Two Days in Meteora.

After our time in Thessaloniki, we made our way to Imathia. I had never heard of Imathia before arriving in Greece, but it turns out that every spring there is a gorgeous display of peach blossoms in Imathia. Unfortunately, we were a few days too early and the peach trees had just started to bloom so we didn’t get the full effect, but the blossoms were still stunning.

Munching on a koulouria amongst the peach blossoms of Imathia.

Once we fortified ourselves with koulouria, we made the rest of the drive to Kalabaka to see Meteora. And, what a drive it was through the winding mountain roads! After a few hours, and me very nearly getting car sick, we arrived to this. Yep, this was the view from our hotel room window. Amazing, right?

The view from our hotel window in Kalabaka. It was the only good thing about our hotel.

So, what is Meteora? Well, simply put, it is a rock formation with some amazing rock pillars with some crazy ass Greek Orthodox monasteries (and nunneries) built on top of the rocks.

The Monastery of Varlaam.

Apparently, 24 monasteries were built back in the 13th-14th centuries. Today, six remain. (Although query how one lives a monastic life at a tourist site?) Perhaps not shockingly, Meteora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Monastery of Great Meteoron.

The three most important things to know about visiting Meteora are as follows. First, if you want to visit any of the monasteries, be prepared to climb a ton, and I mean a ton, of stairs. Only one of the six is accessible without climbing beaucoup stairs (St. Stephen, which is actually a nunnery).

The view from the road. This doesn’t even look real, right?

But, it could be worse. Apparently, when the monasteries were first built the only access was long ladders or baskets pulled up with ropes. The running joke is that the ropes were replaced when they broke, and not before.

St. Stephen Nunnery. The only one that doesn’t require you to climb a bunch of steps.

The second thing you need to know is, if you are a woman, be prepared to be treated in an infuriating way. Namely, woman are required to wear skirts. It doesn’t matter how baggy and unsexy your pants might be — the monasteries (and nunneries) will refuse to let you in if you are wearing pants. Now, you can wear a skin-tight tube skirt so tight that your cellulite shows. Nope, nothing wrong with that apparently. (Yes, really, we saw that.) And, you can wear a skirt with a slit all the way up to your you know what. (Yep, saw that too.) And, you can tie a translucent sarong around your pants. (Yep, saw that as well.) But, woe is you if you show up in pants with nothing over them. You too will get to borrow a lovely skirt like this one.

The free skirt I had to wear to visit St. Stephen. At least it was black . . . . .

Please, please, make it make sense. I guess I should just be happy woman are allowed to visit at all, since that wasn’t allowed before 1920….

Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas

So, between the stairs and the need to wear a skirt, we only went into one monastery. But, the views from the road were lovely.

Monastery of Rousanou (I think).

The third thing you need to know is that you really don’t need more than one night in Meteora. Honestly, if you do the drive around the monasteries once in the afternoon and once in the morning, I think you are all set.

Monastery of the Holy Trinity, which was in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only.

We drove up and down a couple of times to see the monasteries in different light, and that was the perfect solution for us.

A not very friendly goat in Meteora.

And, you just might get to see a goat on the side of the road.

About theschneiduks

Lisa has a degree in biology and another in law and has spent the last 20 years working as a patent litigator. She is a voracious reader of young adult dystopian fiction and watches far too much bad tv. She loves pretty much anything to do with zombies, and doesn’t think there is anything weird about setting an alarm at 6 am on a weekend to stumble to a pub to watch her beloved Chelsea boys. Robert has had many professions, including a chef, a salesman, an IT guy and most recently, a stay at home dog dad. He speaks Italian and hopes to learn Spanish on this trip. He loves nothing more than a day spent sailing, hopes to do more scuba diving, and rues the day he introduced Lisa to football (i.e., soccer).
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