Where ever you go, go with all your heart…
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You have already decided that your next trip will end up in Greece, but unsure of what treasures you may find here. Therefore, I write this blog. For you. Yesterday Apollo travel agency announced a blog competition about travel inspiration, and I am lucky to be a part of it. I am nominated for “local expert of the year”. If you feel inspired by my images and personal stories about Greece, please vote for my blog. I will forever be grateful for your support!
Vote with one click (no fee) here. The five blogs that receive the most votes will move on to the final and may eventually become the Travel inspo of the year.
The first time I visited Meteora was in the middle of the 80’s. Our Greek neighbours at Bastugatan in Stockholm came from Trikala not far from Kalampaka and Meteora. I visited them one summer and had the opportunity to walk up to the monasteries. At that time, there were most cars on the road and believers who wanted to visit the monasteries. Back then Kalampaka town was much smaller and the big tourist buses were rare. In this case we decided to explore the area by travelling to Meteora within 24 hours.
The holy rocks
Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. It consists of 24 monasteries, but only six of them are active today. In a region of almost inaccessible sandstone peaks, monks settled on these ‘columns of the sky’ from the 11th century onwards. Meteora is one of the cultural Unesco world heritage sites in Greece.
In recent years the monasteries has become more popular outside Greece. Compared to earlier years the number of monks has declined considerably and moved to the monasteries of Athos to get their call in peace and quiet. I think that the sunset in the area is wonderfully beautiful and soothing. Don’t miss the spectacular views of the sunset around the holy rocks while you are there, you will remember them forever.
How to get here
Meteora is located in the region of Thessaly in the middle of Greece. The nearest town is Kalampaka and the nearest village is Kastraki. I recommend you to get to Meteora by train, bus or car. By train with trainose.gr from Athens or Thessaloniki. Or by bus with KTEL from every town in Greece, the bus arrives to Trikala which is the nearest city to Kalampaka. We visited this divine place in 24 hours and started our journey from Ioannina. Arrived to Kalampaka in the early afternoon. After one day we left Meteora by bus with wonderful memories and our cameras full of captures.
Great Meteoron Monastery
The Great Meteoron Monastery is by far the biggest one of all. Often mentioned as meteoro which means “suspended in the air”. According to the history of Great Meteoron, Saint Athanasios the Meteorite was the first founder of the monastery.
Holy Monastery of Varlaam
In comparison to the other monasteries Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second biggest monastery. Resides near the Great Meteoron monastery and was founded in the mid 14th century by the monk Hosios Varlaam. Besides the churches the area consists of several other buildings.
St. Stephen’s Monastery
St. Stephen’s Monastery is the easiest monastery to access, by crossing the small bridge to reach the entrance. It is ideal for visitors who cannot use the steps and yet they wish to have a real experience of a Meteora monastery. The beginning of monastic life on the rock of Agios Stephanos dates back to early in the 12th century.
Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas
Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas is the first monastery that we see on the way up. Probably founded at the 14th century. There are different stories about how the name came to be Anapafsas. One explanation is that the name comes from the founder of this monastery. The other story is about the position of the monastery. It was probably a resting place for pilgrims on the way up. Resting translates into Greek anapafsis, literally means Saint Nicholas the one who rests you.
Holy Monastery of Roussanou
Holy Monastery of Roussanou has received the name of the first probable hermit who settled on the rock. Decorated by monks in the 16th century. In recent years the monastery became convent after the restoration from the damages of World War II. Actually the nuns have a popular little gift shop in the covent.
Holy Trinity Monastery
By far the most difficult monastery to reach is Holy Trinity Monastery (Agia Triada). Founded as early as 1632. Here at the top of the rock the panoramic view of Kalambaka and Thessaly valley is impressive. In short you follow the pathway to the foot of the rock and walk up the 140 stairs to Holy Trinity. Above all its known to the public because of the final scenes of the film For Your Eyes Only with James Bond.
Note the dresscode for monasteries. For men long pants and for women skirt or dress below the knee.
Our first priority was to see the sunset from the various places with a tour by taxi. Secondly was the tour of the monasteries with Meteora Thrones. In summery we booked both activities with the help from the hotel staff where we stayed. Travel to Meteora in 24 hours is well spend hours and definitely a trip my family never forget. Its popular to come here with a bus tour from Athens or other cities in Greece. Spend several days exploring the valley of Thessaly is actually easy. As you can explore the area hiking, biking, climbing at the rocks among others. To summarise you can schedule your trip in the area with more outdoor activities here.
Many of my friends and neighbours in Sweden rent their own car and travel around Crete. And often they ask about greek food and where we eat during our holidays. So here are my best food trips around the area of Chania. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the area if you are fond of the gastronomic culture. Cretans love their soil and produce everything from wine to honey…
Did you know that the cretan cuisine differs from the rest of Greece? If you plan to visit Chania this year and love greek food do not miss to do some nice food trips while you are there.
Manouri med koukounari Greek cream cheese with pine nuts.Fasolakia Cutting beans braised in tomato, onion and olive oil.Saganaki In short, a piece of deep-fried cheese. Midia Green mussels on a rice bed. Grilled with garlic butter.Dolmathakia Wine dolm filled with rice, nuts and various spices. Also works to eat hot and cold.Feta med meli Filo dough filled with feta cheese, topped with honey and sesame seeds.Taramosalata A spread made of fish rum, olive oil, lemon and potatoes or bread. Perfect to put on a piece of bread.Pantzaria Citrus marinated beetroot with feta cheese and roasted sesame seeds.Gigantes Beans in tomato and olive oil.Saligaria White wine Sautéed snails filled with garlic butter.
A Swedish travel agency listed the list of ten popular Greek meze in their last campaign about Greek holiday dreams. And yes there are many options to choose when you are at the Greek restaurant….
Leave your hotel or accommodation and walk in the old town and the port of Chania. Old town with its charming Venetian style. Here you will find a good offer with restaurants with a lot of Greek food. My husband and I were delighted with a small fish restaurant at the harbor. At Stelios Psarotaverna, Akti Enoseos, you will find fish and seafood on the menu.
Visit a winery
Manousakis Winery, Vatolakkos Chania. In the village of Vatolakkos you will find the wonderful vineyard Manousakis. This is the story of Theodore Manousakis who leaves his village as 11-year-old for America. However after many years away from Crete he returns 50 years later to plant his first vineyard in Vatolakos. And the rest is history. Book a tour to learn and taste the vines and enjoy the food in the restaurant.
Milia restaurant, Vlatos, Chania. Another amazing story about the medieval village Milia which once was abandoned and now refurbished to a mountain retreat. Here they cultivate and harvest organic products. Further more the restaurant serves Cretan dishes such as organic vegetables, baby goat and lamb dishes. The village is located near the village Topolia.
Olive oil tour
You see olive trees everywhere in Crete. And a lot of olive oil is produced here. We visited TerraCreta’s facility in the Kolymbari area. In addition you can book a tour and learn about olive oil and taste the different varieties. I didn’t know much about olive oil until we visited the facility, recommend it!
Elos village, located 60km from Chania, on the way to Elafonissi, is known for their chestnut trees. During October you can buy chestnuts at the village stores and they make tasty dishes with chestnuts as well. Probably the best village in the area, it has the best restaurants and food according to my opinion.
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