An Atheist In Athos — Part 3: Greece’s Most Well-known Monasteries On The Looney Entrance
If my dishonest in ‘following in the footsteps of intrepid Brit traveler Patrick Leigh Fermor’ was main-league huge-time from Stavronikita to Megisti Lavra, I’ve turned it into an excessive sport for the onward journey.
Leigh Fermor obtained a fishing boat to take him to the west coast where he resumed his hoofing, but there isn’t any boat now. I had each intention of strolling to a bit of pier at a spot known as Kafsokalivia, whence there’s a ship crusing up the west coast.
Karyes, Athos’s ‘capital’
I did, sincere. However, the walk takes two to a few hours, includes quite a lot of upping and downing, and the boat leaves at 9.30 A.M. It would not take long for my mental laptop to crank itself into overdrive. With a reasonably heavy backpack, who is aware of how lengthy it’ll take me And what of my predilection for getting lost And my predilection Textile for falling down
And if I miss the boat it’s no less than a 1,500-foot climb again up to the path and then a 5 ½- hour stroll on to Agiou Dionysiou, my cease for the night.
Karyes’s ‘bus station’ during rain squall on first day
So right here I’m comfortably at Megisti Lavra, ensconced on the 6.Forty five A.M. minivan in cool but perfect weather on my means back to Karyes, whence I’ll take a stone island sale amsterdam bus to west-coast Dafni, and thence a boat to aforesaid Dionysiou.
The deep orange solar is rising blindingly from Homer’s wine dark sea (as the sea is dark blue is Homer telling as that in stone island sale amsterdam his day wine was darkish blue ).
Sunrise with Thasos in the distance
The various humps of Thasos Island are humping it out of the Aegean, the snow-capped peaks of the Rhodope Mountains are glistening on the mainland beyond, and again on the peninsula the cloudless white summit of Mt. Athos is turning to burnished gold in the sun’s up-slanting rays.
Golden Mt. Athos
The clack-clack-clack of clicking worry beads from the back of the minivan gives pause to suppose that my fellow passengers are a group of aspiring flamenco dancers mistaking their beads for castanets.
In Karyes’ predominant square including a touch of native colour, a very historic monk has simply hobbled on from stage left with a protracted, wildly flowing gray beard and a peg leg – Athos’s Lengthy John Silver.
Waiting for the minivan in Karyes’s essential sq.
Both weather and scenery are very good as the Agia Anna plies down the west coast from Dafni. The sea, though, is billowing with massive translucent white jelly fish ballooning this manner and that.
The Agia Anna
Mt. Athos on the journey south
The first monastery we drop in at is Simonopetra. Leigh Fermor is totally proper when he compares it to the Potala in Lhasa, Tibet. Perched some 820 toes up on a crag in a steep hollow ravine, its wood balconied upper floors jut out above an virtually windowless vertical stone wall several stories high.
It is much smaller than the actual Potala, however it definitely seems to be as if it’s straight out of Bhutan or Tibet. I tried to reserve but they’re performing some repairs.
I must say Leigh Fermor was handled proper royally 80 years ago – a single room at every stop, plenty of meals at proper occasions, not just a single every day chow-down of pottage at three P.M. I am wine-darkish with envy.
The subsequent monastery, Gregoriou, is a bit of sea-stage fortress with the inverted-V peak and massive snowy flanks of Mt. Athos blazing away as backdrop.
Now we come to a different little fortress, this one on a precipitous crag 100 or more toes above the sea – Dionysiou, with a very steep path leading up.
Waterfall close to Gregoriou
When Leigh Fermor arrived right here in 1935, he wrote: ‘It’s built fortress-like on an overhanging crag, and its huge windowless partitions, jutting battlements and machicolated tower smack of the Darkish Ages.’ However he found the iron-coated doors locked.
Dionysiou from afar
After he banged on them eternally, there was ‘unbelievable clanking and capturing of bolts’ and he was ultimately allowed in as he was a foreigner, though he’d committed the sin of arriving after sunset.
Right now the walls, battlements and tower are the same, but the gates are wide open, since it’s only 1.30 P.M.
This time I get a room with just one other person, a pleasing Greek pilgrim. However the only real meal continues to be the three P.M. pottage of greyish liquid with an odd carrot – quite tasty, though – additionally some olives and bread as onerous as teak.
From underneath the walls
One other pilgrim, a bearded historic Greek (historical in years, not a Plato contemporary) is puffing assiduously at a cigarette, his grey moustache jaundiced from many years of smoking. He says with nice satisfaction in broken English that he swam from Piraeus to Newcastle in 40 days.
Swam, quoths I, with nice amazement. Sure, quoths he, by boat. In his English swim means journey on water. Athos’s historic mariner.
To cap all of it off, I’ve just been instructed I can’t go to the library or look at the 16th century frescoes, a flapping monk has instructed me off for taking a photo of an outside courtyard as cameras are verboten here inside the walls, not just within the buildings, and another has just told me sternly the 4 P.M. service is beginning ‘Now! I stated NOW!’
Well, I’m not going, so there, Your Grace.
The ‘verboten’ katholikon within
I do go and have a decko at 6, though. The church is extremely ornate, dripping in heavy gold and silver chandeliers. A huge silver chaplet hangs over the center and the walls and ceilings are bursting with brightly coloured gold-haloed icons.
Another verboten picture
The abbot is standing below the chaplet they usually’re all lining as much as kiss a row of richly embossed silver relics in entrance of him. To everybody’s great surprise I also skip the midnight to 5 A.M. service.
Sunset from Dionysiou
Instead of taking the Agia Anna straight back to Dafni I choose it up on its southward descent to see a few of the other monasteries.
Transferring south from Dionysiou
Mt. Athos is blazing away in brilliant however chilly sunshine. The terrain is even wilder at the peninsula’s southern end, an impenetrable, impassable, tortured land of massive crumpled crags. You possibly can, after all, penetrate and move, doubtless with much torture and crumpling, on the observe spherical to Megisti Lavra.
Hermitages and shelters for solitary monks perch atop impossible pinnacles with precipitous drops to the frothing sea lots of of ft below. Some are said to haul themselves up with pulleys and ropes. Olive groves and vegetable gardens dot the gentler slopes.
The rugged south
Back in Dafni it’s a must to undergo customs before boarding the boat for Ouranoupolis – they’re checking that no icons or different artwork are being smuggled out.
Back previous Dionysiou
Again past Simonopetra
Back previous Panteleimon
All in all, an interesting time in magnificent scenery amid spectacular architecture, even if the faith factor doesn’t really work Stone Island Uk for me. Not for me the ethos of Athos.