I haven’t been to Thessaloniki properly for ages. I only went for an afternoon a year ago and only for an hour a month ago (which really don’t count as a visits in the proper sense of the word).

The the last few times I did go for a visit I was staying up above the city or in the suburbs not in such places that identify as truly Salonican… 

One time I had really enjoyed my stay there..I had gone up there with a cousin of mine from there and her husband and they had put me up where they lived…Many years ago I remember that they had given me old copies of the well known magazine “Parapende” (five minutes to the hour) that they didn’t want anymore. My cousin’s husband had a coffee shop in the central vegetable market of Thessaloniki and unfortunately I hadn’t had time to go there..I think they divorced years ago. Shame- they were a nice couple.

After staying with them they took me to my godfather’s place and I stayed with them for a few days.

I was upset with my godfather when I was a child. He had really disappointed me..but that first night that I stayed with them I forgave him for everything..it wasn’t his fault or his wife’s for that matter…they live in a dream world the Salonicans..I came across this mentality with another friend from up there…

Anyway…I stayed at my godfather’s house in Filiro..I remember it was beautiful there and I remember they had a lovely field and orchard there with his brothers. After this period they stopped talking to each other I think..but those days I spent there I enjoyed a lot. I was about 15 years old then…

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. School, University, Work, lovers..I lost contact with the cousins and my godfather and godmother .. and now I found myself in the city for a few days for work…I saw very little this time..well, due to work, a bad cold and the lousy weather I didn’t get to see much at all of the city.

I found the city very grey. Like it had lost a little of its past glamour. Or maybe it never had any glamour and I just remembered it that way..I don’t know.. And Athens due to the crisis has become very grey and empty although it is starting to get better now. I think Thessaloniki will need a little time to get back to where it was.

We stayed in the western section..not in a chic neighbourhood..maybe that’s why..maybe because all around us on the weekend the closed shops and shuttered buildings added to the grey atmosphere. At least the Airbnb we stayed in was wonderful..

It was owned by a German, seemingly, who comes to town often and decided to rent it out when he’s not there.

I think that all things play a role in a city’s history and from what I have read about this city’s truly long and not always happy history, it was at the crossroads of eastern and western civilisations.

It was one of the main stops on the famous Egnatia Rd of the Romans, almost the capital of Byzantium, occupied by the Normans, the Turks and in 1912 was surrendered to the Greek forces during the Balkan War and had, at that time, 75,000 Jewish inhabitants, 45,000 Muslims, 5,000 Levantines, and only 25,000 Greeks.

In 1917 the Great Fire destroyed half of the city, and in the second world war out of a population of approximately 50,000 Jews only 2,000 returned to the city from the concentration camps and from wherever that had fled.. Sadly 12,000 Salonicans worked with the Germans to carve upon the property of the Jews who had left the city.

And other types of beauty and grey. I wonder sometimes when they say Erotic Thessaloniki.. why do they call it erotic?.. Rather catastrophic,black and a bad city I would call it..And that wind called “Vardaris” which blows in winter I don’t see it cleaning it up..

Luckily at one point the sun came out and I saw a happier and brighter multi-coloured side to the city…

Published in GREEK JOURNEYS

Greek mythology is wonderful!

Apart from all the strange names which we use to name our children I have to say for the children it’s not such a good thing…

Greek mythology is something like children’s fairytales for instance, Red Riding Hood is not really appropriate for children and is more suited to adults than children.

It’s the same with Greek mythology..

For instance take Danaos… he had 50 daughters..Yes…50.from 10 mothers..so each mother bears five daughters, the Danaides. One of them called Amimone is married to Engelados and she kills him during the wedding night, the same happens with all her sisters who kill their husbands also (they all got married on the same day) because all of them got married to the 50 sons of Aegyptos who happened to be the brother of Danaos; so they all married their first cousins! And the knives were provided by their father Danaos…..

And another nice twist to the myth, out of the ten mothers, nine have names that we know about apart from the tenth who was black and she remains nameless…who knows why?

See all the story of the myth here.

 

OK so what has all that mythology have to do with Nafplio?

When the the Danaides arrived in Argos, the city had a problem because Poseidon had dried up all the wells in the city. So the Danaides showed the population how to dig wells for water and Poseidon showed Amimone the location of the springs of Lerna while saving her from a Satyr who tried to rape her. In order for Animome to thank Poseidon she had sex with him and bore him a son called Nafplios and this is the start of our story.

So Nafplios was the founder of Nafplio the harbour city for the city of Argos and was founded in the 7th century B.C.

It started to be developed around the 11th century A.D. but the Crusaders came in 1210 AD and destroyed the city.

After that the Franks and the Venetians and the Turks….

The Nafplio we know today is with the old city built during the Venetian period of occupation.

In 1540 the city was surrendered to the Turks (the Ottoman Empire) who awarded the city many privileges and it had developed greatly by the 17th century. After the Venetians invaded again and then the Turks took it back and it suffered a decline.

After the Greek revolution of 1822 it finally came into Greek hands and became the first capital of the modern state of Greece from 1827-1834.

After the assassination of Kapodistrias in 1831 in Nafplio the newly appointed German King Otto arrived from Bavaria in 1834 and then the capital moved to Athens.

And after all the invaders came the tourists…and so they should, as Nafplio is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece that one could visit!

For the best places to see and go to in the city and surrounding area see here

I hadn’t been there for many years until a few months ago. I like how it has turned out very much. It’s quite touristy but has retained it’s beauty while catering for the influx of tourists. I would like to go back for longer to enjoy it more!

Published in GREEK JOURNEYS