The 2010 Mediterranean & Atlantic Explorer Cruise, Part 5
Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert
(Remember to click "read more" if you're looking at this from the main medary.com page to get the whole article!)
November 7 (Sunday, Day 13, Athens, Greece) -
|Guards--evzones--at the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier|
We met for breakfast at 7 AM and Charlotte’s knee was bothering her a lot so our plan of doing the “hop-on/hop-off” was a good one. (Charlotte will have her knee scoped in December to fix her problem so she should be as good as new for our 2011 cruise.) We took the Metro to the start of the bus tour and enjoyed sitting in the open top of the double-decker bus for the next 90 minutes while hearing about Athens. Most stores were closed since it was Sunday and the museums were closed due to the election so it was very quiet other than some of the street vendors selling shoes, socks and other assorted new items displayed on blankets laid on the sidewalks.
More after the jump . . .
Piraeus is a 25-minute metro ride from the Hilton and the hop-on/hop-off bus took about that long. We drove by the beach volleyball complex and the basketball arena used in Athens Olympics. Other than that, the trip to and from Piraeus was not very exciting other than we got to see the port where we’ll get on the ship tomorrow.
|Busy street market|
We decided to eat a light lunch at one of the many outdoor cafes in Syntagma Square. Filbert and Snookums ordered a $4.50 cheese pie and $4.50 spinach pie and shared them while Gary ordered a $13.80 excellent spinach salad and Charlotte ordered the $4.50 spinach pie. After lunch we took the metro back to the Hilton. Gary and Charlotte took 3-hour naps since they still fought jet lag. Filbert and Snookums worked on this journal and posted it to www.medary.com.
We met again for dinner in the lounge and enjoyed looking at the lit up Acropolis one final time.
|Acropolis at night|
November 8 (Monday, Day 14, Boarding ms Prinsendam) -
We met for breakfast in the lounge, but without Gary. Charlotte said that he wasn’t feeling well. That meant that the plan to put Charlotte in a cab with all of the luggage and then having Snookums, Filbert and Gary taking the $1.40 per person metro to the ship would have to change. We easily decided to take two cabs to the ship. Each metered cab cost $25 and we were very surprised at how cheap it was.
We got to the port around noon and we were told that the ship would start embarkation around 12:30. Filbert, Gary and Charlotte sat down at a little café and enjoyed Coke Lights and coffee while Snookums bought three more postcards of Athens and mailed them.
|Our Prinsendam stateroom|
We booked a Superior Verandah Suite and although we didn’t get upgraded, we were pleased with the cabin class we booked. It has a king bed, walk-in closet, bath with tub and shower, two sinks, sitting area, verandah, refrigerator and floor-to-ceiling windows. It is approximately 362 square feet with verandah. The only downfall is that the large plasma television can only be seen from either the bed or the desk. The curved sofa in the sitting area corner is blocked from viewing the television since the bar shelves stick out two feet from the wall and the television only sticks out about two inches. The Bose sound system also sticks out too far under the desk. When they did the renovation the architect obviously didn’t think through the footprint of the high-tech electronics.
Like all other embarkation days, we had a lot of “mail” waiting for us in the cabin. Both Snookums and Filbert received letters from the Hotel Manager, Francois Birarda, saying that he knew that we had identified areas of improvement on a prior cruise and that he would offer any assistance we needed on this cruise. Uh oh – it looks like we’re on some kind of list!!! (We sent the CEO of HAL a letter after our wonderful Alaska cruise saying what a great time we had an offered two critiques about the room layout and the internet packages. The letter was meant to be very positive since we all thought the Alaska cruise was awesome but it seems like we might have ruffled feathers.)
Prior to our 7:30 Pinnacle Grill dinner Snookums fell asleep while reading her book. She was definitely in cruise mode!
