Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

As both a avid reader and devoted bibliophile, Atlantis Books had popped up on my radar on more than a few occasions before our honeymoon to Greece. I love bookshops, so a bookshop in paradise was a no brainer. I’ve made it my mission in life to visit as many English bookshops in foreign countries as I can, starting first in Paris with Shakespeare & Company, Galignani, The Abbey, and San Francisco Book Company. (I’m excluding W.H. Smith from this list, even though I did frequent their location on the Rue de Rivoli more than I’d like to admit for the easy access to British chocolate, only because they are an English chain that happens to have a branch in Paris, and aren’t an independent store) Sure, I’ve only been to English bookshops in France so far, but I take my newfound raison d’étre very seriously, and I knew a trip to Santorini would be incomplete without visiting Atlantis Books, in Oia.

So the afternoon we took a bus to the town and had lunch on Ammoudi Bay, we scouted out the shop, and had a peek around. Nestled into the side of a cliff and situated below street level, making it feel like you’re descending into a secret literature lair, Atlantis Books was opened in 2004 by expats from the US, England, and Cyprus, who fell in love with Santorini (obviously) and decided to stay. From their website: “We found an empty building facing the sunset, drank some whiskey and signed a lease. We found a dog and cat, opened a bank account, applied for a business license, found some friends, built the shelves, landed a boat on the terrace and filled the place with books.” Simple as that. And the result is something extraordinary.

There are books everywhere, stacked to the ceiling, displayed on tables, wrapped around columns. There are books in every language, books they print and hand-bind themselves, old first editions of books you’ve only dreamt about seeing in the wild. There was a sleeping pup in the doorway, and a lofted bed in the back I immediately thought about claiming. It is, in short, magnificent, and I made three laps of the space, Jamal trotting dutifully behind me to catch me if I passed out from joy. We left, eventually, with a paperback copy of Eleanor Catton’s behemoth “The Luminaries,” a Michael Lewis non-fiction for Jamal, as well as a cotton tote bag with the shop’s name and logo as a souvenir. I could’ve spent days in there, and on the way out I had a fleeting vision of begging for employment, jettisoning all our belongings, setting up a home on the island, and figuring out a way to keep Fitz from diving into the water at every turn.

Atlantis Books
Oia, Santorini
T.K. 84702

Vacation Photos: Brussels

Ah, Brussels. After spending a week in Paris and the charming little towns of Bruges and Ghent, Brussels seemed well, kind of like a disappointment. It was too urban, too charmless, too dirty for both of our tastes. There is too much graffiti and a ton of people. Less than Times Square, but definitely more than Bruges and Ghent combined. We walked through a very sketchy neighborhood (I live in a gentrifying neighborhood and I still say that) near the Brussels Midi train station to visit a local Lambic brewery, and it turned out to be totally worth it. We took a tour of the 100 year old Cantillon brewery and had a tasting at the end (we even bought a pint glass with the brewery logo on it to bring home. It made the journey without cracking!). It’s one of the last remaining true Lambic breweries that uses spontaneous fermentation still in production. We met the 4th generation brewer and his sister.

On the tour I found out that a true Lambic brewery does not use any pesticides for the natural fruit they add to their beer during fermentation, that they let Mother Nature take care of it. In the way of spiders. So they never kill a spider they see or destroy a spiderweb in the brewery. I’m pretty sure I dropped dead upon receipt of that information when my brain started calculating how many lambics I’ve imbibed in my life and thus how many spiders I might have growing inside of me, plotting my demise from the inside out. Omfg. Brb, dying.

Anyway, unfortunately for Brussels, I was so burnt out by the time we got there that I sort of slacked on taking pictures. We walked around a ton and had some really excellent meals (here and here, the latter is an old French hardware store so you can imagine the incredible architectural details), and I even achieved nirvana in Zara Home. We didn’t go to a single museum (for shame!) because everything was closed on Monday, but we did make sure to see the Grand Place and of course the Mannekin Pis. The statue of the chubby little boy peeing into a fountain.

We flew out Tuesday morning and had a disaster of a time getting to the airport. First, the hotel didn’t give us a wake up call, but thankfully we were both attuned and anxious enough to wake up around the right time. Trying to save money, we took a cab to the train station to take a train to the airport, since by this point we considered ourselves train-pros, having taken roughly 450 of them on the trip. It would have been great, except our train stopped after two stops at Nord station and everyone had to get off because there was a fire at the airport train station. A fire. Obviously. So an entire train of tourists makes a mad dash to the taxi stand to try and make it to the airport in time for their flight. It was every man for himself and I was throwing elbows and running over toes with my luggage to get a cab (somehow I feel like my mom would be proud). We randomly found another guy from Philly (what are the odds?!) and one French guy and agreed to split a cab, which was a good thing because it ended up being €55. We made it to the check-in counter with literally less than an hour until our flight took off. It’s a miracle we made it through immigration and security and onto the plane. And Boyfriend still had time to buy me a waffle. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

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Vacation Photos: Bruges, pt 2

Friday morning we beat the crowds and took a 40 minute canal tour through the city. The guide did the entire tour in Dutch, French, and English. It was pretty impressive. Equally as impressive were the views of the city the canal provided. I can barely stave off seasickness in the shower so I was nervous about getting in the little speed boat, but thankfully I did not have to hang my head overboard at all. It’s probably a good thing, too, because Bruges has a big population of swans, all of whom seemed really pissed off to have boats in their water.

