Day Four of Greek Islands Cruise – Athens, Greece

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Oct 07 ~ Day #150
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$15000
$178.51
$13043.87
$86.96
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15097
5240.8+109.3=5350.1
5966
119
26532.1

Current Location: Piraeus (Athens), Greece

Today’s Total Expenses: $178.51 (cruise cost includes transportation, accommodation and food)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 109.3 (95 Nautical Miles, Mykonos to Piraeus)

Piraeus/Athens, Greece

The ship was offering several excursions into Athens from Piraeus but all were just too expensive for our budget.

Much as we would have like to visit Athens, it will have to wait for our next trip.

We did check the prices of local tours into Athens which were, of course, much more affordable. But, there were labor demonstrations against the government going on all over the city. That meant some of the tours were foreshortened and it also meant lots of traffic jams that might hamper us getting back to the ship on time.

We had to resign ourselves to exploring the port town of Piraeus.

It’s dead, Jim!

Today we finally had to admit that our Flip camera was dead. Yes, it’s still under warranty but we’re a long way away from being able to return it for warranty service.

So, here we are in Greece without a camera!

International Banking

We decided that we needed to find an ATM and get a few more Euros.

We easily found one that was displaying the same symbols that were on our debit card, so we were reasonably sure it would work.

Well, it not only wouldn’t give us any money, it told us to contact our card issuer. Yikes! We’re still going to be in Europe for quite a while and we don’t need our card getting canceled.

At first we thought we’d go inside the bank we were at to see if there was anything they could do. In Greece, anyway, that’s not as easy as it sounds. You can’t just open the door and walk in.

There are two doors with a rotating tube in between. Think Get Smart’s cone of silence. From outside you push a lit up green button. Then the tube rotates and you step in. The tube rotates again and you are now trapped between the two doors. Apparently you then have to push another green button within a certain time frame for the door to open into the bank.

Well, I guess we screwed things up and the green button was now red. People inside the bank were trying to give us instructions as to what to do using broken English and sign language.

Eventually we pushed the right button at the right time and steeped into the interior of the bank. All this just to be told there was nothing they could do to help and we would have to call our bank.

But, our bank adventure wasn’t over yet. We still had to get OUT of the bank.

We were given more instructions before we attempted to exit and this time is was less traumatic. We were able to push the right buttons, in the right sequence, in the right time frame. Whew!

Back outside we still had not been able to get any more Euros and we now needed to call our bank.

In Search of an Internet Café

We decided that the least expensive way to contact our bank, particularly because we didn’t know how long we’d be on the call – You know how much banks love to put you on hold – was to find an Internet café and use our Skype-Out account, which gave us free calls anywhere in North America.

Finding an Internet café seemed as difficult as getting into a Greek bank! A computer store employee gave us what seemed like pretty clear instructions but we couldn’t find the place. So, we stopped into a coffee shop and they, too, gave us what seemed like simple instructions but still no Internet café!

As we stood there looking lost and confused a good Samaritan asked if he could help. We explained what we were looking for and he gave us very simple instructions – go to that corner, turn right, it’s on your right.

Well, the third time was the charm and we were looking at a little, hole-in-the-wall Internet café. I sure hope the speak English!

I needn’t have worried. Their English was excellent and their rates seemed reasonable.

We were directed us to a computer which they had activated for us. It was, of course, a PC (we’re Mac people), but any port in a storm – right? It had everything we needed – headphones, the FireFox browser and Skype.

First we logged into our bank account and all seemed well. We then got the customer service number for the bank, signed into our Skype account and called them.

First, naturally, we got the auto-attendant. You know the drill – press 1 for this, press 2 for that, and so on. Just getting to a real, live person took quite a bit of time so I was really glad we were using Skype.

Next came all of the security questions so they could be sure we really were who we claimed to be.

With that hurdle over we were able to get down to the nitty gritty of the call – the message we got when we tried to use the ATM.

Apparently they had no record of an ATM attempt even being made and could not tell us why we got that message. We were assured we could still use our card. It had not been canceled and there was no hold on it. Good news, indeed, but ti still made us nervous to try it again.

So, after all that, we opted not to get any money in Piraeus.

One of the main reasons to get some money was to, possibly, buy another camera. But, we decided to wait. After all, the budget was still pretty tight.

Our memories would have to do us for now.

Shipboard Entertainment and Meals

You may have been wondering why we haven’t said a lot about the shipboard entertainment and meals.

Well, I guess it must be difficult to find entertainers that appeal to a wide range of languages and cultures.

On this ship, all announcements are made in six different languages – English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. And, believe it or not, that didn’t cover all the nationalities on board.

Having said that, we felt the entertainment was pretty lame and pretty short. Most shows only lasted 30-45 minutes.

As far as food goes, it was fantastic with lots of choices. However, the service was not very good. It seemed to us that each waiter simply had too many tables to look after so there were no niceties or chit-chat.

It often felt like the food was quickly dropped on the table and the, empty or not, plates were snatched away without even asking if you were actually finished.

Baked Alaska

Tonight was the traditional Baked Alaska dessert and parade. It seems that most cruises do this.

It was a lovely presentation and we sure would have like a nice hot cup of coffee with our Baked Alaska!

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