When we departed from Dionysiou late in the morning of the new year a very social cat followed us for about a kilometre. He jumped from footstep to footstep which we had left in the snow. A lot of snow had already been evaporated but not so much on the path. We started late because we had taken ample time for conversations with our American friend Mike, whom we met in the kitchen and with a Greek pilgrim who had worked in the Netherlands. He told me several stories full of miracles. He said that the monasteries were “hospitals for the soul”. A quote to remember, I thought.
Here we see the cat loving pilgrim Martijn with the cat. Pilgrim Herman is taking a picture of the scene. The cat didn’t want to further than this high point which is blessed with a big wooden cross.
The cross is secured by a iron rope. It remembered me of the old Arab saying: trust in God, but tie up your camel.
In the background one can see the medieval tower and the harbour, the arsanas, of the monastery of Paulou.
Pilgrim Herman and his son pilgrim Nathan on their way down. It was a rather steep passage, zigzagging its way to sea level. The snow height came up to the knees. We walked very slowly and carefully.
After the decent we arrived safely at the plain in front of Paulou. Despite the snow the picture has a superb sub-tropical feel. Probably due to the Persian blue colour of the sea. The absence of any commercial activity at the beaches on Athos, no restaurants, no donut salesmen, no music, no noisy children, only enhances its unspoilt attractiveness. In gratitude I send this, and other, pictures to the Friends of Mount Athos (FOMA), whose excellent work showed us the way, even in the snow. They might use the pictures in their yearbook.
The first view of Paulou. Near the beach big works are being executed, they are building of terraces and a deep trench for the river, the Kalatha stream. In the background the ascent to the summit of the Holy Mountain. Heavy clouds prevented a clear view of the top. The mountain looked very grim and inaccessible.
Here we made a little mistake. We wanted to continue to Nea Skiti, and we thought the path would follow the beach. We just wanted to visit the monastery Paulou and then walk on. So we left our luggage here at the foot of the hill. It is so nice to walk without a backpack. But it proved wrong. The right path starts at 200 meter, just under Paulou. The path near the beach heads to a lonely house. So we had to climb our way up to Paulou twice. But the first time enlightened without luggage.
A closer look at the monastery of Paulou. In front there are a lot of terraces. The height of the buildings is as impressive as the front of Simonas Petras.