Athens: We walked off the ship at 7:45am and headed to the train station. It was about a 30 min walk. (we were docked as far away as you could get) We followed the directions that has been linked here to Tom Ogg’s pictured instructions on europeportreviews.com. (very good) We bought the all day pass for 3€ and took the 25 min ride to the Monastiraki stop. We wondered thru the streets headed up hill and found a side entrance to the Acropolis. (12€pp) We spent some time here as it was not crowded yet. Again, watch your step. It is very slick and uneven walking. We then wandered a side street around to Hadrian’s Arch and The Temple of Zeus. From there we walked to the Parliament building to watch the changing of the guards. Also, found a sidewalk donut/pretzel stand for a snack. We then found the Syntagma station that has a nice display of ruins excavated while the were digging for the metro and headed to Lykavittos Hill. We got off at the Evangelismos stop and walked up hill for awhile till we came to steps that took us to the funicular. This cost 6€pp and takes you to the top. The views here are unbelievable. You look down on the Acropolis and all of Athens. There is a small café and a beautiful white church at the top of the hill. We then took the metro back to Syntagma Square and wondered thru the Plaka area to the Ancient Agora. Then back to the Thissio station for the train back to Pireasus. We walked slowly back to the ship, stopping for a snack. Yes, our feet were very tired and a blister or two, but it was worth it.
We also walked to Lycabettus, but you could take the subway from either Monastiraki or Syntagma to Evangelismo (on the Blue line). We did Lycabbetus at the end of the day and then returned by subway from there (Blue line to Monastiraki and then transferred to the green line to Piraeus.).
Well Mary and Les I think you should be prepared to be a little overwhelmed as that is what Istanbul can do to you but it is a wonderful place….
If you go on the net there are Istanbul guides who will give you tours lasting from half a day upward and really take care of you. If you go on the other site for cruising comment you will find loads of advice too.
Istanbul is not difficult to do on your own though. Read up on the well known sites and just work out a routine for visiting them all. Buses/trams are easy to use and taxis are cheap and you are not far from most of the main sites. A word about taxis and their drivers, they are swindling cheats and will take every lira they can from you so be sure to get a price first before going anywhere and be alert to the quick switch, which many use, suddenly showing you a low value lira note and insisting that you have given them that by mistake. I have often, as in Athens where similar rogues abound, make a point of obviously taking a digital photo of the taxi cab before getting in. The ferries are great and will take you even to the Black Sea and back or just across to the other side for a pittance.
The sites are great, easy to see and worth seeing but to do it yourself takes some preparation time and you have certainly still got that.
By the way at that time of year it should still be warm but be prepared for rain which often occurs in late October
Regards ...... Neil
Istanbul: exited the port, walked through the taxi stand, and turned right on the first street. You can see the tram line running down the middle of the street. After walking about a block from the port along the sidewalk, between the tram line and a waterfront park, we came to the Findikli tram stop. (I believe you could also turn left from the port and hit a tram stop pretty soon, but I don't know that one's name.) There is a metal stall marked "Jeton" where you buy the tokens. The Findikli stall is in the middle of the street between the tram lines, but some other tram stops have their stalls on either side of the street. Buy your token, then enter the turnstile by putting the token in the slot. The tram is very efficient and inexpensive, 1.30 new Turkish lira (YTL) per ride. Trams heading towards the port into town are marked "Zeytinburnu". Ones from town to port are marked "Kabatas".
I am on the cruise before you! Will try and leave her in one piece! Suggest you join the meetand mingle laid on by RCI - useful way to meet people and share shore excursions.