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Greek Travel Memoirs

By on April 2, 2024


by Maria A. Karamitsos

Maria A. Karamitsos

You’ve heard of Mnemosyni, the Greek goddess of memory. Mythology buffs will know that she’s also the goddess of storytelling—and mother of the Muses! So, it’s only fitting to name a literary column in her honor. Here, you’ll learn about authors, poets, books, and all things “Greek” literary.

By: Maria A. Karamitsos

Welcome back! Greeks and non-Greeks alike adore Greece. Many non-Greeks, let’s call them PhilHellenes because they truly love Greece, share stories of their travels. Some have made Greece their home, while others visit for extended periods. I love to see Greece through their eyes. Here are some authors who write Greek travel memoirs.

Peter Barber

When this Londoner married into a Greek family he became immersed in Greek life and culture. Fascinated by the people, history, and traditions, Barber wished to be among the locals and experience Greek life first-hand. He so loved his adopted homeland, that he decided to share his stories, so people could see the “real Greece”, “not just sun and sea, but the wonderful people, rich history and culture.” You’ll feel his love for the country and laugh as he pokes fun at his cultural blunders and the challenges he faces along the way. Check out his books (all published by Ant Press) in ‘The Parthenon Series’: A Parthenon on Our Roof (2022) and A Parthenon in Pefki (2023). A third book is due later this year. Also, his Musings from a Greek Village, Vol. 1 (2023), includes “a year of observations and philosophy from a Greek village”.

Jennifer Barclay

While growing up in the hills of Northern England, Barclay traveled to Greece for the first time with her family, then later moved to Greece after completing university. After a few years she left to travel and pursue a career as an editor. Turning 40, she realized it was time to pursue her dream of living on a Greek island, but off the beaten path. She moved to Tilos in 2011.

She recounted her early days on Tilos in Falling in Honey: How a Tiny Greek Island Stole My Heart (Summersdale, UK 2013; Sourcebooks, US 2014) and in An Octopus in My Ouzo: Loving Life on a Greek Island (Summersdale, 2016). Next came Wild Abandon: A Journey to the Deserted Places of the Dodecanese (Bradt Travel Guides, 2020). Her latest, Taverna By the Sea (Bradt Travel Guides, 2022), follows Barclay and her dog Lisa to the island of Karpathos, where she had the opportunity to live near the sea and explore the area in exchange for running a taverna.

Sharon Blomfield

This Canadian author was bitten by the travel bug early. A former elementary school teacher with summers off, Blomfield enjoyed the extended time to explore the globe. She loved to share stories about her travels, and upon her retirement in 2003, became a freelance travel writer. Blomfield discovered Sifnos through research on islands off the tourist track that provided an authentic experience. In 2006, she and her photographer husband visited Greece for the first time. They fell in love with Sifnos and have returned several times for extended stays. Ripe with inspiration, she thought she’d write some travel articles about the island. But Sifnos had other plans.

In The Sifnos Chronicles (The Parea Group, 2016) and Sifnos Chronicles 2 (The Parea Group, 2019), Blomfield takes us on her visits to Sifnos, slowing us down to island time, and we get to know the locals. The Blomfields are now honorary Sifnians. A third book is in the works.

V.D. Bucket

V.D. Bucket is this Brit author’s pseudonym, which he uses “to avoid embarrassing his wife”. It’s derived from a moniker hoisted on him as a baby abandoned in a bucket. After moving to a tiny Greek village several years ago, he decided to chronicle his adventures. Bucket also withholds the names of places and changes the names of people they encounter to protect everyone’s privacy.

Since 2019, he’s published 15 volumes of Bucket to Greece (independently published). The books are a lighthearted look at the couple’s trials and tribulations adapting to village life—one so incredibly different than their life in Britain.

Richard Clark

Another Brit who fell in love with Greece, Clark now lives part of the year in Elounda, Crete. He’s also worked as a journalist. Clark has independently published nine memoirs (including two anthologies) about his travels to various parts of Greece and shares his affection for his adopted homeland, including: The Greek Islands: A Notebook (2011), Rhodes: A Notebook (2013), Corfu & the Ionian Islands: A Notebook (2014), Crete: A Notebook (2014), More Hidden Crete (2017), and Eastern Crete: A Notebook (2018). He’s also written five novels set on Crete, and a sixth is due this year.

