Going to places based on people’s recommendations is the best way to go. Ditch your lonley planet and actually talk to people in your hostel and find out where the must go places are from them. I was told about meteora by a guy on my Rila Monastery trip. I wanted to see a bit more of Greece then just the islands and this seemed like the perfect place. I got a train from Athens to Trikala (kalambaka is actually closer but I couldn’t find a hostel here) which was an interesting experience. My whole train was full of Syrian and Iraqi refuges all heading north trying to make their way into western Europe. I didn’t realise this but there is a huge refuge problem in Greece as 124,000 refuges have arrived in the last 8 months putting a huge strain on the country.
After a few stressful hours of thinking I had missed my stop i had arrived in Trikala. The hostel was ok but had a mishmash of beds thrown together with some very strange paintings of greek gods painted don the wall. I made friends with an American girl named Stacey and a guy named Shane. It was at dinner we discovered Shane was a very passionate republican. Somehow the war in the middle east came up and being an ex marine he had some very strong opinions about this. It was interesting hearing what he had to say seeing as he had been there and seemed to know a lot on the matter. I didn’t really agree with anything he said but was still an interesting conversation/tirade. Just to egg him on we then brought up gay marriage and gun laws. We were at the restaurant for so long we ended up getting free dessert!
You can do a 7 hour round hike to get to meteora and see all the monasteries or you can get a bus up to the main one. We chose the second option (no surprises there). It is absolutely spectacular. On the drive up you can see all the mountain/boulders with all the monasteries doted on top. We went into the main monastery that the bus dropped us off at. It was pretty cool inside and had some extraordinarily old books and amazingly carved wooden crosses. I think it would have been a bit better if there was someone to tell you a bit more about the monastery and what life is like there or even had a few more plaques with info on them. Little tip: The main monastery isn’t open on Tuesdays. Also ladies need to cover their knees when entering but they do have little sarong things there.
While the monastery was impressive i thought the view from the outside was more spectacular. Sitting on the rocks and looking over all the mountains and valleys and all the monasteries was stunning. We had to sit here for a while waiting for the bus back so had plenty of time to take it all in. You can visit all the different monasteries but we had heard they were all quite the same and we were feeling pretty lazy so only went to the one. It was an excellent reccommendation and I would pass it on to anyone going to Greece. There is a lot more than just the islands.