Jet lag is a strange feeling. It throws you out of your normal circadian rhythm into a confusion of energy, appetite and sleep patterns.
I flew from Victoria, Canada to Thessaloniki, Greece. A difference of nine hours. But after four days I think I am slowly adjusting!
So just wandering around the city in a fog is okay. There is so much history here, and it doesn’t take much planning to see it.
Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander, king of Macedonia.
And it’s had its share of times.
In 168 BC it succumbed to Roman rule and there was a massive building spree.
The Ancient Agora (Roman Forum) was constructed in the 1st century AD. It was the centre of political and public life.
The Rotunda was constructed in the early 4th century AD, on the turning point between the pagan with the Christian world, probably as a temple for ancient cult worship or a mausoleum for Constantine the Great (307-337).
This sanctuary was added on to the Rotunda (late 4th-6th century) to turn it into a Christian church.
The Arch of Galerius was also built at the same time, just south of the Rotunda and linked by a processional road.
It is a triumphal arch, commissioned by emperor Galerius to celebrate the victorious campaign against the Sassanid Persians in 298 AD.
It was also my favourite place to sit on a bench and people watch.
Lots of young people because it is a huge university centre. People coming from the markets with bags of groceries. Just everyday life.
I loved how Roman ruins were just part of street, along with dozens of coffee shops that fuel the city.
Thessaloniki is much less touristy than Athens.
It may lack the Acropolis and the charm of Athens old town, but Thessaloniki is definitely resilient.
Over the centuries it has been a very important trade centre because of its strategic location.
It’s had its Roman era, Byzantine era, Crusader era, Ottoman era.
Thessaloniki was finally liberated by the Greek army from Turkish rule in 1912.
It has survived the Balkan War, the Second World War when it was occupied by Germany and 97% of the Jewish population perished.
The Great Fire of 1917 destroyed two-thirds of the city, burning for 32 hours, destroying 9,500 houses within 1 km, and leaving more than 70,000 homeless.
The rebuilding led to more of a traditional grid pattern in the lower town.
The upper part of city survived, and still has its cobble stone winding streets. The only catch is that it’s all uphill!
Ano Poli (Upper Town) is where I found the Tower of Triganio from the 15th century. And the ubiquitous graffiti.
It is attached to old phases of city fortifications.
The Gates of Anna Paleologina were created between 1355-1356.
And way off in the haze, you can see of the Aegean Sea.
The most familiar landmark of Thessaloniki is the White Tower.
Built in the late 15th century on the site of an older Byzantine tower.
It has had many names: ‘Lion’s Tower’ in the 16th century, ‘The Fortress of Kalamaria’ in the 18th century and the ‘Blood Tower’ in the 19th century since it served as a prison and a place of execution for long-term convicts.
It’s current name came to be in 1890 when the tower was whitewashed by a convict in exchange for his freedom.
The Seawall promenade is very popular and lined with restaurants and coffee shops.
There are two old markets close to each other. So close I entered the Modiano Market and ended up in the Kapani Market!
Easter eggs! I think they are just coloured and ready to put into braided breads for next weekend.
Orthodox Easter is the only Easter celebration here.
My first full day here was Good Friday, and I thought it may affect shop openings. But ‘Catholic Easter’, as my hotel called it, is not on their radar.
Church decorated for Palm Sunday
Jet lag throws my appetite off, and the main thing that has appealed to me has been Greek salads. And it’s handy to have on hand because meal times don’t always match!
My hotel has excellent breakfasts. Eggs a la carte and lots of other choices.
Yesterday I had a pita with grilled meat.
Someday I will graduate to a real meal!
But wifi is working well, so time to post.
Tomorrow it’s a train ride and taxi to Bitola in North Macedonia. Then the plan is Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia & aHerzegovina and some Croatian coast north of Split that I haven’t seen. Home in three months.