Monday, October 13, 2014

Meteora and Athens, Greece

Our next port was Volos, Greece. I signed up for an excursion to the Meteora Monasteries near Kalambaka. These monasteries date back to centuries ago when the monks set out to search for solitary and peaceful locations. The monasteries were build high atop eroded column-shaped formations.

Until not long ago, there were no roads in this area and the monks reached the monasteries by being wrapped up in a net and pulled up by their brothers by hand. Now luckily there are bridges and staircases (with many stairs) to reach the monasteries. Like most of the excursions there was no real time to spend doing a detailed sketch, but I snuck outside for a while when the guide was talking to sketch a bit...maybe I had about 15 minutes so I sketched in watercolor pencils and then added watercolors and ink.

I thought it was such an interesting area. The monastery that we visited was beautiful but you had to wait for the other tour groups to leave before you could really see anything. This is the courtyard at the first monastery, the Monastery of Valaam.

We visited a second location. This one had been occupied by nuns...notice the stairs.

I was able to paint a small painting of the sunrise in the morning. The colors were great.

Around 7 that morning we pulled into Athens. I decided not to take a tour. Instead I did a "hop-on-hop-off" bus ride from the port of Piraeous into Athens. I ended up only getting off at the Acropolis. I had visited it back in the 1970s and wanted to see it again. It is just amazing to think that the structures have lasted so long. Here are a few photos.

As I was entering a line of Greek soldiers were marching out.

Some areas have pieces that are so precariously balanced.

I did one page in my sketchbook with a combination of three sketches...part of the Porch of the Maidens, the Odium Theater, and one of the columns.


Here I am enjoying the sights.

Since the ship was in Athens for only part of day, I decided to head back to the ship because the traffic was so heavy and the lines for the bus were so long. I didn't want to get back too late and miss the ship.


  1. So interesting to see your photos and sketch of the Acropolis because I'm reading a series of books called The Greek Village (by Sara Alexi), and the one I am reading now mentions the Acropolis. Great timing for me! :-)

  2. These sketches are so wonderful Joan and the photos are amazing especially the Monastery with the beautiful colorful windows. That would be such a beautiful painting! Wow...what a trip...

  3. I am happy there are steps that lead you to the monastery now. It is amazing how these structures were built and have stood the test of time. Great idea to travel with watercolor pencils, beautiful job getting the essential moments along the way.

  4. Joan, that photo of you is gorgeous!! Love all your sketches and I confess that I am just awed and blown away by seeing the historical structures still standing in Greece!

  5. Thanks, Tina. I'm glad these remind you of what you're reading.

    Hilda, thanks so much. It was a fascinating place, especially when you think of how the monks lived up there.

    Celia, thanks. The watercolor pencils made it easy to sketch quickly and get the essence of the subject.

    Sherry, thanks. I know when I was at the Acropolis in the 70s nothing was roped off. We were able to walk and touch anything. Things have changed.

  6. Oh, I love the photos of all the old ruins and columns. Love that photo on top of the cliff. What a great place to sketch!