ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

My Adventures Touring Europe in 1982 (14) Greece Meteora Monasteries

Updated on June 5, 2020

To read the previous chapter, Venice / San Marino, please visit this link:

http://sayyestolife.hubpages.com/hub/My-Adventures-Touring-Europe-in-1982-13-Venice

To access the Table of Contents, please visit this link:

http://sayyestolife.hubpages.com/hub/My-Adventures-Touring-Europe-in-1982-Chapter-One

View from Meteora Monasteries
View from Meteora Monasteries

Meteora Monasteries

Saturday, July 10

By sunrise, we were almost to Greece. I woke up early and came upstairs to do a little writing. The top deck looked uninteresting; it was deserted, and all I could see was the ocean and some land far off to the horizon. The air was comfortably warm. So this is what a Mediterranean cruise is like.

We had our continental breakfast on the boat. After it docked, we gathered our luggage, boarded the bus, and Lakis drove off. He seemed to be a little more spirited than usual, most likely because this was his home country. However, the others appeared to be in a nasty mood. I tried to ignore them, as I enjoyed the scenery which started off as vineyards scattered among dry brown grass, then turned into somewhat of a moonscape; enormous stone monoliths set among a semi-desert.

Vineyard in Greek countryside
Vineyard in Greek countryside
On the way to the monasteries
On the way to the monasteries
View from the top of the mountain.
View from the top of the mountain.

After a few hours, the bus pulled up to a resort by a lake. We all got out to buy lunch. I went to the bathroom, which was very filthy; it turned out you had to put the used toilet paper in a wastebasket, rather than flushing it! And there was no cover on the wastebasket!

After washing my hands very carefully, I went in the fly-laden dining room and joined the group at the counter. We all ordered what we could understand from the menu on the wall, then stood waiting for our meals. When the first few arrived, some of the group innocently reached for the plates. “No, no, no!” the waiter yelled at them. “Service! Service!” He roughly gestured for us to sit at tables across the room, and we drifted over, some giving him dirty looks. I saw him squish several gnats on the counter with his hands before he brought over the dishes, and instantly lost my appetite.

I wound up buying a snack at the gift shop, along with some post cards, after changing my money to Greek Drachmas. The people working the counter weren’t much nicer than the ones in the diner. Judging by the exchange rate, I believed they ripped me off, but I was so eager to get away from there, I said nothing. And to think Greece is one of Europe’s most popular destinations! Maybe I’m just in a bad part of it. Things have to improve!

We headed for the Meteora Monasteries. The brochure said in the old days, you had to be hauled up there in a net. I felt a little disappointed that this wasn’t going to happen; I wanted some adventure. My disappointment was replaced with nervousness as the bus began to climb a steep narrow bumpy road up into the monoliths. It was like the road (trail) leading to the castle ruin on the Danube, except it was a lot longer. I think being hauled up in a net is less unnerving! At least I was getting some sense of adventure after all.

The first monastery
The first monastery
The woman I conversed with
The woman I conversed with
Me, borrowing Cindy's skirt to enter the Monastery
Me, borrowing Cindy's skirt to enter the Monastery
The second monastery
The second monastery
Heading to Athens
Heading to Athens
End of the film roll
End of the film roll

Eventually, we reached a stone building with lots of arches, the bottom half whitewashed. We all got out, and stood in line at the entrance. The men were allowed to enter, but several women were turned away. I saw Cindy get back on the bus, then return wearing a skirt and blouse. “What’s going on here?” I asked her.

“Women can’t go in wearing pants,” she explained. “You have to wear a skirt. I’ll lend you this one after I’m done, if you want.”

“Thanks! That’s really nice of you!” I told her.

Cindy came out after about 15 minutes. I put on her skirt, removed my jeans, and went in. I saw a nun walking by, and aimed my camera at her, but she said, “No!” and ran off. I took that to mean nuns aren’t supposed to be photographed.

I saw a very pretty woman wearing an exotic pink dress, and asked her if I could take her picture. It turned out she could not speak English, but she spoke French, which is the one foreign language I can converse in. So I asked her in French, and she said yes. After I took her picture, she asked why I wanted to do so, and I said I thought she was a member of the monastery. It turned out she’s from Marseilles, and is a visiting tourist just like me. So we had a nice short conversation in French, comparing European countries where we’d been. She was actually enjoying her stay in Greece. So maybe that awful diner isn’t representative of the whole country – that’s good news!

