Neighbourhoods: the revival of Thessaloniki's Caravan Saray
In a city where the main point of interest revolves around football and the white and black striped football team, it's more than exciting to witness the art of creation and the gentrification of old historic urban areas. Visiting my hometown for a few days I was lucky enough to venture out north of Egnatia avenue and rediscover where the young and talented not only hang out but also create!
Whether you like food or not, you must try stroll down Kapani market to get a sense of the traditional open-air market influenced by the Turkish occupancy of Thessaloniki back in the days. A lot of nego going on and some good treats to feast your eyes (or cameras) on! Once you work an appetite, try heading to Dodoni for some real bougatsa, the infamous phyllo-pastry morning ritual of Thessalonikians. Whether you choose feta cheese, custard or minced meat for filling it doesn't matter - whatever you try you'll love!
On your way north you'll also go through what locals refer to as the Venizelos park, where you can catch the historical Ottoman baths and the church of Chalkeon. Stereo is a nice plain joint to cool down for some coffee unless you're really into vintage furniture in which case you can visit 2 Concept Store and enjoy the best of both worlds. It's amazing how much the financial crisis has benefited this side of the city, where new ideas and fresh minds flourish. A bright example is The Caravan Project, a boutique bed and breakfast that feels like it's taken out of Paris' Le Marais district.
- Church of Panagia Chalkeon - also dubbed as the red church, this church was built in 1028 in the area of what was always known for its bronzework and foundry workers
- Kapani market - one of the main open-air markets in the city centre, offering great meat and fish produce. If you find yourself there during the early morning hours you'll get a sense of some serious selling going on!
- The Caravan B&B - very plain, yet stylish, bed and breakfast that opened a few years back, appealing to the trendy, sophisticated and affluent travelers
Eat / Drink
- Extravaganza - reasonably priced gourmet Greek food, in a student-like setting and an open kitchen that will get you going as soon as you enter! Although the food is heavy on herbs, you'll definitely enjoy!
- To Kafeneio tou Mitsou - located in the bustling Kapani market, this honest traditional food joint can only seat a few tables. Make sure you try their beef patties and their cheese, although their menu changes daily! Read our full review here
- Allos Tropos - homey feel at this local taverna. Food is good and the atmosphere is also very unique. Read our full review here
- Dodoni - known for the best bougatsa in town, this magical phyllo-pastry pie filled with either cheese, custard or minced meat! Oh god... we can't wait to go back!
- Stereo - plain aesthetics, a black and white logo and some funky beats from the DJ's decks. The student crowds start early and go on until late. Best if you get your party mood on
- Elephantas - from the same owners of Stereo, this nice and authentic bar is the perfect excuse for a proper drink behind the mahogany bar
- 2 Concept Store - vintage furniture shop meets coffee and drinks place, this nicely made joint is a unique kind of its own. If you like retro stuff, you'll love this
- Bord de l'eau - this collective of artists, craftsmen and a drink room opened in the late 2010s when only a few bars (if any) were in the area. Great setting for the winter months and a place where locals meet and drink in the long and narrow living room