I didn’t realize just how mountainous Greece was. Athens is on a hill surrounded by a couple of mountains, but I didn’t feel the overwhelming presence of the mountains. As you get farther away from the city, you begin to experience the natural mountainous landscapes of Greece. And, let me tell you, they are marvelous. Earlier in the semester, I wrote about a CYA-led optional trip to the island of Chios. This weekend, I went on another trip, this time to the mountains of northern Greece: in just three days, we visited the villages of Metsovo, Ioannina, and Meteora.
For the weekend, we traded the hot Athenian sun for fall weather. It was needed after weeks of consistent heat and beating sun (I think it’s only rained twice since being here!). When we arrived in Metsovo, we learned about its unique wine and cheese production. We went to one of the leading cheese producers and tried a unique (and delicious) assortment of their finest cheeses. Obviously, this was paired with a glass of red wine straight from the mountains. Coincidentally, next semester, I will be taking an Honors Seminar called “Chemistry of Wine.” I understand that I’ve been doing some serious research during my semester in Greece.
The next day, we went to the village of Ioannina. At its prime, Ioannina served as the hotspot for intellectual engagement and excellence. Most of our time here was spent talking about Ali Pasha, an Albanian ruler who ruled strictly as an Ottoman Pasha. While learning about his rule and the village’s deep history, we were able to visit Ali Pasha’s tomb and castle.
Meteora was the last leg of our trip. It is home to some of the most impressive Eastern Orthodox monasteries upon naturally magnificent rocks. In the 10th century AD, Meteora had ten fully functional monasteries. More now than ever, many have lost interest in monasteries and they are closing their doors. Currently, there are only six monasteries open for visitors. Despite being breathtaking, the current times simply value different lifestyles. It’s a shame because they are so beautiful.
Having grown up in the city my entire life, I feel like I’ve missed out on something. During these trips to the mountains, I often find myself feeling small among these creatures of the Earth. They are not threatening, yet offer protection and solace. During the evening hours, the stars embrace us from across universes. I don’t know how it’s possible, but it truly is a transcendent experience every time. I love it here.