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The Reclusive Monasteries of Meteora

Not just known as the title of Linkin Park’s epic second album, Meteora, (translating to “suspended in the air”) is home to one of the most important and beautiful Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece. On day two of our travels across Northern Greece, we actually went up a couple of these monasteries to experience this extraordinary early Christian site and get a glimpse of the lives of its inhabitants.


Meteora

* Made by the same natural forces that shaped the Grand Canyon and Petra, the scenery of Meteora is dominated by six monasteries that are built on top of natural sandstone rock pillars.



Meteora

* What is this, that monastery in GI JOE Retaliation and prison palace in The Dark Knight Rises?! Owing to its secluded location and cave-like peaks, Meteora has been home to early Christian monks and hermits since the 9th Century.


Meteora

* The writer and his beloved enjoying the gorgeous view and cool wind.


Meteora

* Fantastic view of the town of Kalabaka, resting between the enormous rock pillars.


Meteora

* Originally, there were more than 20 monasteries located all over the area. Today, there are only six left. The monks who lived here purposely chose the area for its solitude; spending their days just worshiping and praying alone in total silence, and only socializing on Sundays.


Meteora

* The scenery looks like it’s something out of The Lord of the Rings. This place must have been quite something back in the day, before the arrival of the tourists and pilgrims. One could really get in the meditative and reflective mood here.


Meteora

* Originally, access to the monasteries was deliberately difficult, requiring pilgrims to climb up extremely long ladders or nets. Furthermore, these ladders were never replaced until they actually snapped, as the monks had the philosophy that its breaking was willed by God. Today, the monasteries can be accessed by pilgrims via long and steep stairs. Hey, them monks gotta make money too!


Meteora

* Since photography is forbidden within the monasteries, I could only take some photos of the exterior of the place; such as this beautiful garden tended by the nuns who lived within.


Meteora

* The long way up. Bring comfortable shoes and bottles of water!


Meteora

* On our way to our second monastery, we passed by these rock pillars. I can imagine that my rock-climbing enthusiast friends would LOVE it here.


Meteora

* Going up the second monastery was a bit trickier as the stairs were more steep and much more numerous than the first. You can still see the original way that hermits could access the monastery with the series of ropes hanging on the picture on the right.


Meteora

* At the top before entering the no-camera zone of the monastery, there was a make-shift shrine dedicated to the various Orthodox saints, holy men and hermits who used to live here.


Kalabaka

* After touring the monasteries, we proceeded to the small town of Kalabaka armed with our appetites.


Kalabaka Mama’s Restaurant

* For lunch, we ate in a well-known place simply called "Mama’s Restaurant." Referred to by our tour guide (as well as Tripadvisor) as Kalabaka’s best restaurant, Mama’s also gets the award for best “confusingly awesome” wall decor!


Kalabaka Mama’s Restaurant

* Check out their selection of beer! If only I had the time….


Kalabaka Mama’s Restaurant

* And here is Mama herself, on the right, explaining what the various dishes are! I was reminded of my college dorm days, what with the huge pots and pans, thick oil, and great food.


Mythos

* Potatoes, veggies and huge chicken thigh & leg with Mythos, make for a perfect al fresco lunch.


Kalabaka

* Monicca and I had time to explore the town after lunch but the stores were mostly closed save for a few groceries and souvenir shops.


Kalabaka

* So we decided to take loads of pictures instead! Here’s Monicca pretending to be a classic Greek statue / road sign.


Greek Tourist Trap

* Another tourist trap on one of those breaks on the road, this time focusing on Orthodox icons ranging from 200 euros (yikes) to 5 euros (woohoo!)


Greek Tourist Trap

* This place was a bit overpriced though (which I found peculiar) as the same statues were half the price in Athens!

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