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Nice to see you again, Thessaloniki! By Ignacio Prados Ansede October 16, 2013

Posted by usbngo in Older Posts.
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This article starts with a lie. To be honest, the whole point of this is a huge lie. I was told to write my first impression about Thessaloniki, like if this was my first visit to the city. And it is not, this may sound weird, but I know the city quite well.

My actual first impression of the city took place four years ago, at the end of September, when I arrived to a country, where I had never been, to start my Erasmus year. It was a rainy day, I was tired and the first thing I thought about Greek language at the Thessaloniki airport was that I would have to solve an equation to get out of there. Luckily, I did not have to and I was able to take a taxi thanks to my nonverbal communication. After nine months of good experiences, great trips and an uncountable amount of ‘souvlakis’ and ‘bougatsas’, I came back to Spain to finish my degree, study a Master and find myself in a jobless situation (like almost everyone in Spain) until I got the chance to return to the city where I lived so much. And I just took it; I had many good memories about life in Thessaloniki and Greece in general.

My “second” first impression was much better than the previous one. At least there was someone waiting for me at the airport, Olympia, who took to my new flat in Agios Pavlos where I could rest after a whole day of trains and planes. If you come, don’t be scared because of the climbing, you will get used to it and you will develop steel knees and an amazing ass (I am still waiting for that, though). And the following day I went to the U.S.B. office where I could meet all the welcoming staff and start to get a view of what I will be able to do the following ten months during my EVS here.

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The first week I checked if the city had changed, and if it had, in which ways. I started with my priority number 1: food. The ‘souvlaki’ place called Delicatessen is still open and the food there is as delicious as the name indicates. Valentino ‘crepes’ (pancakes) in Navarino are even greater and the streets have just the same smell I used to love, a mix between grill, coffee and cinnamon. And yes, ‘frappe’ is still Greek national drink, neither ‘ouzo’ nor ‘tsipouro’, ‘frappe’, that’s the word. Then I checked the nightlife and I found out that Valaoritou turned into a kind of ghetto with thousands of people are gathering for a beer in one of the fancy bars that opened the last years and that these crazy and cheap parties in the campus area are still going on. Finally I checked my Greek language skills to find out I almost forgot everything and I can barely nod my head while saying ‘nai, nai’, but it is a start.

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Changing to the bad things, I noticed that mosquitoes are my main enemy in Greece, but I guess this is just my problem and no one’s else. Traffic is as crazy as it was and I am still getting used to the Greek way of crossing the street that it can be summed up like this: run for your life! And yes, neighbours seem to not like us very much specially during the silence hours and we are supposedly making some noise.

And that’s all I can say by now, this is my second first impression of a city that is crowded by young people, cultural activities and nightlife, a city where life is nice. If you are thinking about coming here, don’t hesitate anymore, do it. Don’t let anyone else to tell you his or her first impression and live it by yourself.

* Ignacio does his European Voluntary Service, supported and funded by the Hellenic National Agency under the Youth in Action programme. His Sending Organization is Asociación Cultural Ingalicia (http://www.ingalicia.org).

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