Subject: Santorini, Folegandros and Karpathos
Dear Sue:

We stayed on the far end of the island in the village of Oia (pronounced Eea with a long e) -- It is the most quiet, most beautiful part of Santorini with the most exquisite sunsets you'll ever see (I know there are rivals, but this one's outstanding!!!)

We were there mid-May and stayed at Perivolas Villas -- This is a posh operation, small cave-dwellings built into the side of the cliff with their pool on the outside edge ON the cliff - each little unit has it's own balcony/terrace to overlook the Aegean and the shower in your room has a skylight. The owners mother is a weaver and she has woven throws and pillow covers in California colors - Truly a remarkable place. Oh, yes, there is a tiny kitchen in each unit (I think - ours had one) We explored the island, walking on an ancient path from Oia to Fira -- I won't mention the sites as I'm sure you can do this is guide books - but if you go: I do have a Byzantine church that is a must see with terrific icons - (If you give the caretaker a few drachma, she will turn on the church inside lights!) and a wonderful sea-side taverna that is oh, so romantic!!! (Ill look them up for you if you want -- but remember, we were there 6 or so years ago and things change)We are walkers/hikers and do most things that we can - on foot -- However, you mentioned a car... --- Driving on Santorini is dangerous but is manageable. We rented a car from Europcar on the island in Oia - Europcar is all over Europe and we always use them wherever we go. (AutoEurope is the broker, I believe) -- they have a 800 phone number (they are in Portland, Maine) if you want to rent ahead of time. I think you need a car as bus service is practically non-existent and a car is necessary to see everything on your own time. An international driver's license is not necessary, but we always take one in case we get into an accident, all the particulars are written in many languages so that we (probably mistakenly) feel more secure!

As for other islands,one other favorite of ours is Folegandros (also in the Cyclades, but difficult to get to) -- It had no cars when we were there and we rented an apt. in the Chorra (Lonely Planet says this is the prettiest Chorra in the Cyclades, and we agree!) The place is Corneila and her husband are very warm, accommodating people and the cost ($53./night when we were there about 4 yrs ago) was extraordinary -- same as Perivolas with that fantastic view - extremely well-equipped at 1/3 of the price. -- At the time we were there, we stayed 4 nights - walked the island with it's georgeous beaches, laughed and ate in the Chorra every night and made wonderful friends with people whom we could barely understand!!! -- A real treat!

Our other favorite is Karpathos - another sleeper. It has the most georgeous beaches we've ever seen.(they were filming for Elle or some such mag., one day when we were at Appella beach... ) In Olympos, the people dress like the olden days and still bake bread in ovens into the stones in the cliffs. We stayed in the Acropoli hotel (about 6 rooms with their restaurant/porch --both inside and out -- overlooking the Aegean again. (I cannot seem to find a website, but I'd be surprised if they have one)

the Acropoli is located in a small beach area about 20 min from the port of Pagadia in a tiny beach area called Kira Panaia (Acropoli tel: 31 300) Anna and Stamatis are the nicest people and Anna made a Greek treats that she served her guests every morning with our breakfasts. Stamatis fished sometimes... for dinner. We all sat around after dinner and talked - English being our common language. Anna speaks some English and the guests that were there were from Scandinavia and Germany, The hiking is suburb, the ruins are wonderful (many relics from Santorini are in the Archeolgical museum in Athens) -- Also, on an early spring morning, before anyone ventures out, climb to the site of ancient Thira and walk around -- It's mystical!

Anymore info., just ask! (As you can see, we adore Greece, it's beauty and it's extraordinary people) You will be amazed at how easy it is to get around, how inexpensive it is to rent rooms and eat simply, and like a king. We love to eat in the tavernas, chosing our fish to be grilled with a bit of lemon, oil and the oregano and thyme that grows wild on the islands! ...truly an amazing country. Must stop now, but I'd be happy to get out more notes if you need them Good luck! And... if you can go before the hoards come at the end of June/beginning of July -- In the spring, the locals welcome the first tourists ending their winters of rain and wind. If you are American, this is one of the places you will truly feel welcome. Susie Newton MA