Day 51: October 14, 2014
I had absolutely no sleep over 24 hours. We left of flat by 3:45 a.m. to go to the bus stop. We took a coach bus all the way to Pisa Airport. We arrived four hours before departure. The plane was not filled! I guess not man people travel to Greece at this time of the year. It was only a two-hour flight which was nice. We took RyanAir. RyanAir is specially made for flights around Europe. So far Pearson is the nicest airport we have been to. The Greek airport in Thessaloniki is quite small. We took a bus into the city from the airport. It only cost us two euro each, which is still cheaper than bus fares back home. Greece was not what I expected. There are no white buildings with blue rooftops. Apparently those buildings are in the southern part of Greece. Thessaloniki looks a lot like Toronto but slightly more run down. We thought we booked a hostel but when we arrived we found out that we booked a hotel! I’m actually glad that it’s not a hostel. We won’t have to carry all of our stuff around. Another plus to being able to stay in this hotel is the buffet style breakfast. I’m excited for that tomorrow! Our view from our room was not what we thought it was going to be before we arrived. It’s dirty looking. It’s a view of run down buildings. We thought we were going to have a view of the water. Of course we would end up with a bad view but it’s pretty funny. We are making light of the situation. It’s great that we each get out own bed. We ended up taking a nap when we arrived because we were all exhausted. When we woke up we went out for dinner to get some homemade Greek good. The man who served us was from Vancouver and he was super nice. Surprisingly we found Starbucks near our hotel in which we used their wifi. The wifi is only free when you buy something. The username and password are on the receipt, but one can only use it for a limited amount of time unlike the Starbucks back home. After Starbucks we went back to our hotel to hang out and crash. Looking forward to tomorrow’s bus tour!
Day 52: October 15, 2014
My mind is going all over the place right now! I don’t even know where to start. The buffet breakfast was pretty good. I loved the rice pudding and bougatsa! Jen, Alesha and I walked around the city and checked out some of the shops. Thing are so cheap here, especially shoes. There are these really cute sandals that I want and they are only five euros! So much cheaper than the ones in Florence. While wandering around we found the sea and pier. Near the pier we found an art space similar to the Power Plant in Toronto. I am really glad that we were able to see some contemporary art here. I forget the name of the place but I think it’s the Photography Museum of Thessaloniki. We made friends with these two guys named George. Yes, both their names were George. It’s funny how we made Greek friends but no Italian friends yet. At 6:00 p.m. we met Jen’s Great Aunt Stella and Uncle Othon. We first went to a café overlooking the pier/sea. Such a great view of the sunset! I had some Greek iced coffee called frappé. It’s some pretty strong stuff. My heart is currently racing as I write this. After we had coffee we went to get dinner. We had white wine and souvlaki. I was so full from lunch that I could barely eat dinner. For lunch I had fries and calamari. The calamari doesn’t beat Cinque Terre’s.
Day 53: October 16, 2014
We woke up early to meet with Othon at the bus stop at 9:30 a.m. It was so nice of him to bus all the way to our hotel just to show us how to get to his place. He even paid for our bus tickets in advance, He’s really too sweet! When we arrived at his place Stella was inside to welcome us. They gave us a tour of their home. There is so much history in that home. Othon told us that they were the first ones to live there and they watched their neighborhood develop. Othon showed us his collection of photo albums. They are super organized! I believe he has albums from the 60s. They are organized in order and he even has an index for them! He typed up captions for the photos so they could remember. Othon also creates PowerPoints with the images and he is very proud of them. Looking at the images of Jen’s family reminded me very much of my family. It made me miss them and made me more excited to go to the Philippines in December. Othon and Stella were so kind to drive us all the way to Kallikratia Beach. Jen, Alesha and I were actually planning on taking the bus there which probably would have taken us at least two hours to get there. They even gave us a little tour of places they’ve been to and where they used to visit family. Parts of the town looked like Philippines. They had the small tight roads and homes built closely together. It was nice to see Jen interact with the places she remembered being in. I could picture myself in her shoes. The beach was close to being empty. I guess no one goes swimming mid-October. The water was refreshing. I could open my eyes under water with my contacts on and nothing would happen. No burning. No missing contacts. It was awesome! It has been a super long time since the last time I was able to open my eyes underwater. My GoPro is amazing in the water! It was such a great investment. After the three of us swam, we all went out to eat. I’m not sure why I can’t eat much here. It’s really strange because I’m constantly eating in Florence. We were all exhausted after our day was done, especially me since I barely slept the night before/morning of. The coffee and wine really hit me! My heart has never pounded so fast and for so long before. I felt like my heart was going to explode! My body was exhausted but my mind was thinking at a speed that it has never before. I’m so glad that my heart finally went back to its normal speed after we went swimming in the afternoon.
