September 18th, 2005 by zorfling

So next morning, we bade farewell to Oracle and continued off on our Greek journey.
Next stop, the monasteries of  Meteora, built high atop natural sandstone pillars.

The monasteries atop sandstone pillars in Meteora

After a little bit of trouble working out how to get a bus ticket, we finally managed, and jumped on a bus down the hill to Amfissa, the nearest big town, where we could then catch an onwards bus toward Meteora.

A little more trouble working out how to get tickets and we were on our way, through Lamia, Karditsa, Trikala and finally arriving early evening at Kalabaka (or Kalampaka), the biggest town at the foothills of Meteora.

As soon as we stepped off the bus, a number of local hoteliers were waiting, trying to get tourists to come to their hotels. As we hadn’t booked ahead, we went with one of the guys to a little hotel which, while reasonable, was nothing much to look at.

We headed back out after checking to check out the place, and were met with the most surreal sight. The town of village is immediately below the sandstone pillars, and at night, there are large spotlights illuminating a number of the pillars. So all we could see were these looming, large, floating rocks in the sky. Fantastic sight!

The rope net was hoisted to here

The next morning, we headed up to the monasteries themselves. What a great place! 

There were about 5 or 6 big monasteries on top of sandstone pillars, some 300 odd metres high. Each pillar only just big enough to hold the monastery at the top.

Apparently, way back when, the only way to get up to the top was in a rope net basket that was hoisted up to the top. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to build! 


Nowadays though, there are steps carved into the rock, so tourists can enjoy the monasteries. (which are still in use, I might add) And the view from the top was fantastic, looking down over the plains of mainland Greece.

We headed into one of the monasteries and saw the quarters and the chapel. There wasn’t a whole lot of space, and I couldn’t imagine living there for any long period of time, but I guess, that’s what monks do. And we even saw where the rope net hoist was housed. “Sure, occasionally the rope snapped…” the monk happily noted. Yikes!

Australia Hotel and a Tabepna (or Taverna for you and me)

All in all, it was truly a unique and inspiring sight, and a great experience!

On the way down the hill, we stopped at a little restaurant for lunch and had gyros. Gyros is basically like a Greek version of a kebab, with tzatziki. Yum yum! 

And on the approach into town, we even hit a little touch of home, with the Sydney Hotel, complete with map of Australia, and a kangaroo!

Next stop Igoumenitsa, for the ferry to Italy!



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