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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Its all Greek to me!….

Day 119/120/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. A sea day and Athens, Greece.

Day 119 started by Linda and Lyle coming over to work on finishing up our Icon project. Today was the judging for the Icon competition and we had to have our Icon set up in the Wintergarden on Deck 7 for viewing by 1pm.

We still had a lot of work to get the icon finished, because Lyle had been sick with a bad cold and he was our Chief Engineer. Luckily, he was feeling well enough today, wearing a mask in our cabin, to help with constructing the walls of our icon, which finally finished up the project.

We had our Cabin attendants find us a room service cart, which we could rest the icon on, to gain access to all sides of the Icon, and Linda and me worked feverishly to finish painting the side and glueing and taping all of the visible parts of the icon to make sure it looked good. Our biggest problem was we were running out of burnt umber coloured paint! Luckily, we had just enough to get the job done, and at noon we moved the Icon to set it up in the Wintergarden, on the countertop.

The Treasury ’Al-Khazneh’ in Petra with Lyle and Linda Aaby. This is my third project working with Linda. We won the CANUKUS snowman contest on the first leg of this World Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to L.A. with fellow cruiser Sharon Schofield from Canada and Ruth from the U.K. who was only on the 18 day cruise segment. We then built the sailing ship the ‘Gokstad‘ for which we earned only a tie for 3rd place (we think we were robbed) on which Sharon and her husband Mike from Canada also participated with us on the Gokstad. This time on the Icon project we had just the four of us working on the project. Lyle is an engineer so he did all of the drawings to a 1/60th scale. Linda is in art class with me and is very creative, so between the two of us Lyle dubbed us “the art department”. Richard was the Chief of Procurement as we often need things and he is able to talk to someone on the ship to get what we need. I did the write up each time we competed in these projects, detailing exactly what our recycled materials were, since using recycled materials was always a requirement of the competition.

Our friends all came out to support our entry and after the judges review they called it a tie for first place between only two entries in this contest. I think everyone else knew that the contest building competitions suck up a lot of sea day time, and they opted not to participate. I have enjoyed working on the competitions, but it is a ton of work and anyone considering going into a contest in the future on a World Cruise needs to consider how much time you might be willing to invest in these competitions. We have made very good friends with Lyle and Linda who live in Florida and I know we will stay in touch after this World Cruise. Working so closely together with other people you get to know them, their personality quirks, hear about their kids and other things they like to do etc. I think that is why Viking has these competitions. It really promotes good bonding and team building opportunities if you are willing to find other people to work with other than your spouse.

Al-Khazneh with our resting camels, baby camels, sand and boulders,

Maybe set design is in our future?

The broken corks are meant to be the frescos.

A lot of water bottles, toilet paper rolls, stir sticks, disposable forks and spoons and paint went into this project.

Our award winning design of Al Khazneh or The Treasury from Petra. Check out the engineering diagrams that Lyle did to help us get the structure to 1/60th scale of the original. Those colourful objects in front of The Treasury are resting camels that we made from old shopping bags, ribbons, rivets and string. It sure pays to be creative when working on these competitions!

Our Icon was moved up to Deck 8 Explorer’s Lounge to be on display for a couple of days.

Last evening when we returned from dinner we received this note from Bruce, the Cruise Director on the Viking Neptune.

A nice note from Bruce, along with a bottle of sparkling wine and two champagne flutes. Nice. We will get together with Lyle and Linda to celebrate with them soon!

A nice way to end the day with a surprise treat!

Day 120/138 Athens, Rome.

One thing that I’m experiencing on this cruise is how old so many civilizations are and how it is hard to fathom history as far back as we know it. Our history in North America is so young compared to some of the places we have visited on this World Cruise. Athens where we were visiting today has a history spanning over 3,400 years! Think about that for a minute. Three thousand, four hundred years! 3….4….0…..0! WOW! Arts, culture, philosophy, democracy, and equality all originated in Ancient Greece and in its Capital Athens.

