One day trip to Meteora, Greece

Hello, travellers!

Today I'll take you back to the wonderful Greece, most precisely to the monasteries of Meteora, which literally mean "middle of the sky".
On the fall of 2013, after my first summer season on Kefalonia, I visited couple of places on the continental part of Greece. Meteora had probablly the most poignant impression on me.

"Meteora is associated with one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second in importance only to Mount Athos. The remaining six monasteries are built on natural conglomerate pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. Meteora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List." (Wikipedia)

On the way to Meteora I passed the beautiful town of Kalambaka. The road was absolutely beautiful. I had finished visiting Ioannina, which is another amazing place that I will talk to you about on a future post, when I decided to head to Meteora.

Until this moment I was used to the clear blue waters of the Mediteranean Sea and the arid landscape of the islands, so you can only imagine what a pleasant surprise I had travelling on the continental Greece, through green forests, valleys and mountains. I was feeling like I stepped into a different, enchanting world, which I totally recommend for you, wanderlust seekers.

It was a sunny, warm 5th of October and I had made a new friend at the entrance to the first monastery. (See the picture above)
The Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas Anapafsas, one of four male monasteries in Meteora, is located on top of a vast rock whose summit is of a small surface area. The architectural form of the building stirs the admiration of the visitor, due to the fact that it is moulded to the shape of the height on which the complex rests.

The stairway, leading up towards the monastery, was sculpted from 1932 to 1936, safeguarding the safe and easy access to visitors and travellers. Before its construction the only way to access the monastery was the traditional vrizoni, the net that was used to carry both people and necessary victuals. The Church is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Lycia, patron saint of the sailors and one of the most worshipped Saints within the Greek Orthodox World.

After taking couple of pictures of the place and the incredible surroundings I headed to the next one.
The Monastery of Rousanou/St. Barbara was the secong to visit. It was founded in the middle of the 16th century and decorated in 1560. Today it is a flourishing nunnery with 13 nuns in residence.

"Rousannou Monastery stands on a low rock and is easily accessible by a bridge built of wood in 1868 and replaced by more solid material in 1930. Despite this, its situation is still quite dramatic, with the rock dropping off sharply on all sides.

The monastery covers the entire surface of the rock and consists of three levels: the church and cells occupy the ground floor, while the two upper floors house the guest quarters, reception halls, an exhibition room, and more cells. The frescoes in Rousannou's Church of the Transfiguration of Christ, which is essentially a smaller version of Varlaam's church, date from 1560." (Source)

The resident nuns tend to be friendlier to visitors than their male counterparts in Meteora and often provide sweets to guests as they relax in the courtyard.
I enjoyed walking in the forest near the monastery, climbing over couple of rocks and admiring the panorama. It was one of those places where you realise how small you actually are and what an amazing planet we have.

Next on my road was The Monastery of Varlaam which is the second largest monastery in the Meteora complex.

"It was built in 1541 and embellished in 1548. A church, dedicated to All Saints, is in the Athonite type (cross-in-square with dome and choirs), with spacious exonarthex (lite) is surrounded by a dome. It was built in 1541/42 and decorated in 1548, while the exonarthex was decorated in 1566. The old refectory is used as a museum while north of the church is the parekklesion of the Three Bishops, built in 1627 and decorated in 1637." (Wikipedia)

The 4th and last monastery I visited was The Monastery of Great Meteoron.

"This is the largest of the monasteries located at Meteora. It was erected in the mid-14th century and was the subject of restoration and embellishment projects in 1483 and 1552. One building serves as the main museum for tourists. 

The Katholikon (main church), consecrated in honour of the Transfiguration of Jesus was erected in the middle of the 14th century and 1387/88 and decorated in 1483 and 1552."(Wikipedia)

I haven't got the chance to visit the other two monasteries, The Monastery of St. Stephen and The Monastery of the Holy Trinity, but after 4 hours of visiting the other ones, I considered it was enough; a long way to Athens was waiting.

In conclusion it was a wonderful experience, absolutely amazing constructions, breath taking views and incredible facts which I found out about the nuns and the monks lives, history and religion. 
Meteora, as well as Mt. Athos should be on every Greece lover's "must visit" list.

Feel free to explore Santorini on my latest post.

Until next time.

Travel well and everywhere!



One day trip to Santorini, Greece

Hello travelers!

