It's Saturday morning and my best laid plans have left me high and dry (in several manners of speaking) insofar as posting the grand idea I had for today's post. You see, I planned on writing it while flying from New York City to San Francisco for the kickoff of my California Book tour, but fate intervened in the form of food poisoning I picked up at the Newark Airport, and that experience consumed all of my attention for the ensuing six hours. Thus, my first reference to "high and dry."
By the time we gathered the car, the luggage, and the meds available at the nearest pharmacy, we barely had time to shower, regain composure, and drive to Janet Rudolph's Mystery Literary Salon in the hills of Berkeley for a wonderful evening shared with Cara, Lisa Alber, and two dozen inveterate fans of the genre. That's the three of us up above, as photographed by Catriona McPherson.
I'm told the homemade food brought by the guests was terrific, for I dared not partake in even a sip of water (my second high and dry moment).
This morning, stabilized as I feel, if I spend the time writing a blog post as opposed to taking Barbara to the promised San Francisco sights for enduring all she has over the past 24 hours (not ill, thank God, but putting up with one who was), I shall not only be left high and dry, but likely drawn and quartered as well.
Cara, Keith Raffel, Barbara, Frank Price
So, in substitution, I offer you my very first official post as a member of the Murder is Everywhere team. It went up on November 6, 2010, titled, "Mystras and Goethe, Together Again." My how time flies when you're having a good time! Hope you are, too.
"MYSTRAS AND GOETHE, TOGETHER AGAIN"
Saturday morning and welcome to Greece! I’ll be here every Saturday,
god(s) willing. How I got here (to Greece and MIE) was explained on
Wednesday in a piece I did filling in for Yrsa, so if you’re interested
in that sort of history please go to “What’s in a Name.” For a
spot of more ancient history, please stay here.
"MYSTRAS AND GOETHE, TOGETHER AGAIN"
|A tiny bit of the medieval city Mystras|
|Frescoes at Mystras|
Modern Sparta is a place decidedly different in locale and life from its antiquity namesake. It sits on a plain along the Eurotas River between ribs of not so distant mountains running north and south. The community is one based on agricultural, not war, and its groves of oranges and olive trees support twelve thousand souls still proud of their ancient heritage.
|Modern Sparta Town Square|
|Mystras Castle Fortress|
|Hotel Pyrgos Mystra|
In a Trip Advisor moment of digression, may I suggest you head on to relax in the adjacent more modern village of Mystras. It has its own quaint charms and one of my new favorite inns of all time sits there.
From the mid-14th to mid-15th Centuries Mystras served as the heart and soul of the Peloponnese, so much so that at the end of that period some believed Mystras was the actual site of ancient Sparta, and by the 17th Century that was the generally held belief. It was not until the very beginning of the 18th Century that Mystras regained its status as a separate and unique place, a source of mythical inspiration to travelers and artists’ souls.
So many years deserted stood the valley hills
That in the rear of Sparta northwards rise aloft
Behind Taygetos: whence as yet a nimble brook,
Eurotas downward rolls, and then along our vale
By reed beds broadly flowing, nourishes your swans.
Behind there in the mountain dwells a daring breed
Have settled, pressing forth from the Cimmerian Night,
And there have built a fortress inaccessible,
Whence land and people now they harry as they please.
The one catching my contemplative Goethe moment as that imperceptible dot on the wall below the site's upper parking lot is waving from the very top of the fortress.