I photographed our apartment Saturday, and then we walked a different way to the store to explore the neighborhood more fully. It’s called ‘Ano Poli’ meaning ‘Old Town.’ It’s quite charming and pleasant, although does have quite a bit of graffiti—-it is said that many ‘leftists’ live here.
When we got home, Burt got busy cooking octopus. He tried a new method (from what he used in Sicily) which involved ‘seething’ them—-they are put in a covered pan over very low heat with two tablespoons of water. Reddish colored juice comes out (which is discarded) and they are tender in a half hour, ready to spice and eat cold as a salad.
The following day it was our intent to visit the Jewish Museum. The Jews in Thessaloniki have an interesting history. They were the Sephardic (meaning Spanish) Jews that got kicked out of Spain in 1492. Many came here to settle and became one-third of the population, along with Christians and Muslims, who lived together peaceably until the 1940s and World War II. There is a large Jewish Museum that sounds very interesting.
Unfortunately, that day was election day—-both state and local, and so the museum was closed. So we moved on to a Turkish (Muslim) site, called Bey Hamam. It is the oldest Turkish bath in Thess, built in 1444. And unfortunately IT was also closed as it was completely under reconstruction.
And that’s not all. When we bought croissants the other day for our breakfasts, we mistakenly got them with chocolate in the middle, not our favorite, at all! So that morning we decided that we would walk up to ‘our area’ where there is a bakery that makes the BEST croissants, and buy some for the next couple of days. We would get them put in a box, and Burt would put them in his carry bag, which we would then carry to see the two sites that we intended to see. Well, bakeries are NOT open on Sundays, which this was, and so NO CROISSANTS!
Defeated, we taxied home and consoled ourselves with gin and tonics on our balcony, in beautiful weather, watching wonderful balloon-like sailboats on our bay!
Since no museums are open on Monday, we hung out at home——watched BBC and DW, the two English channels on TV (you do get a different picture of the European news than we get at home), walked up to the supermarket and bought some pork, which Burt cooked lovingly with potatoes and onions, had our gin and tonics on the balcony and then watched “Suits” on Burt’s computer (Netflix) in the evening.
Tuesday was our last sight-seeing day (we reserved Wednesday for organizing and packing) so we made quite a big day of it. We started with the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, a beautiful building built especially for this collection. The building was
the best part of the display; although we enjoyed the contemporary art, also. There
was a special sculpture in the courtyard called “Umbrellas” by Zongolopoulos.
From there we looked in on the Church of Panagia Chalkeon, a red brick church from 1023, although it was closed. Still, the exterior was quite stunning.
Then, we finally got to the Jewish Museum, a beautiful villa, nicely preserved.
There were gravestones from a cemetery on the first floor, and a timeline on the 2nd floor that was very interesting. Still, the most interesting thing about this museum was the security. The door was locked and we were let in by a very muscular man, who kind of ‘looked us over.’ There was a police kiosk outside of the front door; the ticket seller was less than cordial. There were no photos allowed. Apparently there is again some anti-Semitism going on, and they must be careful.
The history was interesting—-Jews first came to Thess in 315 BC, with another wave coming from Spain in 1492. Then in 1943, 49,000 of them were sent on cattle trains to Auschwitz by the Nazis to be exterminated. Many locals seized their property. In the museum there was a memorial wall patterned on the one in Washington DC for Vietnam vets that listed all the names of the exterminated Jews from Thess in 1943. What a sad museum.
After we had a lovely Greek meal in a restaurant across the street—-fish soup—- and then taxied home.
Our last day in Thessaloniki we took it easy, enjoying the perfect weather and the lovely view. Around 1:00 we meandered down to a nearby restaurant (Brusco’s) and had a delicious meal.
We had fried goat cheese with macadamia nuts and sesame seeds, sausages, and lamb meatballs, all three dishes with lovely sauces. Yes, lots of protein, but a few greens, too, and each a draft beer. What a lovely walk in the sun, both going and coming—-
back home to organize and pack.
The next morning we had a bit of breakfast, finished putting the apartment to bed and then Kon came to see us off in the taxi that he had arranged.
We flew to Amsterdam, staying overnight again in that peculiar hotel; then flew home the next day, where we are now. It was a lovely trip——we really enjoyed Thessaloniki. Roger and out——
Carol and Burt