7.30.15 - 8.1.15 104 °F
Disembarkation from Azamara Journey is among the best there is. We had a 9:00am pickup, so at 8:30am our group just walked off the ship. No announcements were made throughout the process, and our bags were waiting for us. With a smaller ship, getting the bags off is quick and the passengers can pick when they want to get off, within some pretty generous limits.
We arrived at our Athens hotel at about 10:30, and we were all in our rooms by noon. We spent the afternoon wandering or resting and having a nice lunch. That night we went to dinner with one of my high school classmates and her husband - a retired Royal Navy submariner, and the former Secretary of Defense under PM Brian Major. We had a wonderful evening.
The next morning, we departed at 9:00am for our day tour of Athens. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years, and the earliest human presence around the 11th–7th millennium BC. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent. In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece.
Our first stop was the Acropolis and Parthenon. The Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a program of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.
For me the Acropolis is as amazing as the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian, China
We then headed to the new Acropolis Museum - one of the most remarkable museums that I have been in. It was built to house the original carvings of the Acropolis, and in hopes that the many museums around the world - especially the British Museum - will return the original artwork to its homeland. I hope they are successful.
The final event on the way back to the hotel was a city tour - so much to see. Because the outside temperature was 104, we decided to not get off the bus. We arrived back at the hotel and packed and relaxed and went to bed early. Eight of us had to leave the hotel at 3:00am to catch a 6:00am flight to Frankfurt.
The whole trip was amazing, and Azamara is easily one of my few 'go to' cruise lines. Home for a month and then off to Portugal!