We woke up late and breakfasted on the food that had been left for us: besides the home-baked bread, packeted jams, butter, Nescafe (me) and cappuccino (Dorothea)—adding to this the honey that Yiánni had persuaded us to buy in Zákros a few days earlier. After breakfast, we went up to the rooftop terrace to have a look around. The sun was shining, but the sky looked rather threatening. Nevertheless, we decided to head for the archaeological museum.
Minoan pitcher
It was only a short walk from the hotel, in a direction that took us away from the waterfront. Their collection is small, but included many beautiful things. The big museum in Iráklio has the biggest and best collection, of course, but only part of it, including the most spectacular items found in Crete, is currently on display while the premises are being renovated. Thought the museum in Sitía is much smaller, its intimate size and our having it almost to ourselves made the visit a particularly pleasant experience. There was a lot of pottery from Káto Zákros that we really enjoyed, and we took many pictures of it—something that hadn’t been easy to do in Iráklio. (The results are on display in our Archaeology 3 gallery, here, starting with photo #12.)

From the museum we walked through the town to the marina near the restaurant where we’d eaten the night before. The Sunday streets were quiet, and although it was the end of the tourist season, flowers and flowering trees were plentiful. A date palm dropped dates on the sidewalk, but they must have been inedible, since neither humans nor birds appeared to have taken an interest.
Memorial service notices
On a lamppost we passed, these posters announced 40-day memorial services for two recently deceased Sitiótes: Nafsíka Yiakoumákis and Giórgios Poulákis. Having a memorial service (mnimósino) 40 days after someone dies is a Greek Orthodox tradition with which Dorothea is quite familiar, but in the US (as you might expect) they aren’t announced in this manner.

At the marina, we sat down on a cement “bench” (that’s what Dorothea’s notes call it—the quotation marks are hers, and I don’t remember exactly what we were sitting on), from which we watched the passing scene and inspected the small boats moored there.

Soon enough, we were interested in lunch. We spent some time looking for a restaurant named Kalí Kardiá (‘Good Heart’) that I had found in guidebooks and on the Web, but it skillfully eluded us (or perhaps had closed). We turned back toward the hotel, and stopped for lunch at the Sitía Beach restaurant, which I had also found in the same sources, and was also one of the ones Eric had recommended the night before.
The Sitía Beach restaurant
Like many beachfront restaurants, the Sitía Beach had a roofed eating area between the street and the sand, with the kitchen (as well as an indoor eating area) in a building across the street. We took a table under the roof, not far from a volleyball net on the beach, which you can see the end of in this picture I found on the Web. (The sky was a lot less blue at this point than it is in the picture, however.) The waitress, a friendly woman, identified Dorothea immediately as an Éllina-Amerikanída, but unlike the taxi driver in Chaniá, refrained from scolding her for not learning better Greek. (He was the only Cretan we ran into who was grumpy about this. And the economy might have been more to blame for his bad mood than Dorothea’s innocent grammatical errors.)

We shared a salad of “rocket” (which we Americans call arugula), spinach, and parmesan, and we each ordered souzoukákia (meatballs), nicely crispy on the outside, and in a sauce that, while not as strongly spiced as what we’d had in Réthymno and Iráklio, was (according to Dorothea’s notes) still great. It came with rice that reminded her of Persian rice: “long-grained, fluffy, and with discrete grains.” The rice contained bits of carrot and other vegetables, as well as some herbs. A shared half-liter of Toplou white wine accompanied all this.

As we were finishing our meal, it suddenly began to rain hard. The waitress hurriedly pulled down transparent plastic curtains that kept the rain out, and we stayed at our table for a while, until it had slackened to a slight drizzle. As we were leaving, she asked whether our hotel was close by (as of course it was), and offered to lend us an umbrella, an offer we appreciated, but declined with thanks.

We got back to our hotel, unsoaked, at 4:30, where we checked our email and took it easy until evening.
The Balcony restaurant entrance
For dinner, we decided to go to the restaurant most highly recommended by both our guidebooks and by Trip Advisor as well. Its name (always given in English, even on the Greek, French, German and Italian pages of its own website) is The Balcony—and as you can see in this picture, that’s how it’s displayed outside the door. We never saw the door looking this way; when we arrived between 7:30 and 8:00—under clouds that caused us to bring rain jackets and umbrellas just in case—it was already dark.

The Balcony’s cuisine is partly traditional Cretan, but with international influences from such places as Mexico and East Asia. It’s located a couple of blocks back from the waterfront, not far from the marina where we’d sat earlier in the day, on the second floor (by American count) of an old building. An international couple (French husband, Cretan wife) run it—he in the front of the house, she in the kitchen. The restaurant, all in one room, has 10 or 12 tables. We had no trouble getting one, though it might have been difficult a month or so earlier. The chef’s husband seated us and dropped by the table from time to time to engage us in friendly conversation. We caught sight of her only now and again, but we had plenty of time to see their dog sitting obediently on the floor near the kitchen. He never got up or made a sound.

The food was wonderful—it cost a little more than we were used to paying, but was well worth it. We started by sharing an order of “pastry pockets”—greens and herbs baked in loosely-gathered filo dough. There were two big pockets, surrounded by nicely dressed lettuce, tomato, feta cheese, and other fine things.

I had rooster cooked in wine sauce and served on a bed of noodles that appeared to be home-made, and Dorothea ordered the “vegetarian surprise.” That, she wrote, turned out to be “a highly (and deliciously) spiced molded cake of rice surrounded by grilled eggplant and wild mushrooms, plus blanched zucchini and carrots—all dressed lightly and deliciously.” We shared a bottle of Sitía’s local Toplou white wine, the same beverage we’d had with our lunch. (And possibly with the previous night’s dinner—we didn’t record it, and I don’t remember.)
Protest banner
On our way back to the hotel—fortunately it wasn’t raining—we walked through the square near the marina and saw this banner stretched over a statue commemorating Greek war dead. A reaction to Greece’s economic agonies. It says “I won’t pay. It isn’t right. I don’t want to. I can’t.” At the bottom, it’s signed “Sitía Action Committee.” Considering the accounts of Greece’s economic troubles that most Americans were getting at the time, this may look like a rather petulant refusal to take responsibility for the economic trouble the country had gotten itself into. Also “action committee” has a leftish sound, which tends to put many Americans off. But the situation was never as simple as most descriptions made it sound.

The people of Greece had made economic blunders that were at least partly their own fault, but they had been led down a primrose path by pandering politicians of all parties. (Don’t you just love that alliteration?) The severe remedies that the European Bank and the International Monetary Fund were imposing on the country in 2011 were mangling the economy and making the ultimate repayment of Greece’s debts less possible, not more. And besides, the burden of repayment was falling more heavily on the average citizen than on those who had benefited most from the easy-money policies that caused the trouble. The Sitía Action Committee, whoever they were, may not have been the soundest of economic thinkers, but the pain their banner expressed was real, and at least at that time the pain didn’t appear to be fairly distributed among economic classes. (An American newspaper cartoon that I saw not long afterwards blamed the entire mess on “Euro-socialism.” This was fatuous.)

When we got back to our apartment at the Sitía Bay, there were two sweet bread rolls on the kitchen counter, ready for the next morning’s breakfast.