Culinary Diplomacy Through Spanakopita in Meteora, Greece

For the past five nights, we’ve been staying at a quaint guesthouse overlooking the mystical Meteora rock formations in northern Greece. Six mighty monasteries sit atop the unusual rocks. Some of the structures date back to the 14th century.

As if things couldn’t get any better, our hostess and Greek mother for the week has been surprising us with culinary treats from her kitchen: salads drizzled with olive oil, homemade French fries, omelets with slices of traditional sausage, candied figs, milk custard pie, and, drumroll… the spinach and feta cheese pie known in Greek as spanakopita.

Whenever Mama Marina brings these Greek dishes to our terrace, she wears a mischievous smile. Her Greek food samplings are not officially part of our hotel stay; Marina’s brought them to us well – just because. It is an example of culinary diplomacy at its best!

No wonder Marina’s son, Dimitrios, described her as the “typical Greek mother.”

Greek spanakopita in Meteora, Greece

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • Meteora is about 4 hours northwest of Athens. To get there, we traveled by bus from Skopje, Macedonia. (We departed Skopje before sunrise, then journeyed to Thessaloniki, Trikala, and Kalambaka, all in one day. We bought separate bus tickets for the various legs of the journey.)
  • Marina and her husband own the cozy Guesthouse Patavalis (affiliate link) in the village of Kastraki. In total, we spent about a week at the Guesthouse Patavalis, staying in its ‘Purple Room’. We enjoyed its terrace views of the surrounding rock formations, and its convenient location. It made a great hub for hiking to, and exploring some of Meteora’s monasteries!
  • It can be easy to get lost when hiking in the more remote wooded areas around the Meteora Monasteries. Be sure you have a good map, or consider hiring a guide to find those less-trodden paths, which are well worth exploring.
  • The weather was sizzling during our springtime visit, and we were happy to have packed ample water and snacks. It’s possible to purchase refreshments near some of the more popular monasteries, but because the hike can be long, I recommend bringing your own for the ascent.
  • Be sure to check the opening hours for the monasteries that you’re hoping to visit on a particular day. A different monastery is closed each day to allow the monks a workday without visitors. Visit Meteora is a useful planning resource, and we also enjoyed stopping by the agency’s office in Kalambaka. With a helpful team of staff members on hand, free Wifi, great reading material about the local attractions, and cozy chairs available to the public, it’s a one-stop shop.
  • Visit the Kalambaka Tourist Center website for information about the monasteries, as well as other activities that you can do in Meteora.
  • Need more inspiration? This link contains an index of all my posts from Greece.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

21 thoughts on “Culinary Diplomacy Through Spanakopita in Meteora, Greece

    1. I’d like a follow-up too, Gerard. Sadly, we’ve now left the guesthouse and the village where our Greek mama for a week spoiled us so much.

      We’ll be doing a cooking class in the coming days, so perhaps spanakopita will be on the menu, or maybe you’ll even want to give the recipe a whirl? :) Cooking that recipe from scratch would be time-consuming if you roll your own dough, though – so many, paper-like layers to achieve that crispy goodness!

      1. Regarding the recipe, no thank you. I don’t like cooking anything that is very time consuming. Thank you for the offer.

    1. Christina, there is so much to be explored in Greece. I’ve never been to the Peloponnese, but it sounds wonderful. We’re now on Santorini, having spent a few days in Athens exploring the Parthenon. How much time did you spend there?

      I get the sense that Meteora is often a bit off-the-beaten-path for some travelers, because it is somewhat of the way, geographically speaking, but we’re so glad we made the journey. Simply put, it’s been one of my lifetime travel highlights.

      1. Lifetime travel highlights? That’s high praise! I’ll have to plan on visiting someday. :) I spent a few days in Athens as well then drove through the mountains to Olympia. I loved the Western coast and Nafplio in the east.

        We saved all the islands for another trip. Have a good time in Santorini!

      2. Christina, Meteora is such a perfect blend of nature and manmade treasures, coupled with history. It is an ideal place to relax for a few days. Actually, we could’ve stayed there for weeks.

        I think it’s wise to dedicate time solely to the islands. We’re now just going to visit Santorini, however, I think a small boat trip from island to island is something we’ll do in the future. Your mountainous drive to Olympia also sounds stunning!

    1. Oh, it was, Carol. It was such an unexpected surprise to be delivered authentic Greek treats, while overlooking the unique Meteora rock formations from our balcony. More on those soon.

      Thanks as always for your comments. :)

    1. And you’re lucky enough to have it all the time, Angelina! Best regards to George and everyone we met along the way. Can’t wait to share our splendid experiences at the monasteries!

      1. I’m stuck out here in the North Sea, joined rig in Copenhagen, suppose to go to Israel on Thursday but have been waiting for a helicopter since last Friday, flights cancelled due to fog.

      2. Hope the weather cooperates soon, Mark. Here on Santorini, the weather has been extremely windy – so much so that it rattles our little apartment’s shutters and takes our laundry by flight.

  1. I love Meteora, it has an amazing view ! I went there 2 years ago (Autumn) but visited only one of the 6 monasteries, the Monastery of Transfiguration. My first time to wear a skirt to enter it and this was a funny moment for me. But definitely, the view from the monastery was amazing. I guess you stayed in the town below called Kalambaka? :)
    Me and hubby are planning to visit it together this summer, I took note of the place you stayed in. Thank you for that! And in Greece, they say that if you want good food, eat the ones prepared by traditional Greek moms. :D You had the best food during that week , believe me. ;)

    1. Hello Nessy, we also only visited a few of the monasteries, and it was fun for the ladies choosing a wrap skirt to wear in order to enter each moastery respectfully. :)

      We actually stayed in Kastraki, which is smaller than Kalambaka, and within walking distance to the monasteries (though a bit of a hike). We were quite happy there, as it was significantly quieter and less commercialized than Kalambaka. We were also very happy with our little guesthouse – the roomy was comfy and the hostesses’ touches were much appreciated.

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