Subject: Crete help
We loved Crete - especially the towns of Chania, Rethiminon, Elounda, Sitia and all of the villages from the southwest coast to Leraptra. (At Lerapetra it gets industrial and we went directly north to Ag (abbreviation which you will see everywhere) for Agios. Agios Nikolaos -- beautiful bay like a small Monaco -- not quite as grand or built up but beautiful. When we visited Crete 5 yrs ago, we did the Samarian Gorge hike from Chania to Ag Roumeli (It might not be open yet - as the water gets high at the opening on the valley floor from the winter snows) - Check at your hotel (they will arrange everything) if you want to go. On the northwest corner is Kissomou or Kasteli (same town - 2 different names) - working class town - wonderful people and loads of local color. On the southwest part of the island is a wonderful beach near the monestary of Chrisoskalitisas - called: Elafonisi -- You can walk for miles on a sandbar and it's a fabulous beach!!! (all dirt roads - careful of your car!) Our favorite monestary was near Sitia on the northeast side -- Moni Toplou - fantastic Icons! - also it's near Vai beach (the beach actually has palm trees.) Stay away from Malia (just east if Iraklion (resort town that resembles Miami beach - not that Miami is bad, it's just not the real Greece.) In our opinion, the southern coast is much more gentle and lovely -- We rented our first (room rent) in Myrtos (also spelled Mirtos) (southern coast mid-section) and never rented in a hotel again, except on Folegandros (rented a condo-type room) and in Athens! Fantastic!!! very, very Greek town. Also, inland, we loved Spili and Amari -- ( I won't mention the sites that you will find in the guide books as you probably have researched them all.) One mention though. A Greek American friend told us to visit the Iraklion archeological museum before going to the Knossos ruins -- good advice. It really helped.

Spili is known for it's lacework and yogurt (the Greek yogurt is like nothing you've ever tasted. If you haven't eaten it yet, you're in for a treat! )It's served with the best honey we've ever tasted -- and sometimes, walnuts.

Also, we stayed at the Elounda Mare in Elounda and it was georgeous -- not a very Greek experience, but wonderful nonetheless. We much prefer renting rooms with balconies overlooking the Aegean and being able to eat breakfast on our terraces.

We found that the only guidebooks we used were Michelin Green (Greece) and The Rough Guide -- Crete. (the Rough Guide -- Greece is not as complete as the Crete Rough Guide)

Susie MA