Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Greece - Thessaloniki

Dedicated to the Only Internet Cafe I have seen after three hours of walking...

Which pleasantly enough is playing good music!

My God the bus trip out to Greece from Istanbul was boring. 14 hours and interminable waits at border crossings, and no-one who spoke English on the bus. The dry wheat biscuits they provided only transcended boredom. They were so bereft of interest that the void in itself became fixating. It was almost Zen.

I found a basic budget hotel fairly close to the bus station shortly after midnight. It was the Rex. Next door was the Vergina. In between was a strip club, across the street was an adult shop, and the only person on the street was a homeless man with bare feet and a huge gold-foil wrapped cross hanging from his neck. It was an atmospheric location.

By morning Thessaloniki really livened up. Although all the signs are in Greek, most people speak some English at least. Locals even asked me for directions, which my 5-year old map fortunately provided. It's a refreshingly clean city, with fresh air that smells like bakeries and souvlaki spices. There are lots of fashionable shops and well-dressed young people, Byzantine red brick ruins, open plazas and traffic that stops regularly for pedestrians.

I'm now going to find a post office to send all my Turkish acquisitions to Cairo. I've been carrying them around all morning in a crumbling plastic bag, and will be happy to send them off. Next stop then, the museum, the youth hostel (for tonight) and a travel agent to find out how to get to Meteora.


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