John Manuel

John Manuel grew up in Bath, in the West of England and was introduced to Greece through his Greek wife. Not long after their wedding, his mother-in-law insisted that the couple visit Athens to meet the family. John said he became “addicted” to Greece “as soon as the plane door opened”. He and his wife moved to Rhodes in 2005 and currently live on Crete. Reading books by Peter Mayle and Bill Bryson inspired Manuel to share his experiences. Feta Compli, the first of three books in his ‘Ramblings from Rhodes’ series, came out in 2011. To date Manuel has written nine novels, seven memoirs, and a dystopian short story. His other memoirs (all published by lulu.com) include A Jay in the Jacaranda Tree: Over a decade of living on a Greek island (2017), A Motley Collection of Greek Oddities (2021), Moving Islands (2023), and more.

Marjory McGinn

The Scottish-born author and journalist spent her formative years in Australia and now lives in Cornwall, England. She and her husband moved to Greece in 2010, along with their cheeky dog Wallace. They stayed for four years and in different locations. She chronicled their adventures in four bestselling memoirs in her ‘Peloponnese Series’, all independently published: Things Can Only Get Feta (2013), Homer’s Where the Heart Is (2015), A Scorpion in the Lemon Tree (2016), and A Donkey on the Catwalk (2021), that highlight their love for Greece, plus tales of cultural faux pas and crazy dogs, and the warm and colorful people they met along the way. She’s also written two novels set in Greece. Her latest book is a collection of essays of her experiences on press junkets to exotic locations, including Greece, called Wake Me Up for the Elephants (2023).

Sally Jane Smith

This Australia-based author was born in South Africa and has lived on five continents. An intrepid traveler, she has visited 33 countries. The first book in her ‘Packing for Greece Travel Series’ is Unpacking for Greece (Journeys in Pages, 2023). Upon discovery of a travel diary from her mother’s 1978 trip to Greece, she had a revelation: perhaps a trip to Greece could not only release her from her travel fear following a 2006 bus accident in Sri Lanka and reignite her passion for travel. But also, it might provide some connection to her late mother and bridge the gaps in their relationship. Smith packed a suitcase, her mother’s diary, and on her small budget, set out for a trip that would change her life in endless ways. She often says that Greece not only turned her into a writer but also helped her get her kefi back. In her new book, Repacking for Greece (Journeys in Pages, 2024), Smith takes us back to Greece, where she learns more about the country’s rich history and “connects the dots between legend, location, and contemporary literature”. A third book is in the works.

Suzy Stembridge

Born in Yorkshire, UK, Stembridge is an entrepreneur, traveler, tour operator, and the author of historical and contemporary novels, and a children’s book, plus three independently published travelogue/memoirs about her time in Greece over the last several decades. They cover travels throughout the Greek mainland, the Peloponnese, the Ionian, Dodecanese, the Sporades, Northeast Aegean, and many of the Saronic and Cycladic islands. Check out her No Ordinary Greek Odyssey memoirs, Book One (2020), Book Two (2021), and Book Three (2022).

There are more, but space limitations stop me here. Now you have some great new memoirs to add to your To-Be-Read list! See you next time for more of Mnemosyni’s Musings.

About Maria A. Karamitsos

Maria A. Karamitsos is a journalist, author, and emerging poet. She's the founder & former publisher/editor of WindyCity Greek magazine and former associate editor & senior writer for The Greek Star newspaper. She’s a contributor to TripFiction. Her work has been published in Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal, Highland Park Poetry, Greek City Times, GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald, GreekReporter, NEO magazine, Harlots Sauce Radio, Women.Who.Write, KPHTH magazine, XPAT Athens, and more. One of her poems was recently published in The Magic of Us — A Moms Who Write Anthology. Maria has contributed to two books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes and The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook. She's currently querying her 1st novel.