A Greek Odyssey

The Parthenon

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!

The Lion’s Gate

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.

The tomb of Agamemnon

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.

The monasteries of Meteora

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.

The Tomb of Philip II

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!”

The ship cruising at night

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.

Ephesus

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 town of Oia on Santorini
The fortress overlooking Nafplion

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?

7 thoughts on “A Greek Odyssey”

  1. What a wonderful trip, Andrea! Thanks so much for sharing details and photos from your travels. (If you ever tire of writing books, I suspect tourism bureaus would be bidding for your attention!)

    Reply
    • Thanks, Kareni! So glad you enjoyed the “tour!” I studied photography when doing my MFA in Graphic Design, so I love the opportunity to play around with a camera and take “arty” shots. I had over 600 pics when I came home , , ,I could have shown a LOT more, but I showed some restraint>

      Reply
  2. Hi Andrea
    What beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing your trip with us. It sounds both fascinating and delightful. I loved Mary Stewart’s books when i was growing up and also Mary Renault as well as the Greek myths and a children’s version of the Illiad and the Oddessy(wich I still have in my bookcase!).
    What time of year did you go that it was free of hordes of tourists(i had read the Parthenon was swamped last year!). How did you get up to that monastary on the mountain, looks like you’d have to fly up there!
    Can’t wait to read your novel that will be set in Greece.
    Happy writing!

    Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed the travelogue, Jane. I went in mid-December at the very, very end of tourist season. Except for a chilly, damp day in Thessaloniki, the weather was lovely—low 60s—and all the sites and town were sO uncrowded. The 15 of us who went early to the Tomb of Agamemnon literally had the whole magnificent site to ourselves! And Ephesus, as you can see by the long deserted walkway, was almost as free of tourists other tourists. It was spectacular. Oia, which is usually masses of people pushing and shoving through the narrow streets in summer, mwas quite and so pleasant to explore. Yes, not as many shops are open as in the height of the season, but the sense of peace and quiet really enhanced the experience.

      Ha, ha on the monasteries. There is a circular winding road that goes up to a plateau behind them. You do need to do a little walking and climbing of stairs. But, oh, what an amazing experience!

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  3. I was on a tour of Greece last year, and it was magical and so beautiful. We saw four islands, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete.

    I loved being in Chania, and as we came down the street, and the scene opened up, I saw the beautiful lighthouse and Mosque along the river. This was one of the most lovely islands.

    I would go back to see Meteora and the other sites you saw, Andrea.

    Thank for this posting.

    Reply
  4. Such beautiful pictures! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Greece from friends who have been- the food, the history, the beauty all around. Maybe someday it will fit into my plans.

    Reply

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