Eurydice Street

Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens by Sofka Zinovieff is an honest account of what it’s like to move to Athens and live as a foreigner, learning Greek customs.

Eurydice Street, A Place in Athens, detail from front coverEurydice Street

Eurydice Street, subtitled A Place in Athens, is a rare insight into life in the city beyond what the tourist sees. The author fell in love with Greece as a student, not knowing that years later she would marry a Greek man and go to live with him in his native city, Athens.

As a foreigner, she had a lot to learn about Greek customs, and what it was like to live in Greece’s capital city, and not just visit. However, she wasn’t alone. Her husband was returning after being an expat for many years, so he too had to adjust to how life had changed, and how he was regarded as a native Greek who had chosen to leave and live elsewhere.

It’s an amusing dichotomy, as some people wonder who in their right mind would want to leave Greece, while others wonder who wouldn’t want to leave this crazy country if they had the chance. Some people think both at the same time.

Eurydice Street, A Place in Athens, extracts from two reviewsFrom two reviews of Eurydice Street

Living in Athens

The author, who has Russian ancestry but grew up in the UK, soon discovers that living in Athens is very different from visiting it. She very quickly learns that punctuality is not a Greek trait. Everyone assumes that everyone else will be late, and as long as you’re all playing by the same rules, it works. Otherwise, if you arrange to meet someone in a restaurant at 9pm and you turn up at 9pm, you’ll be on your own for quite a while.

Zinovieff also learns that if you want to get a taxi, it’s no use doing what you do in other cities, and stand on the sidewalk waving your hand at a passing cab. In Athens, taxis are shared, a system brought in to compensate for a lack of taxis in the city. If a taxi already has one or two passengers, it’s going to be headed in a particular direction, so you have to dash into the road, lean over, and yell your destination at the taxi driver. If it suits him, he’ll stop, otherwise he’ll keep going.

Where is Eurydice Street?

Eurydice Street, A Place in Athens, detail from front coverWhere is Eurydice Street?

If you look at a street map of Athens, you won’t find a Eurydice Street (despite the apparent street sign above from the cover). Or at least I haven't been able to find it. The author must have changed the name, and presumably also details of her neighbors, whose lives she describes in some detail. She is also an anthropologist, so has a trained eye to observe sometimes small but telling details about people.

You might say she’s being diplomatic, which is fitting as her husband works as a kind of minor diplomat, as a Greek government employee (they met when he was the Press Attaché in Moscow). They already have two children when they move to Athens in 2001, so this gives another angle on life there – through the eyes of their children, and how they get by as parents.

The Athenian Year

Eurydice Street, A Place in Athens front coverEurydice Street

The author’s account covers her first year in Athens, and it starts in August. Having spent a fortnight in Athens in August, during a heatwave, I definitely sympathised with her. It’s no fun tramping through city streets when the temperature is over 100F (38C) for hours on end and for days on end.

The book is written chronologically, but for each section the author focuses on a particular topic, like Christmas, or a feast day, or Easter. It’s a clever device for giving a structure to the book, while going into detail about a particular aspect of life in Athens, but also moving their personal story forward as her husband deals with his job, and she deals with her own life and their children.

One thing she learns, by the end of the book, is that if a Greek becomes your true friend, he or she will be an undying friend, and will stand by you no matter what. She gives moving accounts of this kind of loyalty that she finds. The author is a gifted writer, who describes people and events in a way that makes you feel that you know the person, or were in the room at the time

It’s no wonder this book has stayed in print long after it was first published in 2004. If you really want to get an inside look into life in Athens, or in Greece generally, it’s well worth reading.

Buying Eurydice Street

Some other Greek books pages

  • Greece Book Reviews

    Greece Book Reviews on the Greece Travel Secrets website with reviews of the best guidebooks to Greece, the Greek Islands, Athens, Crete and elsewhere.

  • Books About Greece

    If planning a trip to Greece, what are the best books about Greece to read before you go, or to take with you, to give you a sense of place?

  • The Summer of My Greek Taverna

    The Summer of My Greek Taverna by Tom Stone is a memoir of his time on the Greek island of Patmos in the Dodecanese, running a restaurant.

  • Wild Abandon

    Wild Abandon by Jennifer Barclay and published by Bradt Guides is A Journey to Deserted Places of the Dodecanese islands in Greece, including Rhodes and Kos.

  • Northern Greece Guide

    The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.

  • Monemvasia Book Review

    Greece Travel Secrets reviews the photography book Monemvasia with extracts from works by Yiannis Ritsos and Nikos Kazantzakis.

  • A Rope of Vines

    A Rope of Vines by Brenda Chamberlain is an evocative memoir of the author’s time living on the Greek island of Hydra in the early 1960s.

  • Lonely Planet Greek Islands

    The Lonely Planet guide to the Greek Islands is a thorough and helpful guide to all the Greek island groups, with Athens included.

  • Lonely Planet Greece

    The latest edition of the Lonely Planet travel guide to Greece is a comprehensive 750-page guidebook to the whole country.

  • Lonely Planet Crete

    Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

  • Ikaria Book Review

    Ikaria by Meni Valle, brings together the best and healthiest Greek recipes with an evocative travelogue about Ikaria, one of the world’s Blue Zone places.

  • Great Greek Poets: Cavafy, Sappho, George Seferis, Odysseus Elytis

    There are many great Greek poets, with two authors winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and names include Sappho, Cavafy, George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis.

  • Fire on the Island

    Fire on the Island is a romantic thriller novel by Timothy Jay Smith set on a fictionalised version of the town of Molyvos on the island of Lesbos.

  • Culture Trails

    Greece Travel Secrets reviews the book Culture Trails by Lonely Planet, which has a section on Artistic Athens and 51 other perfect weekends for culture lovers.

  • Bradt Guide to the Peloponnese

    The Bradt Guide to the Peloponnese is the best book on the Greek region which includes attractions like Mycenae, Epidavros, Olympia, Monemvasia and Nafplion.

  • A Thing of Beauty

    A Thing of Beauty by Peter Fiennes describes ‘Travels in Mythical and Modern Greece’ and places the Greek Gods in the context of modern-day Greece.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. The Greek Holiday Calendar 2022

    Will there be a holiday or national celebration taking place during your trip to Greece? Find out here.

    Read More

  2. Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards: 4 Greek Destinations Named

    Three Greek islands and a city proved among the world’s most popular destinations with the users of the famous travel platform.

    Read More

  3. The Summer of My Greek Taverna

    The Summer of My Greek Taverna by Tom Stone is a memoir of his time on the Greek island of Patmos in the Dodecanese, running a restaurant.

    Read More

  4. Tasteful Stays: 8 Athens Design Hotels for Foodies

    Athens is on the rise as a gastronomy destination, and connoisseurs know that it’s not just about tavernas anymore. Here are eight fine places to check into if you’re a foodie.

    Read More

  5. Arcadia: Amid the Sweet Aromas of the Moschofilero Grape

    The rich and fertile lands of Arcadia in the heart of the Peloponnese, where the vines of the Mantineia PDO flourish, are a feast for the senses.

    Read More

  6. 60 Guest Houses in Greece for the Perfect Winter Getaway (Map Included!)

    From Thrace to the Peloponnese, our comprehensive list of guest houses for that perfect winter escape caters to all tastes and budgets.

    Read More

  7. The Times Changes Side in Parthenon Marbles Debate

    London newspaper speaks up in favor of the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures at the Acropolis Museum.

    Read More

  8. Greece Among Top Choices of US Travelers Over 50 for Holidays in 2022

    Greece is among the top 10 international destinations that US travelers over 50 want to visit in 2022, according to a survey recently released by online travel magazine TravelAwaits.

    Read More

  9. Corfu to Reveal Secrets of Old Town Through New AR Tourism Guide

    Internet users will soon have the opportunity to explore the historic monuments and hidden gems of the old town of Corfu through a new augmented reality (AR) tourism guide. A UNESCO world heritage sit…

    Read More

  10. Greece PM: Italy Museum Sets Example for Parthenon Marbles’ Return

    The time has come for the Parthenon Marbles to return to Greece, their natural home, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday, during a special ceremony at the Acropolis Museum, where he welc…

    Read More