This is the first episode of seven of the Athos trip Goulven Le Goff and his brother Ivonig made in May 2015. They visited all 20 monasteries in one week. Text and photo’s by G. and I. Le Goff.
This map sums up our trip. With the exception of the tracks between Great Lavra and Karakalou and between Philotheou and Karyes, marked with dotted lines, we walked everything, most of it on marvellous paths. The only parts of dirt road we had to go through are those between Pantokratoros and Vatopedi and between Dochiariou and St Panteleimonos.We reached Ouranoupolis on May 21, the very day of its annual feast. Local inhabitants had organized a party with some traditional music and a free meal for everyone.
Next morning, our luck disappeared when we learnt that our boat to Simonopetras, the Mikra Agia Anna, was broken since several days. Fortunately, there was a last boat going to Daphni this day, and even if it was full, we were authorized to board.
From Daphni, we took another boat to Simonopetras, reaching the arsanas two hours later then we planned.
We agreed that the path from the harbour to the monastery is a perfect start to enter Mount Athos, because the path was absolutely stunning with a continuous view on the magnificent Simonopetra monastery. On this first time we were very surprised by the warm welcome. Later we experienced this hospitality in all monasteries.
We took some time to enjoy the Simonopetra archondariki and the view from it on the coast and the countryside.
We continued and followed the path to Grigoriou which was is a little bit more technical but also marvellous. We soon reached Grigoriou monastery. While Simonopetra didn’t have a lot of pilgrims, Grigoriou wasn’t empty, as twenty pilgrims waited the vesperal office. After talking with some of them, we went up a path to the Grigoriou cave.Gregoriou’s cave.
On our way to Dyonisiou, we saw several cliffs ; This waterfall we found the most beautiful of our whole trip.
The first sight of the Dyonisiou monastery is another unforgettable moment of this day.
The monk managing the pilgrims had given our beds to other guests, maybe because we were a little bit late. It was full with pilgrims which is not surprising because there are dozens of them sleeping every day in this monastery, the fifth most important in the peninsula.We told the monk that we had our own stuff to sleep on the ground and he seemed to agree, but another one asked us to wait. He found in the attic two makeshift beds and put them in a corridor.After the dinner, we had enough time to visit the monastery ; the place we appreciate the most was the cloister around the katholikon, with its intriguing fresco’s and its ground made of stones.
Text and photo’s Goulven Le Goff, Ivonig Le Goff, some editing by Herman Voogd