Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Shoes

It's our wedding anniversary!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Meteora Greece November 19

The view from our hotel this morning in the town of Kalambaka.

Before we head out to the monasteries we make a stop at an Icons factory. I bought a ring and a bracelet.

The night before we were reminded that we should wear skirts (no need to cover our heads??) since I didn't have one I picked one up in town. The monasteries do supply wraps if you don't have one.

The Metéora (Greek: Μετέωρα, "suspended rocks", "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above") is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Access to the monasteries was originally (and deliberately) difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith – the ropes were replaced, so the story goes, only "when the Lord let them break".[5] In the words of UNESCO, "The net in which intrepid pilgrims were hoisted up vertically alongside the 373 metres (1,224 ft) cliff where the Varlaam monastery dominates the valley symbolizes the fragility of a traditional way of life that is threatened with extinction."[6] In the 1920s there was an improvement in the arrangements. Steps were cut into the rock, making the complex accessible via a bridge from the nearby plateau. During World War II the site was bombed and many art treasures were stolen.There were several tour buses in front of us as we started the climb so our guide Militsa decided that we would go to the second monastery first and we would climb down to it rather than up! Bonus!!

Until the 17th century, the primary means of conveying goods and people from these eyries was by means of baskets and ropes.

Only six of the monasteries remain today. Of these six, five are inhabited by men, one by women. Each monastery has fewer than 10 inhabitants. The monasteries are now tourist attractions.

 Yes, I have a monastery growing out of my head!
On the way down to the monastery we stop at a spot where we can climb the rocks and get photos, not my idea of fun, can you tell from my face or actually my hand?!?

Aerial view of Saint Barbara monastery that we walked down to. It is run by nuns.

Basket with wraps for the women.

Ladder used by nuns in earlier times.
Looking down into town

The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen - This small church was built in the 16th century and decorated in 1545. This monastery rests on the plain rather than on a cliff. It was damaged by the Nazis during WWII who believed it was harboring insurgents. It was abandoned. Nuns took it over and reconstructed it

Now it's time to head back into Kalambaka for lunch at the Gertsou family run restaurant where Mama knows all! The restaurant is on the town square across from the fountain. It is market day so it is busy.

We filed into the kitchen and she served us.

Some photos from town

Then it was time to head back to Athens, a 4 hour drive.
On the drive back we had to pass the test that Militza had been warning us about. Mary claimed she would have a note from her mother allowing her to skip the test. The test was for each of us to come up with words that came from original Greek meanings.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Delphi November 18

After the Acropolis, Delphi is the most popular archaeological site in Greece. Located 180 kilometers from Athens, a trip to Delphi is listed in just about every tour itinerary and is by far the most popular day trip out of Athens.

Delphi in ancient times was considered the center of the known world, the place where heaven and earth met. This was the place on earth where man was closest to God. In Mythology, Delphi was the meeting place of two eagles, released by Zeus and sent in opposite directions. Where they met indicated the center of the earth. Delphi is known as the center of worship for the God Apollo, son of Zeus who embodied moral discipline and spiritual clarity. But even before the area was associated with Apollo there were other deities worshipped here including the earth goddess Gea, Themis, Demeter and Poseidon, the well known god of the sea. By the end of the Mycenaean period Apollo had displaced these other deities and became the guardian of the oracle.


The view when we arose in Delphi.

Our guide Melitsa
Outside the museum

I bought a small statue of the sphinx.


After the climb to the Theatre

It was now time to board the bus and head to the Corinthian coast for some lunch. Lunch at the Scala restaurant, situated pier-side. They offered us complimentary retsina and ouzo (resin-flavored and liquorice-like spirits, respectively).

From Delphi we headed north to the town of Kalambaka and the monasteries of Meteora. Meteora means "hanging in the air" and many of its huge sandstone formations have monasteries built on their tips .

After checking into our hotel, the Divani, we wandered into town to get some dinner. Most places were full of men smoking and chatting. We found Syrtaki and had a pleasant meal with a bottle of good wine, which has been a challenge in Greece.
We started with a beet salad then both had a combination plate with a chicken skewer, Lamb chop and hamburger which is really just like a meatball.