(or jump to photos!)
6/2: Day Seven, Athens to Poros to Hydra to Aegina to Athens
I dunno, I think it's sort of cool that we could see the Temple of Zeus from our deck.
Today was cruise day! We got aboard the Hermes, and as we walked up the stairs to the second deck, we were accosted by people in Greek costume posing with us for cruise pictures. Caroline and I sat on the second deck with Mario, Shayne, and Sabrina (later), as we endured the annoying photo guy some more and sat around, writing postcards/journals and chatting. At our first port, Poros, we all piled out of the boat and tried to find the belltower. Of course, with Alison, the human compass, as leader, we only got minimally lost, and then we found this very steep staircase leading to the top of the hill.
Shayne, Alison, Caroline and Mario, on the way to Poros.
Alison, Sabrina, and Caroline.
Alison trying to write in her travel journal, as the annoying pic guy gets in her face.
When we got to the top, sweaty and panting, we were surprised to find that people had actually set up shop there and were trying to sell us stuff. On top of that, the annoying photo guy somehow got to the top before we did (bet it was because he knew where he was going!), and when we all posed for a group pic, he took one as well. (That explains why no one is looking at him.) I don't understand it, but somehow, even though there were multiple photo guys, I only saw this same one. Maybe they were all related or something.
Shayne, Jessica, Caroline, Alison, Mario, and Alexis, by the belltower.
Photo guy's rendition of the same scene.
Shayne, Mario, Caroline, and the belltower.
Alison and Caroline. The background looks a bit like the Bay Area... well, at least Sausalito. Maybe Sausalito just looks like Greece. Hm.
Photo guy strikes again! This time, we don't even try to fight it.
We climbed back down the hill and all opted to get ice cream. Greek ice cream is exceptionally creamy and just plain tasty; the only problem is that because it's so creamy, it does nothing to quench thirst. Oh well, you have to suffer sometimes. :)
(Hey, are you guys bored yet? Because my carpal tunnels is back in full swing now! Yeah!)
Got back on the boat, and this time, we all took over the back deck, sitting in chairs and enjoying the sun. When we arrived at Hydra, where we were planning on going to swim (Sabrina had told us about this cafe on the water, but she said that you had to be a strong swimmer in order to swim there, as there was no beach; you pretty much jumped straight into the ocean). The first group left before the rest of us had gotten off the boat, so I decided to lead everyone and try to find it. (Human compass!) When we got there, we could see Sabrina far away on her cell phone, and we looked out over the water, noting that it was EXTREMELY rough because the wind had picked up. We all started talking about how "strong swimmer" was a vast understatement, because you could be sure that once you hopped into the water, you'd be repeatedly smacked up against the rocks, torn apart, spit out, and then chewed up all over again. So, it was surprising (somewhat; I promise that this is the only story I will tell about this girl) when Amy, this chick on our tour who is going to be a math teacher at Westpoint, says to me when we walk up, "You can't go swimming." No shit. My response: "But I'm a really strong swimmer! I can handle at least three rock bashings before I start bleeding!" She, apparently having no sense of humor, says, "Well, then, you'll have to ask Sabrina." Well gosh, I didn't realize I was not over 18 and had to get Mommy's permission every time I wanted to do something. Thanks. The icky thing about this chick is that she was such and utter control freak that she did this to everyone, all the time. Yuck.
Every person in this photo was on our tour. So, I wasn't lying when I said we took over the back deck! (Would I lie to you?)
Anyway, I had this deeeelicious coconut drink at the cafe, and we did a group photo (which the waiter screwed up with, at least with my camera -- he pressed the zoom button instead of the shutter one. Duh), and then we headed back to the boat. I'm pretty much sure that I imbibed more calories on this boatride than I had any other day of the trip, but that's okay!
Amy, Alison, Elizabeth and Karen enjoy Hydra. We didn't want to sit with the other people, anyway...
...and we're joined in that sentiment by Shayne, Caroline, and Mario!
Back on the boat, we were all served lunch (which was like 90 courses, in typical Greek style), which was hard to eat, because I was busy getting seasick, since we weren't outside or even remotely near a breeze at this point. I wandered from table to table, taking photos of the different groups, and then, when lunch was over, Caroline and I hid in this secret part of the boat with Sabrina and chatted. We also looked at the cruise photos, laughing at people we knew who looked shocked to hell by being photographed at the top of the staircase, and purchasing the ones which we thought were funniest. Shayne bought a photo of Sabrina making this wretched (yet hilarious) face at the camera, as a gift for her.
Alison and Sabrina attack a roll on a fork!
When we arrived at Aegina, we hopped in a bus in order to enjoy our optional classical excursion to the Temple of Aphaia, the third part of the "Sacred Triangle," which is cool because it's equidistant from the other two temples. On our way to the east side of the island, our tour guide got super repetitive: "To the left, you'll see pistachio trees; to the right, olive trees; and straight ahead, you'll see pine trees. To the right are olive trees, ahead are pine trees, and to the left, you can see pistachio trees -- notice how they are not the same ashy color as the olive trees on the right?" Pistachios are the main export from this island, btw, and boy, are they TASTY! I would move to Greece just to eat yummy food.
The Temple of Aphaia (goddess of light) was really amazing because it has 24 of the 32 columns still standing, which makes it less "ruined" than any other temple we went to. This is because the columns are built of limestone, in one piece instead of many pieces, because marble isn't available on the island and limestone is soft enough to allow the building of monolithic columns. I got the group together for a pic (I am really good at gathering troops), and then we all headed back to the bus.
