Saturday 24 October 2015

Thessaloniki - the end of our Via Egnatia! 14/10/15


Wednesday 14th October

The end of our Via Egnatia walk, we arrive in Thessaloniki! 

We catch a bus from Chalkidona to Thessaloniki, the bus stop is about 100m down the road opposite the hotel, nice and handy. The buses depart approximately every half hour for Thessaloniki.

After waiting for a while, we eventually flagged down a bus 81 and jumped aboard! The ticket machine doesn't give any change of the bus, so you need the exact money. 1:30€ each for the two bus rides firstly to the central Thessaloniki bus station, then we went to the centre, to Egnatia Street, Thessaloniki on a bus number 12.

Changed bus at the central bus terminus for a number 12 bus.

We alighted in Egnatia street, only about 100 m from our Hotel Augustos! Very handy. Checked into our hotel at 11 am. Our room was ready,  a nice clean room, plenty of space with a good size bathroom and shower cubicle! We head out to explore and walk the heritage walk as described in the via Egnatia guide book. (Lonely planet also describes a similar, but shorter walk)
Thessaloniki has had such an ancient and tumultuous past, it's been conquered and occupied so many times over the centuries some of the secrets require a little delving and deeper exploration to discover them. A devastating fire in 1917 destroyed much of the city.

The waterfront with the white tower in the background.
Walking up the Plateia Aristotelous, a section of the city rebuilt after the great fire of 1917.

There's some amazing street art in  Thessaloniki!
A beautifully decorated alley with restaurants, decorations are in the theme of an old travelling circus.
Hamza Bey Mosque
Opposite the mosque, under the Egnatia Street. The underground metro rail line construction has been stopped for a couple of years while deciding what to do about the discoveries of ancient archeological sites .
Archeological site with remains from Roman times. Along Odos El. Venizelou
Old and new side by side
Tavernas surround the flea market off Venizelou street, near one of the archeological sites, we pause in our wandering and have some lunch at 1:45. The tavernas are only just opening,

It's a great people watching spot! Everything and anything is sold...

Magna Grecia salad 5:00 rocket, lettuce, sun dried tomato, kefalotyri cheese, sesame and balsamic vinegar
Melitzanosalata- smoked eggplant with garlic and olive oil 3:00
Grilled bread 0:50
Grilled Kefalotyri cheese with lime and mint vinegarette 5.00
Kebab meatballs with yoghurt sauce 6.50
Glass red wine 2.50
Raki 100 ml 3.50
Forum and theater from 2-3rd century AD
St Demetrius Basilica
St Demetrius Basilica
Some of the remaining frescoes
St Demetrius Basilica
St Demetrius Relics
St Demetrius Basilica
 the Alatza Imaret Mosque, the minaret was destroyed.
Entrance to the mosque
Now used for public events and exhibits
Finding the tranquil, and beautiful 5th century church of Ossios David, high up in the old quarter of Thessaloniki
View from the church of Ossios David over towards the harbour of Thessaloniki
The church dates from the 5th century, only part of the church remains, some of it was destroyed during the Ottoman times.
It's my favourite church in Thessaloniki!
Fortunately the unique mosaic of a young Jesus with no beard survives
There's so much symbolism and stories incorporated into this mosaic, the caretaker sat in the church with me and explained some of the history and symbolism.
Walking long the narrow winding streets of the old sections of Thessaloniki, Ano Poli that survived the great fire.
Street art everywhere
Lovely doors in an abandoned building.

Up the top of Thessaloniki, walking around the old walls, with seven towers
An entrance gate through the walls into Yedi Kule
Kousali Kule, or Trigonio Tower
View from the Trigonio Tower towards the East
View from the Trigonio Tower towards the harbour.
This message was painted in lots of places around the old town.
Walking down back towards the harbour we find the Rotunda, built by Galarius . It's been a temple, a church, a mosque and now a museum, undergoing some renovations
Entrance to the Rotunda
Inside the Rotunda, there are some frescoes still visible
Excavations at the rotunda reveal more earlier buildings and archeology.
We now follow the processional route of Galarius down towards the harbour...
Arch of Galarius, Roman emporer from 305 - 311
So many detailed carvings on the Arch of Galarius.
Palace of Galarius

The White tower near the harbour built in the 15th century, in ottoman times it was a prison, and convicts were executed on the battlements. Now a much less gory museum
Dinner at Paparouna in the Ladadaki area 

8:30 pm!! We must be going local, waiting until after 8 pm!
Paparouna in the Ladadaki area 
Served a complimentary little mini cup of onion soup
Zucchini balls with fresh herbs and yoghurt dip 5.80
Oven grilled Salmon marinade of orange juice  11 
Grilled squid stuffed with quinoa and vegetables flavoured with tAragon, spices green pepper sauce, garnished with caramelised chicory and tomato confit.
Glass white wine 5€
Everything delicious!

Hotel Augustus
2 nights 110€ 
El. Svoronou 4, ThessalonĂ­ki, 54630, Greece
Just off Via Egnatia 

Ano Poli - old town up high, charming old ottoman houses and narrow streets. Gives more of in insight into what Thessaloniki would have looked like prior to the devastation of the 1917 fire

Other options:

Colors Central Ladadika - 45euro pn small B&B in a grand heritage house   highly recommended