One custom here -- at least in the traditional restaurants -- is to give you a complimentary dessert. In fact, sometimes you don't even have to eat there: a waiter at one of the cafes along the harbor handed me a small bunch of grapes as I walked by!
The traditional dessert is fruit and a shot of raki, the local firewater. Sometimes, though, you get a baklava or some such. Pretty cool practice. The cafe owner at Kyria Maria today gave me a stern stare when I made to leave without emptying my glass. Perhaps it's possible to take hospitality too far...
Speaking of hospitality, the place I stopped for lunch was almost empty. Just a table of what was obviously family. When I had barely finished my lamb casserole, the owner/waiter was there with the bill. You KNOW how odd that is! Turned out he had to take his pregnant wife to a doctor's appointment. He was very apologetic about rushing me. I began to wonder if the entry gate had been left open accidentally, but he was just too hospitable to kick me out at the beginning.
Walking back to the hotel, I pass the old Venetian rector's palace perched high above the harbor (above left). Some things haven't changed since time began: the government always stakes out the best view in town.
But some of the best views are the "hidden moments", like this small low-arched alley (right). The color glowed on the house; all the tourists stop to stare and take a photo (what's the digital equivalent of a "Kodak moment"?) Add a Vespa and it's definitely a keeper.
At one cafe along the sea road, there are six backgammon games in a row going on. They throw the dice with real verve and the sound of them falling on the wooden board is sweet. At times like this, I wish my brother Jeff were here...
The old harbor is definitely Tourist Town, lined with restaurants, with menus posted in English, German and French. I saw Gordon Bleu listed, as well as Rock of Lamb -- usually meat here isn't that tough!!
Well, you have to give them credit for trying. I haven't seen too many menus in Seattle translated into Greek...
Tomorrow, on to Rethymno, about an hour east, still on the north coast of the island. Supposedly like Chania, but smaller. An outpost of the University of Crete is there; they call it the "City of Letters." Sounds perfect.
© Copyright 2006 Susan K. Miller. All Rights Reserved.