Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mykonos, Rhodes, & Santorini - Part IV

October 15th, Mykonos. I have never been to Mykonos and was really looking forward to wandering the many small streets with its whitewashed buildings. Our ship was supposed to dock at 2pm, but we arrived at 4pm cutting into our day due to the weather. The Delos tour was cancelled and many people, including Mark, were very upset about it. Deb and I, along with Gail and Abe, headed to town on the shuttle bus ($8pp) since the road was too narrow to walk along. Deb and I wandered around town, window shopped in the stores, and ended up in “Little Venice” where many people were waiting for the sun to set while having drinks and eating Greek food. I took many photos. Stairs and doors were painted in blue, matching the color of the sea, as well as some of the domes of the churches. Deb and I walked up to the windmills for more photo ops and then found a place to relax and have a bite to eat. Of course we were near Little Venice and all the restaurants in that area cater to tourists. Some of our mezes were very good while the Taramasalata (fish roe spread) was terrible! The wine was cheap (4 euros for ½ liter) and pretty good for local house wine. Mark and his group sat at a table next to us. Gail and Abe showed up and sat with us while we watched the sun disappear. It was beautiful!

After our meal, Deb and I walked around and saw Petros the Pelican. I decided to walk around for a bit longer while Deb took the shuttle bus back. I purchased a gold charm of a windmill for my bracelet. Everyone was back on the ship earlier than the due time, so the ship left almost an hour early. I was in bed as we left Mykonos. My room problems began. I heard metal banging below my room. The deck below me and just two doors down/forward is the gangway exit. I called guest relations and someone came to listen to the sound. About 40 minutes later it stopped (or maybe it didn’t and I was just sound asleep).

October 16 Rhodes: I woke up at 6am to more metal bang noise, like a metal door hitting a metal wall. I immediately called guest relations and two men (one an engineer) listened to the sound. The engineer though it might be a steam pipe. Hmmmm, steam pipe on this type of ship? They left and I just got up and showered, as there was no way I could go back to sleep with that kind of loud, obnoxious noise. The noise lasted for about 1.5 hours.

The Galaxy arrived in Rhodes at 8am just as I was on deck to watch us arrive. I headed out alone and walked the old town area, which is a well-preserved medieval city surrounded by thick walls. This area is filled with many jewelry and gift shops, as well as cafés and restaurants. There are mosques and Byzantine churches, as well as Knight’s street with its castle and walls and moat. Since it was a beautiful day, I stayed outdoors to enjoy the views. Rhodes is a beautiful city, especially the old town area.

I was glad to have found an internet café in the “new” town area- only 1 euro for half hour – and sent out an email to family and friends. I was hoping to send emails more often on this trip but I was either too busy or couldn’t find an internet café. I walked along the port and marina area and took pictures of the deer statues, which are located at the entrance of the port.

I ran into Ken and Marg, who suggested a place for lunch. I had my own list of recommendations, but they told me it was highly recommended by a local. It was not easy to find with my map, but I eventually found the restaurant hidden away from the tourists and main streets. There were only a couple of people dining. After I ordered my meal (eggplant dip, pork souvlaki and wine), friends Craig, George, Mike, and Mike showed up. Small world! Or I should say small town. We had a great lunch together along with some good local wine. The guys picked up my tab, which was very nice of them. Thanks again!!

The afternoon I spent a little time looking for some gold earrings. The price of gold has climbed very high. I did purchase a pair with the Greek key design, as well as a charm of the Colossus of Rhodes for my bracelet. These were my anniversary gifts from Tony.

Back on the ship, I went to the guest relations desk to talk about my room noise problems. Flavio, one of the managers at guest relations was absolutely rude to me. When I told him about the metal banging on both the previous night and morning he stated, “My room is right below yours and I didn’t hear any noise.” Well, good for him that he can sleep through that kind of crap! I asked for another room and was told I could try out 4131. Flavio had an “I don’t care if you can’t sleep” attitude. I had told him I paid a lot of money for the cruise (having paid the single supplement since Tony couldn't go with me) and wanted to be able to sleep well each night. I looked at the deck plan and told him the kitchen was above that room. He stated it really wasn’t noisy after 12:30am. I knew then this wasn’t going to work out. I left and got ready for the evening.

