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5 Must-See Destinations in Greece (Excluding the Islands)

Second Stop: Meteora - Part 2 of 5

By Crystal A. WolfePublished 10 months ago 5 min read
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Image captured by the author of a ceiling fresco inside a Meteora monastery.

After departing Athens, my best friend and I traveled north to explore Meteora. Before booking this trip, I learned very little about mainland Greece. So, I went blind to cities like Meteora and Thermopylae, which we stopped to pay tribute to along the way. However, they are worth making the long trip to after visiting, and have a deep appreciation for both destinations.

Join me as I take you through my road trip through Greece (in five parts):

  • Athens
  • Meteora (with a bonus stop at Thermopylae)
  • Delphi
  • Olympia
  • Nafplia
Image created by the author using Google Maps; Graphics added via Photoscape X

Hitting the Road

I was a little nervous about getting on our charter bus because I am susceptible to motion sickness. However, with some medication and my BFF on standby to hold my hair back, I was set to go! Luckily, I didn't get ill on the ride, despite asking our guide to translate in Greek to the bus driver, "I'm sorry if I get sick on your bus, but I have vomit bags in my purse."

(P.S. My guide made sure to reserve the best seat on the bus to accommodate my needs, and the driver always had water on hand. ευχαριστώ ("Thank you"), Niko and Savvas!)

The trip from Athens to Meteora is approximately 4.5 hours. However, we stopped halfway for lunch and to check out Thermopylae - the site where the Battle of 300 Spartans took place.

Thermopylae

Images captured by the author, Crystal A. Walker. 300 site plaque and Thermopylae

Although I know the movie 300 practically by heart, I was surprised to see the actual site where the battle occurred. I looked around and said, "This is the location of the 'Hot Gates'?" Honestly, it was anti-climactic, but it was because I had the incorrect perception going in, thanks to Hollywood. Yet, I could not help but feel humbled at the site. Instead of letting the perspective of Hollywood cloud my vision, I decided to soak in the real Greece.

This is where 300 warriors gave their lives, stood for freedom, and were forever bound to history.

Arriving at Meteora

Local Meteora wine, captured by the author Crystal A. Walker

We arrived in the late afternoon at our hotel, tucked away at the base of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since we decided to visit during the shoulder season, we had most of the hotel to ourselves!

There was little to see or explore around our hotel, but my best friend and I enjoyed it by sharing a bottle of wine on our balcony as we admired Greece's unique mountains.

Exploring Meteora

View from the road looking up at a Meteora monastery, captured by the author

The only thing I knew about Meteora was that we would visit a monastery and a nunnery, so skirts were required. From the pictures I saw - and during our drive into the town - the sites are perched on the top of the mountains, making me prepared for some breathtaking views.

On the morning of our tour, I was slightly disappointed because the rain and fog rolled in. Still, I enjoyed the company and was determined to enjoy my time, despite the weather.

The roads were windy up the mountainsides, and we had several stairs to climb. Regardless, the view from the top was still breathtaking and showed me exactly why the area is known as 'Meteora,' which means "suspended in the air."

I was looking forward to seeing the horizon after climbing a small mountain of stairs, but with the fog, it still felt magical.

Inside the Monasteries and Nunnery

Wood carving inside a Meteora monastery, captured by the author.

I've toured the Vatican and visited some of the most beautiful churches in the world, but nothing compares to what the experience of Meteora provides. To set yourself up for the best visit to Meteora possible, I suggest the following:

  1. Mind your manners! Treat the sites as you would going to church, and the nuns have no problem coming out to silence you if you become too loud.
  2. Dress Appropriately. As mentioned previously, long skirts are required for ladies. However, if you forget to pack one, you can purchase a wrap-around skirt to cover your pants when buying your tickets. Gentlemen: Take off your hats when entering any building.
  3. No Flash Photography. It's proper to ask permission or to ask the desk when purchasing your tickets. But count on the same response: You may take photos, but no flash. These sites have some of the oldest mosaics, paintings, and frescos that are hundreds of years old, and bombardment by constant flash photography damages them.
  4. Mind Your Surroundings. Avoid touching the art and carvings. On several occasions, I saw tourists lean against the walls (that had freakin' handpainted frescos on them) and sit in the carved chairs for the priest. Ummm...How about no!!!! The oil from our skins damages artwork, not to mention it's inconsiderate and rude.
  5. Feel Welcomed. I am not religious, so I felt awkward going into these places. I didn't feel like I would burst into flames stepping through the door, but religion is complicated. Regardless, this was a place worth visiting as it's gorgeous, full of history, and a place that helped me feel at peace and calm.

Fun Facts About Meteora

  • Meteora was used as a site to film the 1981 James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only.
  • The monasteries were constructed sometime between the 14th and 15th centuries.

Want to See More of Greece?

If you enjoyed the first part of my tour through Greece, be sure to follow me to read about the next destination: Delphi (known for the Temple of Apollo and the legendary Oracle). If you are more of a foodie, check out my previous article recommending what Greek Food to eat while in Greece! Or, check out Part 1 of my Greek Adventure, which talks about Athens!

Screenshot of the author's Instagram capturing a Meteora monastery

Contributions to the Karma Jar are always appreciated as I save every penny, Euro, pound, and krona I can to put toward my next adventure to write about!

culturetravel tipstravel advicefemale traveleurope
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About the Creator

Crystal A. Wolfe

Blogger | Creative Writer | Traveler | Full-Time RVer

You can find all of my articles on my blog as well on Medium where I'm most active in Humor, Lifestyle, and Travel. I've self-published one fantasy fiction with the sequel in the works.

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