Thessaloniki's Hidden Beauty

Everyone knows Thessaloniki is one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.  It has been a cultural and religious capital for thousands of years. This is one of the cities where a multitude of ethnic influences coexist with harmony and overlap each other as if Mozart himself wrote it as a symphony.
I'm not going to talk about the White Tower, the famous port, the beautiful churches and monasteries and temples,  the Roman ruins or its architectural marvels. I'm going to tell you about my experience with following around the regular citizens of this city. If you are going to enjoy the hidden gems, go where the locals go after all.  First, I find myself in a stoa called Modiano Market.  All the stores were closed but a few butcher shops, an ironsmith and a small tavern. It was dark and very few people walking, but you can see the old glory of such graphic place. I figured, the tavern was established more than 150 years ago,  so the food must be good.  I saw the sign had Patsas soup prepared so I had to try it. All the characters there were so authentic.  I asked the proprietor what was that he was preparing out of the oven,  he said Eggplant Papoutsaki. I told him I then knew why I had entered that dark stoa that day. Eggplant Papoutsaki is my favourite food in the whole world.  Well, needless to say, it was amazing.
After lunch, I walked across the street to the Kapani Market. It is Thessaloniki's largest fresh fish market.  All the merchants screaming about their products,  all the locals negotiating about price, delivery guys all over the place, it was an "organized" chaos. I walked through the bazaar, full of smells of fish, fresh roasted coffee and peanuts,  and I find myself at the Ladadika district, food central of the city. So many good choices, so little time. Keep in mind, I had my dream food just a couple of hours before. So I strolled through the narrow streets, filled with tables and screaming waiters calling you to seat in their restaurants. There were many merchandise stores in between all of it all as well. I had to come back that night, and trust me, the experience was worth it.  So, go to Thessaloniki,  get off the beaten path, explore where the locals go and you will fall in love as I did. In fact, I'm taking the whole family there this summer for a few days.
Nick Stavropoulos