Craig and George invited me to their room for cocktails before dinner. They had wine and finger foods on hand. Both Mikes and Vicki and Alex showed up too. I had a very nice time with everyone. For dinner I ordered salmon, which was very good.

Bed time. I went to my original room and got some things for my temporary room. Sure enough, I heard the kitchen above me. I heard metal carts rolling across the floor. Silly me, I moved from one twin bed over to the other one thinking a few feet “away” from the noise would help. It didn't, but I eventually fell asleep.

October 17th Santorini. Ugh! I woke up to the sound of the ships engines as we slowed down. Time for another call to customer relations, which was frustrating, as I had to explain the whole story all over again. I told the woman I would come to guest relations when I was back on the ship at the end of the day. I headed back to my room and got ready for the day. After a quick breakfast I got my ticket for the tender and headed out.

Santorini is my favorite Greek island! I just love all the white washed buildings hugging the cliffs of Fira and Oia along with the blue-domed churches. Our ship was tendered and I got on one of the boats by 9am. I had planned to walk up along the donkey trail, but when I saw how “poopy” the street was I decided the cable car (4 euros) was the better option. It was a pleasant day as I headed to Oia with three other fellow cruisers in a taxi. We would have had to wait almost an hour for the local bus. I walked along Oia and went down some narrow streets that I hadn’t been on before. Oia wasn’t as crowded as Fira but there were still lots of people enjoying the views. There are also fewer shops than in Fira.

For lunch, I had a gyro sandwich and bottled water while waiting for the local bus to go back to Fira. I chatted with Nick, one of the taxi drivers trying to find a customer or two. His brother owns the gyro stand in the square. Nick kept telling me he could drive me to Fira for 15 euros. No thanks. Eventually he agreed to 10 euros, as he couldn’t get anyone in his cab, so we headed out. It was my splurge ride on this trip. We stopped at the far end of Oia where I took some beautiful photos of Oia. Nick also took a few photos of me with Oia in the background. I don’t think anyone else had this great vantage since one would have to walk about mile from the town center, unless one rented a car.

Back in Fira, I walked along taking photos and window-shopped. The display of jewelry was amazing, especially with the 22k gold jewelry! I had a snack of taramasalata with Vicki and Alex at Zafora, a restaurant I had dined in twice before. The views are great from this terrace restaurant. More walking after my snack and lots more photo taking. Santorini is a great place for photographers. I hiked up to one area to take some photos of the blue-domed Kimisis Theotokov Church, which is on posters and postcards. The little street is not easy to find, but Tony and I found it on our last trip together.

Our ship was due to leave at 4pm, so I headed back down to the cable car and back to the ship. It was really a beautiful day and I enjoyed my time in Santorini. Back to guest relations I asked to speak to Flavio’s supervisor (telling my story all over again). I figured it was time to climb the ladder and get better results. I was told I could meet with Sonia, the hotel director at 6:15pm. I went to the Captain’s Club cocktail party and had a glass of champagne.

I met Sonia at the allotted time and we talked at length. I told her I could not go from one noisy cabin to another noisy cabin. She told me there were no other cabins with windows but there was an interior room I could try out. I told her if I was satisfied, I could move the next day but expected compensation since I was loosing the window view. She kept telling me she would have to contact the Celebrity headquarters and may not get an answer for a few days. I just repeated, “You need to compensate me.” I went to look at the room and fortunately it was on a deck with cabins below and above the room. So, I figure I would just ‘sleep around’ on the ship until I found a quite cabin. Back in my room for only 15 minutes, the phone rang. It was Flavio. He told me two women who had their own cabins, decided they wanted to spend the rest of the cruise together in one room and that a window cabin “just became available.” What a crock of horse shit (or donkey shit since I saw some in Fira)! Fine Flavio, lie to me if you want. Who would spend money on a cruise, pay the single supplement (like I did) and then decide to share a room with someone else? That’s money down the drain!! I met Flavio at the cabin to check it out. It looked nice so I told him I would try it out this evening.

Done with that mess for now, I went to Craig and George’s room for cocktails and snacks. This became the routine for the rest of the cruise – either their room at or at the Stratosphere lounge. The gang was there plus David and Larry. I had duck ala orange for dinner, which was excellent and it was a huge portion! Back in my room, I gathered some things and headed to my “new” room for the night.

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