All of the reviews are right. and the accommodation at Sofia's 39 Steps will always be excellent, the terraces and courtyards always evocative, and the sunset beers always relaxing. But for however long you are there you will eventually realise that Sofia's warm welcome off the night ferry was the beginning of your journey, not the end.
Travellers looking for "the Greek experience" may miss the mark if they stay stuck on beaches, Zorba, moussaka and beers at sunset. Greece tends to deal out great disappointments and great miracles, often in the same event, and hanging around at Sofia's, especially if Sofia has anything to do with it, will start to throw up those little epiphanies that nobody can plan. It's to do with community, and the kind of passion you will miss dearly when you get back to South Woodford, or Mosman, or West Van, BC. It's not the donkey collecting the garbage or the old ladies shredding mounds of artichokes, it's more the resigned but polite boredom of the young garbo, and the focus of the shredders as they look up to smile and say good morning. It's not the visual spectacle of the Mamma Mia wedding chapel, Agios Ioannis, (although it is spectacular), but it might be the oil lamp burning inside when you get up to it, or the icons, or even the piles of garbage thrown over the back of the cliff behind it.
Of course modern Greek history is more than donkeys and artichokes, and it doesn't take many days staying in the one place in Greece to become a little more aware of local politics and the many layers of history that have swept across these islands.
Sofia tends to offer her guests a passage to this miraculous underworld just by being herself, but in a more everyday sense for a modest fee she will offer a surface passage in her car to anybody who wants to see the island and learn a little about it.
So - a visit to Sofia Palasini at 39 Steps - thoughtful, attentive, mindful of each of her guests, and something of an expert at intuiting what it is they expect of their visit. This journey within a journey is one that will stay with me for a long time, and hopefully the same is the case for all of Sofia's guests.