Showing posts with label Jeffrey Siger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeffrey Siger. Show all posts

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Summer Sojourn ~ Novel Destinations

As summer stretches out before us and the suitcases start calling out for a sojourn, we’ve been ‘researching’ some novel  -- and not so ‘novel’ -- destinations.

Pelop2013 128

I revisited Tuscany with Frances Mayes’, “Under The Tuscan Sun” the real-life story of her home purchase in Italy now some 20 years ago. Where did that time go?  Seems only yesterday I was reading the book published in 1997 for the first time – so envious of her adventure.  Now those olive trees she and Ed were working to save, produce enough olive oil that they sell a line of it, they’ve renovated another home in Italy and a Southern estate in the United States. 

DCVegasSeville2011 268

Then I traveled to Seville with Karen McCann’s “Dancing in the Fountain”.  I ‘met’ Karen in the blogosphere (she writes and her book is a bigger, more detailed but equally funny and informative account of how she and her husband – who started out in Spain with a plan to stay a few months to learn Spanish now, nearly a decade later -- live most of each year there.

Eiffel Tower

The Scout traveled to “Paris” with Edward Rutherfurd, one of our favorite historical novelists.  He has authored a number of similar books including London and New York. This, his latest, just came out in paperback (and yes, we still prefer to read real books with paper pages!)

loutro to kirkland 241

We both re-visited those white-washed islands – Greece’s Cycladic Islands – by re-reading Jeffrey Siger’s “Murder in Mykonos” and “Target Tinos”.

CashmereVictoriaBC 264
Seattle's Space Needle
That’s a few of the places we’ve traveled – and never left the comfort of our Pacific Northwest home.  Of course, we have been inspired to start packing.

Do you have any ‘novel’ destinations to recommend? If so, we hope you’ll make note of them in the comments below or send an email.  Happy Travels – whether actual or armchair and Happy Summer to you all!

Note:  All of those books can be found on our Amazon Carousel on the blog's front page (for those of you subscribers just open this link ) and scroll to the bottom. You can read reviews of the books by clicking on them and even purchase them if you so desire. Full disclosure: we make a few pennies on the books sold! More Disclosure: we have yet to sell a book!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Greece’s Tinos Island: Oh Come all the Faithful. . .

The magenta-colored carpet we were looking for was more a dirty tan.

But it was there, just as we had been told it would be. Stretching a half-mile uphill from the harbor in Tinos town – on the Cycladic Island of the same name – it provides a cushion, of sorts, for those humble pilgrims who crawl to the church at the end of this holy pathway.

Not just any church, mind you, but to the island’s centerpiece, the Holy Church of Panagia Evaggelistria of Tinos, or Our Lady of Tinos.
Panagia is the Eastern Orthodox title for the Virgin Mary. Evaggelistra, refers to the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary the incarnation of Christ.

More than a million faithful each year come to this island with a population of about 8,500 to seek blessings, healing, or miracles (all of which have been recorded as having been granted over the decades) from the Megalochari, (Great Grace), the unofficial name of the Holy Icon for which the church is home.

Unlike those faithful, we chose to walk to the church which gave us an opportunity to ’window shop’ at the many stores that line the route selling religious souvenirs. Others sell candles – huge candles as evidenced by their size in the photo below – to be use as offerings. They also sell ‘tamas’ metallic pieces that represent the reason for your visit. We’ve seen similar metallic pieces called ‘milagros’ or ‘miracles’ in Spanish offered at cathedrals in Mexico.

PicMonkey Collage

Why this Church is Special:

It’s believed that in ancient times, a temple to the Greek god, Dionysus, once stood on the site of the present-day church; a church considered to be one of the most important orthodox shrines of pilgrimages in Greece. But somewhere along the ages, the Christians came along and turned it into a church.


What makes the story more interesting is that the Megalochari which came to Tinos during the Byzantine times, is believed to have been one of three icons painted by Saint Luke during the lifetime of the Virgin Mary. . .many believe it’s miracle-working power came directly from her blessing it.

