London & Piraeus

We arrived in London at 12:30 PM and we met at the gate by cruise representatives. Because of a five hour layover, we boarded buses and we’re driven to Hampton Court. Our guide related a comment made by one of her “charges” from the past. After having flown over the lovely Windsor Castle, built 900 years ago, it was asked why it was built so near the airport.

Enroute, we passed through the quaint small English communities where gardens of flowers are predominant, and shops are built under the living quarters. After a box lunch in the Gardens of Hampton Court, a tour of the palace was made. Built by Thomas Wolsey, and used as his residence until he presented it to King Henry VIII in 1529. As Henry took each new wife he had her initials carved in the stone of the entrance, and removed the one of her predecessor. The castle has 200 guest bedrooms, beautiful floor to ceiling windows with large panes and window seats. There are beautiful views of the outdoor gardens. Henry’s sitting room contained a mirror located so he could see through eight rooms. If anyone was approaching, he had time to make a getaway if he chose not to meet with them. Queen Ann had 18 children and none of them survived. The elegant chapel is where Henry was when Queen Catherine pounded on the doors screaming and proclaiming her innocence of adultery. He wouldn’t listen to her pleas, and it is said that her voice can still be heard screaming at night. George II had flocked wallpaper put up dating back to the 1700s that was in better condition than the nine year old paper in our bathroom.

We returned to Heathrow by bus and our flight left half an hour late at 5:30 PM, British Airways flight number 526M to Athens. We were lucky to have had 68° weather and cloudy skies after a heavy rain the day before. Thought we had a celebrity boarding our L10-11 in the name of Bette Midler, but later met her on the cruise and could see it was just a resemblance.

We arrived in Athens, Greece at 11:30 PM (a ten hour time difference from LA), and were taken by bus to the ship, arriving about midnight. On the drive, I noticed that amusement parks were popular. After boarding the Odyssey, we picked up our shore excursion tickets from the Purser. He would not issue a safe deposit box until the following morning. The passengers, fatigued from the long travel hours, were not treated courteously by this man and he spoke very rudely to some.

After taking a walk around the deck and stopping in the Calypso Lounge, our luggage was delivered outside the stateroom next to ours. After unpacking and getting settled in our floating hotel, room 325 Coral Deck, we finally got to our much welcome to beds at 2 AM.