Earlier this semester some of my peers visit the breathtaking site of the Monasteries in Meteora. When they returned, every single one of them said that would have loved it for three reasons:
1. Stunning landscapes
2. Religious affiliation
3. The monasteries closely resembled the Northern Air Temples of Avatar: The Last Airbender
These obviously all being convincing arguments, I packed my bags for the weekend and headed to see these wonders myself.
Meteora (Μετέωρα) means “middle of the sky” or “suspended rocks” because on top of these land formations rest Eastern Orthodox monasteries. In the 9th century, some ascetic monks moved up to these nearly inaccessible cliffs — a pretty good choice when you don’t want people bothering you. Originally there were more monasteries, but now only six remain; two of which are inhabited by nuns.
I had taken the train straight to Kalambaka (the city where the monasteries are) instead of Trikala, where I was staying for the night because I had planned on going to one of the monasteries that afternoon. Almost immediately upon arrival two things occurred simultaneously: I realized I had no idea haw to get to the monasteries and it began raining . . . a fare amount. Being stubborn, I adjusted my scarf from around my neck to around my head and wandered around trying to find my way to the top until I decided that you actually need a flying bison to carry you to the top of these cliffs. I retreated to a cafe and tried to warm up while waiting for a train to take me back to the town in which I was staying. My hostel room and a pretty little byzantine icon of Mary and Jesus, I knew I was in a safe place.
To walk from monastery to monastery takes about two and a half hours, I would say, and is stunning the entire way. The morning was quite brisk and although I am 90% sure I got on the wrong bus from Trikala, I made it to the start of the path to the monasteries. It turned out to be a beautiful day and had some prayerful and meditative time while I bounced from one place to another. I visited each monastery, with the exception of the last because it was closed for the span of time I was there. Some have more to offer than others, but the Great Meteora (as you could guess from the name) has some awesome museums. All had beautiful chapels and amazing views.
It was absolutely gorgeous and well worth the five hour train ride. Getting out of the city is always refreshing and this was an ideal place to get that breath of fresh air. I rounded out the trip with another cafe visit, although this one was dry and sunny then headed back to my dear home of Athens.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
― Gustave Flaubert