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They left the small airport in Kalabaka at five A.M. in a rental van and arrived at the Meteora just as dawn broke over the Pindus Mountains. A halo of golden orange outlined dozens of monumental rock pillars, formed from conglomerate and sandstone over millions of years of seismic activity and weathering by water and wind.

The massive columns rose anywhere from fifty to several hundred feet above the surrounding lush green forest and twisting Pineios river, which glistened like mercury in the morning light.

"You see those buildings?" Peter said, pointing to numerous structures with red tiled roofs on some of the pillars.

"I was wondering what they were doing there," replied Barry from his middle-row seat between Paz and Safa as the passenger van trundled further up a winding grave...

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