It's no wonder that all roads lead to the fascinating and maddening metropolis of Athens. Lift your eyes 200 feet above the city to the Parthenon, its honey-color marble columns rising from a massive limestone base, and you behold architectural perfection that has not been surpassed in 2,500 years. But, today, this shrine of classical form dominates a 21st-century boomtown. To experience Athens—Athína in Greek—fully is to understand the essence of Greece: ancient monuments surviving in a sea of cement, startling beauty amid the squalor, tradition juxtaposed with modernity. Locals depend on humor and flexibility to deal with the chaos; you should do the same. The rewards are immense. Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way. From many quarters of the city you can glimpse "the glory that was Greece" in the form of the Acropolis looming above the horizon, but only by actually climbing that rocky precipice can you feel the impact of the ancient settlement. The Acropolis and Filopappou, two craggy hills sitting side by side; the ancient Agora (marketplace); and Kerameikos, the first cemetery, form the core of ancient and Roman Athens. Along the Unification of Archaeological Sites promenade, you can follow stone-paved, tree-lined walkways from site to site, undisturbed by traffic. Cars have also been banned or reduced in other streets in the historical center. In the National Archaeological Museum, vast numbers of artifacts illustrate the many millennia of Greek civilization; smaller museums such as the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum illuminate the history of particular regions or periods. Athens may seem like one huge city, but it is really a conglomeration of neighborhoods with distinctive characters. The Eastern influences that prevailed during the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire are still evident in Monastiraki, the bazaar area near the foot of the Acropolis. On the northern slope of the Acropolis, stroll through Plaka (if possible by moonlight), an area of tranquil streets lined with renovated mansions, to get the flavor of the 19th-century's gracious lifestyle. The narrow lanes of Anafiotika, a section of Plaka, thread past tiny churches and small, color-washed houses with wooden upper stories, recalling a Cycladic island village. In this maze of winding streets, vestiges of the older city are everywhere: crumbling stairways lined with festive tavernas; dank cellars filled with wine vats; occasionally a court or diminutive garden, enclosed within high walls and filled with magnolia trees and the flaming trumpet-shaped flowers of hibiscus bushes. Formerly run-down old quarters, such as Thission, Gazi and Psirri, popular nightlife areas filled with bars and mezedopoleia (similar to tapas bars), are now in the process of gentrification, although they still retain much of their original charm, as does the colorful produce and meat market on Athinas. The area around Syntagma Square, the tourist hub, and Omonia Square, the commercial heart of the city about 1 km (½ mi) northwest, is distinctly European, having been designed by the court architects of King Otho, a Bavarian, in the 19th century. The chic shops and bistros of ritzy Kolonaki nestle at the foot of Mt. Lycabettus, Athens's highest hill (909 feet). Each of Athens's outlying suburbs has a distinctive character: in the north is wealthy, tree-lined Kifissia, once a summer resort for aristocratic Athenians, and in the south and southeast lie Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni, with their sandy beaches, seaside bars, and lively summer nightlife. Just beyond the city's southern fringes is Piraeus, a bustling port city of waterside fish tavernas and Saronic Gulf views.
Sarandë is a city in southern Albania on the coast of the Ionian Sea. Sarandë can be reached easily from the Greek island of Corfu by ferry. An early Christian monastery dedicated to 40 saints (Santi Quaranta) gave Sarandë its name. The city center of Sarandë has been scarred by communist architecture but since the fall of communism many small shops and bars have sprung up which give it a Mediterranean feel. This southernmost harbour of Albania was once the ancient port of Onchesmos. Today, Sarandë’s main attractions are its sunny climate and the nearby ruins of Butrint. Please Note: For your convenience, shore excursions offered for this port of call are available to reserve in advance at www.silversea.com, unless otherwise noted in the description. The deadline to reserve these tours is August 19, after which they will be available for purchase on board, unless otherwise noted in the description. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to anchor at Main Pier. The town center is 875 yards from the pier. Taxis are generally available at the pier. Shopping Typical souvenirs include t-shirts, postcards, wood carvings and dolls in national costume. Cuisine Albanian cuisine has been strongly influenced by Turkey. Grilled meats like shisqubap (shish kebab), romstek (minced meat patties) and gofte (meat balls) are served all across the Balkans. Some local dishes include comlek (meat and onion stew), fërges (a rich beef stew), rosto me salcë kosi (roast beef with sour cream) and tavë kosi (mutton with yoghurt. Lake Shkodra carp and Lake Ohrid trout are the most common fish dishes. Try the ice cream (akullore), which is popular everywhere. Other Sites Blue Eye Spring The iridescent blue water gushes from the depths of the earth and feeds the Bistrica River. Catacombs Recently discovered catacombs of the church of the Forty Saints can also be explored. Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.
The largest city in Tunisia, situated on a Mediterranean gulf behind the Lake of Tunis, is the capital city Tunis. It is a destination that mixes ancient architecture with more contemporary styles. Here you can learn about the culture and history of Tunisia, and then enjoy a vibrant night.
Known in Sardinia as Casteddu, the island's capital has steep streets and impressive Italianate architecture, from modern to medieval. This city of nearly 160,000 people is characterized by a busy commercial center and waterfront with broad avenues and arched arcades, as well as by the typically narrow streets of the old hilltop citadel (called, simply, “Castello”). The Museo Archeologico makes a good starting point to a visit. The imposing Bastione di Saint Remy and Mercato di San Benedetto (one of the best fish markets in Italy) are both musts.