Coffee epidemic in Thessaloniki

Findind a parking spot in the center of Thessaloniki is a piece of cake, if you own a Smart. I don’t.

After one hour of circling the center, I managed to find two spots. One of them was in front of a gate. Someone was leaving and I rushed to take his spot. As I was wrapping up the near-perfect parking maneuvers, I noticed a big latch in my rear-view mirror. I can’t park in front of gates. Would you like to know why ? Because the morning I was leaving Bucharest for Greece I found out there was a Logan parked in front of the gate. One hour later, as the Police were leaving and the ticket was firmly attached to the guy’s windscreen, we pushed it. We were lucky. Now, how was I to park in front of that Thessaloniki gate ? Never in a million years. So I got out, backed up through that very tight dead-end alley and tried my luck again.

The second parking spot was conspicuously empty. I jumped at it, only to discover that it must have been previously occupied by a Smart. Our car was just too big, so we left. Fists clenched, tears in the corner of our eyes, looking straight ahead at the thousands of cars miraculously materialized on the street which seconds before was empty.

So, how do you park in Thessaloniki, on a very busy Saturday, at noon, in the center, close to the White Tower ? I’ll skip the “one price at the entrance, another inside, so you need to leave or be conned” underground parking scheme part.

What you need to do is double park and stalk. Someone is bound to leave. And then… you rush, only to find out you’re parked in a no-parking zone anyway. But this is Greece. You gotta do what you gotta do… and eventually break the traffic laws.

We walked past 10.000 cafes today in Thessaloniki and yes, I’m probably lying. I’m sure there were more. Around 10 million people, the entire population of Greece, was having coffee, water and cookies in Thessaloniki today. Amongst them, about1 million foreigners. Some of the foreigners were drinking beer. Probably Dutch.

We were making our way through the busy promenade, stacked with people and coffee cups. Sent no doubt by the Ministry of Tourism, around 50 Sudanese, Moroccan and Pakistani salesmen were pushing fake Prada, Louis Vuitton and Rolex amid this crown, making it all look picturesque.

The few people who were working were either waiting tables or bringing more coffee, water and cookies with their distributors vans.

Apart from the cafeine junkies on the promenade, Thessaloniki was calm, quiet and lovely. It seemed like everybody was in the center, sitting on comfy ratan chairs, staring at the ships, sipping coffee, bragging, chatting and trying to look good. To me, it looked like either a coffee convention or a coffee epidemic.

As to protest the criminal lack of parking places in the center of Thessaloniki and for fear we might catch the obvious coffee virus which was wreaking havoc through the streets, we didn’t have any coffee. We left, got off the highway and explored the villages on the coast. After an incubation period of 2 hours, the coffee virus went into full swing and we stopped for frappe in Nea Moudania. Plenty of parking spaces there.