The weekend has provided myself and the local Thessalonikians with some welcome rays of sunshine. Don't be fooled though, it still is chilly in the day and come of an evening, I can fully testify chilly turns to a very bitter cold. Being British, I could withstand the day time chill just fine in long pants and a jumper and so naturally it amuses me to see the locals wrapped heavily in big coats, scarfs and woolly hats! To be fair, the proximity to the sea doesn't help in this respect and so the locals are adamant the cold here 'gets into your bones'.
Have my initial slightly gloomy impressions of the city changed? Yes, they have and for the better I'm happy to say. For starters, the city has a promenade and that normally always provides a different ambience to cities offering just big blocks of residential and commercial concrete.
Having just completed two full afternoons wandering the streets, I'm now satisfied with my exploration of Thessolanki. Additionally, the city and its people have given me awareness into the contrasting existence between its residents which I'll report more on in a future post. Today's post, however, returns to previous form; that is, to provide you an insight into a new city for your perusal, digestion and review - all from the comfort of the chair you're most likely sitting on.
So I felt good today and shortly concluded this was for two reasons; firstly the sun was back after 2 days absent and also because I realised it's been a couple of weeks since I last reported back exclusively on a place without other content intertwined. Don't get me wrong, I've really enjoyed writing the last few posts and I've been told that by several of that you've enjoyed reading them - which I really appreciate. Although you can use the comment system, I swear it doesn't bite :-)
The challenge for today then was whether I could make a big city look picturesque.
Let's see then if both I, and Thessaloniki , could deliver...
Apart from my accommodation, I discovered that many of the things to see here in Thessaloniki were within walking distance and in close proximity to the city centre, which in turn, is conveniently close to the promenade. Perfect. To get there, I would take a down hill stroll as I am staying around Ano Poli (Upper Town also known as Old Town). As its name suggests, things up here are both high and old and as we know, height tends to offer wonderful vantage points so as you'll see, you'd need to have some pretty good reason for wanting to stay in the busy centre when views like these are available to you from up-high.
And also as we know, old tends to offer amazing ancient architecture such as these Eastern Byzantine walls - though I'm not sure if the Byzantine period can be called ancient!?
When you reach flat ground you can gamble on your choice of direction as it won't really matter as left or right you'll soon be amongst 'things'. Such things include the hustle and bustle; the shops, the restaurants, the promenade, the many squares including the largest, Aristotelous.
Oh yes, there's also some fairly ancient monuments of course nestled in and around the city! Infact, get this, Thessolanki has fifteen individual historic monuments that are UNESCO registered. You can see why historians, Church buffs and whoever else would spend a whole weekend here simply tracking them all down! Don't worry, I promise not to do that but it'd be surely sacrilegious to not show you a couple:
The White Tower:
The Hagia Sophia (based on Turkey's Hagia Sophia)
Time to wander across and along the promenade which as mentioned earlier, is still very central and close by to the more busy, happening parts of the city:
The next day I went to visit the Thessaloniki Acropolis; a site that offers the highest vantage point over the city. I got to it and wondered around it but couldn't get into it as it was closed. Nice. A different points in time it has been a Byzantine citadel, Ottoman fort and even a prison in the late 19th century.
Sadly it's time to move on to my next destination. I say sadly because these days I find myself clinging on to the final cities more and more not wanting to let go, not wanting to leave. You see, I estimate I'm down to seeing my last couple of cities before the ancient city of Athens calls upon me for the third and final time ;-(
On a less depressing note, IF one of these final cities in particular works out, it promises to be quite something so fear not folks, you've got more visuals to come before me and British Airways come face to face.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this adventure has really made me question 'normality' and whether it will now be enough for me. I wonder, and I wonder what you think...