We woke this morning to a beautiful bright sunny day here in Kalambaka. This was the day that we visited the famous Monasteries at Meteora. The Monasteries at Kalambaka are the result of a long line of Hermits starting from the 10th Century when individuals arrived, climbed the rocks to caves and spent their lives there meditating and trying to survive away from the world. In the 14th Century a Monk named Nile brought a lot of the individuals together to pray on Sundays, this was the start of communal life at Meteora.
From there the building of the Monasteries as we see them today started. Along the way many were destroyed over the years and some were destroyed during the German occupation and then during the Greek Civil War. At the height of occupation there were 24 Monasteries on the mountains but now only six. There are 4 with Monks residing there and 2 Nunneries. Most of the ones with Monks only have a few Monks in residence but the Nunneries have 30 or so in each.
Our visit took us to two of the Monasteries, one for men and a Nunnery for Women. The Monks and Nuns still grow their own vegetables and wine in the grounds surrounding the rocks, they gain access via cable cars and not as we the tourists must, by stairs. Originally there were no stairs but only ropes and pulleys with nets to take them up and down. This then saved the Monasteries over the centuries as those wishing to do harm to them could not gain access once the net had been pulled back up. The stairs were constructed in the 1920s. The Churches on the top of the rocks within the Monastery are decorated as per the Byzantine Period and the paintings covering the walls and ceilings depict the life of Christ, the death of the Martyrs and the Saints of the Church. Elena took us through the story behind the paintings and all were thankful for her descriptions and the way the Religion had survived from then till now.
We left the glory of Meteora and headed back into Kalambaka for lunch at a restaurant where the family running it had been part of the expulsions of 1922. The lady who owns the restaurant was with her parents and expelled from Asia Minor in Turkey as all Greeks living there were, just as all Turks living in Greece were sent to Turkey. That enforced move was not as violent as the change of Indians and Pakistanis in 1949.
That lady was on had to serve us from her kitchen as we went into the kitchen to select from the many big pots on the stove...Yummy was the word from all.
Following lunch we ventured north of Kalambaka to the defensive position of Savage Force that had been establish again as another blocking position in order to allow the main withdrawal to pass through various choke points on the route to the evacuation beaches.
Tomorrow we head further north to Florina and Vevi, where the actions of 1941 began.