The fourth day of our cruise was our first proper excursion day and would prove to be one of the best. Between the group we were with and the amazing guide, that day set the bar really high for the rest of our trip.
I had joined us up on an all day Athens tour with PKTravel.com which was organized by a woman in Australia that I met via the message boards on CruiseCritic.com. The people we were with that day would turn out to be some of our favorite people from the entire trip, and we were so glad to see them again and again in different excursions. I can see now why people plan cruises together in groups, because if you have the right crowd it can be so much more fun.
Our guide, Dimitris, was outstanding. He was funny, knowledgeable, professional and… hot. There, I said it, the man was a Greek God. We were shown around Athens by a Spartan and it was really cool! I wish I’d gotten proper photos of him but I know the other gals from the excursion, if they are reading this, are nodding their heads in agreement. It wasn’t just the women that enjoyed his company, though. My husband thought he was great, because no matter what question my husband threw his way, he had the answer. Xander is quite curious by nature and I knew going in that he’d likely attach himself to the guides and ask a million questions, so it wasn’t surprising when he did so with Dimitris. We went on to compare every guide we had after to him and while some came close, he definitely took the prize for the #1 guide for our cruise.
We knew for sure that we made the right decision in going with a smaller group for our excursions, rather than a bus with the ship. Not just because of the cost, but with the level of attention we got from our guide. Having 11-12 of us in a large van made it a lot easier for us to chat, for him to point things out to us and also much easier for him to get into places the big busses can’t. This was the case with every excursion and was a major bonus of going in smaller groups.
If you are ever visiting Greece and are in the Athens area, I can’t recommend PK Travel highly enough!
The full day tour included the following:
- The Acropolis
- The Temple of Zeus
- The Panathenaic Stadium
- The Hill of Lycabettus
- The Old Palace, The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier & The Changing of The Guards, The Catholic Cathedral, The Neoclassical Trilogy
- The Plaka for lunch and free time
- The New Acropolis Museum
It was all amaaazing! I still look at the photos and can’t believe we were actually there. The historical sights were so much more than any photo can capture as it felt really strange to stand in the same places where everything took place so long ago. We managed to get to most places to beat the major crowds as well, which was great. Dimitris took us to Plaka for lunch and recommended that we try a real Greek gyros, adamant that it would be worlds above anything we’ve had at home (I wasn’t a big fan when I had it here in the Netherlands, to be honest), so I decided to give it a go. When in Athens!
Oh.My.Word – It was freaking delicious. I’m pretty sure I almost busted my poor little leftover stomach to bits but it was so worth it. He was not kidding, there’s just nothing like the real thing. I’ve had gyros since we’ve been back in Rotterdam and while I do like them more than I remember, I suspect some of it is just nostalgia, because there’s no comparison really.
Another lesson I learned on this excursion, which would come up time and time again during our trip was that if I want to see a lot of the real artifacts of these ancient cities I’ll have to go to London, because it seemed like no matter which country we went to or which ruins we were visiting, we heard the same tale again and again… “For the real artifacts you need to visit the British Museum in London, because they took it!”. Those Brits are sneaky devils and our Greek guide was not at all happy about the situation with the Greeks having replicas of their own history, while the real deal sat in London.
According to him, the British felt that Greece wasn’t in any financial state to protect the pieces. Well, yeah. Anyway, it was still great to visit even if some of what we saw were casings.
It was an absolutely amazing day, one of many to come!
Here are the photos, click for larger pics and descriptions..
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