The sun was out; the sea was blue and downtown Thessaloniki walkable. It was so clear we could see Mount Olympus, which we were informed was a rare sight. With sunshine and warmth in January, we did what all good tourists do and walked the seawall to the White Tower, paid our fee and discovered that all of the museum information was only in Greek. Ultimately, that didn’t matter as the sea view was perfectly blue and calming.
The Archeological Museum, our next stop, was more helpful, using multiple languages. Being well-traveled, we passed by the points of history already familiar from travel and of course, took careful note of gold and jewelry styles. Further history was postponed. Sun and sea called out in a way pot shards and mosaics could not.
Lunch on the seventh floor of our hotel, with a sea view and a glass of bubbly was a stronger lure than touristing. In full sun and in a spot protected from the wind, our conversation fascinated me. Being North Macedonian, my friend had an interesting perspective on the explanatory materials in the museum. She pointed out language that shifted the cultural emphasis toward Greek origins and away from the Macedonian heritage.
By the time we visited several Byzantine churches and got to the Rotunda of Galerius it was closed for the day, so we put it on the next day’s agenda. Sunset brought the winter chill quickly, so we went back to the hotel to refresh and choose a restaurant for the evening meal. We were both in a mood for lamb, which the Greeks do a great job cooking and an equally clear job on the menu listing “Lamb from the oven.” It was fabulous especially with a nice bottle of Greek wine.
Along the way in our wandering, we saw a number of Byzantine Churches, notably Agia Sophia and Agios Dimitrious. Those, along with the Rotunda of Galerius made it amply clear that humans repurpose to fit their current beliefs. The Rotunda grew a Christian church. Agia Sophia, like Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, served more than one religion. We humans are a practical lot in that way, and also an intolerant lot when it comes to assuming our current beliefs better than those held in the past.
Sunday evening, we were glad our driver was early as with sunset came the cold. We had dinner at a Macedonian winery on the way back to Skopje. Along with the bottle of wine was a fun girlfriend conversation about actors and athletes we thought good-looking. I did perhaps convert her into becoming a tennis fan when we watched Tsitsipas play for the Australian Open title. He didn’t win the title, but he did win our girlish hearts.