Honeymoon Day 13: Athens, Greece

Athens! One of the great empire cities! Matt loves history, and I love having my own personal history guide to put these places in context. Athens was great for this. We took a train from Piraeus (the port, very unexciting place) to the acropolis first thing. We knew it was going to be hot, but probably underestimated just how hot. Thank goodness we climbed the acropolis first! Later in the day would have been awful. It was already close to 115 degrees (way too hot for me) and we were chugging water like crazy.

The Parthenon and views from the top of the Acropolis were absolutely incredible. Every direction you looked had ruins and temples and just cool stuff to look at. Athens is a huge city that just goes for miles in the middle of a barren desert, punctuated by the huge rock formation of the Acropolis. And groups of tourists. Boy are there tourists in Athens! Group after group funneled down the marble walkways, with tour guides speaking every language imaginable. For the amount of time each group got to marvel at the buildings and view, Matt and I were SO glad that we were seeing this place sans tour. We timed out walking and standing around the arrival and departure of these groups so that we could soak in the views just the two of us. It worked pretty well.

After we made our rounds of the Acropolis (and were extremely hot and getting tired) we headed down closer to town to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. To get there we walked through the Plaka neighborhood, stopping for some fresh Greek yogurt at a yogurt bar. Greek yogurt in Greece! A good energizing treat.

Across the street we saw Hadrian’s Arch, and eventually made our way to the Temple of Zeus. We toured around the ruins there (and shared an ice cold coke from the vending machine), then headed across town to the Ancient Agora.

This ancient marketplace used to be the center of all things in Athens. It is now just a historic site filled with ruins, and a reconstructed building that was once the indoor market. Matt and I were both getting really tired, and heat exhausted at this point, so we saw as much as we could, then headed back to the ship to crash.

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Honeymoon Days 11 & 12: Kotor, Montenegro & at Sea

On day 11 we awoke to stunningly clam clear, deep blue seas for our approach into country #2 for this trip: Montenegro! We enjoyed room service breakfast on our verandah as we pulled in. It felt very luxurious eating in robes on the deck (even if the food was subpar).

We anchored just off of Kotor, and took tender boats ashore. We only had a few hours here, and it was 111 degrees before we even left of boats, so we went ashore without a plan to see what we could find. The obvious choice, go shopping! Our choice: get to the fortress on the ridge 1000+ feet above the city. We asked for a city map and how to find the trail, and the information girl told us not to go. It was too hard and too hot. Too bad. We went anyway. The trail was mostly stone steps, worn smooth from years of being walked on. The trail followed the wall that edged the entire city, rising straight up from the waterfront town.

The climb up took us about 40 minutes. Hot and sweaty, yes, very. Clearly that is a theme on this trip. Actually, in Kotor we did not have the humidity that really made the heat miserable in Italy. So it did not feel that bad.

The view from the top was stunning. We took lots of photos and video. Then headed down. We wandered the town searching for some local wine (success!) to take back on the ship, then I headed back while Matt went to explore some ruins we saw from the hike.

For the next 36 hours, our schedule revolved around the pool, movies in our room, sleeping relaxing and eating. After Kotor, the day at sea gave us plenty of time to settle in get our bearings, and enjoy the ship. We spent a good amount of time in the pool, and played many games of Carccassone. Our evening at sea was a formal night, so we got dressed up and turned heads all across the ship. In the early evening we wandered the ship before formal dinner night #1. Matt and I got dressed to the nines…me in a blue evening gown (that I will be wearing in Jenny’s wedding this November!) and Matt in his wedding suit. Getting some mileage out of those clothes!

We thought we would be more excited about the shows and activities than we were but it turned out that what we really enjoyed was hanging out, renting movies in our room, and just relaxing by the pool. And of course planning out how to tackle our next port of call. These were really the highlight of the cruise.

Honeymoon Day 10: Second Day in Venice, Italy

Waking up from our first night sleep on the Nieuw Amsterdam was so nice…all we had to do was pack what we needed for the day! The rest of our stuff could stay here! Woohoo!

We had a quick breakfast on the Lido deck and then walked across Venice for one last tourist stop before sailing away at 1. The previous day we had explored all over San Marco, but skipped the tower. Today was tower day. We stood in line for about 15 minutes before being squeezed into a jam packed elevator to climb 50 meters to the observation room in the belfy of the tower. Boy is it a great view! 360° of nothing but stunning Venice views. We took tons of photos, then rode the elevator back down. We knew we would be back in Venice again at the end of the trip, so we took our time just wandering back through the open air market to the ship, grabbed some pizza for lunch, and then hit the pool deck in our swimsuits for the sail-away from Venice.

 

Leaving Venice was spectacular. It was hot and sunny and we could watch the city go by while we lounged by the pool. The ship sailed through the main Venice harbor, right alongside piazza San Marco and all the other key sites. A really cool view of the city! We picked out all the leaning towers of Venice, and watched taxis, gondolas and vaparettos angle for the narrow canals leading into the city.
 

We requested a switch to assigned late seating, so this second dinner onboard was in the main dining room with our table for two laid out in the center part of the dining room. Our dining steward, Simon, was very nice and learned early on that we like milk and Matt loves his desserts.

Honeymoon Day 9: Venice, Italy

Written September 5th, 2012 – in-flight Venice to NYC
We made it across Italy! After arriving so late at night it was nice to see Venice in the sunlight. Such a beautiful, unique city. We have both been to Venice before, so we were not in a huge rush to see things, but decided to focus on getting to San Marco and see the basilica. We wandered the streets, taking a route that took us over the Rialto Bridge, over more canals, through two Coop grocery stores, and finally into Piazza San Marco. We wandered around looking at buildings and sights, taking pictures. Then got in line for the basilica. This was something I missed on my last trip here, so I was excited to see it. Inside was stunningly beautiful. Totally worth the line!

After the basilica we decided it was time to collect our bags and make our way to phase 2: our Mediterranean cruise! We walked/climbed our bags to Piazza Roma (if you have never been to Venice, be warned there are tons of bridges, absolutely none with ramps…they are all stairs which make rolling bags hard to use effectively) and caught the People Mover to the cruise terminal. It was a very tiring, hot, sweaty process!

We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in record time (literally zero waiting in line to get onboard!), getting to our veranda stateroom with plenty of time to unpack and relax. We decided to stay onboard for the evening, and ate at opening dining with a few other traveling groups that led to some interesting and fun conversation.

It felt so good to unpack. As much fun as it was to be traveling on our own, and it is certainly our preference, by day 9 it was nice to unpack and know that we would not need to touch our luggage again for 12 days. We were done checking in and out of hotels, and we could have our laundry done! We decided to go for the unlimited laundry package and we made it worth our while after day two…sending three bags to be washed and all our formal clothes to be pressed. Totally worth it!

Since we were not going back to town that night, we took the time to make a plan for the next day. And drink wine on the balcony of our stateroom. We were to pull out of Venice at 1, so we did not have a ton of time. Just enough to go back to San Marco and go to the top of the bell tower. Excellent plan for our last few hours in Venice. Salute!