I’m in the entertainment business, so I have a very hectic work schedule. Projects take out chucks of my time, between 4 months to 6 months at a time. So how do I find time to travel? Well, I don’t usually. But last year, I managed to. However, it was not without a lot of conviction. Conviction?! Why do you need conviction to go on a holiday!?
Well, conviction because I had to put aside my guilt for abandoning my friends for New Year’s Eve (AGAIN! as they would say) and not feel guilty about leaving Singapore instead of “helping out” at last year’s Countdown show.
Here’s a little back background information to give you some context.
Since starting work at MediaCorp’s Channel 5 English Entertainment Productions, my 31st December has always been spent working at the annual Countdown show. Even when my friends try to “book” me in advance, I usually end up helping out at the show or being assigned to write for the show. So last year, when I finally got a chance to break free, my friends were salivating at the idea that we could all spend New Year’s Eve together again. (cue annoying incorrect buzzer effects) I went to Greece with my best friend instead. (cue annoying pre-recorded audience “aww…” and “boo…” effects)
So last year, after much determination to go on a holiday, when I saw a Dream Trip I was keen to go on, I quickly made arrangements with my best friend to JUST GO!
And it was awesome! No regrets!
So here’s my first Dream Trip Adventure.
The Dream Trip was for 5 days 4 nights in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Yes. Thessaloniki doesn’t exactly scream ‘whoopee’ because prior to this article, you might not even have known there was such a city as Thessaloniki! Well, maybe you’ve never heard of Thessaloniki, or you’ve heard of Thessaloniki but didn’t think it was a very exciting place to go to, but just give it a chance. Go visit the second largest city in Greece (after Athens). You’ll find that it’s a very interesting and quaint city you’d soon fall in love with.
But why would you want to listen to me rattle off about how beautiful the city is? Just have a look for yourself.
When my best friend turned up with just a backpack and a small check in bag I was stumped. Apparently I don’t know the meaning of traveling light. But in all fairness, I was trying to be well prepared for the 3 week trip.
We stayed at The Met, a 5 star hotel, for 4 nights. The bed was comfy and even though the hotel was not situated a walking distance to the city centre, there was a regular shuttle service till pretty late at night. Plus we had complimentary daily breakfast at the same restaurant too. And free wi-fi in the room! Whoopee!
On the day we reached Thessaloniki, we decided to check out the Thessaloniki White Tower first. We didn’t really know what to expect at the Thessaloniki White Tower but it turned out to be a good thing we decided to do that first. You see, the White Tower gave us a full historical timeline of the city. We also got a better overview of the city and figured out what was interesting in the city to see.
We took a leisurely walk to the Thessaloniki White Tower, along the coastline and as you can see from the photos it was a bright and beautiful day despite the fact that it was winter in Greece. Along the way the Thessaloniki White Tower, we saw some interesting things, like the fishing rods lying on the ground and struck up a conversation with 2 Greek men who have been to Singapore and many other places.Through them I learnt the purpose of the much heard about worry beads. I even got a few for some friends as a souvenir and one for myself. That’s them in the photo with the White Tower in the background.
So we finally get to the Thessaloniki White Tower and thus began our upward climb through the history of the city. It’s just one way up, one way down. And it got pretty steep as we went higher and higher. It was an entirely educational exercise. But fun as well. Also, it helped that I was fascinated by the structure and design of the building’s exterior and interior.
After a crash course on the history of the city of Thessloniki, we decided to just walk and see where our feet took us. Well at least that was me, Fadzuli had army training as most all Singaporean men do and he was my topo guy navigating me through the streets of Thessaloniki. He claimed it was really easy and he had a pretty simple method of getting his bearings. But… apparently not easy enough for me.
Here’s his tip for all of you future Thessaloniki visitors: The streets get steeper and smaller as you move away from the coastline. So the further away from the coast you go, the higher your altitude.
Hmm… I still have no clue what that drink is called in English. Anyone knows? It tastes spicy. We thought it was ginger cooked with corn starch. It’s an acquired taste. I could only stomach a few sips of it. But it was really quite successful in chasing away the chills. As recommended by the driver who drove the hotel shuttle.
Don’t let the Instagram filters fool you. The city is as pretty as in the pictures. The filters just try to replicate what the eyes see in real life, though in a unavoidably artificial way.
Anyway, its not just about the scenery or the beautiful photographs you can get out of a new city. To me, traveling is about taking in a city’s culture and history and observing their way of life. My idea of fun is trying to navigate the streets of a new city with a map and a good pair of walking shoes.
On our Dream Trip in Thessaloniki, there were just 4 of us – my best friend and I, and a pair of friends like us – a lady and a gent. The lady had one of those awesome ‘You Should Be Here’ banners so she kindly offered to let us use it and to take a photograph for us.
Pardon the dishevelled look. This was taken on the day we arrived. Soon after we had a long flight getting to Thessaloniki. And while I work with many celebrities, I’m no celebrity. So I don’t have the ability to achieve the get-off-the-plane-immediately-looking-fabulous-and-fresh look.
Anyway, read what the sign says and do what it tells you – You should be here! If you’re a WV traveller, enjoy exploring cities with character, a lot of history, and don’t like massive tourist crowds, book the next Thessaloniki trip you see!
Sadly, because of my work commitments, I don’t really have the time to go on many awesome Dream Trips. However, for this series, I will not limit it to just sharing my own awesome experiences on Dream Trips. Watch this space for stories by other WV travellers as they too share about their own awesome Dream Trip experience.
So do look out for more posts under the Dream Trip Adventures series.
What do you think?
Have you heard of Thessaloniki before reading this article? What do you love most about Thessaloniki? Do you hail from Thessaloniki and think that 5 days is not enough to explore your city? Share with us about your Thessaloniki experience. Or maybe you are a fellow WV traveller itching to share your experience too? Well, share it with us! And if you want to know more about how to become a WV traveller, just drop me a line. I’d be happy to share the goodies. =P
- The Met Hotel in Thessaloniki (urbanfoodguy.com)
- Adventures of a WV Traveller [Alaric Tay – Las Vegas] (the-sia-brat.com)
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