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Old 1st June 2013, 14:21   #16
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Default Re: 'Cruise Ship Holiday' for Dummies...and my European Travelogue!

Since there is a glitch in my last post with pictures, i am reposting it again.Mods please delete the last post in which only links show, not the actual pics. Thanks


From The Heaven a lacquered wooden stairway led to the topmost deck of the Ship which was a sundeck. This was only accessed through this floor so it was a private sundeck of sorts for the 14th floor. Thrown around were some huge deck chairs and sofas and one could order refreshments here and enjoy the sun or moon or the open sky whenever one wanted.

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Since there was still time for cast off, i decided to see what was happening around the ship common areas.
The Pool side was where the action was at the moment. This was where the cast away party was already being help. Musicians were playing singing and people were dancing and enjoying the Italian evening.
There was barbeque and grills and food and salads was available in plenty for all to come and enjoy.

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Exactly at the time specified the Ship blasted its horn to signify castaway and the crowd got delirious while i clamored to the top deck with a few others as i knew the photo op would be awesome. The massive engines (a mix of Diesel and Electric) of the Ship were fired

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The Sun was still bright and the sky was cloudy in parts

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A tug boat was tugging us out from our docking bay into the open waters......

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.....While i stared into the massive empty docking bay which, just moments before, this huge vessel was occupying. The sheer magnitude of it gives you a sense of humility, especially when you realize that it is a floating ship after all.

The Gull soared onwards our direction, escorting us to the Grand Canal through which we were shortly going to pass.

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The View of the Island from atop the ship was something else. I was spell bound by the sheer beauty of this ancient city from another perspective. No wonder that its been listed as a world heritage site along with its lagoon. Im no expert at photography but this kind of view makes a poet and a photographer out of anybody.

Pardon me, if i chose to click away instead of pen down a few rhythmic lines of prose.

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Old 1st June 2013, 14:41   #17
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Default Re: 'Cruise Ship Holiday' for Dummies...and my European Travelogue!

....continuing with the pics

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St Mark's Area

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The Dandolo Palace or the Danieli Hotel is the brick coloured structure

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The Campanile stands out from anywhere

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The San Basilio Dock which Navin was talking about

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Away from Venice

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Past the islands and the cloudy sky

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Past Lido

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And this old fort that protected Venice from attackers, now almost submerged into the waters. The water had raised to the gun ports that you can see and most of the stairs leading to the fort are since submerged under water. Another thing that worries me is that yes, Venice is sinking.

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Past the private Airstrip

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The skies looked like an artist's palette..

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....while the sea chose to be calm, deep, blue and empty....

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...just like this upper deck

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We would be docking at our first port of call tomorrow, Dubrovnik in Croatia!!
Excited!!!!!!
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Old 2nd June 2013, 09:23   #18
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Default Re: 'Cruise Ship Holiday' for Dummies...and my European Travelogue!

Been on the NCL 'Norwegian Jade' from Venice to Greek islands of Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos and Olympia and back in Aug 2011. Great Ship . I especially liked their freestyle cruising where one does not have to dress up for dinner like on other cruises. Last year we went to France, Belgium and Norwegian fjords on board Royal Caribbean ' Brilliance Of The Seas' on that we had formal dining every night. This year would be trying a tour of British isles aboard Princess Cruises 'Caribbean Princess' . What these cruises have in common is loads of indian employees mainly from southern India. Don't have to pack and unpack in new hotel's every other day, the hotel moves with you.
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Old 3rd June 2013, 11:55   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ask77 View Post
What these cruises have in common is loads of indian employees mainly from southern India. Don't have to pack and unpack in new hotel's every other day, the hotel moves with you.
This is the best part of a cruise. The only down side is that they usually stay in a port for less than a day and if they have to tender you don't get to see much in the places they visit.
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Old 5th June 2013, 15:37   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ask77 View Post
Been on the NCL 'Norwegian Jade' from Venice to Greek islands of Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos and Olympia and back in Aug 2011. Great Ship . I especially liked their freestyle cruising where one does not have to dress up for dinner like on other cruises. Last year we went to France, Belgium and Norwegian fjords on board Royal Caribbean ' Brilliance Of The Seas' on that we had formal dining every night. This year would be trying a tour of British isles aboard Princess Cruises 'Caribbean Princess' . What these cruises have in common is loads of indian employees mainly from southern India. Don't have to pack and unpack in new hotel's every other day, the hotel moves with you.
Exactly. The casual dining is a big part of the cruise. Even here there was a huge contingent of employees from India. Bombay and Goa were the top contenders. The executive chef was from Goa and whenever he met me he always asked if he could do anything special or Indian for our family.

