Subject: Tinos, Greece
Hi all,

Just back from a fantastic first trip to Greece. I had many adventures, but would like to share one special discovery.

The island of Tinos is known as a religious center (with its famous church, Panayia Evanyelistria) but is otherwise not a major tourist attraction. I ended up there almost by accident, trying to get a boat to Delos. Couldn't take the noisy, vespa-crazed main town, so the helpful Sharon Turner of Windmills Travel suggested a stay in Panormos.

Turned out to be a great tip. Panormos, a quiet little fishing village 45 minutes from town, was the best two-fer imaginable. It's a pleasant, if uphill, 2 mile walk to the gorgeous village of Pirgos, famous for centuries as a marble center and home to a flourishing arts school. Of all the beautiful Cyclades villages I visited, Pirgos was tops. Stunning architecture, brilliant colors, lovely shops featuring marble sculpting by local artists--and NO CARS! Plus the prettiest town square I've ever seen, filled with wonderful small restaurants and cafes.

But the best thing that happened to me in Pirgos was meeting George Apergis. George owns the Planitis View Hotel in Panormos, where I was lucky enough to stay. The Planitis is new construction, not old and quaint, but the spotlessly clean rooms with huge verandas and lovely harbor views more than make up for it. George grew up in Pirgos before coming to the U.S. in the 40's (he did the marble work in many New York Greek Orthodox churches) and he's an expert on the island. George, his sweet wife Christina, and their helper Tsvetanka treated me like family, taking me to undiscovered tavernas in tiny hilltop towns, and driving me to amazing sights like Volax, famous for its basket-making and littered for miles with the fragments of an ancient asteroid.

George has big plans for his hotel, and is talking about leading guided walking tours and diving excursions. The hotel has studio space for aspiring sculpters, and George is also thinking about teaching classes for beginners. The great thing about staying there is that you get the funky waterside taverna ambience of Panormos, with the more cosmopolitan but still village-y Pirgos right up the hill. If you stay there, I can't guarantee you'll have the adventure I did--an invitation to a family baptism, followed by a huge taverna feast featuring roasted wild mountain goat--but you never know!

I don't think the Planitis View has a website, but if you're interested, the phone and fax number is (+30) 22830.31650. Alternate phone # on their business card is 22830.31552