Day 54: October 17, 2014
We spent our entire day outside relaxing and drawing by the pier. I only did one drawing because I spent more of my time enjoying the scene. I actually ended up taking a nap in the sun. Alesha got a really bad tan from rolling up her leggings. It now looks like she was wearing knee-high socks. In the evening we hung out with little and big George. We went to two bars and just walked around. Thessaloniki is a small place that apparently everybody knows each other. The first bar we went to we all shared beer from this large tap. It was so cool! It’s portable and you could watch the beer level decrease as it poured out. The second bar that we went to we just got a shot each of Gin. I only took half of the shot because I wanted to be aware of my surroundings. I didn’t drink much beer at the previous bar.I forget what the beer was called but it was super light.
Day 55: October 18, 2014
Another early morning. We met with Othon for a tour around the city. Othon was so kind to come to the hotel to meet with us at 9:30 a.m. He was a great tour guide! He loves walking around. He told us that he always walks to visit his mom. He said it’s a 20 minute talk to and from her. I think it’s so sweet that he visits her very often. On the tour he showed us many churches. Greek churches are so different from the ones in Florence. We also got the opportunity to watch part of a baptism. Jen said the Greek Baptisms are two hours long! I think the tour lasted about three hours. Jen, Alesha and I were originally going to go on the sightseeing bus tour when we arrived. I’m glad that we didn’t though. It’s a totally different experience walking and seeing things than seeing them on a bus. After our tour, Othon took us to this place where Stella greeted us again. He made us salad with lemon, oil and salt dressing and Pastitsio. It was delicious! I wish I could have eaten more but I couldn’t because I was way too full. For some reason I can’t eat as much as I usually can in Italy. It’s strange. Stella and Othon’s daughter, her husband and their daughter came to visit Stella and Othon. Their daughter was so cute! I love children! She recently turned two. Othon showed Alesha and I how to add animations on PowerPoint. Othon was so kind to pay for our bus tickets ahead of time for us and take the bus all the way to our hotel just to make sure we got back safely.
Day 56: October 19, 2014
Most of the stores were closed so we just stayed in for most of the day and caught up on rest.
Day 57: October 20, 2014
Today, we spent the day shopping. Surprisingly I did not buy much. This is so unusual of me, but I am very picky when it comes to clothing. All the clothing that I liked were way out of my price range. Expensive taste. After shopping, Stella and Othon met us at the hotel. We went out to get bougatsa. They got us a plate each! It was delicious but I couldn’t even finish it :(. After that we went to eat at this place that reminded me of Burger King. I could not eat much because I was still full. I just had a small portion of salad. I’m really going to miss Stella and Othon. They made our trip! Without them we probably wouldn’t have been able to see half the things we saw. I am so grateful to have met them. They are two of the most generous and selfless people I know. I hope that one day my future husband and I will be like them. I was a complete stranger to them and they treated me like family. It was so comforting. I think I really needed that and I am really looking forward to spending my time in the Philippines with my family! Being with Othon and Stella has made me really want to reconnect with long-lost family members. Jen is so happy that she was able to spend time with them. It was so sad saying bye to them. It felt like I was saying bye to my grandparents. I hope to come back here just so I can visit them. I think they made a positive influence on my life. Being with Stella and Othon also made me want to meet more people and make friends. When I get back home to Canada I’m going to spend more time with Lolo and really get to know him.
Day 58: October 21, 2014
It’s time to say goodbye to Greece :(. We had an early morning as we had to make our way to the airport. In Greece you only have to be there two hours before your flight unlike Toronto where you need to be there three hours ahead. So we were there early and ended up sitting outside for about 45 minutes. Everything went smoothly and as planned and we got home safely. It was a good trip but I am so glad to be back home. I really missed the beautiful architecture, but I’m going to miss not having to cook or clean. Back to reality.