Friday, November 3, 2017

Autumn Getaways ~ 'Novel' Destinations

The first rain of autumn arrived a week ago in the Peloponnese, carried in by a blustery wind.  Leaves, crisped by the summer's drought, were blown from trees and plants as the much needed rain dampened  thirsty gardens and groves. We stayed hunkered inside.

During the days that followed that storm, the sunshine and temperatures headed back up into the mid 70’s F and we headed back to the deck for some afternoon sunning.

No doubt about it; the seasons are beginning to change in Greece.

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Signs of autumn in The Mani
It is definitely the weather – rain or shine – that invites curling up with a good book. Our 'summer of slogging' -- to bring us to this ex pat chapter of our lives -- didn’t allow any down time for such indulgences. We are more than ready to grab a book and be whisked off to some 'novel' destination to solve a murder or to watch a romance unfold or to follow along as someone else explores some new area or lifestyle.

For those new to our blog, we've moved to Greece and as of yet don’t have a television, so reading is our means of escape and entertainment. (And from the recent headlines we read on the computer, we aren’t in any rush to get a television.)

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Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfous has been a favorite for decades
While I’ve got a stack of books just waiting to transport me to some new places in the next few months, I’ve also had some great springtime excursions this year via the written word.  Among the places I’ve visited are:

Kabul, Afghanistan



Deborah Rodriguez took me here in her book, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul. With the coffee shop as a backdrop, five different women with vastly different stories come together in this debut novel, published in 2011. The book, originally published as A Cup of Friendship includes recipes, reading group questions and an interview with the author – all of which are icing on the cake for me! And the good news is, there’s another book I haven't yet read, called A Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul.

Ramla, Israel

Product Details

Sandy Tolan’s real-life story of a friendship between a Palestinian and an Israeli reads like a novel, so I've included it in the 'novel' destinations post.  I am thankful a friend had recommended this in a FB post and spoken so highly of it that I was prompted to read it last spring.  The house depicted in the story and the lemon tree in the front yard are real. . .as are the character’s whose friendship of four-decades is highlighted in this story. I’ll warn you – it isn’t an easy one to read but it puts a human face on the headlines and it may be one of the best books I've ever read.

The Lemon Tree grew out of a 1998 NPR documentary in which Tolan reported on a friendship between a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman that served as an example of the region's fragile history.

The Syrian Desert 1930’s



And among my favorite novelists is Agatha Christie. When I’d run out of murders solved by her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, I turned to some real-life books she’d written.  The only book I had time to read during our ‘summer of slogging’ was her book, Come, Tell Me How You Live, a memoir about the time spent in Syria in the 1930’s on archeological digs with her husband, Max Mallowan. It was as entertaining as her murder mysteries, emphasizing both her wit and sense of humor (which you’d have needed, I suspect when living in a desert in the 1930’s!)

The good news is that while looking up the photo of this book, I came across another by her grandson, rather recently published, titled, The Grand Tour – Around the World with the Queen of Mystery. I suspect it won’t be long until I am traveling around the world with her, however, this book has drawn real mixed reader reviews on Amazon, so maybe I’ll ponder its purchase for awhile.

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A perfect place to read a book

After writing that last sentence about Amazon and knowing that in the past any such reference has brought an outcry from some who don’t like the giant, I thought I should tell you about access to books in this part of Greece. In a word: limited! 

We have two small bookstores in the village of Kardamyli, about 20 minutes away. There’s a bookshop in Kalamata, primarily stocked with Greek books. A few souvenir shops and grocery stores in the villages near us have a few paperback ‘beach reads’ in English as well as books by Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek and many other books) and Patrick Leigh Fermor, (Mani: Travel in the Southern Peloponnese and numerous other books) the area's two most famous writers.

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Books arrived at the café where we get our mail!

If we want certain titles or a variety of titles to choose from we turn to Amazon or my preferred provider of books, Book Depository, which operates much like Amazon and is based in the United Kingdom.  They don’t charge postage to mail anywhere in the world! And that fact alone has made me a loyal customer.

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Joan and Patrick Leigh Fermor's home outside Kardamyli
We also have a few eateries in the villages that kindly offer space for book exchanges so we have another source of reading materials.  Since so many of the ex pats in the area are British, we are being introduced to a number of their authors we’d have never discovered on our own.

We’ve been here nearly a month and are finally getting over the unsettled phase of life that we’ve been in since July.  I can tell you that a move such as ours causes earth tremors among the great bureaucracies of the world.  Those stories as well as the car shopping adventure are on the docket for future posts about this new ex pat life we've entered.

Got any ‘novel’ destination recommendations for us to explore this winter? If so, let us know. You can never have too many books on your 'must read' list!  Until the next time, safe and happy travels ot you and yours. Thanks again for the time you spend with us! (And thanks to those of you've who've rounded up new readers through your recommendations!)

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

23 comments:

  1. Your post makes me nostalgic for my old blog, A Traveler's Library. Feel free to borrow those recommendations any time.

