My desire to walk around Thessaloniki, Greece was immutable after isolating for five days and nights at the Holiday Inn Thessaloniki in a city I had only seen for a few minutes at night seated in the back of a taxi. As the taxi driver drove past lighted ancient ruins seen from the road in Thessaloniki my brain and body were in shock having learned we were infected with Covid-19 during our first week in Europe .
Europe, June 2022 was our first real travel exposure to masses of people after 27 months since March 2020 practicing precautions precisely for the purpose of avoiding Covid-19 infection. Our first week in Europe during the fourth week of June came within two weeks since the city of Lisbon experienced Covid-19 infection spread considered to be the second hottest location on the planet behind Macau. Our second week in Europe was spent isolating at the Holiday Inn Thessaloniki after testing positive for Covid-19 during a virtual test required for a flight from Athens back to Lisbon.
The thought of a week spent in Thessaloniki with no photos for memories outside of the Holiday Inn hotel was too much to bear for my I-did-not-feel-very-sick-with-Covid traveler mindset.
After 6pm on a Saturday evening I ventured outside the Holiday Inn Thessaloniki to explore the city, stripped down to light shorts and t-shirt for the 93 F. temperature with a cap on my head, water bottle in hand and face mask in place. The face mask did not stay on long in the heat and humidity of Thessaloniki. I simply did not linger around any people and stayed in the open air as I made my way to the seafront promenade.
My previous trip to Greece in 2019 placed me in Porto del Colombo Hotel in Chania, Crete, once the political office of Eleftherios Venizelos, on and off Prime Minister of Greece from 1910 to 1933. Venizelos instituted democratic reforms for Greece during decades of strife when the country was polarized between politicians who favored a republic and the monarchists. The monarchy of Greece was officially abolished by referendum in 1974. Athens airport is officially named Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport.
Ladadika Quarter is an entertainment hub of Thessaloniki along a strip of streets near the seafront. This area was spared from a devastating city fire in 1917. Many of the preserved buildings of the Ladadika Quarter now operate as restaurants and nightclubs.
Capsis Bristol Thessaloniki Hotel, built in 1860, is a member of Historic Hotels in Europe. The boutique property has only 20 rooms and suites with a location in the heart of the Ladadika Quarter.
Aristotelous Square is the main city square of Thessaloniki. The great fire of 1917 provided an opportunity for the city to rebuild in a European style with city squares. Nearly 500 years of Ottoman rule had only ended in 1912. Aristotelous Square was designed by French architect Ernest Hébrard in 1918.
The White Tower is the adopted city symbol of Thessaloniki. The tower is believed to have been built sometime in the 1400s after the city was sacked by the Ottomans in 1430. Historically the tower was part of the city’s defense walls. The tower was also a site for torture and executions. These days it houses a museum on the history of Thessaloniki.
On the other side of the Alexander the Great statue there was a stage being set up, while skateboarders in another part of the site were doing tricks. There was so much happening in the open air of the Thessaloniki waterfront that I once again felt a part of humanity. Even as I kept my distance from other humans.