strangelover: (Northern Greece)
It had been almost eight years since my last time in Thessaloniki, passing through on the way to Samothraki. As IAMX, one of my favourite bands, was playing a show up there, it seemed like a pretty good excuse for a getaway.

Umbrellas

A Weekend Up North )

The full set of photos are here, on Flickr.
strangelover: (Island)
Part I: Historically inaccurate statues, *actual* records and marshmallow beds.
Part II: Getting lost, wildlife and seaside towns.
Part III: An Ancient City and the City of Spice.
Part IV: Drama and the seaside.
Part V: Hippie infested beaches and tasty goat.

~o~O~o~

Feeling human again after a good night of sleep we made the most of the early morning by visiting the Sanctuary Of The Great Gods, literally down the road from our hotel. It's an amazing site, being one of the main Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries and used by a Chthonic cult, though I think thanks to Dion it lost some of the spark for me, despite the Sanctuary being at least a few centuries older. First stop was the museum, filled with various offerings and a cast of the Nike, which seemed so strange, just stuck in a corner, out of the way. We then wandered around in the heat, growling at people who chose to ignore the fact that this is an ancient site and showing absolutely no respect for their own history. {/rant} Again, lots of photographs were taken.

Sanctuary II


We spent much of the afternoon lazing around in Therma, sipping coffee and reading my book, before venturing to the last accessible beach for a few hours swimming in the (slightly rough) sea and thus, working on my tan. I saw the second of the beautiful Samothrakian sunsets, this one I managed to capture slightly better on the camera, which I have already posted. Dinner in Therma, sans goat, with a night out in the Hora, drinking and chatting with my lovely boyfriend, being served excellent drinks and great bar snacks (dried fruits and pretzels, mmmm) by the campest man ever, who happily danced to a cool jazz version of Clandestino. Surreal.

Sunday arrived, our last full day on the island. The plan for the day involved visiting the series of the Phonias Waterfalls and little else, but coffee was required first as the hotel ran out of their (possibly pointless decaffeinated) brew to go with breakfast. On the advice of friends, I wore my hiking boots, though some other (incredibly cute Spanish) girls did it all barefoot. Slightly heat-stroked, I stayed to relax by the first pool, wishing I'd brought my swimsuit, while The Boyfriend made it up to the second of the three. I have every intention to make it to the second, if not third on my next visit to the island. Several hours later (it's amazing how time really does fly), we walked back to the car and went in search of food, in particular, a specific taverna The Boyfriend hoped he hadn't hallucinated (he hadn't). We rounded off the evening with a swim at Pachia Ammos again, spending the rest of the evening in Therma at HippieVille (or Stoa, as it is actually called), drinking beer, admiring the toned hippies (how is that even possible?)

Mountain pools

Monday was a bit of a travelling blur. We grabbed breakfast at the hotel, piled our stuff into the car, killed an hour in Therma before boarding the ferry to Alexandroupoli. Planning the route back home, The Boyfriend was a tad overly optimistic, deciding we'd drive the 800-odd kilometres back all in one day. Uff. We grabbed coffee and a bite to eat in Alexandroupoli and at half four started our journey towards Thessaloniki (thank goodness for Egnatia), stopping in what is apparently goth central in northern Greece - the town of Langadas - for dinner. Back on the road, we skirted around the edge of Thessaloniki with some 500+ kilometres to go, around 21:00. Along the national road, passing by Katerini, Larissa, Lamia and Thiva, stopping for coffee and sugar fixes for The Boyfriend, along with the odd nap in various lay-bys, finally arriving home to Vrilissia and the Purr Machine, aka The Insane HouseCat at five in the a.m. It's good to be home.
strangelover: (Northern Greece)
Part I: Historically inaccurate statues, *actual* records and marshmallow beds.
Part II: Getting lost, wildlife and seaside towns.
Part III: An Ancient City and the City of Spice.

