Yesterday, I woke up on our “free day,” which is really just a code name for “more time to work day.” After our breakfast at the hotel, I dutifully headed over to a coffee shop along with several others to work on blog posts and send out emails for my final story.
After a couple hours, Luke said he was going to head back to the hotel to take a bubble bath and watch “The Handmaid’s Tale.” While I have nothing against baths or that amazing show, it was only just after noon, prime time of the day, and I could not let Luke miss out on a beautiful day in a new city.
“NO,” I said to Luke. “You have to go explore the city!” Luke, with a look of confusion in his eyes, asked, “With you?” I paused. I need to blog, I thought. I should send more emails, I told myself. But then I realized that I had already done those things, and I didn’t actually have anything else scheduled for the day. So I told Luke, “Yes!”
Something that I somewhat regret about our three weeks in Thessaloniki is that I didn’t experience the city and enjoy myself as much as I should have. Of course, I came here to work, and my number one priority is having stories to show for my time here. This is an educational experience, not a vacation.
But at the same time, I feel myself being pulled to the city. And in Thessaloniki, there were too many nights spent in my room typing away at stories (which is partially my own fault because I work slowly). A couple weeks ago, when I joined a group from our Dialogue on a Saturday night out, the reactions ranged from: “Olivia, I haven’t seen you in forever!” to “Olivia, I thought you were dead???” That pretty much sums it up.
So on one of our few free days, Luke and I walked through the open air market, window-shopping for souvenirs and talking about life. We were having a lovely time when suddenly, dark grey clouds rolled in and the skies opened up. It started pouring rain out of nowhere, and Luke and I took refuge inside a church. We had unknowingly stumbled upon a gem.
The church that housed us when we were cold and wet. / Photos by Olivia Arnold
After walking around the church and appreciating its artwork, we decided to brave the rain and go outside again, but it was relentlessly soaking us. We needed to make a game plan. So we decided to head to the nearest cafe. But first, we took a selfie.
We ducked into a nearby cafe and snagged the last remaining seats, which happened to be located at the bar. We deliberated over what to get—coffee, maybe? Scanning the menu, Luke asked, “Rosé?” It was a special Rosé, one from the Greek island of Crete. “It’s only 2 p.m.,” I responded—a bit early for wine.
But then, Luke uttered words that had never been more true: “It’s our free day.” He was right.
It was our free day, and we were trapped in this cafe for the foreseeable future. And so we ordered our Rosé, and began a day of revelry. We also ordered some spicy cheese dip that was really, really good.
From there, our “treat yo self” day continued for the next five hours. Highlights included: four bar/restaurants (each with unique atmospheres), being the only ones on a rooftop overlooking the Acropolis, enjoying live Greek music, sifting through absurd amounts of Hawaiian shirts and kimonos at a thrift store, Luke involuntarily reacting with disgust when a waitress told him they didn’t accept American Express and being rejected in our sad attempt to get a bartender to play “Malibu” by Miley Cyrus. Also, a few glasses of Bloody Mary’s and Sangria were involved.
Overall, it was a wonderful day. It was a great way to get a feel for the city, and the best part was that we were engaged, talking the whole time, and I got to know Luke a lot better (he’s great).
Today is a new day, Monday, and now we are back to work. I’m currently sitting at a Coffee Island down the road from our hotel as I write this, reminiscing about our day of fun. Though we may not be able to enjoy rooftop bars every day (Luke may quite literally have gone broke, Theo is considering starting a lunch fund for him), I’ll always have the memories to warm my heart as I go back to working hard on my stories again.