I need to get from the port to the metro. Would it be better to take a taxi or bus? What's the best order of seeing the sites? Should we start with the Acropolis? We also want to walk through Plaka and see the changing of the guards in the square. The parthanon and Temple of Zeus are also on our list. Any others we should hit? We are only in port from 10 am to 6 pm. Time is limited. Thanks.
Depends on what kind of shape your in. You can walk to the Metro but its about a mile and a half. I found a map and posted it but I would have to do some hunting to find it again. If you google on Athens Metro map or for a port map you may be able to find it faster.
You may have issues getting a taxi from the ship to the Metro as they want longer, higher paying fares. The bus is a possibility but not being able to speak the language I didn't feel adventurous enough to attempt the bus.
As for the second part of your question, we started with the Acropolis and then got back on the metro and went down on stop and exiting right onto the changing of the guards. We then walked down saw the Temple of Zeus and then walked back and had a meal in the Plaka. I do think we were there earlier than 10AM, so doing all of that for you might be tight. But we walked both to and from the metro to the ship so if you were able to get a taxi to the metro you could cut out that time. I really don't think you'll have time to do much more than that on foot. If you spring for a "tour" taxi it would be no problem but also much more expensive. The Acropolis and the Plaka/Plaza would be doable.
Everythime I hear about language barriers in Europe I smile. The reality is that there is more of a language barrier for non-Spanish speaking folks in Miami than in Western Europe. As the other poster said, it takes about 20 min to walk from the port to the Metro station in Pireaus, but the walk is flat and along the harbor. If you prefer the local bus (I think its about 1 Euro) just cross the street in front of the cruise terminal and buy your bus ticket at the kiosk or a small shop (I do not believe they sell tickets on the bus). Than, just take the #843 bus (they run every few minutes) around the harbor to the station (about 5 min). Since you want to see the changing of the guard, you will need to hurry off the ship and make that your first stop. Also keep in mind that pickpockets are too common in Athens (and on the metro) so take some reasonable precautions (a good idea for anywhere in Europe)
I don't know, Hank. One year I had to fly into DeGaulle from Germany, but left out of Orly to come back to Dallas. I asked my cab driver if he spoke, French, Spanish, English, German, or Italian (that's all the languages I knew a couple of phrases in). He said no to all of them. So I through my hands up and said "What?". He came back with Portugese. I showed him my plane ticket and he took me to Orly. I still have bad dreams about trying to stumble around with my French and Spanish. I can read it a whole lot better than speak it.
Penny, We have had similar experiences in Miami! But I will share the secret of dealing with Parisians (I put them in a different category than the other French). We used to ask folks in Paris if they spoke English and they would often say, Non." We than started asking them, "Parlez vous anglais" and we still got a "non." We than decided to speak our bad French (my wife and have 9 years of school French between us). Well, we quickly learned that if you speak bad French the Parisians quickly will say something like this (in English), Pardon! Do you speak English? The reality is that they hate to hear anyone butcher their language and its amazing at how many speak some English when motivated. We have actually had some good laughs with French friends about this experience and they do agree with our theory.
Well Hank, it wasn't really the language barrier issue that kept us from trying the bus, it was not knowing for certain which bus route would go by the train station. It was easier/safer fro us to just walk as we don't mind walking. But you can save some time by busing it. But with you providing the bus number... that makes it easy. I suppose we could have figured it out, but there was a large group of cruisers walking to the train and we figured we were safer in numbers.
I truly didn't have a language problem in Athens as many/most of the people we needed to converse with could speak enough English that we could get by.
If we need to be back at the ship by 6 pm. What time do you suggest heading back from the metro? And, do we take the same bus from the metro to the port? Or, would it be best to take a taxi from town to the port?
That is a good question and we prefer not to cut things too close. You need to check the metro schedule when you arrive, but they usually run at least every 30 min. The Metro takes about 30 min between Athens and port and if you are going to use the 843 bus you need to allow some time to wait for the bus plus the 10 min for the bus to get you to the port. I would probably want to be on a metro leaving Athens no later than 3:30 which would even give you enough time to walk back to the ship from the Metro station. Keep in mind that the metro ticket and the bus ticket are one and the same and they are good for 90 minutes once they are validated. That means you should be able to use the metro/bus ticket (only costs 1 Euro) for both the Metro and the bus if you make good connections. The 843 bus is also the same bus that takes you from Metro to port except that when returning you need to cross the road and catch the bus on the other side (there is a pedestrian overpass in front of the station to get you over the busy road). I am not a big fan of Athens taxis since too many of the taxi drivers are real cheats and try to overcharge or use improper meter settings (such as using the night setting rather than day setting) to jack-up the fare.