Thursday, June 30: Thessaloniki. Well, you might expect that a beach resort town would be underway by 9am but we had to search the entire place to find someone willing to make us cappuccino, and she had to interrupt her setting up work to do it. We packed up at an early hour (for us) and wondered what the reaction would be when we showed the manager the broken window. In true Greek spirit, he was more concerned with the cuts on my knee than the window and rushed to get some iodine to put on it. He called his boss who was supposed to “come right over” but after 20 minutes we paid for the room and left 100 euros for the repair with good feelings all around.
We took the old road to Thessaloniki rather than the newer limited access highway and found it typically empty and smooth going. After 45 minutes, we were anxious to have our mid-morning cappuccino but there was nothing for miles. After stopping three times to check out unpromising “cafes” (no espresso machines out here!) we finally came across a bakery which would not have been out of place in Athens. I selected a too-large assortment of sweets (we’d not been eating them so far):
And at least we cruised into Thessaloniki, sighting a large Carrefour and an IKEA on the outskirts. We had no idea where we should go but when we’d reached what appeared to be the center (hint: Starbucks on the corner), we stopped and checked out the hotel we happened to be in front of. We’d agreed that we though this was “the big city” we would not spend more than 60 euros for our room. You can imagine our surprise, then, when we were told that the room with double and twin beds, refrigerator, air conditioning, decent bath, etc. was 35 euros (we had said that we’d stay for several nights, which makes a difference). Sold! (We were very happy to have the extra buying power for meals! [see tomorrow!]
After we settled in, it was getting to be lunch time and we lucked into an alleyway with several bustling tavernas and an ouzeri (which, we’ve learned, serves food with ouzo). We settled for the taverna since we were not very hungry. We had some very interesting leek fritters:
and a nice version of baked feta. (We’ll be making both at home.)
When we asked for the check, we were offered dessert on the house and for some silly reason did not decline, as we usually do. Well, we got a very crispy waffle with ice cream and whipped cream: about as typical a Greek dessert as possible.
After lunch we went exploring and I found a shop which makes engraved items (irresistible to me) and decided I needed a better fob for the Vespa keys;
Deb found a shop selling all sorts of beads and purchased a fine set of coral spheres to make into a necklace of the sort we had seen in the flea markets in Italy.
At dinner time, we decided to return to the ouzeri, principally because we’d seen another party enjoying what appeared to be a cheese fondue, with ouzo to wash it down, of course. We ordered a fancy ouzo:
and one of the two fondues on the menu (the Devil’s fondue). Mistake! It was really a stew of pork, nicely spiced with real heat — but I wanted cheese!
One of the real puzzles about Greece is the minuscule size of the paper napkins dispensed at restaurants. So I decided to demonstrate the silliness of it:
Again, asking for the check produced an offer of dessert on the house but when we declined we were given two small glasses of what tasted like a cherry digestif:
Walking home, we had to marvel at the convenience of the Greek method of parking scooters: wherever you want! Here’s a photo of our Hotel Ilios with the Vespa (circled) just outside the front door (Starbucks on the corner):
[3175km; 35; 26; xx]