Thursday Brett took the day off and we got a rental car and headed out on one last adventure in Greece. It rained most of the drive but it stopped just long enough for us to get out and explore the archeological site of Delphi. In Ancient times Delphi was believed to be the center of the earth, the place where heaven and earth met. The site was known as the dwelling place of Apollo, and from the late 8th century BC people came here to worship and seek advice from the god. We saw the Athena Pronaia which dates from the 4th century BC. The purpose of this circular structure, originally surrounded by 20 columns, remains a mystery. After seeing the sites we headed to Kalambaka, right by Meteora, for our hotel for the night. We did quite a bit of driving today, it took forever to get there but we drove through some pretty scenery in the mountains and countryside. We checked into our little apartment, Alsos house and ordered some pizza for dinner while Brett dialed into a work meeting.
Friday morning we had our first view of Meteora. Wow! Huge rocks with monastaries on top. These extraordinary sandstone towers of Meteora were formed by the action of the sea that covered the plain of Thessaly around 30 million years ago. The huge columns of rock were first used as a religious retreat in AD 985, when a hermit named Barnabas occupied a cave here. In the mid-14 century they built a small church. In 1382, a monk founded the huge monastery of Megalo Meteoro on one of the many pinnacles. In the 1920’s stairs were cut in the rock faces to make the monasteries more accessible. We drove around to the highest monastery at 2,045 ft and hiked up to the top and toured the inside. We saw the ascent tower where goods and people were brought to the top of the rock in a net that was pulled up by a winch mechanism, made in 1536. The huge rocks were cool but what made it amazing was that people actually built monasteries on top of them. It is unknown how the first hermits of Meteora reached the tops of these vertical rock faces, it is likely that they hammered pegs into tiny gaps in the rock and hauled building materials to the top. It was a very cold day otherwise it would have been fun to hike around this amazing place. It started snowing in the evening on our drive back to Athens.
We really enjoyed our time in Greece. Saturday morning we began our long journey home. We packed up our rental car and headed to the airport. The airport is stressful and not a fun process with the 3 kids and lots of luggage! We should be professionals by now. So we finally got through it all and got on the airplane to sit on the runway for an hour and a half before taking off. Another flight was delayed, and we had empty seats on our flight so they had to wait for all those other people to get cleared and get on our flight! So we got to London later and a time difference of 2 hrs from Greece so everyone was very tired. We landed in Heathrow then had to take a bus to the Gatwick airport about an hour away then transfer to our hotel! What a long day!
Sunday morning we had a full English breakfast with eggs, sausage, beans, and ham yummy! That was the best part of the day. Then we had to get on a bus with all of our luggage and get to the airport. The lines were long! We then find out what we thought was Allden’s ticket wasn’t and we had to buy a ticket for him! So we were upset about that. Then security is always a pain to get everything through shoes off, jackets off, laptops out, Allden out of the backpack, then all back together again! Whew we made it through just in time to get on the plane for our 9.5 hr flight! Luckily they had TV’s with video on demand and Beauty and the Beast, that kept the girls entertained for a little while. Our flight landed about an hour late in Charlotte and we only had 1 hour until our connecting flight left! We hurried but we had to go through customs, reclaim all our bags and check them in again and then through security, so we missed our flight. We waited for 2 hours until the next flight. My family picked us up at the airport it was so fun to see everyone! It feels good to be home! Alana was especially excited to see everyone, she had a permanent smile on her face the entire way home from the airport.
We have had an amazing 5 and a half months of traveling in Europe I am sad for it to come to an end. We are excited to get back to a few things we have missed in the U.S. like family, “free shopping carts” bag boy help at the grocery store, Coldstone Creamery, Mexican food, pancakes, a house with a parking place, a babysitter so I can have a date night! There are many things that we did enjoy about Europe that we will miss, the many nice people we met, all the quality time with our immediate family without all the distractions we have at home, the beautiful scenery and amazing places we have seen and experiencing different lifestyles and cultures. I'm sure we'll be reflecting back on this experience for years to come.