I left Thessaloniki this morning and, after a 3.5 hour drive, arrived at Campsite Vrachos Kastraki. Kastraki is a small village at the foot of some of the rocks more commonly associated with nearby Meteora. Several of these rock structures have monasteries perched on top of the.
On arrival at the campsite, I had a Greek salad for lunch and then set up the tent. The plots are spacious and have trees, so the tent is in the shade and the hammock is up, whilst the Defender sits out in the sun so that the solar panel can do its thing. I also cleaned the Defender, making use of a water hose close to my pitch.
By 3.00pm, I was ready to do some exploring but all of the monasteries close at 5.00pm, so I thought it best to leave monastery visits for tomorrow. I took a walk into Kastraki village with my camera and got into a conversation with a local guy. He told me about a footpath that leads to the top of one of the rock structures but added that it also had a fork that leads to the old section of Kastraki. I decided to explore that footpath. The path is made of concrete and pebbles for a short distance, to the point where it branches off to the old village. After that, it turns to a dirt track with loose gravel and pebbles. Ever the adventurer, I decided to head up the dirt track!
After walking for a while up the dirt/gravel track, I saw that the track became more rocky and ascended along a ridge on the side of the big rock.
Finally, I came to the end of the trail where I found what appears to be someone’s home or retreat. A door has been inserted into the rock face and a small whitewashed wall has been constructed.
Above this retreat, a couple of flags fly next to a bell and a cross. For a brief moment, I thought about climbing up to reach the bell but it is on top of a fairly smooth boulder and I was wearing boat shoes – not the best grip for climbing on rocks. I decided against that final climb and just took a ‘selfie’ of me below the bell/flags.
Having reached the end of the trail, it was time to turn around and head back down. It was quicker going back down but a bit trickier in sections due to the loose pebbles on the track. But I made it down safely, having taken about one hour to get to the top and back.
Then I took the other fork to walk around the old part of Kastraki, before heading back to camp to rest my feet! Next time I go hiking I’ll wear better shoes.