September 11-12

Sunrise saw the Ferninando off the southern tip of the Halkidiki Peninsula and by mid-day she was steaming up the Gulf of Salonika toward Thessaloniki where chaotic scenes welcomed Lear as the ship docked at six in the evening.

Thessaloniki was a deserted, frightened city. Three quarters of the population had fled to the surrounding countryside to escape the grip of the cholera epidemic and Lear learned from the British Consul that Mount Athos had been closed to all travellers. His plans to meet up with his friend Charles Church on Mount Athos were dashed.

What to do? If he stayed in the city, he risked catching the disease, and the next steamer back to Constantinople was another two weeks away. He knew he must escape the city without delay, however, much of the surrounding countryside had been blockaded so that route of escape was off the agenda. Only one option remained.

He instructed his servant, Giorgio, to make arrangements and to find horses for their departure west toward Monastir, the capital of Macedonia.