On the road from Lavra to the capital Karyes you will see the harbour (Arsanas) of Karakalou. Also on the road to Karyes you find the settlement called Mylopotamou, which we passed last year. Next time I will take some time visit the vineyards over there; back in Ouranopolis I bought some fine wines to bring home.
After taking a turn at Iviron, we arrived in Karyes. In 1986 I spend a night in the local hotel and had the opportunity to see the town almost on my own. At that time Karyes still had a medieval character and every evening the streetlights were lit by a man with a small fire on a long stick.
Nowadays Karyes introduced energy saving lamps, instead of the romantic burning of oil lamps. The old pub near the bakery also disappeared. In my memory this place resembled a pub stolen from a movie-set of Harry Potter, with dark figures, like monks dressed in black clothes, drinking beer at 11 o clock in the morning, and unshaven, dirty and stinking workman, hanging around pointlessly and unemployed in a gloomy corner. This was also the place were you could find a Zwerger-map on the wall, with many improvements on it, made by travellers who just found out that a medieval path did not exist any longer.
In the new pub this (not very useful) map hangs on the wall.
Karyes still looks medieval, but the centre is not in decay any more. Near the busstation a lot of new shops opened their doors, where you can buy souvenirs and religious objects, but there is also a shop with basic needs like food and elementary things. It surprised me how crowded the streets were, maybe because the increasing numbers of visitors from the former communist European countries. In the new fresh white painted cafenion you find some contemporary paintings on the wall.
On the internet I allready had seen that the Protaton church had a temporary roof, but seeing it “in situ” was shocking, because it is so ugly. On the inside it is even worse, because the church is totally filled with so many scaffoldings, that nearly all frescos were hidden.
But there also was a positive development: the restoration-team was removing the grim grey coating on the outside surface of the church. Here you ‘ll see a remnant a the old coating:
And on the other side of the building you can see the original stones that were used to build the walls. I am afraid that we have to have some more patience, but hopefully soon (?) the old looks of the complete church will reappear!
Wim Voogd, 4-7