I’m super stoked to post about my recent trip to Greece! While we couldn’t go during the summer because of work commitments, going in the fall was actually one of the best off-season trips we’ve been on! Flights and hotels were super cheap, large crowds of tourists were sparse and best of all, the weather was ahhh-mazing! Blue, super sunny and it was hot enough to wear t-shirts and shorts everyday!
(Although locals didn’t think so – in fact, I had to go shopping when we arrived since I didn’t think it would be hot enough to wear shorts or skirts and was surprised how most shops only had jackets and sweaters in stock!).
During our weeklong trip, we went to Thessaloniki, Meteora, Athens and Santorini. The latter three I’ll be posting about in the upcoming days.
Now let’s talk about Thessaloniki!
I didn’t know much about Thessaloniki before going there to be honest. However, there were tons of Ryanair flights there from Dusseldorf, so we thought it would make for a great base to start from. Also known as “Saloniki,” it’s the second largest city in Greece, after Athens.
Thessaloniki was named after the sister of Alexander the Great, whose name was Thessalonike (Greek for victory over Thessaly). It’s considered the cultural capital of Greece thanks to all the museums and festivals there.
One of the biggest attractions in Thessaloniki is the white tower, which was part of the city’s ancient walls (it was the second most fortified city in the Byzantine Empire). Back in the day, the Ottomans used the tower as a fort, garrison and prison. In fact, it was called the Tower of Blood or the Red Tower back in 1826 because the Sultan Mahmud II had ordered a massacre of all its prisoners.
When Thessloniki was freed from the Turks in 1912, the tower was actually whitewashed to show purification (hence its current name). In 1913, King George I of Greece was murdered only a few metres from the tower and in the two world wars, it played an important role to the city’s air defense.
After so much history, currently it mostly just stands pretty and doubles as a musuem inside!
Since it’s a very walkable city, my favourite thing to do in Thessaloniki was to walk around and and explore all the different areas. Ladidika is a pretty area in the historic part of town that locals call “the heart of entertainment.” It’s next to the port, and is filled with shops, restaurants and bars.
We found this amazing restaurant on the corner of the street there with gyros so good, we went back the next day for lunch. The prices were crazy too! All of this was more than enough for two people and only cost slightly over 10 euros!
Although that thick pink mayo like sauce on the salad was a bit gross!
Aristotelous Square is also a really pretty area of the city. It was actually designed by the Ebrar Committee after a devastating fire in 1917 and is suppose to be one of the biggest and most impressive squares in Greece, with a view of the Thermaikos Gulf.
We also stumbled upon this Canadian park!
Also the word “park” is definitely used loosely here since it was able the size of 3 coffee tables. Nonetheless, it was fun to stumble upon it!
And of course we had to stop for some Greek yoghurt. Yum!
At night when we got a bit lost walking back to our hotel, we stumbled upon the creepiest neighbourhood ever. It felt like an abandoned Chinatown with lots of scary buildings everywhere with signs in Chinese, old cars scattered everywhere and covered in dust and even one car in a parking lot with all its doors wide open, lights flashing, alarm ringing and what Yann swore he saw of a man lying half on the street and half in the car without pants on.
It felt like a set for a mob shooting and we got out of there fast!
After doing some research when we got home, according to CoLab Radio, it’s an area called Xyladika, which has become an area for prostitution, drug dealing and a large neo-Nazi party. All that in one area! No wonder all the renters have fled the area, explaining why it looks so abandoned.
While I didn’t take any photos, here’s a pic from the CoLab Radio site as an example of a house from the neighbourhood!
Have you guys ever been to Thessaloniki?