Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Last Couple of Weeks...

I'm back!

I know you were worried when you didn't hear from me in the last few weeks, but I'm here now. You're fine.

I have been having so much fun here in Greece; I still haven't been to a lot of the touristy sites, but it's just been nice to hang out with Jane/Phil/Bella/TheKid, and see a side of Greece you don't really get to as a tourist.

Last weekend Phil had Friday and Monday off for Independence Day, so we decided to take advantage of the long weekend and go on a trip! We went to Meteora and then Pelio! (Just a heads up, I am nowhere near as observant and detail-oriented as Jane, so I don't remember the names of the specific towns we saw or the hotels we were in; I imagine Jane will fill in the holes at a later date, so stay tuned for that).

We set off on Friday morning. On the way to Meteora, we stopped to take some pictures with Leonidas I.
The warrior king himself. This statue is in Thermopylae (Many of us are already familiar with the significance of Thermopylae, but if you aren't, or if your only point of reference is the movie 300, you might want to check this out: The Battle of Thermopylae)

The pillar is inscribed with the words "ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ," meaning "Come and take," which is how the Spartans are alleged to have responded when the Persians told them to put down their weapons before the battle began.

Next it was on to Meteora. I was particularly excited about this leg of the trip because I had read about the monasteries shortly after Phil and Jane found out they were coming to Greece, and to finally get to see them in person was a treat! There are a few things you should know if you plan to see the monasteries:
1. Be ready for stairs. Lots of stairs. We only went to two of the monasteries, both of which required a short hike consisting of, you guessed it, stairs. Wear good shoes and bring lots of water. They aren't killer, but you will definitely feel the burn once you get to the top. 
2. There is a dress code if you actually want to enter the monasteries. Men have to wear long pants; women have to wear skirts that hit below the knee, and you must have your shoulders covered (I assume that goes for the men as well). The monasteries provide shawls and wraps for those who don't have them, but we read online beforehand that they are pretty gross after being worn day in and day out by sweaty, sweaty tourists. We brought our own clothes and put them on over our hiking clothes right before we entered. 
3. The monasteries have an entrance fee of 3 euros per person; you have to pay for each one you enter, so if you were to go to all 6, you would end up paying 18 euros. Personally, I don't know that it would be worth it to me to pay for all of them; how different can they possibly be? But, to each their own!
4. Definitely, definitely bring your camera! The views are extraordinary! I took more than my fair share of pictures, and I wish I had taken even more! (Please note: you can't take pictures inside all of the monasteries; some allow pictures in certain areas, and some don't allow them at all. Don't stress about it, because they put up signs indicating which areas are restricted.) 

Phew! That was a lot of words with no pictures! Here is your reward:
A view of the Nuns' garden. 

View from the balcony

Panoramic view from another balcony

The view from our hotel's breakfast patio

Happy after breakfast

View from the balcony of our hotel room

The largest monastery. Note the long, zig-zagging staircase

Inside the monastery; I was surprised that this wasn't a no-photo area

The view from the top

Another monastery

I wouldn't have posted this one, but look at the butterfly above and to the left of Phil! I didn't notice the little photo-bomber until the next day!

After Meteora we moved along to our final destination, the Pelion Peninsula. It was a long drive, but it was so beautiful that it was worth it! We had to drive over the top of Mount Pelion to get where we were going; the GPS lady took us on a weird scenic route through a pretty, isolated mountainside village. On the other side, we had to wind down through more villages and finally made it to our seaside hotel. I am normally really prone to getting carsick, so I'm amazed that I didn't as we slowly winded our way through the mountains. I truly believe that my brain was too distracted by the beauty to even think about motion sickness. I am kicking myself for not taking more pictures of the villages and scenery that we drove through. Apologies, all around!

A note on the villages; every stereotype that comes to mind when I hear the phrase "greek village" is absolutely true. Tiny winding streets, old men sitting in groups smoking and shooting the bull, old women staring unapologetically, and, the best part, there were guys dancing in the street to loud Greek music. It was amazing. I felt like I was in a movie! The rest of this post is just going to be pictures, because I have so much to say about our trip, but it can all be summed up in one word: whoa!

Jane in her natural habitat

Delicious Greek food from a taverna

The Aegean Sea

More sea.

Another pretty beach. 

More of the other pretty beach

This is what remains of a location where they filmed part of Mamma Mia! 

I just wanted to capture the pretty flowers. Hydrangeas everywhere! Gardenias everywhere!

A pretty mountaintop Italian restaurant

Our hotel in Pelio

Another building at our hotel

This is how close we were to the sea! It was right across the street from our hotel.

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