Larry and Mindy לארי ומינדי


So before Pesach, we took a brief trip over to Thessaloniki, Greece. We have travelled to Greece several times, but this was our first visit to Thessaloniki. We were looking forward to seeing the Judaism-related historical sites there such as the Jewish Museum, the synagogue, and several old Jewish-owned buildings that have been converted into museums.


We arrived in the evening, so after a good night’s sleep at our lovely out-of-town hotel, and a wonderful breakfast of fresh vegetables and fruits, we headed out for the city. 

Above: the view from our hotel room. On a clear day, we would be looking here straightat Mt. Olympus - about 80 km away.

We understood that street parking was difficult in the city and it was best to park in one of the city’s parking lots. We read online about one parking lot that it was open every day, except for Greek Independence Day. Sounds good. So off we go searching for the parking lot.


While driving through the city just after 10am on a Monday morning, we suddenly noticed that all of the stores in the city were closed. We also noted that there seemed to be an unusually large number of Greek flags out on people’s balconies. We couldn’t find the exact parking lot we were looking for but found another. Out of curiosity we asked the parking lot attendant, “Excuse me, but when is Greek Independence Day?” His reply, “Today.” We reiterated, “No, when is your Greek Independence Day?” And his steadfast reply – “It is today.” Unbelievable – no wonder the flights and hotel were so inexpensive -all the museums, stores, and markets were closed!


Not to be deterred, we sought out every single outdoor site in Thessaloniki and walked the city all day long.  Thessaloniki is very similar to South Tel Aviv – graffiti and all. In fact, both Athens and Thessaloniki appear to be the graffiti capitals of the world!


We did manage to see one very significant site to Judaism, by peering over the wall, and that is the old train station from which the Jews of Thessaloniki were deported to concentration camps. Some of the original cattle cars were still there. A very sobering sight.


Also just like Tel Aviv, even when all the store and markets are closed – the restaurants are open – and packed. We walked around the amazing Ladadika district, which is absolutely stuffed with restaurants and had a fabulous vegetarian meal. The restaurant next door to ours had a sign in the window, “בואו לאכול פה?


That night we decided we had enough city wandering for two Galilee folk and headed out the next morning for a day trip to the lovely town of Edessa. The landmark of the town is its gorgeous waterfalls – the highest in the Balkans, and all the beautiful water paths that run throughout the town. We were mesmerized by the natural beauty of the cascading water and were also able to walk under the falls. In addition, there was a stalactite/stalagmite cave (with signage in Hebrew!), a water museum, a folklore museum, an old neighborhood, and - but of course – an amazing restaurant ?


On our third day we headed to Chalkidiki. This is a local resort region south of Thessaloniki, encompassing three peninsulas and many lovely beaches. As March weather will have it, most of the day it was raining, but we enjoyed the views from our car windows including the canal we passed over to get to the region. 

Unfortunately in Chalkidiki the restaurants were all closed. (Chutzpah, no?) So after our beautiful drive, we headed back towards Thessaloniki and came upon a lovely out-of-town restaurant in a seaside village called Epanomi. It was a family owned eatery – third generation – and the charming owner catered to our every culinary requirement.



Would we go out of our way to travel to Thessaloniki again? No. Turns out we are just not city people. But to the Greek Islands? In a Heart Beat .

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