After breakfast, we both turned right as we left the hotel and walked the very short distance to the beginning of Theotokopoúlou street, where we visited the city’s Byzantine Museum. It’s tiny, but exquisite, with a display of jewelry, icons, and suchlike that date from the early Christian period to the point in the early 13th century when Crete became Venetian property. Almost a millennium—that’s a pretty healthy chunk of local history. Back in Venetian times, the museum’s small building had been the chapel (San Salvadoro) of a Franciscan monastery. We didn't think to take a picture, but here's one from the Web—sorry I couldn't find one with better resolution.
It’s been reasonably suggested that the chest-shaped lárnakes, with their little legs, are based on a wooden prototype. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which has a Minoan lárnax in its collection, the prototype of these rectangular lárnakes is thought to be the Egyptian linen chest. Bathtub- shaped lárnakes were probably modeled on actual bathtubs, some of which have been unearthed in Minoan palaces. They look just like the bathtub-style coffins, and I’m not sure how many have been correctly identified. At least one bathtub I found pictured on the Web has a drain hole low down on the narrow end, but the one found at Knossós and said to be the queen’s couldn’t be emptied except by bailing and finally tipping it over a drain-hole in the floor.
As the lárnax shapes suggest, bodies could not have been laid out straight as they are in modern coffins; the dead were “folded” inside, with their knees drawn up. The queen’s bathtub at Knossós is a regal 5 feet long, but many other bathtubs (if they aren’t really coffins) are pretty short, and call to my mind old pictures I’ve seen of ‟Saturday night in the bunkhouse,” where a cowboy sits squeezed into a washtub as a buddy pours a bucket of water over his head and shoulders.
When we left the Archaeological Museum, we headed west a few blocks into the old Turkish neighborhood called Splántzia. Our plan was to eat lunch at a popular restaurant there named To Pigádi tou Toúrkou (‘The Turk’s Well’), but when we found it, we learned that it's open for dinner only. The nearest alternative on our list was Tamám, back in the opposite direction. Even though we’d had dinner there the previous night, it had been so good that we weren’t at all unhappy to go back. The day was, like all our days in Chaniá, pleasant for walking, and it didn’t take us long to get to the restaurant. We found some people eating lunch—it was now midafternoon—but got a table right away.
We began our meal with the traditionally Cretan salad called dákos ( spelled “ntákos” [ντάκος] in Greek), which I mentioned before. It was built on a base of whole-wheat paximádi, smothered in the pulp of crushed tomatoes mixed with a little olive oil, and topped with soft myzíthra cheese and herbs. After that, we both had kabobs: little meatballs made with several kinds of meat and grilled on a spit. It was a great lunch, and like the previous night’s dinner ended with complimentary rakí and pieces of lemon/coconut/semolina cake.
When we got back to the Palazzo, it was around 4:30. I went down to the lobby to check email on my iPad. (The hotel’s wi-fi connection didn’t work in our room, but we found that to be par for the course: only in our last lodging in Crete were we able to contact the Internet without leaving our room.) I read for a while, then lay down for an hour. In the meantime, Dorothea, after stretching out for an hour and half, sat on the balcony reading Conrad’s The Secret Agent on her iPod Touch. Five days after the flight, we were pretty much recovered from our jet lag, but we’d covered a fair amount of territory for people whose physical condition could be more accurately described as “mobile” than “athletic.” We never got over needing some downtime every day. (As I’ve mentioned, Dorothea had been feeling less than perfect in the morning, but she felt better as the day progressed, and after this rest she was all the way back to normal.)
We began with a salad the menu called Minoa, which had lettuce, tomato, herbs, smoked pork, and a variety of greens called stamnagáthi that the owner told us had been freshly picked in the mountains. Later research has revealed that its botanical name is ‘spiny chicory,’ and that it’s mainly native to Crete. A generation ago you had to go to the mountains and pick your own stamnagáthi, but it's often cultivated nowadays, not only in Crete but in other parts of Greece as well. My main course also featured this herb—the dish was called “lamb tsigariastó” (which we’ve decided should be translated ‘braised lamb’). The meat was browned, then slow-cooked with stamnagáthi and “finished with wine.” It was wonderful. Instead of ordering a main course, Dorothea got two appetizers: mushrooms grilled with zucchini, red bell peppers, and potatoes; and fennel pie. The latter was pita bread filled with fennel leaves (but not the white part) and grilled on both sides like a quesadilla. We don’t remember what dessert we were offered, but it came with the customary small carafe of rakí.
The owner told us that he runs the restaurant with his brothers. They come from a rural village, a circumstance reflected in the restaurant’s name, which means something like ‘dirt road.’