She took my picture, of me wearing Cindy’s skirt with a shirt that didn’t match it. I thought that was funny. After that, it was time for us to leave for the second monastery.

Once back on the bus, Lakis began the treacherous descent down the “trail”. I returned Cindy’s skirt to her, thanking her again, and joking about how well-matched my outfit was. Mary, overhearing me, said, “You’re lucky that’s all you needed to get in. Some monasteries don’t let in females, period.”

“Even female goats?” Cindy asked sarcastically.

“Yes, even animals of any kind,” Mary answered calmly.

“Boy! That’s crazy!” exclaimed Cindy. “Talk about sexist!”

“Yes, some of them are very sexist.”

“Someone is missing,” Johannes called from the front of the bus. “Who is it?”

A murmur of voices rose, and it turned out Gayla was missing! “Wow – how are we going to turn around on this narrow road?” I asked.

“We can’t,” Johannes answered.

“I know – but isn’t there a turn-around somewhere?”

“No there isn’t. We’ll just have to go to the second monastery, then come back for her later.”

Lakis stopped the bus. “I can back up,” he told Johannes.

“No, too dangerous. We’ll just have to come back for her later. She should have stayed with the group anyway,” Johannes said shortly.

The bus went into an uproar. “We can’t just leave her here!” yelled Margo. “This place is way out in the middle of nowhere, and hardly anyone speaks English!”

“We have no choice. Besides, we’ll be coming back for her later,” Johannes replied firmly. Lakis started the bus moving again.

Bruce exploded in a guy’s face, “You’re her seatmate! You should have said something before we left! Next time, you fuckin’ say something, YOU HEAR???” The guy sputtered in response.

We were all silently fuming when we reached the second monastery, a brown stone building at the top of another mountain. We got out and explored it. There wasn’t much to see; just a sanctuary, a bunch of empty chambers, and a store that sold knickknacks. I bought two necklaces, two anklets, one bracelet, and three wooden bangles for slightly over $10.

Then we returned to the first monastery to pick up Gayla. She had already started walking down the narrow road. Once she got on the bus, Lakis had to drive all the way to the monastery to turn around. “Where were you?” Johannes asked.

“All I did was buy some things at the shop. When I came out, you were already gone!”

“We went to the second monastery before coming to get you,” Bruce explained to her. “We wanted him to turn right around, but he refused. That’s why it took us so long.”

“Well thanks a lot, Johannes!” Gayla snapped, as she took a seat.

The bus was silent over the next several hours. We reached Athens, where we would be staying, after sunset. Greeks traditionally eat dinner at 9pm, to escape the heat of the day. Since I hadn’t encountered anything near Riverside summer temperatures, I thought that was a bit excessive, but the others, coming from different parts of the country, may have had different opinions.

At room assignment time, the cliques quickly formed, and of course I wound up with Gayla. As soon as we were in our room, the storm let loose. “JOHANNES CAN FUCK OFF!” she screamed, slamming the door. She threw her suitcase on the bed, yanked it open, and flung her clothes all over the room. “I’M QUITTING THIS TOUR TOMORROW AND GETTING MY MONEY BACK!” she yelled, kicking the furniture.

I went into the bathroom, and discovered the toilet seat was half fastened on. There was no hot water, either. I freshened up, then went back into the room where Gayla was shrieking every swear word in the book and throwing and kicking things. While I didn’t blame her in the slightest, whoever would have thought this monotone prude had it in her?!

I tried to open the door, but it was locked. I noticed a skeleton key sitting on a night table next to the door, and tried it.

“OH, GREAT! NOW WE’RE TRAPPED IN HERE AS WELL!” yelled Gayla. She shoved me aside and roughly jimmied the key in the hole.

“Hey, cool it!” I exclaimed. “Let me do that. You’re too upset. Just go sit down and rest awhile, OK?”

“I’VE BEEN SITTING ALL DAY! I’M GOING TO OPEN THIS DOOR IF I HAVE TO BREAK IT DOWN!”

Someone knocked on the other side of the door. “What is the problem?” a man with a Greek accent asked.

“WE’RE TRAPPED IN THIS STUPID ROOM! GET US OUT OF HERE OR ELSE!”

