This issue's pub guide offers tours of Thessaloniki and the Outer Hebrides, with details of the best bars, cafés, and restaurants for visiting archaeologists to check out. So if you're in the mood for ouzo and mousaka, Thessaloniki's the place to go. If you prefer Scottish beer, haggis, and the wild outdoors, then South Uist could be the place for you!
A Rough guide to Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece, with a population of around 1.5 million people. A large part of its population consists of students studying at the two major universities, the Aristotle University and the Macedonian University of Thessaloniki, which cover all arts and science subjects. The lively Greek lifestyle together with the rebellious student spirit have created an entertainment scene full of variety and quality. A complete list of every bar and restaurant is not attempted here. Instead, a Saturday afternoon and evening out, from the midday coffee until the early morning hours of Sunday is described. Follow us!
The day out starts at about 12.30 pm at the Cafe De Facto which is situated in the centre of the city at Paulou Mela Street and is famous for its Greek coffee slowly boiled on the sand. Alternatively, if you want to avoid art celebrities, and a big dose of culture under the sun, the Cafe Ethnic is going to satisfy every exotic taste with its music from all over the world, and the diversity of coffees that it offers.
Coffee over, it's time that you tried the famous Greek traditional food. (Don't panic! The prices are reasonable.) The Castle area (Kastra), which is where the old town of Thessaloniki lies, will satisfy each and every connoisseur's need for fresh fish and meat at the numerous tavernas. Whilst eating, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the modern city and the port. Greek retsina and ouzo will make you feel relaxed, and will get you ready for your adventure! If you suffer from vertigo, then you'd perhaps prefer to visit the small tavernas in the historic centre of the city, Athonos Square, and try the well known home cooked food (mousaka, pastitsio, Greek salad ...). For your dessert, just walk to Venizelou Street and try one of the oriental hatzis -- desserts made with buffalo milk!
The best way to digest the heavy, olive oil-cooked meal that you've had is to head towards the Waterfont (Paralia) and walk around enjoying the view and the fresh air of the Thermaic Gulf. If you are lucky enough to be in Thessaloniki during September, then it's a must that you visit the International Trade Fair, and mix with the thousands of visitors from all over the world. If you still haven't seen enough then just walk to Navarino Square, where you can enjoy the street entertainers performing and join the relaxed and lively atmosphere.
Are you tired? You'd better not be, because the evening is still young. It's time to go back home, freshen up and get ready for the bar and club crawl.
For a romantic start to your evening, drive to the Mistral bar in Krini. The relaxed tunes and the night view of the port are bound to give you a good chance with the the sex of your preference, and you may continue your evening with new friends. If this running around has made you hungry again, then just drop by one of the numerous fish restaurants in the area and enjoy a supper by the sea. (Oh! oh! this is just for those who have FAT wallets!)
For Greek music fans the area around the Airport is ideal. Quite a few clubs can be found there and you can drink to the rhythms of modern popular Greek music. If such music is too much for you, then you'd be better heading towards the other side of the city, to the area of Ladadika. This is a recently renovated area that used to contain stores selling olive oil, but nowadays contains numerous bars, with different kinds of foreign music from pop and rock to rave. Alternatively, you can visit the multi-purpose, newly renovated mill, Mylos, and the old beer factory of Vilka, where you can have your last drink of the evening. If you are still on your feet, you can always visit one of the various exhibitions that are open after midnight.
Even though you may feel tired, you cannot go to bed on an empty stomach. Some chicken soup or an omelette would be ideal for your hangover. Just go to the after-hours Restaurant Para Pente, and then have a relaxing night!
Copyright © Papadopoulou and S. Koulidou 1998
Archaeology and alcohol guide to the Uists
North and South Uist and Benbecula are islands in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, situated between Skye and Harris. The islands have been visited for many years by a selection of universities, who hold summer field courses there thanks to the wide variety of well preserved archaeological remains. This year is the tenth anniversary of Sheffield University's involvement in the Hebrides, and we thought this was the ideal time to share some of our knowledge of the pubs (and archaeological sites) on the islands.
We shall start our tour in South Uist, since this is the island most visited by Sheffield staff and students. The island is about 30 miles long, 6 miles wide, and has a main road, generally single track, running from north to south along the peaty blacklands. To the west are the machair shell sands and white beaches, and the Atlantic ocean, amazingly blue and clear on the sunny days. To the east lie the mountains and the steep cliffs leading down to the Little Minch sea.
The ferry from Oban arrives at Loch Boisdale, site of the only bank on South Uist. Within a minute's walk from the ferry terminal is the Loch Boisdale Hotel, ideally situated for those straight-to-the-pub situations, such as the imminent commencement of important football matches (although English people should be aware that supporting England may cause derision). The bar is large and often busy, with the ubiquitous pool table. For the more refined (or wealthy) there is also a dining lounge, with comfy settees and hunting magazines, for those evenings relaxing by the fire.
