Greece – Kalabaka & Delphi

On the advice of my friend Elektra, I took the train from Thessaloniki to a place I’d never heard of before – Meteora.

The train passed by Mount Olympus so I was already very happy.

Meteora refers to 6 monasteries built on the monolithic pillars in the town of Kalabaka. 

I decided to spend a few days here which wasn’t necessary, but allowed for an easy pace.

On the first day I took the bus up to the farthest two monasteries. The bus only cost €1.80, which was cool because it required one of each consecutive coin from €0.10 to €1. And that’s pretty cheap for a bus ride up a cliff.

Each monastery has an entrance fee of €3, which I think was worth it. I started at the Monastery of St. Stephen.

The most amazing part of each monastery was definitely the chapels, where photography wasn’t permitted. Every inch of the room was painted. I ended up sitting in one of the chapels for half an hour enjoying the paintings and contemplating the series of decisions and events that somehow caused me to be in this chapel, on a cliff, in Greece. 

I next walked over to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, enjoying the view of Kalabaka along the way.

Turns out the monks don’t climb up every day, but access the monasteries via flying refrigerator.

Walking up stairs carved into the side of a cliff is something I didn’t realise I wanted to do in life, but now I have.

This one was my favourite. It was a little more difficult to access, so there weren’t as many people. In general while traveling it has been my experience that the more you have to work to get somewhere the better it’ll be. 

With the notable exception of that mountain in Kotor that I was ready to fall off of. 

Between these two monasteries I was told there would be a path back down to Kalabaka. 

I loved the hike down. I prefer all of my hikes to be downhill with plenty of twisty branches.

This is actually how I spent my birthday! It was a good way to turn a prime 23 years old. 

Proof of existing where I claimed to be.

I love exploring cities, but serene paths like this are why I like leaving cities.

The next day, I took the bus again up to the largest monastery, Greater Meteora.

It had a preserved kitchen.

This is similar to what the chapels looked like, but try to picture this type of art covering everything.

There were numerous tours, which turned out to be useful in showing the way up.

The last monastery I visited was the Monastery of Varlaam.

This one was peaceful, and I enjoyed spending some time looking out over the town.

In case you were wondering, it also wins for best barrell – 12,000 litres!

I walked back to my hostel from here which took a little over an hour, but it was cool to walk amongst these.

That night, I went back up with three Colombian guys I met at the hostel to see the sunset above the monasteries. 

That, and the subsequent walk in the dark down that path from the first day, made for a fun night. 

My next stop was tricky to get to, as the connection I was looking for only existed on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Luckily I was going to Delphi on a Friday. I took a bus to Trikala, where I then got a bus to Amphissa. When we got to Amphissa the bus stopped on the side of the road at the beginning of the town and I heard them say ‘Amphissa.’ I hesitated, not expecting to be dropped off on the outskirts of town, not even at a bus station. 

Everyone on the bus was looking back at me, as if they intuitively knew who was delaying them, and I asked a person close to me ‘Amphissa?’ She said yes and 15 pairs of eyes followed me off the bus. I got my backpack out from under the bus and asked the driver where he station was. He pointed vaguely towards town, and without WiFi or a better idea I began that way. 

I asked a lady in a shop where the bus station was and luckily she was friendly and helpful and pointed me the right way. When I finally found the station and bought the ticket, I had to wait for almost two hours for the bus. I wasn’t too upset because the ride was supposed to take about 30 minutes. 

Nope. We first went to the town of Itea and for reasons I couldn’t possibly comprehend, drove back and forth down the main street 3 times with many stops to pick up no one. Anyways, 2 hours later I arrived in Delphi, 3 hours later than I expected. I had forgotten that since Delphi doesn’t have hostels I booked a cheap hotel room, and everything was suddenly better when I arrived and realized that for the first time in months I had a room to myself. 

Delphi turned out to be completely worth the trouble.

I’ve always been interested in Greek mythology, so visiting the ruins here was simply amazing. I feel like I will vividly remember the days I spent here, and Kalabaka and Delphi surprised me in that they are the reason I loved my time in Greece.

Known for the Oracle of Delphi and for being a major place of worship of Apollo, Delphi was an extremely important site. I got my combined ticket for the ruins and the museum and began exploring.

Just being here and being able to wander through so much was fantastic. It was easy to imagine the former grandeur of the place, starting with a Roman Agora.

At first I was occupied with seeing the pillars and the sweeping landscape, but soon realized looking closer that even the stones had ancient Greek carved into them.

Delphi was believed to be the centre of the world, marked by Zeus with this stone – the omphalos.

The temple of Apollo was where the Oracle operated. There was a sacred chasm that emitted vapours, which she would inhale in order to enter a state of delirium and pronounce what would be interpreted into oracle’s by the priests.

Further up the hill was an amphitheatre.

At the very top of the site was an ancient stadium that was used in the Pythian games, second in importance only to the Olympics.

My next stop was the museum.

In the ruins I read about a large sphynx that used to be present, I didn’t expect to find it intact in the museum.

There were panels depicting different myths, like this one about the Trojan War.

It was an impressive museum, and my first day in Delphi was certainly memorable.

There was one more thing I wanted to see the next day.

The Tholos of Delphi at the Sanctuary of Athena.

This is the temple of Athena seen through an olive tree, I thought it was pretty Greek. 

I suppose I didn’t do a usual Greece trip by choosing Kalabaka and Delphi over seeing any islands, but I don’t regret it. My next stop was Athens, and maybe I’ll be back someday for the islands. 

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