If you're in Greece for the Summer Games and are inspired to perform some physical feats of your own, you could get into shape by taking a hike. A trek up to the Byzantine monasteries of Meteora will earn you no medals, but the scenery alone is ample reward. Located on the plain of Thessaly about 350 km from Athens, this cluster of monolithic rocks became a religious center for the Greek Orthodox Church inthe 14th century, when monks seeking to get closer to God built a monastery on the summit of the Great Meteoron.
For hundreds of years, the only way for pilgrims to reach the monasteries was to be hauled up the cliff faces in baskets. Nowadays, steps hewn into the rock offer more practical routes. Most visitors start their journey from Kalambaka, a picturesque town at the foot of Meteora; the monasteries are all between a 3-km and 5-km walk from here. [an error occurred while processing this directive] Fashion tip: If you arrive at the monasteries in revealing clothing, you may be asked to throw on a shawl or robe.
Only six of the 24 monasteries are still occupied by monks; the rest are abandoned. From the top of Meteora, you can enjoy miraculous views of the geological marvels that served as a location for the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. You won't get a martini at the monasteries, but the trek is certain to leave your knees shaking and your spirit stirred.