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May 26th 2017
Published: May 26th 2017
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Monday 22ndMay



Cycling Tour of Meteora



We travelled up to Kastraki yesterday through stunning mountains and across wide plains. In the mountains, the overriding colour is the yellow of the blooming broom trees, their flowers scenting the air. Kastraki is a small village in the Meteora area and sits at the base of huge pillars of rock. It is truly like scenery from some fantasy film. The huge rock monoliths appear initially to be smooth rock faces but as you get closer you see that they have indents and grooves that have been shaped over thousands of years. We ate in the campsite restaurant (very delicious) as the shops don’t open on a Sunday.



Today we headed to the big town of Kalambaka to the supermarket to stock up. After lunch we went for a cycle ride up into the hills to do a reccy of the monasteries that have been built on the top of the rock towers. The whole area is so impressive. I took loads of photographs which do not begin to do it justice. As per usual, the cycling was steep uphill and took ages but coming back to the campsite was all downhill and was a real adrenaline rush as we hurtled down the windy road at breakneck speed.



Tuesday 23rd May



Walking tour of Meteora Part 1



There are numerous paths between the stone monoliths so we took the opportunity to explore these. The day was hot and humid and thunder rumbled in the background. The paths were steep and the views where magnificent. We looked around the monastery of Agia Triada and spoke to the knowledgeable guide about the place. He explained that the massive stone monoliths were what remained when the sea that once covered the area disappeared. Hermits took to living on the top of the rock pillars or in the natural indents in the rock faces. Sometime around the 1300’s the hermits must have got fed up of living alone so got organised and built a monastery. Others followed and some have lasted longer than others. There seems to be the big six that are now conveniently connected by the road we cycled up yesterday that is wide enough to accommodate the coach tours. Agia Triada is still home to three monks. All the monasteries are Greek orthodox. Until about a 1000 years ago, the religion was Catholicism but then the Greeks had a falling out about the position the pope plays in the grand scheme of things – basically they didn’t recognise him as the head of the church as their philosophy is all men are equal. When John questioned the guide about whether Greek orthodox was similar to Catholicism, he was very diplomatic saying that basically it was, however that may be considered heresy by his current employers. The monastery had the original winch which would have brought bulk items up from the bottom of the rocky tower. Nowadays they have a cable car from the main road. Visitors still have to climb a lot of steps to the main entrance and dress modestly. Luckily I had remembered my sarong to cover my shorts. Inside the monastery we saw an original decorated monk’s cell and a chapel with 17th century frescos. I got in trouble for taking photographs in the chapel. After visiting the monastery, we found a path up to a tiny church built into the rocks and watched a couple of Germans climb up what seemed to be a smooth vertical rock face. Whilst the whole day was amazing, it was over shadowed by the terrible events the night before at the Manchester Arena and I think I speak for both of us when I say our minds were back home thinking about events and our family and friends.



Wednesday 24th May



Walking Tour of Meteora Part 2



Today we walked up to the Monastery of Great Meteoran, the largest of the Monasteries. It functions as a museum and has a beautifully decorated church consecrated in honour of the Transfiguration of Jesus. We ate our packed lunch in the gardens looking out at a huge thunder storm coming our way. We got rained on on the way back to the campsite. We have camped underneath a tree bearing big blackberry type berries that drop on our heads, in our coffee and on our table on a regular basis. Tonight we looked out to find a small group of people busy eating the berries straight from the tree. After further research I have found out they are mulberries and taste delicious.


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26th May 2017

Meteora
Your blog took me back many years when I stayed with a Greek family and one of the day trips out was to Meteora. Very, very impressive.
27th May 2017

Yes it's been a hell of a week here - hits home when you see armed police at the TC. Glad you are having such a lovely time, I visited Meteora myself many moons ago - they filmed James Bond "For Your Eyes Only" there! xx

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