I woke up around 7:30 and had a light breakfast (homemade bread and marmalade, and eggs from their chickens) before saying my goodbyes. I walked up the hill to the church with the mother before heading on towards Kalambaka. The run was mostly downhill, and shorter than I had thought it would be. There was a cool breeze and I could see the rocks of Meteora sticking up like big molars miles in the distance.
When I got into Kalambaka I got some drinks (what do you think?) and called Giorgos my couchsurfing host. He picked me up in the middle of town and drove me a short distance to where I would be sleeping this night. His family ran a hotel in town, and I would be sleeping in a room. Very comfortable (If you ever go to Kalambaka by the way, you should stay in the Odysseon). I took a shower and spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon with Giorgos. We sat around the garden drinking tea and talking about travel until his brother came to take his shift and we went on a drive through the windy roads of Meteora. Usually when I am running on a windy road, I get angry when people drive at crazy speeds around the curves. Driving with Giorgos on those rocks definitely made me understand why they do it though. Lots of fun.
Meteora, by the way is another UNESCO world heritage site, and is an incredibly amazing place. The rocks jut up like towers and were shaped by more than a handful of years of water, wind, goats and hermit monks with spoons. There are swarms of monasteries and hermit dwellings built on top of and into these rocks. It is an incredibly majestic place, where the architecture seems as impossible and extraordinary as the nature upon which it is built.
I had lunch with Giorgos and in the early evening he dropped me off at some monasteries near the town that were built into the side of the rock. He told me how to get around a fence and where to find a secret trail and let me go. I followed his verbal treasure map exactly, and emerged from a tunnel of trees at the upper monastery. I climbed around the rocks in solitude for a while, enjoying the views before I noticed a staircase carved into the rock. It didn't seem to go anywhere but a big dimple in the rock, and it even stopped well before that. It took me some bravery to climb carefully along the rocks to reach this dimple that I was hoping was a very deep cave with a treasure inside (why else would someone carve a steps into the stone to get to it?). Some of those monks had to be incredibly fearless, and very good climbers to make this stuff. Anyways, I finally got into the cave, and was surpised to see that it was a little deeper than just a dimple. It went back far enough to where I couldn't see because of the dark, and couldn't see the goat poop that I was putting my hands in. I am so amazed at the places that mountain goats can go. No treasure, but a good little climb.
I went the hard way back to Kalambaka and spent the rest of the evening lounging around the town and the hotel. I watched tv by myself for probably the first time in months. It was a random episode of "LOST" with Greeks subtitles, and considering that I hadn't seen any of the episodes before or after, I was considerably lost. Somehow I still managed to be enthralled when some random twist that I didn't understand was revealed every 30 seconds.
I had some dinner and went out for a drink with Giorgos and his brother before going to bed. I didn't fall asleep quite as early as planned as a result of the flickering box above my bed, which was playing movies I would have never have bothered with back in the states.
20 September 2009