We woke to a beautiful day for our move further north. All slept very well and we put it down to the gases that must have been coming out of the ground at the Oracle yesterday. Anyway, what ever it was it worked.
We woke this morning to a beautiful bright sunny day here in Kalambaka. Our day today is split into to completely different halves. The morning was when we visited the two Monasteries on the mountain at Meteora and the afternoon on the Battlefields north of Kalambaka.
The Monasteries at Kalambaka are the result of a long line of Hermits starting from the 10th Century when individuals arrive, climbed the rocks to caves and spent their lives there meditating and trying to survive away from the world. In the 14th Century a Monk named Nile brought a lot of the individuals together to pray on Sundays, this was the start of communal life at Meteora. From there the building of the Monasteries as we see them today started. Along the way many were destroyed over the years and the remains of one is in the first photo. At the height of occupation there were 24 Monasteries on the mountains but now only six.
Our visit took us to two of the Monasteries, one for men and a Nunnery for Women. There are six men in the men's Monastery and 30 Women in the Nunnery. The Monks and Nuns still grow their own vegetables and wine in the grounds surrounding the rocks, they gain access via cable cars and not as we the tourists must, by stairs. Originally there were no stairs but only ropes and pulleys to take them up and down. The stairs were constructed in the 1920s.
These Monasteries are not for only meditation where a Monk can be closeted away from the world, they are Tourist attractions as well as sanctuaries. To give the Monks and Nuns time for meditation etc each Monastery is closed one day a week and when open only from 0900 to 1600. The frescos within the individual Churches at the Monasteries are incredible and depict the Gospels and all associated with Orthodox Christianity.
Lunch followed our visit at a restaurant in Kalambaka run by a lady who came from Smyrna in Turkey as a young girl when, as part of the exodus of Greeks from Turkey and Turks from Greece back to their National home in the 1920's, her family arrived in Kalambaka and started a restaurant. One goes into the kitchen and selects their choice from the large pots of food cooking on the stoves. We have been visiting her for 11 years and nobody has ever complained about the food. We will return in 2018.
After lunch we headed north out of town to the site where Savage Force was deployed as the blocking force to cover the approaches down the Greek peninsula in the West. It was a very strong force on an excellent piece of ground in which to defend if needed. However, the withdrawal of the main body had moved past the passes and this Force pulled out and moved south.
Tomorrow we head further north to Vevi, the scene of the first clash of arms between the Germans and the ANZACs.