The mini bus arrived right on time at 4 o’clock and we headed off on a four hour tour of the monasteries and the Byzantine Church of the Virgin Mary. The tour guide, Eva, was very knowledgeable and we were very impressed with the stories about Meteora, it’s history and geology. The church was very interesting for a number of reasons. It was a very old church built on the side of the temple of Apollo in fact some of the building materials were sourced from the temple and you can still see them in the walls of the church. Inside there was a central pulpit, which is unique. Also some carved symbols from the crusaders - the knights Templar cross, and some Irish symbols which seem out of place with the ornate frescoes. Beneath the current floor was a mosaic floor from the original building.
We visited the 1,000 years old hermit caves (hermitages) built and occupied before the monasteries started. These tough people found ways to access caves high up on the vertical sided rocks and build dwellings there. The locals provided food and water that they retrieved using ropes and baskets. They were safe from pirates and others who might threaten them. Eva told us it was just a short walk to see these caves - but it was tough going up steep inclines and over maybe 300 m. We would hate to do an arduous walk!
We visited Agios Stefanos where we visited the church and monastery. As well, there were numerous stops for amazing views of the Meteora area and its many monasteries. This included a stop to see the sunset. A would be Pavarotti sang some Opera in Italian, and hoped people would tip him!
After 4 hours we were dropped into the centre of Kalampaka to have tea at the Meteora Restaurant. We had an excellent meal with some salads, moussaka (of course) and some veal with onions, plums and raisins, plus some drinks. Very enjoyable, and C still made it back up the hill after a carafe of white wine (J stuck to sparkling water as the dehydration Risk was great with the temperature over 40)
Then we retired early as the day had been long and the heat draining. More monasteries tomorrow