It’s nice to be camping again and cooking our own food. we had a vegetable stew tonight.
We’ve spent the day visiting monasteries high up in the Meteora hills. They were built around the 15th century, with the rocky hills providing a natural form of security. From what I could glean from the monasteries’ museums, there was a lot of conflict with the Ottoman Empire and Christianity wasn’t altogether accepted (to say the least). I know very little about the history of this part of the world – I’d like to learn more.
In the biggest of the monasteries, the holy Monastery of the Great Meteoron, there was an ossuary, a room of bones. I think they were bones of saints and martyrs. It was written at the monastery that when people become saints their bones become sacred, sometimes with healing powers and even pleasanly fragrant! So, they keep them and honour them.
There were some stunning Orthodox churces in the monasteries, with paintings from floor to ceiling. I’d like to learn more about the history of the Orthodox Church too.
It’s been great to visit an historical site in Greece since we unfortunately didn’t get down to Athens, Delphi or the Pelopennese. I guess we can’t do everything. I’d love to come back again one day and see some of ancient Greece.
Other marvels were the wild flowers. I’ve never seen so many different kinds and all so delicate and exquisite. Just as mind-blowingly amazing as the monasteries.
I’m not normally one for buses but yesterday’s bus ride from Ioanina was something else. The bus zig zagged it’s way over mountains that were brightly lit by a morning sun. Wet rocks were shining like silver and every now and then a field would appear with wildflowers that looked like confetti. I was dazzled with the bright reds of poppies mixed in with all the other colours of flowers I’ll probably never know the names of. It made the lack of leg room entirely bearable.
My good friend Nic told me about this area called the Meteora the other day. It sounded amazing (Nic’s real good at describing things). Me and Susan were thinking gee it’s a shame to be in Greece and not to see anything much. So we asked around and as it turns out, the Meteora are kind of on the way to Thessaloniki – where we’re heading to go on into Bulgaria. Nice one.
So here we are in a campsite just near Kalampaka. The area is beautiful – with it’s massive chiseled looking limestone rocks jutting out of the ground. Even without the monasteries built on top of and sometimes into the rocks it would be stunning enough.
It’s been a big day. We caught a bus to a few of the monasteries and we walked to some of the others. One of the walks that we thought would take us to a good vantage point for seeing a cliff-top monastery actually took us to the top. Now I’m not great with heights – as some of you (especially Dave, Tom and Jack) will know. I have trouble even on a ladder… I got to the top and my legs felt like jelly from a combination of the exercise and the aforementioned height problem. Ah well… I survived. And I managed to keep my freaking out on the inside.
A lot of the monasteries now have stairs – at least for the final ascent – but they haven’t always. For someone who has trouble even getting to the top, I am absolutely amazed that they got built in the first place. Blows me away.