Book haul: Greece 2019

So I wasn’t meant to be buying books while I was in Greece this year. Did that stop me from buying books when I was in Greece this year.. No it did not. Here are the books I picked up!

I decided, when I saw the in their beautiful covers I wanted to get the entire Harry Potter series in Greek. Now I know you are wondering if I can speak Greek, no I cannot. My Fiance is Greek and can speak and read Greek and it’s something I really want my kids to learn (when I have them)

I also picked up ‘Milk and Honey’ By Rupi Kaur, which was an impulse buy but one I definitely don’t regret.

That’s all the books I picked up while in Greece!

Review: ‘The House of Hades’ By Rick Riodan

house

The House of Hades 
By Rick Riordan
Book #4 in the Heroes of Olympus Series

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: October 2013
Pages: 583
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre: Fantasy
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

 

Synopsis

Hazel stands at a crossroads. She and the remaining crew of the Argo II could return home with the Athena Parthenos statue and try to stop Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter from going to war. Or they could continue their quest to find the House of Hades, where they might be able to open the Doors of Death, rescue their friends Percy and Annabeth from Tartarus, and prevent monsters from being reincarnated in the mortal world. Whichever road they decide to take, they have to hurry, because time is running out. Gaea, the bloodthirsty Earth Mother, has set the date of August 1 for her rise to power.

Annabeth and Percy are overwhelmed. How will the two of them make it through Tartarus? Starving, thirsty, and in pain, they are barely able to stumble on in the dark and poisonous landscape that holds new horrors at every turn. They have no way of locating the Doors of Death. Even if they did, a legion of Gaea’s strongest monsters guards the Doors on the Tartarus side. Annabeth and Percy can’t exactly launch a frontal assault.

Despite the terrible odds, Hazel, Annabeth, Percy, and the other demigods of the prophecy know that there is only one choice: to attempt the impossible. Not just for themselves, but for everyone they love. Even though love can be the riskiest choice of all.

 

Thoughts

First of this book is LONG. It took me 17 days to read! But I was not disappointed! We left of the Mark of Athena with the seven main demigods divided. What a cliffhanger! Annabeth and Percy were in Tartarus and Hazel, Frank, Jason, Piper and Leo were in Rome. Honestly as soon as I finished Mark of Athena I knew I needed to pick up House of Hades. I needed to know was happened!

This book was action packed to say the least. There are monsters everywhere! We also have the reappearance of Bob the titan, who I have to say I loved as a character. He added some much needed humour to the situation. We also meet Calypso again and she’s another one I just love. I can’t even begin to tell you.

This book has everything the 4th book in a series (with quiet long books) needs. It kept me engaged as a reader – so much so that I was devastated when I accidentally left without my book yesterday and couldn’t read any! – as well as moving the story along, edging readers closer to its concluding stage, coming in the 5th and final book in the series Blood of Olympus.

Each book in this series has felt necessary for the progression of this adventure. I’ll be honest when I started the Son of Neptune I was worried that the books would get repetitive and I would DNF the series, BOY WAS I WRONG.

This series is great for any age reader – or maybe I’m just saying that because I’m really loving it and one of my 9 year old students is utterly obsessed – and will have you on the edge on your seat!

 

Rating

Plot: 9/10
Ease of reading: 7/10
Character Development: 7.5/10
World Building: 8/10
Quality of Writing: 9/10
Stars:  4.5/5

Greece Tavel Diary #6: Thira, Santorini

Santorini was hands down the most touristy place we visited, the island was full of tourists. We stayed in Thira which is the capital of Santorini and definitely a hot spot.

map of santorini

Personally I enjoyed Thira, but it was super crowded. I am not someone who manages well in crowded places so it wasn’t me favourite. We stayed and Kamares Apartments in Thira and it was me absolute favourite place we stayed. We had an amazing view of the Caldera, and fun fact I love volcanos so I was having an amazing time.

We mostly relaxed and stayed around Thira in Santorini, although there are so many places to go throughout the island, we decided to be less busy and just enjoy where we were. We wandered the streets and explored and got massages in our room, relaxed and enjoyed the view.

