Monday, June 18, 2012

and when we got home

the bamboo in the backyard had grown four to six feet in the two weeks we were away!!!!!!

last stop- meteora!

by now we are all in full recognition of the fact that our trip is coming to an end- how will we manage without Evgenia telling us what time to get up- eat breakfast- get on the bus- be back for the bus- eat dinner and give us the thousands upon thousands of facts she knows about her (and ow our) beloved Greece? 

we were so lucky to have had our itinerary culminate in Meteora- a spectacular array of mountain top monasteries that thrill even in photos.  even the easiest is hundreds of steps up and down the mountain/cliff face that they each were miracles of engineering. 

so along the way there we stopped at an icon workshop and that is where the photos started in this group:

the painting in the lobby of our local family-owned hotel:

the view from the hotel balcony:

drilling in to the details of the photo you can see the monasteries:

daytime view from the balcony and then one from the evening as the moon rose:

a gash in the cliff face where scarves are taken up by rock climbers for those who are making prayers once a year- the prayers (scarves) are sent out to spirit like prayer flags in Tibet/Bhutan etc...

a spirit house in the entrance to St. Nikolas Monastery:

the rules- LOL - on how to dress:

St Nikolas from a distance:

Great Meteora monastery:

Roussanou Nunnery:

Varlaam Monastery:

Great Meteora from the entrance to Varlaam:

Roussanou from Varlaam:

Holy Trinity (the James Bond monastery) - this view shows the valley floor below:

another view showing the sheer cliff it stands upon.....

at the Roussanou nunnery- the steps to the chapel

the nuns residence and gardens:


and here's a secret the column to the left side of the cliff face houses an elevator for the nuns (much older women of course) to get up to the chapel... LOL

St Nikolas from Roussanou:

Great Meteora from Roussanou:

a new buddy down at the bottom of the steps- he wasn't hiking all the way up there! LOL

another moon rise on the last night - taken from the balcony of the hotel:

and so - early the next morning we got up and took the five hour trip to Athens where there was time only to see the museum of the Acropolis and to go to a farewell dinner with - surprise- the other group from the boat who are off tomorrow for their extension to the Peloponnese.

our 4 AM departure for the airport came around all too quickly but not before we had one last chance to hug Evgenia - our extraordinary guide!

now- a few weeks at home and then mid August - on to Bolivia!

on to delphi

so off we headed into the countryside- up into the alpine like ski village of Arachova where we will stay for two nights as a base to explore Delphi (that would be home of the famous oracle) - turns out the famous "drug induced" oracle...LOL

the village is as cute as it can be and the ruins on the hillside are very impressive- and- unlike other places where I have visited before - have actually been improved since my last visit in 2005.  better walkways throughout the site help to make it more accessible than before.

the museum - still exquisite in the amazing collection of artifacts remains quite incredible. 

so on with our photo journey!

approaching Arachova-

the best view in town - although somewhat rustic for a taverna - LOL

next morning - on to the UNESCO site:

the whole hillside is dotted with ruins of temples- this was a HUGE place in ancient Greece and Rome.... both physically and in importance...a spiritual center (the navel of the known world as they say...)

the museum has amazing statuary along with lots of relics-

afterward we go to Itea for lunch by the Ionia sea- the "sea of olives" is seen from the bus on the way-

the taverna is right by the water and we are not the only ones who enjoy the seaside location:

later we go into Arachova and stop at the shop for some cheese tasting- LOL - you can tell from the list - it serves locals- not tourists...LOL


above- sausages and below smoked cheese hang in the shop's doorway:

above - a shop with wood items and below a detail of some of the items crafted and for sale...

the very clean place we had gyros pita for dinner- among the best meals we had on the trip- I LOVE pork gyros and of course we don't have anything but lamb in Chicago (boo hoo)

I spied this from the bus on the way in yesterday- how cute is that? umbrella's and lights under red hats (don't tell those old bats that go out for lunch in them because then this WILL be overrun with tourists - LOL)

this guy could be selling stuff near a reservation in the western US- LOL- fur hats, rugs the whole regular trading post paraphernalia...

the next morning we left town and headed towards Meteora - but first a stop in the village of Delphi where we lucked into the city hall being open unexpectedly- here they have a wonderful exhibit of traditional wedding clothes and jewelery.  this is a cool thing for the others as although we saw much the same at the Benaki Museum in Athens last time Phil and I visited - they will not have time in Athens to stop there.

some souvenirs in the village-

and the memorial to the fallen at Thermopylae:

next and last- Meteora- a breathtaking area of inland Greece- with those monasteries on cliff tops that we all have seen in photos throughout our lives!