Winter in Greece: Meteora and Portaikos Bridge

The dream. Ever since I was 8 years old and learned about ancient Greece in school, I have thought ‘I want to go there’

I remember spending hours at a time searching for images of Greece on the internet and frequently seeing these beautiful buildings sat on top of cliffs and wondering what they were.

This February my dream came true and I got to go to Meteora.

From the ferry in Igoumenitsa to Meteora it took at least 2 and a half hours and by that time I had belted out all the Adele you could possibly imagine and most of my playlist had been listened to.

The roads were long and winding, going up and down the mountain sides. Definitely not made for big trucks and lorries. However, we managed to get stuck behind probably the biggest lorry I have ever seen and it’s a miracle it didn’t fall off the side of the mountain.

Before we reached meteora we were also held up by a big bunch of goats/sheep crossing the road. They’d decided that crossing just around a corner was their safest option and we almost had some roadkill to take home with us. I’m kidding of course (If you know, you know).

Anyway we drew nearer to our destination and slowly we started to see civilisation again.

For those of you who have never seen Meteora, I just cannot put into words how breathtaking it is. For a good 10 minutes I was saying ‘no way, this is just a green screen’ – it honestly just did not look real.

As you can see here, there was a lot of dust and sand in the air across Greece at the time which explains our unkept windscreen!

Sat on the top of some of these rock formations are monasteries and believe it or not people still live there. My boyfriend and their family had drove past Meteora before but never stopped to look so with my over excitement (literal screaming was happening) they made the decision (there was no choice) to stop.

There were many different points in which we could stop and it could have taken an entire day but we decided to stand on some rocks (with a very big drop down) to get a good shot of the monasteries.

As you can see from the photograph, it looks pretty inaccessible. Apparently they use a sort of conveyer belt to hoist up food and other requirements however most foods are grown within the monasteries.

We drove a little further up and reached a monastery that we could access over a bridge. I think it was around 2-3 euros to enter but this was just a small entry fee and the proceedings are put back into the upkeep. On the wall were scarves and long length skirts for those who had come in shorts as the monastery is home to Nuns and this was a duty of respect.

Some of the others are home to Monks also, however the one we visited was specifically for Nuns practicing Orthodox Christianity.

I wasn’t able to take photographs inside the church and monastery however I did take several photos of the view from the top!

📷: Kalabaka (Καλαμπακα) – the town below the monasteries

Out of respect, I didn’t take photos inside and although the paintings and artwork in there were so intricate and beautiful, I was sad I didn’t know enough Greek to understand what the woman was talking about.

Part of me felt quite uncomfortable in there as it was obvious many people had come on a path of Faith and as I’m not religious, I just felt like a giant tourist looking at paintings in a puffer jacket and skinny jeans. I like history though and this place clearly had a lot of it.

After a quick stop at Meteora and one or two Pita Gyros later, we headed back onto the road in search of a giant bridge in Trikala.

From what I’ve been told, his bridge dates back to the 1500’s (the Ottoman-era) and was the main access to almost everywhere.

It’s official name is Portaikos Bridge (Γέφυρα Πορταϊκού) and although it just looks like an old bridge, it’s pretty amazing to think back to all the hundreds of thousands of people who have walked across it before we did.

Underneath is a river which was a beautiful grey/blue colour and I could have happily sat with a coffee and watched and listened to the rushing water all day.

Apparently, people used to take their donkeys over these mountains as there was no other way to access the other towns back before cars. Even the roads today are long and winding and a lot of our journey could be cut short if there were roads going through the mountains, but who wants to spoil a view as fantastic as this?

This was only day one of our trip and there was still a whole load more to see.

6 thoughts on “Winter in Greece: Meteora and Portaikos Bridge”

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