Traffic noise, the smell of the sea, palm trees, cigarette smoke, a mass of people waiting to cross at the lights, guttural Greek with soft terminal esses, a man carrying a silver tray with two coffees on it, 8 – 10 storey buildings with balconies overflowing with freshly washed sheets or airing blankets, bouzouki music, a slumbering homeless man, grubby pavements, broken paving slabs, rubbish over-flowing from big blue bins, colourful graffiti, prowling cats, plane trees, butterflies, fine churches, squawks from parakeets, a pigeon feather falling to earth, collared doves, fountains, buskers, mother and child begging, double and triple parking, motorbikes coming at you on the footpath, a woman kissing an icon in a church portico, caged canaries singing, orange trees, the smell of coffee and pastries, people gesticulating and shouting into their mobiles, car-drivers talking on their phones, bus-drivers texting, man riding a scooter carrying two cups of coffee, helmetless bikers, selfie takers, luscious almost irresistible cakes, baklava, old women in black with silver crucifixes, old men with tobacco-stained moustaches and rosaries, car horns, discarded drinks bottles, Today Licious disposable cups, beautiful marble pavements, a sleeping cat, screech of car tyres, speeding articulated buses too close to pedestrians, crazy random car-parking, red and white tape festooning barricades, rubbish sorters collecting cardboard on overloaded shopping trolleys, broken steps into shops.
The lower town is an assault on the senses but walking uphill, away from the sea is a delight of steps and cobbled alleyways where cars can’t go. Tiny homes have been built into the crumbling 2000-year-old city walls, breath-taking views of the port and the Gulf of Salonica, oleander, wild geraniums, hibiscus, trees growing out of the pavement, tortoiseshells and red admirals, marigolds and carnations growing in old oil cans, churches in the Byzantine style, enticing dark cafes, guard-dogs, skulking cats, bow-legged women struggling uphill to bring shopping home. Everywhere the enticing smell of coffee. It feels like another city altogether.