I’d wanted to visit Meteora, but could never justify an entire trip, just to see it.
Since I was spending Christmas in Athens and it was a short train journey from there, the Meteora starting pistol was fired.
Meteora is unique, as it has large round rock monoliths located right next to the village.
So close that you can literally walk out of your hotel and your at the foot of one.
A world heritage site, they contain a number of monastery’s on top.
My main interest came when I watched a James Bond film – For your eyes only (if your my sort of age, you may remember the theme song, by Shena Easton).
A significant part of the plot and ending are featured in Metora.
But first, we’ve got to get there.
We leave our hotel, and as we walked towards Athens railway station, it looked derelict and I wondered if it had closed down.
I remember reading on BBC News in 2008 that Greece was in such financial difficulty that it would be cheaper to close down the train network and transport all the passengers by Taxi.
Luckily, that hadn’t happened, and we arrived to find hundreds of people with the same idea as us, to visit Meteora for Christmas.
It looked like chaos from the platform, but once the doors opened we found our seats.
Extremely comfortable, large windows to enjoy the the view and plenty of space to store our bags.
After a relaxing 5 hours we arrive Meteora.
Kalamata Railway station in Kalampaka.
We take a moment to orientate ourselves, then walk to hotel Galaxy.
The receptionist is very helpful and the hotel clean and bright (a lot better than I’d expected for the money we’d paid).
In reception, they have a bus timetable and I was surprised they had so many regular services, considering it was Christmas & New Year.
But were here in search of adventure. We dump our bags and head out.
We wander around the town looking for some lunch (I had burger and chips, I was on holiday after all).
There were views like this one right from the centre of town. It wasn’t very warm, but the sky was completely clear.
As we relax, we review a map of the area. Not exactly to UK OS map standard, but gives us a rough idea of how to see the things we want the following day.
Back into the centre of town for an evening of nice wine and delicious Greek food.
They had a nativity thing set up in the main square.
Our evening over, we walk back to our hotel.
I was delighted to see that they light up the monoliths at night in this spectacular fashion.
In the morning, we head out early towards the village of Kastraki
It’s so cold, that this map, is frozen, and I have to use a tesco clubcard to clear away the section we want to visit.
We continue up a path from the village.
The are is clear and fresh and there are tree’s on each side of the road.
We leave the road, had into the foothills, along a path.
The sun is up now and the views spectacular.
We find an old military vehicle is abandoned next to a vineyard.
Branching off, we follow a path between Great Meteoron and Varlam.
The views on either side are spectacular.
Some parts of the path need some tlc, this bench on the trail certainly wasn’t in a state to be sat on.
As we arrive at the monastery of Great Meteoron (the view is looking back to the monastery of Varlam) we find loads of tourists who’ve travelled up by bus).
The ask us how we’ve got there. We point back down the trail and tell them where it comes out on the road. We have 2 maps, so we give one to a friendly couple who are wearing Dr Martens.
Inside the monastery (its a few Euros to look around), the paintings are superb. After a short while, we walk to the monastery of Varlam, and the views all around are incredible.
But instead of going back, we head deeper into the mountains. Our intention is to loop back around Doupiani and take a circular route back to Kastraki and onto Kalampaka.
On the way, we see a statue and flag to Papathymios Vlachava who famously led the fight agains Ali Pashi of the Ottoman empire.
It was strange really, as it was literally in the middle of nowhere.
We pass another monastery. This time, its not actually on top of the monolith, but carved into the side.
Well off the beaten track, it was unfortunately closed.
Back down through the mountains and forests, looking back up the trail.
Back down through Kastraki, its just turning 6pm.
We stop on the way home at a family run restaurant – chips and red wine.
The next morning, we choose a different route entirely.
Leading straight from Kalampaka, the paths are much better maintained.
Were heading for the monastery of the Holly Trinity.
Which in the James Bond film, looks like this, and is called St Cyrils.
A spectacular scene in the film involved Bond climbing up a shear face of the monolith.
We’ve no such ambitions, and use the normal path up through the rocks.
Inside St Stephens monastery, an enormous series of buildings.
The are outside St Stephens has amazingly clear air, spectacular views of Kalampaka and Kastraki, and a superb spot to relax (and the place where the ATAC system was destroyed at the end of For your eyes only.
Our adventure ends a bit more serenely.
With 2 hours before our train home, we relax with some snacks, and a cold beer, back in Kalamapaka.