COSTA CLASSICA 11th April 2013 Piraeus
Wednesday 10th April 2013
Clocks advanced 1 hour last night, so we are now on Greek time ready for our arrival in Piraeus tomorrow. I woke to a very calm sea, with the sun just coming up through distant mist. Breakfast was taken on the aft deck, in lovely air, and a single swallow flew around the stern for a couple of minutes, and then wasn't seen again. I presume we were near enough to land as we head north for it to venture out to the ship.
The day was casual, until it was time to put on the ‘posh frock’ ready for the Captain’s Gala night cocktail party, and Gala Dinner.
Thursday 11th April 2013
Today we arrive early in one of my favourite ports: Piraeus, the port for Athens in Greece. I was awake at 6 and through the porthole I could see a Blue Star Line ferry rather close and heading into the port,
so I dressed quickly and went on deck,
and for the next hour and a half enjoyed seeing all the comings and goings into the Great Harbour, as we sailed in and berthed. Breakfast was taken on the aft deck, enjoying the ships and the sunrise over the surrounding mountains suddenly flooding the harbour with light.
We could see the little cruise ship MINERVA further along the quay, so we set off in the warm sunshine, and our footsteps took us right beside MINERVA.
This was an opportunity not to be missed, so I walked up the gangway. At the top someone emerged from the dark interior and so I did my nice smiley English female thing, and explained that I was a passenger on the COSTA CLASSICA, and how pleased we were to see their lovely ship. The security man immediately said it was not possible to visit, so I explained that I quite understood, but would it please be possible to have a couple of picture postcards. He led me across to Reception so the English-speaking Purser immediately took two postcards from a nearby rack and gave them to me; I thanked him, we shook hands and all was well with my little world as I went back down the gangway.
Then we walked through the cruise terminal, heading for the original Epirotiki Shipping Line building. My travelling companion as a small boy used to write to them each year from Cape Town and from Canada asking for ship postcards and new brochures. These were always sent, and received with great happiness.
Today we ventured into Reception at the offices and met a welcoming man who suggested we wait a moment, because here was Mr Andreas Potamianos himself arriving for work. Stunned silence on our part, and big smiles, and then we were introduced and invited to take the lift with him up to the penthouse that is his office suite on the top floor. We did this very happily, and entered a fantastic set of rooms, with fabulous views over the Great Harbour. He asked if we would like coffee or tea, and this was soon brought. My companion explained that as a small boy in Cape Town and then in Canada he would write each year to the Epirotiki offices asking for the latest brochures. Mr Potamianos then immediately wanted to know ‘Did we send them?’ and was happy that the answer was ‘Yes, thank you’.
We chatted, took a few photos, admired his memorabilia and the ship photos all around his rooms, including him with many recognisably famous people. He gave my friend a big shipping book, and I was given a book about Greek islands with many pictures of Epirotiki ships in it. What an honour to meet the man. It seems he is busy with some non-shipping related business, although his company does handle bookings for Pullmantur. His cousin was the late Mr Potamianos who owned FUNCHAL, whom we met on the quayside in Lisbon in September 2010 after disembarking from her (see my blog piece entitled FUNCHAL). We finally said our goodbyes and thanks and left the unforgettable eyrie above the harbour.
We found the Louis Cruises Lines offices nearby and obtained some brochures there, and then walked to see Costas at the not-to-be-missed Telstar Newsagents – Booksellers, at 57 Akti Miaouli. This proved to be a long visit, with much discussion about the Tradewinds publication and my companion’s lengthy article in the latest issue. We bought books and postcards, and I showed him my article in his bookshop copy of Ferry & Cruise Ship Annual 2013 about the Norwegian Hurtigruten vessel NORDSTJERNEN, and he was going to take that home to read.
The walk back through the Harbour meant we could go and see AGIOS GEORGIOS on behalf of one particular ferry friend,
and the chance to look at COSTA MAGICA and the Pilot harbour further along the quay.
I had lunch on board, ready for sailing at 3 p.m. but I found that so ignominious: we went out stern first from the Great Harbour - I couldn't believe it. When we arrived this morning we could have gone in and turned in the wide turning circle, with the Pilot on board avoiding the other traffic, just as MSC FANTASIA did. Ah well, one of life's little mysteries.
What a wonderful day in Piraeus.
Ships seen: Blue Star Patmos, Neptune Thelisis, Gallia from Monrovia, Hellenic's Flying No. 18, GA Ferries Jet Ferry 1, ANEK's Lato, Blue Horizon, Theofilos from Nel Lines, MSC Fantasia, Hellas Liberty, Blue Star Naxos, Agios Georgios in all her glory, Blue Star Ithaki, Posidon Hellas, Konstantis, Costa Magica, and the ships far away in lay up that we saw entering Piraeus Great Harbour, and many little local craft coming and going from the nearby islands
To be continued....