The Beauty of Meteora

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Meteora Hotel at Kastraki.

Apa sih, yang pertama terlintas di benak kamu saat mendengar nama Yunani? Blue dome church in Santorini? The magnificent blue Aegean sea? Acropolis? Or a beach party at Mykonos? 

Awalnya, Meteora juga tidak masuk ke dalam itinerary gue. Jangankan masuk ke itinerary, dengar namanya saja gue belum pernah! Entah kenapa, Meteora memang tidak cukup terkenal di kalangan turis Indonesia. Tapi berkat iseng-iseng googling “tourist attraction in Greece“, gue jadi ‘diperkenalkan’ dengan Meteora; the natural big rocks with monasteries on top of it. Pertama kali melihat gambarnya, gue langsung terkesima!

Hanya saja sayangnya, Meteora ini termasuk jauh dari Athena. Membutuhkan perjalanan darat dengan kereta antara 5-6 jam! Bisa capek rasanya kalau harus pulang-pergi dari Athena hanya dalam 1 hari yang sama. Tapi misalkan gue sampai menginap, kegiatan apa saja yang akan gue lakukan di sana nanti? Secara tourist attraction-nya ya hanya pemandangan Meteora dan monasteries-nya itu saja kan…

Setelah dipertimbangkan matang-matang, akhirnya gue sepakat dengan diri gue sendiri (secara memang gue mengunjungi Meteora hanya sendirian); gue akan tetap menginap satu malam di Kastraki; desa terdekat dengan Meteora. Gue bahkan berhasil menemukan hotel yang punya the best panoramic view of Meteora. Foto gue di depan kolam renang hotel ini benar-benar keren kalo menurut gue, hehehehe.

Dalam satu hari, hanya ada satu direct train (tanpa transit) dari Athena ke Kalambaka (stasiun terdekat untuk mengunjungi Meteora), begitu pula sebaliknya; hanya ada satu kali direct train dari Kalambaka kembali ke Athena. Kereta pagi untuk keberangkatan, dan kereta malam untuk kepulangan ke Athena. Durasi yang sangat ideal kalau menurut gue. Kita bisa santai menikmati sunset tour di hari pertama, santai-santai pagi di hari ke dua, lalu kembali explore Meteora dari siang sampai dengan sore di hari ke dua. Sekitar jam 5, waktunya kembali ke stasiun kereta Kalambaka.

Lalu bagaimana pengalaman gue berkunjung ke Meteora? Just three words: it was wonderful!

Di hari pertama, gue putuskan untuk mengikuti sunset tour bareng travel agent Meteora Thrones. Mereka jemput gue ke hotel jam 4 sore dengan minibus yang keren banget! Ada free wi-fi di dalam bisnya, jadi bisa langsung upload foto keren yang baru saja gue dapatkan, hehehehe.

Selama tur yang berlangsung sekitar 4 jam itu, gue dan dua turis asing lainnya dibawa mengelilingi 6 monasteries yang ada di sana. Sayangnya dari 6 monasteries itu, kita hanya diberi kesempatan untuk masuk ke dalam 2 monasteries yang paling kecil saja. Kenapa begitu? Karena waktunya tidak akan cukup jika kita juga masuk ke dalam monasteries yang lebih besar secara bisa sampai ada 100-200 anak tangga hanya untuk sampai ke atas monastery!

Selain mengunjungi monasteries, kita juga berhenti di beberapa tempat bersejarah dan tentunya, beberapa tempat yang sangat ideal untuk berfoto. Bagian foto-foto ini yang paling gue suka! Karena menurut gue, monasteries itu justru terlihat lebih indah dari luar daripada dari dalamnya. Lagipula tanpa ada monasteries-nya pun, Meteora ini sudah luar biasa indahnya! Tempatnya juga sangat fotogenik dan bikin gue jadi kepingin ambil foto lagi dan lagi dan lagi!

