The next morning, it was up and out for the three hour drive to Kalambaka and the high monasteries of Meteora. The drive was along incredibly beautiful mountain roads offering views that reminded me of Tuscany. When we arrived at Meteora, we had lunch at a cafeteria located below the monasteries and then took the winding roads up. Meteora means "suspended rocks" (think "meteor"). Of course, the monasteries have little to do with St. Paul and came well after him. Sometime around the 9th century, hermit monks began to occupy the caves and fissures in the rock sides. In the 14th century, during a time when Turkish raiders threatened daily life, the monks began to build monasteries, at one time there were more than twenty.
We were shown the "basket" that is used to get goods, and sometimes people, up and down the rock. After Varlaam, we took a short winding drive to St. Stephens, now a convent. In their church, new icons are being written in the same style as the old Byzantine and they are beautiful.
After visiting the monasteries, the coach took us to our hotel, the Divani, in Kalambaka at the foot of the Meteora Rocks. Sophia recommended a book, The Lost Throne by Chris Kuznekc, a murder mystery set in Meteora which Susan uploaded to her Kindle and began to read as she looked out our windows at the monastery up above.
|The Holy Monastery of Varlaam|
|The Monastery of the Holy Trinity|
|A beautiful fresco of the beardless Christ in heaven in a courtyard at Varlaam|
|The skirts are not a fashion statement, they were provided to the women by the monastery and required for entry|