Saturday, September 5, 2009


Thursday, October 25th, 2007 A serendipity day in the Greek countryside….

Stayed up last night working on my journal and photos until about 11 pm; Jim went to sleep much earlier and since he wears ear plugs he didn’t hear the noise from the lobby area of our little hotel. I was tempted to go down and join them as they did sound like they were having fun. We’d heard the owner, Demetrius, giving directions to an English speaking guest that had been taken to the other (4 star) Hotel Meteora (same name as our hotel) earlier in the day. His English is very limited…as in we had trouble getting some soap for the room. But they arrived after we’d returned from dinner so we hadn’t met them. It sounded like a family with teenagers. By 11:30 pm they’d all retired and the place for very peaceful.

Woke up about 8 am this morning…it was probably about thirty degrees outside last night…dressed and down to breakfast by 8:30. We were enjoying our food when the other guests arrived; it was two girls and one was wearing a sweatshirt that said CAL POLY across the front. That’s the school in California that our grandson Brian attends. I immediately asked before they even sat down if they knew Brian. They were shocked, to say the least, and I had to repeat it twice and then told them that he was our grandson. Not only are they attending school with him in Italy; one of the girls, Rebecca, had traveled from California with him and another girl last August. Jen, the other girl, had arrived in July and so has been able to tour even more countries than Brian. It was a fun breakfast as we shared stories. They are traveling from Italy to Corfu, Meteora and on to Athens by bus and trains. Such an adventure they are having! Today they have arranged for a local guide to take them rock climbing. They told us to find a fantastic hamburger place in Ioannina called “Peter’s Special Hamburgers” as they’d really enjoyed their meal there the day before on their journey. After they left I realized that we’d been so busy talking I’d forgotten to take a photo of them! But I did leave them a romance novel that I’ve finished reading as a surprise when they return tonight to the hotel.

Packed the luggage in the car and headed out to find an old church in Meteora called The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin; built in the 7th century. A Byzantine church with frescoes from the 14th century; since I didn’t have a skirt…Jim went inside and said it was as impressive although not as restored as the Monasteries that we saw yesterday. I really didn’t mind not spending the 1.50 euros as I don’t get much out of frescoes.

On the road by 10 am; we were headed toward Ioannina; along the way we decided to take a serendipity trip to find an old church that we’d seen photos of on the walls of several restaurants. We knew it was located out in the countryside near the village of Doliana Krania and that we’d have to return by the same road to reach the highway for our destination today. But, why not, this is why we rented a car to be able to do these kinds of things. Off we went, up and down the mountains; from pasture land to pine studded mountains with unbelievable views. Oh yes, many, many roadside memorials dotted many of the curves in the road today. We drove for about 40 kilometers for an hour and finally found our 7th or earlier century Byzantine church. Jim needs to research this one later to get more information. It was named Iepa Monh Timioy Etaypoy and has been recently restored and is probably a pilgrimage church for the Greek people. Locked up but we still enjoyed the outside as it was very different.

Took time for the Kodak moment and then headed back on the same roads to our main highway. One interesting section was a one lane bridge (and no, there was not another bridge for the opposite traffic) that was about two blocks long. But since we were one of very few on this road; no problem!

Returned to the main highway and watched the progress all along the route of the new major highway being built to shorten the time between Ioannina and Meteora. Very tall bridges spanning valleys and tunnels through many of the mountains; but still requires years to complete I would say. It will save many lives because now the traffic is extremely fast on a narrow two lane road that twists and turns up and down the mountains as it crosses over two high mountain ranges for two hours. Interesting note when we reached the higher elevations they have snow poles in place; not sure why but the poles have tape in several places on the pole and on the right side you see red and on the left side of the road yellow no matter which way you are driving.

Arrived in Perama, a village outside of Ioannina, about 3 pm and started looking for the “rooms to rent” that we saw listed in our Lonely Planet guide book. The first one we stopped at was on the main street and they were very excited…spoke no English…motioned for us to sit and they started calling on their cell phone. Soon a car arrived and a young woman who spoke limited English said we needed to get in our car and follow them. They took us out in the countryside to a brand new building that looks like a large home. Inside there is a common room with kitchen downstairs and upstairs we have a very large room with private bathroom. All brand new! They wanted 45 euros and we negotiated down to 35 euros if we only used the double bed and not the additional twin that is in the room. Agreed to the terms and paid cash.

Off to Ioannina for dinner and hopefully to find the girls “Peter’s Special Hamburger” place. We took photos of each of the turns so we’d be sure to find our way back to our home for tonight. Arrived in town and drove and drove. Finally arrived in an area that we thought might be right and parked. First we went into a small market to pick up food for breakfast…we have to cook our own tomorrow morning. The clerk tried to draw us a map to find Peter’s place…she recognized it. We followed her instructions but soon we were lost again as we walked all over the place. Asked a college age girl; she tried but just did speak enough English. We started off again and then turned around. Our girl was back with her friend who spoke more English and she tried giving us more instructions including that we should go back and get our car as it was further than we thought. Got the car and drove all around the area but finally decided we were not going to find Peter’s. Ended up parking and have a meal at Goody’s fast food restaurant. It was called the Grill, with three different meats, fries and a salad; very tasty and filling. Looks like rain but so far so good…it’s been a beautiful sunny day for driving in the mountains.

On the way back to Perama we drove down to the lakeside; Ioannina is located on the shores of a very large lake. Located on the edge of the lake is a very old and large castle. Probably the original town was located inside the walls of this castle. We drove inside of the walls for a bit but it was late and other than seeing a few very old building we decided it was time to head for our rooms for the night. We arrived back at the house in the countryside without any problems and have had a very pleasant evening. We were beginning to think we were the only guests but more arrived about 9 pm. Our room tonight has a television that receives one news station in ENGLISH LANGUAGE; so nice as we’ve only had Greek Language for many days. No Internet but lots of electrical outlets for charging the electronics! The TV reminds me of CNN in 1992 when we were in Paris; we’ve heard the same stories over and over as it’s continues to repeat every half hour or less. News of the fires in California is good; they say that the winds have died down and things are getting better.

Tomorrow we drive to Igoumenitsa and catch the ferry to the island of Corfu.

No comments: