Sunset with the Sea God – Cape Sounion

23rd June 2006

When I awoke, I realised my next tour was not until the afternoon, so I went straight back to sleep. I woke up a little later and decided to walk myself down to the Archaeological Museum of Athens, which was on the other side of the city. It was a long way, but I was now nice and rested and was feeling up to the challenge of navigating the big beautiful white city. While on tour buses I had been taking mental notes on the whereabouts of everything and I also had my trusty “Lonely Planet’s Guide to Greece” with me. I knew I would most likely get lost, so I allowed about an extra hour for that. I managed to surprise myself by not getting lost at all. When I arrived outside the museum, I felt a great sense of pride in the fact that I had managed to successfully navigate a foreign, non-English speaking city, where all the streets signs are in Greek writing. Yes, I managed it, the same girl who once attempted to find museum station in Sydney via Paddington had managed to navigate the great city of Athens.

I went inside the museum which was designed in the Neoclassical style and managed to get in for a student discount, paying only €2.00, which was wonderful. I headed in and walked straight into the Mycenaean exhibit and was faced with the so-called Mask of Agamemnon, as I looked at this magnificent object and the mountains of gold in the cabinet around me I couldn’t help sympathising with the Indiana Jones archaeologists of old.

I thought any archaeologist who says they have never even thought or dreamed of a haul like the one I was looking at, was kidding themselves. All around me there were magnificent gold cups and jewellery, wonderfully engraved weapons and knives, some of the most spectacular finds of our time.

Me at Cape Sounion
Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

In the museum I saw many other famous pieces that I had studied, such as the boxing boys’ fresco from Akrotiri on Santorini, the funerary stela of Tripletmos, the largest Cycladic figurine ever found and the famous striding statue of Zeus or Posiedon found in an ancient shipwreck. After the museum I walked back to the hotel, stopping briefly to check out a youth concert near Omonia Square. Once at the hotel I decided to have a nap before I was picked up for my afternoon tour of Cape Sounion and the temple of Poseidon. I was picked up for my tour at 4pm and it was a two-hour drive from Athens and I slept for most of it.

Zeus striding statue - Athens Archaeological Museum
Statue of Zeus or Poseidon in the Athens Archaeological Museum

I woke up an hour and a half into it and we were going through some more wonderful scenery along the coast. The island of Patroclus was pointed out to us, uninhabited because it has no supply of fresh water, but is supposedly the place where the hero Patroclus from the Trojan war was buried.

Cape Sounion Countryside
Beautiful scenery from the Cape Sounion viewpoint

The temple was magnificent, it is purched high on a hill overlooking the Aegean Sea and on a clear day you can see the island of Kea from its vantage point. This was the place where the king of Athens waited for his son Theseus to come home from Crete after killing the Minotaur, unfortunately Theseus forgot to signal his father by flying white sail, which said he was still alive and his father killed himself. In ancient times this temple had been a beacon of home to soldiers returning from war and tradesman alike. It was the first thing they saw upon their return.

The view inland from the temple was also wonderful and I had my photo taken against its backdrop. The beautiful green grass, with the amazingingly blue sea and red rooves of the white houses was a stunning combination to behold.

I climbed to rocky escarpment up to the temple, a feat which was not getting any easier and had a poke around at the place where Greeks prayed for a safe voyage. The temple itself as in all temples in Greece had fallen to pieces during an earthquake. This one though, was still quite intact and still very beautiful. We all got back on the bus, and I watched the sun set over Athens on the way back. I spent a short amount of time in an internet café before going back to the hotel and collapsing exhaustedly into bed.

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