Saturday, 13 August 2011

Meteora 2

The imposing outcrops of rocks were the last thing we saw before bed
and the first after waking up. It was hard to believe that at the top
of these rocks Orthodox Christians had hauled all manner of religious
and historical artifacts along with their basic necessities (these
were alluded to, not on display).

Today we viewed the monasteries from the road after hiring scooters. I
was very nervous until I realised they were single speed animals.
After I got past my guilt for breaking my 'Pri-Inga Motorbike licence'
awarded at age 10 on the condition that I wore a helmet, long sleeves,
long pants and proper shoes, I really enjoyed the ride in my singlet
and skirt. It probably helped that they were quite gutless and we
never went any faster than Lee would go on his push-bike. To
everyone's astonishment we had a bike each - unlike the family of four
we saw on one.

We entered one more monastery today after failing to find the nunnery.
Agria Trias seemed to be one of the harder ones to reach as a tourist
involving a descent and a stair climb - not much to our Alp-hardened
lungs and legs but there was much panting and stopping by our fellow
tourists. No photos were allowed in any of the churches, but we did
see one case where the rules were relaxed. Yesterday, a group of deaf
and blind girls sang in the Great Meteora church. The acoustics in the
small, domed space were crystal, the music drawing everyone in the
space closer and stiller. The church today was no exception with a
dome above each of the two square spaces - I tested the acoustics
myself, but could remember no traditional hymn, in fact, the only song
I could think of was: 'Stand by your man'.

We finished off our day with a late lunch, polishing off poupasaka
(sp? Eggplant, mince, cheese) cheese crouqettes, lamb chops (yum!
Oregano and salt!), halva (hard stuff made from sesame seeds with
honey and cinnamon for taste) and melon (water and rock).

My impression of the people here is laid back and always respectful of
people. Respectful of property, not so much - there is graffiti
everywhere - including covering this train we're on. Although perhaps
it is the lack of money here that prevents its cleanup alongside the
pickup of the scrawny stray dogs and cats.

The occasional English-spoken news that we have picked up along the
way has surprised us: USA being down-graded from a AAA credit rating
to a AA credit rating for its inability to decide how to deal with the
problem of paying its debts; Italy and Spain being added to the list
of economies draining the strength of the Euro; and riots in London,
including some 10m from our house in Clapham Junction. Rioters lit
houses (and cars at other locations) on fire smashed into every shop
in the street, looting them bare. While we were safely in Austria, our
house sitter had a bag packed with our photo backup discs in case he
had to make a run for it.

Then back on the 5:30pm train that was scheduled to arrive in Athens
at 9:30pm.. And has arrived at 11pm.

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