Travel with books – Greece

To know what this is all about, see my introduction post.
This is my first take at a Travel with books post, so if you have any idea on how I can make it better, please do tell me!


It took me a lot of time to write this post because I could not get hold of the photos, but it’s finally here. We were in Greece in January, first in Athens and then in Crete. I read five books for this project (see list below), some before leaving, some during the trip itself and one after coming back home.


The Acropolis in Athens

Here’s the list of possible reads I came up with, i.e. books set in Greece that sound interesting. Links are to my reviews, i.e. the books I actually read for this project; bold titles are the ones I am still interested in reading in the future; underlined titles are books I read in the past.

  • Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad
  • Alessandro Baricco, An Iliad
  • Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
  • David Gemmell, Lord of the Silver Bow
  • Robert Goddard, Into the Blue
  • Victoria Hislop, The Island
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba The Greek
  • Morgan Llywelyn, The Elementals
  • Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Archanes
  • Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Spartan
  • Valerio Massimo Manfredi, The Oracle
  • Colleen McCulloughs, The Song of Troy
  • Steven Pressfield, Last of the Amazons
  • George Psychoundakis, The Cretan Runner
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Firebrand

Cretan landscape

It was interesting to read about the place I was in, it gave a completely different taste to the books, because I was experiencing the city through the author’s words and then immediately I could lift my eyes from the book and find the real city in front of me, and see what was similar and what was different.

In Athens, for example, I was reading The Oracle and a street name came up, and both me and my husband were convinced we had trodden that street on the same day — yet we could not find it on any map!

The Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens

In Crete we were able to visit Archanes (the town the book is named after) and also Plaka, where most of The Island is set. We sat in a tavern that could be the one featured in the first chapters of the book, and watched the island of Spinalonga on the other side of a narrow canal. The story was much more real after seeing its setting.


The main (or rather only) road in Plaka

Inside a tavern in Plaka, overseeing Spinalonga (as described in the novel!)

Spinalonga, the former leper colony

And yet not everything in this experience was for the good. You may recall how I was disturbed by the sexism in Zorba the Greek. I had assumed it was due to the book being old and not having aged well, yet I was wrong because during this visit (my first to Greece) I noticed many things that hinted to a society that is still very machist and sexist. And while it disturbed me, it also made me notice the little sexist attitudes described in the other books I read (although in those cases they seemed more a description of society than an attitude on the author’s part). Such as this:

She had turned eighteen, her schooldays were long past and she had only one ambition: to marry well.


The archaeological site at Cnossos (the labyrinth of the Minotaur)

All in all, this turned out to be an interesting experience, and one I will surely continue.


View of Athens from the Acropolis

Our next destinations are supposed to be Andorra, Andalusia and Nepal/Tibet. Any suggestions as to what to read?


Ditelo con parole vostre/Let your words be heard

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