It’s pleasing to report that there has been more to Greece than just exquisite beaches, comforting food and a woeful economy. Central Greece provided some easy-going rolling hills through a relatively peaceful and picturesque part of the country, which delivered us ultimately to the implausible Meteora.
Metora is a collection of towering sandstone pillars that would have fallen comfortably in the category of ‘impressive place’, had they never been touched by human hands. The fact that a bunch of industrious, and remarkably ambitious, 14th century Greek Orthodox Monks decided to build a series of monasteries atop these things, has resulted in something quite spectacular. Nowadays the sandstone also provides some of Eastern Europe’s finest rock climbing, which leaves those of us claiming to be neither monk nor climber, observing one activity of sheer exertion and elation, ascending towards something completely different. Who’s to say who’s got it right?
Our time in Athens has been split fairly evenly between recovery, preparation (for our next leg) and indulging in some of what the city has to offer. The stories of Zeus, Athena, Pericles and the Olympics have provided us with another millennium of history we previously knew very little about, with the surprise highlight for both of us being a shuffle around the new Acropolis museum, and the surprise lowlight for one of us being reminded (quite frequently) of the Elgin Marbles story. Our only real gripe of this city though, might be that the whole experience just doesn’t seem quite ancient enough. And when the ancient Greek civilisation isn’t quenching your historical thirst, there is really only one place left to go….