Gord & Val 's 2017 Balkans Trip travel blog

Today was fun! We walked past several early churches, both Christian and Muslim. We passed a hammam. We went up the street to see a small Christian church with beautiful gardens. As a service was in progress we just took a peek inside...plain but with beautiful chandeliers. We stopped to take pics of Galerias's triumphal arch and his rotunda. We walked down past a hippodrome that had been burried beneath a boulevard. Unfortunately exploring it was not possible as it was closed. As was the Hagia Sofia. So we went on to the waterfront and the White Tower. Inside is now a museum that explains the history of Thessalonika from its beginning to the present day....over 5 floors. We then walked by the National Theater (not as impressive as Sofia's) through a park to the Archeological Museum. Again the history from earliest times through the Alexander the Great to the Romans, Byzantine, Hellenistic and Ottoman Turks. Lots of capitols, mosaics, headless statues, funery items...jewellery, pottery, glass, helmets etc....some columns with lots of reading. 3 hours later and we were in the gold part of the museum with golden leabed myrtle headpieces, gold jewellery, funery urns...one in particular displaying Dionysus and his bride, snake handles wrapped in grape vines. It was at least 3 feet tall...impressive. it had been used to serve wine before becoming a funery urn. Helmets with gold trim, some death masks of gold leaf, swords trimmed with gold and lots of myrtle crowns. Amazing the work that went into creating these as they showed the process.

From here at 3p we went on to the Byzantine Museum, had a quick bite, and went on to thoroughly explore the Byzantine Period. Again colums and capitols from the period, magnificent intricate mosaic floors and wall pieces were shown. Funery items, sarcogofases beautifuly decorated inside, lots of history mostly dealing with the Byzantine Period. A large section on the different potteries of the region was interesting. After the 14th century many iconographic paintings in brilliant colors were displayed. It was 5p when we finished and walked back to the White Tower to catch the hop on, hop off bus on a tour around town. The most interesting part was when the bus climbed up the mountain to a circular tower, the old wall and a splendid view out over town. The wall and tower are brick and high. From here it was a steep ride down to see the port and a drive along the waterfront to our starting point.

Thessaloniki has many narrow streets at odd angles. Old 3rd & 4th century buildings along with those from Byzantine times are interspersed with new. Long rows of apartment blocks, a yellowed off white line many streets. Like Zagreb, and Sofia there are lots of green spaces.

Parks are a block wide and run for several blocks. Many are tree-lined cobblestone rectangles. People come out at night to enjoy walking, sitting and people watching. Children play games. Hawksters hawk multicolored balloons, musicians play violins, couples stroll. A pleasant evening outside when one lives in a small apartment.

We amble through and occasionally stop to watch. We have eaten our shrimp saganaki and Creton salad filled with fresh onions, tomatoes and cheese. Gord has enjoyed a beer or 3. Sunset has come and gone. It is time to find home. We check on the car...it is okay. We will stay another day.

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