Piraeus/Athens, Greece, April 30, 2006

Katie set the alarm for 7:25 for her early tour departure. She also had ordered continental breakfast for 7:45 (which continues to come anywhere from 15-20 mins. early). I laid there in the bed hoping to sleep & wallow all morning (it's pouring down rain outside, mid 50's). All I could think about was that damn ATM card; & what I was going to do about it. Wanted to get all the cash we'd need at one time. I'd already spent a small fortune on cell phone calls to the States yesterday. Even w/ the bad weather, there were only 70 passengers who stayed onboard today (according to the security officer in charge). Since the launderette wasn't busy, I took advantage of that & did our laundry. Everything came out of the dryer w/ killer static cling & looked like they had been wadded up in balls. Everything needed to be ironed. Things were going well until I got to my last piece when the iron started spitting out this brown steam. Made 3 big stains on a blouse. I took it down to Reception where they took the blouse to show to the housekeeping dept. & reported the iron problem. I assume they'll re-launder the blouse gratis.

I ate lunch at the buffet. Had another salad (just can't get enough of that blue cheese). They were carving pork loin w/ apple gravy (delish); & I had the guy make me a side pasta. It's kinda fun choosing your ingredients & having him sautee everything & toss it fresh for you. Today, mine was linguine w/ olive oil, garlic & onion (yummeee). Had a scoop of pear sorbet for dessert. I have to say (other than the blue cheese dressing & fresh chocolate croissants), Oceania really knows how to make cream soups & sorbet.

Somehow, I was dreading that trip to the ATM & phone call to the bank. I found the closest ATM about 3 blocks away. As soon as I got there, I called the bank; & got this recording that said "Sorry, we're having difficulties & can't take your call. Please try again later". I stood out in the drizzling cold & tried again in 10 mins. This went on for nearly 3 hrs. I must have called 10-12 times. I finally got an answer; & I went through my sob story once again. I told the girl I wanted to get 1,000 (which would be about $1,200 US). She told me my limit per day was only $1,000. I had raised that limit nearly 3 wks ago; but they obviously "didn't get the memo". After about 20 mins. on the phone, going through a ton of security checks, they finally raised my limit & unlocked the acct. long enough for me to go back across the street & withdraw the money. If I need more money, I'll have to go through this all again. I'm beyond pissed! I know all this is for my security; but this is a stress I did not need. Especially since Katie's card is gone too. But it's done. I'll have to put it out of my mind now. (PS: Now that I've returned home, I find that there never was any fraudulent activity. What it boils down to is laziness. The person at Bank of AM who grants permission for foreign withdrawals didn't even bother to check my records to see that I had notified them of my travel plans; & that my withdrawal should have been authorized.)

It's funny that a lot of people on the ship knew of my ATM problems; & some had even offered to get cash for us. They keep asking if I've got the problem worked out; & I can now (gleefully) tell them "yes". I got back to the ship at 5:15; & Katie returned from her tour about the same time. Katie said even though it was terrible out there, she had a good day.

She saw the Olympic Stadium, Acropolis, Syntagma Square (all again); & then the drive through the countryside to Cape Sounion was beautiful. Of course, she went there to see "more rocks" & pillars (Temple of Poseidon). They were treated to a fabulous lunch (her words - so you know it must have been good). They had Greek salad, chicken kebobs, moussaka, tsatziki (yogurt, cucumber & spice spread) & an eggplant spread to put over bread. She described an awesome dessert that was similar in consistency to creme brulee' but somehow different. She also raved about how delicious the coffee was. She's had nothing but awful coffee since we came over here. So, I'm really glad she had a good "fix" today. I needed something mindless to do, so I went to "play" on the computer.

In the meantime Katie is making new friends at the Martini Bar. We ate in the main D.R.; asked for a table for 2 in Jose' & Mihaela's section. Katie had a fabulous Chesapeake Bay crab cake w/ aioli sauce. I had another great cream soup - sweet potato w/ a dash of cumin. We both had an unusual, yet delicious terrine of sliced tomatoes layered w/ grilled eggplant w/ goat cheese cream & olive oil. As always, the presentation of the plates is stupendous. We also had the best salad so far, musculun of lettuce w/ grilled eggplant slices & basil vinaigrette. The entree we both chose was a Thai barbecue & braised pork rack topped w/ sauteed julienne vegetables & shitake mushrooms served w/ jasmine rice. I simply loved it; but Katie thought it was too sweet. For dessert, she had blackberry sorbet; & I had the most divine concoction. The bottom layer was creme caramel topped w/ a bread pudding, vanilla sauce on the side. Katie told Jose' that I probably would like caramel sauce too. So, he came out w/ a small bowl of (what had to be homemade) caramel sauce. It was to die for! This was without a doubt the best overall meal I've had yet. Katie stuck her head into the show lounge for a few mins. I wanted to get comfy & read. It was a long & taxing day for both of us. Luckily, we turn our clocks back & gain an hour (of extra sleep) tonight.


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