Αγαπητέ φίλε μου Γιώργο
Σε ευχαριστώ πολύ,
που άνοιξες το σπίτι σου,
και την Καρδιά σου σε μας.
The Soul and the Seagulls of Thessaloniki
I would like to dedicate this book to
My wonderful friends George and Antigoni,
To George’ dear family:
The parents Christos and Kiki,
The grandma Dimitroula,
And the sister Dimitra.
And to Leonidas, my amazing Greek teacher, from Thessaloniki.
Gulls made love / Shulamit Sapir- Nevo
Gulls made love
On the water
I heard the sea
Even the surrounding sands
Held off the while.
I always wanted to go to Thessaloniki.
Everybody that visits there keeps telling me
What a beautiful city it is.
And since I started learning Greek
With my great teacher ,Leonidas, from Thessaloniki,
I keep hearing from Him how much He is proud of
And loves this city That he was Born and grew up in.
Last July, while Mel and I were in London,
Having coffee and catching up with our dear friends Antigoni and Yorgos from Bristol, hearing about their plans to visit their families in Thessaloniki and Crete, during Christmas. All of a sudden they made us an offer that can’t be Resisted, to join them in Thessaloniki.
And who am I to refuse a dream which knocks on my door :)?
Kαλησπέρα Αγαπητοί μας , Antigoni and George
Θεσσαλονίκη! Είμαι χαρούμενη τόσο πολύ!
In Electra palace hotel, 24-27 Δεκ
Φιλιά , Τα λέμε, Shuli
My Dear Shuli!!!
So wonderful news – it would be so nice and exciting for me to welcome you Both in my hometown!!! I cannot wait!!!
All the best! George
Wow this is wonderful news! Fantastika nea!
The evening of the 24th is actually good fun in Thessaloniki as most people Are going out for ouzo :).
I’m really looking forward to seeing you both and thank you for coming to Meet us in Greece
Polla filia ,Antigoni
And the next wonderful thing, our good friends
Heli and Baruch decided to join us :).
Thessaloniki is welcoming us
With a grey, cloudy face,
But all the lights around will soon be on,
And the whole city will look like a fairy tale.
Music is coming out of the Central Square and its shops
“Jingle bells, Jingle bells,
Jingle all the way…”
I wander the streets like Alice in wonderland.
And what do you know,
I start believing in Santa Claus…:)
Juicy and ripe
The lights are hanging
Like a thousand fruits
On the green branches.
The trees bear them happily
It’s the season of December,
Their time to bloom.
George, Antigoni and Dimitra (Yorgos’ sister)
Bringing us Melomakarona (Μελομακάρονα
The traditional Thessaloniki cookies
Made of biscuits dipped in honey
And topped with cinnamon.
In Thessaloniki you don’t just eat.
Food is an important issue here.
And the Thessalonikis definitely know
How to please you,
With their delicious dishes and fine wine.
So we sit in a nice place called “Panellinion” (Πανελλήνιον).
And here we learn about the:
The The Bougiornti (Μπουγιουρντί) – hot cheese salad)
The Myxithropitaki (Μυζιθροπιτάκι) – hot Cheese baked with pita bread.
The Fava (Φάβα )- it’s a crushed plant, tasted like hummus ,
But more delicate.
And some other great dishes, but sorry,
I was too busy eating and had to stop taking notes.
And the wines
Greek wines have a lineage !
They are so good. You can tell they are made with lots of care and pride.
Drinking Greek Wines from lunch till late night – is a must.
It’s a social thing, opening the warmth of the Thessaloniki hearts.
They can talk, sing, laugh, dance and even cry better with it.
So here we are having our second bottle of wine. This one called
Amethystos (Αμέθυστος ) – it’s written that ” It will not get you drunk”.
Antigoni said and added ” but don’t believe it, it is just the name.”
Then we wandered around the celebrating streets.
It’s pretty cold outside, but who cares,
As the wine is sitting well in your head,
And the lights are like magnets to your eyes,
When there is music in the squares that pull your legs to dance,
And when you have terrific friends to fill your heart with love.
Dimitra is my partner for dancing. I can see she loves to dance,
So we start and soon all the group joined us.
Dimitra is a Marathon runner,
And she has already won competitions in Greece.
I look at this thin delicate girl and can’t believe how powerful
She is to run those Marathons.
