A travel journal
to Meteora by Re Carroll
Quote: Sheer rock formations that shoot skyward provide great visuals at the best of times, but crown these with Byzantine monasteries and the effect is breathtaking.
The rooms are above the taverna and the stairway is decorated with pictures and plants. The double doors leading to the bedroom area keeps out noise and it is a very quiet place to stay because the area is otherwise residential. Our room had two twin beds, a private bathroom, a balcony and outside clothes line. If you call, the owner will pick you up at the train station because it is a bit of a hike if you are carrying luggage. If he's around, he'll also deliver you to the train station when it's time to leave too.
There is a 2 mile path from the Koka Roka up to Ag. Triada (Holy Trinity) monastery. It's not a real easy hike but it's quicker than the road and means you don't have to worry about bus schedules.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 15, 2000
The food is typical Greek fare (chicken, lamb, etc.) and the menu isn’t extensive but almost everyone seemed to know each other and the waiters were extremely friendly so the atmosphere was more like a large family dinner than a typical restaurant meal.
My husband had roast lamb with potatoes, Greek salad and okra. The tender lamb was liberally seasoned with garlic, oregano and other spices and the roasted potatoes were flavored with lemon. I had mousakka and Greek salad. Mousakka is sort of a Greek version of lasagne, consisting of layers of sliced eggplant and potato, topped with a mixture of ground meat (lamb?) and tomato sauce and covered with a thick layer of cheese and Bechamel sauce. Not only was the food good but the portions were substantial so it was a very good value. We drank the local house wine which was stored in big barrels located in the kitchen. The wine was dry and reasonably priced, as well as extremely potent.
Our fondest memory of
this restaurant was the impromptu entertainment when a bunch of fellow diners, mostly seniors, decided to do some dancing. Someone turned up the music and the line of dancers became so exuberant that many of the waiters joined in when they had a free moment. The dancing went on for quite awhile and even the few tourists (myself included) joined the line to get some quick lessons. This may have had something to do with the wine but whatever the reason, this was one
of my most memorable nights in Greece.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 25, 2000
Platia Riga Fereou
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 25, 2000
Koka Roka Taverna
Attraction | "Byzantine monasteries"
When they were built between the 12th and 14th centuries, there was no road or easy access so the first monks had to construct hundreds of feet of rickety scaffolding to
reach the top. All building materials and supplies, as well as other monks, were hauled up in net baskets. This ascent could take up to half an hour and supposedly the rope for the baskets was only replaced when it broke - talk about faith! Nowadays, there is a road which makes getting here much easier.
We visited four of the remaining monasteries. Ag. Triada (Holy Trinity), which was featured in the James Bond movie "For Your Eyes Only", was closed for repairs and St. Stephanos was closed for the day.
My favorite monastery was Rousanou, restored in the mid 1900s and now a nunnery. The entrance is reached via narrow stairs above a steep chasm - a bit scary but the view from the side balcony, over the plains of Thessaly, was breathtaking.
Rousanou is softer and more welcoming than the others - maybe because it is run by women or
because the renovations remove some of the serious, museum-y type of feeling. The small gift shop sells lace and religious jewelry made by the nuns.
The two largest monasteries, The Metamorphosis, also called Grand Meteoron and Varlaarm, are sprawling, multi building compounds. Grand Meteoron is reached via tunnel after a climb of 150+ stairs. Both monasteries are very impressive with their rich storehouses containing many symbols of the Orthodox religion as well as painted frescoes on the walls. Like a museum, most of the treasures are under glass and there is a wealth of silver and gold chalices, manuscripts, crosses and other religious artifacts to see. Varlaam has a winch and pulley system on display to
demonstrate how the supplies and monks got to the top.
St. Nicholas Anapafsas is the
easiest to get to. It’s located near the bottom of the hill, by the small village of Kastraki. During our visit, it was pretty empty and we were given a tour by a friendly monk. I’m not sure if this is the norm or if he was just bored because there were so few visitors. The main sights here are the
detailed and colorful wall paintings by Theophanis, a famous religious painter from Crete.
Tip: Even if you take a bus or have your own car be prepared for a lot of walking and stairs. Bring water because I don't remember any place to buy it.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 15, 2000
The Meteora Monasteries
northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly
Large trees and a small bench nearby provide a shady place where you can relax after the slight uphill climb through a residential area to get here. The three story tower at the front gives it some definition but it is otherwise quite plain. The church is usually locked and we were lucky that the caretaker was outside relaxing so he let us in. He took me by the hand and gave us a tour in Greek that we didn’t understand but he was a very sweet man and seemed very happy to have company. For a small fee, postcards and handwritten information on the church were available but no interior pictures were allowed.
The focal point of the church is a solid marble pulpit, the only one in Greece. It is located in the middle of the church and the stairs on either side of it lead to the top where the priest can be easily seen and heard.
The interior walls of the church are covered with paintings, some dating to the 12th century. Some of these paintings were done by Neophytos, son of Theophanis who did many of the wall paintings at the Meteora monasteries. Although a bit faded
in spots, they are still quite impressive. Behind the alter is a large crypt (not open for viewing) that was used as a refuge when the area was raided in earlier centuries by the Ottomans.
To reach the Church, head north of town and you'll see signs or you can stop and ask someone and they'll help with directions.
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