May 21 – Disembark in Athens

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May 21st 2016
Published: May 21st 2016
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Hello from Athens. This is from a hotel in Athens and not the floating hotel we’ve been staying in for the past 4 weeks. By now the Royal Princess is back at sea beginning a cruise back toward Barcelona and we are land-lovers again.

When the alarm went off this morning we were happy to discover we could indeed get everything stashed in our remaining “carry luggage”. We went up to the Horizon Court for a final ship-board breakfast and the first person we saw was our usual dinner waiter Jesus. He quickly cleared a table for us and we went through the buffet to get our food. He brought us our drinks and kept asking if we wanted anything else, but we were quite content with all the food we had gathered already. Then our Head Waiter (Benito) came by and we chatted with him a little also. So breakfast actually lasted for a while.

We went down to the Symphony Dining Room and waited until our departure group was announced. We had elected to be in one of the later “independent travelers” groups, so we would not arrive at the hotel too early. FYI, everyone had been given color-coded luggage tags for their suitcases that had been set out last night and then they called departures by color & number – we were Navy 3. We left the ship easily with our roller-bag, backpack, and large sewing bag, and we went straight to the luggage depot. All the suitcases had been sorted by color-tag and we found ours just fine. A baggage handler helped us across the street to the taxi stand and we got in a taxi within a few minutes.

Our driver knew the hotel and gave us a price which matched our expectations (20 euros). Along the way he tried to talk us into a diversion to tour some of the famous places in Athens. Since we have a tour already booked and paid for tomorrow that should do the same thing, therefore we declined. He seemed like a nice personable guy who spoke reasonably good English, but we’ve already made the other arrangements. So we arrived at the hotel around 10:00 in the morning. They took our registration information but our room was not ready yet, so we stayed in the lobby for about an hour. When the room was ready about 11:00 they brought us the key and delivered our bags to the room. Now we are all unpacked and established in Athens for a few more days. The desk clerk even showed us how to call the local tour company to reconfirm the time of pickup for our trips for the next 2 days.

We went downstairs to the lobby café for a light lunch around noon, which actually was really large for sandwiches and fries. There is no teapot in our room, so Janet got a couple of pots of hot tea with lunch to remedy her caffeine withdrawal. Anyway, it was a nice lunch and just what we needed. Then about 1:00 we went back to the room for Janet to take a little nap and David went for a walk around the neighborhood. Although this is a very nice hotel, we don’t want to eat all our meals here, so David went scouting for a restaurant within walking distance for tonight. He got his exercise wandering around and discovered there are a lot of residential units nearby and a collection of cafes/tavernas. He found one which looked interesting, but they do not serve supper until 9:00. David selected another which is within 2 blocks (not cobblestoned paths either), had a menu with Greek and English, appeared reasonably priced, and they serve dinner anytime. So he went back to our hotel (The Metropolitan) and then decided to lie down and get a little rest himself. We both had felt some stress last night about the departure, so we didn’t sleep too well.

Since our main goal today was simply to get off the ship and get to the hotel, and to reconfirm our tour reservation for tomorrow, that meant we could lounge around and rest during the afternoon. There is a TV in the room but it only gets two stations in English (BBC World News and Bloomberg). After we each had our naps, Janet was able to do some needlework and David read his book for a while before we got ready to wander off to dinner.

The restaurant was really very nice. It was a simple neighbor place (not some fancy elaborate place) but the food was delicious. Janet had the Veal Steak dinner and David had the Pork Steak dinner. Each came with French Fries and Rice. We ordered a half liter of white wine and a bottle of water. Afterwards the lady who was waiting on us brought us each a glass of Lemoncello. We had a sidewalk table and it was nice and comfortable weather. The lady in charge was very personable and tried to make us feel welcome, and altogether it was a really nice meal. Periodically a cat would prowl past in the street and Janet would try to talk to them, but apparently she doesn’t speak “Greek Cat” language.

We walked back over to the hotel and got to enjoy a full sized shower. Anyone who hasn’t been cruising might not understand, but showers on the ship are about the same size as an old fashioned phone booth. For those who don’t know what a phone booth was like, you need to look it up on the Internet. After refreshing showers we dug out a NetFlix DVD which had come in the mail the day before we left St Louis. We had carried it all around Europe and finally it was time to watch the “Grand Budapest Hotel”. After we got everything ready for tomorrow’s assault on Athens, and then went to bed. Good night.

There are no pictures today, but if you revisit yesterday’s blog there have been a couple of Mykonos pictures added. Janet got a picture of Abigail celebrating on “Girl’s Night Out”. She was having a big milkshake in honor of Grandma’s Birthday. It’s nice to know that everyone seems to be happily enjoying the big event.

Although she may not be aware of it, today is Helen’s “name day” in Greece. Today is the celebration of Constantine and in English than name is Helen. At least that is what we overheard. So happy name day to all the Helens we know.

We intend to have fun in Greece for the next two days before the long flight home, but now that we are back on dry land we can start counting the days until out next cruise – it is 270 days until we sail from Santiago Chili. By the way, we heard that the largest cruise ship in the world was launched this week and it can hold more than 6300 passenger. That being the case, we would like to vote for smaller ships rather than bigger ships. The Royal Princess was actually bigger than we like. It certainly does ride smoothly in rougher weather, but it just didn’t seem to be quite as personal as on the smaller ships. Nonetheless we had a good time anyway.


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