Thessaloniki | 3 Chilled Days in Greece’s Food & Coffee Capital

 

Aristotle Square, Thessaloniki

There is plenty of history in Thessaloniki – it’s one of the oldest cities in Europe, being founded in 315 BC by King Cassander of Macedon (I wonder if Jesus had heard of it?)

Visiting feels like wandering around inside a relic – but in a freer, more bohemian way than Rome, and a less pretentious way than Paris. Students are everywhere, and they’re all artistic, musical or dramatic. They look vibrant and full of life. They eat big sandwiches in groups on street corners, and laugh with all their teeth showing. I love that about it – there’s a clash of historic and modern, all swirling together under the watchful eye of Mt Olympus, which you can see from across the water.

I arrive and know I love this city, before I’ve even had my first coffee there. But of course, our first stop is Coffee. We arrived on a Saturday morning, fresh from 3 days sun seeking in Vourvouro on Halkidiki. Lucky for us, Thessaloniki is the home of the café frappé – and so it took us less than a minute to secure a chilled caffeine fix and spend 30 mins people watching before seeking out our Air BnB. They ask “would you like your coffee sweet?” and don’t flinch when I practice my extremely broken Greek to tell them yes, please, and I know I’m home.

The city is small, so everything is in walking distance except for the fortress (and even that is if you don’t mind a hill). The smallness of the city meant our Air BnB (Constaninos Place) was perfectly located for great restaurants, bars and nightlife but also quite tranquil. As it was a penthouse apartment, it was also extremely peaceful on our private terrace – which turned out to be the perfect place to enjoy a few hours’s afternoon sun and a few glasses of Mavrodaphne (which, by the way, you absolutely should drink).

The hotels are clandestine – you don’t really notice them as you wander around the main areas – except for the Electra Palace, a flourish of a hotel off Aristotle Square. It’s impressive, and so are the views from their sun terrace – but don’t be fooled into staying there. It’s a little stuffy (we stayed on our last night) and there are much more comfortable places at much better prices. Their breakfast, however, is wonderful, and they do have free Turkish delight in the lobby, so…

Port, Halkidiki

The Food in the city was incredible, which is literally what we came for, and which is also a little suspicious because everywhere was good. Personal recommendations include a cafe frappe and bougatsa for breakfast (treat yourself, get it with honey and cinnamon), a byzantine beetroot salad for lunch and mussels with rice for dinner. Thessaloniki is a port city, so get the fish. Every time. The fish market is fantastic and has an amazing variety, and most restaurants have beautiful signature seafood dishes. Like Vanilla Risotto. Weird but delicious.

Towards the port authority building is a crooked nest of restaurants, plazas woven together by cobbled streets – this is the good stuff, and where you should eat all your meals. Friendly stray dogs snooze in the sunshine while Greek couples smoke lazy cigarettes and pick at leftover red snapper. The balloon lady circles past one too many times. You can smell the sea even though you can’t see it – and it feels so Greek you almost mistake yourself for a local as you sip your carafe of house red. As you leave these places, you hope you get hungry again soon, just for an excuse to go back.

Best dining in Thessaloniki

If shopping is your thing, Thessaloniki has it – but nothing majorly artisan. If, for some reason, you want to fly 4 hours then shop the same stuff you can get at home in Zara, H&M or Foot Locker, then this city has what you want. It also has what you want if you’re after willy shaped pens or fridge magnets – but that’s a byproduct of tourism.

We spent 4 sweet, sweet days there in April and I can’t wait to go back – until then I remember it like I was temporarily authored into an exquisite poem where a young couple enjoy luxuries far beyond their means, and the twist is that those luxuries are simple stuff like time together, good wine and excellent food. And sunshine, because everything is nicer in the sunshine.

Kitty

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under My Life

5 (Really Easy) Ways I’m Reducing the Plastic in my Life

Plastic Free Grocery Shop

For a long time, reducing plastic has been on my radar – a vague mission I’d never had the energy to put into practice. I’m rarely one to get involved with a bandwagon but, with the ever increasing visibility, and ever increasing volume of the plastic-free movement’s voice, I figured this was one trend I’m totally into following.

It’s hard. The modern world just isn’t geared up to help us be plastic-free, but the good news is that increased coverage of the importance of reducing plastic waste is paying off – its becoming easier to take baby steps towards being plastic free/reducing plastic. And for me at least, baby steps is best – you can’t always make a huge change at once.

Here are 5 things I’ve been doing recently to reduce the amount of plastic in my life (note: I don’t want to say “plastic free” as, right now, that’s an unrealistic goal, for me).

Buying vegetables locally

It’s really handy to pick up veg like cucumber and bagged salads when I’m cruising in Sainsburys, but the amount of unnecessary plastic is sinful. Recently I found a greengrocer nearby that sells naked cucumbers, fresh salad unbagged and jarred snacks like salted fava beans. I still pick up any loose veg I can get in supermarkets (onions, carrots, mushrooms, toms etc) but go to my local greengrocer for everything else. It’s a little more expensive, but its also all organic, locally grown and you can taste the difference. And they save their salad greens for Brian

Cutting down on Online Shopping

I like to shop online now and again, but recently I’ve noticed an obscene amount of plastic involved (and I don’t even buy that much). So I decided to head back to the high street – and I’m loving it. For starters, I’m saving money on shipping, but also getting to try things on, check material labels (ecommerce, why aren’t you showing us material contents?), try my luck in charity shops and use my own canvas bags. I’m finding so many bargains too, today I picked up some black Converse All Star Dainty pumps for just £10.50 brand new from The Outlet PLUS they disposed of the box for me so they’d fit in my bag. Another unexpected plus side is that I buy less, because I can’t actually be bothered going into town to shop unless I really need something…

Bringing a Bottle, Cup and Cutlery

Yep, I’m now the kinda girl who has a travel mug, water bottle and full set of cutlery rattling round her handbag (and subsequently, a massive handbag). It’s so handy though and I know how clean they are and I’m never in a position where I have to use those rubbish picnic cutlery sets, or buy an emergency bottle of water. Most cafes will fill up your water bottle for free (or if you buy a piece of fruit or something – and we could all eat more fruit) and every single coffee shop I’ve visited in the past 6 months has been happy to fill my coffee cup. Easy.

