We had been to Athens before and saw the Acropolis, so this time we were looking for something different. We walked to the metro--about a mile, then took the metro to the Monastirali station near the Platka. Right around the corner behind the station is the site of the Happy Train. We rode it around all the tourist areas, seeing the Presidential Palace,Olympic Stadium, Archeological Museum, etc. You can get off and on at the Museum, downtown or at the Acropolis entrance, so it is a good deal at 5 euro per person. We rode the hour loop around since it was raining. We ate delicious gyros at a local restaurant at which time it quit raining. We walked around the Platka, buying some olive oil soap, then took the metro back to Piraeus.
After much research, we did Istanbul on our own. We bought tickets online before we left for the Haggai Sophia and Topkaki Palace. It was very easy to exit the port, walk left about 1/4 mile, get Turkish money from one one of the numerous ATMs you pass along the way, and ride the tram to the tourist area. The tram was crowded and we had to stand, but it was fast and only 2 lira or about $1. We heard that the Celebrity transfer bus ($12 per day) took over an hour in the heavy traffic and it took us about 15 to 20 minutes. We first visited the Blue Mosque--beautiful, then Haggai Sophia, which was huge and impressive. Even with tickets, we were in line almost 45 minutes to get into the Haggai Sophia, so I would recommend going there firsts or waiting until late in the afternoon when the lines were not as long. We visited the Underground Cistern, which was very unique, then bought cokes and bread from a street vendor (very good). We went to the Topkaki Palace and Harem and it was fascinating. The Harem is not to be missed. The Relic Room was interesting, and the grounds were massive. We did not visit the Grand Bazaar, but instead went in some of the shops on the side streets around the palace. It was Saturday and a beautiful day, and everything was CROWDED--I believe that is the norm for this area, but I can't imagine how much more crowded it would be in the summer. We enjoyed all the sites and felt very safe, although you should be prepared for pickpockets etc. in crowded situations. We were back on the ship by 7, as we had a full day.
Sunday- we were only there until 1:00, so we went to the Spice Market, a Mosque nearby and then some shops nearer town. We rode the tram again---it wasn't quite as crowded as the day before. We found that the shopkeepers would take Turkish money or US money--in fact we did better with US money. They will give you a price that is much more than they will take in the end. I bought a table runner for 75% off his first price. The shopkeepers are aggressive, but not as bad as at the bazaar
They are friendly and if you don't like the price, walk away. We found the prices in Istanbul the best of any we have found at any of the ports we have visited except for Egypt. Great shopping.
We were suppose to tender, but ported instead. It was about 2 miles to the center of town and the cruise line didn't recommend walking, so sold bus transfers for $8 per person. Mykonos is a beautiful hillside town most of it is pedestrian only--except for the small cars the locals use--and we enjoyed walking around the narrow streets. We walked to the windmills and went in a few Greek churches and along the waterfront. We saw Michael Jordan, his new bride and bodyguards at the shopping area, which thrilled my husband. Some on our cruise went to the beach,but even though it was a pretty day, the water was cold and it wasn't warm enough for a beach day for us. It was a relaxing port for us and we saw everything we wanted to see in about 4 hours.
We took a private excursion with Ephesus Deluxe tours, which I booked online. There were 4 of us and we were met by the guide when we exited the ship and taken on an almost new large van to Ephesus, about 20-30 minutes away. It was raining all morning,which took away some of the enjoyment,but Ephesus was still interesting. The ruins are beautiful and the Terrace Houses are not to be missed. They have an ceiling area, so we were away from the rain (or sun),so that is a plus for visiting the Terrace Houses too. Due to the rain and dodging puddles, we didn't stay in Ephesus as long as we would have and didn't visit Sirince Village as we were suppose to, but weather can't be helped. Our tour included a delicious lunch at a Rug factory. The rug demonstration was interesting and low keyed---only lasting about 20 minutes. We were dropped off near the ship where we walked into some of the local shops. They had prices in Turkish money or euros and the prices were good. We highly recommend Ephesus Deluxe tours--they took US funds and were very easy to book online.
We tendered in Santorini and took the tram up to town. We had booked a van/driver with Santorini Car Rental and she was waiting at the top of the tram station,taking us though town to the van. There were 6 of us in a comfortable van and the driver took us to Oia where we walked around for an hour and a half. It was raining and drizzling while we were there, but it was still pretty and would have been great with better weather. She took us to a pretty church on a hill and then to a winery where the views were beautiful. We were dropped off at town where we walked around just a little while, then took the tram back down to the tender. We were only in port from 1:00 to 7:00, so there wasn't enough time to do too much, but it is a beautiful port. We highly recommend Santorini Car Rental for a rental car or their van/driver service.
We were fortunate enough to have friends who live in Naples who met us at the port and took us on a ride up the Almafi Coast to the various little towns along the coast. It was a pretty day and the views were beautiful. We had lunch in Sorrento and would highly recommend a drive along the coast. We were in Naples previously, visiting Pompeii and walked around the town, visiting the mall, Opera, etc. and would recommend that too. There is lots to do in Naples and friends loved Capri, which is easy to do on your own.