Magical Sunset at Cape Sounion
[Sounion, Greece, May 19, 2019]
After spending more than half the day touring the ancient sites of Athens, we went back to our AirBnB to relax. This was much needed downtime before our evening adventure.
In the late afternoon, we picked up our rental car from a small Hertz rental office just a 5-minute walk from our AirBnB. Our destination was about an hour and a half south of Athens. We were headed to the ancient temple of Poseidon, built in the 5th century BC during Athens’ Golden Age. I’d considered doing a bus tour there so we can avoid the hassle of dealing with a rental car; but most tours were on Saturday, which was the day we got to Athens, and we also wanted the freedom of stopping along the way for dinner or just to enjoy the views.
The drive south along the coast was beautiful! B had done this trip last time he was here, and he was looking forward to seeing those gorgeous homes built into the hillsides overlooking the Aegean again.
Since sunset wasn’t until close to 8:30 pm, we left Athens early enough to also have time for dinner along the way. B found this gorgeous little restaurant called Stamatis. We were the only people on the patio (perks of traveling just before high season!)
We were starving since we hadn’t had anything since breakfast.
The restaurant was really close to the temple – we actually could see in the distance just a few minutes after leaving it.
Parking was, thankfully, plentiful. There was a small cafe off the parking lot, but it didn’t look nearly as appealing as our little restaurant. The temple was located a short walk uphill from there.
The temple of Poseidon was constructed in 444–440 BC during the rule of the Athenian statesman Pericles, who also rebuilt the Parthenon in Athens after the Persian invasion. The temple features Doric-style columns, like the ones at the Parthenon. 16 of the 38 columns still stand, of which four were re-built in the 20th century.
The temple was perfectly situated for sunset photos. We had great views of the coastline as well.
The place was busy but not too crowded. A guard with a whistle was busy keeping people away from climbing stones that apparently came from the temple. They were all over the place and could not be cordoned off, but they looked very much like part of the landscape, so people couldn’t really tell they came from the temple.
We spent about an hour there taking photos and enjoying the lingering sunlight.
The closing time was officially 8:30, which was just after sunset. We managed to take some final photos as the guard ushered us towards the exit with that whistle of his. He was definitely not inclined to spend any extra minutes there!
Since the office we rented the car from was closed by the time we got back to Athens, we had to find parking for the car ourselves and return it the next day. Anticipating no street parking, I had asked our AirBnB host to recommend a parking garage in our area. It cost us an extra EUR 20, but I was thankful we didn’t try to park on the street because it would have been impossible. Streets in Plaka are narrow – most are one-way with barely enough room for cars to pass, and the cars that were parked on the street were so close to each other that I wondered how they got into their spaces in the first place.
After what turned out to be the busiest day on the whole trip, we were exhausted. We had another full day in Athens but we planned on making it a much more leisurely experience.