03 January 2010

New Years in Thessaloniki

After returning from New York, Kelly and I headed straight out on our New Years trip to Greece via Bucharest (more on Romania later).

Our destination was Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece and the largest port in the north. Its a great gateway to the Balkans and you can catch trains to almost anywhere, including the overnight to Istanbul. It is also supposedly the hippest and coolest city in Greece.

After checking into our hotel, we went out exploring. It was late afternoon and all the cafe's and bars were hopping. It seemed like everyone was gearing up for a big New Years Eve celebration.

First stop was to find a restaurant for New Years eve dinner, which we accomplished in record time. Then we walked along the waterfront and soaked up the sun. It was nice and warm, 65F, a pleasant change from the weather we had left in NY and Vienna.

Then it was time for a quick snack before our pre-New Years eve celebration nap.

It came as no surprise that Kelly ordered....a Greek Salad.

I gambled, and lost, when I ordered the mussels in white wine sauce. It was delicious but the mussels themselves were gigantic...which kinda grosses me out. Also, Kelly and I had watched two shows on TV the night before in the hotel....Fear Factor (where they ate cow eyes) and a show on the Sea Slugs of Palau. The combination of these three events lead to me not enjoying my meal....but the beer was good.

above, Giant Greek Mussels

After a short rest and nap at the hotel, we headed out for dinner at 9pm.

Our New Years Eve dinner was a several course affair at a charming little Greek restaurant with live music to boot.

Our first course was a delicious mushroomy-peppery soup

Second course was a salad, garnished with pine nuts, oranges and pomegranate

and then the main courses...

I had Beef, potatoes and rice
Kelly had the Giant Pork Leg !

We threw back a couple bottles of yummy local wine, and we were primed and ready for Greek New Years ! (or tripping and smashing our faces on a curb)

We left the restaurant at 11:30pm and made our way to Aristotelous Square, where there were crowds gathering. People were singing, banging on drums, dancing....New Years approaches!

Then nothing.....

There is no official countdown, no fireworks....nothing.

At around Midnight you see people start kissing and hugging....and leaving.

We were like, "What the"

So we headed into one of the Cafe's along the square, where there were loads of empty seats (weird) and got some Champagne.

We had a good laugh and a very good time in Thessaloniki. It really is a great city with lots to see.

No time to dilly dally though, the next day we were heading off to Athens !

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