Huffpost Travel
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Mike Arkus Headshot

Greece's Rock Portrait Gallery, From Craggy Ogres to de Gaulle's Nose: Suspended in Mid-Air on the Looney Front, Part II

Posted: Updated:

When it comes to seeing human, animal or any other likenesses in Mother Nature's giant crags, rocks, cliff faces and mountain outcroppings, nobody can be more obtuse than Yours Truly. Others see the image of the Virgin Mary; I see a rock. Others see a crenelated castle turret; I see a rock. Others see a massive hippopotamus; I see a rock. I am a total zero at anthropomorphising rock formations.

That is until it comes to the incredible fantasy landscape of soaring rock monoliths, spires, towers, crenelated walls, table-top mesas, ramparts and buttresses soaring a 1,000 feet above the plain in Meteora, Greece. Here I'm up there with the best and finest, divining statesmen, statues, ogres, and much else out of the shapes into which aeons of battering by wind and water have whipped the humongous rocks.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1833Custom.JPG

Meteora's amazing crags

Now I have no idea if I am seeing the same phantasmagorical forms that all the other gaping tourists here note - almost certainly not, given my lifetime record of purblindness - and the main purpose people come here is to visit the pinnacle-top monasteries clinging precariously to the precipitous crags.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1787Custom.JPG

Meteora monastery view

But my anthropomorphism and fauna-morphism is now having a field day, from the very moment I arrive in the towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki, gateway to Meteora, for Yours Truly's Magical Mystery Tour. So roll up, roll up. Step right this way!

As you stare upwards, the holes and caves in the rock faces become eyes and mouths, noses and ears in human and other faces.

I've barely arrived in Kastraki, I just turn a corner - and an enormous, hooded ghost with a gigantic lion rearing behind it confronts me, sitting by the side of a smirking Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1385Custom.JPG

Hooded ghost and lions

A few dozen yards on - and the plain monolith standing next to our trio turns into a begging dog, paw bent by its side.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1391Custom.JPG

Begging dog

And, oh yes, there are the phalluses - or should that be phalli? But then the only thing I never seem to have any problem in seeing are phalluses - especially when others see nothing even remotely resembling aforesaid member.

I turn another corner and my hooded three-eyed ghost has morphed into a huge angry owl who is squinting right down at me. General de Gaulle's Cyrano-like nasal appendage is squatting on its head and a lower owl at its side looks supremely bored.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1586Custom.JPG

Angry owls with de Gaulle on their head

But, heaven be praised, the phallus is still a phallus, even - or especially - in the sunset. As they say: once a prick, always a prick.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1573Custom.JPG

Phallus marching off into the sunset

Yours Truly is having an absolutely spiffing time on a walk back down from the monasteries. There's hardly a looming crag that doesn't suggest some recognisable shape with all those gaping holes, caves and ridges. Right over there is a pug-faced lion.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1629Custom.JPG

Pug-faced lion

Within easy sight of Roussanou Monastery, which is actually a nunnery, giant twin phalluses soar heavenwards. I'm sure they must get the nuns there all in a tizzy as they're circumcised - the phalluses that it. There are two more phalluses nearby. Actually they're squatter and could be Gulliver's scrotum.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1862Custom.JPG

Circumsised palluses

Wow, this really is fun. A group of hunched, deformed grimacing ogres are huddling on that ridge over there, all particularly stupid looking - once more a board meeting of your favourite company or organisation (fill in the blank).

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1666Custom.JPG

A fat-nosed git

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1898Custom.JPG

The big cheese

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1858Custom.JPG

The bee's knees

Up over there de Gaulle is looking down his never-ending nose again, this time at St. Nicholas Monastery. A little further on a massive Easter Island Moai statue stares on impassively.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1901Custom.JPG

De Gaulle looking down on St. Nikolaos Monastery

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1886Custom.JPG

Moai statue

There's a grinning three-eyed ogre over there. And isn't that Munch's Scream? Ah no, it isn't, but that's definitely a smiley face.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1903Custom.JPG

Smiley face

So who cares if what I'm seeing doesn't jibe with what everybody else is seeing. It's probably a case of 'never the twain shall meet.' But the point is I am seeing them for once.

Time for lunch back in town under the scowling monolithic owl again.

Now what's on the menu. Today we have 'skewer with bowels' and 'lamp soup with bowels.' That should keep you regular.

2014-05-19-GreekMainland1723Custom.JPG

Lunch under the owls

By the same author: Bussing The Amazon: On The Road With The Accidental Journalist, available on Kindle, with free excerpts at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNCGD9M and in print version on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1499681984:

And Swimming With Fidel: The Toils Of An Accidental Journalist, available on Kindle, with free excerpts here, and in print version on Amazon in the U.S here.