I was told Athenians clear out of the city in August. Many restaurants and businesses are closed right now, and the streets are refreshingly free of people and traffic. Despite the lack of congestion, the city is still oppressively hot, so we decided to take page out of the Greek book and head out of the city ourselves. First stop, due East to the Temple of Artemis.
We did a little wandering to find the entrance. But once we found it, we had a splendid time as the only visitors walking along the catwalks mere feet from the ruins. Nothing was roped off, so I suppose we could have gotten an even closer look. But I decided it was best to keep the children on the beaten path.
We wisely packed a lunch in the cooler, originally intended for the beach, but certain children (and me!) couldn’t wait that long, so we had a little impromptu picnic in the car. Next stop, due South to the Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounion. On the way we had to stop for gas. Normally we buy gas for half price at the Embassy, and the only other time I’d gotten gas in Athens was for our rental, which took much cheaper diesel fuel. During that last experience, I discovered that an attendant pumps your gas for you, so I was all prepared for that. What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the bill: almost 70 Euros for a full tank of unleaded! Yowza!
Finally we arrived at the incredibly scenic cape, and up on the hill was a remarkably preserved temple. As the wind whipped around us, we scaled the rocky hills and took in the amazing views. Deep blue and aquamarine seas crested with white caps. Sandy beaches and dramatic, rocky islands. Liam predictably got tired of climbing around, so we promised him a slushy if he cut out the whining. Thankfully, the bribe worked, and after exploring and taking photos, we all enjoyed super sweet slushies as we drove another ten minutes to a more secluded beach.
The beach we found was a little dirty, as to be expected this late in the summer, but we still had a nice time. The wind was a little much, blowing over our umbrella and making the beach tent impossible to use. But we certainly didn’t get too hot in the sun, and the water felt great. The sand was course — not as fine or as white as the sand I love in Florida — but the surf was gentle, and Liam got right in to play. James and his friend Travis could walk several meters out into the water, it was so shallow. The underwater terrain was rocky and uneven, though, so I didn’t carry Violet too far in. She started to get cold, so she spent most of the time playing in the sand…and eating it. Ewwww.
After our fun in the sun, we headed back to Athens, just about an hour in the car. Not a bad drive, and I totally think I could handle the beach with two kids on my own now. Some of the beaches we passed had loungers and umbrellas, presumably for rent. Perhaps we’ll give one of those a try in the next couple of weeks before school starts. And James and I have decided later in the fall we’ll hire a sitter and head up to the temple for some dinner and sunset pictures at the Temple of Poseidon. Sounds like a spectacular date night to me!