19th June 2006
In the morning, we boarded the bus for our short trip to the Boutari winery, not something I was totally looking forward to, as I am not big on wine and really can’t stand red wine at all. We were taken all around the winery and shown how the wine was made and shown the various cellars with thousands of bottles and barrels all stacked up and aging. Then we were taken to a balcony overhanging the cellar where we watched a short movie on how the company had evolved over the years. At the end of the movie, we got to taste the wine, we had the glass on our table in front of us and then when prompted by the interactive movie, we tasted the wine, which I noticed was now sitting in front of a glowing panel. I was sitting with Kristy and Mary Ann, Steve and Melissa’s girls and they looked behind them at their parents, to see if it was alright for them to also taste the wine, something which amused me no end. The wine was red, the only form of alcohol that I absolutely detest, but I thought Oh well I’m here, I’ll regret it if I don’t. I gingerly took a small sip only to find that instead of screwing my face up in horror, I actually liked the dry, dusky taste of Greek red wine. I got Mary Ann to take my picture tasting the wine to make my parents jealous. We then went down to the shop and some people bought some Boutari wine to take home.
After the winery, we headed for Pella, the city in which Alexander the Great was born, I had been looking forward to this the whole trip. Again, we went in a small museum, in which was housed some beautiful Macedonian gold, before entering the site.
Pella was not the most grand or impressive site, but as at Mycenae, I felt like I was walking in the footsteps of greatness. I was actually walking down a street that Alexander had walked down or ridden down on his great stead Bucephalus. I walked among the pillars and viewed the mosaics, one was of the abduction of Helen of Troy from Sparta, how typical of Alexander I thought, he was with the myths and at that moment so was I. I felt such a profound sense of accomplishment having made it this far. As we left the site, I couldn’t help thinking I wanted to take a part of it with me, a thought as a future archaeologist I should not be having. As I walked, I picked up a small, smooth stone and put it in my bag, I don’t know why but somehow I needed it.
After Pella, we headed for Thessaloniki, one of the biggest centres in Greece as we travelled further north, I noticed that I could no longer read the signs on the front of the buildings, some of the writing had all of a sudden changed into Russian from Greek. Antones told us that the Russians were the main importers of fur into northern Greece and had set up factories here.
We reached Thessaloniki and were given three hours to explore, we were told to be very careful as this city was home to the worst drivers in all of Greece. I left the group and soon discovered that this reputation was well deserved, as I was almost run over by a policeman on a motorcycle. I was walking on the footpath at the time. I had lunch and wandered around this large bustling Greek city which at times could seem really beautiful and at others really grotty. I was looking for an internet café and got lost repeatedly, I soon discovered that the best way to prevent getting lost was to stay near the coast or to head in that general direction. I eventually found an internet café and found that I had a few emails, one from Ray, which pleased me no end, except for being told that he wanted to move to Queensland, I also had one from my parents of course. I then printed out a tattoo design that I had wanted to get while I was here and went off in search of a tattoo parlour, unfortunately I had left it to late and my tattoo of Alexander on his horse with Fortune Favours the Bold in Greek was not to be.
I managed to find the alternative section of the city and spent ages browsing in one particular store which had ruins from the Ottoman period out the front. I then made my way back to the bus, which was parked near the famous Venetian Tower, we then made our way to the Macedonian Museum to view the gold of Phillip of Macedon, Alexander’s father. The golden wreaths worn by royalty were inspiring and I wondered who had worn them. I also saw a small gold box, which once contained the bones of Phillip of Macedon and again had a small upsetting inkling that this was wrong, it shouldn’t be on display it should have been left alone. Thankfully no photography was allowed in this museum something for which I was eternally grateful for. As we left Thessaloniki I said to the group, why are there no McDonalds in Greece, I had had an exceptionally bad lunch at a Greek fast-food place and was really hungry. We drove out of Thessaloniki and past a McDonald to which everyone pointed and laughed and said, “There you go Kristina!” I didn’t really want McDonalds, I wanted to enjoy the culture, but that day as I looked at my bank account, I just wanted something cheap.
We headed back to the hotel, and I had a shower and put on something nice, Antones was taking us to a traditional Greek restaurant on our last night together. We arrived at Antones special restaurant which was built set amongst the trees near a beautiful little bridge with a chattering brook running beneath it. We sat down and Antones ordered for us, we had soup for entrée and a special fish dish where the fish was brought out cooked and whole for us to eat. Now I hate it when my food can look me in the eye, something which my tour mates found most amusing and Yvonne offered to cut it up for me, which I accepted. I sat with my adoptive family Steve, Melissa, Mary Ann and Kristy, apparently someone else on the tour had asked Steve if I was his daughter, something we both found very funny as I am 24 and he is only in his late 30’s himself. We had ice cream for desert and gave Antones and Vasilis their tip from all of us. Yvonne made a short speech saying that we had all appreciated both of them and thanked them for going over and above the call of duty. Then we went back to the hotel for our final night.