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Turkish Tourists Conquer Thessaloniki

30 July 2014 / 17:07:05  GRReporter
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They are impressed by stuffed squid, buy stacks of magnets with the White Tower, queue in front of Kemal Ataturk’s house, complain about the tea, look for fish taverns offering "small fried fish", want to try mince pita and meet ...Yiannis Boutaris.

This is the profile of the Turkish tourists, hundreds of whom have recently visited Thessaloniki on vacation during the Ramadan holiday. More than 3,500 tourists from Turkey are expected by the end of the week and the Turkish Airlines flights (two per day) are fully booked.

“We are pleased because all this is the result of the municipal policy and Yiannis Boutaris’ personal efforts, which started 3 years ago to show the Turks that Thessaloniki is a friendly place open to its neighbours. The flow of tourists is beneficial for the Thessaloniki hotels, restaurants, and the market as a whole. There's nothing to be scared of regarding the Turks - we only benefit from their visits, and hopefully their number will increase, " the Tourism and Public Relations advisor in the municipality of Thessaloniki, Spyros Pengas, said for Ethnos newspaper.

According to hoteliers, in 2013, Thessaloniki was visited by 80,000 Turks, without counting those who did not spend the night. In 2014, during the first half of the year alone, their number increased by 20%.

The tourist flow will continue in the autumn because of the many holidays in Turkey. At the entrance of Kemal Ataturk’s house, which has a museum too, people queue every day. Admission is free, and the visitors simply write their names. Inside you will see furniture typical of the period, photos and Ataturk’s personal belongings. On the top floor is the furnished room where Ataturk was born in 1881.

After restoration last August, the museum has alread been open to the public. This year, it opened in May and so far it has failed to take all visitors in. There are a few museum employees who speak Turkish and answer the visitors’ questions. Both the signs and texts are in Greek and Turkish.

On Monday, hundreds of tourists, Turks and other Muslims, worshiped at the mosque of Genes Dzami, an opportunity provided by the municipality for the third consecutive year because of the Muslims’ religious holiday. "We aim at facilitating the Muslim residents and guests of the city to celebrate the end of fasting during the Ramadan holiday," Pengas said.


The Turgut family will visit Meteora, Athens and Chios

The family of Celik Turgut came from Istanbul by plane, and after Thessaloniki, they will visit Meteora, Athens and the island of Chios by bus, from where they will return to Izmir passing through Çeşme. Celik, his wife Sibel and his sons Yusuf and Ahmed (9 and 5 years) took a walk through the city.

"I had visited Thessaloniki before, but my family had not, and I thought they should come and see as much as possible," Celik said and explained why they decided to visit Meteora "This is a religious monument, we were eager to see it." God is one and lives everywhere. The pictures of the monument are impressive. Hopefully, the effect is the same in real life".

Shopkeepers in the vicinity of the Turkish consulate, where the museum of Kemal Ataturk is located, enjoy the flow of customers and keep their shops open until late in the evening.


Umut and Shulet did not like the tea in a cafe nearby the museum of Ataturk, but were impressed by the stuffed squid in a tavern in Nikiti, Chalkidiki.

 These days, a lot of Turks visit Thessaloniki, but other tourists come as well: Bulgarians, Serbs, Germans, or even Greeks, who want to see the house of Kemal, " Johana Ghani, a business owner in the area, said. The Turks buy heaps of magnets as well as small souvenirs, and many of them visit the shopping centres in the central part of the city.

 The coffee shop owners in the area of St. Demetrius church have added Turkish tea to their menu, but tourists do not like it much. "We do not like the taste of it, but that’s natural. You won’t like the frappe in Ankara either, " Umut said, who is an engineer from the Turkish capital and who came to Thessaloniki with his wife Shulet. He didn’t like the tea, but was really impressed by the stuffed squid they tried in a tavern in Nikitis.

 "As in Turkey we eat a lot of meat and savoury appetisers, here we chose seafood and really loved it" Schule said, showing a recipe obtained from the chef of the restaurant.

 The 29-year-old marketing specialist of a large software company in Istanbul, Levent Ozokundzhu, came by car for a vacation in Greece, with two friends of his. They spent a few days in Halkidiki, but went back to Thessaloniki before departing for Thassos.

 "In the winter, we sought a place to go on vacation and chose Thessaloniki because it is close, everyone speaks English and we can communicate. Besides, people are friendly to the Turks, and we know that no one will deceive us, the food is great too. To sum up, this is the perfect destination for the summer, "the young man said, wondering at the same time where he could find Yiannis Boutaris because he really admires him.


Levent admires ... Thessaloniki’s Mayor, Yiannis Boutaris

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