Morning Glory

8:00am:  View of White Mtns

8:00am: View of White Mtns

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84:10 – NIV)  Another translation puts it like this:  “One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.”  (The Message).   I would add, “But one day spent in Your presence on a Greek island beach is the best of all!”   This morning was a glorious, generous gift from the One who delights in giving us all good gifts.  And although I could never presume to capture the reflection of His beauty on camera, I gave it a humble try.  Enjoy:

7:00am:  Moonset

7:00am: Moonset

7:30am:  Early morning fisherman

7:30am: Early morning fisherman

Suess, the beach dog

Suess, the beach dog

9:00am:  Promise of a beautiful day

9:00am: Promise of a beautiful day

Posted in Around Hania, Musings | 1 Comment

My Big Fat Greek Food Blog 2

Nature's bounty

Nature’s bounty

I know this sounds crazy, but I love it when I find a snail in my bunch of spinach.  Then I know it’s organic and fresh.  When I bring home my load of vegies from the farmers market, sometimes I find little hitchhikers which end up being freed into my yard rather than cooked up in a pot.  That’s one of the reasons I’m not going to include a recipe for cooked snails.  That, and the fact that I just have never developed a taste for them.

Live snails per kilo

Live snails per kilo

But what I have developed a taste for is beautiful, green, extra virgin, cold pressed, organic olive oil that explodes with taste and makes anything you put it on or in taste like comfort food.

Roasted vegies with olive oil

Roasted vegies with olive oil

Did you know that the average Greek consumes about 26 liters of olive oil per year?!  So an average family of four consumes over 100 liters (or 27 GALLONS!) per year.  When I tell that astounding fact to my Greek friends, they just look at me and shrug and say, “That’s about right.”  But then, olive oil here is as plentiful as water.  In fact, every authentic Greek recipe and remedy involves the use of copious amounts of olive oil.   Need a skin lotion or sunscreen?  Rub in a little olive oil.  Want to lubricate a creaky door hinge?  A few drops of olive oil will do the trick.  Hair mask?  Olive oil.  Dry lips? Olive oil.  Bee sting, rash, or mosquito bite?  You get the point.  Some remedies really should get a prize for the most creative.  A Greek friend says that a precautionary couple of teaspoonfuls of olive oil BEFORE a night out on the town will ease the effects of alcohol (presumably so you can drink even more) and that the same treatment AFTER a drinking binge will ease the effects of a hangover the next day.  I thought I’d heard it all until last month when I was the unfortunate recipient of yet another fender-bender.  The narrow street in downtown Hania was crowded with passing pedestrians – mostly old ladies.  Each one inspected the large scratch on my car and offered her sage advice,  “Tipota!  Ligo ladi!” Roughly translated it means, “It’s nothing!  Put a little olive oil on it!”  Seriously?  Even if it worked, why would I want to waste this liquid gold on my car?!

Fresh-pressed, extra virgin

Fresh-pressed, extra virgin

I have put on a few pounds since we moved here mostly due to the abundance of feta and bread.  There’s nothing really special about the bread here – it just serves as a conduit to get the olive oil into my mouth without using a straw.

Goodness in a basket

Goodness in a basket

I’ve already decided that when I leave Greece, I will have to travel with a flask of olive oil and a lemon in my purse.  Can’t get enough!  Speaking of lemons, you’ll love this succulent  Greek chicken recipe:

LEMONATO KOTOPOULO   (Lemon Chicken)

3 cloves garlic

1 whole chicken cut up

2 potatoes per person

1 t. fresh ground pepper

1 t. mustard

2 t. oregano

2 t. salt

Juice of 2 lemons (plus zest)

½ C. olive oil

½ C. water

Peel potatoes and cut lengthwise in fourths.  Place in large cooking pan.  Lay chicken pieces on top.  Cut one garlic clove in half; slice a small hole in each breast and insert ½ garlic clove.  Cut others in half and lay around pan.  Add oregano and pepper.  Dissolve mustard in lemon juice and zest and pour over chicken.  Add salt, oil and water.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 min.  Uncover, Return to oven and bake 10 min or until golden brown.  Serve with a fresh salad and, you guessed it…. plenty of olive oil!

 

Posted in Crazy Cretan Culture, Cretan Cuisine, Musings | 5 Comments

Orange you glad it’s winter?

