2104 – Monasteries and hermits go by, between Dafni and Kavsokalivia

The ferry boat to Kavsokalivia arrived on time. We bought tickets on board. We sat on the open deck, watching the monasteries go by. It was rather windy. We talked about earlier visits, walking routes and the climb to the top.

The stone garden. by Bas Kamps

A monk meanders towards the sea from the terraced garden and orchard of Gregoriou. An impressive stone garden.


Agiou Paulou comes in sight.  Probably the monastery with the most dramatic backdrop on the Holy Mountain. In the middle of April there is still snow on the higher slopes. The summit is hidden behind fast moving clouds. But for this moment the clouds opened up, not more than a second. I have the impression that the summit is just visible. Not a perfect day to light a candle in the Metamorphosis chapel on the top. 

The major construction works near the shoreline of Paulou were still not finished. There will be a deepened riverbed to dispose of the melted snow and rain. On the left hand side we see a new terraced vegetal garden, accessible by a new bridge.

In the snowy winter of 2015 we climbed up there for a coffee (see blog 1694).

Sk. Anna

The skiti Agia Anna as seen from the ferry. The big red house is the guesthouse where we stayed after our trip to the summit of the Holy Mountain in 2011. We arrived a little after dinner time but they showed real hospitality and a lovely meal was served.

The terrace in front of the guesthouse of Agia Anna has perhaps the finest sunset views on Athos.


When the boat reaches the end of the peninsula it takes a turn left. This is a barren windswept coast. Soon the first huts of the hermits appear. You don’t see the hermits very often. This man meditated quietly on his balcony.

In front of him two bells, a big one and a small one, hanging from the ceiling. Big stones lay unattended on the corrugated sheets. Under him we see a flower garden on the terrace.

A little later the hermit stood up and walked calmly into his humble dwelling. A fascinating life; totally dedicated to praying in solitude. Hermits prove that we – as humans – can live our life alone. A lifeline for food is the only connection to the outside world. Twice a day a ferry boat passes, that is a connection to the outer world. Maybe he sees other monks and pilgrims on the boat. The rest of the time there is only the endless ocean as far as the eye can reach.

Near the cactuses is a basket that delivers the food that the hermit needs. If the food is not collected by the hermit it is a sign that something might be wrong. Then they will check him out. The neighbor’s house is completely in ruins without glass windows. The huts are built in the grey marble rock, the material the Holy Mountain is made of.

When the empty boat leaves Kavsokalivia it feels as if you are left alone with only a couple of fellow pelgrims and some mules. Concrete stairs completely covered with a thick layer of mule dun await you the first hundred meters up. Than it peters out and a beautiful path to the hamlet unfolds itself.

We are on our way to Prodromou, the Romanian skete, where we hope to spend the night.

Bas Kamps

This entry was posted in 14 Paulou, 17 Grigoriou, Karoulia, Skiti Anna, Trip 2019 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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