We did do one day trip out to Oia. A town not far from Thira, the local bus stop was super close to our accommodation so we walked down and hopped on the bus which cost us about €1.30 each pay, per person. Oia is just as stunning as Thira and is known for its amazing sunsets (although it doesn’t have a view of the volcano) If I hadn’t stayed in Thira I would of stayed in Oia.

Overall Santorini was amazing and its somewhere I’ll never forget going. Our whole trip was filled with incredible memories and just positive happy vibes.

– Useful Links – 

Thira, Santorini
Oia, Santorini 
Atlantis Books
Kamares Apartments

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Greece Travel Diary #5: Chania, Crete

After the tour we spent one night in Athens before leaving early for the Athens International Airport and heading to Chania, Crete. We had an early flight as we were determined to maximise our time in Chania after hearing what an amazing place it was. We were not disappointed.

I was also keen to visit as Crete has deep rooted ties to Greek Mythology being the birth place of Zeus!

When we arrived, which was at about 10am we grabbed a taxi which cost €39, flat rate to get from the airport into Chania, even though we took a longer route to avoid the traffic that hits Chania at that time of day due to the cruise liners. Our Taxi driver was lovely and told us all about the things we could do in Chania and gave us some recommendations for other places on the island if we had time. I was also recovering form a cold, which he kindly offered me a cough drop for.

When we arrived at our accommodation, Elea Appartments, we were about 3.5 hours early for our check in time, however they let us leave our suitcases with them and gave us information for getting into town or heading to the beach. We opted to head to the beach as it was closer and it was a beautiful day.

With our extra time we explored the coast and found 3 beaches, all stunning. After grabbing lunch at one of the beach shack cafe’s and walking to the local supermarket -about a 10 minute walk from our accommodation – we headed back to the accommodation. We were just going to chill by the pool but they had already cleaned the apartment we were staying in and were happy for us to check in at 1:30pm.

While we were in Chania we had a pretty chill week. I would definitely recommend staying for a week or more. There is so much to do and we ran out of time to get to everything we had set out to do.

While we were there though we spent a day exploring Chania’s old town, which is a beautiful town on the coast.

 

We then spend a day on a boat tour visiting two beaches. One of which was Balos beach which is hard to get to driving, you have to park up the top of a mountain and hike down to it. Its definitely worth doing, Balos is beautiful.

Balos 2Balos 3balos 4Balos 5

Another day we spent completing the Samaria Gorge hike. This hike is not for anyone that likes a leisurely walk. This hike takes 4-8 hours depending on your pace and is 16.5km over uneven terrain. The views are worth it though, its absolutely stunning.

It took us some time to recover from the hike so we ended up needing a couple of chill days that we spent by the pool or at the local beach.

We were able to book both of these adventures through our accommodation. Which I would highly recommend as they will organise your boat tickets and your entry.

Another amazing thing about Chania is the food! The greek salads were amazing and at nearly every place we ate dinner we were give complimentary coffee, cake and Raki shots. It was honestly amazing and made me love the people of Chania even more.

I would highly recommend travelling to Chania!

– Useful Links –

Athens international Airport
Chania, Crete
Balos Beach
Samaria Gorge
Elea Apartments
Zeus’s Birthplace

 

 

Greece Travel Diary #4: Mainland Tour (Day 4)

Today was the LAST day of our tour and it was such a bitter sweet day. We were looking forward to going to Meteora – one of the places the George wanted to visit the most – but we were also ending our tour. We’d met some amazing people through out and our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable that it just seemed crazy that this was it and then we would be on our own again!

We woke early again – if getting up early is not a thing you can get around then I don’t think this tour is for you! – before our last breakfast all together and got back on our coach to head to the stunning monasteries of Meteora. We were visiting two of the four (I believe) that are still in use. As we were driving up to the first monastery we passed what looked like a cave high in the side of one of the rocks, Dimitra explained to us that this was a shrine to St. George. The small cave was filled with colour fabrics and even a Greek flag. It was a custom – and still is – that on St. Georges day, 23rd of April, all the men named George climb up and leave a piece of fabric as a tribute to St. George. I thought it was absolutely incredible that this tradition has been carried on even now in modern day Greece.

