|Books and Good Reading
Athens and beyond: 30 day trips and weekends. Author: Diana Farr Louis.
Publisher: Athens News. ISBN 960 86395 3 0 (Paperback).
Price: 7.99 GB Pounds (around €6).
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Athens and beyond: 30 day trips and weekends: The Review.
Diana Farr Louis is a native New Yorker who was badly bitten by the Greece bug in the early 1960s. She relocated here in 1972, and since that time has been exploring the country in depth and contributing to a number of well-known guidebooks. She has also published several books about Greek cooking – namely Prospero’s Kitchen, Feasting and Fasting in Crete, and Mediterranean Cooking of the Ionian Islands. She has been contributing travel pieces for the weekly Athens News since 1997, and this book is based on some of those articles, updated and expanded with new information and photographs.
What a refreshing idea! Instead of just presenting a dry list of facts about a particular destination, Diana Farr Louis presents each new place in an interesting and informative way. Whether she is relating the myth and legend associated with the founding of Corinth, comparing the modernity of Spetses of today with the paradise of forty years ago, or relating a journey to Tinos with the pilgrims on 15th August, her personal ‘take’ on a place conjures up an immediate and vivid picture in the reader’s mind. She peppers each article with personal experiences and ideas - imagining the bored soldiers stationed at Corinth playing football on the beach with a pinecone; she encourages speculation, urges the reader to stand and look, recommends views, and relates stories of hair-raising scrambles over rocks on impromptu hikes.
At the end of each article are all the details of how to get to a particular place, including how to find the sometimes misleading signs, useful telephone numbers, opening hours and – blessings – recommendations of good places to eat or stay, once the spiritual side has been satisfied.
This book is ideal for those of us who have a real life, but who also like to do a bit of nosing about into history and the beautiful Greek countryside. For example, her vivid conjuring-up of the battle of Marathon is preceded with the words: "Picture this the next time you drive over Penteli to unleash the dog …." But to be this casual with your historical facts you have to be an expert – just think of the clown fooling around on the tightrope and you will understand what I mean.
I started reading as a skeptic, thinking this would be ‘just another guidebook’, and ended as a Diana Farr Louis fan, with exploring appetite thoroughly whetted and raring to go.