On the wisdom of a Greek/Australian guy I met at Anzac Day I decide to head north to Meteora – home of the spectacular 14th century Greek monasteries perched precariously on the top of rock towers like this one.
But getting here is a mission.
It involves getting up ridiculously early, pissing off all five of my dorm mates (I blame the plastic mattress covers for that), getting the metro to the outskirts of Athens, walking about 2 kilometres with my 16kg backpack, getting abused by this dodgy looking Greek guy who tries to pick me up in his convertible, and then catching two buses to the small town of Kastraki, which is at the base of Meteora.
When I arrive it’s dead on lunchtime, I haven’t eaten today, it’s insanely hot and I’m struggling to find somewhere to stay for less than 30 Euros a night.
Right as I’m about to have a mini meltdown a kiwi/English couple I met on my walking tour in Athens drive past.
They take pity on me, ply me with coffee, help me find a place to stay, stop at a bakery where I buy a cheese pie for lunch (cheese makes everything better), and drop me at the top of Meteora.
Then as I’m wandering around the monasteries I bump into this Spanish guy on my bus from Athens.
The first two times it happens we giggle and carry on our separate ways.
But on the third time I’m pretty sure the universe wants us to hang out, besides it’s getting late so I don’t really fancy walking back to Kastraki by myself.
It’s nice to have company for the afternoon, and to not have to take selfies in front of the monasteries.
The next day I’m at the bus stop early to get back up to the top of Meteora but it doesn’t come. Like many things in Greece they have a real CBF attitude – and they wonder why their economy is rooted.
When I ask the lady at the minimart (which hosts the bus stop) when the next bus is coming she just shrugs her shoulders and gives me a look of – how would I know?
Walking it is.
It’s a full on hike.
An hour later, dripping with sweat, I do the unthinkable for me (sorry Mum) – I accept a ride from a stranger.
In fairness he was a very old Greek man and I could totally take him if it came down to it.
He kindly drives me to the furterest away monastery and refuses to take any money for it.
And then who do I run into again…Spanish guy.
He’s about to go back to Athens but at least now I have someone to have a beer with in Madrid – that’s if I ever manage to navigate my way out of Greece.
Given the effort to get to Meteora, I make myself visit all six monasteries.
They are truly something.
The next morning I’m at the bus stop ten minutes early and when it comes it drives straight past me.
Being Greece the next bus isn’t until 1.30pm so I have to walk about 2 kilometres with my pack into town.
When I get there, again drenched in sweat, I discover I’ve just missed the bus to the port town of Volos where I need to go to catch a ferry to Skiathos, even though the timetable they gave me says it doesn’t leave for another hour.
I’m not proud to report I actually swore at the woman. Then I had a bit of a cry.
My day is now totally rooted.
I have to wait another four hours for the next bus, meaning I miss the last ferry to Skiathos, meaning I have to spend the night in Volos.
When I get to Volos I go in search of a ferry timetable. I ask a taxi driver but he’s more occupied with trying to get me to have dinner at his mate’s taverna. One too many patronising ‘you listen to me girls’ later and I say (again not proud of this) – ‘no you listen to me, I don’t want a f#%*ing souvlaki I want a ferry timetable.’
I give up and go in search of a hotel instead. The cheapest I can find is 30 Euros for a place called -wait for it…
The only things it’s got going for it is that I can actually pronounce the name and it’s opposite the ferry terminal.
I decide to have a shower to wash away the day. It’s glorious, but when I get out I discover the door is jammed and I’m locked in the bathroom. Half an hour and a bit of hysterical laughing/crying/kicking/punching the door later and it magically opens.
The only thing to fix this now is a beer (or five) so I wander down the promenade where who do I run into….no not Spanish guy – but possibly the only other foreigner on my bus to Volos – an Australian girl.
After a pleasant dinner together I return to Hotel Jason to discover my ranch slider won’t shut. I enlist the help of the Greek woman at reception and with sheer brute force and possibly the ranch slider dying like me under her cloud of blood curdling BO it finally closes.
I’m wide awake now so I decide to read myself to sleep, but right as I open my book the main light in my room flickers out to blackness.
Greece, you are kicking my arse today.
I’m in serious need of a hug and another beer.