Menjelang jam 7 sore, kita dibawa beranjak menuju sunset point. Tempatnya agak curam, jadi harus ekstra hati-hati dan tidak disarankan mengenakan sendal jepit. Begitu sampai sana, Dimitri si tour guide langsung mengarahkan gue duduk di tepian batu besar untuk the best sunset viewing. Dan benar saja! Tanpa ada embel-embel sunset pun, tempat itu sudah sangat memukau mata! Gue bener-bener enggak bisa berhenti mengagumi indahnya pemandangan di depan mata. Pada saat itulah gue memutuskan, “Meteora ini udah jadi tempat paling indah yang pernah gue kunjungi!”

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Selesai nonton sunset, kita diantar pulang menuju hotel masing-masing. Atau sebenarnya, bisa juga minta diantar ke tempat lain, ke restoran terdekat misalnya, tapi gue tetap lebih memilih pulang ke hotel karena langit sudah sangat gelap. Sampai hotel, gue langsung menuju restoran untuk makan malam. Meskipun udara terasa agak dingin, gue tetap lebih memilih duduk di luar, di tepi kolam renang, sambil memandang Meteora di malam hari. Meteora-nya memang tidak terlihat jelas, tapi lampu-lampu dari desa di bawah hotel, angin sepoi-sepoi dan suara jangkrik sudah bikin acara makan malam gue menjadi lebih istimewa.

Keesokan paginya, gue putuskan untuk santai-santai di hotel. Istirahat cukup untuk ‘membayar’ capeknya gue belasan jam di pesawat disambung 5 jam di kereta hanya beberapa jam setelah landing. Gue lalu dengan cueknya makan sangat banyak saat sarapan di hotel (dan ternyata, breakfast di hotel pagi itu merupakan the best breakfast gue selama berlibur di Yunani!) dilanjutkan main-main di pinggir kolam renang. Dan tidak lupa, ambil foto yang banyak! Gue dibantu salah satu restaurant waitress untuk ambil foto gue di pinggir kolam renangnya.

Kemudian setelah check out jam 12 siang, gue langsung dijemput supir taksi yang akan mengantar gue jalan-jalan sampai dengan jam 4 sore. Untuk taxi tour ini jatuhnya agak mahal (EUR 50) jika dibandingkan sunset tour yang hanya EUR 25 secara dalam satu taksi itu penumpangnya hanya gue seorang. Meskipun mahal, tapi gue sangat puas! Gue bebas foto sebanyak-banyaknya dan si supir taksi ini membawa gue ke banyak tempat yang belum gue kunjungi di hari sebelumnya. Ternyata, ada cukup banyak tempat yang hanya bisa diakses oleh mobil kecil saja. Misalnya, tempat untuk melihat Kastraki village dari ketinggian. Foto-foto terbaik gue di Meteora justru gue dapatkan selama taxi tour ini.

Selama taxi tour, gue sempat masuk ke dalam 2 monasteries yang ukurannya lebih besar. Gue paling suka saat mengunjungi Holly Trinity. Jika berkunjung ke sana, jalan terus sampai keluar dari pintu belakang, ikuti jalan sampai ke ujung bukitnya. Di ujung bukit itu (hati-hati jatuh ya!), kita bisa melihat kota Kalambaka di bawah sana! Kabut yang tengah turun malah bikin pemandangannya tambah mempesona kalo menurut gue. Serasa sedang berdiri di istana atas awan sambil mengintip daratan di bawah sana, hehehehe.

