"Exploring Macedonia" is our first new itinerary in Greece since 2018. On this occasion, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a kind of travel diary on our blog, following precedents from Greece, Ireland and Turkey. Rather than describing every day in detail (you can check our itineraries on www.petersommer.com for that), every day we will pick one image we took that day, accompanied by some explanations and thoughts.
We are excited.
I arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece's second capital and metropolis of the country's northern region, Macedonia, earlier today. I have spent the afternoon walking this beautiful city's familiar streets, looking at some of the main monuments, connecting with old friends and generally soaking up the unique Thessalonian atmosphere, vibrant and friendly and in some hard to define way sophisticated.
The reason I am here is that we are starting, at last, on our "Exploring Macedonia tour", by meeting our guests tonight.
We? That would be myself, Heinrich, and Maria, one of our two long-standing and deeply trusted Greek tour experts, a native to the city and the region. Maria has been involved in the archaeology of Macedonia in many ways and for many years, digging, publishing and teaching. Those who have travelled with us in Greece during the last seven years are likely to have met her. (By the way, I also have long-standing connection with Thessaloniki, going back to the early 1990s, and the city is formative to my understanding of Greece - but that's another story. Likewise, our other Greek expert, Nota, an Athenian, has a profound connection with this extraordinary city, but that's another story again).
At last? Well yes. It has been my strong desire to design and run a tour of Northern Greece ever since I joined Peter Sommer Travels, and over the years, we have done many things, engaged in reconnoitres, explored sites and subregions and exhibits, and spent much time and effort on making it happen. We were all set up for this wonderful new tour in 2020 and we prepared thoroughly - as we intend our "Exploring..." tours to be the best-prepared experiences available where we travel! And then the pandemic came!
And went, mostly. Here we are now, about to welcome a group including many returning guests who have travelled with us previously, them and us eager to experience this new tour together. For one of them, it will be his twentieth tour with Peter Sommer Travels - a record! We love meeting old friends and adding to their impressions of Greece, and we also love meeting new ones.
Over the next eleven days, we will show our guests a singularly fascinating region, a place of great diversity and of long history. We will obviously spend time talking about the era of the great Kingdom of Macedon, of Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, but our story will start many thousands of years earlier, in the Neolithic, and it will expand across the Roman and Byzantine eras, through the Ottoman period and to the modern age. It will focus on historic sites, of course, but we will also explore the landscapes and seascapes of Macedonia, its traditions, its food and its wines, all of them expressions of the way human culture is grounded both in individual and collective effort and moreover in locality.
Our picture shows the White Tower, emblem of Thessaloniki, and artefact of the city's Ottoman story. We will spend time in Thessaloniki at the end of our tour and it will be part of this diary then. For now, we can't wait to begin our tour!