We had 11 hours in Athens as a port stop on the Royal Caribbean Croatia and Greece cruise we took at the beginning of June. We want to spend a lot longer in Greece, but it didn’t work out for this trip so the cruise was like an amuse-bouche.
We booked the cruise approximately two weeks before it left, so all of the cruise excursions were sold out. Luckily, we found a decent priced private tour with Olive Sea Travel, a company in Athens. We booked a half-day tour with Nasos, and it was one of the best parts of the trip.
We disembarked as soon as we were allowed, and Nasos was standing right outside the port terminal waiting for us. The only negative for the whole trip was that his sign had The Husband’s name, instead of mine, even though I booked it, paid for it, and supplied only my passport number and not his.
Feminist diatribe aside, we followed Nasos to his car and left before all the other big tour groups left the terminal. He knew his way around Athens and got us to Acropolis and the Parthenon before the rush. He also had our tickets ready so we could skip the ticket line. He isn’t an official tour guide (those cost €100’s more) but he gave us a pocket guide book that explained everything we were seeing.
Because we got there so early, we barely had to wait to walk up to the Parthenon. When we were walking back down, it was so hot and the line was super long! Pro tip: get there super early and wear sneakers and a hat.
Once you go through the ticket area, you start the climb up to the Parthenon. It’s a bit of a hike and the stone is pretty slippery. I imagine when it’s wet it’s quite dangerous. I don’t think it would be easy for someone with mobility issues.
We walked around for a while and enjoyed seeing both the Parthenon, and the view of Athens. It’s really an incredible spot and you can see why they chose to build there.
When we were done, I messaged Nasos on WhatsApp and let him know we were coming back down to the parking lot. We passed so many tour groups going up on our way down. Avoiding that crowd was worth the cost alone.
After Acropolis, we went to the Ancient Agora site, where they had their markets. There are tons of ruins and relics, and it was really cool to see. I also saw a bunch of birds, which made me very happy as a birder.
This time when I texted Nasos that we were ready, he met us with mpougatsa from a local bakery. It was kind of a cross between baklava and ooey gooey butter cake. It was absolutely delicious and on my list of things to make when we get home to St Pete in December.
Next we headed to the Prime Minister’s residence to see the changing of the guard. This wasn’t on our list but I’m so glad he took us. Every single movement they do is significant and is deeply rooted in Greece history.
I wanted time for a proper Greek meal, so we skipped the rest of the tourist spots. Instead, Nasos took us to a restaurant on the other pier, Nisos. It’s a favorite of locals and it’s so good. I ordered a Greek salad and fish. The waiter took me into the kitchen to literally pick my fish from the drawer of fresh fish caught that morning! It was amazing. I had a filet of golden grouper and it was so flavorful and grilled to perfection. I swear it brought tears to my eyes. Even The Husband liked it! We also had a Greek cheese bread appetizer and Greek rosé.
After lunch, it was time to say goodby to Nasos. He took us back to the cruise port with plenty of time for my anxiety to not think the ship was going to leave us stranded.
When we return to Greece, we will absolutely book a tour again with Nasos at Olive Sea Travel. At $321.66 for both of us, it was a fantastic value. More than that, we learned so much and saw so much in such a short time.