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Greece: Piraeus and Thessaloniki with Markets, Cats and Dogs

Thessaloniki

I have certainly had a much happier year than this Thessaloniki cat indeed – I’ve seen most of the places abroad that I love and have very special feelings to – Strasbourg, Mediterranean Sea, Aegina with Agia Marina village, Thessaloniki and Piraeus. And I’ve also travelled in Russia quite nicely (and still have some more travelling ahead of me!). Now that I think about it I guess I’m really lucky this year, regardless of all the events which made me feel … less lucky this year.

Thessaloniki

It was snowing in the morning today (now there’s typical St Pete rain and gloom) and I remembered that I have not posted my Thessaloniki part of the Greek trip yet. That would be a great way to brighten up the day a bit, I thought. But then I looked at the first photos prepared long ago for this post and realized that the day I arrived in Thess the sun was absent in the morning and only present on this ruined house wall…

Thessaloniki

The clouds were circling around the city that day and I had to wait till the rain stopped as no doubt I had no umbrella. As soon as it was possible to walk I headed up towards my favourite part of the city is the old Upper Town, Ano Poli. On my way I took this photo of the ruins of the Roman times Galerius Arch – the most popular place to meet in the city and in general a very student place (close to the University). Yep, Greece is known for its numerous ruins and its almost negligence to them. However… they do survive there!

Thessaloniki

Here’s the Street of Cyclopes and the on-going reconstruction of the ancient wall surrounding the old – historical – part of Thessaloniki (not necessarily THAT old inside now). I have walked up and down this narrow cat-full street hundreds of times – and here I find a new piece of street art, love it!

Thessaloniki

As I was getting higher and higher, the sun started peeping through the clouds and the humid sticky feeling I got (also from carrying all my things on me, but that just shows how stupid I can be=) immediately brought back those days I was walking around Ano Poli and taking pictures of all things decadent. Especially of all these old Macedonian houses (something similar I saw in Varosha, the old district of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria) and the ever present cats.

Thessaloniki

The thing that was new this time is that they have finally opened to public one of the surviving towers, the closest one to the sea, from the Eptapirgio (=Seven towers) fortification ensemble. I did not have chance to walk up (or better climb up) towards the highest fortress which served as prison up until 1989 (a certainly memorable year in the world history it seems) but I did look at the city from this newly opened tower. Inside there will be a sort of a museum as far as I understood. And thanks for the security guy who let me leave all my things and climb the narrow inside stairway to the platform on top of the Pirgos!

Thessaloniki

It was invaded by young Turkish ladies travelling on a bus and they were all clad in long black robes and happily chatting away while taking selfies at all the corners. This particular photo is not taken from that Pirgos but from the place I once had my breakfast at. Cause yeah, they do sit on their centuries old fortification walls there.

Thessaloniki

Right under the Pirgos is another – and way more famous – PirgosWhite Tower or Lefkos Pirgos, the symbol of the city. It’s situated right at the seaside (where you cannot bathe though) and it also has a platform on top. Inside there’s an interactive museum which I could visit for free when I was a students (ah-oh).

Thessaloniki

The seafront is all about emigrants selling to you all kind of stuff, occasional bicycles and the cafe-boats that lure you by free entrance and then charge you ridiculous sums for the drinks. No surprise I have never gone on any of them, ahaha.

Thessaloniki

And I should tell you that I love this spacious blue & white paralia (=beach) as much as I love Ano Poli, the narrow ruined cats place.) It’s a pity I had just about three hours in Thess this time, in between my two buses (I had to return to Sofia to catch my flight). As the sun got higher I got really tired…

Thessaloniki

And after such a walk up and then down I needed some food… And what else could you eat in Thessaloniki but grab some sesame koulouria on the run or sit down for a cinnamon & sugar dusted creamy mpougatsa with a cold neverending frappe in your hand? And yeah, finally I got a photo of how these koulouria are sold in the street. Such a lady! When it’s cold in Thess (and it do become such a bitingly cold windy city in the winter!) they sell traditional hot beverage called Salepi.

Thessaloniki

And down there at the seafront and along the Aristotelian Street it’s the realm of dogs.

Thessaloniki

Very tired dogs.

Thessaloniki

And then I made another discovery – I finally went (by chance) to the covered market that I missed all those days in Thessaloniki when I walked to the market in the Aristotelous Square. The Modiano market with its old tavernas where old guys are sitting and sipping at their retsina or ouzo or tsipouro. The entire place just brings you back to the 1920s and 30s when the city got invaded by the Greeks fleeing from the ex-Greek and now Turkish territories.

Thessaloniki

Some old guys are just sitting there. Even without eating or drinking anything at all. Just sitting and watching rare birds like me who sometime enter the market. Or watching the others work. Here I bought my chewy koulouri and was happy =)

Thessaloniki

Leaving this market I went up to buy some herbs and spices from the other market (or part of a large market area that spreads over several blocks) and just could not keep myself from taking photos of all those colourful things!

Thessaloniki

This place is always crowded and I remember buying my fruits and veggies from this guy! And you should just come there to hear his powerful voice, fit to advertise himself in the highly competitive industry called Greek market : )

Thessaloniki

I love the local markets. It’s one of the places I usually head to when I travel to a new town. And if it looks miserable as the one in Chelyabinsk then… well, I just put a Fail against this city name. Let’s not even mention that city, ok? : )

Thessaloniki

Oh those colours! One of the things I love Greece for is the COLOURS (and the flavours)…

Thessaloniki

And here is the best type of advertisement you could think of for a shop selling rugs and carpets called Love Home. This dog was a hit! I wonder if you call the number and order your carpet, the dog comes with the offer too? And oh, what a chair, by the way : )

Thessaloniki

And I did traditionally run through the fish and meat alleys of the market (not my type of place), making this audio recording of the loud market people as I flew by:

Thessaloniki

And then I walked to the opposite part of the market, which is usually quieter and less populated. But during the lunch time it gets crowded too! This is a nice place to eat called Dihti (Fishing net) where you can eat the delicious saganaki cheese if you happen to be a vegetarian who hates fish…

Thessaloniki

The rest of this quiet part of the market is occupied by artisans and craftsmen who still make baskets and those typical Greek chairs with a seat made from interlaced twigs that you can now see either underneath some old guys on the islands or in Greek tavernas. I wish I could take one of those chairs to my place!

Piraeus

And oh, I forgot about the other place that has a lot of memories and meaning for me – the main port of Greece and now a part of Athens, Piraeus! The place where your journey to the islands most possibly starts (once you leave the airport) and ends. It was such a warm though windy evening with a spectacular sunset that day when I came back from Aegina and was waiting for my overnight bus to Thessaloniki. Just sitting there and soaking in the life of the port. The ships arriving one by one, some of them leaving, then the lights appearing in the windows and crowds of tourists moving around… It’s like sitting in an airport but much better.

And you know what? Just came to my head. Next time I go to Greece, Bulgaria or France, I will certainly get myself this rectangular bell that they attach to the cows in all these countries. I just adore the low ringing of the bell, it’s so comforting!

This is my last post in this year’s Greece + Bulgaria trip series.

G.

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