Andrea here, wishing everyone a Happy New Year filled with all good things—including books, of course! All of the Wenches have exciting new releases coming throughout 2024—kicking off later this month with Christina and me! Check out this month’s newsletter for further details! (If you haven’t yet subscribed, just click on the sign-up button on the home page of this site!)
You’ll hear all about my new book in my next blog, but before I take you on a tour of my characters and backstories, I thought I’d share some real-life travel adventures, for a number of us Wenches do “boots on the ground” research for setting our books in faraway historical places.
I’m currently working on a new Lady Arianna mystery. The last one was set in St. Petersburg, Russia, which I was lucky enough to have visited years ago. This current one is set in Greece, and the mystery involves ancient antiquities and the controversy over Lord Elgin taking many of the Parthenon’s priceless treasures back to Britain. (Lord Byron was a vocal critic of Elgin and sought to stir public outrage in Britain over the earl’s “cultural looting.)
I visited Athens last year and climbed to the acropolis to see the magnificent Parthenon (an amazing experience) but my story also revolves around the Tomb of Agamemnon, which I have never visited. So, when I spotted a very alluring sale on a Viking cruise through the Greek Islands, with a featured visit to Mycenae and the Tomb, I jumped at the chance to explore it and many of the other incredible historic destinations of Greece.
I confess, I have wanted to visit Greece ever since through reading Mary Stewart’s marvelous romantic suspense novels, The Moonspinners and This Rough Magic, as a young teenager. History, natural beauty, adventure . . . how could I resist! So the trip was also an homage to my youthful dream of experiencing this legendary part of the world.
So, come along with me and I’ll give to a snapshot tour of all the glorious things I saw!
First up was the Tomb of Agamemnon, a historic site in Mycenae, which is located in the Peloponnese area of Greece. One enters the complex through the imposing Lion’s Gate and can explore the amazing area of ruins! The site also includes the famous tholos (or beehive) Tomb of Clytemnestra and the Tomb of Agamemnon (also known as the Treasury of Atreus) c. 1250 BC. These tombs are built into the side of a hill and feature incredible vaulted stone ceilings.
Heinrich Schliemann discover the famous gold Mask of Agamemnon here, though scholars doubt that it really is an image of Homer’s legendary king. Whether it’s true or not, the experience of walking through the ancient site is very moving.
From there it was on to Meteora, and the spectacular ancient monasteries perched on high on wind-carved rocks overlooking the countryside. It’s hard to describe in words how stunningly spectacular the setting is—photos will have to suffice. Alas, photos of the ancient frescos inside the monasteries were not allowed, but they were equally amazing.
Thessaloniki and the Royal Tombs of Vergina was the next stop. The Tombs are the burial site of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, and several family members. One enters an underground museum, and then wind though the actual excavated tombs and display rooms that show the incredible treasures discovered at the site.
It was truly breathtaking. One of the highlights was when the guide brought us to the tomb of Philip II. The treasures—including his gold crown and ornate box holding his cremated ashes—had been removed through the ceiling of the tomb, leaving the marble door still locked. It gave me goosebumps when the guide then said, “Imagine—the hand that touched that door and locked it was that of Alexander the Great!”
Our ship then sailed through the Aegean Sea and made a stop at the famous ruins of Ephesus in Turkey, considered the best-preserved ancient ruins of a city in the world. Seeing the legendary Library of Celsus—especially with no hordes of tourists around—was a wonderful experience.
The island of Santorini was a more modern vibe, but I have always wanted to experience its colorful town of Oia and it did not disappoint! Just magical! Hoisting anchor, we were then off to Crete, with more old monasteries and the ancient port city of Chania, with its impressive harbor and distinctive Venetian-influenced architecture.
The last stop before returning to Athens was the charming town of Nafplion, which featured atmospheric pedestrian streets and a majestic mountain fortress perched high above it and overlooking the shimmering blue sea.
So, that was my dream trip through an iconic historical part of the world. What about you—does the thought of seeing Greece make your heart flutter? Have you ever visited it/ And if not, is there one place that you long to see?