Meteora, Greece (and Melnik, Bulgaria)

May 23-27: This trip had been planned for a while. It’s a place we had heard about from past ACS friends. We needed a long enough weekend to do it since it’s a 6-hour dive. This was the perfect time.

Brian, Avery, and I left on Wednesday afternoon and drove to Melnik, just north of the border. Brian had never been so it was a nice stop to make for the night. Melnik is a tiny town known for the wine produced in the area. The buildings are preserved in traditional Bulgarian architecture. The town was very quiet, but shortly after we arrived so did two of our friends from ACS, Kam and Tess. They were staying a few nights in Melnik. We had a good Bulgarian meal together for such an affordable price. Dining out in Bulgaria is hard to beat! Good food and it’s so cheap. In the morning, we took it slow, bought a couple bottles of wine and then hit the road for Meteora.

We ran into a slowdown at the border and then, just outside Thessaloniki, we came to a complete stop on the highway. No one was moving and people started getting out of the cars. Brian wandered up further and found out there was a group of immigrants blockings both sides of the freeway. At that point, we had no idea how long we’d be there. Thankfully, it was only about a half hour wait until the police cleared it up.

About an hour outside Meteora, Brian noticed a refreshing and beautiful river off to the side of the road. He said it out loud and I looked over at it as we passed over a bridge. Just then I said with a surprising and confused voice, “Is that them?” It was them! It was the Bran Clan, Daphne, and her brother hanging out in the river. They had left early in the morning from Sofia and had been hanging out there hoping we’d drive by and stop. We parked and made a brief stop to jump in the refreshing river.

As we drove into Meteora, it was clear we had made a great decision about this vacation. It was beautiful. Our hotel, Doupiani House, was very well located and had an excellent view of the Meteora rocks. We spent that evening in town at a Greek restaurant having an excellent meal.

The next day was filled with sightseeing. We visited one of the six remaining rock monasteries. The monastery itself wasn’t that interesting, but the views were spectacular. It was also much busier than we expected. We made a couple other stops and scoped out a sunset location, then headed back to town for an early dinner. That evening we watched the sun set behind clouds from atop the rocks.

On our last full day, we spent half of it rock climbing at a spot not far from our hotel. We hired someone to set two different routes and then climbed for a few hours. As the morning went on, it got busier and busier at the wall.

That evening, we watched the sunset again and this time made it a picnic with gyros from town. The sunset on this night was a long lasting and beautiful one.

The trip came to an end all too soon but we had a wonderful time together. We are all leaving ACS in just over a month, so this was a memorable one.

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