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Greek Islands: Lonely Planet    by Paul Hellander order for
Greek Islands
by Paul Hellander
Order:  USA  Can
Lonely Planet, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

BC (Before Children) I was a frequent traveler, and have had itchy feet ever since. Now, with the kids at college, the opportunity arises once more and I plan to fit in some of the places I didn't manage to get to before, like the Greek Islands. Though I walked through the Acropolis while that was still permitted, as well as Delphi and other famous spots on the mainland, made it to Knossos and Crete, and enjoyed magical glimpses of other islands on a ferry trip, most remain a mystery to me.

Where to begin? With a Lonely Planet guide naturally, always my preferred starting point. This one opens on a Quick Reference page, a map, and gorgeous Highlights photos with recommendations from other travelers. The introduction tells us that 'The Greek islands are simply about location, location, location ... It is simply magic.' This is followed by the usual concise sections on Getting Started, Itineraries, History, Culture, Food & Drink (with a handy vocabulary list), Environment, and Greek Islands Outdoors. At the back of the book are standard chapters: Directory (covering topics from Accommodation to Work); Transport; Health; Language; and a Glossary.

The meat of the guidebook offers detailed information on: Athens & the Mainland Ports, Saronic Gulf Islands, Cyclades, Crete, Dodecanese, Northeastern Aegean Islands, Evia & the Sporades, and the Ionian Islands. In each of these sections, we learn about history; how to get to places and back again; about sights and activities; tours; sleeping and eating; entertainment and shopping. Of particular interest are color inserts, filled with enticing photos, on Islands Adventuring (including coverage of water sports, land-based adventures like rock climbing, and eco-volunteering) and Off the Beaten Track (telling of places which 'offer much more than just the postcard clichés').

The guidebook recommends spring and autumn as 'the best times to visit the Greek islands.' So start planning a trip, but don't leave home without Lonely Planet: Greek Islands - though I wouldn't rely on its ouzo hangover avoidance advice!

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