Greece, a trip to Kalambaka.

9:01:00 PM

Continue from Athens post :

Next day morning, we brought down our suitcases to the lobby for luggage storage purpose since we are coming back again the next day, just one night in Kalambaka. The hotel in Athens provide free luggage storage. We get on a cab to Athens Railway Station, which was book by the receptionist a day before. It is safer for them to book for us, as he did mention that the cost will be 5 and don't pay more than that. I suppose there were 2 station located in Athens, because he asked about which station we were heading to, it was Larissa as stated on the railway ticket.

Thank god we get to purchase our ticket online before our trip start, you can make a booking through here. If you click into the website, you can see there are a few train to Kalambaka, however some with transit in between, so don't get the wrong one. We took train number 884 with duration of 4.51minutes, depart at 0827am. There are 2 types of coach, one is normal with 2 seats side by side across an aisle, the other one is premium coach with more privacy, 6 seating in a room, no doubt we took that one, we were 6 person. It was a pleasant journey along the way, however don't be bother by the arrival time stated on the ticket, Greece Railway system sucks LOL. We reached Kalambaka around 2.30pm, it shoud be 1.18pm instead! And guess what, when we check in to our hotel, the receptionist said we were consider lucky to have reached that early, some people arrived at 5-6pm, I was like W-T-H? Okay, we are the lucky one then.

What to see in Kalambaka?
- the outstanding Meteora.

Our stay in Kalambaka : Kosta Famissi Hotel
There are 2 Famissi Hotel, one is Kosta the other one is Eden, it was a family business, both are just opposite each other across the street. I was kind of amaze with people in Greece, another friendly and informative receptionist! We asked about local tour, we wanted to see sunset over the Meteora, but the saddest part was everything closed early during winter time T.T However, she managed to help us to book a tour by mini-van, who willing to take us to tour around Meteora and even catching sunset. As Kalambaka is a very small little town, so if you don't go for a tour, you might just walk around the street looking at shops & restaurants only, that is why I was really thrilled with the tour.. yay!

Our tour guide is so friendly and the best part, he is a very good photographer :D A trip without a good photographer could makes you go crazy, isn't it?
Meteora, literally means "middle of the sky", or "suspended in the sky", or "in the heavens above". Many times refer as city in the sky, is an outstanding complex of giant rock formations near the town of Kalambaka, in the district of Thessaly. The rocks rise over 400 metres above Kalambaka and the valley of river Peneus.

Specialist from around the world were still unclear about how these rocks were formed, but they estimated that this happened approximately 60 million years ago. O-m-g, I cannot imagine how long was that! The most prevalent theory about their formation is through a big river that brought geological material, such as rocks, stones and minerals, to the region. Continuous weathering by rain, wind as well as earthquakes, gave them their present shape. It still remains a mystery, though, why such a unique place is not mentioned anywhere in the Greek mythology and why no Greek or foreign historian has written about it.

There are 30 monasteries have been built on these natural sandstone rock pillars, from the time in between the 10th century and today, however only 6 of them remain in a good condition. For centuries, these monasteries were almost inaccessible, the monks themselves climbed to the top of Meteora using rope ladders fixed to the rocks with the aid of wooden poles carefully positioned in rock cracks. The supply of the monasteries was done using nets that hauled up food, water and other necessary goods, as well as people. But don't you worry about that, steps were carved into the rock and facilitated the access to the monasteries in the beginning of the 20th century. It was a pity that during the World War II, the region was bombed and many art treasures were stolen.

The remaining 6 monasteries are The Great Meteoron, Varlaam, Rousanao/St. Barbara, St. Nicholas Anapausas, St. Stephen and the monastery of Holy Trinity. Look at this beautiful Varlaam!

Our tour guide told us that Meteora is believe to has been under the water for centuries as recently some sea fossil was discovered on top of the sandstone rock pillars, mother nature is amazing, isn't it?
If only human can live for centuries, I would love to witness the whole process of these changes!

The monks in those remaining monasteries, they are well respect by local municipal, Meteora was open to public only after they have agreed with it. Along the years, the monks were quite gloomy with it as they said, would you be happy if thousands of people keep coming in and going in the yard of your own house? It's true, they live in the monasteries, and we should pay all respect to their home. In case you haven't realize, there were a scene in Games of Thrones showing Meteora, they tried to get approval to film it here however it was rejected by the monks, hence they get the approval only to use the place as a reference in the movie. Look at these amazingly amazing Meteora!! I have treasured my eyes too much with such a scenery!

We didn't manage to see a very good sunset, as there were too many clouds on that day. Our tour guide said the weather in Meteora is like a magic, it changes in every seconds, even weather forecast couldn't tell it right everytime. So we ended our tour here up in the super windy and cold hill top!

There are dozens of activities to do at Meteora or the surrounding region, rock climbing is of course the most obvious one, but also one absolutely worth trying if you are a well trained rock climber. The sandstone rocks provide natural grips, which render Meteora the ideal choice for beginners. While the other activity you get to do the easier way is the hike up to The Great Meteoron.

Next day morning, we woke up and have breakfast in the hotel, Kosta Famissi Hotel provides a very decent breakfast and I can't keep my eyes off the yogurt :)) Today, myself, my sister and my father, we booked the hiking tour while the other 3 went for a tour by van. We kept our suitcases at the lobby as we're heading back to Athens later at 5pm.

We were picked up at 9am, and got drop off at the bottom of the hill at St. Nicholas Monastery in Kastraki. It was about 8km woodland walk up to a meteora manastery, and the whole journey took about 4-5 hour. One of the greatest joys of approaching the well known monasteries on foot is the hidden gems you find along the way that are only viewable by taking this less travelled walking track because they're tucked away off the main tourist route. The other interesting part is that you get to walk through the woodland where those people used to walk through back in centuries.

I learned that all the local tour guides were professional rock climbers! They have all done the rock climb up to every single rock pillars! Even the nearby mountain such as Pindos mountain, oh I wish I was born here! This was one of the monastery ruins, nobody live there anymore.

The Great Meteoron, hiker always get a different view :D 

Meteora is a breathtaking and unique monument of natural and cultural importance, and it is righteously included in UNESCO's World Heritage list. If you visit this part of Greece, make sure you don't miss this amazing attraction, Kalambaka, the nearest big town, is an ideal starting point for your excursion to Meteora and to dozens of other great places that are absolutely worth seeing!
In the evening, we walk from our hotel to the train station to catch our train at 5.32pm, our train number is 885, and our arrival time was late for an hour as well. Upon arriving at Larisa Station in Athens, walk out of the station and you will see a queue of taxi stand, get on a cab and back to checking in Attalos Hotel. Anyway, our train ticket cost about 20, not quite sure about, different date could have different rate, just check on the website. Ta-daaa view from Kalambaka station :D

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  1. Awww...Beautiful photos! Hopefully I can travel there someday.

  2. The view is so pretty! I always awe of this blue sky and white cloud. Missing travelling now.