Solo Travel – Thessaloniki, Greece

Solo Travel – Thessaloniki, Greece

Is it weird to go to a place because you want to try food at a certain restaurant? 

Ok, yes, I hear you it’s odd. However, I’ve taken to the eff it why not mentality since covid. Actually, I started following chef Vasilis Chamam during covid on Instagram with every intention of eating at the restaurant in London he worked once restrictions were lifted.  Then he moved back to the city of his birth Thessaloniki. 

I love Greece but had never travelled to the North so let’s do this 2023. In the first week of June I packed my bag and jetted off to Thessaloniki.

Travel

London to Thessaloniki is around 3.5 hours. My flight from Heathrow felt like a flying crèche. Thessaloniki is the hub for getting to the white crystal beaches of Halkidiki which is where the flying crèche were going. There are lots of all inclusive resorts and apparently stunning but it was not to be on this trip.

5 days in Thessaloniki from Thursday late afternoon to Monday lunchtime. As ever I didn’t check what was going on. I don’t really plan my adventures aside from hotel accommodation. I should have because it was Whit Monday holiday weekend and a national holiday in Greece. It wasn’t mega busy.

My first hotel was The Colors Hotel and I was put in the superhero room. It had tiny balconies and I wanted to stay the entire weekend but only got two nights there. It is in a great part of town. It’s not on the harbour front and honestly, even if I had the money, wouldn’t pick to be on the harbour front. It is constantly busy and noisy. Soundproofing is not high on the to do list in Greece. Having said that in the Colors hotel, I didn’t hear a peep and I was on the 4th floor with a sea view if I leaned.

It was clean. The front desk was great and very knowledgeable and welcoming. I would stay there in a heartbeat. It’s right in the old town and just so utterly lovely.

On Saturday I moved to a different hotel called The Modernist which isn’t far away. Thessaloniki is small. It’s just off the main square. It’s high tech and I was upgraded to the 7th floor with full on balcony with furniture. My neighbours and view were pigeons.

It was a little noisy with the lift being so close to my room. I liked it but I preferred the Colors Hotel.

Transport

Don’t waste money getting a taxi from the airport. The bus cost €1,80 from the airport one way. Otherwise, for all other journeys, it is €0,90. The x1 is pretty regular and takes the main road into downtown Thessaloniki. It is clean and safe just remember to stick your ticket in the little Orange machine to validate it.

Touristy sites

So Thessaloniki was part of the Ottoman Empire for decades and so a lot of time it feels like Asia Minor and sometimes you’ll hear it referred to as that. It also had a huge Jewish community. Both of these communities have left their mark on the cuisine. There are lots of churches, the old medieval walls and White Tower. This city is also closely connected to Alexander the Great and I walked in his father’s footsteps by going to Odessa to the ancient hot springs that I bathed in at Ponza and then took in the 13 waterfalls in Edessa. The day trip is €50 and well worth it.

The sites in Thessaloniki you can do in a day. I got on the little hop on and off bus.

Food

Well, when you travel for 4 hours to try food they better bring it and Poster restaurant really does but before that.

Charoupi

This is the jewel in the Thessaloniki crown and the food was stunning. I was told that Cretan food is having a big revival at the moment. They were lovely and said they would charge me half price if I wanted to try a few dishes. I had the Spring vegetable dish. If I could eat that every day I might actually turn vegetarian.

Then, shock shock horror I had the liver dish as recommended by the server. It’s the stuff of nightmares since school dinners but honestly, this dish was off the hook. I ate every morsel it was delicious and left me thinking about how I might recreate it at home! Yes, it was that good.

The dish I wanted to try the Cretan wedding risotto wasn’t great.

Then I was given free mastic to drink – delicious.

Stou Mitsou

A Taverna in a market that was packed at 10pm and is known for its meze dishes. Again the salad was great but the fish dish was not so good. 

Poster

Again, the aubergine dish for the win with real bread ( I cheated and it was so good) and aubergine in a tahini dip. It was standout and then desert which was also great but tipped me over the edge.

Gyros

Obviously, chips and grilled meat had to make an appearance. I went to the place with the biggest crowd and it was so good.

 Shopping

It’s good and cheaper than in London so I bought sandals, clothes, and food items. I can’t enough of mastic which comes from Crete and of course tahini. There’s even a tahini shop that sells that and halva!

I’d definitely recommend Thessaloniki as a city break – I’d say 3.5 days is more than enough. It’s much less touristy than Athens and feels more authentic in some ways.  It allows you time to soak up the city and do a day trip. I speak five words of Greek and I got by all on my own. You’ll be fine in hotels and major restaurants but will struggle in local tavernas and coffee houses. Just do what I did smile, point and keep saying thank you, efcharisto in Greek!

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