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After Agatha Christie tied the knot with archaeologist Max Mallowan at an Edinburgh cathedral in 1930, they set out on an adventuresome journey. “Max had planned the honeymoon entirely himself; it was going to be a surprise,” Christie penned in An Autobiography.
Romantic Venice was the first stop for the newly wed crime writer. Christie had passed through the Italian city previously while traveling on the Orient Express from London to the Middle East, where she met her future husband on an archaeological dig.
The honeymoon tour continued in dazzling Dubrovnik. Christie gives the seaside walled city just a brief mention in An Autobiography. But then words hardly do this dreamy destination justice.
Next up on the newlyweds’ itinerary was Split, another wonderfully atmospheric city that, like Dubrovnik, lies along the Adriatic Sea. Mallowan and Christie—who was intrigued by archaeology even before marrying into the profession—no doubt made like other tourists in town and admired Split’s main attraction: the ruins of a palace built by a Roman emperor.
An intrepid traveler, Christie then climbed aboard a cargo boat to travel down the Dalmatian coast to Greece. Once back on land, the couple made their way by train to Olympia, founded in the eighth century BC and site of the original Olympic Games. Christie’s verdict? “Olympia was as lovely as I thought it would be.”
The next day, though, a rigorous outing tested even Christie’s fortitude and “very nearly tore the fabric of our married life,” she reported. An estimated eight-hour mule ride to a hilltop town turned into fourteen. After two days spent recovering, Christie “admitted that I was not sorry to have married [Max] at all, and that perhaps he could learn the proper way to treat a wife—by not taking her on mule rides until he had carefully calculated the distance.”
For Christie, the highlight in Greece was Delphi, where ruins cascade down the side of a mountain. “It struck me as so unbelievably beautiful,” she recalled. It’s no wonder then that in ancient times, Delphi was considered the center of the world and home to an important oracle. In Greek mythology, Zeus released two eagles in opposite directions, and Delphi was where they met after circling the world.
The honeymooners stopped to admire more ruins and views of azure waters in Nafplio. Looming over the town is a fortress built under the Venetians’ rule and reached via 857 steps.
Christie and Mallowan explored a few other places before ending their honeymoon in Athens, where they parted ways—she back to London via the Orient Express and he to an archaeological site.
It’s doubtful that they got out and about to the Acropolis and other popular sites in Athens, as Christie was felled by an illness that lasted several days. Still, even being sick didn’t dampen her enthusiasm for the nuptial trek. As she declared in An Autobiography, “I am sure nobody enjoyed a honeymoon better than we did.”
If you’d like to know more about Agatha Christie’s love life, check out Writers Between the Covers.