Planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain is a necessity. Not only you’ll have make reservations for a place to sleep in a monastery or skete, you will also have book your trip by boat for Ouranopoli to Dafni and vv. I made a reservation for our first night in Kavsokalivia by phone and everything looked well organized, so our 5-days pilgrimage could start on Sunday, September the 29th 2019. We planned to go Dafni and then take the Agia Anna boat to Kavsokalivia, so we would arrive on time and I would have some time to discover the place for a post on this weblog. There was only one thing I overlooked: the Agia Anna boat does not sail on weekends….
Our plans had be rescheduled and the only alternative was to take the bus to Karyes and then try to get taxi bus to skiti Prodromou, so this is what we did on the first day. An advantage of this detour was hat our fellow pilgrim Richard, a first time visitor to Athos, could see Karyes and the Protaton church. And we had some extra time to visit the bakery and buy some lunch and bread for our hike to the top the next day, because the taxi bus would not leave before 1.30 PM.
The taxi trip took us almost two hours, so it was already late afternoon when we arrived at skiti Prodromou, and our hike to Kavsokalivia did not even start! In the taxi talked with a Amrican monk who lived in Kerasia. He would stay the night at Prodromou. “Sleeping at Kerasia for pilgrims is only possible if you know the Elder, who can give you a ‘blessing’, he said”.
This is the route we walked. Yet again we could have been better prepared for our journey, because time was running out and we had to be in Kavsokalivia in time. But we choose the wrong – longer – path, witch was not a wise choice, but it gave us the opportunity to walk a path, that not many pilgrims took before.
The monopati starts immediately after leaving the gardens of Prodromou.
After a short climb you reach the junction where the path from Lavra joins in. It is called Tavrokalivo, according the Howorth map.
At this spot you have beautiful view at both sides, East and West, of the ridge.
And only after 100 meters you will have to make the choice to take the high or low path: we choose the higher path, witch turned out to be an mistake, because it took much longer to reach our goal. The high path leads through lush forests, whereas the lower path is faster, but it gives you less protection against the sun, because you’ll have to pass the Megali Sara (because of the great earthquake in 1905). Not many visitors know that the sea is another 1000 meters deep here. It is said that this is the spot where the 20.000 navy soldiers of king Xerxes found their last place to rest in a fierce storm. This is why he build the famous Xerxes chanal near Nea Roda.
The archondaris did already leave the archondariki. But I managed to find him and he first gave us loukoumi, water and some kind of rose-tea in small glass (no tsipourou). After he showed us our room and he was so friendly to cook us a meal. Without saying a word and he watched us eating, just smiling and contemplating.
Next time I will show you our adventures of day two.
Wim Voogd, 1/12/2019