Knock, knock…Here comes winter…

DSC_0088

There’s nothing but goodness about winter in Crete when the citris trees bear fruit, their branches heavy with juicy oranges, sweet mandarines and fragrant lemons.  An afternoon in the orchards is just another way to enjoy what Crete has to offer during its “low” season.  We stayed close to home this year and our holidays were filled with some very memorable moments.

Hania Indoor Market

Hania Indoor Market

Christmas Day was spent with the Daskalakis family in their home along with other dear friends.  Marina is an amazing cook and her Peri-peri chicken (made with her homemade spicy sauce) is perfection on a plate.  Not to be outdone, Nick is living proof that some Greek men are very comfortable in the kitchen whether it be stirring the soup or uncorking the bottle.  (And we always have lots of uncorkings thanks to Nick.)  Our many wonderful friends here made this holiday not only tolerable away from our families, but downright enjoyable.  Pair these friends up with some great Greek food and it’s always a winner!

Souvlaki- Greek fast food

Souvlaki- Greek fast food

Our weather this winter has been unseasonably mild with the very welcome absence of the harsh winds that are normal this time of year.  The day after Christmas was a perfect day to get out and do some biking.  Richard and I started out in Hania and headed west on the old highway that hugs the coastline.  It was surreal to pass through Platanias  (the area of tourism-on-steroids in the summer months) and see the hotels completely empty, locked up and waiting for maintenance and repairs in preparation for the next onslaught of tourists.  In Meleme, we biked along the old runways from the now deserted Allied Air Base from WWII.  Our trek ended at the fishing port of Kolymbari where we indulged in a much needed coffee and spanikopita.

Biking along the north coast - Hania area

Biking along the north coast – Hania area

New Year’s Eve – back at the Daskalakis home – they just can’t get enough of us…or maybe it’s the other way around.  The evening ended with our large group walking down the street towards the Hania city center and being in the middle of fireworks and festivities all around us.  Keep in mind that there is no “fireworks show” per se as in the US.  Instead, everyone has their own stash and so the whole city is lit up from every back alley and home terrace.  As we approached the indoor market area, the mob scene was impressive and the party was just starting.  Richard and I said our Kali Kronia’s (Happy New Year) and headed to our hotel room.  Every year we have treated ourselves to a New Year’s Eve night at a nice hotel in Hania.  This year we stayed at Casa Leone, a beautifully restored old Venetian mansion right on the old harbor.  (My Trip Advisor rating gives it a five star for the accommodations but a one star for the breakfast.)

View of lighthouse from Casa Leone

View of lighthouse from Casa Leone

Shhh….don’t tell anyone, but Crete in the winter is so amazing.  Yes, we do get an occasional cold snap and sideways rain, but winter here is mostly known for its sleepy, relaxed way of life that chugs along happily as we all enjoy cooler temps, no crowds, great hiking/biking weather, fantastic fruit and every excuse in the world to hang out by the fireplace at home or in a cozy taverna with friends…or just with each other.

The best part of waking up

The best part of waking up

Posted in Around Hania, Biking, Cretan Cuisine, Festivities and Events, Holidays | 3 Comments

The Twelve Days of Crete-mas

DSC_0110We hosted a Christmas party at our home last week and enjoyed the company of many friends from different cultures.  I even got out my guitar later in the evening and we all joined in a carolling fest.  One thing led to another and here’s what happens when you start laughing about your Cretan experiences after a few mugs of gluewein:

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CRETE-MAS

On the first day of Crete-mas my true love gave to me:

  • A goat in an olive tree
  • Two loaded shotguns
  • Three dumpster cats
  • Four herds of geep*
  • FIVE SHOTS OF RAKI*
  • Six Greeks a-shouting
  • Seven roosters crowing
  • Eight dogs a-barking
  • Nine Yia-Yia’s* sweeping
  • Ten beat-up trucks*
  • Eleven fender-benders*
  • Twelve watermelons
  • *Geep – A cross between a goat and a sheep (basically the ugliest sheep you can imagine)
  • *Raki – Cretan moonshine
  • *Yia-Yia – Greek for Grandma
  • *Usually OLD Toyotas that don’t look any better than the mules they replaced
  • *You’d be lucky to get away with only eleven

Gotta love it here! 

