The Temple of Sounion stands as a tribute to the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon. Situated on Cape Sounion, roughly an hour’s drive away from Athens, this ancient weathered structure has seen the aeons come and go. Although the roof of the portico has long since gone missing, many of the columns stand tall and proud. The drive along the coastal road is a great way to unwind with the Aegean Sea shimmering alongside. The cape is an excellent spot to catch a breathtaking sunset away from the crowds that hoard Athens in particular and Greece in general.
Psst! There’s more on Sunny District from the Weekly Photo Challenge!
Sopot is a charming seaside town in Poland, off the Baltic coast and a short ride away from the bigger port city of Gdansk. Don’t let it size dupe you as there is much to do here. Here are my top picks:
- Walk the longest wooden pier in Europe: Yes, in a world of superlatives, Sopot holds its own. Wooden and within Europe, conditions apply. Built in 1827, this pier still serves as a quiet & peaceful walkway into sea. Fancy private boats with funky names dock here. An ominous looking ‘pirate ship’ also comes by every once in a while, ferrying passengers on a 40-minute tour around the bay. There’s a restaurant at the end serving patrons. Go up to the deck for a nice wide shot of the entire pier as well as the beach.
- Enjoy the beach: You are at the seaside so get on & take a stroll by the edge of the water, watch kids make sand castles, and feed the birds. Oh, the birds! There is a big flock of swans at the Sopot beach and they know you’re looking 😉 Walk below the pier to observe the strong support structure from below. It makes for an interesting photo point, too.
- Promenade along Monte Cassino: The main street of Sopot is a slightly sloping path perpendicular to the beachfront. It is lined with restaurants serving various cuisines, from local delicacies like potato dumplings to the omnipresent pizza. And the quintessential souvenir shops. Make sure to take a picture outside the crooked Krzywy Domek, quite an unusual building on the exterior, although nothing special from within. Walk further along a park and a historic tower, onto the big square of Skwer Kuracyjny, from where you head up to the pier.
- Enjoy a ‘lody’, Polish for ice cream: While you are walking along the main street or the beachfront, enjoy a flavorful treat at one of the many hole-in-the-wall ice-cream shops. Such a relief on a warm day in June when we were in Sopot. At a couple of euros apiece, you can gorge half a dozen of those, never mind the calorie count when you’re on vacation 😉
- Take a ride through Park Północny: A little beyond the Sopot beach lies a harmonious little patch of green with clearly marked bike paths. Hiring a bike is economical at €5 an hour. You could also enjoy a trike ride or glide along on a skateboard under the green canopy of the park. Along the opposite side of the Pier, you will pass by many cozy beach side residences, hotels and restaurants that will make you want to hang out a little while longer.
Have you been to Sopot? What did you like best?
Prickly, bristly, thorny, but gorgeous nevertheless. That is how I remember the outstanding inhabitants of the Jardin Exotique d’Eze, also called Jardin Botanique d’Eze. The botanical garden holds an excellent collection of cacti & succulents, on the hilltop above the medieval village of Èze. It overlooks grand views of cliffs on the one hand, rolling villages on another, and the wide expanse of the Mediterranean Sea on the other. The garden undulates with circuitous paths leading to the top; along the way you can admire the unique and rare specimens. Sculptures of the female form scatter the grounds as though living in harmony among the thorns.
Around the French Riviera:
Mr.A hired a car on our trip to the south of France, so we enjoyed the flexibility of being able to explore several of these beautiful villages between the essential visits to Cannes, Nice and Monaco. Road-trips are always a fun part of our trips, as Mr.A and I firmly believe that the journey is as important as the destination 🙂 Èze is a short 30 minute drive away from Nice, and it is totally worth the detour. If you are done with the glitzy part of town or had your fill of the beaches, Èze, with its cacti garden, stone houses and tiny boutiques, could offer you a peaceful diversion to finish off your trip to the Côte d’Azur. I would also recommend St. Paul de Vence, another medieval fort town on a hill with narrow lanes, amazing art galleries and a general air of history about it, as well as Grasse, known as the world’s capital of perfume thriving on its perfumeries since the late 18th century, where you could take a guided tour and educate yourself about the science behind scents and noses. There are so many obscure and cozy places around the scenic Riviera, exploring as you go is definitely a good way of making the most of it.