Dinner at Pinnacle Grill should have been uneventful but ended up not. Snookums decided to order a filet mignon, which she never does since she’s not a huge steak lover. She ordered it medium and when it was delivered with its exterior totally charred she took a bite but didn’t like the taste. She decided to have two desserts instead and that was fine with her. However, the wait staff was not happy about the situation and repeatedly came to the table to find out how things were. The chef even came out of the kitchen to apologize for the exterior charring and said that the steaks are grilled on such high heat that if they are left on for one second too long, this is what happens. (Filbert’s filet mignon was the same way but he ate it. It was medium on the inside, but totally charred on the outside.) After the chef apologized the maitre d came over and told us that we could come back for a free lunch. We thought it was pretty funny since Snookums didn’t even make a fuss. It must be that list that we’re on…
After our Pinnacle Grill dinner, we went to our dining room table (#19 – round table for six by a window) to meet our two tablemates. Charlotte was there but not Gary since he was still sick. Fran and MaryEllen, retired nurses that met in college, appeared to be having a great time. They’ve already been on the ship for 14 days and stopped in Cairo and Turkey, among other ports. It looks like we’ll have nice dinners.
November 9 (Tuesday, Day 15, At sea) -
We woke up around 8 AM and decided to order room service. Snookums fell back asleep at 10 AM until 1 PM. Filbert wasn’t feeling that well due to the 12-foot waves and alternated between bed and taking showers. He never threw up or anything like that but didn’t feel too well. Snookums, on the other hand, was fine. Snookums left the cabin around 3 PM and had some tomato soup and chocolate ice cream and when she came back, Filbert was putting on his shoes and wanted to get some ice cream, too.
We sent word to our tablemates that we weren’t going to dinner and ate in Lido (the buffet) instead. Tonight was the first of five formal nights so we didn’t dress up, either. Gary was still sick and had actually gone to the medical office and was given some medicine and Gatorade and confined to his cabin until Wednesday morning.
We got back to our cabin around 8 PM and got to turn our clocks back one hour. Snookums watched the movie “Next” with Nicolas Cage. The ms Prinsendam has free DVDs.
November 10 (Wednesday, Day 16, Naples, Italy; Oops! – This port was canceled.) -
We woke up around 7:30 AM and Filbert felt 100%. We ate breakfast and Captain Albert J. Schoonderbeek made an announcement that instead of docking at 9 AM we would dock at 10:30 AM. (The captain posts a daily blog at www.captainalbert.com.)
We were in the cabin hanging out until it was time to dock when another announcement was made. This time the captain said he decided to cancel this port due to the high waves and the wait to get the pilot in order to dock. (There were ferries and other ships hanging around waiting in line.) And, it was raining which makes things in Naples that much trickier. He said that we would head on to Civitavecchia and hopefully we would be there tonight around 9 PM which would allow everyone to have a good night’s rest. (It’s been very rocky since we cruised out of Piraeus on Monday at 5 PM.) The cruise director then made an announcement saying that a new Daily Program was being printed with lots of shipboard activities. We were planning on walking around Naples on our own in the morning and then going on a ship’s tour of Herculaneum this afternoon. Plan B.
|The Lido Restaurant|
|Not a buffet, for the first couple of days|
|The pool deck|
|Sunset of a bonus sea day|
November 11 (Thursday, Day 17, Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy) -
|Pomegranates in the tree|
|Etruscan tomb paintings|
|In Europe, with old stuff all around us|
|A square in Tuscania|
Lunch was at a working farm and consisted of individual salads, lasagna and tiramisu. There was also hard, crusty, tasteless bread. Everyone commented on the bread’s bland taste. It definitely needed salt. The red table wine was free flowing so that seemed to make up for it. Filbert had espresso at the end of the meal. It was a charming place and a nice lunch. Filbert even bought a bottle of their wine for $9.86.
Our next stop was at the small town of Marta, next to Lake Marta. Lake Marta is the 5th largest lake in Italy. It was around 3 PM and since it was a Thursday, everything was closed. We were told that in Italy everything closes on Thursday afternoons! It’s true. We ended up getting back to the ship around 5 PM after a delightful day.
Next: The trains run on time!