Meteora – I heard about the hanging monasteries of Greece six months prior to our trip in 1999. They sounded so ancient, mysterious and sacred. Back in the early 14th century a group of ascetic monks began to climb up the sheer rock walls to carve out a sacred space where they could worship God and be above the fray of the world.
By the 16th century, at the height of their occupancy, twenty-four Greek Orthodox monasteries were perched high on the stone formations only accessible by ropes and baskets. Sadly, war, weather and declining population took a toll on the structures. Today, there are six monasteries still accessible while the others have fallen into ruins.
At last, it was our day for the trip. But the weather turned quite nasty as it can do in the mountains. Rain and dense fog blanketed the land. I still had hopes that when we reached the top our vista would clear. No such luck. The fog was so thick that we could barely see our guide Peggy as she tried to shout over the wind and drizzle how beautiful the view was on a clear day. Although I was disappointed with the lack of view, I was rewarded with an ethereal feeling of almost being in “heaven” as no ground could be seen, very few people were there and no sound could be heard but the elements and prayers.
As travel fortune would have it, in 2013, we were on the road to Greece again. What would the monasteries be like this time, would I be disappointed a second time? The day rose bright, clear and balmy. Not a cloud in the sky. I could barely contain my excitement. Finally there they were so stately, majestic and crowded!
And so it goes with travel and memories, they end up being a composite of it all that live among your souvenirs.