Thursday found Leigh and I reunited in Thessaloniki, and ready to actually SEE some of the city that Leigh had been in for three days now. After a bit of conference in the morning, we hopped the bus into town from the hotel, and wandered around in search of things to look at. [Edited by Leigh: I should point out that I was not skipping out on the conference; there was a free afternoon scheduled in!]
Like Athens, Thessaloniki has these amazing juxtapositions of two thousand year old ruins sandwiched in between modern buildings. That’s a triumphal arch erected by the 4th century Roman emperor Galerius. It’s about three feet from one of the busiest streets in downtown. Nearby is the Rotunda:
This structure has, like many others in Greece, followed the pattern of ancient construction, followed by orthodox church, followed by Mosque, followed by an orthodox church again, followed by a museum. Next week, it may be a yogurt factory, who knows?
We hadn’t seen enough cylindrical buildings yet, so we headed down to the waterfront to check out the best known landmark of Thessaloniki, the White Tower. Turns out, it’s beige.
There was a very nice little museum inside on the history of Thessaloniki, but because of the tiny rooms and stifling heat, we didn’t have the patience to look at every single exhibit all the way through. We did pretty well, and were rewarded with a nice view from the top.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon not going to museums. Each museum we reached had a closing time shortly after we reached it, so instead we continued bonking around the city. We had a seat in Aristotle Square, which looked like this.
…and then startlingly, no more than five seconds later, like this:
One neighborhood we had considered visiting is the upper town, which our guidebook had told us could be reached by the “handy number 23 bus.” We spent quite a bit of time trying to determine where we could find this allegedly handy bus. However, we never saw the thing. And since the museums were closed, we just sort of walked around the city, found the occasional geocache, and had more fun with panorama mode.
This was Thessaloniki’s version of the Roman forum, similar to the one we visited in Athens. By this point, we were getting tired, so we decided to find one more cache, and then figure out where to have dinner. We stumped over another street or two, found the cache, and then leaned against a wall near a municipal building we dubbed The Ministry of Silly Walks. While I was trying to determine where some of the restaurants in our guidebook were located, Leigh piped up, “Hey look! It’s a Number 23 bus!.” [Edited by Leigh: I’d like to point out that the handy number 23 bus was, at the time, going up an impossibly small street with cars parked on both sides. We’d been walking up and down major streets trying to find any trace of this purportedly handy bus for rather some time at that point, and it was pure serendipity that we happened to be on the right tiny street to find it.]
At least we found the silly thing. (Note: this photo was not taken with my cell phone) And a good thing too, because it turns out the views from the upper town are stunning. We went and had a gander at the old Byzantine wall.
There’s theoretically a cache next to the tower there, too, but we couldn’t find it, because an amorous couple had parked themselves on the observation platform, and made out continuously for the 20 minutes we were in the vicinity. It was actually hilarious – other tourists kept walking up right next to them and checking out the view, and they didn’t even come up for air. We managed with difficulty to restrain ourselves from doing the same [ed. by Leigh: walking up to them, not giving each other CPR for a half an hour][Speak for yourself – Dan], and settled for a picture.
We found a great little terrace restaurant nearby. The funny thing about this place was that the restaurant was on one side of a busy street, and the terrace where we ate was on the other, so there was a constant flow of waiters dodging cars while bringing people their food. Not a normal occupational hazard at Chili’s, one imagines.
The menu included a lamb special that sounded very tasty, and something our waiter described as “Octopus Burgers.” Well – who could resist that? Turns out octopus burgers are actually very much like crab cakes – breaded and fried, but with octopus instead of crab.
And of course, the obligatory sunset. This was taken directly from the table where we were eating.
- Means of transportation employed: Bus
- Least handy bus line: 23
- Liters of water consumed by two people: at least 9
- Geocaches found: 4
- Meals involving cheese: 2
- Best place for watching old men watch football: Lamborghini
- Free stuff: fruit plate for dessert