had a neat chat with a lady who was cleaning the tables when I asked the name of the restaurant since it’s not posted. Among other things she said was that the name of the island where they filmed Momma Mia is called Skiathos. We’re back on the road with full happy bellies at 2:00 for Patra and enjoying nice hills and houses on the left side with views of the water on the right side (for those that can stay awake). We arrived at the Patras new port ticket office at 4:15 after a false try at the old office downtown. We saw a group of about 20 men trying to hang on to the back of the transport truck in front of us. Chiara said it is like this now with some people trying to get out of Greece. I assumed it’s those without money and/or skills as some people gave the appearance of refugees from a third world country. Despite some other minor problems due to Greek miscommunication we were in our cabin at 4:50 but no bunk bed this time. The boat left dock at 5:40 and we had a window with a clear view this time. We all gathered in the main lounge called Knossos this time because our boat Cruise Olympia is a twin boat to the other one. The "Cruise Europa" boat we were on was also a nice ship with a great crew but amazingly this crew is even better. They’re so friendly, helpful and want you to have a good relaxed time on board. Most of us left the Knossos lounge and went to the A la carte restaurant for supper and it was quite nice. After supper we all ended up at the pool bar mixing with a bunch of great Romanian guys who all are taking different truck shipments from Greece to everywhere. .
Day 18: ATHENS–PATRAS–OVERNIGHT FERRY CROSSING TO ITALY.