Photographing Meteora

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For years I’ve been hearing whispers of this mysterious valley with holy monasteries clinging to the side of cliffs, unchanged for centuries.  Then a few years ago, we took a week and did some touring around this area of Greece.  We visited Delphi, another site clouded in superstition and mystery where oracles determined the fates of kings.  We didn’t make it as far as Meteora, though, and blamed it on time.  Time is the monster that steals so much from us.  Then it seemed like everyone I knew was going to Greece and heading up to see the ancient monasteries and the rock pinnacles.  Sunset photos dazzled me over all the social media channels.  It seemed like Meteora was teasing me, calling me.  So, when we decided to head east on our train trip, I just knew that this was my chance to photograph Meteora.

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Photographing Meteora

Catching the Light in Meteora

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We couldn’t believe we were finally on our way to see Meteora, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988, and a destination for hundreds of years for pilgrims and tourists alike. After disembarking in Thessalonika from our eventful leg from Sofia, we went straight to the rental car agency to pick up our car.  We only had a couple of days  – damn that ol’ Time Monster – and we were determined to make the best of it.  Our plan was to photograph the valley at all times of the day from different angles.  We had a lot to do, so we needed to get going.  We could easily have taken the train all the way to Kalambaka, found transporation to Kastraki, but we’re not the types to go straight form point A to point B.  We like to take detours, which we did, visiting Vergina along the way.

Photographing Meteora

Kastraki is the absolute best place to stay to enjoy everything that Meteora has to offer.  The town is nestled in the valley, with the pinnacles towering over it, and there are plenty of guesthouses that boast a view.  It’s pretty hard not to have one, really.  Arriving in the afternoon, we were anxious to start up into the mountains and find some great places to shoot from.  The road is steep and winds around with plenty of places to pull over.  We took our time, evaluating the scenes, where we thought the sun would set, and making a plan.  We couldn’t wait for that sun to set.

Photographing Meteora

By the time the sky started changing colors, we had our tripod set up and we were ready.  We took a variety of shots, somewhat folded the gear, and headed a little further up the mountain where we took another series of shots.  We repeated this process about four times.  Four different places to catch the light on the rocks, on the monasteries; it was magical.  We couldn’t get enough of it.

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We finally headed down when the last glimmers of light were dimming.  We knew which restaurant we wanted to go to, confirmed our choice with the guesthouse manager, and were extremely downtrodden when we saw it was waiting room only.  The Taverna Gardenia was no secret!  Thankfully, the waiters were determined to feed as many people as they could and they finagled us a table. We settled in, downed a delicious dinner of stuffed grapeleaves, tzatiki, and beans and some great wine.  What a day!

Photographing Meteora

A Few Tips!

Meteora is a stunning location and the sunsets are amazing!  Trying more than one spot really makes a difference, so you want some mobility. Industrious tour companies do offer both photography tours and sunset tours, but with the cost of them you can rent a car, or for less a scooter, and do it yourself.  The road winds and each curve gives you a different angle to shoot from.  You could also catch a ride to the top and walk down, but once that sun starts dropping it moves faster than you think.

Have you been to Meteora?  Do you have any tips to add?

Photographing Meteora

 

 

If you missed any of the posts we’ve written about our Riding the Rails of Eastern Europe trip, check out these:

Adventurous Train Travel in Eastern Europe

Riding the Rails of Eastern Europe

The Best Travel Planning Tool – Pinterest

 

29 Comments

  1. Those are really beautiful impressions of Meteora, Corinne! I really loved the stunning landscape with its unique monasteries as well and you can can guess it, I also tried photographing it from all angles. As it turned out, it was a never ending task since the scenery seemed to change with every single step you took. Well, what was left to do was simply enjoying the rocky landscape, especially at sunset time… 🙂

  2. Blown away by the picture just above “A few tips”. Fabulous. By the way, despite all I said in my interview with you and in emails we have abandoned the idea of a city break and are heading for Bermuda! A bit of a departure from our norm, but I’m looking forward to it.

  3. Somehow I hadn’t heard of Meteora before reading this. Your photos are so beautiful, and the tips to avoid the overpriced tours are useful. I hope I get back to Greece some day – with a camera.

  4. I recently wrote a post about Meteora myself. Me and my partner stayed there a couple of months ago with a local man. This is truly one stunning place! it’s like the landscape keeps flirting with your camera!! It is definitely one of the most stunning places I have seen so far in Europe! Gorgeous pictures!

  5. Fantastic tips for shooting such an interestingly situated place. Meteora has been on my bucket list for a long time and I hope to cross it off sooner than later.

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