In spite of a terrible tourist buffet dinner at the hotel, the Missus and I slept quite well. The rain had really cooled things down and the previous day had really been long.......sitting in a bus for six-seven hours just isn't our thing. But here we were, the Missus had always wanted to visit the Eastern Orthodox Monasteries perched on sandstone pinnacles (Meteora literally means "suspended in air"). Even the rain didn't dampen Her spirits....She was ready to go. We did wake hungry, of course this was the same type buffet type affair of that dinner was, so we kept it simple and didn't eat much. I'd always thought that you couldn't get terrible goat cheese in Greece....but this meal proved me wrong.
Of course, our first stop was to a bit of business......
No hard sell at this shop of religious icons. I was entertained by the dog out front who just loved any and all attention........she would come up to someone and just roll over begging to be rubbed. She was adorable.
You might recognize the structure in this photo at one of our first stops. Especially if you're a James Bond fan. This is the Monastery of the Holy Trinity.
Quite dramatic, even on a cloudy drizzly day, huh? It was said to have been established around 1438, but there are manuscripts indicating that men were living the monastic life here in 1362. The main church was built in 1475.
I think it deserves another photo......
Our first stop was at the Holy Monastery of Saint Stephen, whose existence dates back to 1192, but was officially built in 1545. It's now the Holy Nunnery of Saint Stephen...and we were told, I'm not sure if it's true, but apparently a while back a Canadian tourist came to visit and she was so taken and inspired by the place that she became a nun!
There is a museum on site and the icons and artwork is absolutely stunning. We respected the request of no photos, so you'll just have to visit and see for yourself.
We were told that the skull of Saint Charalambos is kept at this monastery and still works miracles to this day!
During the German occupation, the monastery was bombed and damaged. The Nazis believed that the monastery was harboring resistance fighters.
The view from here is amazing.......
What interesting is that this monastery is only one that doesn't reside on a peak.
If you're wondering what all those folks are taking photos of, it's this.......
There's beauty everywhere.......
The bus picked us up then dropped us off a bit further down the road. From that spot we'd walk down a path to our next stop. But not without taking one more photo of Saint Stephen.
It was a nice walk and we got glimpses of some of the other monasteries. I believe this one is the Holy Monastery of Varlaam.
This monastery is also known as the Holy Monastery of Saint Barbara, who is the patron saint of artillerymen! This nunnery is dedicated to the transfiguration, one of the miracles of Jesus and takes up the entire peak...which really ain't that big.
You walk up some stairs......
And across a walkway, which used to be a drawbridge. We saw the ancient pulleys and cranks that were used ot retract the old bridge to keep the occupants safe. In fact, we were told that before the advent of roads, the only way one could make it up to many of the monasteries were by net. You were cranked up or down the peak. Man, talk about isolation and asceticism!
The nuns have a little shop where we bought some olive oil soap and other stuff.
One thing I forgot to mentioned was the rules of modesty. Everyone, including men need to have their knees covered. Women need to wear long skirts. The Missus had some slacks on so She had to go with one of the "one-size-fits-all-wrap around skirt" thingys at each stop. They really are one size fits all; She had to wrap it around Her four times!
After spending a bit of time here, we walked a bit further down and met our bus. We stopped one more time at the site of some abandoned monasteries. Apparently there were a great number here, but only six survive to this day. If you closely to this photo, you can see one of the defunct locations on the right side of this peak.
That town you saw in one of the photos above is Kalambaka the closest town to the monasteries. So of course we stopped there for lunch. Based on the previous night's dinner and this morning's breakfast I had my doubts about what we'd be having. But it turned out to be not bad.
The place we ate as was Estiatorio Meteora. Here you walk into the kitchen and get a choice of two veg and a protein. You pick what you want from the pots lined up for you.
The food is hearty, stick-to-your-rib stuff that will keep you going for a while. It was nothing particularly memorable, but after what we had previously, this was a feast.
We finished lunch (and the wine) pretty quickly, which left us with some time to explore the town. I swear this was a Chinese restaurant....but I found out that many tailors and retail clothes shops had Chinese lanterns in front of them in Greece.
What really stood out was how the presence of Meteora loomed over everything in the city.
For some reason, the ride back to Athens didn't seem quite as long. Though we were pretty tired by the time we got back to our hotel. Our dinner was at a nearby diner/restaurant which was totally forgettable. What we did remember was that we needed to catch the 5am bus to the sirport and our next stop, Crete, where we'd have the best meals of the entire trip.
The Missus really enjoyed Meteora. It gave Her a glimpse into a different time.....a totally different world.
Thanks for reading!