When we woke up this morning, we were in the port of Piraeus, which is basically a suburb of Athens.

Piraeus port near Athens, Greece.

The weather was looking great for our day in Athens and while I had brought a jacket with me, there was no way I needed the jacket at the moment.

I studied Political Science as my Specialist for my undergraduate degree from The University of Toronto, so having studied political theory and political thought, the Greek philosophers of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are very familiar to me, but I have never been to Greece before. Ironically, Richard will be back in Athen in less than a month for a work trip he is doing, so he was scoping out Athens as we took our optional tour which was entitled “Acropolis and Plaka District”.

Our tour left the Star Theatre at 8:30am and we walked out through the Cruise Terminal to Immigration. Since this was our first port in Europe, we had to see an immigration officer for a quick face to face meeting. After getting our passports stamped, we walked through the Cruise Terminal to our waiting bus. We quickly had our 24 people on our tour which was classified ‘demanding‘ by Viking and we breezed through the city on the way to the bus parking lot for the Acropolis. While on the bus to the Acropolis, our guide explained the Greek mythology of why the city in Greece that we were visiting was named ‘Athens’.

In Greek mythology a new name was needed for the city of Cecropia and Zeus decided that Poseidon, the sea god and Athena, the goddess of wisdom would makes gifts to the city and king Cecrops would decide which gift was the best and therefore which god would be the patron of the city. Cecrops and the residents of the city went up to a high hill to watch the gods giving their gifts. Poseidon was the first to present his gift. He struck a rock with his trident and caused a spring of water to gush forth from the ground. This signified that Poseidon was guaranteeing the people water and they would not face a drought. However, the people were not enamoured with his gift, because the spring waters tasted salty, just like the waters of the sea which Poseidon ruled. Athena came next and she planted a seed in the ground which grew up to be a lovely olive tree. The citizens liked this gift because it would give them food, oil and firewood. They all proclaimed that Athena was the winner. This is how Athena got the everlasting honor of naming the city after her. Many olive trees can still be found in the suburbs of Athens today.

I have never been able to keep Greek and Roman mythology straight in my head, despite studying it in high school. Some of the greek gods and goddesses are fairly easy to remember, but frankly there are just too many to try to keep them all straight.

Walking on Dionysiou Areopagitou cobblestone street near the Plaka district of Athens.

Our tour was considered demanding because we were starting down at street level and climbing up the steps to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. The Acropolis means ‘citadel’ or ‘fortified part of an Ancient Greek City, typically built on a hill.

Ok. That looks like a long, uphill walk away from the bus! The Parthenon, Athens, Greece.

Our guide had our tickets to get into the top of the Acropolis, so we walked up the hill, to get in line to enter. It was surprisingly busy for 9:30am, but then again, it was a Sunday morning and everyone was off work, so why not go and visit the Acropolis!

Gene and Margaret were also on our tour, so we walked up with them to the top.

The Parthenon! Built in 447 BC, and dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, Pericles commenced building the Parthenon to replace an earlier temple. The Parthenon sits high atop a compound of temples known as the Acropolis of Athens. It was the largest and most lavish temple the Greek mainland had ever seen. It is estimated theat 13,400 stones were used to build the temple, at a cost of around 470 silver talents or ($7million USD today). The structure has a rectangular floor plan and is built on a 23,000 square foot base of which was the limestone foundation of the Old Parthenon. There are 46 outer columns and 19 inner columns. The columns are slightly tapered to give the temple a symmetrical appearance. The corner columns are larger in diameter than the other columns. Incredibly the Parthenon contains no straight lines and no right angles! The Parthenon withstood earthquakes, fire, wars, explosions, looting and yet remains, although battered a symbol of Ancient Greece and Athenian culture.

The Parthenon is being repaired slowly but surely and it is looking a bit worse for wear with the different coloured plaster inserted into the structure.

