Greece Part 2 -Halkidiki, Thessaloniki

I left the last one on a bit cliff hanger (see Getting Greasy in Greece – Part 1) so hopefully I don’t disappoint.

It’s hard not to believe in fate when certain opportunities present themselves in your life. Like when you have your whole Euro trip planned from start to finish, but decide to ditch the plan half way through to go on an adventure with an Italian.

Well, that’s exactly what I did when I ran into Leo at my hostel in Athens, not more then 3 days after I met him in Ios. For some, having everything planned out is the only way they can travel. Not knowing where you are going to sleep at night, or how you’re going to get to your next destination can drive a person crazy. But for me, it sounded like an adventure I couldn’t pass up. I enjoyed one awesome day exploring Athens on Monday, before ditching my flight to Warsaw Tuesday morning. I was ready to start this new adventure with my new partner in crime.

We show up to the bus station at 11:50pm to catch a midnight bus to Thessaloniki, only to find out the bus is full. Turns out Leo’s sense of urgency is worse then mine, so we didn’t feel the need to buy tickets online, or get to the bus station early like a normal person would. But, as luck would have it, two people didn’t show up for the bus and we were next in line… so onwards to Thessaloniki we went!

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“What’s a Thessaloniki?” you’re probably asking yourself. Well don’t worry, because I was asking myself the same thing before I got there. Thessaloniki was the first place I went to that was ‘off the beaten path’ so to speak. It’s the second largest mainland city, located in the north of Greece. Turns out it’s a pretty awesome place, with a huge student population, and lots of history. It’s also the place I met a few more interesting people…

The first night here, Leo and I stayed in separate hostels because neither had space for two people. I met another solo traveler, Gene, and the three of us explored Thessaloniki the next day.

I get back into the hostel room after a long day, and I met our new roommates. That’s when things really changed. Enter Alanna and Masa. Two girls from U of T, travelling Europe together. Turns out they were planning on going to Metéora in a couple of days, and so were we. So what did we do? We rented a car, and travelled together for the next 4 days.

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The Italian duo quickly became the… Fantastic 4? The A-Team? No, no, I think the Channel 4 News Team suits us best!

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We started our adventures together with a night out in Thessaloniki. Alanna and Masa were meeting a number of their Serbian girl friends that night. Leo and I were VERY disappointed to be surrounded by 7 beautiful women the whole night…………………………  Most of the photo content is not available because pictures in clubs never work out, but I did manage to get one photo that pretty much captures the excitement of the night with our new friends!

The next day, we were all nice and hungover for our 3 hour ride to Metéora. Metéora, which loosely translates into “middle of the sky” or “suspended in the air”, is home to ancient Greek Orthodox monasteries dating back to the 14th century. What makes it so unique is that these monasteries were built on top of giant boulders (small mountains). It’s said that they built these to hide out from potential Turkish attacks on Greece. They created retractable ladders, which were the only way up to the monasteries at the time.

Anyways, if you ever find yourself close to the north of Greece, I highly recommend checking it out. It was easily one of the coolest sights I saw – as it was a combination of natural and man-made beauty all in one:

After crushing a mid day beer with a late lunch, we were all amped up for another 4 hour drive to our next destination, Halkidiki. But we had to make a pit stop on the way for Ouzo and Melons:

Halkidiki is a popular beach destination for the locals of Greece, and as a result there weren’t very many people who spoke English. Take for example the lady who ran the hotel Leo and I stayed at. Every time we tried to ask her a question, she would just laugh hysterically, and mutter something in Greek. We were at a crossroads. She didn’t speak any English and we didn’t speak any Greek, so it made getting the wifi password from her quite challenging. Turns out the place didn’t have wifi anyways… But who needs wifi right? We had one full day here so we spent it tanning and swimming at a local beach called Ethnik, where Gyro’s were only 1.50! 13717292_10207453240669520_6899107868815546875_o

We continued our Halkidiki experience with a night out on the town, before heading back to Thessaloniki to drop the rental car off. We were 3 hours late dropping the car off, but Leo managed to flirt our way out of paying much extra. I think it had something to do with his fashion sense.

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And then it was time to say good-bye to the girls! We had to finally part ways in our travels, but I think we all left with some great memories and life lessons we can keep with us for life.

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#thanksgod #refertorulenumberone #71 #Halkidiki #Thessaloniki

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