Arrival in the bus station in Thessaloniki, Greece bring some new things: a new alphabet, a Greek Orthodox church, with lit candles in a corner of the station, and a Mediterranean climate (though not necessarily Mediterranean weather). The temperature is around freeing, but it feels at least a touch warmer that Skopje. We bring our things to our room at the fairly upscale Stay Hostel near the neighborhood of Ano Poli. After a few hours on a bus, we were ready to eat something, and after years of eating prepackaged gyros from Aldi, we were ready to eat something Greek. We asked the man at the reception desk for the best gyros in the neighborhood, and he delivered (on the promise, not the gyros themselves), pointing us to a place that I imagine is called something like “The Gyros of Aristotelus.” The menu and signage was entirely in Greek, but we were able to order “one pork, one chicken with everything,” and the men understood well.
When we returned to the hostel with the gyro bag, the receptionist’s face lit up and he gave us a big thumbs up, clearly more excited for us than we were. In the fifth floor common room, we nonetheless tore open the bags, ravenously sinking our teeth into the unwieldy pile of meat, french fries, tzaziki and vegetables, wrapped in a warm pita. Somehow, we did not expect this. In Europe, all food tends to be around 105 better than in the United States, according to my speculation. Ingredients seem fresher, cultures richer, and, of course, the American palate is not being appeased. Thus, I expected a slightly better gyro than those at the Greek-American diners that seem to, somehow, be more ubiquitous than Greek-Americans. I was wrong, the Greek Gyro (it is only fair to consider this meal a proper noun, as it is a more than proper meal) is an impressively delicious meal, especially since it costs less than a few Euro. The five-dollar foot-long, both literally and figuratively, pales in comparison, its faded meat and wilted vegetable incomparable to the gyro’s Greek features. It is the Adonis of sandwichdom.
That night, it appeared as though we were going to be the only ones in our room, as we were sharing a common room with only 3 or 4 other people. I stayed up late, getting ahead of some of my homework assignments, and hopped into bed around midnight. Not five seconds after I had brought the blankets to my chest, the door unlocked and a young woman walked in. In the few hours we’d had at the hostel, we had spread out more than anyone should in a hostel, given the likely possibilities of sharing rooms. After all, that is the point of hostels. We scrambled to move our things to accommodate the woman, and quickly went back to bed. From then on, my father seemed a little bit more uncomfortable staying in hostels with rooms containing a large number of beds, and advocated more actively for private rooms. As a ‘broke college student,’ living an ‘active traveling lifestyle’ in an effort to ‘meet new people,’ I opposed these actions whenever possible. My argument is as follows: he made his bed by agreeing to go on this trip with me, now he must lie in it. Even if that bed is a dorm-sized cot filled with three Turkish teenagers, all hogging the sheets.
We awoke early and the woman was gone. A light flurry was dusting some of the buildings downtown, and was expected to grow into a heavier snow by the afternoon. We grabbed coffee and some pastries on our way to see some of the churches, bath houses, and Roman miscellany scattered across the city. The most interesting highlights were the rotunda, a Roman place of worship dating back to the early 300s AD, and the White Tower which was constructed under Ottoman rule in the late 1400s or early 1500s. These were especially great as the snow got worse, as they provided refuge and, in the case of the White Tower, heat.
after showing them two student IDs and my current winter course listing online (shoutout to Manchester Community College). We walked to a cafe nearby, I did some school work, and my dad and I played some backgammon over tea for a couple hours.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.