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Cyprus trip : Day 2 & 3
We made it to Cyprus! After our unplanned sleepover in Oslo, we were happy we had lost only about 18 hours. Given that there aren’t daily flights between Oslo an d Larnaca, our worst fear had been what if the next flight was in three days? 😰 Luckily, Norwegian airlines put us on an early morning flight the next day & we were back on track! 😎
We picked up our car from Larnaca airport and drove straight to the Stamatia Hotel at Ayia Napa, by the Pantachou Beach. I have some really nice things to say about the staff here who helped us get in touch with the local Booking.com personnel and changed our booking dates without any extra fees, isn’t that so very service-minded of them?! We predictably spent most of our two days by the pool and in the shallow sea, which was perfect for me since I’m not a very confident swimmer. And at 30ºC, these tepid waters were all we needed!
We lunched at the Ocean Basket both days, their seafood and sushi were simply to die for! A first for us was their olive cake, with alternate layers of pastry, cream and olive jam, so yumm 🤤 Dinners were relatively okayish in comparison, although we selected some of the more famous meat restaurants. We didn’t let ourselves be too disappointed – we made up by gorging tons of guilt-free gelato 😆
For Mr.A and I a little bit of sightseeing is always on the agenda. On our second morning we were up at 5:30 to watch the sun go up at the Sunrise Beach, which lays claim to the first sunrise of Europe! Might be true, maybe not, but serene nevertheless. The Ayia Napa Sculpture Park was a good surprise with many artistic works. We also drove around the seaside to check out Cape Greco for its cliffs & sea caves. Cliff divers were having a grand time as we cheered them on! The Monachus Monachus Arch is a natural sea arch that the wind and waves have carved out over millions of years. Reminded us of the Twelve Apostles in Australia. We climbed a steep flight of steps up to the Ayios Elias Church in Protaras, and took in the sights from the hilltop. Following the customs of the church, we tied ribbons and made wishes upon them…what a romantic thought to trust your faith upon little strings of satin…
As evening fell, we were back walking the streets at Ayia Napa, watching people and enjoying the cooler atmosphere. We came by an amusement park agog with frolickers having a go at roller coasters, giant wheels, bungee jumps and an insane 360degee spinner called Booster. As luck would have it, we chanced upon a free viewing of traditional Greek dance performance put up by troupes from Cyprus and Greece. What an authentic experience! Mr.A found a little kitty by the bushes and contemplated for a while if we should adopt it right then & there, but better sense prevailed 😉 After getting mandatory couple photos snapped at the I ❤ Ayia Napa sign in the city center, we capped the night with more gelatos and called it a day🍦 😊
Next stop : Paphos, another resort town in the southwest of Cyprus!
… Continued from Croatia Day 4: Plitvice Lakes
Refreshed after our hike through the Plitvice National Park, we travelled north-west towards the beautiful Peninsula of Istria, or Istra.
- The road-trip. It was such an enjoyable drive! As we drove out of the Park area, we hit some smaller scenic routes for a while before we came upon the highway. The highways were in excellent shape and traffic was low, so we covered around 250 km in about 3 hours, stopping for coffee and cake on the way. There were several tolls to be paid, but hey, the infrastructure deserved it alright. The views were again splendid, greenery everywhere and mountains on the horizon, it was so soothing to the eyes. The sun and clouds played around, making a pleasant game out of light and shadow.
- Pula is the largest city on the Istria Peninsula, located practically at its tip, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The town has much to offer, from a bustling harbour, to an old town, to local wineries. But the reason why we were in Pula, was the arena, constructed between 27 BC and 68 AD. Mr.A and I love all things Rome! So when we found out that Pula has a well-preserved Roman arena to offer, we just had to add it to our itirenary 🙂 This is an awe-inspiring structure, the only remaining Roman amphitheater where all four side towers and all three Roman architectural orders have survived through the aeons. We sat there imagining how it must have been in back in the day… one of the many moments I have said to myself, oh how I wish I could go back in history and see for myself…
- Rovinj is yet another pretty coastal town on the Adriatic, about a 40-min drive along the highway to the north of Pula. It is a fishing port as is obvious by many a boat docked at the harbour. We had the perfect lunch of xxx and lazily strolled around the town. The cobbled streets jumble into one another, offering views of rows of colourful houses, tastefully planted window boxes, glimpses of the blue sea in between, and oozing a relaxed charm all the way. This could be the ideal place to unwind oneself, which is why it serves as a popular tourist town and a stop for long-distance bike teams. We ended our tour with yummy ice-creams which appeared to be another popular ‘activity’ here 😉
Followed by Croatia Day 6: Motovun, Hum…