Luckily I did not have to get up too early to leave Meteora, and I got to the Kalambaka train station in plenty of time to catch the 0819 train to Thessaloniki:
It was a direct train to Thessaloniki, and in order for this to work, the train reversed directions in Paleofarsalos. This required removing the engine from the front of the train and attaching a new engine to the other end of the train. The cars of the train were also misnumbered (the numbering was not even in reverse order, which would be understandable given the direction change; there were two cars labeled #2), so my ticket for car #4 landed me in the first class car. This was great until the six-seat compartment filled with people who reeked of cigarette smoke.
When I got to Thessaloniki, I bought a ticket for Skopje, Macedonia, which the station attendant wrote out by hand:
I had about a four hour layover, so I decided to explore as much of the city as I could in the allotted time.
My first stop was the Rotunda of Galerius, commissioned by the Roman emperor Galerius at the beginning of the fourth century.
Like every other ancient building I have seen on this trip, it is undergoing extensive renovation:
Here are some pictures of the dome of the Rotunda:
And here are some closeups of its mosaics:
Nearby the Rotunda is the Arch of Galerius:
Next, I walked down to the water, where I saw the White Tower, which was constructed by the Ottomans to guard the port of Thessaloniki (it replaced an earlier Byzantine tower).
I like this small boat with a little tent on top of it.
As I walked back towards the train station, here are some photos I took of the city.
Thessaloniki is building a metro system. From the map I saw, they are starting with a single line. Here are some photos of metro-related construction: