First Night in Thessaloniki

By , 27/07/2014 08:25

I left from Kalambaka-Καλαμπάκα yesterday at 15:15, on the bus from Kalambaka to Trikala-Τρίκαλα. At Trikala I (quite literally) hopped from one bus to another, and 5 minutes later we reversed out of the bus station and started the journey to Greece’s second city: Thessaloniki (Θεσσαλονική).

From Trikala to Thess/iki the journey took just under 3 hours; once we got to Larisa it was motorway (toll road) all the way; not the interesting views you get from the trains, but I didn’t want the hassle of waiting almost 90 minutes at a station in the middle of nowhere in order to change trains. I just wanted to get to Thessaloniki.

I slept a bit on the bus, but woke up as we got to within 50km of the city. I thought it rather amusing that from the motorway as we approached the city there were signs for ΣΚΟΠΙΑ (Skopje), ΒΟΥΛΓΑΡΙΑ (Bulgaria) and ΤΟΥΡΚΙΑ (Turkey). I saw plenty of signs for Kavala as well. This got me excited, because it is a reminder that I am not far at all from Thassos, where I will be heading on Wednesday with my family!

After checking-in at my hotel, I went for a walk in the city; I found Aristotelous Square, and the White Tower. There was an orchestra playing underneath the White Tower – Zorba the Greek played by a live orchestra sounds brilliant, as does the Pirates of the Carribean theme tune.

260720142440I returned to the hotel and changed for dinner; I have to admit, I don’t know Thessaloniki well but I found a pedestrianised street with lots of tavernas a few minutes from my hotel, and ate dinner there. The waitress gave me the Greek-only version of the menu which I was rather pleased with. Not once did they suspect that I wasn’t Greek! I chose to have chicken filet on the grill for my dinner – which was served with some fresh (and still warm) bread rolls. Cost – including a Fanta Orange and a bottle of water: €11,10.

The hotel I’m staying at here is the Hotel Kastoria/Ξενοδοχείο Καστοριά. At €20 per night, it’s the cheapest place I’m staying in during the tour (it’s €2 per night cheaper than the Neos Olymbos in Athens, and €5 per night cheaper than Zozas Rooms in Kastraki).

Although only a few Euros cheaper, the standard of accommodation is rather low. This really is just a place to leave my stuff. The other guests seem to be of the student type, and with some of the doors (the balcony doors) being a bit dodgy, I’ve decided it best to take my valuables with me when I go out during the day. Even on the packed ferries to/from Syros, I felt comfortable leaving my stuff unattended for a couple of minutes while I went to buy some food and drink! But then, the other passengers were all in the same boat. (Excuse the pun).

When I say “a bit dodgy”, I mean that the balcony doors don’t shut properly: the shutters shut only partially, and as it’s a shared balcony if someone wanted to they could put their hand through the gap between the doors and lift the latch to open them fully. The glass doors also don’t shut. There’s no air con, only a fan, only one plug (maybe I should go to the shop and buy a double plug), and the doors to the shared toilets don’t lock properly – so I’m using the public toilets by the White Tower, which are much better, even if they are a good 15 minute walk away! There’s no TV either, so I can’t watch the news in the morning.

By contrast – in Athens, some of the room doors weren’t perfect, but the other guests (families and couples) were trustworthy enough that I didn’t need to worry: and with the hotel reception desk manned 24/7 (staff challenging anyone they didn’t recognise), I was comfortable leaving my belongings in the hotel while I went out in to the city.

Still, it’s only for 4 nights: I’ve got all day Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Then on Wednesday morning I’m aiming to get to the airport no later than 11:00, ready to meet my parents and sister when they arrive. Maybe I should stand in the arrivals hall with their names written on a piece of paper! Better not, it might confuse the car rental person, who will presumably be doing the same! After that, we’re driving to Thassos, for our first visit to the island in 8 years.

Now: There’s no breakfast at this hotel, so I think I’m going to pack my things, go in search of breakfast, then maybe try the War Museum today. How does that sound?

Bye for now,


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