Quote:
Originally Posted by navin View Post
This is the best part of a cruise. The only down side is that they usually stay in a port for less than a day and if they have to tender you don't get to see much in the places they visit.
Absolutely. But then that also pushes you to see what you would regularly do in two days, just because you have the time. Here you are pressed for time so one is always clamoring to see the places one can in the short time available.



So, continuing with my Travelogue!!

Dubrovnik in Croatia on the Adriatic sea reminds me of San Gemignano, the ancient Italian city. By all means this is a great place to visit but i wonder what id do here after one day. If this was not part of the cruise route i dont think i would have come to visit Dubrovnik specially. Im glad i came though, its beautiful to another level. I am an old things buff, so the old part of the city always attracts me. It tells you about the culture of the place and the old walls almost speak to you. It is one of the most beautiful towns in the Mediterranean.

This can be seen by the number of cruise ships that come here.It is indeed a very popular destination by cruise.

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It is almost impossible to find a city in Europe which is as well preserved as Dubrovnik. The entire old city is walled. The wall runs around almost 2 kms, around the museum city and is from 20-25 feet n width and about 80 feet tall, running around it. No wonder, no other conqueror was able to capture the city. Therefore the city is so wonderfully well preserved and maintained. It looks like a castle complete with a drawbridge to enter the city and a moat. There is also a system of turrets and towers which were intended to protect the vulnerable city from the attackers who would most likely come from the sea.
We caught a cab from the cruise terminal and drove to the old city which is around 2.5 km or almost 10 minutes away from the terminal.

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As i reached the place my entire concept of the city changed. I had imagined it to be a sleepy old town much like the old part of Salzburg but this was a bustling place with so many tourists and tourist buses. Amazing how countries recognize and exploit their tourism potential to the T. Im told a huge and major chunk of their income comes in from tourism. It is so popular with tourists that out of the many Luxury hotels in Croatia, maximum are located in Dubrovnik.

The entrance to the Old city is through a drawbridge and the entire wall is surrounded by a moat that may have well housed some fierce sea creatures to keep unwanted elements out. There is also an orange tree right at the edge of the moat.

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As soon as one enters, one comes across Big Onoforio's Fountain.

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Built in the 15th century and the main water supply to the city back then, water was bought to this fountain from the source some 15-20 kms away through aqua ducts. There are some 15-16 outlets that gush water but only a few were working the day i visited. All these outlets had very intricately carved sculptures adorning them but the earthquake of the mid 1600s heavily damaged this monument and destroyed almost all of the sculptures. The fountain is named after the Engineer who designed this marvel. The water is still used for drinking and i did take a few cool sips from it.

The faucet

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The steps surrounding the fountain are usually used by young students who come and squat there for a chat or by vendors selling some souvenirs.

Cross the fountain and one comes to the main square, populated with its share of spectacular churches, restaurants, cafes, boutiques, shops, monasteries, a spectacular clock tower, museums, and fountains and is completely pedestrianised. It is small enough to get around on foot.

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The Old Town is a warren of little streets and alleys leading upwards as the city is built on levels. Some of the streets are a little steep though but a pleasure to get around. There is almost a cafe in every nook on every level. There are however signs at the entrances to many of these streets advertising what businesses, shops, restaurants and accommodation are to be found in that direction. Boutiques and shops can be found on the lower level niches of the city with many restaurants.

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Just adjacent to the fountain is one of the three entrances to the walls of the city, a steep climb of more than 350 steps in all which take you to the edges of the city's walls from where one can get the best view of the rooftops of the walled city as well as a panoramic view to the sea. A must do for those who are fit enough only. The steps are too many and very very steep which make it more difficult to climb down than up, so beware. There is an entry fee for the walls which is only taken in the local currency Kunas or by credit card. If you do not have any local currency it is best you use your credit card, as your change from foreign currency will be returned in local currency. For children and students the entry to the walls is discounted.

The view from atop is breath taking

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........Continued.......

Last edited by V-16 : 5th June 2013 at 15:41.
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Old 5th June 2013, 17:04   #21
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Default Re: 'Cruise Ship Holiday' for Dummies...and my European Travelogue!

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The drawbridge entering and the Orange tree in at the entrance.

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Outside the walled city.

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The Fort

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Just water for as far as one can see.

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Part destroyed by the mighty earthquake

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Within the city, also lies a beautiful Jetty

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I had heard a lot about the Dubrovnik Cable Car. The original cable car was destroyed by a bomb attack in the conflict of the early 1990s but was reopened in 2010. Unfortunately we could not take the cable car as it was closed on the day due to rain.

Entry from the Busa Gate for the Cable Car.

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Be careful while climbing down, especially on wet days it is steep and slippery

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In Croatia, one will find many ladies selling handmade lace table cloths, napkins and bed covers. There are many local artisans who specialize in these crafts. One can also buy some semi precious stone jewellery from here.

Once out we stopped by a the restaurant with a spectacular view. This restaurant was also established in the 1700s.

