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Monday, January 29, 2007

AH, ATHENA!

"Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts and eloquence."
John Milton 1608 - 1674 "Paradise Regained" l240

I'm dreaming of Athens these days. Often I become so homesick for Her, longing to be there strolling under the stoas, wandering through the ruins of the Agora, poking around the shops and bazaars of Monastiraki, hanging out with my friends at the To Kati Allo Taverna on Hazitchristou Street. But in a very short time I'll be there again. And last weekend my friend Patrick flew down for a visit with our friend Dinaz. He went to the T.K.A. and said everyone was asking about me. When was I coming? Soon!

It's going to be another fantastic trip. First, Ingrid and I will go to Venice (another dream come true holiday), then we're taking the ferry across to Greece, landing at Igoumenitsa. There are a number of places in that northern part of Greece (Epiros) where we will stop. Some of it is Alexander the Great territory (at least, his mother's home at Dodoni) and some is the final resting place of the poet Sappho (Lefkada, at Sappho's Leap in the south). Then we plan to journey across to Ithaka, Odysseus' home. I've been to all these places before, of course, but this time I'm showing Ingrid the sights. And it will be a good opportunity for me to invoke the Muse, inspire me to go forward with my Sappho play "House of the Muses" and complete the work on my novel "Shadow of the Lion" (which, hopefully I will have a finished draft of by then.) Of course, more travel writing too. I have to still complete a couple of stories from the last trip and each time I go, I try to visit a new location. This time I'm aiming for the islands of Amorgos and Skiathos. And Patrick says we are invited to visit Samos with Dinaz and her partner. (It's been some years since I was on Samos, a lovely island close to the Turkish coast.)

There will be quite a reunion of friends in Athens this summer. Friends Deborah (and maybe Jeni) will come from Canada. And two of my classical scholar friends, Anne-Britt (Norway) and Vesa (Finland) are hoping to be there too, during the month of June. I have promised to be tour guide for everyone (except AB and V. who have spent a good amount of time in Greece. That's where I met them several years ago when I was researching and working on my novel.)

So there is much to look forward to. It's been fun going through the brochures and travel guides with my friends, and reading all about Venice and Greece. Now I must brush up on my language skills again (and hope I don't get the Greek mixed with Spanish like I did in Chile!)

More travel news and plans will be posted here as they take shape.

"Fix your eyes on the greatness of Athens as you have it before you day by day, fall in love with her, and when you feel her great, remember that this greatness was won by men with courage, with knowlege of their duty, and with a sense of honor in action..."
Thucydides 460-400 BC Funeral oration of Pericles.

Monday, January 01, 2007

TRAVEL IN 2007

"I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O'er the far times, when many a subject land
Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

Lord Byron, Childe Harold 1817

I've always wanted to visit Venice and when my travel companion Ingrid said she'd love to return there (she was there last summer, and before that my other friend had visited there a couple of times), I suggested that this year, when we go to Greece, instead of travelling via London, a route often taken, we should go via Venice. A splendid plan! And from Italy we'll take the ferry from Anconda over to Igoumenitsa and travel down the west coast of Greece through territory Ingrid has not yet explored. (The last time we were there we missed Sappho's Leap at the south end of Lefkada, and Ithaka, and she's never seen the lovely little port of Parga either.)

So the plans are in motion and very soon we'll be booking tickets. (The hotel in Venice is already booked.) Ingrid has given me three books about Venice to read so I can study up on the sights and history to prepare myself for this dream visit to one of the most fascinating places in the world.

We plan to be in Venice in mid May, and then we'll go on to Greece. At the beginning of June another friend is coming to Greece who has not visited there since the '70's. And perhaps even another of our friends will come too. So I'll be the 'tour' guide which I love doing.
In addition, two of my Classical scholar friends -- one from Norway and one from Finland -- are hoping to join me for a little reunion. So, even this far in advance, next summer's travels are shaping up to be quite exciting.

I will post more details about the trip plans as they unfold. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to this new year. It won't be quite as full of unexpected trips as 2006, but this one is certain to be a highlight.

"Of all the dreamy delights, that of floating in a gondola among the canals and out of the Lagoon is surely the greatest..." George Eliot, Letters and Journals, 3 vols,. 1885