12 June, 2016 - Thessaloniki N 40:34.524 E 022:56.731

Charles & Maggie Bevis
Sun 12 Jun 2016 18:10
News from Thessaloniki

We arrived here on Friday after two days sailing from the island of Skopelos.  Having waited there for the wind to change we set off early on the Thursday morning and had a brilliant sail making a steady 5.5 to 6.5 knots with our hydrovane rigged and doing all the work.  After some discussion we decided not to sail overnight but to alter course toward the Cassandra peninsula and a little fishing port on the West coast called Skioni where we would spend the night.  There were no yachts or commercial traffic in sight all day and when we reached Skioni there were only 4 other yachts in the harbour.  It was a lovely day and we berthed uneventfully after a 9 hour crossing. An early bed was followed by an early start to complete the passage to Thessaloniki next day.  We will take time to explore this place on our way back from Thessaloniki.  

The following morning there was not a breath of wind when we we left at 07:30 and we motored across a sparkling flat calm blue sea.  As the day wore on the southerly wind returned and we motor sailed down wind with just the genoa set.  The self steering does not care much for motor sailing - the rudder rattles and frets in the prop wash - so we stopped and took the rudder off half way.  

We arrived off the marina(s) at 17:00 but failed to raise our preferred destination on the radio so we went into the bigger more commercial marina.  Forty two euros a night was a bit of a shock!  We haven’t paid that much since….? (can’t remember)!  Actually as there are no showers or loos it is too expensive.  Charlie went round to see our preferred marina on the Saturday morning and our request for a berth was referred to the president of the operating club.  Three hours later we received his reply, a straight forward “No” and the call was ended - even though we knew from Charlie’s earlier reconnaissance that there were plenty of vacant berths.  Still, it’s their marina and he is the boss! It’s at this point that we all wondered how they can possibly afford to turn away visiting yachts, especially knowing that Greece remains in dire economic circumstances!

So with that settled we took ourselves off into the local town where we found a huge market selling enough fresh produce to fill several supermarkets.  We staggered back to the boat with our purchases and then stepped ashore again to see the sights of Thessaloniki, or Saloniki as the locals refer to it.  A half hour bus ride to the city centre cost the princely sum of 1 Euro pp each way.  

The city is built around the head of a large bay with an attractive water front and a vibrant young people’s cafe culture.  It seemed strange to relate to this and accept the news that day which featured the English football hooligans in Marseilles!  Then you think we are having a vote as to whether we want to stay in Europe - we are lucky they don’t just throw us out!

Upon returning on what is a very speedy bus journey, (you wouldn’t want to get in the bus drivers’ way I can tell you), we called in at a local bar for a refreshing glass of wine, but were rather surprised at the price we had to pay as we hadn’t paid that amount for wine for quite some time.  Charlie returned to the boat a little earlier as he had a job he wanted to do, so Maggie and Ann stayed on and ended up chatting to twins Ethan, Dimitri and his girlfriend Catherine.  All graduates and all unemployed.  The lads had worked in Brighton for 3 years but were called back to do their military service for 2 years.  Unfortunately, neither has been able to find work since and not surprisingly, they are desperate to be able to leave Greece and find work elsewhere, how to afford to leave remains a sticking problem for them all.  They spoke good english and were good company, so they’re coming for drinks on board this evening and no doubt we will end up putting the world to right again for a couple of hours.  

When all is said and done Saliniki is just a big city.  Loads of shops for the girls to drool over.  Charlie has been unable to find a boys-toy shop so far (hardware shop to the uninitiated).  The search continues on Monday.  The two representatives of the fairer sex are gearing themselves up to find a hairdresser on Monday. 

As we, (er I should say Charlie) has now managed to adapt the hose connection and acquire an adapter for the electric, we have spent today doing laundry and absolutely everything from bedding, clothing, cleaning stuffs. mats etc.,  is now sparkling clean, dried and put away. 

History lesson:

The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassandra of Macedon.  It was an important city in the Roman period, and was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430, and passed from the Ottoman Empire to modern Greece on 8 November 1912.  The city is home to several Byzantine monuments comprising a world heritage site.  The city had a large Jewish population who had earlier been expelled from Spain by the Christian rulers.  After Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire it made the Jews full citizens of the country in the 1920s.  However, when the Germans occupied Greece in 1941 they persecuted the Jews as they had in other parts of Europe.  In 1943 they forced the Jews into a ghetto and started deporting them to concentration and labor camps, where most of the 60,000 deported died.  This has resulted in the near-extermination of the once vibrant and cultured community. Only 1,200 Jews are said to live in the city today.

End of History lesson

Charlie is off to Lidl to investigate the wine situation and continue the search for a hardware store.  We have some bits on order from the local chandler for delivery on Tuesday morning but we will be making our exit from Saloniki shortly thereafter.

We are sure all of you in the UK are heartily sick of the continuing media coverage of Brexit.  Young people here have no qualms at all in telling us their views - get out and do it now!   We think there is more to it than that and we found the guidance given by Martin Lewis’s guide on how to vote in the EU referendum – in or out? to be well written and intelligent.  If anyone is still undecided, it’s a good read and may prove useful.  Charlie is voting in but Maggie is undecided.  Charlie sleeps better having made his mind up while Maggie lies awake pondering, listening to his lordship snoring and gets cross!!

Happy Birthday to Lottie for 10 June, we were thinking of you and happy birthday to Andy for tomorrow (13th).