‘The Sifnos Chronicles’, by Sharon Blomfield is more than a travel memoir. It’s an ode to a lovely Greek island.
It’s something we’re hearing about more and more — person travels to Greece. They’re charmed by the magnificent landscape and the equally colorful people. The person returns home to find the spell cannot be broken. A return trip is planned. The person is so deeply entranced that the island becomes like a magnet, drawing them to return. Once home, the person pens a memoir describing all their adventures. And they take us right along with them. Such is the case with Sharon Blomfield and The Sifnos Chronicles.
Meet Sharon Blomfield
Canadian writer Sharon Blomfield was bitten by the travel bug early. Being an elementary school teacher with summers off allowed her much time to explore the globe. She loved to share stories about her travels, and so it seems fitting that upon her retirement in 2003, she became a freelance travel writer. Her adventures in places like Italy, France, and Hawaii have appeared in newspapers and magazines across Canada, as well as the Boston Globe, National Post, Most Magazine, and The Globe & Mail, among others.
Teachers vacation in the summer, and for years, Sharon believed that summer would be too hot for a visit to Greece. She kept putting it off. It ended up being one of the few countries in Europe she hadn’t visited. Once she retired, she was free to travel at any time of the year; Greece moved to the top of her list. A friend returned from Greece and told her that the country is “something special”. She became more determined find out for herself.
Over the years, their travel habits have evolved. Now with the ability to stay away for longer periods of time, Sharon and her husband, Jim, now seek places interesting enough to explore for several weeks.
“I began to research and discovered Sifnos. It’s outside the mainstream. We were happy to learn that the way of life is still authentically Greek. It’s where Athenians like to go on vacation. Even better, it’s criss-crossed with ancient marble-paved paths that allow you to hike almost anywhere you want. It looked visually interesting enough for the several weeks of serious photography that my husband was looking to do. Sifnos, it would be.”
Falling in love with Sifnos
Sharon and Jim first traveled to Sifnos in 2006. She said that the locals began to notice that they were staying longer than typical tourists.
“They began to open up to us in a way they didn’t with other tourists. This is a benefit we never expected but is the main reason we’re so committed now to this way of travel.”
Something else was different there, that she hadn’t experienced anywhere else.
“It felt as though I was inside a story with characters who wandered in and out of our days and who bit-by-bit were cementing themselves into our lives. In this Mediterranean climate where so much of life is lived in the open and so little seems kept secret, I found myself fascinated and in full observer mode. More and more every day, I came to see and feel the open-heartedness, generosity, and kindness that Greeks are famous for. The fractiousness, too. And cultural differences that an outsider like me found so amusing at first. With each encounter, the plot moved forward, these characters became more fully-formed people, and every night, I poured the day’s events into my journal.”
They were so beguiled, they could not stay away. They’ve returned five times and counting.
“The people have enchanted me — the instant connections I’ve made with so many. I love their generosity of spirit, the way they look into your heart and take you into theirs with not a worry about who you are and where you come from. Over time, many have become dear and treasured friends.”
‘It’s a book!’
Sharon thought she’d extract bits from her journal for a few travel articles. But Sifnos had other plans.
“We were in a taverna, finishing our meal, and waiting for the ferry to arrive, when one of these characters — the most outrageous of them all — wandered in and started into another of his outlandish performances. ‘It’s a book!’ It hit me in an instant. But I saw myself as a writer of travel stories and not a book. But the idea wouldn’t give up, so we returned for that reason, and because I couldn’t let go of the people we’d met.”
Upon her return, all those people were still there. The story continued. Soon after she decided that there was definitely a book there. The time had come to find it.
The fates concurred, and Sharon and Jim were continually finding themselves in places or at events where stories and characters would reveal themselves: a wedding; an encounter with a man they’d never met but knew who they were, and couldn’t believe his good fortune that they were dining in his taverna.
“That’s the magic of Sifnos. It’s a place that puts people you didn’t know, people you had no idea you needed, exactly where you need them and at the instant you do. And then they become friends.”
The Sifnos Chronicles: Tales from a Greek Isle tells stories from her first two visits in the late 2000s.
Review of The Sifnos Chronicles
Sharon takes us along to the island of Sifnos, as she and her husband immerse themselves into daily life and lore. We follow along on their adventures, attending a wedding, local events, adapting to Greek life, and falling in love with the people as well as the landscape.
If you can’t get to Sifnos, this book will take you there. It’s a delightful look at how the Greek islands enchant. This story is yet another example of that power: once you are under Greece’s spell, you can’t stay away. Sharon and her husband Jim are now honorary Sifnians, enjoying the people, the spirit, the sea, and the splendor of all the island has to offer. Stories like these make me love Greece even more, because I am reminded how special it is, captivating even those who aren’t Greek. I have young kids; adventures like these are out of my reach right now. Thus, I will live vicariously through these stories. Pick up a copy of The Sifnos Chronicles. You’ll delight in this ode to a lovely Greek island.
Sifnos is now in their blood.They plan to return soon, as there are more tales to tell. Sharon is already working on the sequel. She said new characters have revealed themselves, and the “old” ones have much more to reveal. Stay up-to-date on her adventures at her blog, The Sifnos Chronicler.
By: Sharon Blomfield
Published by: The Parea Group; 1 edition (January 22, 2016)
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