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Last Day on Mt Athos

Zografou monastery, Mt Athos

The entrance to Zografou Monastery. Inside a wide coble-stoned courtyard is surrounded by three and four storeyed buildings. A chapel sits in the courtyard, heated against the winter and early morning chills by a small wood burner.

The next morning I follow the track from Zografou Monastery South towards Konstamonitou Monastery. The path is cut into the side of the hill through dense bush, rising then falling into a valley.

I pass a large ruined building which shows up on my map as "kasteli". The tiled roof is falling in and the out buildings are desolate. Then the path hits a road which is not recorded on my map.

There is no path on the other side so I decide to walk up the road, it seems to be going in the right direction. I walk for about a kilometer and the road ends at a stream. Frustrated, I retrace my steps and eventually find the path leading off on the other side of the road. It has a rope stretched across its entrance, but it is well marked so I decide to take a chance.

The path climbs again quite steeply. It is paved with rock and every meter or so there is a raised stone ridge that has been set across the path which provides a useful grip for the staff I picked up on the way. At last I get to the top of the hill and into the sun; I rest for a while. Shouldering my pack I make the journey down into another valley; but the path ends at a stream. There is evidence of ancient habitation here, old stone walls defining overgrown fields. I cast up and down the stream to try and find where the track continues but I am disappointed.

I pause to consider my position. The map is unreliable. The boat will be making its way back up the coast in a couple of hours, so without the surety of finding Konstamonitou, I decide to walk out to try and catch the boat and return to Thessaloniki.

So back up the hill and down to the road and I follow it out to the coast and then up to the Zografou port.

The commercial map I had
of Mt Athos was completely
inadequate. Some of the
tracks shown on the map
were non-existent or
stopped before they got
to where they should go.

Take care!

I can see the boat in the distance and I sit on the dock and wait patiently. Maybe one day I'll come back.......

More photos of Zografou Monastery

Have you read our Meteora story?

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I came across this small shrine at the end of a rocky cove.

Mt Athos was a great experience. Yes, I was (just) a tourist; but I suspect that the Bulgarian worker even refers to legitimate Orthodox pilgrims as "tourists" (when compared to the commitment he has made). And after all said and done, people making religious pilgrimages were probably the first tourists in this world.

Another smart click

Read more about Mt Athos.
Go on a pilgrimage.

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