It is noon on Saturday and I am sitting at a taverna at the edge of the marina. Next to me is a group grabbing a quick beer. They are getting ready for a sailing trip. They have their maps open on the table, making notes, checking and rechecking routes, ports, supplies. I listen in and travel with them, like a stowaway on a sailboat.

“… we’ll cast off at sundown, when it’s cooler. We’ll travel at night. It’s going to be a clear night with calm seas. We’ll get a morning swim in Chalkidiki, have breakfast on the boat and take it from there”.

“… we’ll sail to Alonnesos, there’s a good north wind”.

«…if the weather gets rough we’ll anchor at Kyra Panagia. It’s a secluded bay, with reliable clean water; we can rest there for a day. We can fish there and then grill our catch for dinner if you like.”

It’s night. I am walking along the waterfront. And if I were across the bay, what would the city look like from there, I wonder? Or from the sea?

A week later I did it. I didn’t conquer the Aegean, but two days on a sailboat were enough for me to enjoy swimming in crystal clear waters at beaches near Thessaloniki and – more importantly – I got to see Thessaloniki from the sea. It is a different city you see from a boat. It is a living painting, a strip of life and movement above the sea. Anyone who has set foot in this city should jump on a boat* and take in this view at least once.

The poet Kavvadias was right when he said that “Thessaloniki is best seen from a boat …”

* If you want to live this experience you can rent a sailboat for one or more days and set sail for near and/or far off destinations. Quite a few sailboat rental agencies are based in Thessaloniki. For a day-cruise to nearby beaches, like Peraia, you can also take the local boat that makes regular trips. Or if you just want to go on a jaunt around the Thermaic Gulf hop on one of the boat-bars moored in front of the White Tower.