Greece was not part of the plan. I wanted to stay where it was cool in the mountains of the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) but after being served kebab for the umpteenth time, I turned to my husband and we knew exactly what we had to do. That is how we found ourselves rumbling along into Greek’s northern border, without map or plan, being lured solely by the promise of wonderful Greek food.
In our air-conditioned jeep, we were oblivious to the temperatures creeping up outside and by the time we reached Thessaloniki it was a balmy 40°C in the shade. Our hotel room wasn’t very much better. Apparently the management failed to mention the little problem of the cooling system, figuring we would stay after lugging up all our bags. What did seem to work all too well was the curious gadget in the lobby bathrooms whose purpose was to save energy but in reality left patrons in the pitch darkness at the most inconvenient time. The only way to get the lights back on was to wave our hands around disco-tech style making every visit there an event to remember.
In any case, the heat left me catatonic, like a lump of clay but less active. I was unable to be enthusiastic about anything except watermelon chocolate chip ice cream that melted so fast it practically vaporized. Even the motorcycle cops wore their helmets around their wrists as they zipped along nonchalantly instead of risk steaming their heads off. Despite the heat, the Greeks don’t complain but instead drink bucket loads of ice cold frappes and get on with their lives. So after our bodies became acclimatized to the new weather, we were ready to explore the city.
According to Peter Minaki, who writes the famous Greek food blog, Kalofagas, Thessaloniki has a more diverse culinary scene than other parts of Greece. I would have loved to have met him but unfortunately (for me) he was enjoying himself in Halkidiki when I decided to pop in for a visit. He did give me a few helpful suggestions “You should visit the market and the White Tower”. And that’s exactly what I did, stopping at ice cream shops, cafés, bakeries, restaurants and bagel stands along the way. Greek food is definitely worth the extra 20 degree load if not more.