Greek gods and visions – Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, Greece
Mankind has always found spiritual renewal by the sea as for ages, we have flocked to the beaches and oceans to relax, rejuvenate, and reflect. Countless poems have been written, paintings created, and photographs taken of the sea, beach, as well as sunrise and sunset across the water. Properties on the shore are some of the most prized and expensive parcels of real estate on our planet. In some countries such as Mexico, governments have sought to protect access to the ocean to all people by prohibiting private ownership and/or requiring right of ways be granted to the public.
How are we to find solitude at the seashore when everyone else has the same idea? The solution is to go there when the crowds have gone and the weather is still warm enough to enjoy bathing in the ocean and taking in the sun along the beach. The Apollo coast of Greece is one such place during October. The weather near Athens is still sunny and warm with temperatures in the 70s during the day. Plus, all the crowds have gone home!
Once out of Athens, head east along the coast from Piraeus. While there is a bus which goes to Sounion, the trip is much more enjoyable and flexible by car. Arguably, the route has become much more built up over the years as back when I first experienced this trip in 1971, there was very little between Piraeus and Sounion. Today, there are many small hotels, vacation homes and villages which makes it even more compelling to take the trip when the crowds are gone.
Once at Sounion, which is about 40 miles from Athens, the main attraction is the Temple of Poseidon perched up atop a hill with commanding views from all directions and out into the blue Mediterranean Sea. Much of the temple still remains and so it is a majestic view looking up to the cliff. From the temple grounds, the views out to sea are breathtaking and if you go when the crowds are gone, one can find a few places to sit and reflect in solitude at such a spiritual place. While our collective views of God and deities have changed throughout civilization, one common thread is that we have built temples and churches at places full of spiritual energy and the temple of Poseidon is such a place.
If you were taking in the ocean views on the way to Sounion, you would have noticed that there are many secluded beaches to pull into along the way. Of course, during the high season, these would be very crowded and finding parking among the dunes would be next to impossible. During October however, all of these beaches are nearly deserted so on your way back towards Athens, pick one and spend the rest of the day relaxing by the shore. We stopped at a nice beach we found at about km marker 65. Parking is among the dunes and there are no facilities. However, the shrubbery here is high enough that finding a place to change was not a problem at all.
You can pack a picnic lunch, or stop at one of the remaining open restaurants along the road to grab a bite and watch the sea. We stopped at a nice cafe named Ayrarti right after we left the beach on the way back to Athens. (On the right hand side of the road.) They have outdoor tables and from there, we watched the sunset over the Mediterranean. We had the grilled sea bream and grilled sardines and both were good. Their eggplant salad was some of the best we had our entire time in Greece.
This little excursion makes a nice day trip from Athens and provides a break from the crowds in the city. Please let us know your thoughts if you take this trip and tell us about your experiences along the way.