Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday, June 10. All Aboard

We had breakfast in our hotel and then we were picked up at 7:30 a.m. by a travel agent representative and taken to the port of Piraus. It is a big and busy port, however, there was a strike at this time. It affected large luggage being brought on board and being delivered to rooms, but since we only had our two small, carry-on sized bags and a personal item, we just hauled it with us.

Lots of lines to get onto the ship.  Pictures, documentation, cards issued, scanned, etc. It is very thorough.

We checked out our little cabin. Cute little cabin, nothing to write about, and I honestly didnt even take a picture of it. Brown, small, and dimly lit. Good thing we planned only to sleep there. It was difficult to do any reading before bed because it was so dim. And we were too tired to read much anyway. I never did any journaling the whole time, either. That was very unlike the other places, where I caught up nightly with recording what our activites of the day were.  Sooooo, I hope I can remember the days okay with help from the photos I may or may not have taken!

We had to report to our assigned deck for a "muster drill" before departure. And then, instead of going back to return our life vests to the room, we stayed out and enjoued the views of the city and the port as we departed.

Honestly, I had to keep pinching myself! Am I really here? Sailing on the Mediterranean sea?!  Oh, it was as pretty as it was supposed to be. Blue, blue water, crisp clear skies. It was gorgeous. We sailed for hours to our first stop. We had lunch in the buffet. We found it to be okay, but the line was long, it seemed very hurried,and itnwas noisy and crowded.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

June 9, 2016 Thursday. Rome to Athens

Thursday June 9,2016. Was our big travel day! And we did it all by our self. We a nice breakfast in our hotel. We got all packed up. I went out to the internet cafe to print my Greek vouchers (6!) And got caught in the rain. I didn't have my umbrella, but spent 2 Euro for a plastic poncho to try and stay dry. I was pretty wet from my walk, anyway. Eventually we were able to get a security guard from next door to call us a taxi to get from our hotel to the main Termini station.  It is so strange that there was seldom anyone at the reception desk at this hotel/Bed and Breakfast establishment. How convenient for them that the folks who share their building are security/investigators/police so they can use them to hand our room keys over to when none of them are around. That's all we did--gave him (the next-door neighbor security guard) our room keys and he called us a taxi. I think perhaps the officers are allowed to eat breakfast there in exchange for their services. Who knows? We enjoyed our breakfast there before heading to the Termini station to catch our train to the airport.

We were fairly early to the train station, managed to find the right platform. We were the first ones there. Eventually other people came, and later a train station person came and made an announcement that there was an earlier train coming in on another track. I guess. Every one moved over to the other track, so we did too. When I had purchased our tickets earlier, the seller said it was good for three hours. We didn't think anything about getting on an earlier train because a train station person told us to go over there. It (the announcement) was not in English. For all we knew, our train wasn't coming! Everyone moved, so we moved.

We were almost to the airport when the conductor came by to check our tickets. Guess what!? We were NOT supposed to be on that train! We had tickets for the 11:50 train, not the 11:35 train we were riding on. He was not very happy with us. Hey, we were just dumb tourists doing what we were told. He made it very clear that "train station" people we not the ones we should listen to and obey, but ONLY the ones with the "Train Italia" or Leonardo Express badges or insignia on their shirts. No one else.  He did not fine us 200 euro each for riding UNAUTHORIZED on that train, but let us go. Boy, he was stern. Kind if scary.

Arrived at airport, didn't have to re-arrange our luggage, but just carried it on. Or maybe it was gate-checked. I don't really remember. I do remember thinking the Fumicino airport had a "space station " look and feel to it. The walkways between terminal areas were in round, white-windowed elevated tunnels with large round pipe--like supports outside. I  know that when we went through customs, the Athens people were VERY alarmed that we had not had our passports stamped when we first got into Rome. Oops. I think we went through the EU gate upon arrival, but no one seemed to care. And we were coming to Rome from an EU country (Romania). It is all very confusing. But they let us in to Athens, Greece. We found the train/subway into the Piraeus Port. It was so empty when we got on and filled up to overflowing as we got closer to the city center. Part of the trip was above ground, part of the trip underground. Lots of graffiti here, too. It was a fairly long ride...about 45 minutes or so.

We exited the subway/train station and managed to find a taxi rather quickly. He took us to our hotel. Whew. We did it.

Backwards photos below. The Leonardo express is at the bottom from when we left Rome, and the top photo is where we ate dinner at an outdoor cafe down the street and around the corner from our tiny hotel. It was good food, and it was full of lots of families and customers. Tons of food orders/ deliveries going out on scooters while were ate, too. Popular spot, apparently. We had some good food...some meat, I believe.  😊
And, as in Romania, the table is not properly set without napkins and a Salt and Pepper shaker. This one also has petunias planted in a coffee can.

I believe the sign says "Elladikov" . It was fun to see families. We saw so few in Rome. Of course, we didn't go anywhere but to tourist sites there.

View out our 2 foot 'balcony'. more balconies and concrete walls.

