Beginning of the beginning
Trip Start Jun 14, 2008
26Trip End Jul 01, 2008
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For the last few years (on and off) I have been working on a three-novel series entitled I Alexander, an "autobiography" of the conqueror who lived from 356 to 323 BCE. The work doesn't (yet) have a presence on the Web else I'd link to it, but I might post excerpts on this blog.
The danger with doing an Alexander book is, of course, that everybody and his brother is doing an Alexander book (see here a showcase of works by visitors to but one Alexander forum). And it troubled me that, while other Alexander novelists such as Valerio Massimi and Stephen Pressfield were incorporating "on-location" journeys to where Alexander himself journeyed into their creative process, I didn't think I'd get the chance. If your story is set in a place that really exists, you want to go there, for the sake of your descriptions. They will be richer, more vivid and more accurate, and you're less likely to eventually get a letter saying, "Dear Karen: I loved your book, except I've been to Chaironea 14 times now and there are NO white pines like the ones in your backyard."
So when my best friend Melissa Gold decided back in the fall that she was going to Greece again in the summer of 2008 (she'd done an American School of Classical Studies at Athens summer session in 2006 - that's her holding up the pic of the "touchdown Goddess") we resolved that I would go too. "Never mind how you're going to afford it or manage it," she reminded me. "Just put it out there that it's going to happen."
By February, things in my life were such that it seemed there was no way I'd be able to go. She booked her ticket, and I gave up on the idea. (Here's her travel blog.)
Then, in early April... a miracle happened. I don't want to say exactly what, since it was a personal sort of miracle, and the person involved probably doesn't want to be named on the Internet. But it was a miracle, and it enabled me to go, so I booked my plane ticket the next day.
Not that I anticipate being able to travel Alexander's entire life-journey any time in the near future, unless I decide I like tiptoeing through IEDs. Just about every modern nation through which he led his conquering army is either in a state of war or deadly unrest (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan) or may very well be in the near future (Turkey, Iran).
But in what is now Greece, we'll be hitting virtually every place that Alexander is known to have visited. Our schedule looks like this:
Sunday 6/15/2008 - Leave TO 2:35 p.m.
Monday 6/16/2008 - Arrive Athens 7:10 a.m. (midnight TO time) - Attalos Hotel
Tuesday 6/17/2008 - Athens - Akropolis, Theatre of Dionysos, Akropolis Museum, Agora
Wednesday 6/18/2008 - Athens - National Museum
Thursday 6/19/2008 - Chaironea - Thebes - Eleusis - Korinth - Korinthos Hotel
Friday 6/20/2008 - Corinth - Mycenae, Epidauros - stay in Nauplio, Victoria Hotel
Saturday 6/21/2008 - Nemean Games - stay in Nauplio, Victoria Hotel
Sunday 6/22/2008 - Olympia - stay in Olympia, Hotel Ilis
Monday 6/23/2008 - Olympia - Delphi - stay in Delphi, Hotel Acropole
Tuesday 6/24/2008 - Delphi - Agios Lukos - Meteora - stay in Kalamvaka, Hotel Famisi
Wednesday 6/25/2008 - Meteora - Vergina - Naoussa/Lefkadia tombs - Edessa, Hotel Varosi
Thursday 6/26/2008 - Pella - north - Thessaloniki - stay in Thessaloniki, Hotel Amalia
Friday 6/27/2008 - Thessaloniki - Makedonian museum - stay in Thessaloniki, Hotel Amalia
Saturday 6/28/2008 - Methoni - Mt Olympos, Dion - stay at Hotel Platon at Olymbiaki Akti
Sunday 6/29/2008 - Thermopylai - stay in Athens, Hotel les Amis
Monday 6/30/2008 - Leave Athens 11:20 a.m., arrive Toronto 2:50 p.m.
Alexander left what is now Greece at the age of 22, never to return. So our explorations will focus on his early -- formative -- life. We'll be poking around where he was born, where he grew up, where he was educated and where he fought some of his earliest battles. Hence the travel blog title, which means "The beginning of Alexander." The significance of each place, I'll blog about as I get there.