Also because of the last question posted by JosÃ© I realized that I forgot to tell you how you get permission to visit the Holy Mountain. Honestly, I wished this information was hidden on a secret spot and that only a few people on this world knew how to visit the Holy Mountain, because it is getting more crowded every year, but I won’t keep it for myself.
The traditional way is writing a letter to:
The Holy Executive of the Holy Mount Athos Pilgrims’ Bureau
109 EGNATIA STR. (Odos)
546 22, Thessaloniki
but I think it wise to make a phone call first, because only 10-non orthodox pilgrims are allowed to visit the Holy Mountain every day, so you have to make sure that there is still place left on the list of 10 men.
If you call 00 30 2310 252578 (situation in 2006/2007) you might get Nikos on the phone, who speaks English.
If he gives you the green light, you’ll have to fax your ID: name, adres, birth of date, date of entry, your religion (of course) and a copy of your pasport, to number 00 30 2310 222424. I also gave them my e-mailadres and to my surprize our reservation was confirmed by e-mail, so I suppose the reservation can also be done through this modern way of communicating (PILGRIMSBUREAU@C-LAB.GR).
On the site of the Friends of Mount Athos you will find the opening hours of an office in Thessaloniki, but on a saturday morning we only found a closed door with this sign on that spot (Egnatia Odos 109), so no openingshours on saturday between 10.00 and 12.00. By the way, next to this door is a large bookstore with only religious/orthodox books!
Sign at door of Egnatia Odos 109 Thessaloniki
So going to Thessaloniki is NOT neccesary and if you don’t want to waste any time, you can, after you leave the airport, directly take a taxi to the nearby busstation, where the bussus to Ouranopolis depart.
Be noticed that mistakes are made on the Pilgrims Bureau. When we came to collect our Diamoniterions on the mornning of our trip to Athos, they forgot to make one for one of our travel-mates (maybe because there were three brothers with the same backname on our list). Luckily it was no problem and 10 minutes later the nervous and sweating brother was releaved to get his permit anyway.
A closer look at our Diamoniterions showed out that, although we had stated that our religion of the 7 men was protestant (Diamartyromenos), two of our group were classified as Catholic and Orthodox !
After paying â‚¬ 35,00 for three nights on Athos and a pasport check before leaving the Pilgrims Office, there is nothing that will keep you from boarding the boat at 9.45 h. (maybe a “metrio”, at one of the restaurants along the boulevard).