On a warm, sunny afternoon in March, other TBG members and I gathered at the entrance of the Acropolis metro station, the meeting point for our latest tour. We had been invited by the touring company, Experience Taxis to take part in a day-trip to Lake Vouliagmeni and Cape Sounio, just south of Athens. I had heard of Cape Sounio’s sunset and was excited to finally experience it for myself.
Thomas Festis, owner of Experience Taxis, met us at the metro station and led us to our travel vehicles, a luxurious Mercedes taxi and van. Spyros and I settled in the van with two other couples. The cabin area was spacious, comfortable and had wifi.
We first stopped at Lake Vouliagmeni, a thermal lake formed when an underground cave containing hot springs collapsed on itself. Today Lake Vouliagmeni is fed by underground currents whose temperatures stay around 24oC (75.2 oF) year-round.
According to Thomas, a dip in the lake is therapeutic for a range of ailments—especially muscle and bone pain–and has been equipped with a self-lowering chair for people who might need assistance entering the water. And, of course, the lake with is quite calming. A mirror surrounded by craggy rock formations, it looks natural and mystical. I regretted not bringing my bathing suit, but soaked up the sun and sipped a coke zero at the lakeside café. Then it was time to head back to the van for our next stop.
“Here is where we take off our shoes,” Thomas said, grinning as he tugged the van doors open. Our driver had parked at a secluded beach bordered by sea on both sides. It was a fantastic place for photos, surrounded by dunes overrun with wild violets and berry thickets. I could have stayed for longer, but it was nearly 3:30 p.m. and our stomachs rumbled.
For lunch, Thomas took us to Pevka Taverna opperated by the husband and wife team, Yiannis and Maria Boukouvala. There we noshed on traditional Greek Mezedes and a delicious grilled fish accompanied by warm, friendly service.
We finished lunch with about forty minutes until sunset, just enough time to drive to the Temple of Poseidon for a quick stroll before the sky darkened.
According to legend, Cape Sounio is the location where Aegeus, the king of Athens, leaped to his death after seeing his son Thesseus’ ship return with black sails–a signal that Thesseus had been killed by the Minotaur. In fact Thesseus was still alive–the sails had not been changed by accident. This is how the Aegean Sea, the sea beneath the temple, got its name.
Despite the tragic story, I was struck by the peace I felt at the temple. Although there were plenty of other tourists, the only sound I heard was the wind dancing through bushes and the temple columns. I even made friends with this chukar partridge.
I wondered if the Ancient Greeks felt the same way here, carrying gifts and sacrifices to Poseidon. With each minute that passed, I felt the sun’s heat drain from the earth and from the rose-tinted ruins as the day drifted into night. It was an experience I think one must have while in Athens.
*My trip with Experience Taxi was complimentary. As always, all opinions are my own.
The Cape Sounio tour runs from 35 Euro.
Taverna Ta Peuka