The Temple of Aphaia. Notice the sky in these pics...
Alison and Alyssa, not dancing for once, share a moment. Awww.
From the front.
From the back corner. Again, look at the sky!
And now you know why I'd live in Greece.
Sissys! ("To the left, you'll see pistachio trees; to the right, olive trees; and straight ahead, some pine. Notice the olive trees to the right...")
With all the complaining Amy did about "another group pic," it's interesting to notice that she's in this one. And I am in the shade! How the heck did that happen? :)
On the way to the boat we stopped at Agiou Nektarious, a 18th century cathedral built to commemorate the last saint canonized in the Greek Orthodox religion. It was pretty cool, as was the monestary next to it with switchback stairs. It sits on this hill which had, at one point, had 365 chapels on it -- one for every day of the year. Now only 14 are left.
The double-headed eagle, the symbol of Greek Orthodoxy (other than the Greek cross).
The sanctuary... and some poles from construction within the cathedral.
The monestary next door to the cathedral, with some really spiffy looking switchbacks.
We then headed back to the boat, buying pistachios on our way. Sabrina had this exchange with a restauranteer on the way back:
Yeah! You go, baby! (It gets annoying to be harassed every 5 minutes, let me tell you.)
When we got back on the boat, we all piled into the main room to watch a Greek dancing show. This French chick sitting to my left chain-smoked like 14 cigarettes during this time, which was amazing to this California girl, who isn't used to seeing people smoke inside, much less in a crowded room during a show. At the end of the show, they did a dance that required the man to pick the woman up on his shoulder and spin her around. They then got people from the audience to do the same thing, culminating in Shanye being picked as the male dancer. Of course, he picked me from the audience -- I think it had something to do with the fact that I was the first familiar face he saw -- and we did the little dance. When it came time for him to pick me up, though, he hesitated, because he has a screwed up neck. So, I just picked him up, instead. The audience loved it. :)
Set #1 of the dancers (I took these mostly because the costumes are authentic.)
Set #2. The guy on the right (our right, not theirs) is Caroline's new Greek boyfriend.
After the dance show, we went out onto the deck, only to get accosted by the male dancer. Okay, saying "we" got accosted is a mis-statement, because he accosted Caroline, spending 30+ minutes trying to get her to go on a date with him. In my opinion, she was much too nice to him, especially considering her engaged status. But whatever, Shayne, Tracey, Mario and I had a lot of fun watching and snickering. The guy was such a total dork in his hitting-on style that Caroline must have great composure skills :) The only good thing about him was his extremely nice ass, and I don't even notice these things, normally. Maybe I was looking for something to give him the benefit of the doubt.
On our way out from port, this stupid teenager was standing in the middle of the road, and I started saying, from inside the bus (where she couldn't hear me, but could definitely see me), things to the effect of how stupid she was to just stand there, while a bus is coming towards her, and not even bother to get out of the way. She saw me talking and looking at her and she started flipping me off and yelling at the bus, so we got into a pseudo-brawl, one of us inside, and one of us outside. It was quite funny.
Before dinner, I got everyone to sign the back of the photo Shayne had purchased, which resulted in Amy being a dork. Yet again. We had dinner at the Athens Gate Hotel, top floor, and afterwards, a small group of us went dancing at Lava Bore again. I was wearing this very flowy purple dress, the kind which is woven somewhat loosely so air just flows through it. (Not see-through or anything, perverts.) We walked into Lava Bore, where they use lots and lots of black lights, and I look down to see... my underwear. Shining clear through my dress. Because it was white, my dress was purple, and the black lights were making me glow. I looked naked.
Dinner at Athen's Gate, on the roof.
Our entire group! In one photo! With no one missing! For ONCE!
Alison, Ryan (another tour manager), Caroline, Sabrina, Jim, and Debbie.
Shayne, Alison, Mario, and Liza.
Alison, Alexis, Jessica, and Carrie.
So, I danced with a sweatshirt on. :) And halfway through the night, while pretending to be very good friends with Alyssa, in order to get the scary Greek guys away, one 18ish year old starts dancing with me. Yick. So I go and sit down, and this guy comes over to me and starts telling me that even though he's Greek, he goes to school in Bristol, and he doesn't like Greeks, because they aren't sensitive like him and he thinks he'll probably meet the person to fill this vast, empty chasm he has inside in a bar. I laughed at him. At this point, dancing was no longer fun (although it was cool when dancing with Sabrina, Lee, and Ryan, the tour managers... they're a riot!), so I wanted to leave. Caroline didn't (surprise), so I headed off back to the hotel with Debbie and Andrea. On the way there, these three Greek guys started talking to us, and I just went off on them. "Why do Greeks only hit on tourists?!" "I didn't know you were a tourist... you could have been from Crete, or Athens..." "Like hell you didn't know. I look American. I dress American. I even sound American." I think they were too stunned that someone was actually calling on it to deny anything. It was hilarious.
In the midst of me talking to them, a wasted trio of Mario, Shayne, and Caroline comes walking up. To make the story short: on the way back to the room, I have to chase Mario down the hall to make him stop trying to knock on all the doors. Shayne tries to ring doorbells. Alison falls asleep on their bed and snores while the rest are chatting away. (Oops.) The end.