4 Nights in Kastraki

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This is another piece of our Zesty Travel Adventure

After enjoying a complimentary breakfast feast on the lower level of The President Hotel, we checked out of our rooms on the 9th Floor and rolled our bags out to the parking garage where our trusty economy sized rental car sat waiting minus one hubcap, of course.  The night before I studied the route to Meteora online and for 2 hours, I jotted down detailed instructions in my spiral notebook, so we would be able to locate our next destination.  We definitely didn’t want another situation like we had upon arrival  … So, with notebook on my lap displaying my fine Navigational scribbles in both Greek and English, Greg was able to drive us easily out of the busy city of Athens and north towards Trikala.  Roads in Greece are rather nice.  Major highway and city signs are clearly labeled and once you get familiar with spotting them, it becomes a lot of fun!

Gas stations and rest areas in Greece have plenty of snacks to tempt you!

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Tips & Tidbits – Toll roads are not uncommon in Greece, so be sure to have some loose coins available.

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The Tsikeli Hotel in Kastraki, Kalambaka is the most pleasant, easy to locate place.

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Guests can sit out on the lawn any time of day and stare at the rock towers and spot goats climbing way up high!  Next door chickens cluck and tour busses occasionally drive past on their way up the hill toward the monasteries.  Several Tavernas are within walking distance.

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The Tsikeli Family serves a yummy breakfast of hot ham and cheese sandwiches, pastries, boiled eggs, coffee and juice.   Afternoons and evenings the cafe’ bar inside is full of travelers enjoying a glass of wine or greek coffee, playing cards or reading by the fireplace.

The temperature is perfect in Spring for climbing the many steps of the monasteries.  I would put a tip in here about walking shoes, but I am not the best example when it comes to wearing good shoes.  Greg usually finds my shoe choices foolish.

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Speaking of shoes…We found some great souvenirs while shopping in Kalambaka, including some cool shoes.  It’s a kicker thing.( I have watched this guy search the world for special Adidas! )

Tips & Tidbits -Greek business hours take some getting use to.  Many shops close from about 1 – 4 or 5 and then reopen for evening.

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Journal Entry

The Village of Kastraki is located just outside Kalampaka or Kalambaka,  a slightly larger city of 15,000 people or so. Things are blooming like crazy now and the youngest seems to be experiencing some pesky allergies. We find a pharmacy and seek the advice of a professional , who somehow understands our problem and ushers us over to the shelf where she hands us a box. Feeling somewhat hesitant because of my inability to read the box, Greg shrugs and reassures me the box says zyrtec, in Greek naturally. We present the pill to Charlotte, “Here ya go, Kid. Give it a try.”  There is only about a billion olive trees in this country! After two nights, we have decided to stay two more. Fortunately, there is no rush and this affords us more time to visit monasteries. At 18, Savannah can enjoy a glass of wine here in Greece, but waiters seem to think both girls are 18  ? Adapting to life without hairdryers is simple for our lovely redhead.  She has discovered braiding her intense mane and sleeping in it provides a whole fresh look.  Nice, huh? Dad is not so sure.

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Tips & Tidbits– Ask your hosts for advice on where to dine.  They know all the truly best places!  We found a great meal (actually we went back a second time!) at Paradisos, thanks to a recommendation from Mr. Tsikeli.

We also discovered… The local Bakery where we had to sample Baklava (among other things), purely for research so Savannah can get some tips for her Baklava! Click the link for the recipe.

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The wonder and beauty of Meteora, which literally means “in the heavens above” or “suspended in the air”, attracts visitors year round.  Originally, nearly twenty monasteries were built to escape Turkish invaders in the 14th Century, but today there are six amazing structures that remain perched on these incredible rocks.

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Proper dress is required in all the monasteries.  Wraps of various kinds are provided at the entrances to cover legs and anything else that may be inappropriate.

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Many have seen the James Bond movie, “For Your Eyes Only” but many more have actually trekked thru the village of Kastraki  over the years to walk inside these glorious monasteries.  It is spectacular!  Be sure to visit and enjoy all the warm friendly people living in this beautiful place!

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“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Journal Day 8-Seeking Water

 Well, as relaxing as it is in Kastraki, we must find the water!  The girls are looking forward to sticking their feet in, even though it is not yet hot enough for me to jump in any water.  It is sunny and warm!  We drive south towards the Gulf, with Greek pop music tuned in on the radio and the windows rolled down.  Last night I booked us an apartment in an area called Telophonas, Spilia . ( Pssst * This is where Sea Bass and Greens comes in!)

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