24 September 2005

for your eyes only

meteora can be tricky to find when there is road construction. after seeing a few rockfalls from the storm last night and the requisite dogs sunning themselves on the road we finally made it to the monasteries. at least we had a chance to stop by a bakery on the way out of town and get some awesome muffins.

there were more people and tour busses at meteora than i had thought possible. combine that with the fact that each individual monastery is actually quite small insite and everything becomes crowded to the point where you can’t even get in. still, we managed to see a substantial portion of the more crowded ones before heading to those further from the road to savor more deeply. the iconography and painting in the sanctuaries was simply stunnying. i wish had a better understanding of the orthodox saints and their representations to better follow the themes. we made it to five monasteries in all, with the best being the last two since they were almost completely vacant. though we had to do yet more hiking to see them, it was well worth it for a chance to really soak in the experience – and to get some photos without seventy people in them!

we headed back to town and headed to the discount market to get some snacks to tide us over until dinner. we ended up getting a bunch of crazy european / greek foods:

  • yogurt with chunks of nuts in it
  • french-fry shaped cheetoes with a sharp cheddar flavor
  • paprika pringles (yum!)
  • potato chips in thin mini-fry shapes

it was all quite tasty despite the strangeness. we snacked and watched arsenal v. west ham tie their game and then a little more euro basket, figuring out that it’s actually the semifinals of greece vs. france. go greece! for dinner we headed to the town square and saw some live traditional folk music and dancing while we ate yet another fantastic meal. sensing a trend here? greek food is so good.

23 September 2005

oracle of time

today was our driving day. 3.5 hours to get us into delphi. we crossed over a massive new toll bridge at patra, though the fee was €10 i’m sure it beat taking the ferry. for most of the trip martin and i passed the time by talking politics and music, while katharine probably decided we are both morons, only interrupting us to ask if we were going to fill up the petrol tank any time soon. we made it despite martin’s insistence that it was worthwhile to drive with the needle on ‘E’ to look for gas a few eurocents cheaper per liter. fortunately i didn’t end up pushing the hyundai, he gave up and we ended up paying €0.998/l, only about €30 for a full tank.

delphi was surprisingly high up in the mountains – i guess that is a reasonable place for an oracle but for the center of the world? not surprisingly, it was jam-packed with tourists. we hiked to the top passing all the fine monuments and eventually reached the stadium. i tried to interest my compatriots in a foot race or perhaps a pickup game of soccer but they were more interested in taking pictures and the like. we headed back down the hill to the gymnasium and the three columns of the sanctuary to athena. we then hiked back up to the road again and went through the museum. it had a number of very impressive sculptures and friezes; in particular the roman work was exquisite. we grabbed a lunch of sandwiches and paprika pringles and continued on to kalabaka.

we made it to kalabaka with little incident and quickly found our hotel. exceptional for the price, and we made it early enough to have some time to kill. unfortunately the town seemed mostly dead, so we settled in to watch a little hercules the legendary journeys (with greek subtitles) and eurobasket 2005. we also found out that a day before the structure at akrotiri had collapsed killing a german tourist, quite chilling considering we had just been there not three days prior. we finished off the evening with a simple dinner at the taverna next door, and chatted basketball with the propreitor while eating fried cheese and baked lamb.

22 September 2005

nafplion, rest?

unfortunately my clever use of sms didn’t work out with the soccer team calling zoom to wish martin a happy birthday this morning (a clever surprise it would have been!) but dana was kind enough to mms along a picture of an even fancier dessert than we had the previous night. yay for global communications!

we decided to give corinth a miss and spend a rest day in nafplio. the last few days had a lot of driving (or riding in the car in my case) and our longest day – nafplio to kalabaka – is yet to come. a rest day meant decent breakfast, a quick call to arrange our hotel near meteora, and then hiking to the top of the palamidi fortress here in town. the palamidi boasted a number of excellent views and hidden cisterns. unfortunately most of the views over the old fortifications also overlooked an abandoned hotel, which had i known about before hand i would have seriously considered squatting in. after hiking all over the various bastions and redoubts, i decided to count the steps on the way down and reached 340 before i met a pair of french girls (the firebreathers from last night) doing the same on the way up. they had 550. so roughly 900 steps in all. i think that takes the cake for me, stair-wise.

after the fortress we made our way out to the boutrzi island fortress in the middle of the harbor. it used to be the home of the town executioner, but lately appears to be a disused party rental and minor tourist attraction. i would like to own such an island fortress, or at the very least it would make an excellent venue for a wedding and reception.

we did a little shopping but our hunger quickly caught up with us and we completely one-upped my meal from tuesday. roasted lamb, fish soup, baklava – perhaps the best meal i have ever had. we sat under the umbrella as it rained and ate & drank until full. we finished the night of with a bit more shopping and returned home joyfully.

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