There was a short fumbling sound, then the door opened. “Excuse me,” the man said, forcing a grimace. “This lock is broken. I will get it fixed.”

“Are you coming to dinner?” I asked Gayla quietly.

“NO I’M NOT! I NEVER WANT TO SEE THEIR SORRY ASSES AGAIN!”

“Well – for what it’s worth, the whole bus was very upset. Bruce told off your seatmate.”

She stormed into the bathroom. “The toilet seat is broken!” At least she had calmed down enough not to scream that one.

“I will get that fixed, too,” the man said.

I followed him downstairs to dinner. After that awful diner where we had lunch, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the place was clean, and the servers were nice. The meal was pretty good too; a Greek salad served with beef and pita bread. They even had baklava for dessert.

When I went back to the room, Gayla was already in bed, but she was crying. Silently I prepared myself, without turning on the light, then lay there, listening to her sobs. “How can people be so cruel?” she moaned. She finally fell asleep sometime after midnight.

Welcome to Greece, Yoleen. What did you expect; to enter alabaster portals and be personally greeted by Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom? Maybe not, but after all those wonderful Greek myths I’d avidly read as a child, I certainly anticipated something far better than this!

To read the next chapter, Athens / Delphi, please visit this link:

http://sayyestolife.hubpages.com/hub/My-Adventures-Touring-Europe-in-1982-15-Athens-Delphi

© 2013 Yoleen Lucas

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Say Yes To Life profile imageAUTHOR

      Yoleen Lucas 

      6 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      Please don't judge Greece by my accout of it! As it turned out, It was Gayla's favorite country, in spite of what happened to her - and she was the biggest whiner in the group!

      Later in this narrative, I meet an Austrian waitress who wound up visiting Greece with her boyfriend every year. They LOVED it. Everyone has their particular tastes; it just so happens mine are different. Also, the group I was with wasn't the friendliest; no doubt, that influenced things.

      I think Greece has changed a lot over the past 30-odd years. So I may have a better opinion of it if I were to go back. Actually, I'd consider doing that - especially to the Meteora Monasteries.

    • RealityTalk profile image

      RealityTalk 

      6 years ago from Planet Earth

      I'm surprised to hear Greece was a disappointing experience. I have traveled very little, so I know only what I read about most places, and I heard Greece was beautiful. When in law school, I commuted daily from my Town of residence to the City where I attended school; about an hour and a half drive one way. Occasionally, I gave a fellow student a ride whose family was from Greece. She spent her summers in Greece with her family. She always spoke so highly of Greece. Others told me stories of its beauty as well.

      I wish you had a better experience. Maybe I should scratch Greece off my wish list of places to visit. One thing I would do differently. I would not join a tour group. I have always avoided tour groups, preferring to fumble my way around and see the "off the tour places."

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Say Yes To Life profile imageAUTHOR

      Yoleen Lucas 

      7 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      Oops - sorry about that! It does get better. This happened to be the lowest point of the tour. In my next chapter, things really turn around, and Gayla shows a side of herself none of us have seen before.

      I'm originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. I was living in Southern California at this time. In both places, that diner would have been shut down, and the owners possibly arrested. That's why I was so appalled. I'd never heard of a toilet where you couldn't flush paper! But come to think of it, no one even got sick, let alone died. Throughout most of human history, people have relied on outhouses and corncobs, so even those toilets could have been considered a luxury. I guess people are tougher than I think!

      You guys, please visit the Meteora Monasteries. They are in a beautiful, stark landscape, and it is easy to see how one can gain spiritual renewal there. Just make sure you have EVERYONE with you when you leave! Being deserted in such a place has a way of threatening one's faith (though I suppose it could be strengthened, since they'll most likely be saying their prayers!).

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 

      7 years ago from Olney

      Somewhere in your narrative you forgot to use the words old world charm and unparalleled scenery. I don't know where you are from but I am English and have lived in New York and Greece in the past and just returned from Greece on vacation. Part of that vacation is to go back to the 19th century and eat food that flies have tasted....no-one died did they? Also not flushing paper down the toilet is just a little quaint...I would have prefered a little more humour in this account. Not allowing women into a monastery is not sexist at all. Monasteries are for monks not nuns or women tourists. I have been to Meteora many times as it is a wonderful and spiritual place...from your description unless I knew I would not want to go. Shame because I enjoyed reading your other hubs.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)