Today I'm sliding down the memory lane back to the summer of 2011. It was my second summer season working on Crete island and my first as an entertainer in the "Animation Team" of a hotel. Great atmosphere, friendly customers, talented colleagues, incredible places that I visited and so many parties, maybe too many: all of these made my summer one to never forget.
Overall it was my 5th summer working in Greece and that year I started in Rhodes as an entertainer but the things didn't go quit well so I decided to try my luck in Crete. All said and done I have to admit it was a better choice and I was also lucky. But today we're going to focus on one of the best one day trips of that summer: Santorini!!

It was a crazy night at work having a great dance show and afterwards dancing in the hotel's club until very late. After just 3 or 4 hours of sleep I had to be fresh and ready to jump in the bus to Heraklion. After many stops to pick up customers from different hotels we end up on the ferry boat to  the incredible island of Thira.

We left Heraklion behind us around 7:30AM and we enjoyed a little nap on the boat. After 2 hours and a half we arrived to Santorini. I remember a very small harbour at the bottom of the mountain, a lot of tourists from different countries and the heat which was already rising fast.

The road from the harbour to Oia, our first stop, was an adventure. I must congratulate the greek bus drivers for their skills, patience and control. The road is made of so many curves at a high angle and it is also very narrow. Thank God I am not afraid of heights.

"Santorini was named by the Latin Empire in the 13th century and is a reference to Saint Irene, from the name of the old cathedral in the village of Perissa – the name Santorini is a contraction of the name Santa Irini." (Wikipedia) Once we arrived in Oia(or Ia) we truly felt the high temperature. I remember that 20th of July with its real feel 44 degrees Celsius.

"The town is noted for its white and blue domed houses. The houses are painted in white lime water so that the rainwater which falls over it runs down and can be collected. The other reason for painting the houses white is for aesthetic purposes. The other explanation given is that during the Ottoman rule of Greece, which lasted for over 400 years, Greeks were not allowed to fly their white flag. In defiance, in Oia they painted their entire housing complex in white with domes giving the village an effective white perspective and elegance."(Wikipedia)

We had around one hour and a half to explore the streets of Oia. Our first stop was the Church of Panagia of Platsani and the Caldera Square.

The streets are crowded and the heat is taking over. I feel like I am in a gigantic oven. Thank God for the beautiful view of the Caldera, an Oia classic.
There are many souvenir shops, bars, restaurants and art galleries on the streets. See some of them in the pictures below.

Our journey continued and after beautiful views of monasteries and windmills on our road, we arrived to Fira. The central square of Fira is called Plateia Theotokopoulou, with a bus and taxi station, banks and pharmacies.

"From Fira there is a panoramic view of the 18 km long caldera from southern Cape Akrotiri to northern Cape Ag. Nikolaos, plus the volcanic island Nea Kameni at the center with Thirassia Island. Large cruise ships anchor in the small harbor between Nea Kameni and Fira." Wikipedia

We have only one hour to spend here and admire this beautiful town. I decide to walk a bit along the streets, buy couple of souvenirs and have a cold beer on one of the many beautiful bars above the sea.

After a short ride we arrived to Perissa where we were amazed by the beach with black sand. There are couple of restaurants on the beach and we entered in one of them to have lunch, fresh seafood and local white wine. After one hour and a half of swimming and sun bathing we were back on the bus on our way to the ferry.

Around 5:30PM we embarked on the ferry and we arrived in the evening back to Heraklion. I was a little disappointed regarding the sunset. I was expecting an explosion of colours but, aw well, this is the only thing I got:

Overall Santorini is an amazing place to visit and there are many other attractions on the island. I would recommend you to visit it in May or early June and at the end of September, beginning of October. During the high season it's very hot, the streets are crowded and frankly it's also more expensive. If you decide to go on a one day trip from Crete to Santorini be prepared to run, run, run, you know how it goes with the organised trips: 1 hour here, 1 hour there, 10-20 pictures, faster, people, faster...and that's it! One day it is not enough to truly experience such a wonderful place as Santorini. I would love to go back there again!

More about one day trips to Milan and Bergamo you can find HERE!!! 
Looking for a weekend getaway?! Why not trying Larnaca in Cyprus?! Find more details about my trip to the island of love HERE!!!

Until next time, travel well, everywhere!