Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Greece  , Thessaly,
Saturday, October 4, 2008

So we left Santorini on our early flight to Athens hoping to catch a train up to Kalambaka, located at the base of Meteora. Once we made it to the train station in the core of Athens, we were informed that the train was full. We quickly hailed a cab for the bus terminal and on the way our driver made a generous offer to drive us all the way to Kalambaka for only 250 euros! We politely declined (after a stunned silence) and purchased our 25 euro bus tickets.

Five hours later we rolled into Kalambaka and saw one of the most extraordinary things. Meteora is a sight once home to 24 14th century monasteries perched atop massively intimidating rock pinnacles (only 6 remain occupied however). We knew what we were heading to see and have seen some photos, but looking at it with our own eyes was awesome. We were eager to head to bed so we could get up and see what was up there (plus we were exhausted from the 12 hour journey).

The next morning we headed up to Megalou Meteorou, the biggest and oldest of the monasteries, and Varlaam, another crowd favourite. They are extremely old yet very well preserved. Being isolated at the top of enormous rock pinnacles obviously helps with that. Anyway, they have all sorts of things to keep the visitors occupied: 600 year old churches, wine cellars, a carpenter's work shop, and even an ancient kitchen. Something we didn't expect was the effort they have made to embrace tourism. They have wonderfully rich museums on site as well as gift shops to ensure each tourist has the opportunity to take home something to remember. The amount of tourism did seem a little odd considering the lengths to which they went to isolate their monasteries from people centuries ago. After seeing our desired share of 14th century monastery life we decided to hike the 5km back down and take in the surroundings as we went. It did not disappoint. Tomorrow we head off for a little more (ok a lot more) hiking and attempt to climb Mt. Olympus and see of Zeus is home for a visit.

Megan and Kevin
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