Thessaloniki, also known as the "Bride of Thermaicos" is the capital city of Macedonia in Northern Greece and the major port city of the Thermaic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. Situated at about 520 km north of Athens, Thessaloniki is a bustling metropolis which bears the marks of its stormy history and is noted for its cosmopolitan character. Thessaloniki is also the host of the International Trade Fair and the International Film Festival held annually. What's more, the friendly, hospitable people have won my heart. On our holiday in Macedonia, Alkis and I spent three wonderful days in Thessaloniki. We stayed at our favourite hotel – Mediterranean Palace – a fine five-star hotel with reasonable prices, situated in the city centre.
DAY 1 – Monday, August 10
Thanassis, my brother-in-law, drove us to Thessaloniki from Serres. I was a bit disappointed because he didn't have lunch with us as he had to go back to Asprovalta where his family were spending their summer vacation.
Having checked in at Mediterranean Palace Hotel in the city centre, Alkis and I decided to have lunch at one of the many restaurants at "Ladadika". Well, it wasn't the best option but that was very near our hotel. In the afternoon, we had coffee at Aristotelous Square and then I shopped till I dropped! Poor Alkis! He was exhausted at the end of our shopping spree.
When we got back to the hotel, I realised to my horror that it was 7:30 pm. At 8:00 pm, we had arranged to meet Alkis' cousin Antonis and his wife Irini, at the bar of the hotel for an aperitif before going out for dinner. Alkis had a quick shower and was ready by 8 o'clock. He was such a darling! He didn't shout at me. He only said: "I'll be at the bar with Antonis and Irini. Please, don't be late." I was 20 minutes late! I apologised, of course, but Antonis and Irini gave me such a warm welcome and made me feel comfortable. We had a great night out in Thessaloniki!
DAY 2 – Tuesday, August 11
In Thessaloniki, we met Alkis's cousin Antonis and his wife Irini and we all set off to Veria and Edessa. First stop: Panagia Soumela on the outskirts of Veria.
The monastery of Panagia Soumela (Virgin Mary Soumela) is very close to the village of Kastania, near Veria. It was built in 1951 by refugees from Pontos region that were trying to revive the monastery of Panagia Soumela, which was built on the mountain Mela near Trapezounta. In the monastery of Trapezounta was the miraculous painting of Virgin Mary Soumela. According to tradition, it was painted by Evangelist Luke himself. From the monastery, it was transferred to the Byzantine Museum, but when the monastery in Veria was built, it was transferred there. Since then, thousands of people have been travelling to the monastery to see the painting. In the monastery, you can also see a variety of ecclesiastical and historic relics and artefacts from the Greeks of Pontos region that were saved and brought to Greece. Special celebrations take place every year on the 15th of August, the day of the Assumption of Virgin Mary.
We had coffee there and then drove on to Edessa - the capital of Pella in Central Macedonia, Edessa is renowned for its waterfalls. We stopped for lunch at Edessa Waterfalls.
DAY 3 – Wednesday, August 12
Antonis and Irini picked us up soon after breakfast and set off for the Blue Lagoon Princess Hotel at Kalyves, Halkidiki – one hour drive from Thessaloniki. This is where we met our good, old friend Andreas Christodoulides, who is the manager of this amazing hotel resort. Both Alkis and I were so glad to meet Andreas after such a long time!
Kalyves Beach - Halkidiki
DAY 4 – Thursday, August 13
Thank God, I followed Alkis' advice and packed soon after our trip to Halkidiki. The two of us had a late night out in Thessaloniki, which left me reluctant to get up on Thursday morning. Finally, I managed to wake up at 8:00 am and after a hearty breakfast, Aegean Airlines safely flew us back home.
This was yet another fantastic holiday in Greece.