WHEN I EXPLORED THESSALONIKI WITH QATAR AIRWAYS
Since it’s been a year now, I think it’s time to talk to you (in English, since in Greek I have already done so) about the amazing experience I had in March 2018 with Qatar Airways. In March 27th 2018 the first flight from Doha to the second biggest city of Greece was launched and I was invited to participate in the scheduled Press Trip. Below you can read all about this journey!
It was a quiet weekday morning of March 2018 when I received an email and then a phone call. It was Qatar Airways inviting me to join the FIRST flight from Doha to Thessaloniki and be a part of the fam trip! I got super excited, obviously. In March 27, an amazing trip began. But let’s take things step by step.
Before 27 March 2018
About a year ago, the award-winning airline Qatar Airways announced their plan to launch two new flights from Doha to Greece, one to Thessaloniki starting 27 March 2018 and the second one to Mykonos starting in May 2018. The news caught my attention and I thought “oh well, look, this is big news!”
A year later, I was invited to be part of the inaugural flight to Thessaloniki, along with journalists from all over the world! What an honor.
Thessaloniki is a city I love and have visited many times. It’s well-known for the historical interest, the archaeological sites, the well-preserved Byzantine walls, and the cultural heritage and of course, the delicious food and the hospitable people.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “Greece has always been one of our most in-demand destinations, and as such, we are delighted to offer our passengers a direct service to Thessaloniki, our second destination in Greece. Our new four-time weekly service to this enchanting city will enable us to provide a seamless journey to and from Greece. By adding Thessaloniki to our global network, we are pleased to offer our Greece-based passengers a gateway to more than 150 destinations worldwide through our hub, Hamad International Airport.”
27 March 2018
At sharply 6 am I was at the Hamad International Airport, checking in for the inaugural flight to Thessaloniki on Business Class. The aim to perfection of the national carrier of the State of Qatar unveiled from that moment. I was escorted to the Business Lounge where I met the rest of the media group. We enjoyed a nice breakfast and 45 minutes later we were ready to go to the Gate.
My co-travelers were Asma, Qatari presenter at Al Jazeera, Alex, Greek- Cypriot aviation analyst based in London, Judith, travel journalist from Australia, James, journalist from Australia and Elida from New York. See? Now I have more friends from around the world!
The flight was operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft, featuring 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy Class. After a 5-hour super luxurious treat in Business Class we landed to Thessaloniki, where an impressive water canon salut welcomed us as the aircraft was moving to its parking position! So nice! Then, at the airport various celebration events took place, such as Greek traditional dances, media coverage and statements from tourism representatives.
Later on, we were transferred to Makedonia Palace. During the day we had a wonderful lunch at Aficionados Restaurant and later on one more wonderful dinner at Electra Palace Rooftop Restaurant.
March 28, 2018
After a kick-off breakfast at the hotel, our day started. We visited the most important historical and archaeological sites of the city, namely presenting Ano Poli and the Castle, Rotonda, Agios Dimitrios church and Bay Hamam. We also stopped at the local market, introducing to the new to Greece travelers local delicacies.
Our tour included walking around the city and exploring its picturesque corners. I really wish we had time to see more. We did experience, though, a culinary adventure at the truly unique restaurant Duck with the open kitchen. Must visit!
At around 8 pm the Qatar Airways Gala Dinner was about to start. Tables were set, ready to welcome the visitors. The imposing atmosphere was accompanied by the super talented violin musicians, Fortissimo Band. Later on, Onirama Band was on stage, giving some heat to the Gala Dinner, which ended in the best possible way. Fireworks! They colored the sky of Thessaloniki and made me even happier.
March 29, 2018
The visit of Vergina Museum was the first on the list for the day. Located approximately 75 km west of the city, the museum offers some of the most impressive exhibits of the Makedonian period of the Greek history.
Our next stop was the village Naoussa, where we stopped for lunch and a quick tour around.
Then, it was time to say “Bye bye Thessaloniki” and “Hello Halkidiki”! The fam trip included this charming island destination, especially popular for people who live in Thessaloniki due to its close proximity. Nea Moudania was our first stop and Ikos Hotel our home for the day.
March 30, 2018
This day was one of my best! Why? Because we became one with nature! We explored Sithonia, we walked into the woods, we breathed fresh air, we were happy! Later on, we visited the little but so pretty village Nikiti, then we went to Itanos and then to the wonderful Parthenon. Our last stop was Ouranoupolis, where our home for the last night in Greece was the truly luxurious Eagles Villas. What a place! We received the warmest welcome with local delicacies and an elegant dinner.
Our villas were absolutely amazing with stunning views (cannot get enough of the endless Greek blue) and we promised that we are going to visit this place again!
March 31, 2018
I woke up early this day, just to enjoy my coffee in the villa while gazing at the view. I wanted to spend a couple of hours alone, enjoying the silence and thinking of how lucky a girl I am! I am healthy and I am surrounded by people I love.
I am going to say it again (and again) that traveling unites people and opens your mind in a way that you cannot even imagine!
A few hours later, we traveled back to Doha in the same super luxurious way we traveled from Doha.
The trip was over, but the memories stayed and are going to stay!
Why this new flight is important for Greece
First and foremost, this new flight schedule makes it easier for Greeks living in Doha or in other 150 destinations around the world to fly to their home town. Secondly, it connects Thessaloniki to Doha, a city with distinct Arabic culture and a global economic powerhouse.
Important Things You Need to Know
Qatar Airways currently operates three daily flights to Athens, Greece’s capital and largest city, and provides more than 4,000 seats to Athens each week. With the addition of Thessaloniki, this will increase to more than 5,000 seats per week.
Qatar Airways now operates flights to Mykonos island as well.
I really hope you enjoyed the ‘flight’! 🙂