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    1. I think there are many of us nostalgic for your old blog. I miss the reviews and the many tips I got from it, I will need to revisit it! xx

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  2. I read your posts many times Jackie and can't help but laugh when I see how many things we have in common! We too have had some very welcome rains this past week on this side of the continent, although we need many more to bring the drought to an end. And we haven't really missed the TV much since we turned it off last November (has it really been a year?) after the election results. Our computers and Kindles do a great job of keeping us informed and entertained. As much as people rail against Amazon, for an expat, having a digital library of books, movies and audiobooks makes a world of difference (no pun intended) in keeping us current, entertained and informed. Besides digital content, there are charity shops and a used English bookstore here is Lagos stuffed full of paperbacks as we have a large English speaking and British expat population here too. Thanks for the book recommendations. It's awesome to open a book some days and lose yourself in another time and place!

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    1. I so understand your observation about the similarities. So often I've remarked that a blog you've written could be about here if I only changed the names and places. We found that in the US - aside from an occasional look at the news (which was for our sanity becoming less frequent) and watching some wonderful old reruns and of course my Friday night treat, Hawaii 5 - 0, there really wasn't much besides football games that drew us to our television. We read tons of books 'at home' and now are finding ourselves reading tons of books 'at home' again. And today, now that olive harvest is in the books for this year, just may be the day I spend reading books!

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  3. What a fabulous selection of books! Makes me want Autumn to hurry up and come back so I can hunker down for a good read too. :-)

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    1. From the sounds of your life right now, you'll be ready for some down time and book reading come Autumn! Take care and don't work too hard!

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  4. I need to follow your example, turn off the TV and read more----preferably in Greece!

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    1. You can come try out the lifestyle anytime -- the welcome mat is out!

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  5. Wonderful tour of the place. I like that last shot.

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  6. Lovely shots and some good books lined up to read.

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  7. How about e-destinations? Don't you prefer Kindle books? I would suffer a lot without good wifi. Never mind TV!

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    1. No, not a fan of e-books. Spend enough time on the computer as it is - give me a paper book any day. And from a practical standpoint we have power outages and not as prolific a Wi-Fi world in Greece as the US so wouldn't rely on an e-book for entertainment. I can always read a paperback by candlelight! ;-)

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  8. Jackie, it's so wonderful to hear about your own adventures as you settle into your stone house on the hill for the upcoming winter. We had a few blustery days, too, but this week, we're enjoying late summer like temps!

    I gave up searching for books to read in English when I first arrived almost 30 years ago, as we didn't have Amazon then! But, we managed with book exchanges, among English speaking friends, which was great as we got to discuss the books with one another.

    Happy Wednesday!

    Hugs,
    Poppy

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    1. I do love the book exchanges as they usually here take place in a taverna or coffee shop and undoubtedly start a conversation with some of the other customers who look at what you've selected or donated. You don't get that human interaction downloading something to read on your computer. I find the electronic books uninviting but I sure seem to be in the minority! Hugs to you from The Mani! Jackie

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  9. Lovely little post. With the state of politics as it is in the States, I wish I didn't have television!
    Do you use a Kindle?

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    1. No, no Kindle. Don't have room on my computer or phones for books and I'd much rather read a paper-print 'real' book anyway. (I am happy to report that I've had only small doses of politics in the US and of the sex scandals that seem to be sweeping the nation!) Thanks for stopping by, Irene!

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  10. I seldom watch the news any more...so so depressing...but I do enjoy watching tv movies...and some of the reruns of older series.
    So glad you are getting settled into Greece...such beautiful countryside.

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    1. Yes, even getting it on the computer is sometimes more news than I care to know. It is taking some getting used to but we are settling into a routine of sorts here. Thinking of you often! xxxx Jackie

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  11. We have been watching Rick Stein touring around the Mediterranean for his recent cooking series, and last night we saw him in Corfu, and I so wanted to visit Corfu and Greece. But for now I will just keep visiting you blog. I haven't read those Deborah Rodriguez books. I think I will have to find them in my local library. Have a fabulous weekend ahead Jackie and thank you for stopping by my blog this week. How is the "have blog" will write "book" going??? :)

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    1. Love visiting your blog, Jill. Our first month here has been filled with settling in, cleaning up drought and then storm damage, hosting guests and harvesting olives - oh, and buying a car -- one of these days I hope to focus on that 'will write book' part of life! See you soon in the blogosphere. Thanks for your continuing encouragement!

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  12. I so enjoy reading about your life in Greece. I'd like to read The Lemon Tree...it looks wonderful!!

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    1. So glad you are enjoying my tales of life on the hill in Greece. I am enjoying your comments so hope to see more of them from you! Thanks for visiting. (You will - I think - enjoy that book!)

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  13. I envy you the life of leisure you're able to lead after all your hard work making it all happen! No particular suggestions right now for books, but I do have a question: is there an English book club there? If not, it would be fun to start one. You all order and read the same book and meet perhaps once a month to discuss the books. We have one here where I live in the Netherlands and it's lovely to get together with other English-speakers and discuss good and not-so-good books!

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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