Edessa and Thessaloniki

Edessa

While in Katerini I made a trip to the lovely town Edessa with a lovelier waterfall. I have been to many a waterfall, and after Victoria Falls many have just been disappointing such as my experience in Switzerland.
However Edessa’s waterfall is very pleasant and what is particularly nice is the ability to stand in a balcony behind the ‘sheets’ of the fall gushing down looking over the valley. The town is a pleasant place in good weather and I would recommend visiting.

There is also a hemp factory (cannabis) which didn’t interest me to pay visit but may interest others and a Monastery (not open for tourism or it seems like that) as well as a pleasant town. At the very small railway station there is a restaurant that was very nice and by far the best I have been at a railway station. The owner himself was very welcoming and friendly.

Off the Rails

To get between Katerini and Edessa was a hassle. The train station is not in the centre but because since the economic crisis the train service has disintegrated. With no electronic announcement (at least on all my journeys) it was probably like travelling in by trains in 19th century only worse).. waiting for my train delayed over an hour with sparse announcements just waiting.. you can arrive 30 mins late and you could never been sure your train has arrived already or not..probably not in my experience.
Every journey took much longer. Travelling by Train in present day Greece is an exercise of patience.

 

Thessaloniki

If the second biggest city in Greece and acclaimed cultural capital is your destination in Greece you shouldn’t be disappointed. Filed with festivals, a long history, sea front, near to some highly rated beaches, many ancient Byzantine churches each far older than many other European countries have, the once co-capital of the Byzantine empire with Constantinople.

I enjoyed Thessaloniki and hope to return. However that wasn’t my immediate impression. The streets were congested (the traffic seemed horrendous) in the heat this wasn’t very pleasant. However once I had my bearings the city’s appeal became more apparent.

The most famous visible symbol of Thessaloniki is the White Tower. Like the White Tower (of the Tower of London) it was used as a prison and place of executions by the Ottomans. This led to it once being called the Red Tower of Tower of Blood. These days it a popular picture that forms the backdrop to many a postcard and a focal point of the city.
ThessaolonikiUmbrellaSeaFrontArt
Nearby is a statue of Alexander the Great and some other interesting installations among the seaside.
However for the most beautiful view of Thessaloniki it is probably best to head to the castle walls where there are excellent views over Thessaloniki and the cost as well as restaurants. The one I went to was good quality and fortunately not just relying on the views. I also went to a cafe where I made a new friend the welcoming Dimitra.

My visit was hampered by shoulder problems which really restricted my visit but I was fortunate to have met great people including Sta, and a great host Fotini and her equally kind friends Nikodemus and Despoina
Holy Relics of Saint DemetriusOn my first day of staying in Thessaloniki (and my second day of visiting there) I wandered around the city visiting the many monasteries and churches of which there are numerous. As an Orthodox Christian myself they had an additional appeal but even to the causal tourists some of them with have a special appeal The church of St Demetrious (Aghios Demetrios) , patron of the city is one highly popular church. The city celebrates their patron saint with a lot of festivals. In the actual Church are the relics of the saint and also St. Anysia
. Thessaloniki has many relics of saints including St Panteleimon and wonderworking icons.

A Greek Tragedy

Greece has been going through very difficult times and perhaps that is too understated. Years of economic decline has caused great difficulties and hardships. And if you talk long enough you are likely to be asked if you have heard of Greece’s difficulties and what is the situation like in your country.

This website says it all (of Greece in 2014)

In case the site is unavailable some of the statistics shown
1,000,000 people lost their job
30% of businesses have closed
38% salary reduction

190.5% unemployment increase
2 people commit suicide very day

A tragedy and with the rise of Golden Dawn although it has very little support in Thessaloniki and around there means the tragedy might not yet be over