In the night when nobody can see
Santa Claus sneaks into my room
Whispers in my ear
Was I right to bring you here
He winks with his blue eyes
And when he moves his red hat
Stars are flying in my skies
“I can make dreams come true
All you need is just to call me
And to believe”.
It’s a foggy day in Thessaloniki Town.
We are having breakfast at the beautiful balcony on the 7th floor of the “Electra Palace” hotel.
It is so misty and mysterious. You can’t see the sea (which is so close),
Or the buildings across the square, or even the square below, but some blue lights that hanging on the trees are trying to fight the fog.
A flock of pigeons, flying above the unseen space cry with sharp long tunes .
A scene that was taken straight from a fantasy story,
And you could feel the witches in the air, riding on their brooms.
When Thessaloniki opens her foggy eyes
The doves pass over
Like white tears
They fall among last night’s Christmas lights
To the awakening dawn.
*Photo by Baruch Peled
It is Christmas day and almost all the people are at home.
Nothing remains from the big noisy celebration
Οf the night before.
The boulevard of the bitter orange trees
Stands like a line of statues
No wind caresses their cheeks.
All the sweet candies are locked in the stores
Out of reach
The streets are empty and quiet from steps
The music is sleeping
And the shattered windows keep the night on.
Stella, our guide today is taking us around
For a six-hour walking tour.
Every thing is closed, even the synagogues.
But Stella stopped at one of them
And she started to call, “Suzi, Suzi ” .
And Suzi appeared on the second floor, opening her window.
A few words in Greek between the two women
And the door of the synagogue is open for us.
We are holding the book about the Jews of Thessaloniki,
That George’ family gave us.
We learn there about their history
And about the rich life of the community.
* George’ Grandma Dimitroula, beautiful hand woven tablecloth.
On the 25th of December we are all invited to George’ home.
The door is open.
One can tell from the first smile how welcome we are.
Warm so warm are the hearts the smiles the kisses and the hugs-
This is the soul of Thessaloniki.
A beautiful decorated home, with dolls and souvenirs
That amazing Kiki (the mother) collects.
Every spot is colorful and full of joy.
Christos, the father, doesn’t waste time
And fills us glasses with the red wine that he made.
The night is young and there is lots of drinking to do.
It ‘s Christos’ name day today so everybody is phoning to greet him,
And you can see how happy he is.
Grandma Dimitroula is joining us.
She is giving us one of her beautiful hand woven tablecloths- wow!!!
And George hugs the pullover that he is wearing,
Telling us with emotion that grandma knitted it for him.
The wood is burning slowly in the fireplace.
The food and the wine are great. We laugh, and talk and dance.
My goodness, am I ever happy to be here.
Guess what ?
I love Christmas!
The doves surround the big White Tower
Spreading their grey marks on the walls
With their brush wings
As a choir of angels,
All day long.
On our third day we took a tour bus around the city.
When we reached the old city we decided to get off the bus.
We found a beautiful place for coffee ,
And inside there is an old gramophone
Which the owner’s son played especially for us.
We are walking along the old streets, no maps, no guide.
It is so nice sometimes to get lost,
To let your legs lead you wherever they want.
And we go through streets and some alleys,
Discovering the beautiful face of Thessaloniki.
Old houses colored in rose, yellow, orange, light blue,
With small gardens, flowers and plants that grow as they wish,
like the stones around and the houses on the hill.
Nothing is in order and all looks so beautiful.
Time to meet George’ family again
And to celebrate in one of those gorgeous restaurants
Along the seashore .
With candles, and lamps, and flowers, and lights and music.
Every one with its special touch and decoration.
The street is so crowded , so many smiling, well-dressed people.
Time to say goodbye to beautiful Thessaloniki,
To George wonderful family.
And to our Dear Antigoni and George that invited us and
Made our trip unforgettable .
The seagulls of Thessaloniki
Dance their waltz
As soft waves
The velvet sea opens a
Dark blue dance floor
Even the skies bend down to see
And they open their pockets
To drop silver stars
On their wings.
Αγαπητοί μου φίλοι Γιώργο και Αντιγόνη
Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ για τις υπέροχες στιγμές
Που περάσαμε μαζί στη Θεσσαλονίκη.
ΣΟΦΙΑ ΠΑΠΑΖΟΓΛΟΥ – Θεσσαλονίκη πόλη μαγική