Kembali ke taxi tour, meskipun hanya supir taksi, tapi pengetahuan dia soal sejarah Meteora menurut gue tidak kalah dengan official tour guide. Dan lagi-lagi, yang paling gue suka, dia itu jago banget ambil fotonya! Orangnya juga ramah banget, jadi serasa punya teman baru! Sekitar jam setengah lima sore, dia mengantar gue ke stasiun kereta untuk menitipkan koper gue di kantor penjualan tiket supaya gue bisa bebas cari makan tanpa perlu repot-repot memikirkan koper besar gue itu. Very thoughtful, huh? You can contact him for a taxi tour at +30 6972164382 or timos_taxi@hotmail.com

Awalnya gue pikir, naik ratusan anak tangga itu akan sangat-sangat bikin gue jadi capek. Kalau dilihat dari tepi jalan, betul-betul tidak disangka gue pernah berhasil naik sampai ke atas sana, hehehehe. Tapi ternyata, semuanya bisa gue lewati tanpa banyak berhenti untuk duduk-duduk dulu lho. Pemandangannya bikin gue jadi lupa sama capeknya! Dan meskipun hanya sendirian, gue tetap enjoy! Malah anehnya, gue justru merasa pergi sendirian itu pula yang udah bikin perjalanan ke Meteora jadi terasa sangat berbeda. Gue jadi lebih banyak mengobrol dengan sesama turis lain, atau bahkan, dengan si taxi driver gue juga!

Finally, there’s nothing else I can say other than… Meteora is a MUST visit when you’re in Greece. Just come and prove it with your bare eyes!

P.s.: Banyak yang bilang kereta menuju Kalambaka itu bikin bingung, tapi kalau menurut gue sih, gampang-gampang aja tuh. You will just know which train you should take. Yang agak rumit hanya saat cari tempat duduknya saja. Supaya cepat, lebih baik tanya ke petugas! Kemudian jangan ragu bertanya jika kamu melihat ada orang lain yang malah duduk di bangku yang sudah kamu reserve. Di Yunani itu memang sudah biasa asal ambil tempat duduk orang lain yang dikira masih kosong. Oh iya, beli tiket kereta secara online harganya malah lebih murah lho. Just visit http://www.trainose.gr for online reservation.

Sometimes, All that We Need is Just a Break

Last Friday was really one of those exhausting days in life. So many things went wrong, everything ran so fast that I barely had a moment to breath, so many plans didn’t work out in a way I desired, so little times yet so many works remained undone… Not to mention that I literally feel extremely tired everytime I wake up from sleep in the morning.

At some point, I couldn’t help myself but wondering… When will this madness end? Will it ever end in the first place?

But then on Saturday, I had a lovely day. After being occupied with lots of works for a while, I finally had a chance to do one thing that I always love to do: went shopping. As much as I love shopping online; which I did a lot more often lately, walk along the mall and carry the shopping bags on my own hands are somehow irreplaceable.

I love the sounds of the hangers in a small boutique. The smell of new books in a bookstore. I love hunting, fitting, and paying for the stuffs I love to buy. And just like that, I forgot my things to do back at work. I forgot how stressful this life can be. I forgot all the disappointment and failure that brought me down. And then at the end of the day, I asked myself, why should I want this madness to end? My life is running so fast, but thanks to that, it also brought me faster to the things I always dreamed of in life.

You know… that last shopping day was actually no ordinary shopping day. It was a shopping trip to buy the things I need for the upcoming vacation trip by the end of this week.

I bought a pair of sandals, and when I did, I picture myself walking on a white sandy beach. I also bought a new beach bag that fits my snorkel, and when I saw it, all that I could think of was the beauty of under the sea. I also bought a sunblock, travel size toiletries, medicines, all of the small things that will come in handy during my trip!

All that joys on last Saturday has told me this one big thing: I simply need a break. It’s not about my job, it’s not about the battles I’ve lost, it’s not about me having no idea about my own life. It’s simply about me doing all other things that I love to do. I love working and pursuing my dreams, but a nonstop run will only kill myself. It’s just like traveling. No matter how much I love it, a nonstop trip will only make me dying over a boredom.

I need to wake up in a beautiful place knowing that a new adventure will soon begin. I need to wander and get lost and made a discovery along the way. I need to jump off to the water and make that blue sea as my pool. I need to go to bed at night knowing that I still have another day to travel and even later in my last night, I will be able to tell myself that I’m ready to get back to my real and wonderful life back at home.

