The Greek Convention was lovely. I have come to the conclusion that I need not do everything nor meet everyone…Quality, not quantity. I left and stayed with my friend Godfrey in his flat in Athens for two days and am now in Thessaloníki, which is not Athens.
Although there are some lovely Byzantine churches, fantastic museums, and first rate AA (in Greek), this city is kind of a dump. This is not its fault, however. The place was a jewel up until 1944 when the allies bombed the living be-Jesus out of it. After that it was rebuilt along the same lines as any post-war system of blocks and concrete, as if a giant child was erecting a small city on the sand. What remained of the ancient burg still stood until 1978 when a large earthquake rattled the ancient bricks and mortar, shaking down the city yet again. The remnants of both of these tragedies are still visible, especially in the Old Town area and some spots along the port. UNESCO is funding a lot of renovation and the city is installing a metro system, as there is no mass-transit except for buses, which seem to be reliable and timely.
My hotel is opposite the train and bus stations and occupies the type of neighborhood typical of that geography. The Hotel Rex (138 Euros for 3 nights, including breakfast) is clean and neat, and the door to room #601 locks tightly. The water is hot and I have a superb view of the busy street below from my small terrace. On either side of me are the type of establishments that make this part of town the garden district–a Sex Shop on the left and a Strip club on the right. In fact, the bass reflex from the strip club can be heard faintly at night as I lay my head on my pillow. Still, the area seems safe enough…
I’ll be buying my train ticket to Skopje in about an hour. I leave for FYROM tomorrow at 4PM and I will be happy to be back on the road. I’ll be at work by next weekend and grateful to have a place to hang my hat for a while and stretch out my washing line.
On a sad note…I was hoping that Cyprus would be picked for the finals of Eurovision tonight, but no dice. There are some really wacky combos up on that stage.