But the icon vanished when Saracen pirates invaded and burned down the church – back in the 10th Century.

DSCF1593It wasn’t found until some 900 years later after a nun named Pelagia, had three recurring visions about its location and convinced townsfolk of where they needed to dig to find it. 

They dug, found evidence of the temple, but no icon, so they quit digging.

Then a cholera epidemic hit.

Was it cause and effect?

Whatever the case, they resumed the digging and found the Megalochari on Jan. 30, 1823.

Sister Pelagia became Saint Pelagia in 1970.

At the bottom level of the church there are three vaulted arcades where the icon was believed to have been found. It is the site of many baptisms.


The church is a financially independent charitable foundation, governed by a 10-member committee made up of nine elected directors and the Bishop of Syros-Tinos.  It is operated separate from the other Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries in Greece. It’s support comes from donations and offerings of the faithful – it is the donated works of art that fill the church’s museum and then some.

PicMonkey Collage

Photos are not permitted inside the church or of the hallways that lead to offices and the church museum, or apartments (which are used – free of charge – at three-day intervals by pilgrims). So I was left to photograph the intricate mosaic that makes up the church’s courtyard.

DSCF3856We spent three nights in Tinos as a result of some of that ‘novel research’ I am always promoting. 

You know we are both fans and friends of Jeffrey Siger who spends half of each year on Mykonos writing crime novels set in Greece.  His, “Target Tinos” with a plot-line involving this church had peaked our interest in the island.

And as we pondered our ‘next stop’ while in Mykonos, he was kind enough to give us a wealth of travel tips about Tinos.

We set off for Tinos aboard a ferry from Mykonos. Water is the only way to reach this island, which in retrospect, was the most ‘Greek’ of the islands we visited. By that, I mean we encountered many who spoke as much English as we do Greek. We were fortunate to be there during the off season and in fact, were but a few staying in the multi-storied hotel we'd selected on the water front.

It was also one of the most stunning Greek islands we’ve visited. The countryside was magical ~ We’ll take you on a tour of it soon.

That’s it for today’s Travel Photo Thursday. Head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travels. And if you want to do some novel research on Greece, check out Jeff’s book:

Hope to see you back here later this week. And, as always, thanks for the time you spent with us today! 
Also linking to:
Travel Photo Monday
Monday Mosaics

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mykonos: “The Piano Bar” of Little Venice

Discovering The Montparnasse Piano Bar, one of a dozen of so chic bars that light up Little Venice from dusk-to-dawn during this island’s madcap tourist season, is one of the high points of our trip to Mykonos.

Although our time on the island was short, we managed to get in two visits to this legendary watering hole that has cultivated a loyal following among locals, tourists and ‘big names’ alike since its opening back in the early 1980’s.
Little Venice - Mykonos Island, Greece
But first a bit about Little Venice, one of the most romantic – and certainly among the most photographed – spots on Mykonos:
The 18th Century buildings with wooden balconies that make up the area served as homes of sea captains or pirates, depending on what version of the story you’re told. Some are still homes (and available to rent) and others are filled with bars and boutiques. You explore the area following a winding maze of narrow walkways as old as the buildings themselves.

It is fun to explore at any time of day, but it wasn’t until this trip that we learned how much fun it was at night.

We’d likely never have discovered ‘The Piano Bar’ had it not been for our American friend and novelist, Jeffrey Siger, who spends half his year on Mykonos – writing books.
(We’ve introduced you to him and his books in earlier posts.Click the link to see them.) Over breakfast at the hotel our first morning, he tipped us off to the bar’s seasonal reopening just the night before.

The bar – and its real life owners, longtime personal and professional partners, Nikos Hristodulakis and Jody Duncan – has appeared in the fictional crime mysteries Jeffrey writes as well as in the posts he contributes to the blog, Murder is Everywhere.


Arriving at a rather unfashionable early hour for Mykonos nightlife - 9 p.m. – we were given a warm welcome by Nikos and Jody (pictured above). With few ‘early birds’ they had time to share laughs and stories with us as though we had been regulars for years; a warmer welcome than at some places we have frequented for years.

