After spending the week with Ted and Joelle, we decided it really did matter if we toured Athens with them after the cruise ended. So, we got up at 0700 today to speak to the Shore Excursion reps during their regular working hour. They told me it would cost $55 per person, or $15 more than the same tour would cost people who weren’t disembarking in Piraeus. Presumably it’s $15 more expensive to carry us plus 2 bags to the hotel by the Acropolis than it is to drive us 1 hour back to the ship. I said ok because we really didn’t want to be separated from Ted and Joelle, and the rep told me she’d have more info for me later on.
We went up to breakfast and then met the Pinkards for the tender ride to shore. This time we were on local tenders, but the boat we were on had even less airflow than the Crown’s own tenders, so it was very hot. Before we even left our ship, we saw the zig-zaggy foot/donkey path to the top and decided our €3 would be best spent on the cable car ride. We had a short wait in the sun and then spent our €3 one-way (no return ticket available) to ride up the steep slope to Fira. Fira was more what I expected of a cruise stop, with lots of shops and restaurants for tourists. Maybe it’s because I live in Spain, but to me the Greek shopkeepers seemed very friendly. While the girls immediately started shopping, Ted and I went looking for a moto rental. The price seemed good–only €12 for the day–but the rental agent wanted us to have US motorcycle licenses, which we don’t. In retrospect we probably could have shown our normal driver’s licenses from TX and LA and said they were valid for motos as well, but we didn’t. Instead we walked to the bus stop and got on the bus for Kamari Beach. The bus was hot and way overcrowded, but it got us there fairly quickly. Disregard any instructions your cruise gives you about buying tickets in advance. During the trip an attendant will push his way through the crowds to collect money. The fare is €0.90 one-way, and although you can see what appear to be €1.30 return tickets, he will only let you buy one-way.
We got to Kamari Beach and walked along until we saw some Wave Runners, something Ted and I really wanted to do. We changed our minds when we heard that the prices were €30-50 for *10 minutes* depending on the horsepower of the Wave Runner. We decided that was far too rich for our blood and continued walking. A short way down we stopped at some of the many chairs and umbrellas setup along the beach. Two nice chairs and an umbrella cost us €7, presumably for the day, but we didn’t ask. Something to think about: there is no sand at this beach, only pebbles that are hot and hard to walk on. I highly recommend beach shoes for this beach.
After about 2 hours we dried off and headed back to Fira, this time on a larger and air conditioned bus which again cost €0.90. We ate at one of the many open air restaurants on the main street which turned out not to serve very traditional food.
When we got done eating lunch the girls wanted to keep shopping, so Ted and I went to an internet café over the restaurant that charged us €2.10 for 30 minutes, much better than the $0.75/minute plus $3.95 setup fee on the boat! One of my 145 emails was from the Venice walking tours company asking me to fill out a form and fax it back to them. Apparently they’re starting a new promotion where you can guarantee your tour with a credit card and get a further €2 discount, bringing the price down to €16 per person. You still have to pay in cash on the day of the tour; your card is only charged if you don’t show up. I decided it would cost me more than €4 of trouble to print out the form and fax it to Jonathan at venicedaytours.com, so I guess we’ll pay the €18 per person rate. I almost made some sort of placeholder entry so that anyone following the blog would know I was alive, but by the time email was done I was down to only 4 minutes. Instead I wrote a rapid email to the mothers which ate up my time to the last second. After the net café, Ted and I made our way back to the cable car and on to the ship. We wound up beating the girls by 30 minutes so we hung out near the pool. It’s already time to get ready for the farewell show and our last dinner at sea–I can’t believe this cruise is already over!