Sunday Special – Meteora Monasteries, Greece


On the mainland of Greece in the Plain of Thessaly are unique rock pillars that rise up from the ground. Composed of a blend of conglomerate and sandstone they were formed millions of years ago by the earth’s movements and eventual wear resulting in astonishing vertical pillars reaching for the heavens. This area is known as Meteora which means “suspended in the air”. Perhaps that is what the builders of the Eastern Orthodox monasteries were aiming for, to be closer to the heavens along with a place of quiet and isolation. The monks that originally dwelt here were master rock climbers, scaling the daunting cliff sides to make their way to the buildings they erected. Over time they used pulley and ladder systems to make their way up the pillars and to the the neighbouring monasteries. When the Turks invaded (or danger was imminent) the ladders and ropes were reigned in and helped to ensure the survival of those residing in the 24 complexes of the time. Today only six remain and are still in use. In 1988 they were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today visitors are welcome to explore the monasteries and neighbouring town of Kalambaka. Along with the area’s history it also draws people in with its natural beauty and hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing options. 

Stefanos_Monastery,_Meteora_-_panoramio

Meteora, Greece – Photo credit: LucT, Stefanos Monastery, Meteora – panoramioCC BY-SA 3.0

Meteora_monastery_2

Meteora Monasteries, Greece – Photo credit: Thanos KoliogiorgosMeteora monastery 2CC BY-SA 4.0

 

Advertisements

Sunday Special – Tikal, Guatemala


Found in the dense Guatemalan rain forests in the northeast of this Central America country are the ruins of ancient Mayans. One of the largest and most significant archaeological sites is Tikal. This pre-Colombian city was an important political, military, and economic area and was inhabited from 600 BCE to 900 CE.  The site of  Tikal not only includes its buildings and monuments it encompasses the vast jungle and nature surrounding it. The area is located within Tikal National Park in the Peten Province and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, including both the historic buildings and the diverse nature of the land.  Tikal is a popular place to visit by both those touring Guatemala and day trippers from Belize’s San Ignacio Town as it’s only 2 hours away.

Wild_Turkey_Struts_by_Temple_II_-_Gran_Plaza_-_Tikal_Archaeological_Site_-_Peten_-_Guatemala_(15870775832)

A wild turkey making its way around Tikal – Photo credit: Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada, Wild Turkey Struts by Temple II – Gran Plaza – Tikal Archaeological Site – Peten – Guatemala (15870775832)CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday Special – Kandersteg, Switzerland


While watching an episode of “One Strange Rock” on National Geographic Channel I observed a giant wall of ice and someone scaling it. The name of this behemoth frozen waterfall is Breitwangflue or Crack Baby” (hmmm) and its located in Switzerland. Now I am not one for ice climbing or any kind of climbing for that matter (unless its into bed so I can sleep), however, I was intrigued by what was around this area of Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland. Of course this land-locked European country is famous for its natural beauty of pristine lakes, rolling hills and impressive mountains so I imagine it is quite a beautiful locale especially if waterfalls freeze so stunningly as Crack Baby does.

It would seem that I was correct and the area has much to offer in the way of natural beauty.  It is a getaway to an Alpine town that locals and in-the-know tourists have on their radar.  If you enjoy outdoor adventures then visiting this easily accessible town is a must. Here are some of the activities and sights to take in Kandersteg and area.

  • Oeschinen Lake: This glacially-fed lake can be hiked to from town or ride up in the Oeschinen Gondola to take in amazing vistas from its 1578 m / 5177 ft elevation. Fishing is also popular on the lake.
  • Rodelbahn Alpine Slide: In the summer months whip down this 750 m / 2460 ft alpine slide for an exhilarating ride.
  • Ricola Herb Garden: Ricola has six herb gardens and one of them is located in Kandersteg.  You can visit and see the herbs that are used in their lozenges.
  • Landgasthof Reudihus: This historic Swiss-style hotel was built as a private home in 1753. It’s a fine example of Bernese craftsmanship and has been carefully maintained. 
  • Outdoor Activities– This area is ripe for enjoying the outdoors. Hiking, fishing, boating, ice-climbing/mountaineering, paragliding, swimming, Nordic walking – take your pick!

This location certainly sounds like a haven for nature lovers!

1024px-LakeOeschinen.jpg

Stunning Lake Oeschinen near Kandersteg – Photo credit: TonnyBLakeOeschinenCC BY-SA 3.0

512px-Kandersteg

Town of Kandersteg – Photo credit: Earth explorerKandersteg, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Thrill Seeker Edition


Travel encompasses many areas and there is no shortage of things to see, do, and experience in this wide world of ours. Sometimes you want to so something that really gets the adrenaline pumping and adds that extra zing to your travel escapades. Since we are all different the level of “extreme” will vary from person to person. While I consider ziplining fun and not scary at all, another may find this is well out of their comfort zone. To showcase much of the variety of adrenaline-inducing activities I am adding the “Thrill Seeker Edition” to a few Sunday Specials now and again.

Since I mentioned ziplining that is what we’ll look at today.  We are going to head to South Africa where there is no shortage of aerial parks to get a different perspective on your surroundings. So where can you careen at top speed on on a pulley  and cable while feeling the wind in your face and view the tops of the trees below? This is what I found:

  • Canopy Tours South Africa – With 7 locations across South Africa you can experience Canopy Tours throughout the country.  Their locations include Elgin (outside of Cape Town),  in the Magaliesberg Mountains (outside Gauteng), and  KZN Midlands (outside of Durban).
  • SA Forest Adventures – Offering several types of adventures to choose from you can go with the zipline and other adventures. They have 3 locations in the Western Cape: Cape Town, Hermanus, and Caledon.
  • Storm River’s Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour & Zipline – The first zip line in South Africa their lines traverse through Tsitsikamma Indigenous Forest.
  • Zip 2000 – One of the world’s longest, fastest, and highest ziplines, this one sure to get your adrenaline on high. It is located in Sun City.

If you want the to glide through the air in South Africa you have plenty of choices!

Canopy_tree_top_tours,_Tsitsikamma_Forest,_Western_Cape_(6253205746)

Flying through the trees in Tsitsikamma, South Africa – Photo credit: South African Tourism from South Africa, Canopy tree top tours, Tsitsikamma Forest, Western Cape (6253205746)CC BY 2.0

*Note/Disclaimer – The decision to participate in high risk activities is a personal choice. Always research the activities and know the risks. Wanders The World is posting only for informational purposes and is in no way responsible for the choices made by anyone reading these posts.