~o~O~o~

One of the good things about staying in a nice hotel is the breakfast, so The Boyfriend and I devoured various tasty foodstuffs and several rounds of coffee before collecting the car - coated in mud and parked next to a brand new, incredibly shiny Ferrari. We made our way east, the target being the town of Drama, just because.

Lakeside Drama

The town is actually quite large, with all that entails, which include trying to find a parking space rather difficult. In the end we found a council run café in a park by the Agia Varvara springs (as seen in the photograph above). It was a terribly hot day, so we lazed in the shade while sipping coffee, before wandering around the pond looking at the fish, ducks and the group of 7 year old gypsy kids smoking cigarettes. Having realised we wouldn't make it to Alexandroupoli for the 5pm ferry, we took our time, taking the scenic route to Xanthi, which involved nearing the Bulgarian border (okay, so it was still 30-odd kilometres away), stopping for a wasp-infested lunch in Paranesti, with quite possibly the largest amount of meat that can be fitted on a plate served to us. Each.

Vibrancy

Xanthi looked boring so we skirted around the edges, making our way down to the coast in search of camping sites. We found a great looking place in Imeros, but the hour was early so we carried on to Alexandroupoli in search of some entertainment. The city was filled with students, thus the bars were heaving. We found a table and grabbed a couple of beers, once again admiring the fact that women up north are proud of their curves, unlike size zero-loving Athenians. Tiredness hit and we couldn't be bothered driving all the way back to Imeros and after considering the organised camping grounds, The Boyfriend located a lonely stretch of sandy beach, pitched the tent and we fell into it. Unfortunately I'd forgotten the noise associated with camping on a beach, with sounds carried from the port it made for a noisy night, doubly so thanks to the gaggle of pensioners who argued in the sea by our tent at the crack of dawn. The answer to the problem? I jumped into the sea too.

[Continues here]
strangelover: (Northern Greece)
Part I: Historically inaccurate statues, *actual* records and marshmallow beds.
Part II: Getting lost, wildlife and seaside towns.

~o~O~o~

Day three started early, which was a theme for the holiday, as it always seems to be. We had a mighty tasty bougatsa for breakfast before making our way to the Ancient City of Dion. I think I took over a third of my 500-odd photographs here, don't worry, I won't bore you with all of them. The panorama can be clicked on to get the full sized version, which is a tad more impressive, though none of them capture the sheer vastness, both of the ancient city and of Olympus in the background.

Dion Panorama

Until the lead up to talks of this holiday I'd been unaware of Dion, but The Boyfriend mentioned it and I'm glad we took the time to visit as it was a definite highlight of the trip. The city spans about several square kilometres and was inhabited continuously from (approx.) 5th Century B.C. for a millennium. There were private residences, shops, public baths, a banqueting room (with a large mosaic still covering the floor), as well as numerous sanctuaries and two theatres. The history is just staggering and also proved (to me at least) that foot fetishism has been a long standing Greek tradition.

Tree of Dion

After Dion it was up to Thessaloniki, land of cute women, spice and amazing food. Oh, and seriously horrendous traffic problems. We stayed at the swanky, but well situated City Hotel, where a cup of tea or coffee that you made in your own room cost almost €2! Also, there was no plug for the bath, bastards. However, I loved the city and can't wait to go back to visit again. Lunch was had at the award winning Thalasses, where my seafood risotto was the best I've ever eaten, complete with scallops on the shell, giant prawns and plenty of mussels. Regrettably I was too full for dessert.

We wandered, though not too far, it was back to the hotel for a shower and then out on the town. We went to Ladadiki, which is apparently a cool and trendy area filled with bars and restaurants. We sat down where the cutest waitress was, who we managed to confuse as she congratulated us on having such good Greek for tourists. We then sat back to admire the view, along with the drinks, which were accompanied by chillies as bar snacks. You can see why I love this city, right?

[Continues here]

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