Monday 1 July 2013

Greece: Day Ten: Kalambaka and Meteora

Meteora has been the BEST old rocks we have seen yet. Let me start are the beginning. 

As everyone knows, Greece is full of ancient ruins. Some of these are amazing - the Acropolis and Pantheon in Athens, Olympia and that site we went to in Turkey (though this wasn't in Greece). Some however are a bit boring - The ones in Crete, some of Olympia etc. The problem is in many cases - not in Turkey - is that the original items have been massively destroyed (to be expected) or replicated with originals elsewhere leaving essentially a lot of old rocks. As amazing as this trip is and as fascinating as the history is and as much as I am enjoying it, by today I was getting sick looking at rocks. Plus today's itinerary was unappealing. Visits to two places I'd never heard of and visits to two monasteries which required the women to be wearing ankle length skirts and the men full length pants.

We had to be up early for another long drive. At this point the I was ready for the bus portion to be over. Maybe it was due to the heat, or the long distances being driven, or maybe because I was just on a bus for 2 weeks a little over a month ago but for whatever reason the bus was getting worse. It's also an experience to spend THAT much time in a bus with children. I have to give them all credit - they did amazing considering their ages and the fact that even I was getting bored/restless from time to time. But at times it could get loud and chaotic. 

We stopped at a bizarre rest stop that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. It billed itself as a restaurant/cafe but the food options were limited as were the snacks. I had an ice cream despite the fact it was 10am because there just wasn't much else. Plus most of the place consisted of tables and chairs which was odd since there wasn't anywhere near that much food being produced. Maybe they do more in the evening? Either way when we were there it was empty with limited food and massive amounts of seating. The shelves of snack food were maybe half full, but even then just half a shelf if most. It just looked oddly bare and lonely in there. Kinda like in the zombie movies where the supermarkets have been mostly cleaned out and no one is left to care.

The kids played outside for a bit, and then we were back on the bus for more driving. At this point I even stopped getting off for the photo stops which we seemed to starting doing more frequently.  We made a stop for a tour of a place where they make religious icons. They are all hand painted and produced in this small industrial space. It's truly a bus tourist trap. It was somewhat interesting but in my option a waste of time. Plus we were the completely wrong group for this seeing as only 5 people are Greek Orthodox, and none of us were the religious icon type. 

(Brian's camera isn't connecting to my iPad anymore so photos to come later!)

We headed toward Meteora, a place that none of us knew about. Theadora explained the town had these large natural rock formations that had developed through being in the ocean at one point before the land shifted and moved outward. It was on top of the rock formations that the monasteries were built. Again, I wasn't too enthused about it. 

When we got into town we stopped for lunch at a restaurant which was awful. Another Greek fun fact - all restaurants have menus. Only some restaurants actually make the food that's included in them. The owner brought out a bunch of dishes he was featuring. This actually translated to all he had available. I did order the one other thing he had from the menu (the features were unappealing as they were stuffed peppers and lamb etc). I ordered a pork skewer which was horrible. I could barely bite into it it was so rough and fatty. So my lunch was mostly just rice. 

(Photo: Jenn at the restaurant) 

We got back on the bus and started to head into town. Within a few minutes the rocks came into view. Rocks really doesn't do them justice - they are more like cliffs, and similar to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. These should be on those natural wonder lists because they are amazing. They seem to just come out of nowhere and there are many of them. They tower above the town, and have little grooves/caves in them due to the salt water that they used to be in. The water is nowhere around them anymore, but you can easily envision them being surrounded by the ocean. The monasteries that are on them have been used for hundreds of years, and at one point with the monks having to climb rope ladders and essentially mountains to get to them. As you drive in on the now roads you see these ladders in addition to these monasteries way up high. There are also areas where people climb, and little groves which have come to earn symbolic or superstitious meaning, that people climb on certain days and leave old pieces of cloth for good luck. 

(Photos: Meteora) 


(NOTE: Brian has some amazing photos, I will post in a separate post when I get home because these don't do them justice) 

We drove high up the mountian to get to the first monastery but we then had to climb up flights of stone steps to reach the entrance. This was both exhausting and terrifying. I can appreciate how beautiful the views were, but I'm not a fan of heights and it was pretty high. The monastery was interesting, but the views were really the main attraction. Before leaving there was a place where you could write names of people you wanted prayers for. A bunch of names went down from our group including George, my grandparents and Pa. 

(Photo: Alex, Mikhali, Charlie) 

(Photo: the Monastery)  

(Photo: Eva and Anna)

We made the trek back down and then drove to the next one which thankfully the road went directly to. Alex wanted to remain in the bus as he was tired, so I decided to stay with him. The monasteries were interesting but having seen one I was fine missing the second. 

Once everyone was back on the bus we went to our hotel that had a great view of the rock formations. This hotel was nice - the room was large, the shower was mounted normally (well North American normally) so we didn't flood the bathroom and the TV had more then a handful of channels some even in English! I was annoyed though with the staff. You had to pay for WiF which was fine, not usual in hotels. It was 5€ for 24 hours so I did it. However I couldn't get on at all during the evening. I was only able to for about 10 minutes in the morning. When I mentioned it to the staff member in duty; she just shrugged and walked away. This will definitely be going on TripAdvisor. 

There was a pool but I opted to lay down for a bit. I was feeling better then yesterday, but still not 100%. We had dinner at the hotel, then Brian and I went and hung out outside with Charlie and Mikhali. There was an orange tree nearby, so the two of them spent time trying to jump and pick oranges. When they finally got some they were very bitter and disgusting. This led to using the oranges as a ball and playing catch with them. We went in once it got dark as we had to be up very early to head back toward Athens. 

No comments:

Post a Comment