A Walk in Meteora, Greece
I would love to one day meet the free climbing monks who hauled stones in baskets to build monasteries on the tops of these otherworldly rock formations.
I think they must have possessed a patience and determination that is practically nonexistent in today’s world.
We wandered in their footsteps, through the woods and up staircases, walking through the buildings these monks called home hundreds of years ago.
We even saw some of their preserved skulls. (Yikes)
But I could not quite get inside the minds of these monks.
I pictured their arrival, their wondering in amazement at the rocks that seemed to shoot up from the ground around the town of Kalabaka, but I could not get in touch with what made them decide to risk life and limb to try to live on the tops of these rocks, not coming down for months (years) at a time. Eating meager meals and waiting for food to be occasionally lifted up by rope.
To get inside the minds of these ancient monks and indeed the modern day monks and nuns that now live in the seven ancient monasteries of Meteora, we had local guides who walked with us in the region.
For three days our main guide, George, and several of his friends and his brother, showed us this part of the world through their eyes.
We walked several miles through the woods to reach one of the monasteries, just as the monks did all those years ago.
When we reached the monastery at the end of our walk, we took a staircase (built in the 1940s) to get to the top instead of the scary wooden ladders or instead of being lifted up in a rickety basket.
Then we retreated back down to the the town of Kalabaka for the most gorgeous spreads of food for lunch, followed by another outing and then equally gorgeous evening meals in family restaurants.
After gorging ourselves on feta cheese like I’ve never before tasted (served fresh, fried and sprinkled over other delicacies) and all kinds of local specialties, I asked George how everyone stayed so thin eating such rich meals.
“It’s the Greek breakfast that keeps us thin,” he said.
“Oh, what is the typical Greek breakfast then?” I took his bait, expecting him to name the creamy Greek yogurt I had been enjoying at our hotel.
He smiled. “A coffee frappe [similar to a latte] and two packs of Marlboros.”
While in Meteora, we were guests of Visit Meteora, a group that George and his brothers formed in order to encourage more people to visit a place they all know and love. Together, they plan and lead all sorts of excursions in the area. (I have my eye on the rock climbing one for next time!) I can’t imagine that Sarabeth and I could have enjoyed seeing Meteora through a better pair of eyes than George’s. He was full of passion for his town’s tourism industry, knowledgeable about the history of the region and in possession of a sly sense of humor. Be sure and say hello from us if you happen through the area anytime soon!
P.S. As a bonus, Sarabeth and I got to travel with some other amazing bloggers and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are some crazy gorgeous photos from our trip over at Finding the Universe. Because Just Wow.