Follow the road to Daliburgh (it's the only road), then drive north, keeping your eyes out for sheep at all times, since they tend to ignore vehicles of any description. About five miles up the road is the site of Flora MacDonald's birthplace, the ruined blackhouse village of Airigh Mhuillin with a monument to Flora, who helped Bonny Prince Charlie escape to Skye after the 1745 Rebellion. Across the gearraidh to the west, the old sheep farm house of Milton can be seen, the biggest house in the landscape, whose construction signalled the end of the Airigh Mhuillin township as the people were cleared off the landscape.
A short distance from Airigh Mhuillin is the Kildonan museum, where there is a fantastic display of crofting history, as well as a cafe with some of the best home-baked cakes around. Further north is Bornish, where much excavation has been carried out, including the Iron Age broch of Dun Vulan on the peninsula of Rubha Ardvule. Extensive excavation at Dun Vulan has yielded important information about the economy and diet of broch dwellers, particularly in contrast to the other Iron Age sites excavated on the islands.
North again, and the turning off to Howmore is about 10 miles further down the road. Howmore, as well as having a ruined medieval chapel, once the burial ground of Clanranald chiefs, where the Clanranald stone was once located, also has several remaining thatched blackhouses and whitehouses, and a new house being constructed with local stone and thatch. If you're feeling hungry at this point, head north again, to the Orosay Inn, where the food is reputedly very good. Or if you prefer a cafe, there's the Crofter's Kitchen, which does a good fried breakfast, as well as a fine selection of vegetarian food.
At this point, you've reached the end of the island. Turn back, and head south to Daliburgh, stopping at the Borrodale Hotel, for a pint of Tennents, Caffrey's or Guinness, a game of pool and a chat with the locals. Daliburgh is the main shopping centre on the island (there is a Co- Op, a general store, a post office and a garage). Many large ceilidhs and discos are held in Daliburgh, and the Borrodale is the essential place for warming up, since the events usually start as the pub closes.
Refreshed, carry on south towards Pol a charra. You may take detours on the way, to Kilphedar, to visit the beach where a Viking settlement has been excavated over the past few years, and a Pictish cairn was discovered this season. If you fancy a chance to relax on a beach, one of the nicest (though they are all beautiful) is at Boisedale on the west coast, near the little island of Oronsay. It's great for paddling, playing beach football, or just for sitting and watching the sea. The view from Oronsay is beautiful, out to sea or across the island.
Finally, last archaeological stop in South Uist is the Pollachar, a pub which, like the Borrodale, is greatly frequented by archaeologists in the summer. It has frequent discos and ceilidhs, a slightly sloping pool table, and its own standing stone outside, as well as a gorgeous view of Barra and Eriskay, and seals on the beach.
Benbecula is the flat island, in between North and South Uist. Sites of interest include a medieval castle at Borve, in very ruinous state, and a medieval chapel at Nunton. Crossing the causeway from South Uist you will soon come across the Creagorry, which holds the record for the amount of whisky served across the counter in a single night. The Dark Island hotel at Liniclate serves food, if you need a snack. Balivanich, where the airport is situated, has shops, a bar, and the only cashpoint in all three islands.
Carrying on to North Uist, the sites begin to come thick and fast. Carinish has a chamber cairn, as well as the Trinity Chapel (Teampull na Trionad), the ruins of a medieval monastic site, where some great scholars of the medieval age were reputedly educated. There is a lot of cultivation evidence around the site too: some amazing lazybeds! Carinish also holds fine ceilidhs. Onwards towards Lochmaddy, the next site is the rather blatant Neolithic chamber cairn of Barpa Langass, which can be seen from miles away, and is well preserved. Within easy walking distance is Finn's People, the best stone circle in the Uists, and the Langass Lodge, which serves a nice selection of whiskys, as well as tea and coffee, for refreshment. The views around this area are stunning, lots of small lochs and islands.
Next stop is Lochmaddy (Loch nam Madadh), the main town in North Uist. Places of attraction include the Taigh Chearsabhagh -- a fine museum and art gallery with a great cafe, the mosaic fish sculpture by Rosalind Wates, the Sea-sky chamber by Chris Drury and, of course, the pub, the Lochmaddy Hotel, where you can get the usual beer (all the Uist pubs serve Tennents), and a good selection of food. The garlic mushrooms have to be experienced to be believed! You can also mix with a selection of locals and tourists.
There are a lot more archaeological sites around to the west coast of North Uist -- The Udal, Erskine Beveridge's house, wheelhouses, souterrains, brochs (a particularly fine one in Loch an Sticer), and a pub called the Westford, but I haven't been there so I can't describe it! The causeway being constructed between Otternish and Berneray is worth a visit if you like big machines, and there's lots of archaeology on Berneray. The pub guide, however, is finished. All that remains is to revisit the same pubs every night, but I would advise against a pub crawl, unless you can find someone willing to remain sober enough to drive!
Copyright © R. May 1998
Copyright © assemblage 1998