Again sometimes, all that we need is just a break, a very good one. Reward ourselves for all the hard works, the sleepless nights, and all the pain and tears we had along the journey. Relax, have fun, and when I’m back, I will be in my very best state to figure out the next best thing in life. What’s next? What do I really want? And how do I get there? Well, let’s keep those questions until my vacations ends! 😉

Happy Monday and happy holiday for those who celebrate! 🙂

You’re More Successful than You Realize

Last night, I had a quite long chat with an old friend and I told him how I felt like I hadn’t had enough in my career path. I said, “I’m not yet satisfied with my career achievement. It’s not that I’m not grateful, it’s just that I haven’t reached a point where I think; this is it.”

I do really feel that way about myself. It feels like I haven’t done much enough for the companies I’ve worked for. As much as I’m proud of being a part of my current Company, I still feel like I haven’t found that one thing I really want to do for the rest of my life. I also don’t feel like I’ve learned much enough in my life, I’m not yet as good as I want me to be, and I still have a so long way to go before defining my career as a success.

And then a few hours later, I found this video. I watched it, and it gave me chills! And yeah… a little bit of tears came out, just a little bit 😉

I don’t know how much score will be given by my families or best friends about my success, but it got me thinking… maybe, I’ve been too tough to myself. It’s good to be the hardest critic to myself, but maybe, it’s been over the top. And again, it reminded me once again to be thankful for all I have.

Yes, it’s still true that it takes a really long time for me just to figure out the next best thing in life. But hey, good things take time, don’t they?

And yes, it’s also true that I haven’t been somewhere I really want me to be… but I’ll get there! I know I’ll get there.

So maybe, I just need to be a little bit more kind to myself. Just one rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the whole years I’ve been working on is a failure. Other mediocre gets the same job with mine doesn’t make me out of the blue on the same average level with them. Been struggling in pursuing my big dreams doesn’t necessarily mean that I have failed either. I only fail once I give it up, right?

Life is still a long way to go. I haven’t failed, I just haven’t arrived in my final destination because I’m a little bit lost along the way. But that’s okay! As long as I keep on going, then I’m already on a right direction. For now, all I need to do is taking a deep breath, smile, give applause for myself, and continue running toward my finish line. I still don’t think that I have been as successful as I wish I were, but perhaps it’s true, I’m actually more successful than I realize.

And well, maybe, it’s a sign that it’s okay to reward myself a fancy trip, a little bit over budget, in my Greece trip this month, no? 😉

P.s.: Tomorrow is another Monday, let’s continue the race!

Love Yourself Enough to Walk Away

Have you ever stopped loving someone just because loving them makes you feel like you don’t love yourself? That kind of feeling that makes you feel bad about everything. You know that they are not the right person, it’s not going to happen, you’ve got to move on, and so on.

Lately I realize… The love to ourselves can be so powerful. We should know that we deserve better. We deserve something real. We deserve a happy ending. And it’s not going to happen unless we let go. The courage to leave all those hopes behind and the belief that someday we’ll get there is an enormous power for us to move forward.

Believe me when I say that it’s not a non sense at all. It’s just so true! You should believe that you will be just fine. Staying where you are is the one torturing you. It’s not even him or her that tortures you, it’s your decision to hang on that eventually kills you. Don’t do it to yourself! Give yourself some credits and live with dignity.

I know that moving on is never an easy thing. No matter how hard we try to keep ourselves busy, we will still think of it everytime we pause. We barely sleep at night and once we do, it even haunts us in our sleep! But again, believe me, the love to ourselves is a power. It will keep us strong, it will keep us going, it will give us a faith that we’ve done the right thing for ourselves.

Finally, someone who loves themselves will always believe that the right person will come along. If you love yourself enough, you won’t insist changing the wrong one to end up as the only one. You will believe that good things take time, and you will take your time. Someday you’ll get there, and you know what… you will when you believe!

Love yourself enough to walk away. You’ve got to know that when it’s over, it’s over.

Have a nice weekend!