5000 miles around Europe — part 2

Panos Voudouris
15 min readMar 11, 2023

Welcome back! It took a while, almost 2 years, but I finally got round to writing this up. We left part 1 of the story on the ferry, somewhere in the middle of the Adriatic, heading south east towards Igoumenitsa, getting ready for the 2nd part of our journey.

En-route, Adriatic sea

We disembarked and got on the motorway around midnight, leaving Igoumenitsa behind us and heading towards the mountains of Epirus. The late hour meant the motorways were deserted and we made unimpeded progress towards Metsovo where we’d leave the motorway to head towards our first stop: Kalabaka.

Day 6 — Meteora

At about 2am or so we turned off the motorway into route 6: Katara. Katara, the Curse, is one of those legendary roads where you don’t really want to know why they are legendary. By day it can be an amazing road to drive, the views of the mountains are fantastic. At 2am it is literally a test of nerves, barely wide for two cars, twisting up and down the hills with zero visibility beyond the bends. The road is still in use by heavy lorries and trucks that have to serve the rural areas and you end up driving at crawling pace for what feels forever behind them. Some have the patience, some chance a quick overtake manoeuvre which can easily end up a messy splatter onto an oncoming truck.

In any case, we went through it with just a couple of near misses and arrived at our hotel. After a long sleep we woke up looking over at the magnificent Meteora. Meteora in Greek roughly translates to “hanging from the heavens”, think meteorite. What it means in Kalabaka, however, is the collection of monasteries in the nearby rock formations, perched perilously hundreds of meters high above, as if being suspended in the heavens.

The monasteries themselves are magnificent feats of engineering and perseverance, build by monks over decades, carrying the materials by hand, effectively rock climbing! They range from small to huge, each having their own history and special collections of artefacts. We visited two, enjoying the nature walks around them, taking in the smell of pine trees and thyme that grows wild everywhere in Greece.