| Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2016
Greek Islands Voyage
Piraeus is a major port and city on the Saronic Gulf close to Athens and is the Port for Athens. Piraeus is historic in its own right and was laid out around 450 BC and was already serving as a port at that time. On previous visits to Piraeus we have always walked from the port to the Metro station, next to the main railway station, about 40 minutes walk and taken the metro straight into nearby Athens (A day pass for metro and buses was 4.50€ last visit) - the Last visit to Athens was in 2016 from the Queen Victoria and once we have visited the Corinth Canal from Piraeus on the Queen Victorias Black Sea and Turkish Splendours Cruise in 2013
As an alternative, we decided to explore the town of Piraeus, encouraged by a suggested walking tour in our guide book. The walk is a circle which starts at the Metro station, then along the Kantharos Harbour Basin, passing the ferry quays, until reaching the International Cruise Terminal. We were lucky and the Queen Elizabeth had been allocated a berth closer to the town than usual, although the view of the ship was restricted by the thick fencing with circular holes. As we left the port there was an information board about an alternative walking tour around Piraeus, so there were lots of routings. So we were already on the walking route and our first place to visit was the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus at the top of the hill on Harilaou Trikoupi Str. But first we looked inside the church of church of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of the sea.
The Archaeological Museum was very quiet and there were more staff in the rooms than visitors. Piraeus was an important port and trading centre and the site include the ancient theatre of Zea which dates back to the 2nd century BC and is being renovated. Outside there were many statues and funeral wall sculptures. Two large lions stand guard and there is a large restored lion at the foot of the staircase indoors. The funerary monument of Kallithea, of the 4th century BC, occupies one side of a room with other funerary plaques and statues. On the first floor there are several bronze masterpieces. The statue of Archaic Kouros - Apollo, dates from the 6th century BC and stands proudly at the top of the stairs. An adjacent room has the bronze statue of Piraeus Athena, two statues of Artemis, and a bronze tragic mask. They are all 4th century BC and in excellent condition and beautifully constructed. The four statues are much large than lifelike and their manufacture is really exceptional. The other room has enormous statues of Hadrian the emperor.
Continuing along Harilaou Trikoupi we soon reached the pretty waterfront at Pasa Limani and the Zea Marina. Zea Marina is a large marina with all sizes of pleasure craft and luxury yachts, as well as hire fleets of Sunsail and Moorings. The Maritime Museum is about 600 metres along the waterfront, at the back of a park. Many of the exhibits are in the park or in the sheltered collonade, including the conning tower from a Greek submarine from WWII. The museum has models of ships and some uniforms belonging to local officers. There are remains from wrecks and it all provides a good overview of Greek maritime history from ancient times.
Our walking tour continued back along the waterfront and we noticed a Starbucks which was a source of our favourite Decaff expresso coffee beans. The Carrefour supermarket next door was very empty of produce and it appears from the news that the franchise of Carrefour in Greece was bankrupted recently. The Pasa Limani ends at a park with a sculpture and a set of outdoor exercise equipment, similar to that we found in the Taoro Park in Tenerife. Around the corner the path continued above a stoney public beach until reaching a small church where the path descended to Mikro Limani harbour. This was described as the most picturesque harbour basin in Piraeus with its yachts and fishing boats but we were disappointed because the only possibility to see the water was to go into one of the many waterfront restaurants and tavernas. There was no path along the edge, only the road on the other side of the restaurants. It is said that they are the best fish restaurants in Piraeus, but at lunctime they were empty and seemed to be aimed at the evening trade. We could continue to the Metro station at Neo Faliro but decided to retrace our steps.
|Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
Content revised: 31st October, 2016