I didn’t know what to expect from Thessaloniki but it’s been about a week now, and I think I have a sense of the city.
I like it.
I’m not sure why exactly. It’s not the busiest, or the most exciting, but it’s consistently nice. The people, the weather, the food, the protests, the beaches. Everything is laid back in a way.
It is not jarring. To talk to a Greek is only inconvenient if they don’t want to talk to you or they don’t know English. Many know English. If you are friendly, and you don’t act like a loud crazy tourist then people will be gracious even.
Over the last couple days I covered protests (alongside Sophie and David) and shot pictures all over the city. These protests were not violent, or even particularly hurried (but they were legitimate). And we knew when they would start, so taking some time to eat and drink and look around was only natural.
I’ve gotten lost once or twice, and those are among my favorite times. To be alone in a city is to truly be in the city. Navigating is part of the experience. And in Thessaloniki, everything is a short bus ride away. If you’re downtown, you can practically see everywhere you might want to go on the boardwalk.
Thessaloniki is bright, and it is filled with graffiti. This may be a European thing, or even a Greek thing, but it is striking. There are ruins from antiquity as well as churches from Byzantine times, and between them stand off-white buildings erected in the 1920s. The old city is filled with variety, and the whole is more interesting than any one of the parts.