Our tour started at 9 AM. As we boarded our bus, four black women traveling together were a bit confused about where they were going. One had boarded and taken a seat but the others kept asking the driver if that was the bus to Turkey. Finally, the one on board yelled and said, just tear out a coupon and get on the bus. Just like Disneyland, I thought.
As we started our drive, the local guide informed us that only 300 of the 1,400 islands in Greece are inhabited. There are no automobiles manufactured there, and the least expensive is $10,000. The average wage is $400 a month.
We passed the remaining columns of the Temple of Zeus --- originally 104, now only 16, which are 1800 years old. Our first stop was the Acropolis (which means top of the city) with its Parthenon, the Temple of Athena. The facade of the theatre below is original, but steps have been replaced. It was very, very hot here; I am sure they’ve never heard the expression “no sweat.”
We did not find the tour inside of the Athens National Museum of all the stone statues very interesting, so we left the group early and joined others under the trees at an outside café to cool off with a Greek beer. The bus driver came later to collect our group, but was parked around the corner. He had tried to park close by, and we heard him telling the tour guide what happened. Seems some things are pronounced the same in any language. Speaking of a traffic policeman, he said “That SOB gave me a ticket.” I asked the driver later if he had to pay the fine out of his own pocket and learned that he did --- $90. Plus, the possibility of losing his chauffeur's license for a couple of months and not having an income.
I thought of Tony as we passed the Italian embassy. We stopped at the Athens Hilton for a delicious Greek lunch: fish, salmon, and cheese hors d’oeuvres, salad, shishkebab, and baklava dessert, which I consumed much of on ship during the cruise. Also had a nice bottle of Greek wine and a strong Greek coffee. A look-alike Ed Asner did the serving. Two of our table companions (Bette) Jane Coombs and her husband Phil (who reminded me of Clint Eastwood), who reside in Tustin. She was an army brat from Virginia, and she said, Little Sarah Jane.
After resuming our drive through the city, we passed the Royal Palace, which is now the residence of the President, as there is no longer a king. An enterprising young boy was earning coins cleaning windshields as cars stopped for a traffic light. We stopped for a view of Mars Hill and a small souvenir shop to give everyone a chance to spend their Drachmas. My only small purchase was a Greek scarf to wear on “Greek night,” and several soft drinks to quench our thirst. Athens still has the old trolley cars with overhead cables.
Arriving back on board the ship at 4 PM, Jim went poolside while I attached my Transderm-V disc behind my ear (just in case of sea-sickness) and dressed for our pastel night dinner. Joy Allen loaned me two long gowns for the trip, and I wore the pink one to go with Jim’s black tux and pink ruffled shirt. We went to the Wooden Horse Bar for a cocktail and met Jane and Keith Jenkins from Scottsdale, Arizona, who had on a terrific pale pink suit. We asked if they would take our picture, then Keith went to get his camera and I took one for them.
We went to the Lotus Restaurant for the main (6:45) seating dinner, table seven, and met our table mates for the length of the cruise. Edith and Ed Gropp from Riverside (but soon to move to Oregon) who have retired. Their friends, Judee and Ed Glavis, are from Fresno where she teaches and he is a hospital administrator for the Children’s Hospital there. The two couples met on a cruise and still travel together. They are both delightful couples.
After dinner we took a brief walk around the deck, then joined our tablemates in the Ulysses Lounge. We stopped in the casino and promptly lost $10 and were never to make a return visit. Back to the lounge for a party to meet the ship's crew, then to the midnight buffet where we met Rusty and Bill Walker from San Diego. The boat sailed at 7:30 PM during our dinner hour. It was a smooth ride from our lower deck stateroom. Even though I had joked we were booked in the engine room --- I wasn’t too far off base. Our air conditioning was not working so we felt like we were in the “boiler room”!