Venue: Blagoevgrad, Thessaloniki and around
Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4
Music: Christos Kyriazis – Epimeno ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzVGYjVMhkU)
Thessaloniki, or as Bulgarians call it Solun, is the main city in North Greece and is only a 4-5 hour drive away from Sofia. This makes it a perfect long weekend destination for Bulgarians that want to enjoy some great sea views and food. Strangely enough I myself had never spent much time in Thessaloniki and I’m glad I had the chance to go there in the first days of spring. The population of Thessaloniki is a bit less than a million people making it very lively and culturally eventful place that in the same time is not too big to be hard to navigate around. It is a typical Mediterranean city that reminded me a bit of Naples and Barcelona, but with the slight twist added by its position on the Balkan peninsula. Probably most importantly of all (for our purposes here) Thessaloniki is just amazingly photogenic, as I hope to convince you with the photos below.
We start our photo trip from Blagoevgrad, a small student town that is the centre of the Bulgarian region of Macedonia. We decided to spend the night there on the way to Greece and found it eerily empty on a Friday night, probably due to a university spring vacation.
The old town in Blagoevgrad was also very quiet and dark in the clear starry night, transporting you back at least 150 years or so.
The next day we arrived instead at the Greek part of the Macedonia region and its respective main city, Thessaloniki. The first few hours were spent around some old Byzantine fortresses and religious buildings overlooking the Aegean Sea.
The side window of one of the many beautiful churches. This one is Hagia Sofia, bearing the same name as the famous one in Istanbul and the slightly less famous one in Sofia.
Not sure what the signs here mean literally, but its the place in the church where you can take and light up a candle in exchange for leaving some money. Greek people are quite religious so most churches were full of people on this Saturday afternoon.
Moving on to the more modern sights in town: this is the entrance to the old dock area that is now converted into a place with a few bards and restaurants as well as some museums. I don’t know who made the small heart but it looks somewhat similar to the works of the urban artist Invader.
Inside the photo museum, whose exposition was dedicated to the recent migrant crisis and the hard life of the thousands of refugees from Syria and the Middle East traveling to Europe.
On the side of the photo museum people seemingly had much less problems and enjoyed the sunset sea views.
The empty streets later that night when climbing the slope of one of the older neighborhoods of Thessaloniki. These small hilly streets were quite a struggle for the car, but truly beautiful and atmospheric for an evening walk.
The big prize of climbing the hills was the view from the terrace of the place we rented. Not that they need any extra advertisement, but sometimes using airbnb can be really spot on.
The next evening during the walk downhill with beautiful old houses and blue Sunday sky.
Among all the other things, Thessaloniki is also a great place for street art with some truly amazing works.
Back to the city centre where street art gets mixed with old Byzantine ruins and more modern city architecture.
A fast stop for a bougatsa, or as we call it banitsa, a cheese-filled pastry. This small but famous shop offered also some sweet varieties that were really tasty.
The umbrella installation on the sea promenade in Thessaloniki, probably the most popular place for selfie lovers and Instagram addicts.
And of course also Guinny came with us! He quite enjoyed the view to this little yacht port and the amazing octopus dish at the sea-food restaurant right at the port entrance.
We just couldn’t get enough sea food so we also stopped at a less fancy psarotaverna (fish tavern) for stuffed calamari. Many of the people around decided to make photos with the sunset which in turned helped me make some contre-jour photos of them.
Somebody had just left their socks and sneakers on the side of the restaurant. A good opportunity to test if it’s true that everything looks great with the sea and the sunset on the background.
This fishing boat, together with the two floating ones on the top photo, did indeed look great with the sea and the sunset.
“The Old Man and the Sea.” At least its Greek version on the seaside street to central Thessaloniki.
The seafront promenade seen from a slightly elevated public place where locals like to hang out.
More people enjoying the warm spring Sunday on the seafront street stretching for 5-6 kilometers from the centre of the city to the suburbs.
The umbrella installation was looking a bit more creepy and jellyfish-like in the evening.
The big monument of Alexander the Great, the famous king of Macedonia.
Another landmark of Thessaloniki: the White Tower, notorious for being a prison during the Turkish rule of the Balkans.
The alluring front of a very cool store selling all kinds of nuts and candy.
The numerous bars right at the seafront street were all completely packed with people. Given the very high prices and the great number of people going out (both relative to the Bulgarian standards) I can only conclude that the economic crisis in Greece is long gone.
The next day we had to already go back to Sofia, but had a short time in the morning to visit the beach at one of Thessaloniki’s suburbs, Agia Triada (not Rio!).