An 11-year-old Manhattanite makes her authorial debut with this well-researched guide to the Greek capital for tourists of all ages.
Heading to the city of Athena? Here are a few facts to pack with your sunscreen. It takes 60 days to embroider the waistcoats of the Greek ceremonial guards known as Evzones, and their famous white kilts contain 400 pleats. During World War II, Winston Churchill narrowly escaped a bomb plot at the Grande Bretagne Hotel, a swank Athens lodging where Adolf Hitler also once stayed. In 1920, luckless King Alexander was done in—not by assassins, rivals or Ottomans—but by a pair of rabid monkeys in the Royal Garden. Colossal Greek temples inspire awe today, but they didn’t impress Aristotle. The great philosopher believed tyrants embarked on such projects merely to prevent rebellions. And that’s just for starters. What began as research for a family trip to Athens blossomed into much more when budding writer Mandis decided she had a full-fledged travel guide in her. She was right. Smartly organized into need-to-know facts, historical anecdotes, “find it” highlights and valuable logistics on how to tackle Athens’ many hills, this is a primer on the renowned temples, museums, palaces and other architectural marvels that dot the city. Though Mandis insists she is not a historian (“I am just eleven years old”), she has a lot to teach, and her guidebook brims with historical details succinctly presented. Ancient and modern Athenians do come to life in this book, and so do Mandis’ own roots. Plus, we discover why the original porch maidens of the Parthenon are crying and learn how to light a candle in an Orthodox church. A celebratory and mature effort, with insightful appendices on Greek cuisine, women who helped the cause of Greek independence and seeing Athens in a day (warning: You’ll need to be an Olympian to cover it all). Mandis’ parents assisted with the editing and illustrations, which include five excellent maps of the major monument sites.
An accomplished guide to a 7,000-year-old city by a writer just entering her 12th year.