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Day 2 - sea, site, salt


Location - Sounion - Aegeon Hotel

The reason we came to Sounion first was because we knew we’d be jet lagged and didn’t want to try to tackle Athens right away. Ironically, none of us felt much jet lag.

After the hotel breakfast buffet (consisting mostly of omelettes, weird Greek baked goods, and various cheeses), we headed out to the hotel’s beach chairs. Most of the beach is controlled by the hotel, but a small strip on either end is public, so a number of locals and a bus load of Russians shared the Aegean (if not the chairs) with us. The bay was a moving gallery of gorgeous yachts and bobbing heads. We swam a bit, read a bit, dozed a bit, and lunched at one of the two nearby outdoor restaurants overlooking the sea. At lunch, we introduced the kids to saganaki, that most heavenly of salty, cheesy appetizers. They declared that we must always order it. Always. They were emphatic.

Around 7:30, we made our way to the Temple of Poseidon; it is a monument that is supposed to be viewed at sunset. It is a magnificent spectacle, and the kids were suitably moved by their first (of many) ancient sites. It was lovely to watch them have that moment when the academic understanding of a monument’s importance shifts to a personal sense of profundity. They snapped their own photos and started sentences with phrases like “Just think about how long / how many / how much …” That, right there, is why people should come to Greece.

There weren’t too many people at the site, but there were a lot clouds (and even a few raindrops), so we didn’t get the full sunset experience. However, we remained mountaintop for a drink. The restaurant is on the opposite side of the temple from our hotel, so we wanted to see that side lit up, which happens about 45 minutes after sunset. While we were there, an American woman, whom we had earlier seen guiding a tour, came up and asked us if we would like some information about the temple. Turns out she is a retired classics professor from Columbia who came with a group (also in the restaurant) of rather disinterested Columbia MBA students (she was appalled by their lack of interest in Greek history and mythology and how they all just wanted to get to the beaches of Santorini). We told her we knew quite a bit already but would love to hear what she had to say; she lectured brilliantly for at least 20 minutes. We did know a lot of it, but not all, and she was delighted by our knowledge and our enthusiasm.

We ate a late dinner at the other of the nearby restaurants. A miscommunication resulted in our receiving two (rather than one) saganaki, which wouldn’t have been a problem except that we had also ordered a grilled feta dish, and stuffed peppers that contained cheese, and a greek salad, which had a slab of feta on it that was, without exaggeration, 5 inches long, 3 inches wide, and one inch thick!

We knew it was time to leave when one of the waiters pushed her motorcycle through the dining area. We went for a quick stroll down the beach and around the hotel grounds, then off to bed with sea salt on our skin, a sea god on our mind, and cheese salt in our blood.