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Cruise Diary: Athens, Greece

Guests Jan and Dick Yetke set sail on Prinsendam’s 64-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage in March, and we’ve just received these wonderful posts. We’ll catch up as quickly as possible. Enjoy the journey with Jan and Dick!

We had a very nice relaxing cruise down to Piraeus, the port for Athens, from Istanbul. We arrived in Piraeus at 4 pm. I stayed on the ship, but Dick went out for a short bike ride over to the ferry docks (next to our pier) to check out the ferry schedule to and from the small island nearby called Aegina. We have stopped there in the past on one of our sailing trips and he has always wanted to take our bikes back there when we are docked in Piraeus. Didn’t get to do it last year when we stopped there on the world cruise since there was a ferry strike that day. He got the schedule and was told there would be no strike the next day!!! Yea!!

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On our way cruising down to Athens, we passed close by Cape Sounion’s Temple of Poseidon, which is a 45 mile drive from Piraeus. Back when we were here doing a charter sailing vacation with The Moorings, we had driven down there to see this Temple. It is worth the drive. Built on the craggy seaside cliff, the white temple is featured in Greek Mythology and history.

IMG_4252 Cape Sounion's Temple of Poseidon_resize

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We had dinner on board and enjoyed the local Greek cultural show by a group named The Orpheus Group. They presented a variety of popular Greek dances that you might see both on the Greek Islands and on ‘the continent’. We enjoyed the energy, the color and the sounds that are understood around the world as ‘uniquely Greek’!

Next morning, April 18th, we got off the ship and biked the mile and a half over to the proper ferry landing to buy our tickets for the 8:45 am high-speed, Flying Dolphin 17, to Aegina Island. You can see a couple photos of Prinsendam docked in Piraeus and of the ferry.

IMG_4265 Prinsendam docked in Piraeus_resize

IMG_4369 our ferry Flying Dolphin 17_resize

We had a very nice 45-minute ride over to the island. It was lovely spring weather and sunny that day. When we got off the ferry, we biked up the pier, and turned right and road several miles along the waterfront out of town. It is a really cute little town with a marina, local small fishing boats, etc. We then turned around, went back through town, down a narrow street, and back on to the main waterfront road out of town for a while the other way.

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IMG_4348 Aegina_resize

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Eventually, we came back to town to look around, went out onto the pier where the little chapel was, got money from a bank ATM, and sat down at a little cafe to have a cappuccino and a doughnut to wait for the ferry back. It was a great day, a great bike ride (total of about 8 miles), beautiful weather!!!

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IMG_4343_resize inside chapel on pier

IMG_4366_resize break time waiting for ferry

IMG_4367_resize break time waiting for ferry

If you are in Piraeus and looking for an interesting trip, go to Aegina island. On the ferry ride back, we chatted with a very nice and very interesting man, Athanasios Beis. When we told him we were on the Prinsendam, he launched into telling us his life experiences and how much he loved cruise ships, especially the Holland America ones that were so good looking. Turns out he was a year older than Dick, had graduated from his Maritime Training College the same year (1963), and spent 30 years going to sea mostly as a Captain of cruise ships!!! He worked mostly on Chandris ships which is now Celebrity (but the old ships are gone). He has been all over the world. We had a great discussion!!!

He had married one of the passengers on his ship and has been married over 30 years. His wife is 17 years younger than him and they have two sons, one of whom is training in the merchant marine. He retired early because his wife didn’t want him going to sea any longer once she found out that all the women passengers were throwing themselves at the Captain. He is still a Marine Consultant for operations and organization of cruise vessels. He and his wife have a bed and breakfast and some apartments they operate on a small island nearby and in Crete. Anyway, we really enjoyed our conversation with him!!!!

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IMG_4275 main pier in Aegina_resize

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If Athens represents the Greek soul, Piraeus harbor is its strong heartbeat. Cargo, commercial, and passenger vessels from around the globe share the docks. Modern towers line the waterfront, but do little to represent local lifestyle. Piraeus is designed for maritime commerce, and most people in the bustling city maintain ties with maritime industry.

1 Comment
  • Lyn Hansen

    I travelled on the Ellinis, a Chandris line cruise ship, from Melbourne to Southampton in the late 70s. Athenasios Beis was the Captain. The journey took five and a half weeks and my children and I got very friendly with him. We did stay in contact for a while but then lost touch so it is really good to hear news of him. He was indeed a very personable and interesting man.

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