Day two in Athens was another jam-packed adventure. We woke up early to head to a bus station about 15 minutes away to inquire about tickets for Athens to Sounio. Sunio is a town 2-3 hours outside of Athens, on the seaside. I was recommended this area by many Greek friends, who said it is perfect for sunset. So we talked to the bus drivers and decided to get the 3 PM bus to Sounio, famous for its Temple of Poseidon. After talking to this local bus company, we headed towards the metro to figure out what time trains start running for the next morning, because we had an early ferry to catch. On the way to the metro we found a Mikels coffee shop, which one of David’s friends recommended we ordered a frappe. We took the metro into Syntagma square, to start our Athens explorations for the day. The first stop was Hadrian’s arch, and on our way we passed by some shops and I got a few a small souvenirs. The arch was beautiful (and free..woo), so we took some photos and then headed towards the Temple of Zeus.
Again, David got it free, but this time I got half price, but it was only three Euro so wasn’t too pricey. This is another amazingly beautiful temple that you can’t miss.
Next, we visited the Zapion expedition and congress hall. Where there was a nice fountain and lush gardens. After this site, we walked towards the Panathenaic stadium, home to the first modern Olympic Games. It is a massive stadium. I ended up opting out (I was too cheap to pay another 3 Euro) so I spent the money on a lemonade icy drink and cooled down in the shade while David took a look around.
The next stop on the to do list was the Benaki Museum. But on our way we stopped by a few important sites. The first was the President’s house, which had guards our front constantly walking back and fourth. After this we visited the National Botanical museum, which had nice ponds, trees, shade, and even some animals! It’s pretty big and you could probably spend some time in there, but after 45 minutes we decided to head to Benaki Museum. If you’re into museums I suggest this because it’s pretty big (three stories with many rooms and halls), has tons of artifacts, and also is free. We were recommended the restaurant here, but due to the lack of vegetarian options we passed (I’m a little high maintenance I admit). So we went back to the central area of Benaki square where there were tons of restaurants. On our way we passed by the tomb of the unknown soldier, located in front of the Greek Parliament. This tomb also has guards marching at all times, and they have a changing of the guards every hour.
We ended up eating in another beautiful outdoor restaurant that had traditional Greek cuisine for David, and some veggie options for me. While we were waiting for food I shopped a bit and found myself a couple pairs of handmade sandals. They sell them almost everywhere and I was in need for some new shoes, so I found he cheapest pair I could find (but they still looked high quality) and headed back to eat my lunch. I had a delicious vegetarian pizza! Then we took the metro to the area with a bus station. Unfortunately the guy earlier in the day told us the wrong time, so we had to wait 45 minutes for the next bus to come. In the mean time we bought some water and walked around the area.
Round trip tickets only cost 12.50 per person, which is a great deal for how far it is. In addition, the entire bus ride has amazing views and is right along the coast. We passed by some incredible beaches and sea cliffs. Finally, about 2.5 hours later we arrived to the Temple of Poseidon. The first thing we decided to do was hike a bit along the coast. There were some awesome views of the temple, and it went along the coast on the ridge of a sea cliff, with clear blue waters underneath which was extremely beautiful. We hiked to the very end on a point overlooking both sides of the coast, and saw a little beach down below. We brought our beach gear anticipating that there were places to swim in this area, and I was very eager for my first swim in the Mediterranean! We hiked down towards the sea, to this little beach. It took about a half hour to get there, but for me it was so worth it. I was hot from walking around and I enjoyed the refreshing ocean to cool me off.
There were some nude people sunbathing which surprised me because I’m not used to that at all (especially after experiencing beaches in Saudi Arabia). But after a quick swim I sunbathed for a few minutes before heading back up to the Temple of Poseidon for sunset. There was another entrance fee here (half off for students woo, free for EU students). But it’s totally worth it, because not only is the temple incredible but the views of the coast are also stunning. It was perfect timing to see the sun go down behind the temple.
And the harbor below was beautiful with all the sail boats, we spend about 40 minutes wandering around and decided to take the 8 PM bus back to Athens. On our way back we watched an incredible lightening storm. The sky lit up all around us. Unfortunately, the center of the storm was in Athens, so there was a ton of rain, meaning some flooded roads and tons of traffic. We didn’t get home until midnight or so, and we were very excited to get some dinner. We ended up getting off the bus in Syntagma square, where we thought would be the highest chance of having restaurants still open. We lucked out and found one pretty fast. We both got a salad and shared some grilled halloumi. I got a quinoa salad with pecans, cranberries, goat cheese, and balsamic which was super delicious. After dinner we started the journey home, about 35 minutes away. This day we ended up walking 12 miles, luckily I brought my ankle brace so all was good! At the hostel we showered and packed up our luggage for a 5 AM wake up the next day to catch the metro to the ferry port. Next stop: Santorini!