Using Up, Recycling, Re-purposing & Replacing

It was so tempting, when I started thinking about plastic, to throw away all the plastic stuff I have and replace it with non-plastic versions. How stupid is that? I’d be creating a problem in the name of solving the problem. Instead, I’ve decided to carry on as normal, and only when something needs replacing will I switch it up for a plastic free version. This will apply to as many items as possible – and so far its proving interesting, as it’s encouraging me to research products before I buy them.
Wherever possible, when a plastic thing I’ve got stops being functional for its main intent, I’m trying to give it a new job – like using a lunchbox with a lost lid, or some staining, as a plant pot. If I can’t find a new job for it, I’ll drop it at my local recycling center.

Homegrown tumbling tomatoes

DIY and Growing my Own

Guys, I love little tomatoes and strawberries and fresh herbs for cooking – and I used to buy all those pre-packaged spices in shrink wrap, and strawbs/toms in those weird plastic coffins almost daily. Now I have a couple of hanging baskets producing amazingly luscious fruits & a modest but prolific herb garden out in our back yard – I’m saving a bit of money and everything tastes 10x better knowing its home grown.

I’m also thinking about getting back into knitting and learning to sew – that way I can pick up old woolen/cashmere jumpers in second hand stores, unravel them and re-knit into something more my style (because somehow I never find things I just love) and make minor repairs on fashion instead of throwing it out.

Wow, this turned out to be a really long post. But those are 5 of the things I’ve been focusing on turning into a habit, in the hopes I can reduce plastic from my life. I have to be honest, the thing I’m struggling with the most is dish soap – any plastic free people out there with more experience than me got any suggestions?

What steps (if any) are you taking to reduce your plastic use?

Kitty

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Home, My Life

What We Learned after 1 Year of Rabbit Parenting

b4

We’re dog people, through and through. I grew up around dogs, and so did Mr K – we get dogs. We love dogs – and we’d always planned to have a dog in our lives when we’d settled in our own home.

Then Brian moved in – a lop-eared buck who’d been living a difficult life and needed a second chance. It took about 30 seconds for us to fall in love with his mischievous face and fluffy bunny butt.

Let me tell you, having a rabbit is nothing like having a dog – and our first 12 months have been a hilarious challenge, a huge learning curve and a heartwarming experience.

Here is what we learned…

Bunnies are very moody creatures
Brian can tantrum for a whole day if we cook something that he doesn’t like the smell of. Or if we don’t open a door he wants opening. Or if his food is 1mm to the left of where it should be. Or if you groom him too much, too little, or at the wrong time, or with the wrong hand. He’s a diva.

b1

You have to work hard to earn their trust.
Rabbits are prey animals, and so their natural instinct is to always assume they’re about to become lunch. It took a long time for Brian to feel comfortable to be in a room with us, and a lot longer before he’d turn his back on us, and longer still until he fell asleep in front of us. Now it’s not uncommon to see him belly up, snoring on his mat in plain view.

Bunnies really do eat everything. Unless you entertain them.
Obviously we should have known he’d chew stuff- commonly people expect wires to be chewed – but wallpaper, books, clothes, furniture, shoes, doors. You name it, he chewed it, until we left him with a (huge) variety of toys to keep him busy.

b3

You can’t just feed them carrots nonstop. Or Lettuce.
They will literally die, but die happy as they love carrots. And Banana. They need a varied mix of veg (not too many carrots – too much sugar) pellets (NOT Museli) and lots of hay. Iceberg lettuce is a NO for rabbits – they should have romaine instead.

You need to be a poo detective
Gillian McKeith back off – ain’t nobody can analyse a poo like I can now I’m a bunny mum. Serious time is put into deciding whether the daily poos are plentiful enough, and the right consistency – as this is often the only sign you’ll get if there’s something wrong with your bun.

They Think They’re In Charge
A dog is happy to accept you as pack leader – but a Bunny will not. Brian is stubborn, he won’t come to you when called, he won’t lower himself to grooming you. He’s the boss, (he thinks) – so you have to come up with clever ways to be the boss without him noticing.
b2

They are actually kinda similar to dogs
Brian has his own hilarious, sweet, stubborn, mischievous, inquisitive personality – just like all the dogs I’ve ever known. He’s the nosiest critter ever, and cannot resist checking the contents of bags, or peering around open doors. He’s clever – he knows where to lay to bask in sunshine, or where to hide to avoid having his nails clipped. He’s also dumb – and regularly gets his big bunny bum stuck under the sofa.

They’re Super Clean
Brian spends like 12 hours a day grooming himself – he’s totally odorless, and spotlessly clean. He takes hygiene extremely seriously, which kind of makes him easier to deal with than a dog. No soggy bathtimes! Plus his poops don’t stink.

They do have personalities!
So many people said to me “But they’re so boring” when we got a rabbit. Guess what? Not boring! He’s got a very distinctive personality, and he’s also hilarious. You’ll love him.

Kitty

Leave a comment

Filed under My Life