Volos and monasteries - day 32

Volos Travel Blog

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Monastery on a cliff

I’m not partial to getting up early, particularly to getting up early and hanging out with other people who might require conversation, but my habits are changing.  I’m actually getting up early enough to watch us sail into port each day.  The fact that breakfast is delivered to our cabin first and that the coffee is really good and really hot helps.  Therefore by the time I leave the cabin to photograph the entrance to the port, I’m actually ready to be civil.  My husband is hoping that my early morning cheerfulness will be permanent - we may have to have a conversation about the benefits of having coffee delivered to me when I get up.  Anyway, the early morning photography has been wonderful.

 

Volos, Greece was beautiful as we sailed into port but it’s an industrial center so we weren’t planning on spending our day there.

The first of many photos of the rocks
  Even though it is supposed to be the home of Jason (of Jason and the Golden Fleece fame) it didn’t have much to see.  We had booked a tour to the Meteora Monasteries instead.  These monasteries were first founded in the 11th century by monks and hermits who really wanted to get away from it all and made their homes in caves or on top of rocks in the spiky Pindus Mountains (in the Thessaly part of Greece).  The resulting monasteries have acquired icons, artwork, frescos and religious items over the last 1,000 years  The Greek Orthodox Church has always struck me as given to exuberantly visual and wildly decorated ornamentation; a thousand years of accumulation in one spot produces an impressive effect to say the least.

 

We rode to Kastraki, a small village that sits at the foot of the strange rocks where seven currently-operating monasteries perch.
Icons and frescoes were everywhere
  At one time there were over 20 monasteries in this area and remains of some of them are also visible from town.

 

Even though James Bond had to arrive at one of these monasteries in a rope sling (I can’t remember which film - does anybody know?) we got to ride most of the way to them.  There are a few steps required to get into Saint Stephen and a few more to get to The Metamorphosis but both are worth it for both the view and the treasures within.  Saint Stephen is repainting its frescoes .  When we were told they were new, my husband asked “How new?” and the nun - yes, Saint Stephen is a nunnery - said”Yesterday”  Since they were unfinished frescoes, I can only assume that this is literally true.  However, the museum of Saint Stephen has the most amazing collection of icons that I’ve seen in Greece.
Can you imagine the construction process?
   

 

The Metamorphosis or Great Meteoron is the monastery used in the Bond movie.  I was glad James wasn’t there at the time because all women who visit the monasteries are required to wear skirts and I was wearing a “loaner” that looked like a 7th grade sewing class project gone bad.  James would not have been impressed.

 

I managed to keep my lovely-skirted-self out of photos as I ran around photographing rocks and monasteries.  In fact I’ve never ended up with so many rock photos in my life.  I won’t tell you how many, but it’s almost embarrassing.

 

That night the ship had decided to counter the possible monastic influence of the monasteries by proclaiming Greek Temple night - which translated to Toga Night.
One of the provided "modesty" skirts being modeled in the James Bond lift room
  The crew and waiters were required to dress appropriately for this but we passed.  Wearing that weird loaner skirt all afternoon was all I could handle for one day.

 
By the way, if anyone is wondering about the absence of photos, they will show up in the blog eventually.  The wi-fi connection on the ship is not great but compensates by being expensive so I’ll upload photos and captions after I get home.

X_Drive says:
I am certainly enjoying your writing skills! :D
Can't wait to see the photos!
Posted on: Apr 30, 2010
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Monastery on a cliff
Monastery on a cliff
The first of many photos of the ro…
The first of many photos of the r…
Icons and frescoes were everywhere
Icons and frescoes were everywhere
Can you imagine the construction p…
Can you imagine the construction …
One of the provided modesty skir…
One of the provided "modesty" ski…
All of us lining up to go ashore
All of us lining up to go ashore
The country between Volos and the …
The country between Volos and the…
rocks
rocks
rocks
rocks
and more rocks
and more rocks
The sign said the women had to wea…
The sign said the women had to we…
Our waiter on Toga night
Our waiter on Toga night
And of course another photo of my …
And of course another photo of my…
Volos
photo by: kristinasub