Thessaloniki. The name alone allures me. The name is so weird and awkward that it sounds so mesmerizing. The name alone is shrouded with mystery. I heard its name alone, and it felt like it’s calling me. I’m so glad I got to see it. Otherwise, it would had killed my curiosity.
The city was named after the sister of Alexander The Great.
– Statue of Alexander The Great –
A lot of its most prominent tourist spots are …. let’s just say … appealing.
– White Tower –
– Church of Demetrios –
…. Especially to those who seek historical sights.
– Arch of Galerius –
I do love that it dovetails as an open air Byzantine museum. Thessaloniki has its own construction and style that is distinct from the Greece signature of the usual all-white and blue.
– Rotunda of Galerius –
– Ancient Agora (Roman Forum) of Thessaloniki –
My most favorite is the umbrella exhibit.
Funny it was actually raining when we were there.
Thessaloniki. A runner-up to Athens as the largest city in Greece. Not as popular as Santorini. I say only close to being more charming than Corfu. Thessaloniki is not grand nor mediocre. Thessaloniki is not as chaotic as Athens, but not as tranquil than many Greece islands or villages. It doesn’t stand out. It is purely simple. Thessaloniki is not the best. It is not the worst. It doesn’t take the center stage. It doesn’t care about the spotlight. Thessaloniki is just cool like that. Just like the umbrellas, Thessaloniki feels like it always floats only in the middle… and I have a special spot for it.
I’m going to let you in on a secret… because you and I are cool. ;) There is a similar umbrellas display in Athens. It is in Syntagma Station.
Mykonos sure is an interesting place, but I’m not very fond of it. One reason why is that I found it lacking with historical sights. However, there is an even more interesting island nearby that can patch that hole.
Delos is an uninhabited island. The only dwelling residents there are remains of the past. Mind you, it gets more visitors than my crib. :D
It’s all a bunch of rocks, an archaeological site. That’s all it is, but not “just” it. People cannot live here. That’s how sacred and historically important and valued this place is.
According to Greek mythology, it is the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister, Artemi.
It’s a small island, but it’s so vast with so many archaeological findings. It’s a dwelling to many temples and statues, housing of many Greek gods and goddesses. It was a magnificent experience to see and visit.
There is an ancient theater. I always love seeing one. It always make me envision the gatherings of god and goddesses being entertained.
Delos made our trip to Mykonos worthwhile.
Before I forget. Beside the fact that no one can make Delos a home, no one is also allowed to either give birth or die on it. So be extra careful with every movement you make if you visit this island. ;)
Back in September, I was lucky to attend a two-week training class in Italy. I Didn’t let that chance to re-explore Italy to just slip away. I decided to go to a most personal favorite city, Rome, and what was a new travel destination to me, the Amalfi Coast.
I bring you …
The coastal drive to get there is a sightseeing experience on its own. South Italy Coast is just gorgeous!
There is a remarkable church behind the port.
By the time I was done roaming around, it was already getting dark. The moon made a dramatic appearance.
It made the views of Amalfi Coast even more picturesque.
Amalfi Coast, to me, is one for the bucket list, but not exactly one for the books. The coastal drive really makes up to my high expectation of it. A gratifying, dream-come-true travel destination nonetheless.
My time here in Crete, Greece summarizes a lot about growth and openness.
I found myself tapping back to being very open to people, and really build different kinds of relationships. With my line of work, where I go from one place to another, cultivating relationships is definitely a hard thing to do. Even though I know the relationships I built here won’t last, I still maintained that openness and rapport to people I’ve encountered here.
Personally and, more so, professionally, I did a lot of growing here in Greece. :) I became more of a persistent self-starter and a determined goal-oriented person. Even though I wasn’t successful to some of my goals, I still felt good with my progress. I took care of myself, and I really became much more focused and responsible than ever before.
It’s most certainly been so much fun. I loved the place, and at the same time, I loved coming to work here and the people I worked with. That is not always the case. With Crete being a very small island and that we are all away from our families and we lack the things we are used back in the U.S., it’s easier for us to bond together.
Greek culture to me has been phenomenal. Residing here for a year allowed me to delve deeper not just with the Greek culture but also the comparisons between European countries I’ve been to. My carefree and easygoing personality fit perfectly me here. :) Other people would dwell on the chaos and sloppy nature here, but me, I love it. Greeks are good people. They have their pride. They’re a little disorganized and very laidback with the way they do things. But really, they are amiable. You are very safe with the Greeks.
Greece is drop dead gorgeous! Especially with everything that goes with the water. So many pristine, crystal clear beaches to admire and dive into. Greece really turned me into a water person. It is so beautiful. It is so beautiful.
