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25th March, 2016

Piraeus, Athens

When we approached Katakolon at daybreak, both wind and sea were not in our favour. I discussed the situation with the local pilot over the radio as his little boat was unable to get out past the breakwater. Discretion ruled the day and we sailed on straight to an extended call in Piraeus. By the evening the south coast of the Peloponnese Peninsular was behind us and the seas were calm. Fortunate really as the Strictly dancers were performing.

Alongside Piraeus, in the same dock came three Greek Navy warships, including a little submarine, no doubt in port for Greek Independence Day celebrations. Some of our passengers even managed to talk their way on board during the afternoon ‘open day’.

With an extra day alongside Mrs R and I joined a new tour that had been laid on, south along the coast to the Peninsular of Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon. It turned out to be a rare treat as the scenery, once we were away from the massed blocks of apartments in semi suburbia, was superb. Views over to distant islands in a deep blue Aegean Sea, puffy white clouds scudding across a clear sky, a variety of ships near and far going about their business.

At the very end of the peninsular what remains of the temple stood on a modest hill. Considering it was believed to be completed around 440 BC it has stood the ravishes of time quite well and still looks rather grand. These days the authorities have put a modest fence a few yards from the base, obviously to avoid the detrimental effects that tourists can cause, including defacing the precious marble as many have done and not just recently. Amongst the carved ‘graffiti’ from the late 19th century, I noticed many English sounding names like Davis, Gladstone and Smith, but also a certain Byron.

It was a splendid visit, made even better by the fact there were very few other tourists. Later that evening we passed the headland on which the temple stood as the ship rounded the peninsular on the way up to the Dardanelles. I can see now why the ancient Greeks built this edifice in such a place, a prayer for their sailors and homage to the God of the sea.

Captain Philip Rentell

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