The Island of Crete is deceptively large, and many visitors landing at Chania or Heraklion airports, bussed to their hotels and tourist hotspots, in the middle of the night, get no perception of the vastness and contrasts of this beautiful island.
There is a little town tucked away in the Eastern corner, hard to get to because of the winding nature of the National Highway, and, at almost the further most tip of the Island, far and remote, but peaceful and serene, with a climate as gentle as a babies breath. This part of Crete is the least spoiled, and life here is still lived as it has always been. Once past Agios Nikolaos, tourist complexes are few and far between, if at all, and lovely newly refurbished hotels can be found on Sitia sea front, family run with joy and pride, and a delightful willingness to please.
There is a castle and a blue flag beach, sleepy villages with tumbledown houses waiting to be renovated and loved again, and an amazing date palm beach not too far away, where ancient palms reputedly seeded by Arab pirates, spitting date stones onto the beach, a fruit they had carried from their Arabian shores.
There is the Lassithi Plateau producing an abundance of fruit and vegetables and arid maintain sides of sage and heather, decorated here and there by gaily coloured beehives, brought for the main honey flows.
The remoteness of this little town, that curls comfortingly around a deep blue bay, is it’s appeal, which should be kept that way, and respected. Visitors who come get a sense of it’s true Cretan atmosphere, and as the National Highway is slowly straightened and improved, and the Airport on hill upgraded Sitia will become another destination for those looking for a peaceful retirement, or a new life doing the things always dreamed of.
You will not find Makro and Carrefour here (yet) but a vibrant colourful market, little family run shops and wonderful tavernas on the beautifully paved promenade, shaded by tall date palms. However, should you need a day of retail therapy, Heraklion with it’s frenetic character, is still there for you at end of a long but comfortable three hour bus ride for just a few Euros. Not too much of a hardship!
So.. if you love Crete, don’t forget Sitia, it is there snoozing softly in the warm Eastern Med air, waiting for you, not the jaded tourist, but the person looking for a home in unspoilt Greek surroundings with charming and friendly Cretan neighbours.
Rusty Wise © 2008