We wanted to do something different so we decided to go to Thessaloniki.
After a 3 hour flight we arrived at the city which was once known as the Jerusalem of the Balkans, as it was such a large Jewish city. As little as 100 years ago,
The community was very important in the Jewish world. One hundred batei midrash, thirty synagogues and four yeshivas operated in the city.
On August 18, 1917, a fire broke out in Thessaloniki that destroyed some two-thirds of the city, As a consequence of the fire, which left some 70,000 people homeless, it has been estimated that close to half of the city's Jewish population left Thessaloniki. The city still had Jewish residents, until sadly, the Germans deported the rest of them during World War 2.
It was interesting to visit such an historic place, although unfortunately nowadays there is very little left to see from the rich Jewish heritage that has vanished from Thessaloniki.
We arrived on Wednesday, a few hours before Purim, and after we settled in we went to explore the city. We walked along the boardwalk beside the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, and saw what used to be the very busy port. After a while we arrived at the White Tower which is recognised as a symbol of the city.
There was a free boat ride, lasting about 25 minutes, which took us around the bay and gave us some different views of the city. It was nice to see Thessaloniki from different viewpoints.
When it was getting dark, we went to the local Chabad House for the Purim megillah reading.
The Chabad House in located in the Astoria Hotel which also houses a kosher restaurant.
The next day the megillah reading was scheduled for later in the day so we had the day free to explore.
We went to Halkidiki which is the most popular holiday destination in northern Greece. Halkidiki has long been famed for its cosmopolitan seaside resorts, beautiful natural landscape, and exotic beaches, but now in the winter and cold weather there wasn't much to see but at least we had a nice family ride together. We arrived back to the megillah and seudat Purim which was celebrated with a lot of dancing and happiness. It was really special to celebrate with people from all over the world.
We really enjoyed our visit to Thessaloniki and are pleased to have added it to our list of interesting places around the world which we have visited! I’ll keep you posted when we know where we plan to go next!
Have you been to visit somewhere beautiful, exotic or historic? I‘d love to hear about it.