Travelled : 128 Kilometres from Meteora to Mount Olympus.
Visited : The Monasteries of Meteora and Mount Olympus
Stayed : Arsenal Meteora, free if you eat there, plus €5 for electricity, N39.708639, E21.654353 and the Monastery carpark on Mount Olympus.
We travelled over the mountains from Ioannina for an hour or so. While it was very picturesque it was very slow progress, we had covered only some 40 kilometres. So we jumped on the tollway. During the next hour we travelled through numerous long tunnels cutting through the mountains of northern Greece. To be honest it’s quite an extraordinary road, lot of speed cameras but the tunnels often kilometres in length are a bargain at €6 for the passage.
Eventually we leave the tollway and turn for Meteora. We are out of the high mountains and the remained of the journey is a cruise in top gear. The country seems much dryer, but the road does follow a river but there only appears to be a trickle of water in it. Kalambaka is a large touristy town, lots of low rise hotels and a long town centre. The road around Meteora starts and finishes in Kalambaka. We manage to stop and buy some fresh bread before starting up the hill. I have the co-ordinates for Arsenal Pension (Peejays Greek Stopovers) in the GPS and we soon turn into the driveway.
The pension is a large private house run as a hotel by the family. Campercars can stay for free if we eat at the restuarant. A quick chat with the proprietor and we can hook up to his electricity for €5, as the temperature is well in the high 30s, seems reasonable for a good sleep. So it’s a late lunch, the awning is out and all the windows open. There’s a nice breeze and we catch a afternoon nap. Dinner is the usual Greek salad, home made sausage and chips, with 3 large beers and a carafe of dry white comes to €31. A bit expensive but rolled up with a nice spot to stop value enough.
Eight in the morning is very early in campercar land, but we want to be at Moni Megalou Meteora the largest of the Monasteries when it opens at nine. There were lots of tourist coaches around yesterday and the last thing we want to do is walk up 300 steps in the blazing sun behind 55 elderly Koreans all talking selfies or having an angina attack. We make Megalou in good time getting a parking spot in the shade less than a 100 metres from the entrance.
I will let the photos of the two Monasteries we visited provide the description of our visit. But the Meteora area has been inhabited by monks since the 11th century, by the 14th century the Byzantine empire was crumbling and the Turkish Ottoman Empire was expanding, the monasteries isolated as they are, became a refuge for the Greek Orthodox faith. The monasteries are beautiful their surroundings in the forest of rock quite breathtaking.
Anyway, hundreds of stairs later we make our way back to the Hymer. The roads are now choked with tourist coaches and cars. We head back down to Kalambaka, grab a loaf of bread for lunch and continue our journey east. From Elassona we drove up and around Olympus from the south. From 2000 metres up the mountain is shrouded in mist, unfortunately we couldn’t find a reasonable spot to for the night. We make our way down to Litochoro where the Aegean Sea glistened before us. A ranger at the National Park information centre recommends the old monastery carpark and off we go again back up to 1000 metres. It’s so much cooler up there, we enjoy a great sleep.
Michael and Pam