Posted in Crazy Cretan Culture, Holidays, Musings | 2 Comments

Καλά Χριστούγεννα! (Merry Christmas) 2013

Almyrides

Almyrides

You’ve heard it said, “The older you get, the faster time flies.”  I’m here to tell you that it is a true statement!  Here we are in Crete for our 5th (yikes!) Christmas .  Where has the time gone?  Our 1st year here we were still in a somewhat “shock” state.  The 2nd year was more of a vacation-honeymoon.  By the third year, the novelty had worn off and the harsh reality of living in a vastly different country/culture loomed over us.  But we made it through, had some wonderful and wacky adventures and are here to tell you that we both agree, our fourth year was a pivotal one and by far , the most enjoyable.  What was the difference?  Acceptance, tolerance,… avoidance?  Maybe a little of all of the above but mostly, it was the discovery of two very important things along this journey.  #1.  It’s not what you do or where you go, it’s WHO you’re with that matters.  #2.  The greatest, most satisfying and exciting journey of all is the one you take with God in the driver’s seat.  He has proven His faithfulness to us over and over again through the beauty of His creation and through the love of people around us.

Cmas 2013

So, this Christmas, it’s our wish that you get a glimpse of the Christmas miracle and know that God is crazy about you.  So much so, in fact, that He gave His love a face and a name – Jesus.  Almighty God wrapped up in a tiny baby.  Defies all logic.  I guess that’s why it’s called a miracle.

mir-a-cle  /’mirikel/ noun: a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.

May we all experience the consequences of His extravagant love this year.

Blessings,

Melanie and Richard

Loutro, Crete 2013

Loutro, Crete 2013

Posted in Crete, Holidays, Musings | 4 Comments

Biking the Bodensee

Uberlingen

Uberlingen

Our dream of biking in Germany came true when we ventured off for a week in September to bike around the Bodensee located in southwest Germany.  The Bodensee (German for Lake Constance) borders three countries (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) and this giant body of water with its shoreline towns have a long history beginning as far back as the Stone and Bronze Age (about 4000-850 BC) when the early lake dwellers built homes on “piles” or stilts directly on the water.

Outdoor museum site of ancient pile dwellings

Outdoor museum site of ancient pile dwellings

Today the Lake Constance is the home of a wide range of cultural interests, water sports and cuisine and you can enjoy all of the above while biking on the well-marked mostly flat pathways that hug the shoreline, meander into small villages and pass through orchards and grapevines.  The bike/pedestrian path that circles the lake is roughly 162 beautiful miles long with stunning views of the lake over one shoulder and the Alps over the other.

Bodensee cycle path

Bodensee cycle path

We decided to focus on the section of the lake known as the Untersee (lower lake, which I still don’t understand since its actually the north part of the lake).  We rented bikes and began our tour in Friedrichshafen (the birthplace of the flying Zeppelin) with the goal of biking a convoluted loop of sorts using various forms of transportation including bikes, ferries, trains and feet!

On the ferry

On the ferry

Our first day out started with a cycle around Friedrichshafen followed by a ferry ride to the quaint town of Meersburg with its imposing castle above the town.  We have discovered the best way to “see” a new place is to sit at a neighborhood bar, order up some local wine, and make friends that aren’t tourists.  We did just that in Meersburg and enjoyed the fellowship of a local couple who were more than happy to share tidbits and recommendations that even Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet don’t know about.  (BTW – The Guter Hirte (Good Shepherd) restaurant in Konstanz was excellent!).

Meersburg castle

Meersburg castle

We spent the whole day in Meersburg checking out the old town and hiking up to the castle.  Later that day we ferried across to the largest city on the lake, Konstanz, a town of historical significance and quaint Medievel architecture as well as a bustling center for education and commerce.

Part of our cycle route took us from Konstanz to Richeneau Island to Stein am Rhein and finally to Schaffhausen where devoured an amazing pasta meal at La Piazza followed by some serious snoozing at the beautiful historic Hotel Ruden.  Most of this route was in Switzerland and we found out quickly just how expensive a small snack can be.  Two espressos, two waters and two small pastries = 25 euro!  But the scenery was stellar and we got a break in the clouds so we got over it..

Rhine River

Rhine River

Most of our days were wet (there’s a reason everything is so green here!) but we pushed on from Schaffhausen to Radolfzell pedalling along the shores of the Rhine River, through postcard pastures and deep woods so quiet that it almost seemed wrong to have a conversation as we biked along.

