18 Apr Meteora
Only a few miles outside Meteora it starts to pour on us…just in time to get us completely soaked, before arriving at our campground. Wet and cold, we set up our tent and spend the rest of the day mostly in our tent, trying to dry out and warm up.
The campground at the bottom of the beautiful and unusual rock formations in Meteora is a cycle tourer’s paradise. There are sheltered tables and benches next to the tent pitches and there are gas cookers and a refrigerator for campers to use, free of charge. Also, there is an area where people can make a small fire and grill in another shelter. Overall, the campground expels a very warm and inviting atmosphere and invites guests to meet each other and make new friends.
Since we have cycled for the last 10 days straight, with a lot of miles over many mountains, we decided to take a few down days in Meteora. we also want to do some hiking in the area and check out a few of the monasteries on the steep rocks.
So the following day, we pick up a generic map from the campsite and head out. We were going to follow a footpath to the monastery at the far end. Supposedly it was featured in the end scene of a James Bond movie.
We follow the path on the map, just to get to a dead end at a different monastery. A woman living there tells us, that there is no path, so we turn around and try another footpath.
This one leads us back through the village and up to a little church from where several stairs lead up the mountain. On our walk through the village, we meet a young Swiss couple from the campground, who are trying to hike the same route, so we walk and talk together for a while until we make it up the narrow, long ascent to a lonely, tall, big rock, where the path splits up into different directions.
We stop and eat a bite, while the other couple heads down and up another path. We watch them trying to climb up another steep area between the huge rocks.
Unfortunately, they hit another dead end and had to turn around.
After finishing our snack, we head down the same path, but try our luck through another gorge. The path is difficult to follow, we have to climb over huge, steep rocks, squeeze between other rocks, and try not to lose our footing on the loose rocks. Just as we make it up to the top of the gorge, we see the Swiss couple climbing back down toward us; apparently this footpath leads to another dead end as well.
However, the two encouraged us to climb all the way up and over on the other side to the area where we’d need a rope to continue, to enjoy the view. And so we did. The view between these rocks is magnificent! It felt like we were in a huge, beautiful, green and rocky bowl.
Eventually, we turned around and tried another descent down an old, very rocky, and steep waterway, which was also marked as a ‘footpath’ on our map. By this time, we were not sure what people around here considered a ‘footpath’ anymore. In most areas at home this would have been considered a fairly strenuous hiking path, with many ” caution, dangerous cliff” signs plastered all over it.
Luckily, we like this kind of stuff and had a blast climbing over the many rocks, jumping over cracks, and crawling across the huge, steep, slippery rock walls.
Eventually, we made it back down to the far end of Kalambaka. Not exactly, where we have planned to hike to for the day; nonetheless, a great place to finish. On our way back, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few supplies and a bottle of wine for the evening.
The next few days we spent hiking to a few of the monasteries. We found a couple more ‘footpaths’ that were better marked but still had amazing views to offer. The wild flowers and the huge trees were amazing and we even spotted some very green lizards and numerous turtles along our paths.
The evenings, we spent hanging out with other campers at the campground.
The people we have met at the campsite were wonderful and their stories are nothing short of amazing and inspiring!
We cooked a few very tasty dinners and enjoyed eating with a group of young climbers from Germany and the Czech Republic. The four ladies left their small children home with the Dads to enjoy week of camping and climbing the rock formations of Meteora.
We’ve met two Swiss couples; Iwo and Gabriele, who are on their way home from a 2 year travel adventure through Africa.
And Stefan and Christine are the young Swiss couple that went hiking with us. The two just left their home a week ago and are headed to Africa, where they plan on traveling around for a year in their camping bus.
The six of us would sit around at night with a glas of wine and chat it up. It was great to hear all the different stories, thoughts, experiences, worries, and excitement from the mature and the novice travelers.
We’ve also met Lorenz and Anna, a young cycle touring couple from Germany, who are on their first big cycling tour. Their plan is to pedal from Athens back to Germany and they are full of energy and very excited about their tour.
Last but not least we’ve spent some time with Kosta and Charly, a German couple, who lives on Tinos, a Greek Island, which Kosta lovingly calls ‘His Island’. The to are very passionate about ‘Their Island’ and welcome us to visit.
Well, let’s see where our route will take us from here.
After 11 days of hanging out in Meteora it is time to move on.
Few more pictures from Meteora