We finally had our first typical Belgian dinner of moules frites. Afterwards, we walked back to the Belfry to take pictures of the square lit up at night, and ended up walking into a multi-bar outdoor viewing of the Premier League Championship game. The next morning we set off for Brussels.

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Vacation Photos: Bruges, pt 1

We spent almost 3 days in Bruges. Initially, we wanted to fill the Saturday between Bruges and Brussels with an overnight stay in a castle in the Belgian countryside, but it became nearly impossible once we encountered fully-booked lodgings and really overpriced, 3-day-minimum car-rentals. Thankfully, we liked Bruges enough after two days that we decided to stay a third (though that was a headache in itself, since the Procession of the Holy Blood was that week, which we didn’t know until we arrived in town and found that every bus was being detoured, fun!, and nowhere in Bruges had any vacancies. We magically landed a night here, literally half a block down from our amazing apartment rental, and it was the best-smelling hotel I’ve ever stayed in.) I sort of wanted to take a train back to Ghent for the afternoon. We also wanted to rent bikes and head to Damme, but a combination of rain, exhaustion, and general vacation-laziness caught up to us. Next time.

Bruges is more crowded and a lot more tourist-filled than Ghent, but has no shortage of amazing architecture and winding canals. We had waffles from street vendors and split a giant cone of frites with mayonnaise. We even went grocery shopping and made dinner one night in our apartment. We bought a museum pass and visited the Groeninge Museum, climbed all 366 steps in the Belfry, visited Sint-Janshospitaal, and the Jerusalem Chapel and Lace Museum (lace is huge in Belgium). I’m considered a youth pretty much everywhere in Europe since I’m 25, so everything was cheaper for me, but the museum pass paid for itself after 1 museum and the Belfry for both of us. I’d recommend it if you’re huge museum nerds like us.

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Vacation Photos: Ghent

And now we move on to the Belgian portion of the photos. Situated halfway between Brussels and Bruges (it’s a 25 minute train ride from Brussels, and pro-tip, no one ever collects your train tickets in the country) in the heart of the Flanders region, Ghent is what I imagine Bruges was 10 years ago before tourists found out about it. It’s picturesque, untouched, filled with gorgeous architecture, winding canals, and super friendly locals who all speak Flemish. And at the risk of sounding wholly ignorant, it sounds like everyone is making fun of the Swedish Chef. The local speciality is a dish called waterzooi, which is pronounced exactly as it looks. Water. Zoo. EEEEE. It’s a cream-based fish soup, and it’s delicious.

We only spent 24 hours in town before moving on to Bruges. If I could change one thing about our trip, it would be to have spent more time in Ghent. We toured a castle from the 1100s, had a long and lazy lunch on the canal, bar-hopped with the locals, drinking tons of Kriek (sour cherry lambic!), and one weird guy befriended us and bought us drinks. We were convinced he was going to follow and murder us but really he was just awkwardly overfamiliar (he mentioned he had six kids. “Three boys, four girls.” At least we had math skills in common). We stayed in the most gorgeous hotel I’ve ever seen (where I left my macbook charger under the desk), never paid for the tram (I’m serious, it’s like tickets are optional in Belgium), visited the Design Museum, stopped into about 15 magnificent churches, and had a traditional Flemish dinner.

Ghent, man. It seriously charmed the pants off of me.

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Vacation Photos: Paris, pt 2

Tuesday we woke up early, walked to the D’Orsay to see the Degas Les Nus exhibit (and stumbled across new French President Hollande’s motorcade in front of the Place des Invalides, random). We followed Süsk’s guide to the 17eme and had dinner at her favorite restaurant before heading to the Eiffel Tower at 11pm and taking the last elevator to the top. Between my fear of elevators and Boyfriend’s fear of heights, it was quite the experience. It rained a bit that day but we managed to avoid it, and the light that splashed across the city after the storm was unreal.

Wednesday morning we went to the Louvre bright and early and got to skip the long line thanks to the advanced tickets we’d bought from our hotel concierge (I highly recommend this!). We spent over 2 hours in the museum and both walked away feeling like we could have spent a full week. Afterwards, it was time to check out of our hotel and take a train back to Belgium. I’m still sad about it.

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Vacation Photos: Paris, pt 1

Two weeks ago today, we landed in Brussels at 8am and took a train straight to Paris. The weather was incredible, warm and sunny. Our first day there we walked the entire city it felt like, stopping only for lunch, Ladurée (verdict: they taste better in Paris, and they’re less expensive), and then later, drinks when we were exhausted and needed a pick-me-up. The first time we rounded a corner and caught sight of the Eiffel Tower I actually started crying. Wept, openly. We took a late nap (at 7:30 at night! thanks, jet lag) before heading across the street from our hotel for dinner. I’ll never get over walking out of the front door and seeing the Arc de Triomphe at the end of your block. Or having champagne at every meal.

“To know that Paris exists and anyone would choose to live anywhere else is a mystery to me.” – Midnight in Paris

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