Through the woods near Schaffhausen

Through the woods near Schaffhausen

In Radolfzell, we ate dinner at Liesele’s and stayed in the historic Hotel am Stadtgarten that was built on the old fortress wall overlooking the old moat which is now a manicured sunken garden. It was wonderful to fall asleep to the sound of heavy rain but not so nice to  bike in, so the next morning we opted to take the train to Uberlingen departing there and biking on Meersburg.  The rest of our trip was spent snooping around the Medievel streets of Konstanz, biking to the garden island of Mainau, cycling down into Switzerland to Romanshorn where we took the ferry over to Lindau (another beautiful island on the lake.)  Check out the photos in the gallery!

All through the trip we were blessed with fresh food (in some cases right off the tree), hospitable people, good health and great photos and lots of stories.  We always found something to smile or laugh about in spite of the weather.  Beautiful..

Afternoon in Konstanz

Afternoon in Konstanz

Delicious…

Carb overload at the German bakery

Carb overload at the German bakery

Whimsical…

Fountain in Uberlingen

Fountain in Uberlingen

and downright funny…

Cow spa

Cow spa

The Bodensee is a sightseeing delight and should only be experienced from the best perspective – the saddle of a bicycle.

On the trail

On the trail

Posted in Germany, Travel | 1 Comment

Love in Loutro

Tranquil evening magic

Tranquil evening magic

The highlight of August in Crete was the wedding of our dear friends’ daughter in the idyllic setting of Loutro on the south coast.  Accessible only by foot or by sea, we opted for a water taxi rather than the 45 minute hike with our belongings (including a guitar) over the narrow path that skirts along the edge of the arid south coast hillside.  This little seaside village tucked into a beautiful cove was once an important port town in Hellenistic and Roman times.  Today, Loutro is a popular destination for tourists and is especially suited for weddings not just because of its Meditteranean beauty, but because the whole town is so accommodating.  This little village closes down in the winter and explodes in the summer with 95% of the population being visitors.  But somehow, it manages to preserve the small village feel – no discos, no loud parties, no cars, buses, scooters – just a peaceful, relaxing, stunningly beautiful place to get away from it all.

Morning magic

Fresh-squeezed morning magic

We had been to Loutro a few times before but this time was special because it was sweetened by the presence of good friends and families gathering for a joyful occasion.

Wedding party

Wedding party

The wedding took place at a restaurant perched above the town with a view over the sea.  Even more beautiful than the surrounding was the bridal party and family.  I had the honor of playing some music during the wedding and so I had a great seat for viewing!

What a venue!

What a venue!

But what stood out as the crowning moment for many of us were the tributes said at the reception.  Rather than the typical chain of cheesy toasts and raunchy roasts offered by tipsy siblings or college roommates looking to outdo one another with feeble attempts at humor (usually at the expense of the embarassed bride – “Please, will somebody take the microphone away from him!”), this was a class act of beautiful thoughts shared with the intention of honoring the recipient and peppered with just enough humor to lighten the mood.  Not a dry eye in the crowd.  I must say that Nick, the father of the bride, took the prize for an eloquent speech that left even him choked up.

After the reception, the dancing began with traditional Greek dances and lots of good drink!  We woke up to a nice surprise the next morning and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to dive in a swim around with this beauty.  She even accepted a little stroke on her back from me as we were paddling around together.  I never put “swim with a sea turtle” on my bucket list because I never thought it would happen.  Now I think I’ll put it on there just so I can cross it off.  What an amazing experience!

Sea Turtle beauty

Sea Turtle beauty

It was hard to leave on Sunday to return back to the “real world” (or as real as you can get on a Medittereanean island.)  Nick has a favorite word he uses a lot to describe something very special, and this weekend in Loutro was nothing short of it …..”Magical!”

Posted in Crete, Festivities and Events, Holidays, Musings | 3 Comments

Funny, fascinating, infuriating Crete

Cretan cancer

Beautiful vistas and Cretan cancer 

Greece is a dichotomy.  While the world watches a culture being pressed and distorted and potentially destroyed by the spiraling vortex of government corruption, the common people try to desperately hold on to the thing that gives them security – their family traditions and the love of their culture.  Pulling aside the blanket of pessimism that the media has used to define Greece, we discover that we can learn much from this place.   Life is hard, no doubt, but it goes on and as one merchant told me the other day, “There is always something to complain about but we survive.  We always have.”   As an American looking in from the outside, I am embarrassed to admit how my culture is one of excess when so many people in this world have so little and yet still manage to smile.  My next-door neighbor is a poor farmer who consistently left fresh vegetables all summer long on my stone wall.  Seven watermelons, two bushels of big beans, five giant cauliflower later, I still wonder how many people he thought I was feeding!  No matter – it was his generosity that counted.   Greed and corruption – the age-old destroyers of civilizations are prevalent in Greece and we pray for God’s mercy and intervention on this beautiful land and its people.

