We found ourselves on the dirt road between skiti Agiou Andreou and Stavronikita. We hoped to spend the night in Stavronikita. The idea to sleep in a monastery without electric light enthralled us. But for the moment, the fog had changed into rain. The drops were getting bigger and bigger. We were prepared for that. But unfortunately I was unable to release the rain cover from my backpack.
I tried to protect my dry goods with an umbrella. I failed, as I later discovered.
(After a summer break I will pick up the blog about our April 2019 pilgrimage. The last episode, ‘the Glory of Agiou Andreou’, can be found here.)
This was the last view of Andreou before we lingered down to the coast on a rather unexciting dirt road. Here there was not an ancient monopati leading to the Thracian sea.
The first view of Pantocratoros with its dominant donjon. We were still strolling in the rain.
Looking back to the Holy Mountain. A very active cloud system surrounded the invisible peak. The buildings belong to the monastery of Filotheou, I guess. There was still some white winter memories hidden in the coolest and darkest crevasses and on northern slopes of the mountain.
A birds eye perspective on Pantocratoros and its arsanas. The monastic complex looks like one enormous defensive unity. On the top of the donjon we see some modern artefacts; solar panels and a heating installation.
The neatly combed fields are ready for the crops to leave the underground. Some of the bigger trees are still waiting for their leaves.
Arriving at Stavronikita. Ancient olive trees greeted us. The showers had passed but the cobbled stones were still shining. We were going to ask the archondaris if he had room in his guesthouse for four good humoured pilgrims who had walked from Karies, Koutloumousiou and Andreou in the mist and the rain.
Pilgrim Herman, with his rain protection on his head and a rain cover over his backpack, is approaching Stavronikita. The frog-green tractor awaits its next challenge. Behind the vehicle colourful boxes lay waiting to transport vegetables. The impressive aquaduct and its mirror image is just visible.
In the monastery we learned that they were not able to give us hospitality; they were already fully booked. We should have booked way ahead in advance. They can only host a few pilgrims. We sat outside under the grape balcony admiring the ancient cypress and ate some energy bars out of our backpacks.
Before we left Stavronikíta we strolled in the surroundings. We walked towards the ossuary with its antique pillars. This perspective from the cemetery is very appealing. The arches of the old water supply are clearly visible. After this sightseeing we decided to walk further to Pantocratoros, where we had received hospitality on one of our earlier pilgrimages.
Bas Kamps (photos and text)