Thursday, August 02, 2007

Metsovo and Meteora

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We got back to the mainland of Greece about 6 pm on Friday and headed toward Meteora. About halfway there (about 2 hours) we took a break in the traditional mountain village of Metsovo. Metsovo is known for great skiing – it’s the ‘Greek Alps’ – and is a popular stop for Greeks and tourists alike, who want to get a feel for a traditional village. It was originally settled by Vlach shepherds, a people from the mountain regions near modern-day Romania. We heard a pronounced accent in the Greek of one elderly man we talked to.

The top two photos are from Metsovo. We stretched our legs for a bit and explored the town’s church, and then had one of the best meals we’ve had in Greece at a restaurant overlooking the town’s huge square (second photo). It was a simple meal of stuffed peppers, giant beans, etc. but it was SO good!

After that, we continued the journey to our hotel in Kastraki, a small town at the base of the mountains of Meteora. We got in close to midnight, completely exhausted.

The next morning we woke up to a great view of the mountains (and the monasteries which seem to just grow out of the top of the mountains) from our bedroom balconies. (See the bottom two photos.) The natural little caves in these unique rock formations (see the bottom photo in particular) were the first cells of the area’s monastics. It was only later, due to the threat of invaders, that the ascetics came together to form the fortified monasteries, out of invaders’ reach.

For a brief overview of Meteora, click here.

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