Greece Kalambaka 2001.06.07 - 06.08


Meteora is a spiritual and scenic area where 14th century monasteries perch precariously atop rocky outcrops. 5 monasteries continue to be inhabited. Each are open to the public 5 or 6 days of the week.

Kalambaka, the town at the foot of the Meteora cliffs, has a daily bus and train service to Athens and daily buses to Ioannina. From Kalambaka, the monasteries are between 3 to 5 km up hiking trails. Occasional buses from the center of Kalambaka drive up to the largest monastery, Metamorphosis, via Kastraki, a town 2 km away. Like Kalambaka, Kastraki has accommodation and can be used as a base for hiking and visiting the monasteries.

Trails are easy to follow and the simple half-page map of Meteora in the Lonely Planet guide was more than adequate. Coming from Santorini via Athens, we reached Kalambaka in the early afternoon. We didn't start walking until 15:30. Since Masami's ankle still hurt from a sprain suffered at the Athens Acropolis 6 days ago, our pace was slow. An hour from Kalambaka, we reached the most impressive looking monastery, Varlaam. Unbeknownst to us (the Lonely Planet guide has wrong opening time information - it's closed Thursdays, not Fridays), Varlaam was closed on the day of our walk. We proceeded to Metamorphosis and were rewarded with a view of the inside. Admission is dr 500 per person and proper attire is enforced. Shorts, short skirts, and sleeveless shirts are banned. At the Metamorphosis entry, cloth to cover exposed arm or leg can be borrowed.

By the time we finished viewing Metamorphosis, it was past 18:00 and all the monasteries were closing. As we headed out, dark clouds gathered and rain drops started to fall. We decided to hitch hike and a kind French mother-son couple drove us back to our hotel in Kalambaka.

Roussanou Monastery looks inaccessible from below but its easily reached from a walking path from above.

Varlaam Monastery has cliffs on all sides. A steel and wood bridge to the left connects the monastery entry stairs to the road.

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