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Meteora in 24 hours

St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery

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 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.

The Monasteries

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

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Kastraki village

Roussanou Monastery

Varlaam Monastery

Behind the scenes

One of the sunset spots

Holy Trinity Monastery

Culinary trips around Chania

Old town Chania

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…

Greek food

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.  
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….

  • 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.
  • One other of the beautiful alleys in old town

    Culinary trips

    Chania town

    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

    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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    A day trip to Spinalonga

    The Greek channel Mega sent the first episode of the series “To Nisi”, meaning The Island in Greek in 2010. Its the captivating story of the Greek family from Plaka, which achieved record ratings for Greek television. Plaka is a small fishing village in Elounda bay in Crete, opposite of the the small island of Spinalonga. To my surprise the history books did not cover the leper colony Spinalonga. A day trip to Spinalonga was on our schedule the third time we visited Crete to experience the scenes in tv episodes. 

    Its the fictional story is about leprosy patiens who lived and survived in Spinalonga and their relationship with the inhabitants of the little village Plaka. Giorgos Petrakis and his wife Eleni are the main characters in the story, they live in Plaka with their two daughters. He is a fisherman who transports supplies to the leper colony. This is a story about fear, passion, love of three generations and the best tv series Greek television ever produced I dare to say.


    The history

    Venetians build the fortress in the 16th century. Spina Longa means Long Thorn and was used by the Venetians, Kalydon the official name. After this era Ottomans invaded Spinalonga and by the end of 1800s as many as two hundred families lived here in two-story houses and a mosque. Around the turn of the century the muslim population decides to abandon the island.

    A leper colony

    In 1903 the greek government decides that the abandoned island will become a leprosy colony as many with Dr Hansen´s disease as it called, live in caves to avoid to infect others. In the beginning there was no treatment and many lepers died. After some time doctors came to the island. A hospital was built, school and shops was established in Spinalonga. The lepers lived in the houses that the turks abandoned. After many years the cure to the disease was found. As the numbers of lepers decreased the hospital closed 1957.

    The fortress

    The view towards Elounda bay

    The main entrance

    How to get here

    Plan your day trip to Spinalonga along with the boat trip from Plaka, Elounda or from Agios Nikolaos in Crete. Its a few hours drive from Rethymnon and a short boat trip from the village Plaka. More important is the hour of your visit, choose morning hours or late in the afternoons. Less tourists and nicer temperatures. Uninhabited island with a coffe shop and restrooms at the entrance. The island is open for tourists from April to October, more practical information at the official website for Spinalonga.

    The novel

    There are a number of books written about Spinalonga. However “The Island” is the name of the novel that made Spinalonga known to the public. Victoria Hislop British writer and journalist made her debut 2005 with the novel. With other words the book became a success and has been sold over 2 million copies world wide.

    The episodes

    The Greek tv channel Mega broadcasted the series of 26 episodes in 2010. Most importantly shot in Crete and Spinalonga over two years. Watch the trailer in English version here. The story begins with Alexis who wants to learn everything about her mother’s past. To her surprise, she finds out that her family is connected with the isolated island of Spinalonga the former settlement of lepers. 

    About Spinalonga

    Victoria Hislop about Crete and Spinalonga:
    “Visiting Spinalonga for the first time was a very strong experience and I knew even in the first minute that I arrived there that I had to write about it.  It was very compelling and very emotional.  And I admit that this visit made a profound change to my life”. Read the article at .

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    Old tree at the Main Street

    At the back side

    Exploring the fortress

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