A weekend in the evocative natural landscapes of Meteora, in the Thessaly region. An immersion in the typical flavors of Greece.
Thessaly? among the major pilgrimage centers of the Orthodox religion why? many saints lived there. The best way to reach the Meteora monasteries? fly to Thessaloniki and then from there? travel by bus (about 3 hours).
The first day I land at Thessaloniki airport in the morning. On the opposite side of the exit c '? the 78 stop, the bus that leads to the center. The ticket costs? 2. The bus takes about thirty minutes, depending on the traffic. Arriving at the terminus, I ask the man at the ticket office how to get to the bus station and he, in a very polite manner, shows me the bus number (8). City bus tickets cost? 1. You can buy them directly from the automatic machine on the vehicle, but you need to have spare money, why? it does not give change.
Arriving at the station, I go to the counter for Trikala and ask for a return ticket to the city. The cost ? of? 31 and the return ticket has a validity? of a year, then c '? you need to indicate the date.
At 15 pm the bus leaves and my journey to Trikala begins.
The hours pass pleasantly: the mountain landscapes pass out the window and a Greek melody comes from the radio of the bus.
After three hours, I arrive in Trikala and at the ticket office I buy the bus ticket that will take me. downtown (? 0,60) in ten minutes. As usual, the Greeks are very kind and helpful in giving all the necessary information to tourists.
Arriving at the central square, I immediately go to the Hostel Meteora, the hostel I had booked on the internet. After settling in a dormitory where I am completely alone (April is not the peak season), I go out for a walk. The center is very close, I enjoy it cos? the mild temperatures of a summer already? at the gates. A cool breeze blows through the green foliage of the trees that line the river side. The streets are teeming with people pouring into the boulevards or out of restaurants or bars to chat. There is a cheerful atmosphere.
I have dinner at Mparmpanikolas, a restaurant that the girls from the hostel recommended to me, and I order fried feta and a plate of grilled mushrooms. The managers of the restaurant offer me vanilla ice cream. Cost of dinner? 6 (water is always free).
The second day I wake up early in the morning, I go to a bakery to buy a few slices of spanakopita, a typical savory pie made up of puff pastry, feta and spinach. Do I taste it walking down the street, headed for the bus stop that will take me? in Kalambaka, the city? at the foot of the Meteora. My choice of staying in Trikala? was purely strategic: Kalambaka in fact? much more? tourist and therefore expensive. Trikala also? much more? nice.
The ticket to Kalambaka costs € 3,60 and also includes the shuttle that will bring me? up to the Meteora.
The journey takes about forty-five minutes. The pi? hard of this itinerary are the numerous movements, but the efforts are amply repaid. In fact, just aboard the shuttle, I begin to see the rock pinnacles that characterize cos? so much the amazing landscape of the Meteors. Vegetation at this time of year? luxuriant and rich, the green of the trees covers the mountains.
The monasteries were built starting from the 600th century, when some hermits decided to erect these religious buildings 24 m from the ground, using only pulleys, rope ladders and ropes. Initially there were monasteries, today only six remain: Gran Meteora, Varlaam, Roussanou, Agios Nikolaos, Agia Triada and Agios Stefanos. Each of them is named after the monk who founded them.
Arrival in Gran Meteora (also known as the Monastery of the Transfiguration), the largest monastery. great. There? a large square, where? possible to park cars. Here also some vans stop, what for? they only sell chips and ice cream, so it is worthwhile to bring a packed lunch.
The entrance to the monastery costs € 3 and they make me wear a long skirt over the pants to cover my legs, as per tradition. The monastery includes a museum that houses ancient manuscripts, monks' robes and old religious relics. There? also the ossuary, a cellar and the kitchens.
From the courtyard you can enjoy a splendid view of the other monasteries and, from the opposite side, the gaze sweeps towards the valley, where there are the villages.
For visits to monasteries, it is necessary to be well informed about the times and days of closure, which are different for each monastery.
On my return I decide to immerse myself in nature, given the beautiful day, and to take a walk down to the valley. The walk takes about three hours, but? all downhill and therefore relatively easy.
Once in Kalambaka, I take the bus to Trikala (this time? 2,60). In the evening I am exhausted, I eat something on the fly and then return to the hostel.
On the last day I leave for Thessaloniki. Again the bus to the bus station and then a three-hour journey to Thessaloniki. I arrive after lunch and immediately go downtown to take a walk. The temperatures are summer and you can breathe the scent of the sea, carried by the breeze. I cross Piazza Aristotele and I go to see the White Tower, along an avenue overlooked by many clubs. There? a lot of noise, people relax in the fresh air and celebrate the weekend. Pregusto cos? this "dolce vita" climate from Thessaloniki.
I sit near the White Tower, watching people and resting. I resume the walk and arrive at the arch of Galerius.
It ends like this? my short day in Thessaloniki, the next day the plane awaits me with relative early rising.
? it was a short, but intense journey, which left me ecstatic for the beauty of the landscapes and the kindness of the Greeks, but which did not satisfy me. The things I wanted to see were many, one more reason? to go back.