Today was Meteora day. We left just after 7 am. It was kind of drizzly and cloudy and we were afraid that our day was going to be spoiled a bit, however, after about 2 hours of traveling, we drove out of it, thankfully. The rest of the day the weather was flawless.
There were two vehicles - the van with the 6 departing missionaries and Pres. & Sis. Charles - and the Mowers and Brent and I in the Corsa (Opel).
We first stopped at Thermopylae so that the missionaries could take pictures, shooing off their muscles in front the Leonidas statue etc. and visited the nearby hot sulphur springs - they really smelled bad!! That is where Leonidas and his Spartans held off the entire Persian army.
We finally arrived at Meteora around noon. It is a really amazing place with these crazy rocks with cliff-top monasteries sitting, seemingly, in the air. Apparently, that's what Meteora means - "in the air." We went through this little village, Kastraki, which is at the foot of these rocks. The rocks seem to be limited to just this small area. I read in one of the books that the rocks were form about 60,000 million years ago when a land-locked lake burst though a gap in the mountains, spurting through onto the Plains of Thessaly, forming these pillars. We drove up to what is generally called the Great Monastery. In order to access it though, you had to go down a lot of step to a little bridge which connected with the pillar that this monastery sat atop. Once across the bridge you went on a short flat path which let into a rock tunnel and then out the other side of that, the stairs began to go up and up and up!! I REALLY wanted to go, but common sense told me that I shouldn't try it. So everyone else went, while I purchased a book about this attraction, went and sat in the car and basically read about everything they were seeing inside. They were gone about an hour and then we drove to another monastery, but it was closed by this time and so the missionaries just had fun climbing down some of the more navigable slopes and back up again. We had a lovely restful time up the top, in the beautiful sunshine, just drinking all the beautiful scenery. Then we went back down into Kastraki and had supper before starting back home. I tried their moussaka and found it to be very nice. I've had it in Calgary and it came like a square of lasagna, but here, it came in an earthenware bowl and it was VERY hot - in temperature.
We began driving "home" in the daylight, but it didn't last very long and we had to have taken a wrong turn somewhere, because we didn't recognize any of the places that we were passing, looking for the "National Road" and the GPS didn't help at all. The map that you could see on it was very localized and you couldn't see the National Road on it - the only thing that did help was that it showed that the kilometers to our destination were decreasing! We finally found our bearings after going over some mountain pass (in the dark) and we could smell where we were heading before we got there - we came out at Thermopylae, by the sulphur hot springs and found the National Road there. We arrived at the Mission Office at 11:05, exhausted, but all in all, having had a really nice day.
This is as you approach Meteora
This is a monastery just beside the Great Monastery
This is Pres. Charles Brent & Iooking toward the Great Monastery
This isn't a particularly good picture of the Great Monastery - spreads over quite an area, but, right in the foreground, if you look down, you can see a little bridge with an entrance and that's where you go in - and from there you walk to the left in the picture, on the flat, through a little tunnel, and then you start the climb up and up to see the Monastery itself.