My time here in Greece is coming to an end. It’s been a great year. I gained a lot more experienced and travel opportunities. More importantly, I’ve grown so much here.
P.S. I loved my apartment. :)
More of Greece favorites…
A chapter soon to close, another one opens. Me and my girl will explore more of Greece. We’ll stay in Athens, Thessaloniki and Corfu. Very soon, I will be in Japan and reside there for 2 years.
Very Last Call ….
Happy New Year Everybody!
Top 10 Posts of 2015:
10. Unique California 2.0
09. The FIFTH Element
08. California 1 and the Pacific Coast Highway
07. Yosemite National Park
06. What’s white and blue and churches all over?
05. My Big Fat Greek Apartment
04. Omalos in Crete, Greece
03. Secret Beach in Souda Bay, Greece
01. The Best of Crete: Balos and Gramvousa
Me and my girl went to Mykonos right before the Summer ended.
I don’t know what to make out of Mykonos. I was looking hard as to why it is deemed as one of the top destinations in Greece.
I was looking hard for its character. I saw it as being generic. At first, I thought it was so mundane.
I was looking around and I couldn’t spot any hot, beautiful women around. :D ;) That actually de-energized me. I even told my girl that. :) How awful of me, I know.
Instead, I see lots of burly strapping herculean men walking around.
The main landmarks are only windmills.
You can walk and shop around Little Venice.
Even that I question because it looks nothing like Venice. They do have great Italian restaurants.
As the sun was setting, people crowded the area by the windmills. My apology for the pictures. We only used an iPad for a camera.
As we continue on just strolling around esp. when the night fell and people where heading out to party, we saw even more men. What I didn’t know and is interesting to know is that Mykonos is a place where gays go to for a vacation.
And that’s what I like about Mykonos. It gives it a different vibe, a different charm.
I maybe still skeptical how Mykonos is a well-known Greek island, but I think that makes Mykonos an interesting place to really wander around. I guess the mystery enveloping this island is part of the personality.
I think people come here with a let-it-loose, chips-fall-where-they-may attitude. And so, people who are here for sightseeing reason should come here without preconceived notion, an open mind. I was trying hard to find the character of Mykonos because I was only looking to find it on the sightseeing views. I had my blinders on. The character of Mykonos is on what it has become, the kind of people who come here and each of their own characters. Mykonos, to me, is a free-spirited place with a hidden flair.
You might get interested with these three more islands that are also part of the Cyclades ….
I only had a weekend to explore Catania in Sicily, Italy. During my short visit there, I saw it as a cross between Naples and Rome.
I was actually walking around with a very awesome travel buddy. We were in the same training class together. We talked about travel experiences over Sicilian cuisine, arancini (very popular there), and glasses of wine and limoncello. I was lucky to find a travel buddy who has itchy feet like I am and would not complain about places like Catania, places that are not exactly aesthetically pleasing to most people.
It’s quite … uhm … dumpy over there. The buildings look aged and uncared for. But if you can be open minded and really look pass the … uhm … “greasy” layer of the buildings. you can still notice how magnificent the architectural designs of the buildings are no matter how battered the appearance is.
The city looks so unorganized. Dysfunctional. It’s noisy. It’s clammy. It’s mucky. It’s busy as heck! And to me, it looks so alive … so liberating.
And despite it’s chaotic nature, the historical side of the city is so evident everywhere.
They have an elephant statue, an elephant!, standing as an emblem of the city. Something that is so uncharacteristic of Italian culture.
You can still drive a little further and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Catania may never be a contender for the cleanest, most organised city, but to me … I was soaking in the chaos surrounding me as if I was lying down a peaceful meadow. I was loving the moment of being in a city full of everyday people living real everyday lives.
All images are taken with an old Nokia phone.
South Italian Coast is gorgeous! …and that’s putting it lightly.
We were ooh-ing and aah-ing inside the bus. It certainly took my breath away.
Last September, I was blessed to revisit Italy once again after five years of ever dreaming of coming back. I had two weekends in Napoli. I decided to travel to a familiar place, Rome, and a place that I didn’t get to see before, Amalfi Coast.
It’s cheap transportation too! The fare from Napoli to Sorrento is only about 3 Euros. Then the tour bus costs 16 Euros to and from Amalfi. So that’s about 22 Euros of transportation expenses in total. I say not too shabby for such incredible views and travel experiences.
And, you can visit Sorrento and Positano all in one.
The road is narrow, winding and steep! I recommend just taking one of the tour buses or having an experienced driver to take you there.
If you’re ever in Southern part of Italy, a trip to Amalfi won’t be a disappointment.
The drive there is an unforgettable sightseeing on its own.
I’ll show you Amalfi Coast on a later post. Here’s for now…