Nearly on the road back home...
Hard to believe…It’s our last official day travelling! And lucky you because we decided to spend a good portion of it fashioning one last blog entry before we bombard you with the long versions of our stories once we get home
The other side of the story is that it is FAR too hot to walk around Athens during “siesta”, in which all stores but a select few cafes close during the heat of the day and don’t open back up until around 7 or 8pm. This heat is serious business! Plus, we just finished a fantastic lunch of Greek salad, tzatziki, kebap…oh, and our token ½ liter of white wine to really settle in on siesta time.
So last we left off, we were enjoying our last day in Santorini waiting for our ferry to Naxos. We loved Naxos! It was one of those unfortunate instances where we wished we had a little more time to explore this beautiful island, but had a schedule in making our way to mainland Greece. While Naxos is still a super arid, volcanic island it had the most beautiful beach that we had seen in Greece! The picture doesn't do it justice, but it had completely clear, cool water and the perfect mixture of white pebbles/sand.
The Kastro was a hilltop neighborhood overlooking the "new city" and had a lot of great nooks, crannies and alleyways that sum up the stereotypical photos you see of dreamy Greece.
There were also a couple of other interesting ruins including this reconstructed arch on a bluff above the ocean where we had a picnic dinner watching the sunset. Mushy, I know… But it was beautiful and we really enjoyed our 24 hour stay on the island.
From Naxos we hopped on another ferry to Athens (with a sketchy overnight in Piraeous because we arrived after the public transportation stopped for the night). The next morning we got on a bus to Kastraki, a small little village at the base of Meteora - a historical area where "reclusive" monks came to escape society and built a series of monasteries to practice their religion. The interesting thing about these monasteries is that the monks built them on the tops of giant rock formations making it nearly impossible for other people to reach their sacred places. First of all, the rock formations in themselves are amazing! Not to mention the fact that the monks essentially free climbed up the sides of these ginormous rocks to build the churches.
The town of Kastraki:
Enjoying our private patio at our amazing accommodation - the Doupiani Traditional House:
The Monastery of Megalou Meteora was the largest of the monasteries setting on top of a rock over 600 meters above the town. It housed several fascinating exhibits, including the old kitchen and ossuary (containing hundreds of skulls), and 3 or 4 different museums.
Stairs have been built to the top of each of the monasteries for tourists. Too bad because Jaime would have appreciated another reason to bust out our rock climbing gear one last time Before the stairs, however, monks and supplies were hauled up baskets like this one:
Varlaam Monastery was also very impressive:
This is the smaller of the 2 nunneries in the area that we photographed from an unbelievable viewpoint. The nuns were by far the most strict when it came to etiquette and dress code. At each of the monasteries I had to wear a skirt around my shorts and sleeveless tops were STRICTLY prohibited.
And it wouldn't be much of a final blog entry without a photo like this one:
The Monastery of St. Nicholas was the last site we visited, which had a beautiful bell tower above it.
Although most people rent cars, we planned on walking the route to all of the monasteries. Walking the entire route would probably be around 10 km with about 600 m in elevation gain. Well, that plan was out the window when in the first 5 minutes of walking we were offered a ride by some nice Greek guys to the top. Then at nearly every other monastery visit we were offered rides to the next place. We quickly accepted the offers as the heat was just plain brutal. We still got some walking in, but not 10 km in 100 degree heat!
Then it was time to head back to Athens, leaving our beautiful hotel behind...
Yesterday was a long day since we knew how many sights we wanted to get in by the time we leave tomorrow morning. We took a bus from Meteora to Athens, another bus to the metro, then the metro to our hostel. We immediately set out to see this Acropolis thing that everyone keeps talking about
While the ancient city is fascinating in its rich history and archaeological finds, it was much smaller than I had envisioned. The ruins of Ephesus in Turkey were far bigger in size, but not nearly as intact as the Acropolis. All in all, there were both positives and negatives to my personal Acropolis experience, but I certainly attest that it is a must-see.
A restored theater where musical performances are still held today (you can see equipment still set up from the performance the night before):
You can still see the burns on the marble from the fire in 1687, when the town was invaded and the gunpowder store in the Parthenon exploded:
View from the Acropolis, Athens below:
View of the Acropolis from Athens last night after dinner:
Well, more to come here in a few days! Be thinking of us in the next 24 hours because we will be on a plane for about 15 of them!
United States here we come...