Thessaloniki: An urban Greek experience combined with nature around

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I arrived in Thessaloniki after a whole night of celebrations in Tel Aviv, I really had no energy to organize and pack and board a plane. The only thing I wanted was to go to bed but I must not complain when it comes to vacations.

The flight was fast and light, a total of an hour and a half. We arrived in the middle of the night at Thessaloniki Airport and took the car I booked in advance. The car rental thing is very simple, the only issue is that they mostly have manual gear cars and the automatic cars are a bit more expensive. We drove about twenty minutes to the city center and arrived at our hotel, the ride was relatively simple, also the parking was simple at first (because it was the middle of the night) but downtown parking is very problematic during the day and evening.

The hotel we came to was called The Trilogy House its located right in the city center, a particularly convenient location. The hotel was decorated in a minimalist-industrial style, the bare walls and the furniture was very cool, the design was evident throughout the hotel, everything was clean, tidy and in the Less Is More atmosphere.

After charging myself with sleep we went around downtown, the city was vibrant and full of people, nice stores and interesting architecture. Thessaloniki is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, the second city in Greece after Athens and the center of the north. Thessaloniki is very different comparing Athens – modern, cosmopolitan and rich.

We arrived on Thursday evening and the atmosphere was very lively, in the weekend the pier is filled with thousands of people crossing the port, the city’s symbol is the white tower which was built in the 15th century. All along the pier people celebrate in taverns, pubs and cafes until late at night. The evening we arrived we went to a town called Kastra to see the view of the whole city and the walls of the old city.

That evening we also went to a stunning place called Ben Shushan Khan, which used to be a Jewish-owned hotel in the past. The first floor serves as a sort of cool vintage store that was full of macramé (that’s why I went inside – and Frida winked at me, too). On the second floor there are different rooms that used to be the hotel rooms and today are used for various creative workshops, photographs and exhibitions.

The next day, we traveled to the Pozar Hot Springs, a two-hour drive from Thessaloniki (121 km), along the road we saw a few cotton fields. There was a lot vegetation in the place and also full of caves hidden in crevices, during this period of the year there were relatively many people who come to take advantage of the healing properties of the place.

After being in the springs, we returned to Thessaloniki and went to the Reworks Festival – an electronic music festival that has been held in Thessaloniki for the past 15 years. So I spent the next two days dancing, getting to know new people, experiencing an electronic journey that is different from the usual experience in Tel Aviv. The production was much more organized than the productions in Tel Aviv, the prices of the alcohol were reasonable. I really enjoyed the festival, a great chance that I will return there next year.

On our last day, driving to Chalkidiki, we got a really small taste of the place because not much time left. The Chalkidiki Peninsula is located east of the city of Thessaloniki, an hour’s drive from the city. The peninsula is made up of three different fingers. The area has become a hot area in recent years, there are amazing beaches, bars, restaurants and breathtaking views. We arrived at a resort called Sanni Resort, the water was already cool and the weather was not really warm but pleasant. The resort is in an area called Cassandra and sits on a special marina and complex of restaurants and shops.

Later on the trip we arrived to a small town called Afitos, a picturesque town, giving the feeling that time has stopped. It’s really fun to walk around the alleys and discover new corners. The view is breathtaking, there is a very beautiful view over all the roofs and the sea. For the finale, we sat in a very special restaurant serving fresh fish from the sea and then drove straight from there to the airport.

My vacation was a dream, there were experiences of all kinds: urban and nature experiences. I love big, bustling cities and I also like to break away from the city and enjoy the quiet of the countryside and nature.

Recommend flying to Thessaloniki – and if you are traveling in September, then take a jacket, because in Israel is still summer and in Thessaloniki autumn has already started….

Kisses, Ellada (Ilana).

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