Meteora – Kalambaka, Greece
We had such an action packed and enjoyable time in Sofia and felt a little sad to be leaving this city this morning. From Sofia, we headed south into Greece, following the valley of the Struma River.
Along the way we passed by the town of Sandanski, which was a Thracian settlement in the past. Sandanski was also the birthplace of Spartacus, the leader of the Roman slave uprising in 73-71BC. He also led an army of escaped Roman slaves that defeated several Roman legions and came close to sacking Rome itself. Today, Sandanski is noted more for its spa resorts.
Another noteworthy town along the way is Melnik, which we are told is the best wine growing region in Bulgaria. Melnik is also noted for its famous sandstone pyramids and traditional houses.
As we crossed into Greece, the change in landscape is quickly noticeable. Being a lover of olives and olive oil, the sight of olive groves on both sides of the road was a pleasurable vision. It was amazing to learn that olives trees take 40 years before they fruit and once they’re of age, they can keep fruiting for 1,000 years.
We visited Kalambaka a few years ago, and although we knew what to expect from Meteora, the sight of these massive smooth rocks were still amazing. Our hotel for the night was the Divani Meteora, a local hotel chain which was rather lacking in ambience. Fortunately, the hotel is located at the foot of the rock pinnacles and we had view of these from our room.
Kalambaka town has changed immensely since our last visit about four years ago. Far from being a small sleepy town, it’s much more touristy now and the existence of many discos, nightclubs, bars, etc. unfortunately indicate the type of tourists that they’re attracting here. There were also numerous internet cafes along the main strip, but beware the stiff keyboards!