We drove off from Vergina in completely the wrong direction, which is easy to do if you are a little bit stupid and you have been chatting about useless jibber. But to travel 50 kilometres in the wrong direction until you see a sign on the road side that says ‘stop, halt, been here before, idiots, turn around’. What the heck? How did that happened? Needless to say, it wasn’t our fault, oh no, it was the Tom Tom’s fault for not applying common sense. We turned around and head back down the road giving each other daggers.
Have no fear, nothing like a Lidl to bring back our mojo. Well unless you find the worst Lidl in Europe with empty shelves and nothing that took our fancy. We scoured the store in the hope we would find an abandoned sausage on the lemonade shelf or a squashed croissant hidden behind the frozen chicken but nah, this is one hungry town. We left with a packet of biscuits, a bag of sweets and a pepper. A bloody pepper, I mean who buys a pepper and expects wonderful culinary delights to follow!
Off we set again but this time we checked, double checked we were going in the right direction. Normally, we take the slow scenic road but with the day coming to an end, we took the motorway and joined the fast boys. Vin was loving the freedom to open up his engine and roar down the motorway (cost €6). After a few weeks in bumble mode it was good to open up Vin and get the rev’s up, clearing any potential build up in the diesel filter.
We sang our way through a full album of old skool classics and scoffed a bag of sweets until we felt ill. We felt sick as a dog and vowed never again to scoff so much crap, again. By late afternoon, the weather had changed but now it was getting serious. The roads were becoming impassable. A weird drifting fog had descended on us like some witches concoction. The skies dark with odd patches of bright glowing light, it all felt rather twilight zone.
As we turned off the motorway we put our life in the hands of the Tom Tom. The most unreliable and stupid GPS system we have ever known but with zero visibility we had no choice. In the middle of the countryside with no street lighting what else could we do. We search on the map for a nearby service station, petrol station, anything but nada. We followed Tom Tom and headed to the hills, slowly climbing and watching every inch. A nerve racking time as we knew one false move and we would be off down a sheer cliff.
We were desperate to find somewhere to park up but with no street lights and sheer cliffs, a quick turn off to check out a spot is not an options.. We drove through the pea soup towards Kalampaka. Slowly climbing the windy roads. Dense fog swirled about the road. We could see nothing at the sides and ahead of us except the occasional white smear of oncoming headlights. By the time we reached the first town with a parking place the fog was frighteningly thick. We could see only a few feet in front (this so reminded us of our time in Spain in 2015) We parked on a side road and breathed a sigh of relief. We have no idea what the place looks like but dig the town name…Agioi Theordoroi
Wild Camping GPS position Agio1 Theordoroi N039.984764, E021.502496
In the morning, we had intended to walk to the hilltop town of Agioi Theordoroi and check out the place. But when we emerged from the motorhome a cold, slicing rain was falling and the dense fog had hardly moved. We darted back in Vin and spent the morning glancing out the window waiting for a break in the weather.
Around lunch time the fog lifted slightly and we set off towards Kalampaka. It was all going fine for about ten minutes until the fog returned. Two or three times we stopped at roadside picnic spots to take a break and see if we could make out where we where. But nah, we couldn’t see anything. The fog was everywhere.
We took our time and eventually made it to Kalampaka. A ghost town covered in thick fog. All around us are wonderful monasteries perched on fancy rocks pinnacles but we cannot see a thing. We followed the signs for a parking spot but unsurprising we never found it. Instead we ended up following a fog light on a small bus, which at the time seemed a great idea. Little did we know the driver was an avid explorer and rock climber! We climbed the vertical roads on to sheer cliff faces, praying to god that no other vehicle is stupid enough to come up here.
Eventually, we spotted a reasonable sized patch of grass and gravel and pulled over. We knew for a fact we were parked on a ledge but the severity of it, we have no idea. But by god, I am not moving another inch until the fog clears.
That night, we slept tentatively. , A dissatisfying, semi-conscious sleep in which your imagination runs wild and all of a sudden you think…shit, is the handbrake on tight, what happens if a big gust of wind comes, what happens if the rocks falls off. It is safe to say I dreamt of Vin plunging over a cliff edge, tumbling in to a black hole, through thick fog. I could not wait for the morning to arrive.
A platform of rocks, marking the edge of parking spot. There was no fence to keep you back from the edge, so I shuffled cautiously over and looked down, but could see nothing but grey soup but within half an hour the fog parted. It just silently lifted up in to the sky, like kettle steam, and suddenly we saw that we were on the edge of a sheer, giddying drop of at least a thousand feet. ‘Jesus!’. And then silence, because out there in front of us was the most awesome, most silencing sight.
Balancing on a rocky spur, a little monastery clings to a rock pinnacle. We look around and another one drapes the side of a cliff face. In the early morning, fine tendrils of mist still linger then weave amongst the gaps of the pinnacles . Quiet valleys begin to fill with the sound of barking dogs and screaming cats along with the chime of the church bells to signify the start of a new day.
Slowly but surely, our eyes adjust and our heads align and we finally realise where we are parked. Wow, what a wild camping spot and what a view to wake up to., this truly is For Our Eyes Only!
Until we arrived in Greece, we had never heard of Meteora but little did we know we’d actually seen it before. Not in person but in the Bond film For Your Eyes Only. The ancient and religious territory that over looks the plains of Thessaly was the main location for the Bond movie. A landscape of weird rock formations and pinnacles of peaks that shoot up put the ground with monasteries perched on top.
Craig loves his Bond films and no visit to one of the film locations would be complete without watching the film. Last night we snuggled down with a hot cup of coffee and watched Roger Moore scramble around the monasteries. You might not be a Bond fan but you have to admit they find some of the most dramatic film locations. A few years ago, we had a thing for visiting a bond location and so this one just adds to Bond hot spots.
How this landscape was formed is not really known but most geologist think the area was once surrounded in water and as the sea receded it left these remarkable pinnacles. Then around 10th century hermit monks started to dwell in the rock caves living a life of prayer. Over the centuries the area became a popular place for solitude and in 14th century St. Athanasios from Mount Athos founded the Great Meteoron. This was the first of 24 monasteries built in the region, however, today only 6 remain. As you walk around you do wonder how they managed to build such wonderful places. Lifting building materials up on a rope and baskets just leaves you gob smacked. But then as you visit the monasteries you discover they only built steps in 1930’s, prior to that access was via winched and net.
We just fell in love with the whole area and spent several days on our little natural balcony with tremendous views. Whether walking, biking or visiting the monasteries there is one thing for sure this area is breath taking. On every twist, bend or turn we are greeted with amazing views and pinnacles just waiting to be climbed and admired.
All the monasteries are open but they tend to all close on a different day of the week. Admission is €3 per person and everyone must dress appropriately with long pants for men and skirt and long sleeves for woman. Generally open 9 until 4. We managed to walk to each monastery and admire the building but chose to only go in to Varlaam and Great Mateoron.
Our Bumble Verdict: Just amazing, a must do and the roads up to the monasteries are fine. A little steep and windy but no horrid cliff hangers. Parking available at each monastery but spaces are limited especially when the coaches arrive.
Our sleepy spot: On a rock pinnacle overlooking the village of Kalambaka and the wonderful monastery of Agios Nikolaos.