After a very curve heavy drive up to the first monastery we walked from the carpark, up a lot of stairs into the first monastery. It was straight up stunning. I still cannot fathom how they were able to build these beautiful buildings with no roads leading to the monasteries. They even showed us the pulley system they used to get people up to the tops of the rocks!

Things to note about Meteora:
* the road is very windy and small, if you get bus sick try to sit near the front of the bus.
* You can’t take photos when you are inside the actual building.
* there are Monks and Nuns who care for the two monasteries
* the toilets are not modern toilets.
* Both men and women need to have their knees and shoulders covered and Women must be wearing a skirt. They do provide skirts to put over shorts or pants, but I found it easier just wearing a long skirt.

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Meteora is stunning and its somewhere I recommend you visit!

After exploring both Monasteries we had a long long – about 5 hours – drive back to Athens. We were dropped at our hotels, so the process did take some time, but it was nice that once we were dropped of we didn’t need to worry about trying to find our hotels after we got dropped off.

Overall I would HIGHLY recommend this tour. Its amazing value for money, as well as being incredibly in depth and easy to understand. Everything was incredibly organised and the driver and tour guide were always willing to answer questions. Also included in the price is the cost of your accomodation, breakfast and dinner (lunch is own expense but quiet cheap) as well as entry to all the sites visited. We only paid €2 each to the monastery to light a candle.

– Useful Links –

Tour
Meteora Monasteries
Amalia Hotel – Kalambaka

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what are some of your Tour experiences? This is the first one I’ve been on that is more than a day!

Greece Travel Diary #3: Mainland Tour (Day 3)

Our 3rd day on the tour started again with an early wake up call. We were heading to Delphi and Kalambaka today. After the long drive yesterday I think we were all grateful to hear that we were only travelling a short distance for the morning.

Delphi was somewhere that was really looking forward to going. I knew all about its significance during the Classical period, having just finished ‘Mythos’ By Stephen Fry on the bus the day before.

It felt like our experience was enhanced thanks to the low clouds that gave it an eerie feeling, well deserved in my opinion considering that people travelled from all over Greece to experience the Oracle of Delphi and to worship in the temples dedicated to all the gods, but most prominently, Apollo.

We saw the belly button of the earth where the two eagles sent out my Zeus met, which is now a stunning and well polished stone. Honestly I couldn’t even fathom how they had built all they had up there considering there we no cars and we were kind of on a mountain.

after a some time to explore the site, we headed to the museum of Delphi to complete a walking tour with Dimitra were we were taken around to the key exhibits. We were even lucky enough to visit the Sphinx of Naxos and the charioteer of Delphi!

Once the guided tour was completed, we were able to walk around the museum on our own before heading back onto the bus. We had another long drive ahead of us as we drove from Delphi to Kalambaka. map

Kalambaka is the closest town to Meteora which was out last stop for the whole tour! We got into our hotel quiet late – 7:30pmish- and headed down for dinner before hitting the hay very very early!

This was also the day that we had a few changes in terms of our bus. After exploring Delphi we went back to the hotel where the people who were only completing the 3 day tour stayed on the original bus and everyone doing the 4 day tour – including us! – moved onto a new bus with people completing a 2 day tour of Delphi and Meteora. Now this kind of thing usually stresses me out a lot! I don’t want to end up in the wrong place or loose my suitcase. Thankfully everything was fantastically organised and we were able to navigate this tricky change over easily – thank goodness!

– Useful Links – 

Tour
Amalia Hotel Delphi
Delphi
Kalambaka 
‘Mythos’ By Stephen Fry Review

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Greece Travel Diary #2: Mainland Tour (Day 2)

On the second day of our jam packed tour we rose early – around 6:30am – with a wake up call from reception. After packing up our suitcases and leaving them outside our doors to be loaded onto the bus we headed into a Buffet breakfast with the rest of the tour group – Which I feel like I should point out now were AMAZING and we met some really fantastic people- We headed out at about 7:30am to drive out to Olympia, our first stop of the day.

