Archive

April 2019

Browsing

Kalambaka-Greece Day 3&4

 

Day 3

I hate morning flights, but I have to use my time wisely. I arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece airport at 8am from Munich, Germany.  I have to take a bus for 4 hours to a small city called Kalambaka. I can’t find anyone who speaks English here, the ticket sale officer explains to me in Greek, I read his lips and hand movements and I think I get what he’s saying to me. I join the line and we wait for an hour for the next bus.  When the bus arrives, l sat behind someone who luckily speaks English. He started a conversation and before I could answer his question, I asked him if I was in the right bus. It turns out that the ticket sale officer was trying to tell me that this is not a direct bus. This bus goes to Trikala. And when I got to Trikala, the guy took me to a bus which goes to Kalambaka.  This is proof that once you’ve set your heart to something, the universe will work in your favor.

I arrive in Kalambaka at 16:00 and it’s love at first sight. I just love small quiet cities. The plan was to book tours at the hostel but they don’t have any.  They recommend the tourism company down the road. I got there and booked two tours. A morning hike tour and an afternoon bus tour.

Then I went for dinner at the Meteora restaurant and had the best meal of my life. I love Greek cuisine and I was looking forward to all the food I’m gonna eat when I get here. The potatoes were so delicious and I couldn’t even make up what ingredients they used, not to mention the meatballs. After eating, I knew that I’m definitely coming back for dinner the following day.

Spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the city. Didn’t go too far because I wanted to sleep very early so I can be well rested for the morning hike. As I was walking and taking pictures of the city, an old man approached me and offered to take me a picture. He spoke no English, but like Paulo Coelho says, “there’s a language of the world”. I then showed him how to take a picture and he was very impressed with himself and asked that I take him a picture as well which got him so excited. 

DAY 4

It’s raining and I’m worried the tour will be cancelled.  At 8:30 the tour guide knocks at the door, I’m waiting at the reception so I go open the door for him. He asks me if I’m ready, I say yes without asking about the rain.

The hike starts at the foothill of the Doupiani rock . The tour guide handed me a raincoat because my jacket wasn’t waterproof. Then we cross through the immense rock formation to the northern of Meteora. Over that side we discovered the hidden monastery of Ypapanti and the ruins of St Dimitrios. We went inside the monastery of Ypapanti and met the monk that stays there alone. He even allowed us to go inside the prayer room but we weren’t allowed to take pictures. He then offered us drinks and bread.

So the early monks would separate themselves from society and go live up the mountains in the caves. This allowed them to focus only on worshipping God and living pure lives. The locals would go offer them food and they’d use a lift the monks had built to transport only food. 

 

We continued to the monastery of the great Meteoron, the biggest and the most important among the monasteries of Meteora which are preserved today. It was built by Saint Athanasios around 1302 and dedicated to the transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It takes 330 steps to get inside, yes 330! It kinda gives you a feel of  how life was for the early monks. These are the very steps they took while building the Monastery. At the time of my visit, only 5 months and 3 trainees lived there. The majority of the monks left  Meteora due to the high number of tourists visiting the area and they went to more quiet areas.

The popular series called Game of Thrones wanted to shoot some of their scenes in the monastery but they were not allowed to do so. They only gave them permission to take pictures outside.

Winter has come

Later, I went for the afternoon bus tour which took us to see the other monasteries. So I got to see the whole of Meteora in a day, by foot and by bus.

Munich-Germany, Day 1&2

It’s Monday afternoon,  a few hours before I board a plane and be away from my home country for a month. I’m not excited neither am I anxious. All that’s going through my mind is the checklist, did I authorize my card for international use, did I pack my power bank, extra charger, universal plug, and the list goes on. Mom is very nervous.  Her daughter has never been out of her sight for that long. She calls everyone to the lounge to pray.We all say a prayer and she kisses me goodbye with teary eyes. I avoid eye contact as I put my backpack in the car. My sister drops me off at the airport, she’s excited. We keep our goodbyes very short. Reality still hasn’t kicked in, I’m still very calm and a bit tired because I was working the previous night. My itinerary starts in Munich, the capital of Bavaria in Germany and I’ll spend two days there. DAY 1 My flight to Munich is 10h 45min and I slept most of the flight. When we land in Munich it’s 6am, I get called by 5 customs personnel into a room for questioning. I’m not nervous, just bored. My schengen  visa is in my new passport, so they think that I’m a first time flyer.  We arrive in the room and before they asked me questions, I took out my old passport which had only two free pages and a file which had my itinerary and all my bookings. They look into it, spoke among themselves in German. They asked me to unpack everything in my backpack, now the nerves kicked in. What if someone put drugs in my backpack? I took everything out, it was just shoes and gadgets, one of them being an extra phone, now that looks suspicious. The one lady asks a question I’m kinda expecting, “why do you have two phones?”. In a nervous voice, I start explaining how I got to experience Murphy’s law. in my previous trip. They spoke among themselves again in Germany. The other lady reached for my travel journal which saved my life. She went through it, spoke to them in German and then turned to me and said, “we called you out because your passport is new so we thought you’re traveling for the first time, but now we see that you are well traveled. Now I’m very nervous by whole customs encounter. I rush to get my luggage only to find that the one wheel has been broken. This is really not a good way of starting a trip. I went to report it at the baggage claim office. The lady working there temporarily fixed it with tape and gave me a reference number to use when I get back home. By the time I got to my hostel I was emotionally exhausted. I spent the whole day in bed. Woke up at 17:00, went out to buy chicken and fries, had that meal at my hostel and went back to bed. The beauty about traveling solo is that you are in charge and can change plans according to your mood. Day 2. I wake up at 10am, no alarm was set. Now it kicks in that I’m on vacation, I can do anything at anytime.I can choose to go out or just Netflix and chill. Thinking about this just makes me happy, I love my life. I’m in a much better mood than yesterday. According to my itinerary I have to take a train to Hallstad in Austria. I look out of the window, it’s sunny, so I decide to spend the day in Munich and  go for a free walking tour. My hostel doesn’t serve breakfast, so I ask for recommendations from the receptionist. A place which has good German breakfast and good coffee and view if possible. She suggested Coffe Fellows and I loved it. After breakfast I went to the meeting point of the free walking tour in Marienplatz.  My guide is an American student who has been living in Munich for 5 years. He’s very informative and funny. He takes us to see some historical buildings and tells  all about the history of Munich and some of the wars that it had conquered.
                                             New Town Hall
                                           Bavarian State Opera
                                     St. Peter’s Church
He took us to the statue of Julia which is believed that if you touch her golden breast, you’ll find the love of your life. Let me not talk about what happens weeks later lol.
                                        Julia
Munich has many beer parks and we visited a few on our walk. The city is well known for its beer festival called Oktoberfest which happens every October with an attendance of about 6 million people. On the 12 of October 1810 Crown prince Ludwig married Therese Charlotte Luise and invited the citizens and arranged free food, beer and horse races in a field outside Munich which was named Theresienwiese. It was so good that the locals kept observing their anniversary. After the tour, I spent the rest of the day with a friend from Argentina. We walked through the city, visited a few churches and ended the day at the English garden where we sat down and he told me all about Argentina. I decide to try out the alcohol free beer but it didn’t go down well in my throat. I’ll just stick to coffee. Apart from the beer, Munich is rich in history. Two days isn’t enough to explore, so I guess I’ll have to come back again. When I got back to my hostel, I had to pack my bags and get read for my morning flight to Greece.