E.N. Story

A city as sweet…as a Bougatsa!

Everybody knows the North’s erotic city, either because they have visited it and left with the best of memories, or because they have heard about it from acquaintances, family and friends. And that’s why, whenever someone asks “Where are you from?” and we say “Thessaloniki”, the reaction is always the same. “Ah Thessaloniki, it brings back memories!”. The truth is that everybody wishes to return to it someday and if they haven’t visited it, they surely want to do so, in order to create their own unique story. But, Thessaloniki is the city that also brought to life our story, the idea and creation of Travelen. This is where our travels begin and end. This is where our life started and where it goes on.

“In an open and heart-felt way, just as it suits her”

Either you are a visitor or a resident, life in Thessaloniki is full of surprises, like the wind of Vardaris, every time it comes around town. You never know whether it will be on sunny days and it will cool you off, or cold days with humidity, when it can pierce your bones. Nevertheless, the Nymph of the North, even in low temperatures, greets us with a sunny smile on most days of the year, while she welcomes the night with an enchanting sunset. Copying the method of the sly wind, you never know where this city might lead you, but she will do it in an open and heart-felt way, just as it suits her. The only thing that you have to do is relllax and follow its paths.

The cosmopolitan city of Thessaloniki has always been a crossroad of cultures, arts and tastes. Since its foundation and up until today, it has always embraced and been inspired by new cultures, lifestyles and culinary discoveries. So, from the city center to her most remote neighborhoods, it is very easy to notice her pluralistic form. On every step we see streets, squares, alleys, monuments, buildings, markets and temples of unique historical, architectural and religious significance, with each one leaving its own mark. The White Tower and the castles are the city’s hallmarks, Kamara is the students’ lair, the markets and squares work as meeting points, while the port and seafront are ideal places for walks and love confessions.

“My beloved scooter-rides are always on schedule”

The best way to discover all the sides of its personality is to walk and explore it. And do not think that the city is so small that you could just walk all of it. That’s why there are buses, taxis, the Cultural Route and the Hop on Hop off tours, which can transport you to any side in a faster and more relaxed way. Now, for the cycling enthusiasts, the city has 12km of bike lanes. But, in Thessaloniki, a ride with the safe two-wheeler can be called anything but safe, as some “too-cool-for-school” people park on the bike lanes, crossings and ramps, while pedestrians walk in them all carefree. Us, however, you are going to find on a motorbike, as my beloved scooter-rides are always on schedule. Firstly, because Nikos is driving and little Helen is zoning out, and secondly, because it is the fastest way to move around in the city, especially when there is traffic (almost always). Unfortunately, it will not take you long to realize that in Thessaloniki, as in most cities in Greece, road education is almost non-existent, that’s why you should be careful, no matter which means of transport you choose.

“These are the Thessalonikians…Outspoken, fine people and revelers.”

Thermaikos’ Siren has more “traps” in store, so if you are not careful, she will lure you and seduce you before you have time to realize it. For starters, she will use her strongest weapon, her people. Not to brag, but we Thessalonikians are, mostly, hospitable, polite and open-hearted. Just a smile or a word is enough to get you in the company and become one with the “kardasia”. You will recognize us by our body language, loud conversations, heavy “L”s and the dose of madness that we carry. Even in times of trouble, we do not get discouraged; we live every moment and keep on partying. These are the Thessalonikians…Outspoken, fine people and revelers.

You got it right! Entertainment for Thessalonikians is a way of life, it flows through our blood, just like coffee. Excuse us, our Italian friends, but the city has the most cafés per capita in Europe. No matter where you are, a frappe is always called for! But, in order to enjoy it, you must follow our ritual…you will drink it slowly, even if you take it to go! The beloved beverage stays with us all day and it is something like Asterix’s magic potion. It gives us strength to start the day, it accompanies us to work, walks, and all the endless friendly (and other) conversations and, of course, it provides the necessary energy to all of those who want to turn night into day.

“There is always something to catch our noses”

Thessaloniki is a vivid city, bustling with people throughout the whole day. Stores, malls, theaters, cinemas, exhibitions, museums, festivals, events and happenings, make everyone’s daily life more interesting and vibrant. If you think that the city shines only under the light of the sun, then you haven’t experienced its magical nights. Bars, clubs, taverns, music stages, “rempetadika” (small taverns with traditional, Greek folk music) and the epitome of entertainment, the immortal Greek bouzoukia, compose the night life puzzle! For any of you who do not know what bouzoukia is, just close your eyes and imagine the scene…Greek music, dancing on the tables and stage, relaxed mood, much alcohol and an endless flower-shower that skyrocket the level of fun until the morning. This is the night life in the city. So simple, yet so complex, that it will manage to win your heart…before you even realize it.

If after all of these, you haven’t already fallen in love with it, then it plays its trump card and puts true love on the table…Not this one…the other one, which goes through the stomach! The Greek cuisine is based on the Mediterranean with lots of influences from the East. The choices are endless; from street food, grills, gyros and burger shops, to taverns/fish-taverns and gourmet restaurants. Thank goodness for gyms, so we can eat freely…um, I meant drop a few calories. Every time we return from a trip we say “now we go on a diet”. All in vain. From the break of morning to the night, there is always something to catch our noses’ attention, as the smells from bakeries, sweet shops and eateries emerge as temptations. Try sweet bougatsa with cinnamon, crispy koulouri with sesame, filled tsoureki, appetizers at some tavern in Athonos Square or in Ladadika, taste the juicy souvlakia and then tell us whether we are exaggerating or not. So, for the foodies among you, brace yourselves with appetite and off you go!

Thessaloniki, on first sight, does not seem much different from the other big cities of Greece. Only if you look at it clearly and live a few moments there, will it reveal its unique identity and take you on an unexpected journey of history, entertainment, tastes and enjoyments. Do not pass it by, come and discover it and you will realize that it has a lot to offer you…in return, of course, for a piece of your heart and mind. We are waiting for you, Kardasia.