The restoration work started on the Parthenon in 2017 and is supposed to be finished in June 2023. I would say that date is probably a bit optimistic given what we saw today at the Parthenon.

The Erectheion

This Temple is dedicated to Erechtonius a mythical king who had the body of a snake. The god Poseidon killed Erechtonius. The northern part of the temple on the left of the structure is the most famous, since it is the one with the Caryatids, the six women replacing the columns that support the marble roof. The Caryatids were sculpted after some beautiful young models that were women from a local village.

A great shot of the Acropolis complex in Athens. I did not take this photo, but I thought it gave a great overall view of the complex.

Our visit to the Acropolis was short, because our tour also included going to the Plaka district for a walk with our guide. Once we walked to the Plaka district and knew where the Viking shuttle was picking up and dropping off, we left the tour to have a nice patio lunch on a pleasant Sunday afternoon of amazing Greek food.

But first some shopping!

The Plaka district is the oldest and most beautiful neighbourhood in Athens. We had fun wandering the old streets and looking in the shops on a busy Sunday afternoon in Athens.

We must be checking something out with the look on our faces! Margaret and me are very serious!

Too bad Richard cut himself out of the selfie!

Gene got so much food on his platter he had to share some of his chicken!

Delightful greek salad with lots of fresh greek feta cheese!

I had the Domades. They were good but I like them better with meat and rice inside.

Margaret wasn’t feeling that well with a cold, so Gene and Margaret caught the 3pm shuttle back to the ship. We could not leave the Plaka area yet as we were waiting for a necklace that I had purchased to be brought to us. That’s a story in itself.

My name in Greek: RUTH. I checked and it really is Ruth in Greek, but its all Greek to me!

When our guide today had us assemble before walking up to the Acropolis, she pointed out a store where she said we could get our names written in Greek on a silver or gold piece of jewellery. So knowing that we would have time after visiting the Acropolis, me and Margaret booted it down the hill after the tour, so I could get my order in for the necklace. The jewellery store was familiar with Viking and where our shuttle picked us up, so they agreed that they would meet me at 2:55pm with the engraved necklace. They also took my picture and my name and address in case we missed each other. Luckily for me they found me, but by the time I received the necklace the 3pm shuttle was full.

Engraved on the back of the necklace.

Rather than wait around for an hour for the next shuttle bus back to Piraeus where the Neptune was docked, Richard who can talk to any cab driver in any country in the world and get a fair price, negotiated a 20 euro fare, down from 25 euros and we split the cab with two other passengers who also didn’t want to wait until the 4pm shuttle bus.

I think there was a lot more we could have seen in Athens had we chosen to get a local tour guide, but we did hit the big highlight of Athens by visiting the Acropolis and saw the Parthenon. We would like to do a Greek Island cruise at some point and I think a pre or post or both visit to Athens with guided tours, or self exploration, would let us see a lot more of Athens and of Greece. For our first time to Athens, and for me the first time to Greece, we had a lovely day and enjoyed being able to have some free time to enjoy the sidewalk cafe with our good friends Gene and Margaret.

As I am finishing up today’s blog we have just finished our first of four days visiting ports so it will be very difficult for me to finish up the blogs for these ports until after we are at sea. That is the problem with back to back to back sea days. There just are not enough hours in the day to write blogs and visit ports! Hopefully I will catch up, even just to do short photo blogs. Europe in the spring is so wonderful and it is not the time of year we would normally be in Europe, so it is nice to see how different it is when it is not too hot!

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Apr 26, 2023

This building stuff, the boats and Icon, must be new to Viking in the last year. We built nothing on last year's WC. At least you had sea days to build.


Apr 25, 2023

Great job and congratulations on the Icon project! And again, thanks for the Greek history lesson😊


Apr 25, 2023

What a lovely necklace! Did you, by chance, see any stores where you could purchase cartouche necklaces while you were in Egypt?


Cathy Vee Volpe-Paul
Cathy Vee Volpe-Paul
Apr 25, 2023

Congrats on the win!

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