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Old 5th June 2013, 17:19   #22
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Default Re: 'Cruise Ship Holiday' for Dummies...and my European Travelogue!

Fantastic thread. A Cruise is always in my mind but i park it thinking of the budget some day !!!

I like the way you write few lines and then let the pictures do the talking. Must have been awesome to experience it in person.
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Old 5th June 2013, 17:29   #23
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Our Lunch included some Veal Stroganoff with some hand made pasta, Pumpkin Soup, Greek Salad and Grilled Chicken

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Finished off with this chocolate cake unique to the city and is also called the Dubrovnik Chocolate Cake. We ordered just one try at first. Needless to say it was yummy, wiped out in seconds and we ordered a few more of the same

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We caught a cab, easily available outside the walls of the old city and made our way to the cruise terminal.

It is uncanny how the cruise liners and other ships big and small are just lined up on the edge of the road.

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Onto the ship

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Just in time to catch the beautiful sunset

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The city looks beautiful from any angle

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As we awaited our castaway time, other cruise ships big and small left at their destined castaway times.

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Old 5th June 2013, 17:43   #24
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As we cast away from Dubrovnik i was left with spellbinding views of this beautiful city whose memories would definitely stay with me for a long long time.

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We were going to be sea again for the next entire day.

Every day we would receive an envelope which would spell out the programme for the entire day with suggestions. The Butler would call on us to find out if there was any special food that we needed to be made for us. The next day we would be relaxing at sea till our next port of call Piraeus in Greece.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rajshenoy View Post
Fantastic thread. A Cruise is always in my mind but i park it thinking of the budget some day !!!

I like the way you write few lines and then let the pictures do the talking. Must have been awesome to experience it in person.
Appreciate your feedback Raj. Actually, contrary to popular belief, a cruise is not expensive. One conveniently forgets that while on a cruise,your stay and meals are all included in the price, as is travelling via any other form, (mostly by air to different countries). What most people do is compare just the air fare to the entire cruise holiday. One must also take into account the average per night spend on a HOtel and the average per day spend onthe food which is Breakfast(if not included in the hotel room price) Lunch, dinner, snacks, tea, coffee, etc etc. Then travelling to and fro from the airport to the hotel, the cost of extra tickets travelling from city to city or country to county etc. Im sure of you consider all these costs, then the cruise holiday would be quite competitive.
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Old 5th June 2013, 17:48   #25
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Default Re: 'Cruise Ship Holiday' for Dummies...and my European Travelogue!

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Originally Posted by V-16 View Post
Appreciate your feedback Raj. Actually, contrary to popular belief, a cruise is not expensive. One conveniently forgets that while on a cruise,your stay and meals are all included in the price, as is travelling via any other form, (mostly by air to different countries). What most people do is compare just the air fare to the entire cruise holiday. One must also take into account the average per night spend on a HOtel and the average per day spend onthe food which is Breakfast(if not included in the hotel room price) Lunch, dinner, snacks, tea, coffee, etc etc. Then travelling to and fro from the airport to the hotel, the cost of extra tickets travelling from city to city or country to county etc. Im sure of you consider all these costs, then the cruise holiday would be quite competitive.
Thanks. Yes that is the first thing i read and got hooked on to this thread

I totally agree with you.
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Old 6th June 2013, 16:02   #26
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Piraeus, Athens, Greece

Piraeus is a port city located within Athens area. It was a 20 minute ride from the Cruise terminal to the City. The city's history dates back to ancient times as far back as 5th century BC.
Being a port, as almost all port cities, it flourished in trade and eventually suffered at the hands of various plunderers and attackers from the Italians to the Turks and of course during the World War. This ancient city bore the brunt of the many wars that were fought here, till Greece got its independence.
Owing to its antiquity, Piraeus is home to several museums and other archaeological sites. The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus displays objects found at and around and is very interesting.
Going through the artifacts in the museum, i came upon a startling fact that, the Greeks shared many rituals, especially marriage rituals with our culture. Many pre marriage, cultural pre requisites were almost similar. The museum is amazing and is built right on the site of excavation. The museum's lower floor is made at the exact angle and slope as the original dwelling which was excavated there years ago to give the visitor the feel of how and what was the surroundings so many centuries ago. The planning was impeccable and the thought to detail amazing.

The Greek are really friendly people. We met a very friendly and helpful Old cabbie called Christo who for a fixed sum would take us around Piraeus and Athens and all the sites to be seen plus some more stuff that is not usually on the cards of tourists who have a one day agenda in Greece. He helped us into his W210 already done 3,25,000 kms and looked and sounded new. Cristo would be our chauffeur, friend, Greek economic affairs spokesperson and guide to Piraeus and Athens for the next 5-6 hours or until we decided to return back to the cruise terminal.

