strangelover: (Northern Greece)
[Part I]: Tequila is bad, no seafood by the sea and the seemingly endless drive north.

[Part II]: Disrespectful pensioners, ancient sites and frogs legs on the island.

[Part III]: Bridges, orgasmic food and giant cow-belled goats.

[Part IV]: Cheese, showers and sleeping in a clean bed.

~o~O~o~

Meteora is a collection of monasteries built on sandstone rock pillars which loom over the (more recently built) town of Kalambaka. The photograph to the left is walkway to the first place we visited - The Holy Monastery of Varlaam, the second largest in the 'complex'. The history within these walls is amazing, and the museum was fascinating, with illustrated manuscripts and centuries old embroidered robes. We hung around until the group of Russian tourists left, so we could clearly look at the frescos in the chapel, which depicted some pretty horrific things, such as the journey to hell. There was also an immense barrel, which I like to believe was once upon a time filled with wine.

The monasteries are all still in use, as a result, out of respect, people are asked to be "correctly attired", so that means no bare arms or legs and women must wear a skirt. At Varlaam there was a monk who seemed more than happy to chat with the tourists, so long as they spoke Greek (yet another reason I'd like to improve my language skills).

We then drove up to The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, which as the most famous of the monasteries was overcrowded with far too many children so we gave up and moved towards yet another monastery (actually, nunnery in this case, I think it was The Holy Monastery of Saint Stephen), but I was knackered and hungry to the point of being ready to faint, so we opted for food over getting thee to a nunnery.

View towards Kalambaka )

We drove down towards Kalambaka, but due to the season not starting until the following day, there was not much choice, however what we discovered was a diamond in the rough. Run by an old married couple, with a giant cat (seriously, this thing was huge and totally had the "I'm starving, feed me" look going on, despite the fact that he obviously wasn't) roaming from table to table. There was the obligatory Spuds 'n' Salad combo and little else, but the old guy was grilling meats by the roadside, so an order was made. It was pork, but I was hungry and it was delicious. Greece has totally ruined me as a vegetarian. As the lunch run was finishing and there were still a couple of spare (home made) sausages, the 'chef' came over and asked us if we wanted one. Full, we declined, but he laughed, pulled it off the spit and slammed it on the table. Good gods is was tasty!

Our stomachs filled we drove back up and decided to visit The Rousanou Monastery, simply because it had the latest opening times. No longer filled with monks, the monastery is filled with nuns (and young ones at that). I tell you if I were to believe in god and give my life to his greater glory, I'd want to be there. I'm not religious, nor particularly spiritual, but this place has a reverential feel to it that you can't escape. I have some more photographs from here (and the rest of the trip in general) that I'll post over the coming days, because again, while you can't take photographs within the monastery, there's still much beauty to be seen.

Homeward )

Good times. Good times, indeed.
strangelover: (Northern Greece)
Absolutely fabulous getaway, I'm almost sad to be back home in Athens.

Zagori is quite possibly the most beautiful place on the planet, even if we did almost freeze our collective butts off in the tents at night. We are a bunch of hardcore, cock Κωκ-eating bitches.

There was much, much driving (thank the lords for The Boyfriend), sleeping under the stars, imbibing of wine, excellent food stuffs (oh my gods, the cheese!), hiking on mountains, walking over bridges, being tourists, photograph taking, making camp fires, getting stranded due to a dead car battery, getting thee to a nunnery, countless goats, ancient sites aplenty and very beautiful scenery each and every day.

More later, but we still have [personal profile] finding_bleu's company and I have a tart to... make.

Northern Greece

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 15:07
strangelover: (Northern Greece)
Long, winding roads and too much time spent in the car )

We 'woke' to find fog enveloping the car, the sun barely able to shine through. We threw on some clean(er) clothes, tried to stretch the cricks out of our necks and made our way to find coffee. On the way to Metsovo, we found ourselves looking across the mountains at this magnificent inversion - a beautiful start to the day. Coffee attained, we wandered around Metsovo looking at cheese, spoon sweets, tourists aplenty, scary twelve year olds in heels and make up eyeing up anything male, and the occasional local in traditional clothing. It is a beautiful place, with a smoky smell that permeates everything around it, though it is definitely a touristy place as countless shops and hotels filled the cobbled streets. There are some lovely photographs documenting the village here. After a powernap in the gardens outside the church, which was built hundreds of years ago, we went in to find it in excellent condition, with icons covering every suitable part of the walls, some amazing wooden carvings and a cabinet filled with intricate and expensive offerings, such as silver cups and spoons, there was also a beautiful mother of pearl piece. As is the custom, we deposited a euro and lit a candle each, I almost always think of the same person when I do this.

We left Metsovo in an attempt to leave the sticky, sweaty humid weather behind us. No such luck, it was even stickier in Ioannina, where we had some lunch and found somewhere to lazy and re-hydrate ourselves while watching the world go by for a while. We found some energy, so decided to look around the castle - which is big enough to hold it's own city within the walls. Unusually for Greece, there are a number of (disused) mosques in the town, evidence of the Ottoman Empire, and more regionally specific, of what occurred at the hands of Ali Pasha, who is buried within the castle walls (even the guidebook recommended spitting on his grave!). As we didn't want to get stuck sleeping in the car again, we set off in search of somewhere to camp and thus north to Zagori.

Mountain villages )

Gigantic rocks that people live in and on )

Homeward bound )

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