Air Italia flight attendants really were wearing these very new (yet very VERY retro) uniforms. Complete with hats, colored stockings, and gloves! !  I took the photos of the photos because I didn't have a chance to photograph the actual flight attendants. And for my flight attendant friend, Cindy , to see.

The view out that tiny bathroom window was even MORE dreary!

Greece hotel room. Not pretty views out the windows, but it was a place to sleep. And that' s what we did (some of us sooner than others. Ha) . We just needed a rest after our long day of travel.

The travel day included a
*taxi to the Termini station (it was raining, or we would have walked to the metro station close to our hotel)
*train to the airport
*plane to Athens
*metro to end of blue line
*taxi to our hotel

And that is why he looks so tired....

Leaving Rome.

First ones there to catch the "Leonardo Express"

Monday, July 11, 2016

June 8, 2016. Major sights!

Wednesday the 8th of June, 2016. Another big BIG day of sight-seeing (other wise known as trying to kill Mike.) His left heel and the knees are not able to function without pain. I did give him all day Tuesday off. We only went out to eat once. Or twice.

About that "My pants still fit" comment. It was true. Even wearing my fat money belt with passport tucked in, I am still able to comfortably wear my slacks--even the white capris that tend to be a bit snug.

Our goal on this day was to see the Colosseum and Palatine Hill and Forum, or as much as possible. I spent a LOT of time on my tablet the night before, buying a ticket for a "Hop-on, Hop-off" tour bus ticket and a ticket for entrance into the Colosseum. Hours, I swear. I still hate shopping. I thought I had got the best deal, then realized I had not added correctly. Instead of a $10 savings, all my time and effort netted me a whopping $1 saving over buying a 2 day package together...but we didnt need two days. It got worse from there. Our Gravina rooms Hotel room might be nice now that the A/C is working, but there is never anyone at the reception desk. I wanted to print out the voucher for the things I'd purchased. Imhad her emailmaddress.  I e-mailed them to her. She did one, but not the other. And the one she did print was not one that was honored by the venue.  During the course of my shopping on Tues night, I swiped the screen attempting to get a screen shot. Well, Fat Fingers did something wrong, the purchase screen disappeared, it didnt ever go to the "print voucher" screen, and it ended up being a big mess. I tried buying them again, even though we did find the credit card went through on the first purchase, but bought the ticket again in hopes of getting a voucher printed... but an email never came, I never heard back from the front desk girl in response to my email, I accidentally sent one mesage about "please print" to one of his Mike's Iron County Home Builders Association officers ( 'iron', 'info' it was just too close and snagged both addresses) ...oh, it was a huge expensive hassel. We paid twice for EVERYTHING that day and are hoping we can square it with the credit card company when we get home. The websites clearly stated, " paper vouchers required" but it simply was not happening. For us. On that day.

However, we did find our "City Sights" big red bus, but only after a LOT of walking. You see, it was Papal audience day, roads were  closed, bus stops for HOHO tours were skipping our closest stop because of that. Poor Mike. It was another hard day for him. BUT the Colosseum, even though it was just from the outside (too many stairs, too much walking to get inside) was way cool to see and we did walk through the Palatine Hill area and through much of the Forum. We rode the HOHO (that's Hop On Hop Off) twice around the city when we were done at the Forum, and it varied a bit in places, so that was nice and relaxing and entertaining.

Supposedly those kinds of tours should help one get one's bearings. Ha!!! We were still so turned around and confused about which way was up that it wasn't even funny. We had to get back to our place, we did, and we just collapsed from exhaustion. All the photos are basically backwards. Sort of.

Just looking at all the old stuff layin' around all over the place. And right next to it are modern apartments! Well, sort of modern.

Interesting story about the lines gouged in the tops of those marble columns. They tried to SLICE through the columns a way long time ago ( to re-use the marble?) With ropes soaked in vinegar. It didnt quite work, though it did do that much damage to the columns.

Above is the palace ruins. It was huge. We did not take the time or energy to hike up to the top and look down over the Forum, but our bus ride did takenus past the other side...which may have been the front? It overlooked Circus Maximus, which I forgot to take a picture of.

Above is in the ancient Roman Forum. Below are some sights from our bus ride around the city.

This is totally out of order, but we were riding atop the bus, enjoying the shade, and the cobblestone streets, and all the lovely sites.

Those wicket stone paths. We are very grateful that neither of us twisted or broke an ankle.

Yep, tile floors (and tile setters!) Have been doing that fora long time.


Roman Forum still has archaeological digs going on. And pretty poppies.

Roman Forum

Tiber River

I left Mike sitting under the trees back there,  just down the street from the Vatican and close to San Angelos castle so I could figure out where to go for sure  to find our bus stop and save him having to walk around in circles.

We are hunting for our Hop On Hop Off bus stop. Lots of motor bikes parked all over.

A doggie water fountain! Not really, but a dog is getting a drink. These running faucets are all over the city of Rome and have pure drinking water running through them all the time. Very convenient on a hot summer day.

Back of the Palatine Hill. Pretty impressive stuff! Many stories tall.
Me to the shower first--so hot and sweaty, and Mike to a nap. I think we both napped a bit before going out later in the evening and getting gelato and a calazone.