TRAVELSCRIBBLES is a blog featuring travel reports, advice, and idea sharing for those interested in both domestic and international exploration.

Roger Sauer and his wife Donna have spent years traveling the world but have many places yet to see. You can follow their past and current travels here as well as post comments and questions about places they have visited.

Roger and Donna travelled to New Zealand and Australia in September, 2013. They will be in Paris in September 2015 with a train trip to Nice and Barcelona. They will then be aboard the Disney Magic (again) for a transatlantic cruise to Miami. Follow their travels on Twitter @rsauer3473.

Donna and Roger own Disney Vacation Club memberships at Old Key West and Beach Cub resorts in Walt Disney World. They also have other timeshare interests in Maui, Cancun, Orlando, and Palm Springs.
Feel free to contact them at 503-585-3473 if you would like rent one of these properties.

Where Do You Want To Go Today?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

European Trip and Transatlantic Cruise Part 3

ON THE WAY TO VOULIAGMENI - September 9, 2010
A taxi ride at 140 kph got us to the airport near the coast in record time. We flew Aegean Airlines to Athens and we cannot say enough about the flight. Even though it was only we had a two hour flight, we had a meal, wine and coffee served and we were in spacious exit rows with an extra seat in our row. Looking forward to our flight to Barcelona on Tuesday.

We deplaned and got our luggage and then took a bus rather than a cab to help us get to Vouliagmeni, about 20 miles away. There had been a warning given to us by the stewardess to avoid cab drivers at the airport. The bus was crowded and of course we were carrying four bags. We were told to get of at a specific stop and then transfer to the town we needed then take a cab. Arriving in a little town at the stop indicated- a small dusty village with traffic, but also with a McDonald's, we tried to get directions to the next bus. No one spoke English or spoke it very well. And we do not know Greek.

We dragged our bags to the next stop where we again asked about getting to Vouliagmeni. No help. Fortunately a cab came by and a young man flagged it for us. We managed to get everything into the cab (one large bag riding shotgun up front). Twelve euros later we arrived at the Westin Astir Palace on the Saronic Gulf. Cool digs.
After getting our things arranged (this includes using our convenient Maytag-in-a-sink for some quick laundry, we walked to the pool, a huge one next to the sea. The water is filtered heated salt water, though there are docks where one can swim into the open sea. There are hardly any people here as the holiday season is over. I also found out that there is wifi here, so communication including Skype should be easier.

There was a complimentary shuttle to the town of Glyfada, so we took it to have some dinner and do some shopping. We had a great Greek dinner of fresh salad, grilled meats, bread and sauces and a kebob. After eating, we looked for a grocery we asked the waiter where one was, but after half a mile of walking up a heavily congested tourist-filled street, we gave up. An older gentleman walked by on a side street we had taken and, when asked, simply said, "Follow me."

The course we had just taken was reversed and we ended up at a little mini market near our restaurant. It was very, very mini. Not much there. But we picked up some Coke, a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers. Enough to get us through a few days of lunches.
After catching our shuttle on the main thoroughfare at 9:30 PM (11:30 AM your time) we drove back to our hotel, at the southern tip of a peninsula.

VOULIAGMENI - September 10, 2010
A lazy day by the sea. After getting up and eating our pastries from Starbucks that we purchased last night, we walked down to the huge pool and sat out in the sun. As the pool is salt water, it is not as refreshing as a regular pool, but it is nice to cool off. I tried my skills at swimming in the sea which is on another side of the large expansive surround of the pool. The swells were about at 2 feet so getting on and off the ladder was a challenge. Donna took a picture of me out in the water.

We had a small lunch then decided to walk towards town to pick up some things at a deli we had seen last night. The walk went past a large marina and two crowded swimming beaches. (Our hotels are on a private gated road and security is high).
It got pretty warm on our walk to and from the deli so, when we returned to the hotel, it was off to the pool again.

There are two conventions being held at the Westin and its sister property, the Arion, next door. One is for the European football union which means soccer, and at our hotel is the China ING (financial stuff) convention. At our pool in the afternoon one would assume this hotel was in Beijing or Shanghai as there were many Chinese families at the facility. Very interesting and a real cultural mix.

In the evening we took the shuttle back to Glyfada for dinner- Greek salad and souvlaki. Very good.

We watched some TV which means CNN. The only news from the US tends to be about the crazy guy who wants to burn Korans.

ATHENS- September 11, 2010
The hotel's shuttle bus took about 30 minutes to get to central Athens. We expected to see the Acropolis towering above the city, but we did not. After getting off the bus, we followed the map down a small street lined with restaurants toward where the Acropolis was supposed to be. The close quarters of the streets/pedestrian walks obscured the views till we reached the end of Kydathineon Street where we met the lofty height of the Acropolis walls. We purchased tickets to enter and began a long trek up the hill. We were fortunate in that we had entered a minor entrance on the east side. Most of the big tour groups off cruise ships docked in Piraeus came in the main western egress point.

So up we climbed past the Theater of Dionysus and rows of tumbled marble columns. It was very warm despite its being mid-morning. The trail was steep at times though the rocky path helped us from slipping. As we turned toward the west side, we came upon the larger tour groups and a line that zig-sagged up toward the summit. The crowd was large and, as there were no railings, we had to be careful moving forward.

Ascending the hill we became more aware of the immense size of the city of Athens. On other peaks around the city were other ruins and what I assumed was a church. Nearing the top of the hill we encountered earlier visitors trying to descend the path that was now comprised of marble steps and large outcroppings of red porphyry marble.

The largest temple, the Parthenon, had a great deal of machinery within it and around it as the Greeks have been in the process of restoring the site since 1992. However the best temple in my opinion was the Erechtheion that had a series of stone maidens or caryatids supporting the roof.

We took many pictures and helped other tourists take pictures as well. After about half and hour we descended and made our way to the new Acropolis Museum built atop an excavated ruin visible through thick glass floors in the entryway and open spaces with surrounding walkways. Donna chose to read outside while I toured the four floors. The pieces included everything from pottery to huge bas-reliefs taken from the Acropolis to artistic reconstructions of the Acropolis and its buildings.

I picked up a few things in the gift shop then we retraced our route back to Kydathineon Street for lunch. tourism must be down because we were approached at many cafes by waiters urging to dine their establishments. One such waiter lured us to his place that proved to be very good. Donna had moussaka and I had calamari (tentacles and all).

We then shopped a little for souvenirs before heading to Hard Rock Cafe to check things out. A few souvenirs later we walked toward our bus stop as it began to rain. We were to have been picked up by 5:30 PM by the Amelia Hotel, so we escaped the rain there and read for two hours waiting for the shuttle while it thundered and flashed lightening. Too bad we could not see the storm from the Acropolis- it would have been awesome.

The shuttle came in the form of a huge tour bus that carried only six of us back to the hotel. We struck up a conversation with a lady from the US who was Greek and had friends here. She had been here for a month and she recommended a restaurant down the hill from the Westin.

Not much on television in the evening: CNN repeats, AlJazeera in Arabic, China news, German movies, and Japanese game shows. Right now the top news stories include the labor protests here in Greece, the threat of Koran burning, the Pakistani cricket team scandal, and the fate of the Roma (we call them "Gypsies") throughout Europe.

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