The smiling yia-yias

The smiling yia-yias

But there are many moments of goodness and humor in the day here.  Like this awesome camera moment:

Niki's taxi service

Niki’s taxi service

Niki is one of the few older local women in our village who drives.  She doesn’t own a car but gets around in style in her old tractor, generously schlepping other women to the market and back.  She is a tough old gal with a heart of gold.

And then there’s the exasperating, head-scratching, “what’s THAT about?” rhythm  of Greek rationale.

Cretan road repair

Cretan road repair

And for those of you with good imaginations, here’s a “Wish I had my camera” moment:

As I was driving out of our village on the Akrotiri, I rounded a corner and came up behind a rather portly old gentleman walking on the side of the road.  He was outfitted in a non-descript pair of gray shorts, old slip-on sandals and he was shirtless.  Nothing unusual except the fact that he was covered from head to ankles in a thick layer of white fuzzy body hair.   A thought flashed through my mind as I passed him that he was certainly an impressive example of the quintessential older Greek man, but nothing prepared me for the sight in my rear view mirror that nearly caused me to run off the road.    Besides his barrel chest and great belly that matched his back in the area of volume of hair, he was sporting on his face, the biggest, whitest, fuzziest handlebar mustache I’ve ever seen on a man.   And as he strutted confidently down the road I could almost hear him thinking, “Zorba ain’t got nuthin’ on me!”

A good rule of thumb in Crete…expect the unexpected.

Surprise visit from the neighbors

Surprise visit from the neighbors

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in living here, it’s the art of slowing down.  Some times it still drives this frantic American crazy but most times I love it.  Richard and I have settled into an evening routine of a small mezethes (appetizer) and a glass of wine on the front terrace as he cools down from his bicycling commute from work.  Then we eventually move to the back terrace as the sun has lost some heat and have dinner there as we watch the sunset over the water.  We linger over amazing fresh food, talk about the day and watch the stars come out.  Needless to say, I don’t get anything done in the evenings and I’m actually a better person for it 🙂  Yes, I still pinch myself.  This island is a beautiful and exasperating place to live – a true dichotomy!

Sunset from the terrace

Sunset from the terrace

Posted in Crazy Cretan Culture, Crete, Musings | 3 Comments

Kousses and Anogia

Come sit a while

Come sit a while

Venturing up into the mountains of Crete always reveals a hidden gem or two of the “real” Cretan lifestyle.  Such was the case this last summer when our fellow road trippers Rolf and Marion, set out with us to check out some places of interest near Matala on the south coast.  Heading south from Heraklion, we took the winding roads through the mountains and found our first stop – Kousses, a tiny mountain village just north of Matala.

Kousses

Kousses

Destination – “Botano” – a first rate herb/spice shop that serves loyal patrons from all over the world.  (Love this website:  http://botano.gr)  This obscure but quaint little shop sits on a steep hillside with its front door just a step up from the street and its back door opening out to a balcony suspended high above the valley below.

Kousses Herb Shop

Kousses Herb Shop

  I wanted to take my complimentary cup of summer tea and have a long sit here soaking in the view but the sounds and smells wafting out from the room behind me were an enticing distraction.   Ioannis, the patriarch of this successful family run business collects thousands of herbs and spices from far away places, from the local mountains and from his own garden and concocts them into teas, lotions, oils and medicinal remedies.

Kousses Herb Shop

Kousses Herb Shop

The day we are there, he is doing his books while his wife, Crisa measures out and bags teas with names like “Nice Dreams” and spices like “Raz el Hanout” and my personal favorite, “Aleppo pepper,” both traditional Turkish spices.  The smell is intoxicating and we meander through the tiny shop marveling at how many things you can create from nature’s bounty.

Kousses Herb Shop

Kousses Herb Shop

After stocking up on more than we needed, we set out for our next destination, Anogia.  Traveling northwest over hills and around endless curves with breathtaking vistas over the plains, we finally pulled into Anogia, a large village on the north slopes of Mt. Psiloritis.  Anogia shares much of the same history as so many little Cretan mountain villages.  Occupied by the Turks and then the Germans, it has seen its share of violence and tragedy.  But today it’s a peaceful and welcoming village and is the site of many cultural festivals and activities.  The upper newer town is largely uninspiring but the lower old town is quintessential Crete.

