Day 13 - Thessaloniki

Aristotelous Square, Thessaloniki

Aristotelous Square, Thessaloniki

My last full day.

I woke up later than usual, opened the windows to my hotel room and it was raining. No need to get a jump start on the day. I managed to make it downstairs at my hotel in time for breakfast. Greek yogurt with honey, bread and jam, coffee. I had a lot of writing to catch up on, so I brought my computer to the lobby and had more coffee and wrote for a couple of hours. I love that I'm keeping this blog alive, but it's a labor of love. There are so many details to get down and I know I'm failing at getting all of the tiny, interesting ones, but those are the ones that will stick with me outside of pen and paper.

As I sat there sipping my cappuccino, I received a phone call from Elena, my grandmother's sister's daughter. I was going to meet up with her and her husband Dimitris for dinner. Another set of relatives I'd never met before, but who were nevertheless thrilled I was in town and excited to meet me. We decided on a place and time to meet, down by the harbor in the same neighborhood I'd gone out to the night before, so at least I felt like I knew my way around, even a little.

The rain let up and I went out. I walked back through Ladadika towards the harbor. I walked past the location I would meet Elena at later. Full disclosure: it was a Starbucks. #Merica I had no real plan in mind for the day. I enjoyed window shopping (lots of fabric and craft stores - not sure why) and peopel watching.

White Tower, Thessaloniki

White Tower, Thessaloniki

View from the top of the White Tower

View from the top of the White Tower

Scary tiny doorways inside White Tower

Scary tiny doorways inside White Tower

Fried cheese wrapped in filo? Yes, please, forever.

Fried cheese wrapped in filo? Yes, please, forever.

I headed toward the White Tower, which used to be a prison and stood with water surrounding it. I walked to the top and took in the view. Pangs of hunger hit me hard. Should I go to the museum? Nay. I went to go get food instead, of course. This was my last full day! My last full chance to fill up on saganaki! I walked back toward Ladadika and strolled by the restaurants. I settled on one and ordered, you guessed it, fried cheese. This time, it was fried cheese wrapped in filo dough. I have no idea how the Greeks pulled that one off, but it was delicious. As were the olives, my last. I was also served bread (obviously) and a tomato paste. I don't know what I was supposed to use the tomato paste for, but I put it on my bread and all over my cheese, so fresh and delicious. Naturally, a beer accompanied.

What to do after that? I went back to my hotel and took a nap. Being awake is hard work.

I woke up and got ready for dinner. It was unfortunately raining again, but not too hard. I didn't bring an umbrella (I hardly even bring an umbrella in my own country), but I just put the hood of my sweatshirt over my head and was fine.

Starbucks. 7:30. Elena and Dimitris showed up. I'd only seen pictures of them on Facebook, but thank goodness for that. Technology, I'm telling you, it's amazing. They welcomed me with open arms and hugs. Everyone keeps telling me how much I look like my grandmother, which is a compliment. She was beautiful. Elena even told me my laugh reminds her of my grandmother, which I didn't see coming, but that works too.

We went to a restaurant right on the waterfront that they used to frequent frequently. Shared a salad and a bottle of wine and I had my last lamb of the trip - a perfect meal to end on. We talked about family and filled each other in on what we do in our day to day lives. Elena was on a trip to Greece when she was 32 and never returned back to the states. Instead, she married Dimitris. Such a romantic story. I told her I'm 32 also and she said, "Dimitris, who can we introduce her to after dinner?" It was then decided that a man living in London would be just perfect for me. I see a bit of a geographical technicality there, but hey, I'm game.

image.jpg
Ladadika, Thessaloniki

Ladadika, Thessaloniki

We walked around and went to the port where there are warehouses that exhibitions take place. Nothing was open, but it was calm, quiet and the lights of the city next to the water were beautiful.

They drove me back to my hotel. "Remember you always have family here," she told me. We talked about my next trip back because one day was not enough. I'm happy again to have people somewhere who are family and caring and want to connect.

Did I go upstairs and go to sleep? No, of course not. This was my last night in Europe for who knows how long. I found a nearby bar, met a Greek boy named Nicolas and enjoyed the evening.

When I got back to my hotel and set four separate alarms on my phone. One cannot miss their flight back home... can they? That's not insinuating I missed my flight, but I was definitely settling into this nomadic, foreign life. I'd be sad to leave it in the morning and return to my life back home.

image.jpg
Lamb, of course over a bed of chips. My last supper.

Lamb, of course over a bed of chips. My last supper.