My love affair with Thessaloniki started a long time ago, in my late teens.
During my last summer holidays in secondary school I had the opportunity to spend a week in a youth camp near Thessaloniki. Funnily enough, the camp was close to Perea, the small town where Alex and I decided to set home years later!
That first time, I wasn’t exposed to the Greek culture much. The camp we were in was an international Christian camp and English was spoken more than Greek.
But at the end of the week, that Sunday, our small group was invited to a Greek Orthodox assembly and that is there I met for the first time what is described at typical Thessalonians, warm, genuine and very hospitable people who are still my friends, even after all these years!
The draw was so strong that when I was doing my master’s degree in Romania and was offered an Erasmus scholarship, I immediately decided to go for Thessaloniki.
I spent four and a half months then learning a bit of the language, finishing my American literature degree while being completely emerged in the Greek culture by staying with some of the same lovely people who opened their homes and hearts to us.
Years later, having been married to a Greek man who was missing his home land terribly, we decided to make the bold move and try and live in Greece for a year.
Our choice to live in Thessaloniki during that time was far from accidental.
I had love strings pulling me back here, you see.
That project didn’t work out, unfortunately, the living in Greece for a year.
We returned to Northern Ireland at the end of that summer but not before deciding to make Perea and Thessaloniki our summer home, as I explained in a previous post.
Now, Thessaloniki is our dreamy escape whenever we want a touch of magic and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
The same company has routes connecting other neighbourhoods with a limani(small port), like Kalamaria, to the main port of Thessaloniki. You can find all the necessary information regarding the timetables(the boats run more or less hourly, but please do check before, as you don’t want to scorch in the hot sun waiting for the elusive boat!) and destinations, onto their Facebook page.
Thessaloniki has seen many cultural and culinary influences over the years. Smyrna(today’s Izmir) particularly comes to mind and you can read more on the dramatic political events of 1922 here. As with every political upheaval, migration followed in Smyrna’s case and with it came beautiful influences when it comes to food and especially what I call, the culture of sweets of Thessaloniki!
If you do Thessaloniki as a savvy traveler, it is a must that you do as many as your tummy allows you of their eateries(of which I will have to write at a later date, as they deserve their own proper space and mention!) and zaharoplasties( sweet shops) and try each of their own specialties they had preserved as staples of times long gone and everlasting influences!
There is Terkenlis‘ tsourekia, Konstantinidis‘ millefeuilles, Agapitos‘ armenovil ice cream and Elenidis‘ trigonakia, Ble‘s artisanal, pieces of art chocolate sweets and Hadzis‘ syrupy sweets(toulumba me kaimaki is still on the list, auntie Mimi!), to name just the crème de la crème !
Images original from and courtesy of the respective sweet shops’ websites.
Have I made you terribly hungry for amazing sweets?
Will you give Thessaloniki a try next time you visit Greece?
There is so much more to Greece than the beach and its resorts and I truly hope this post will inspire many of you to come and visit and eat, as we say often, “where the locals eat!”
I promise to come back with a different post on Thessaloniki’s amazing eateries at a later date, their food is worthy of a post of its own!