I am terrible at sleeping on overnight flights. I am normally an excellent sleeper, but the combination of excitement to get to my destination plus the pressure to fall asleep plus the uncomfortable coach seat almost always results in a frustratingly sleepless night. So last year, when I was planning my trip to Greece I didn’t want to schedule in too much sightseeing on the first day. But I also didn’t want to waste any time.
I decided that I would spend my first day and night at the tip of Cape Sounio, right near the Temple of Poseidon. The temple is well-preserved and sits high on a hill, making it one of the most beautiful sights in Greece. Most people visit it as a day trip from Athens, but it can take up to two hours to get there with traffic. My plan was to go straight from the Athens airport to the beachfront Aegeon Beach Hotel, which is a short walk from the temple. Then the next morning I would return to the airport for a flight to Santorini and I would save my Athens sightseeing for the end of the trip.
Well, I am pleased to report that it all went according to plan and that I would recommend that everyone begin their trip to Greece this way. Our plane landed in Athens (a few hours late) and we took a taxi to the hotel. The ride took around an hour and was very pretty, as we drove along the coast. We checked into the Aegon Beach Hotel, which was surprisingly modern. It was good thing that we were completely exhausted because the area is quite remote. In the immediate area, there is just a small beach, two similar tavernas (informal Greek restaurants) and the temple.
We took a quick look at the beach, had the first of many Greek salads at one of the tavernas, and then took a long nap — longer than we had planned. But that’s OK, as we had heard that the best time to visit was to watch the sunset. So, we walked uphill to the temple and then hung around to watch the sunset. It extremely windy up there (because it is tip of the cape) so we were glad that we didn’t have to stay up there for too long. But it was pretty cool while we were there.
We walked back down to the hotel and hung around a little while before dinner. Greeks eat late, so we figured when in Greece… It got very dark very quickly and there weren’t many lights in the area — except for the monument, which is completely illuminated. It was hard to take your eyes off it, and we had a great view while we ate dinner at the other taverna. It was also hard to photograph since I didn’t have my SLR camera then and the point-and-shoot didn’t like the lack of light. But the photo on the left should give you an idea of what it looked like.
The next morning, we left early for our 10:30 AM flight to Santorini. We were well-rested and had already seen a major historical sight — the perfect way to start a Greek vacation!