Robin's Adventures

Adventures in the Mediterranean and Middle East
Running through Ruins

Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion, which is the location of the Temple of Poseidon, is a rocky headland located at the tip of a peninsula that is surrounded by the Aegean Sea.

As we wandered through the area, we noticed quite a few Chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar) hanging about. This non-migratory bird generally prefers walking or hopping rather than flying and they roost on the ground in shallow unadorned depressions located under protective shrubbery.

Temple of Poseidon

The Temple of Poseidon, which was built between 444-440 BC, was similar in style to Greek Temples of its day. It was a long rectangular building surrounded by a colonnade on all four sides. The columns, which stand 20 feet high, were made of white marble. 15 of the original 34 columns from the outer colonnade are still standing today.

Several names are carved into the bottom of one of the columns at the temple. Noteworthy among this graffiti is the name of Lord Byron which is believed to date back to his visit to Greece in 1810-1811. Eight years later Byron wrote about Cape Sounion in his poem "Isles of Greece."

Zaxos Grill

We were out sightseeing the whole day and midway through our journey we needed to find a place for a quick lunch. Our guide asked if we wanted to try the best gyros on the planet. We ended up at a small neighborhood restaurant in a seaside suburb about 15 miles outside of Athens.

We both agreed that the gyros at Zaxos Grill were legendary. Although we had gyros several more times before we departed from Greece, we never did find one that measured up to the gyros we had at Zaxos.


According to legend, the Greek God Zeus sent two eagles out from the eastern and western ends of the earth and the place where their paths crossed marked the earth's naval or center. A large stone artifact called an omphalos, which is located in Delphi, marks the center.

Delphi is also noteworthy in ancient Greece as the location of the oracle or prophet who was consulted about all major decisions. It was believed that the oracle spoke for the God Apollo and a large temple was built on the site in his honor.

There were many other statues and buildings erected on this site which were built by various Greek city-states to commemorate a victory and to thank the oracle for the advice that led to the victory. One of the most impressive buildings is the Athenian treasury building. Also impressive was the use of channels for running water.

More Delphi

With magnificent views of Mount Parnassus above and the coastal plain below, it is easy to see why ancient Greeks thought Delphi was the center of the earth. The site is also noteworthy as the location of the Pythian Games, an early precursor to the Olympic Games.

In addition to the Temple of Apollo and the ancient theater, we saw a large wall built of polygonal stones that was inscribed with close to 1,000 contracts providing freedom for slaves as an offering to the God Apollo. Then, as we were wandering down the path, we noticed a small turtle hiding in the bushes. We later found out that these turtles frequently lay their eggs in this area.

Delphi Archaeological Museum

The Delphi Museum, which was founded in 1903 and renovated in 2003, contains 14 rooms with various artifacts dated from the Bronze Age to the 4th century AD.

The most noted piece, the Charioteer of Delphi, is a bronze cast of a chariot driver who has just won a race and is presenting himself to the crowd as the victor. Unfortunately, the charioteer is missing not only his left arm, but also his chariot and four horses. The modesty shown in his facial expression shows that the youth is in control of his emotions. This self-control is considered to be the sign of a civilized man in ancient Greece.

There were also some interesting relics remaining from three golden clad statues that depicted Apollo, Artemis, and Leto. These objects were found during the excavation of a dump along the Sacred Way, the main path leading into Delphi. They had been destroyed by fire in the 5th century BC and the remains could not be salvaged or sold because they were considered sacred.

Changing of the Guard

A special Greek military unit, known as the Evzones, has among its duties guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament building.

The changing of the guard ceremony, which is performed every hour, is rather unique. Their march, which almost appears to be in slow motion, involves kicking their leg up to shoulder height and then bringing it back to create the symbolic number four after striking the ground forcefully. During this process, the arms are swung high.

The symbolism of the march, as well as the 400 pleats in the fustanella or skirt of their uniform relates to the occupation of Greece by the Ottomans for 400 years.

The shoes worn by the guards, called tsarouchia, are leather clogs that have 60 nails embedded in the soles and black pompoms at the tips. Each shoe weighs more than two pounds. The red color is symbolic of the blood of Greek ancestors, the black tassel symbolizes 400 years of slavery, and the nails allow the guard to stomp loudly enough that ancestors can hear that the Greek people are alive and free.

Diomidous Botanical Garden

We enjoyed a lazy morning stroll through part of the 460 acre botanical garden. The small flock of Monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) that were gathering sticks and building a nest provided a great deal of entertainment. We also enjoyed the activities of the pond slider turtles (Trachemys scripta) in the park's pond.

Near the entrance to the garden is a statue of Lord Byron being crowned by a woman who symbolizes Greece. Byron loved Greece and Athens and helped financially in the Greek war for independence from the Ottoman Empire. The statue was erected in 1896.

The Voyager

Our afternoon was spent on board the Regent Seven Seas Voyager which was to be our home base for the next 12 days. The ship, which is 677 feet long and 184 feet tall, holds just over 700 passengers and has a maximum speed of 20 knots (about 23 mph).


Our first stop on the Greek Island of Rhodes was the scenic village of Lindos. The hills were covered with a sprawling settlement of white houses that overlooked Saint Paul's Bay and some picturesque beaches below and the walls of the ancient acropolis on the hilltop above.

The path leading to the acropolis was very steep and wound back and forth, through alleyways filled with residences, cafes, and a variety of souvenir shops. The village paths were designed to be this way in order to confuse pirates. Although donkeys were available for hire to ride to the top, most people chose to walk so they could see the sights along the way.

Many of the old residences of ship captains are built around pebbly courtyards with artistic designs.