Affable Christo At Your Service:

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He showed us around the streets of Athens all the time giving a running commentary about where we were, what the area is famous for and what we should do or not do. By the time we hit this scenic spot we knew about the population of the cities, the bad state Greek economy was in and reasons for the same.

The famous indoor games stadium along the Marina.
This stretch also houses a row of sea food restaurants. According to Christo, each and every boat and yacht docked here was for sale due to the sad economic affairs but there were no takers.

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While driving we came across a mix of old and new architecture as can be seen in this street. This dilapidated house under restoration is one of the older heritage structures.

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We visited the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus wherin the museum is housed right at the place of excavation. Also, the excavation is not yet complete so right under where you walk into the museum, you can see archaeologists and workers working their magic in resurrecting the old artifacts and perhaps a whole city from below the ground.

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The Acropolis which we would be visiting next was in sight from the huge glass windows of the Museum.

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The Acropolis

The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located high above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.

For those who are more interested in the Acropolis, heres the Wili Link.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acropolis_of_Athens

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The Parthenon

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The architecture and carvings on the columns are spellbinding for that era. Some figurines and are still almost intact

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City View with the modern Museum building in sight

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The Temple of Zeus seen from the Acropolis

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Old 6th June 2013, 16:23   #27
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So many historical sites to see

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Panoramic Athens from a hole in the wall at Acropolis

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Temple of Zeus

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The Partheneon through the Columns of the temple

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Intricate craftsmanship

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We then proceeded to see the change of guard at the Kings Palace, which now houses the President.
The Ritual involves members of the Tactical unit of the Special forces who stand guard outside the Palace without a blink much like the Royal guards at the Buckingham Palace. The Guard is changed every hour on the :15. when a troop of replacements march down the streets and come face to face with the outgoing guard. It involves some slow and strict maneuvers and reminds one of the ritual at the Wagah Border but in slow motion.

Change of Presidential Guard

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The first and original Olympic stadium stands in the city center, absolutely intact.

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The Parliament building

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The Bretagne hotel one of the most luxurious hotels in Athens.

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We were informed that this hotel was almost undergoing closure a few months ago till a corporate entity bought it and is now the new owner.

Christo then drove us through Plaka which is the old part of town and is a must see. It is also called "The Neighbourhood of Gods" owing to its close proximity to the Acropolis and most of the historical sites in Athens.
Christo advised us to walk through the small lanes which had boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants and cafes lined up. He also advised us on where and what to eat when we came back from the The Ancient Agora where he was taking us next, just a lane away from here.

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The Agora

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Last edited by V-16 : 6th June 2013 at 16:26.
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Old 6th June 2013, 16:40   #28
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The Tower at the Agora

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After this we were dropped to another part of Plaka to explore and have our lunch at a typical Greek Taverna.

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Our Lunch consisted of Bread which we dipped in extra virgin olive oil with a dash of Pepper, Salt and Balsamic, Cheese Balls, Spaghetti and Meat Balls and baked free range country eggs with Village sausages and Feta cheese.

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A delicious meal later, we explored the lanes of Plaka, marinating in its history

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This house has retained its old chimney. I was told that this part of town had houses which were upto thousands of years old and demanded a huge real estate premium. When i heard the price which they proudly declares, i thought that was way less than the value of real estate in Bombay and that too not in the elitist of areas.

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Thanks to Christo, we could see all we could in record time in the comfort of an air conditioned Mercedes. We had an hour more but were quite tired of the hectic schedule plus if you've seen one ruin, you've seen them all and there was nothing more interesting to see around, in the time we had.


We returned to the cruise terminal to board our Ship......

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with fantastic views of the city from the upper sun deck of this really busy port.

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Soon we were, once again at sea......

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.....passing quaint small islands, some with a smaller population and some which looked unpopulated from where I stood.......

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.......in the company of the clear blue sky.....

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....and the calm blue sea!!!

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Old 6th June 2013, 17:20   #29
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Default Re: 'Cruise Ship Holiday' for Dummies...and my European Travelogue!

Thanks for sharing! I recollect my sweet memories from Athens. Some of the best days ever!
I remember being so excited about visiting the original Olympic stadium, The Partheneon, the Acropolis. But, at the end of the trip, Plaka was the one which had stolen my heart. If you had time, you should visit Plaka in the evening when the fun begins. The food is obviously amazing and you also get to experience Greek music and dance which is so extraordinary! The Acropolis at night is a stunner and there will be some or the other plays going on at the huge auditorium. I am seriously missing this place
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Old 7th June 2013, 16:20   #30
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Excellent travelogue with some really good pics.If you can, could you please include small details of the costs of entry fees to various tourist attractions ,cab fares ,meals etc etc ,just to give a fair idea.Thanks for opening up the whole new world of cruising.There are many I am sure who are planning but are yet to take that final step ,I know I am one of them.
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