Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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To Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Greece, Monday, 04 January 2010 9:00pm

A direct train is a much nicer way to travel than four bus connections, not surprisingly. I sat down in my seat at about 7:50am in Kalambaka, and stood up at 11 in Thessaloniki. Sadly, I didn't nap much along the way, and was really tired through most of the day.

I checked in to my hotel, across the street from the Roman Agora, and then headed out to walk around the city a bit. Thessaloniki feels like a real city, not like a town. It also feels much younger than the rest of the places I've visited on this trip. Lots of chic restaurants, cafes, and bars, posters up everywhere for concerts and dance clubs (there was actually a Speedy J show that I would have tried to make it to, except that it's tomorrow night, when I'll be on a train), clothing and shoe stores (I saw one devoted to galoshes!). A surprising number of lingerie shops, for some reason.

The highlight of the day was dinner. I'm not sure why, but almost from the moment I walked in to the restaurant (Myrsini), I was smiling. The place had a great ambience: a low-key buzz of people chatting and enjoying themselves. The food was very good. I had phyllo pastries filled with slightly sweet cheese, a greek salad with a big slab of fresh feta, and a delicious rooster dish served over house-made pasta and sprinkled with cheese. It was so tasty that I ate until I was uncomfortably full, and had to decline the dessert menu!

The waitress was very friendly, translating each dish in the main courses section (I was able to find exactly zero of them in the culinary reader section of my phrasebook. I was unable to even determine what meat they were), and making good suggestions. The other server didn't see this going on, and spoke to me in Greek throughout the meal. Apparently I've gotten the pronunciation of the few words I've picked up right (mostly "efkaristo" = "thank you"), and know when to nod, because he apologized at the end of the meal for mistaking me for a Greek, first in Greek and then in English, after I apologized for not understanding what he'd just said in Greek.

It's nice to be traveling in a place where I can at least pronounce all of the letters in the alphabet. I'm starting to be able to read as well, or at least work out the sound of the word I'm looking at, even if I don't actually know what it means. And quite a few of the words have obvious English relatives.

I passed by a shop recommended by the guidebook that sells Trigonides, cream filled pastry cones. Luckily, the were closed. I think I would have exploded if I'd eaten one of those after that dinner.