1786 – Twenty monasteries in seven days : Day 6, snakes on the path

This is the 6th episode of seven of the  Athos trip done by Goulven Le Goff and his brother Ivonig from Rennes, France made in May 2015. They visited all 20 monasteries in one week.

Compared to the epic five first days of our trip, the sixth one in the forests covering the north of the peninsula the temperature was much cooler.
1The vineyard of Esfigmenou probably produced the excellent wine we drank the day before.

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We walked to Chilandariou on a cobbled and cypress-lined road.
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The Austrians we met in Prodromos had warned us that the path between Chilandariou and Zographou was full of snakes. Indeed we saw quite a few of them there, but we had already spotted some in other parts of the peninsula.
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For the first time during our stay, the weather was rainy when we passed the Cosma’s cave to reach Zographou.
8A view of the countryside from the archondariki of Zographou, where we spent some time hoping the rain will stop, while talking with the Bulgarian scholar we met earlier between Stavronikita and Pantokratoros. He told us about the beginning of the twentieth century, when there were more than 11 000 monks on the Holy Mountain, most of them from Russia. According to him, this number falled down to less than 1 000 in the 60s and since have risen up, with more than 3 000 monks living on Mount Athos today.
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Soon as the rain stopped we left Zographou on a quite sliding cobbled path.
11This photo was taken at the only spot where we got lost during our trip. We went all the way down to the Zographou arsanas before understanding we were not on the right way. At first we thought it was a mistake of the people who designed the trails; but in fact we missed a turn which was not easy to see.
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In Konstamonitou, as in Esfigmenou, we were not allowed to attend religious services and to eat with orthodox pilgrims. They even didn’t allow us  to hang our laundry  to dry in our room.
14 15Another similarity between those two monasteries: the lighting with oil lamps and the lack of hot water. Despite this, we managed to fully wash ourselves in Konstamonitou.  Thanks to a watering hose in the closets we could take a cold shower.

Text and photo’s Goulven Le Goff, Ivonig Le Goff, some editing by Herman Voogd

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