Let’s start with reveiling that the short afternoon walk ended up in a unforgetable 9,34 kilometers exercise, that would fit in any modern boot-camp experience. Efrem guided us through one of most beautiful places on Mount Athos, where nature is unspoiled and not used for commercial purposes (forestry), where the ‘original’ character of Athos still can be found. Only small huts and kelli are widely distributed over the landscape, lush streams flow through the European rain forrest and the quietness is overwhelming.
But we were in a hurry, because Efrem wanted to be back before Vesper in Maroudá at 19 h. that evening. So after visiting the Rumenian Kelli Agiou Georgiou Faneromenou (thanks Gabriel), he resumed our high speed hike, safely guided by his Garmin divice.
But something went wrong. At the location G we lost our way and Efrem suggested to make a shortcut through the forest. We (one of our group that started from Maroudá wisely returned ‘home’ after reaching spot D) reluctantly agreed. This is what happened:
But we relied on the expertise of Efrem, and although he made me worried for a while, he proved to be a reliable guide and after 10 minutes he found a monopati, so we could resume our hike to Skiti Andreou and back to Maroudá again (short film: thanks Tadeusz Minkiewics). Skiti Andreou was not far from the spot we got lost and it gave me the opportunity to shoot this picture form Andreou, seen from a different direction.
In the background you see the tower (?) and communication mast of Ag. Dimitrios. Nobody ever goes there, am I right? (detail is from the map of Peter Holworth, creator of the best Athos map). Left from skiti Andreou I saw this beautiful cell: Kelli Evaggelismou Theotokou, Immaculate Virgin, belonging to Simonopetra, worth a next visit to Athos!Kelli Evaggelismou Theotokou
We continued our hike:
Not far from the spot were we found the monopati again we saw this ruin of a cell. To our surprize it was inhabited by a former professor from Athens, who decided to devote his live to God and went to this place on the Holy Mountain. He did not wanted to be photographed, but he invited us in for a drink and he took some time to talk to us. Below some pictures of his house, that he tried to renovate.The outdoor kitchen, with a grindstone (for olive oil?).Pottery (for olive oil?)The cell of the “Athenian Professor”: he sleeps/lives in two rooms were the chimneys peak out of the windows. I hope he will be able to renovate this ruined house….Skiti Andreou closes in: trees with white blossems, that smell lovely, are everywhere in this area in spring.Just before arriving at Andreou we passed the kelli of Axion Estin. This is the kelli where the famous Protaton icon of Axion Estin is brought to in a procession every Easter.
Efrem wanted to be in time to join Vesper in Maroudá, so we sneaked past these buildings. (This was because most monks know him well, and when they see him, they want to have a conversation, and after walking more then 9 km’s, he wanted to back as soon as possible.)
Soon after the ruined house we saw even more (unknown) ruined buildings, and a small chapel next to it:The small chapel next to the ruins.Finally we arrived at skiti Andreou and the Athonasias-school. Children/novices were playing basketball in the schoolyard.
This ends the photo essay of a very special afternoon on Athos. Without the help and the friendly and professional assistance of Efrem, this would not have been possible. Many thanks goes to him!!
Wim Voogd, 29-12