Yia-yia in Anogia

Yia-yia in Anogia

Walking along the streets you are more than likely to see groups of Greek men gathered outside the kafenios sharing stories and drinking raki, Yia-yias (older women) displaying their handiwork of beautiful Cretan linens, taverna signs inviting patrons to dine on the delicious smells coming from within, and handicraft shops of all sorts. It is one of these shops that is on our radar for the day.  Destination – Tarrha Glass shop.  (http://www.tarrhaglass.com/artists.html)  Marios and Natassa are master crafters of handblown glass art creating beautiful tableware and architectural pieces.

Tarrha Glass Shop (Anogia)

Tarrha Glass Shop (Anogia)

We found this beautiful decanter set, created by hand-blowing glass between stones to give it a very unique look.

Tarrha carafe

Tarrha carafe

On this trip, we were the unsuspecting victims of GPS malfunction or misunderstanding – whatever you want to call it.  After dutifully following all instructions by our sweet-voiced lady in a box, we arrived at a dead end on top of a high hill…”You have arrived at your destination”….NOT.  But it wasn’t a wasted trip.  To our surprise we discovered some old World War II machinery at the end of the road.  And of course, boys will be boys….

Boys and their toys

Boys and their toys

Posted in Crete, Road Trips | 2 Comments

Pinnacles of Peace

Church in the Sky (Agia Triada)

Church in the Sky (Agia Triada)

Greece’s economy is not the only thing on the rocks.   On a positive note, it can boast about one of its national treasures that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Meteora sits among a valley of natural rock formations and is home to some of the most interesting history of its religious culture.

Roussanou Nunnery

Roussanou Nunnery

Meteora (“suspended in the air” in Greek) is the site of monastic communities that date back to the 14th and 15th centuries.  During the 11th century, hermits and ascetics were drawn here to seek the divine and settle in rough makeshift caves among the rocks.   Eventually, Meteora grew to be a prominent place of retreat, prayer and meditation for the Greek Orthodox faithful.  Today as you look across the vista of rock pinnacles in the valley of Kalambaka, it’s hard to imagine that on almost every one of them was perched a monastery built under impossible circumstances with no modern construction tools or proper roads.  Today only six remain permanently but precariously perched on a few solid rock columns.

Varlaam Monastery

Varlaam Monastery

It’s hard to believe something like this exists on earth.  You really have to see it to believe it.  How on earth did the monks build these giant stone monuments and manage to keep the insulation of their simple monastic lifestyles?  Before roads were constructed, supplies and pilgrims were hoisted up the sheer rock faces via a series of pulleys and baskets, hooks and ladders.  Some are still in use today.  Maybe not this one…

You first...

You first…

Megalo Meteoro monastery

Megalo Meteoro monastery

The existing monasteries house anywhere from one monk to 28 nuns.  Each has its own distinct presence and in spite of the onslaught of tourist, the monks and nuns carefully guard their monastic lifestyles and go about their everyday life on the rocks.  All of the monasteries have at least a small garden or two tucked into the rocks or fashioned onto a terrace.  Everything is meticulously cared for and beautifully preserved.

Garden at Roussanou

Garden at Roussanou

We visited remarkable Meteora in summertime when the air is still and the light is relatively flat.  Even then, we were struck by the ever-changing beauty of this mystical place.   The first daylight burned away the dewy mist of the morning and the shadows of the late afternoon emerged from behind crevices and lengthened into long fingers covering  the valley below.  It’s in that late afternoon light that the rocks and the monasteries take on a brilliant golden glow long after the valley succumbs to the shadows of dusk.

Roussanou convent

Roussanou convent

After viewing some amazing photographs of the different seasons of Meteora, I long to experience this place in the wild season of winter when snow and ice dust the landscape and the monasteries push up above the low winter clouds into the crisp blue sky.  Imagine this:  A ring of low winter clouds encircles one of the rock pillars separating the cold dark valley below from the monastery  that basks in the sunshine of the blue sky above.  A world set apart, figuratively and  literally.

Sunset over Meteora

Summer sunset over Meteora

Magical, mystical, magnificent Meteora.  Push this one up to the top of your bucket list!

 

 

 

Posted in Mainland Greece, Travel | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments