I arrived in Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in Athens at around 2pm and I was feeling very anxious as my connecting flight to Thessaloniki was leaving at 4pm, giving me only 2 hours connection. Technically speaking though, it’s a very acceptable connection time but given the fact that I am a little bit crazy, it got me really stressed out. It’s a very good thing that the check-in agent in Dubai checked-through my luggage otherwise I’d be more stressed than I already was. Thankfully, the immigration procedure was quick and I still had some time to waste to browse through the Duty Free shops at the airport before my connecting flight to Thessaloniki.
The flight I took from Athens to Thessaloniki was via Aegean Airlines, it’s only about 50 minutes. I arrived in Thessaloniki airport at around 5 in the afternoon where the boyfriend was already waiting with his friend. As soon as I arrived, we headed straight to our first destination for this trip, Meteora in Greece.
Greece has a very diverse nature so the 3-hr drive wasn’t as painful as I have imagined it to be. It was very scenic and I couldn’t stop myself from taking loads of photos on the way. Of course we made a couple of stops which made the supposedly 3 hours to about 4 hours, LOL.
We arrived at the hotel at 9:30pm, I probably wouldn’t recommend the drive late at night. Some of the roads we took were very dark and if you are not an experienced driver, it might be very hard specially with the zig zag roads through the mountains.
The next day when I woke up, I went out of the balcony and was so surprised of what I’ve seen. Our hotel was actually surrounded by the rocks of Meteora which was a sight to behold. Since we arrived late at night the previous evening, we didn’t know how magnificent our view was from our room. I wish we arrived earlier.
After our breakfast with the most amazing view, we checked out of the hotel and proceeded to visit the Great Meteora. Some monasteries are closed during a specific day of the week, we were lucky that the Great Meteora was open on the day that we were there. I didn’t do much research about this place so it would’ve been a real disappointment if I couldn’t visit the main monastery.
There were approximately 24 monasteries but only 6 of them have made it through the centuries. These monasteries date back to 14th to 16th century were built by monks who were previously hermits in the area, living in individual caves. These monks took months and years to carry the construction material to the top of rocks, using ropes, folding ladders, nets and baskets. Knowing this fact alone will already leave you in awe. How were they able to build this without the help of modern technology?
You must be reminded though that for ladies, you are required to wear a skirt which covers your knees and your shoulders. They will provide wraps for you though if you are not wearing the proper clothing. For men, trousers covering the knees is also required.
Meteora which translates to “suspended in air” is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece. The Meteora wasn’t intended to be a tourist destination, it was built by the monks primarily to seek spiritual isolation and then later on acted as a refuge as well during the Turkish occupation but even then – the religious aspect of these monasteries was not lost. However now, tourism is essential for it to survive which ultimately destroyed the very reason why it was built in the first place – it is no longer contemplative.
The rock formation alone will leave you in awe, what more if you see the monasteries on top of these rock mountains which gives out an illusion that the monasteries sprung out of the mountain itself. Once you’ve entered one of the monastery, it will again leave you wondering how in the world were they able to do it. From the outside, it looks very basic and simple. I was expecting to walk in a cage or something when I finally reached the top but to my amazement, it is a proper tiny town with livable conditions.
There is a EUR3.00 entrance fee for non-Greeks visiting the place and free for the Greeks. I advise you to go there early to avoid the crowd. We went there at around 12nn after our check-out and left at 2pm which is the same time as all the buses carrying huge numbers of people arrived. There was a long queue of people all waiting to get in when we left and it is really recommendable if you visit the place with less people to experience the peace and quiet of this place.
Also, the monasteries are not open all week – there are 6 monasteries and everyday one of them is closed. The Great Meteora is closed on Tuesdays and is open the rest of the week from 9am to 5pm. You may need to wear comfortable shoes as a lot of walking are involved, mostly uphill going towards the monastery. We were winded when we reached the entrance but that’s just because we were not very fit – me and the boyfriend. LOL.
The closest towns to Meteora are Kalambaka and Kastraki, the latter is where we stayed. We didn’t explore the town at all as we just stayed there for a day but Kastraki has a village feel to it and is closer to the rocks. Meteora is accessible also through Athens by bus and by train but it really isn’t that easy to go around the area while you’re there if you don’t have a car or a motorbike.
Meteora is definitely one for the bucket list. It’s really amazing not only to see it but to know the capabilities of man back in the days. That’s another thing from the bucket list that I have successfully crossed out from this trip.
For more information, you may visit this website: Visit Meteora.
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