Summer Traveling with Steph

As the warm weather begins, we’re all gearing up to take some time off from school and work for some vacation time. I wanted to share my own traveling experiences with some help from a few books that take place in different parts of the world.

Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller

In this retelling of the epic Trojan War, Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his demigod son Achilles. Despite the boys’ differences, they build a bond of friendship as they study the art of war and medicine together much to the displeasure of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a sea goddess with a hatred for mortals. Upon hearing about Helen of Sparta’s kidnapping, the men of Greece plan to attack Troy. Drawn to the promise of glorious destiny, Achilles joins the cause and his friend Patroclus follows. Unknowingly, the Fates will test both of them, demanding a terrible sacrifice.

Discovering ancient places: When I was a kid I was a total a geek for the Discovery Channel, watching specials about Ancient Greece and Rome. One summer, I got a chance to visit parts of Greece, and just couldn’t contain my excitement.

One of my stops was Athens. During my sightseeing, I visited the Temple of Athena. At the time, they were renovating it, but it was still a very cool experience to walk through it.

And I got to see Zeus’ Temple too. There isn’t much of it left, but I guess that’s why they call it ancient ruins.

One of my favourite places in Greece was Santorini. Homes and churches clung to the sides of the cliffs and people walked on stone pathways. The view was astounding. Take a look:

The Hungry Cyclist: Pedalling the Americas in Search of the Perfect Meal
By Tom Kevill-Davies

With only a bicycle and a healthy appetite, Tom Kevill-Davies travels from New York City to Rio de Janeiro in search for the perfect meal.

Memorable Food: On trips, I always seek out food that the region is known for. It’s always fun to taste test. During my Mediterranean trip, my family and I made a stop to Sorrento. While in Italy, I was determined to try out their pizza. It was delicious!

Memorable drink: Sorrento is best known for their production of Limoncello. It’s an Italian lemon liqueur. Walking into a few shops, some of the shop keepers make their own version of the drink, handing out samples. Though no matter where you go that stuff is strong! It’s best to consume it in small doses.

The Dolce Vita Diaries
By Cathy Rogers & Jason Gibb

Cathy, Jason, and their daughter leave everything they know to start a new life in the Italian countryside, buying and tending to an olive grove to make a living from producing olive oil.

Trip memory: This book reminds me of my time visiting the Tuscan countryside, staying at a beautiful villa. I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Beautiful Ruins
By Jess Walter

On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline in 1962, a young innkeeper looks out over towards the simmering waters of the Ligurian Sea and sees a beautiful woman, whom he later finds out is an American starlet. Years later, he ventures half a world away in an effort to find the mysterious woman he saw at his hotel decades earlier.

Photo Op: The cover of Beautiful Ruins definitely captures the Italian coastline wonderfully. Here’s a photo I took that echoes the same image on the book cover.

Lyrics Alley
By Leila Aboulela

Set in 1950s Sudan, Lyrics Alley tells the story of the powerful Abuzeid dynasty that has gained a fortune through their trading firm, with Mahmoud Bey at its helm. But when Mahmoud’s son, Nur, the handsome heir to his business empire, suffers a debilitating accident, the family is suddenly divided in the face of an uncertain future.

The alleys of Sudan, cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated post-colonial Britain are the backdrops featured in this story. As British rule nears its end, Sudan is torn between modernizing influences and the call of traditions past—a conflict reflected in the growing tensions between Mahmoud’s two wives: the younger, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and escape the dust of “backward-looking” Sudan; and Waheeba, who lives traditionally in the confines of her open-air kitchen.

Once in a lifetime experience: Egypt has been second on my list of spots to visit during my lifetime. Ever since I was little, I obsessed over television specials on pyramids and mummies, and I’ve longed to visit Egypt. I finally did about two years ago, visiting both Cairo and Alexandria. The highlight of the trip was visiting the pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza.

Feelin’ like Cleopatra: When visiting Egypt, it’s a given to see the pyramids, but another worthwhile activity was being able to cruise on the Nile. It was a dream come true!

I Heart London
By Lindsey Kelk

Summoned home to England, Angela must leave behind New York, the city she has fallen in love with, to live among rain and bad memories. Now there’s a wedding approaching and everyone remembers how she behaved at the last one. Can the arrival of boyfriend Alex and best friend Jennifer help her avoid reverting to old, bad habits?

My dream travel destination: Since I mentioned Egypt was my second dream destination, you’re probably wondering what my number one is. It’s England! I haven’t been lucky enough to visit the UK yet, but it’s still on my to-do list. Some people may not be fans of the rain, but I don’t mind it. No one has ever melted yet. I would love to see Big Ben, The London Eye Ferris Wheel, the Royal Palace, and hear the lovely British accents!

Do you have any favourite summer trip memories or are there any places you dream of visiting?

Follow me on Twitter @StephFurlan

Sometimes the best travel adventures are within the pages of a book. Do you love books that take you to different places around the world? If so, get ready! You are going to love our new promotion starting next Monday…

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