Straight up, these are the reasons I love Olympia
1. My fiancee’s dad’s side if from just outside Olympia
2. Its the site of the Ancient olympics (incredible)
3. there are some crazy old buildings there
4. Alexander the Great build himself a temple there with his father
5. there are remains of both a temple to Zeus and a temple to Hera ( I could not be loving this more)

The weather wasn’t fantastic, putting it nicely, when we went to Olympia and that did impact our experience, but hey what can you do? we were able to do a walking tour in the rain around the ruins – NOTE: even if you go in summer, pack a rain coat – seeing remains of the training stadium, the temples to Hera and Zeus and maybe the most incredible we were able to walk where the athletes would of walk thousands of years ago in the ancient olympic stadium.

When you go, it doesn’t look like much, the earth has reclaimed most of it, but you can really get a feel for what it would of been like.

When the rain got too heavy, and let me tell you, the heavens opened and it POURED. We headed to the Olympia museum where we were doing a walking tour with Dimitra. There were so many sculptures and statues from the Classical Period in Greece (a lot of the Greek Gods stuff) pretty much it filled the whole museum and it was AMAZING! (I am probably going to say that a lot)

We then boarded the bus and drove where quiet a while to reach our Amalia Hotel for the night in Delphi!

– Useful links – 

Tour
Olympia
Delphi Amalia Hotel

 

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Greece Travel Diary #1 , Mainland: Tour (Day 1)

So as you may or may not know (if you are following my Instagram, then you will definitely know) I was lucky enough to go to Greece over the June/July school holidays this year.
When I was planning my trip I was scouring the internet for photos and information to create the perfect itinerary for my fiancee and I. I thought I would help any travellers looking into a trip to Greece by adding my 2 cents to the interwebs.
So this series is going to be broken into 8 posts – Mainland Tour, Crete, Santorini & Athens – to make it easier if you just want to read/look at pictures from one part of Greece.

After we arrived in Greece, we spent one night in Athens before heading on a four day tour that was pretty much ‘the highlights’ of classical Greece. Now I was pumped for this. I find Greek history fascinating as well as their mythology so I was 100% down for the tour.

We were picked up at around 8:30am by our bus driver. They will pick you up and drop you back (after the 4 days) to certain hotels, I would definitely recommend booking at one of those as its SOOO much easier with luggage to hop on and off in one place and not have to worry about getting to your hotel.

Our bus driver was amazing! his name was George (Georgios in Greek, but I can’t say it) he didn’t speak much english, which was fine because George (my finance) can speak greek but also because he tried speaking english and I tried A LITTLE bit of greek. He was so friendly and helpful and an AMAZING bus driver.

corinthWe then picked up the other people on our tour -around 15 people- and our tour guide, Dimitra who was AMAZINGLY knowledgeable. We left from Athens and our first stop was Corinth Canal where we had a short stop to take some photos of the Canal and grab a coffee if we wanted one.

 

We then drove to Mycenae where we completed a walking tour with Dimitra, she was fantastic with the amount of information and was able to point out key aspects to the Mycenae era including the cyclonic walls – in the myths these walls around Mycenae were built by Cyclops (which I’m all about) – as well as burial domes.

 

We then drove (about an hour from memory) to Epidaurus one of the most well preserved outdoor amphitheatre’s in Greece that still has performances to this day. It was incredible to see how just building ‘seats’ into a cliff side in a semi circle can create a amazing about of sound projection from the stage. Honestly I was blown away! (I also cannot wait until next year when we head back to Greece and hopefully get to see a performance!) There is also a spectacular museum which has some amazing statues of Greek gods like Apollo!

Before heading to our first Amalia Hotel we drove to Napflio a gorgeous sea side town, where we were left to explore for a hour before we continued out drive. Napflio is stunning, there are buildings that are incredible colours and you are right on the ocean. It was so spectacular! It was also a great place to get to visit as my fiancee’s mum’s side of the family is from there! Honestly the photos don’t even do it justice!

 

after our timer wandering the beautiful streets of Nafplio we got back on the bus and were taken to our first hotel for the night, which was part of the Amalia chain of hotels which we stayed at each night. They were a great chain with rooms bigger than I expected. At each hotel we had a buffet dinner and breakfast.

Even after this first day we were honestly so zonked that we went to bed at 8:30pm!

– Useful Links – 

Tour
Amalia Hotel Olympia
Nafplio
Mycenae
Epidaurus
Corinth Canal

 

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What is your next travel plan? I love hearing where people are headed for vacation!