David Dyer - pianist
The pianist, David Dyer from Colorado, who has been a springtime featured performer at the bar since 1987, began playing at 10 p.m. and had we not had an early morning outing scheduled  the next day we’d have stayed much longer listening to his repertoire.

His music was exceptional and brought us back to sit at the bar – just like regulars - the next night. The place reminded us of “Cheers” the bar featured in the U.S. television comedy (1982 -1993) where ‘everybody knows your name’.

That evening we made the acquaintance of a longtime visitor from Sussex, England who regaled us with tales of traveling in Mykonos decades ago - back when there wasn’t even a ferry dock and passengers got to shore aboard tenders.

I’ve long advocated the fun of doing ‘novel’ research for our travels. Often times visits to locations appearing in fiction stories make for some of our best travel experiences. And this bar didn't let us down.
The Scout, Nikos and Jeffrey Siger
I couldn’t decide if the artwork that fills The Piano Bar walls highlights the old wooden ceiling or vice versa. The Piano Bar which got its start at another Mykonos location moved in 1994 to the present location, that of Montparnasse, an art gallery that opened in the late 1960's and quickly became a gallery and bar.


Candle light and flowers accented the bar and lounge areas and added to the bar’s welcoming atmosphere. It is definitely worth a visit should you find yourself in Mykonos. (And travel tip: its lounge provides a great place to watch those postcard sunsets!)


While today we focused on drink, we’ll be back Tuesday serving up some photos of our food finds. Hope you’ll join us then for another taste of Greece. Until then, “Happy Travels” and a big welcome to our new subscribers! Linking up with Noel Morata's Travel Photo Monday

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Scottsdale: Where Murder, Mykonos and Mission Meet

We met – I think – on Twitter. . . perhaps two years ago. . .

Since then, thanks to Twitter, Facebook, blogs and email  we’ve become what might be described as modern day pen pals.

The Scout and I have also  become hooked on the murder mysteries, set in Greece, written by our far-away friend.

Arizona Spring 2012 131So, learning that author Jeffrey Siger had a stop in Seattle on his fall book tour was pure delight – until we realized that we would be in Arizona.

The travel gods were smiling on us though, as Jeff  is appearing this week at Poisoned Pen Books, in Scottsdale and had a bit of free time today. . .

Enough time for the three of us to meet and enjoy a long lunch in the heart of historic, artsy Old Scottsdale.  Upon meeting, we agreed it seems somehow as though we’ve known each other for some time.

ScottsdaleNov2013 020
Jeffrey Siger and the TravelnWrite team

We share a love of Greece; he divides his time between Mykonos and the United States. He gave up a law practice to follow his dream of writing novels much as we quit the 8 – 5 work world to pursue our adventures.

PicMonkey Collage

We lunched at the Mission Restaurant (it’s next door to a Mission built in the 1930’s) and is a place you need to add to your bucket list if you’ve not dined here yet.  We will definitely be returning!

PicMonkey Collage
Guacamole made tableside, Mission margarita and Torta

I sipped my Mission Margarita while watching our guacamole being made table side. Then it was difficult at best to choose from main courses that included pozole, tortas, tortillas, ensaladas, sopas.  We didn’t dare even peek at the dessert menu!

If You Go:

ScottsdaleNov2013 024 
Scottsdale/Phoenix area: Jeff is appearing at Poisoned Pen Books, 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd. #101, 888-560-9919, www.Poisened,  Wednesday, Nov. 13,  at 7 p.m.
Seattle:  Jeff will be at Seattle Mystery Book Shop, 117 Cherry St., 206-587-5737,can meet him from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15.
Check his website for a full schedule of appearances.

Jeff also contributes to a blog called Murder is Everywhere. A most interesting read.

Mission Restaurant, 3815 N. Brown Ave., Scottsdale, 480-636-5005

That's it for today, Hope to see you back again on Travel Photo Thursday. We are linking up today with Marcia Mayne’s Foodie Tuesday at Inside Journeys.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...