Friday, 12 August 2011


To reach Meteora we caught the full train (standing room only tickets)
for 4.5 hours. We were able to find some seats and soon learned that
possession is 9/10ths in this scenario.
In the first hour we passed through an agricultural area. Throughout
the valleys we saw small sections of irrigated crop and often on the
hills, plantations of trees, although whether the trees are for
produce I couldn't always tell (definitely some olives). Aside from
the trees, the most plentiful crop was one we couldn't identify -
cherry tomatoes was our uneducated guess, but surely there are not
that many Greek salads in the world that need cherry tomatoes. The
tops of the hills were growing rock.

In the second hour it became more hilly (I'm reluctant to use
mountainous after the Alps) with fewer patches of arable land. On this
land there were higher proportions of wheat/barley (I can't tell after
it's cut) and corn. Even sunflowers started to crop up.
In the third hour it was mostly hills covered in scrub and and rock
apart from the one big valley, which was squares and squares of crop.

The fourth, fifth and a half hours all just seemed more of the same.

On arrival (no wonder I couldnt find any information, that's the
fourth spelling of Kalampaka I have seen just from the train people) I
thought it would be a good idea to walk the 4km to our hotel. We
couldn't remember whether we were staying in a hostel or not, so we
were sure to pack pajamas and a towel. Coming round the corner in our
sneakers and shared backpack, we spotted our 5 star accommodation in

Checking in at our ritzy hotel at 3pm, we found out that
1) we could enter the monastries on top of the giant rocks;
2) they could be reached by road;
3) some of them shut at 3:30pm.

Skates on, we took a taxi up the mountain (we were assured that no-one
actually walks!) to see two of the monasteries. The first, Vaamal, was
a small one where we saw their chapel, their net and wooden winch (for
bringing products up the cliff) and their giant 12,000L wooden water
barrel. Every surface of the chapel was painted, many of them guilded.
The chairs and lecterns were elabourately carved.

The second monastry, Great Meteoro, was the largest. In this one there
was also a carpenter shop, kitchen, refectory, ossuary (where skulls
and bones were on display) and .. We were rushed out of this one but
had time to take in the many scenes of persecution painted in the
first room of the chapel. By far the majority were decapitations, but
the walls and ceilings also had stonings, crushing by vice, burning,
amputations and hanging upside down.

Very much like the un-initiated, I forgot that I would need covered
arms and it was really by chance that I was wearing a skirt. There
didn't appear to be any dress restrictions for the fellas.

Dinner was a fantastic. Fried cheese, stuffed vine leaves, pork
souvlaki and lamb chops, finished off with fresh watermelon - that
actually tastes like watermelon. Good bit o' melon that.

We have the option of either a 5:30am train or a 5:30pm train back to
Athens tomorrow. We think we may just sleep in..

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