40:34.462N 22:56.745E Thu 22nd June 2017
We did spend two nights in Nea Skioni, not doing much other than getting a bit of exercise, but really putting off the evil hour of arriving in the heat of Greece’s 2nd largest city. We allowed a couple of days to get to Thessaloniki as there was no wind forecast and we didn’t relish the long hours of motoring. So we set off on Thursday intending to anchor overnight outside a port roughly half way. We did indeed start off motoring, but after a couple of hours the wind started up and we were able to sail close hauled (into the wind) for 2 hours. Unfortunately by the time we got to Nea Moudhania the seas were pretty rough making the anchorage outside the harbour untenable. We could have gone in, but the port didn’t sound very special and what would be the point sweltering in a harbour when there was a by now a lovely brisk wind outside? We couldn’t sail at first as the wind had veered so it was almost on the nose, but after an hour we were able to switch the engine off and sail away close hauled again with reduced sail in nearly 20kts of wind. The coast into the Gulf of Thessaloniki is quite complicated, with several headlands and shallow, sandy spits sticking out, but we had a great sail until 30 mins from port (when the wind just stopped). Following this coastline and with the wind strength and direction changing, it was a very busy afternoon on sails and sheets. Goldcrest showed off her capability but we arrived at 19.30 feeling pretty bushed and very hot (sea 26.3°C, air mid 30s). This is our first real marina for some time; it’s quite basic (one loo & shower for each sex), but it has electricity and tasty water (unlike the stuff we had on the islands – presumably desalinated).
We are in a bustling suburb of the city here with plenty of good shops, bars and restaurants, many of which overlook the marina. After spending two days on chores and stores to get ready for our Aussie visitors, we took the bus into the city centre last night once we felt it might be just about cool enough. The half hour bus ride was a pleasure as it was just about air conditioned, but the streets and sunny port side of the city were still extremely hot well into the evening. We had a brief walk around and then made for a recommended and very popular spot for a meal of really delicious mezes (like tapas) and excellent jugs of wine. Afterwards we strolled along the very long quay with what seemed like the entire population of the city on this bustling Saturday night. Thessaloniki is not that big, but it stretches out a long way along the waterfront and has a university, so is full of young people. We walked to the most famous landmark which is the fifteenth century White Tower, very tall and imposing with a grim history behind it. We should probably have spent a lot more time exploring the city, but temperatures in the high 30s and other sights to see curtailed that idea. Tomorrow we are off to visit the rock monasteries of Meteora and the royal tomb of the Philip of Macedon by hire car, so will be off the boat for a couple of days – maybe no bad thing as they are forecasting 40C+ mid-week here!
Enjoying a glass or two in the port area:
Street scene in the old port area:
The white tower and a crowd of locals: