Group Journal April 15, 2013 - May 8, 2013

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Day 04  April 18, 2013  Thursday Drive from Macedonia to Thessalonica, Greece
The itinerary: We will leave Skopje on our private bus. After a 4 Hour bus ride  we will reach the Greek border and continue to Thessalonica where we will be at for the next three nights. Thessalonica is my parents hometown. It will be very moving to be in this town for me I will tell you the stories about this town that I heard from my grand parents. The dinner will be  included on the sea front in this beautiful city. Overnight at ABC HOTEL very centrally located.

A train station along the way to Greece

We left the hotel with out any delay. The streets were empty and having no traffic gave us another chance to see the river Vardar dividing the city in two, the old and the new.
The nea- Baroque buildings of the Old city were like an an announcement  that Macedonia was trying to make to  draw the attention of the European Union. They are kind of saying, "We are now a European country. There is no more remnant of the socialist past of Macedonian Republic of Yugoslavia. We are ready to be the member of EU."

The highway rolling through the verdant fertile valleys, and running by various rivers took us to the Iron Gate, Demir Kapi, Tunnel. The southern end of the tunnel had Mediterranean climate versus the severe inland climate of the north.

We could see the difference, the sky got bluer and the yellow mustard plants were dominating the landscape.

The vinyards






Growing agriculture where once during the socialist area they had inefficient steel factories which were polluting the environment.

The border crossing was very easy. We did not even have to get out of the bus. Only one more hour to our lunch and the beginning of our adventure in Greece. As soon as we started enjoying the Greek country side, we received a phone call from our guide telling us that she will meet at at the ABC hotel and our lunch is ready... After the last wheat field left behind, we could have no doubt that we were coming close to Thessaloniki. The traffic and the number of people working in the streets were a definite news of a big city ahead. On the one way streets, we had to go around quite a few blocks to get to our hotel. When we finally arrived, it was exactly 1:00 PM as planned. Athina, our Greek guide, won the hearts and the confidence of the group when she told us that she would show her grand mother's embroidery to us at her house. The afternoon was free. Every one had a different agenda . some spend the afternoon resting, others  explored the city and the innumerable coffee houses of Thesoliniki.

  I went to visit the house of Ataturk. I returned with a terrible disappointment, the house has been under restoration for a year now and all I could do was take a picture of the house from out side . How can a restoration of a house last as long as a year especially when it is a such an important destination to visit for those who come from Turkey. I wish I could ask this question to the Turkish Prime Minister who always takes pride in saying that his ability to get things done is the best of all the leaders. He is either misjudging his ability or he does not want this house to be completed.

The dinner was down at the waterfront. Either because it was only 07:00 PM when we went for dinner or because the economy is really bad here there was not another soul at the restaurant. The food was great. The wine was acceptable, the evening was great.
We walked back to the hotel and promised to be ready to leave at 09:00 am tomorrow.

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