Hey you guys!
Look, so I have totally got to that stage in lockdown, you know, where you're so bored that you actually start doing things you always said you'd do? Well, as I was sitting here on my sofa doing absolutely nothing, I remembered that I never did finish writing about my adventures in Greece (or in the USA or Canada if you're going to pull me up on everything)!
I miss travelling the world, but I'm grateful that my 2019 was so packed full of travel that I didn't even have time to write about all at the time. And now, I get to unpack these little travel nuggets with you, at home.
So let's take a little trip together to a little magical city in northern Greece; Kavala.
My starting point was Thessaloniki, this is where I flew to via Athens and met my two friends Georgios and Vaggelis. After spending the afternoon in Halkidiki and the night at Vaggelis' parents' cute traditional Greek home, George met me at the Thessaloniki bus station where we purchased tickets to the main seaport of eastern Macedonia, Kavala.
Why here? You may be wondering. It's because our end goal was, in fact, the island of Thasos.
Located just across the sea from Thasos, Kavala is the biggest city of East Macedonia (with a population of just over 54,000). It's only an hour and a half to drive from Thessaloniki, although significantly longer on the bus so make sure you take some snacks or- if you want to be a true local- buy some Spanakopita from the cafe in the bus station for breakfast!
The bus dropped us off by the harbour and we were able to find some lockers in the bus station to leave our bags while we explored a little.
The Old Town
The Old Town of Kavala is located within the peninsula of Panagia. And it is an old town indeed, 2,500 years old to be exact! The walls of the town as old as it's streets, you can't help but slow down as you walk through the narrow picturesque lanes of the Old Town.
Small, colourful shops invite you in as you pass with sweet wafts of air gently trying to lure you. Olive trees are a popular decorative choice outside of restaurants and cafes alike, the pale green leaves making a eye-pleasing contrast against the white tablecloths.
Small openings in the walls allow you to view the crystal-clear coasts, as they stretch far along the length of the shore. And when you start climbing the steps towards the castle at the top, the lanes are narrower and wind between residential homes taking unexpected twists. The higher you get, the more opportunities you have to pause between houses and admire the stunning blue shoreline.
Halil Bey Mosque (Palia Mousiki)
Located in the peninsula centre, you won't miss this mosque as you climb within the peninsula walls, up towards the Castle of Kavala. Painted in pink and blue pastels, the buildings that make up the larger complex stand out as you approach.
A tourist information stand tells you that this mosque was built around 1530, but beneath it is actually the first Christian church in the walled city, which can be seen through the glass floors of the mosque. It was a typical sign of Ottoman rule for mosques to be built on top of churches.
Funnily enough, this place has also housed schools and... an orchestra! Which is where the name comes from - Palia Mousiki means "Music Mosque".
The Castle of Kavala
Oh my, well it was quite the climb but with all of those shops, restaurants, winding lanes and stunning views stealing my attention, I hardly noticed it.
When we reached the very top, it was a sight to behold! Worth it just for the incredible panoramic views over Kavala and even of the island we were due to visit, Thasos.
So this castle, it isn't really a castle so much as a fortress. It's actually known as The Acropolis of Kavala, and it dates back to the 15th century. This whole fortress is built out of the local granite stone mixed with marble and some brick.
It's actually pretty big and for a small fee you can see the central circular tower, the arsenal and food storage, as well as the guardhouse and cistern. There's also a cafe where you can have a drink with a view of the whole theatre.
The largest this side of Macedonia, this port is popular with fishermen, cruisers and commuters alike! Strolling along the pier, it doesn't take long to discover tavernas by the water, all serving fresh seafood and Mediterranean cuisine.
Open markets are filled with local delicacies, fresh fruit, traditional sweets, and wine.
At the port – we decided to stop at an open-air cafe serving ouzo and mezes. It was time for me to be introduced to another Greek tradition; Gyros!
Ugh! I can still taste it now - what I would give to be back in Kavala with a view across the habour, boats of all sizes and design, fishermen with their nets, ouzo on the table...
There is so much more to Kavala than the little section I got to explore, like the large, arched aqueduct, known by the name “Kamares” (Arches), or Mohammed Ali's Imaret (religious, educational and charitable institute). But I didn't have much time to catch 'the dolphin', which was the bullet-like speed boat I was catching to Thasos, so I guess that means I have to come back some day!
Ever been to Kavala? What did I totally miss out on?! Tell me in the comments below.
Well, that's it guys, day dreaming over! Ciao for now & stay safe.