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.
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.
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.