The Great EU Quest: Greece – Sounion

So, at the end of our first full day we got some supplies to make sandwiches for the long train trip to Meteora. We also purchased some sour cherry juice (which I am now addicted to) and…

List Item: Try as many of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die as possibleFood item: Xynotyro
Progress: 755/1001

Right so, I got this right away because I figured it would be better to be safe. Food thing too as I don’t think I have seen this in any other supermarkets or restaurant menus in the last few days. So yes, super glad that I got this the moment I saw it – and that I know enough about the Greek alphabet to have spotted it in the fridge.

We finally cracked this cheese open to have for breakfast with some crispbread things. This is probably not how you are meant to have it, although the cover does mention the idea of including it in an omelette… at least that’s what I think it says.

As cheeses go, xynotyro really lives up its name of “sour cheese”. The texture is hard and crumbly and the main taste and smell of the cheese is a sour one. In many ways this cheese has a similar flavour profile to yoghurt and has just a hint of feta (the latter which may be due to being made of sheep’s milk). I quite liked having this on the crispbread and may have it again tomorrow, although I think this would be best sprinkled on some salad or over pasta.

At least today we actually scheduled in something for breakfast, eh.

Right so on the agenda today was a trip to Sounion and the archaeological sites that can be found there. In the past this was a critically important place in the regions defence, which is why temples and a fortress were built in this area. To get there we took a bus from Athens that, because of traffic, took about 2 hours to reach.

When we left Athens (and for the majority of the trip) it was warm, the sun was shining and the sea was a beautiful shade of blue – this changed as we were pulling into Sounion. For the first time since I’ve been in Greece, I was feeling a bit cold and you could feel a drop of rain every now and then.

Another thing that really struck me on the way to Sounion was the huge number of unfinished and abandoned buildings. It’s really sad and was almost like driving through modern day ruins before reaching the ancient ones.

On the final approach to the bus stop it is pretty difficult to not see the temple of Poseidon that stands prominently overlooking the sea and the surrounding bay. It’s even more impressive up close and, interestingly had the same architect as the incredibly intact temple to Hephaestus in Athens’ ancient agora.

At this same archaeological site you can also find remnants of the fortress walls which surrounds the entire cliff area, but most of the people who came here seemed to be really focused mainly on the temple before leaving to go elsewhere.

After finishing our walk around the temple and the fortress walls we had lunch in the nearby restaurant where the hub was finally able to have gyros. I, of course, followed suit because gyros really are the best. This restaurant also seemed to have a resident stray cat who wasn’t too proud to (vocally) beg for food. It makes me wonder just how often people actually give in and him some of their meal.

From here we walked down the road to the other main ruins in the area; a former temple to Athena that is not pretty much levelled. What was cool about this is that literally no one else (not even a staff member) was there – so it was like we had the entire ruins to ourselves. It meant that we were able to step into them and get a proper close at everything that was left.

Since we had some time before the bus left we climbed down to the beach, the decent being a cakewalk compared to some of those at Hymettus just a few days ago. It’s a real pity that it had suddenly gotten so cloudy as this would have made for some great pictures because of the caves nearby.

We also scrambled up the nearby rocky outcrop where they found a bunch of ancient graves. It’s a really pity that pretty much all her interesting findings from here and the rest of Sounion have been removed (a lot of them we actually saw a few days ago in the National Archaeological Museum), but given the sea air and the high winds I can understand why they have been safely tucked away elsewhere.

Then that was it for Sounion. Originally we had planned this to be a half day exclusion, but due to the heavy traffic this ended up taking most of the day. Given that this was the last full day and that we didn’t really have time fit something else in, we opted to go to the nearby supermarket to get some work treats and then return to the apartment and pack before heading out for dinner.

Based on the recommendation of the woman who runs the apartments, we went to a nearby restaurant called the Black Cat (which is down the road from the Black Sheep, where we had kleftiko not too long ago). We sat outside which allowed us to see a resident black cat… as well as five other cats that seem to patrol and get food from this block.

To start we shared some fried aubergine (which was basically tempura style) and some courgette-feta-herb balls – both of which are I mount the best appetisers that we’ve had on this holiday. We also had the Black Cat Salad to share, which was a mix of cabbage, bell pepper, chile, smoked paprika and vinegar – it smelt really good.

For a main we had the ‘Greek Style Burgers’, which where essentially lamb koftas served with fries. Good thing we saved the free bread it go with it. It was a really nice meal and probably the last time I’ll be able to enjoy the Grecian phenomenon known as free dessert with the bill.

So that’s it for the final full day. We fly out late tomorrow, which means that we will be able to mop up a few final things before heading back to the UK. Not looking forward to getting home at midnight British time though!

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