Sunday Special – Meteora Monasteries, Greece

On the mainland of Greece in the Plain of Thessaly are unique rock pillars that rise up from the ground. Composed of a blend of conglomerate and sandstone they were formed millions of years ago by the earth’s movements and eventual wear resulting in astonishing vertical pillars reaching for the heavens. This area is known as Meteora which means “suspended in the air”. Perhaps that is what the builders of the Eastern Orthodox monasteries were aiming for, to be closer to the heavens along with a place of quiet and isolation. The monks that originally dwelt here were master rock climbers, scaling the daunting cliff sides to make their way to the buildings they erected. Over time they used pulley and ladder systems to make their way up the pillars and to the the neighbouring monasteries. When the Turks invaded (or danger was imminent) the ladders and ropes were reigned in and helped to ensure the survival of those residing in the 24 complexes of the time. Today only six remain and are still in use. In 1988 they were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today visitors are welcome to explore the monasteries and neighbouring town of Kalambaka. Along with the area’s history it also draws people in with its natural beauty and hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing options. 


Meteora, Greece – Photo credit: LucT, Stefanos Monastery, Meteora – panoramioCC BY-SA 3.0


Meteora Monasteries, Greece – Photo credit: Thanos KoliogiorgosMeteora monastery 2CC BY-SA 4.0


Sunday Special – Mykonos, Greece

Jutting into the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, south of Albania, Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria, and the mainland of Greece are the striking Greek Isles. They number into the thousands though only 227 are inhabited. The Cycladean island of Mykonos is one of Greece’s most popular. Recognized as having a cosmopolitan vibe, it is renown for its widely popular nightlife and amazing beaches. High season  (July – August) brings in a bountiful number of tourists who enjoy the multitudinous clubs, restaurants, and shops. Low season (late October – April) is less crowded though some shops and attractions may be closed, weather is much cooler, and there are less frequent ferry rides. Shoulder season (May, June, September, & early October) is a blend of the other two seasons with less crowds and pleasant weather.

Although recognized as a “party” island, Mykonos does have more to offer. It has retained its Cycladic architecture of the past, something very prominent in Chóra (Mykonos Town) due to stringent regulations. I imagine the whitewashed buildings and narrow maze-like streets add a charm to Mykonos Town just as I found charm in Oia, Santorini.  The white windmills are a common sight on Mykonos, a throwback to early days when the strong winds of isle were used to power them.  Wander outside of the main town to a quaint town of Alefkántra, often referred to as Little Venice. This seaside village is lined with colourful houses and they boast an incredible sunset (a wonderful reason for me to consider visiting). As mentioned, beaches abound on Mykonos (Paradise Beach being one of the best known). And the winds make the island a great spot for water sport enthusiasts. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you may spot the island’s adopted mascot too, Petros the Pelican (second generation).


Streets of Mykonos, Greece – Photo credit: Bernard GagnonHouses in MykonosCC BY-SA 4.0


Petros the Pelican, mascot of Mykonos – Photo is Public Domain


Sunday Special – Crete, Greece

Although I disliked Athens as it’s a smelly, loud, smoggy city I do want to see other areas of Greece. After seeing Santorini island hopping these lovely isles has increased its appeal. So today we’ll look at one of the island I hope to visit on my wanderings – the island of Crete.

Of the Greek archipelago, Crete is its largest. It is located in the southern section of the Aegean Sea. Its topography is filled with cragged mountains, lush plateaus, a variety of rivers, a few lakes, large gorges and sunny beaches for the sun worshippers. In addition to the natural beauty Crete is rich in Minoan history, Roman ruins and WW II aftermath. Various cities are to be explored including Heraklion (Iraklion), Chania (Hania) and the beach locale of Ierepetra. Foodies will love the healthy recipes found over the island. Cretan dishes are loaded with local veggies, fruit, fish, yogurt and honey, cheeses and of course olives and olive oil.


Chania Lighthouse – Crete. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Lapplaender


Panormo Harbour, Crete – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Thomas Munter

The Map Project – Greece

Oia, Santorini

Oia, Santorini

Black sand beaches on Santorini

Black sand beaches on Santorini

There are a few more instalments for The Map Project. The kids have learned a bit about our amazing  world and who knows, maybe they will be future travellers themselves. Today Kieran tells us about Greece.


Hi, it’s Kieran updating you on Eeva’s travels around the world.

Athens is the capital of Greece which is located near Italy and Turkey, it is on the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world’s oldest cities, with history dating back to 3400 years ago. Athens is home to the national Archeological museum featuring the world’s largest collection of Greek antiques it is also known as the “Acropolis Museum.”   Some people who have been to Athens have a love/hate relationship with the city for many reasons. For the like reason there are an extreme variety of things to see and do. You can there by get boat, train or by plane. There are many great places to visit in Greece. On the other hand there are many places you don’t want to be at night. Also there is a really bad smog problem.

Eeva visited many towns and cities in Greece including Athens Fira and Oia. Fira and Oia are on the island of Santorini. The official name of Santorini is Thira. Before it was called Santorini it was called Kalliste which means “most beautiful one”. She visited Fira which is the main town on the Santorini island. She thought that it was very nice place. Also, she stayed in Oia which she described as a cute and hilly place. She said that the island is very rocky. Eeva went swimming in the Aegean sea. The beaches there have black sand because of the active volcano on the island. There is also red and white beaches. Due to the ideal climate of the island it has a flourishing wine industry.

In conclusion, Greece is a wonderful place to stay and relax. Eeva really enjoyed her time in Santorini but she was super excited to go to her next destination, Istanbul.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju/Wanders The World


Statues at Acropolis Museum


The Parthenon