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Going to Mt Athos and need some help


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#1 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 02:49 PM

Christ is Risen!

 

Well the plans are in the making for a trip to Mt Athos for two weeks and then to visit family in Israel for a time.

 

My question is How should I pack?

 

I just want to take carry on luggage so that restricts the number and size of the bags.   People I've talked to that are frequent fliers say only use carry on and with wheels.  Other people I've talked to that have been to Mt Athos say don't use wheels use a backpack.

 

When your at Mt Athos is there places to wash clothes?

 

Oh and I'm 71 years old to.  What is your advice as to the above questions, that is other than stay home grandpa.

 

Thanks for what you share.

 

w.



#2 Lakis Papas

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 03:55 PM

You can find some information here:

 

http://athens.usemba...ount_athos.html

 

http://www.athosfrie...Guide/planning/

 

I suggest you communicate with ​pilgrims's bureau: 109 Egnatia Street, Agioritiki Estia Building, Thessaloniki, Greece, Tel. (+30-2310) 252578 for foreigners, and (+30-2310) 252575 for Greeks, Fax (+30-2310) 222424. Email:  piligrimsbureau@c-lab.gr



#3 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:35 AM

Thanks for the links Lakis but all those things have already been taken care of.

I was just wondering if most people use backpack while on the island or not?

Thank again.



#4 Alice

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 01:14 AM

Hello Warren,

 

I have private messaged Paul Cowan to see if he can answer your question since he has been there.

 

All the best to you for your trip!

Alice



#5 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 01:43 AM

Thanks Alice.



#6 Angie

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:53 AM

Hi Warren,

 

We have only just come back about a week ago from Greece and Jerusalem.

 

My husband went to Mount Athos in Vaitopethi.  He loved it!

 

He took a big backpack with him, he only stayed for a couple of days.  I don't think they have washing facilities there, however be prepared just in case you need to stay an extra day.

 

My husband was meant to come back after 2 days, but due to weather restrictions the boat was cancelled, so he ended up staying in St Andrews monastery and he loved that also!

 

It was hot in Greece.

 

May you have a blessed trip!



#7 Paul Cowan

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 04:50 AM

I have never heard of an airline requiring passengers to carry a specific type of luggage and that of wheels no less. I don't know where you are planning to visit, but only carry what you can comfortably carry on your back. Most all of the other pilgrims live in the area so they will all have daypacks. When I went I spent 9 days on the Holy Mountain. I had a full size backpack. The hotel I stayed at in Ournapolis kept my suitcase while I was on my pilgrimage. Be careful you negotiate price in THEIR language or else you will get stuck with a bill in YOUR language you did not expect.

 

I will not presume to guess your athletic ability, but I found walking between monasteries to be critical for anyone going. They do have the occasional "taxi" between them which of course is an additional cost. Usually 5 Euros; they are there to make a profit don't you know...

 

Be sure to take a "gift" and leave it for the monastery. Typically a $20 Euro gift is appreciated but they will never ask for it. They also LOVE coffee. I left pruning shears, climbing rope and a few other things as well. If you do end up walking (try at least between two of them) also try to clear part of the trails you walk on (hence the pruning shears). I would be curious on your return how the trash cleanup is coming. It was pretty disgusting when I was there.

 

There is not a place for you to wash clothes. Bathroom facilities are problematic at best in some of them. I took 1 pair of clothes for every two days. I did not bathe the whole time, but there are lavatories you can wash your hands and face in. Some do have shower facilities but the ones I saw this in did not have hot water. I went during Thanksgiving break and the first snow fell the day after I left. Had I waited one more day to leave, I would have been "stuck" on the mountain for 3 months as they boats stopped running due to the high seas.

 

Feel free to PM me if you have more practical questions.

 

Pray for me

Paul



#8 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:48 PM

Thank you Paul as well as Angie for your comments.  That's just what I need to know.  I'm going with a group and will be on the island for 9 days also.  After that we will go to a few other monasteries finishing off with a visit to Meteora.  Looking forward to it.

 

As to the backpack, this has been strongly suggested by another person that went with the group.

 

Paul, you ask about the wheels being required by the airlines?  There not.  My wife (who has more athority than the airlines ;) ) is the one that said that I should use wheels.  I have a small backpack that fits the dimentions of the TSA and the airlines for carry on and it has wheels.  It just isn't very comfortable as a backpack.

 

You  probably know the size of carry on luggage but I'll list them any way:

   Over head dim's are from 26 x 18 x 12 on Air Bus A320, 22 x 14 x 9 United 777 to 21.5 x 15.5 x 9 on Air Canada 777

   Under Seat dim's are 18 x 15 x 8 for Air Bus down to 17 x 10 x 9 on United

   A purse is also allowed 12 x 10 x 5.5

   You can also take a hat, jacket, umbrulla, and other things that can be placed in your pockets or on your person.

 

You said that you took a full size backpack.  What are/were the dim's. of that?  You also said that you left your luggage at the hotel.  I'm assuming then that you packed your backpack in your suit case and checked it.  Then you packed your backpack when you left for the Holy Mt..  Right?

 

This is the first time I've heard of someone telling how spartan the bathroom facilities are.  I guess I'll have to draw on my experience at Boy Scout camp.

 

One other question is shoes.  What do you recommend?  I've also heard that Churches as well as Monasteries expect black or at least very dark shoes.  Was that your experiance?

 

The second half of my trip will be in Jerusalem.  I'm finding the cost for lodging to very high for hostels and BnB's.  I don't know what it will be for a regular hotel.

Maybe Angie can help there.

 

Thanks for the help.



#9 Angie

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 07:00 AM

Hi Warren,

 

Jerusalem Hotels are expensive, we stayed at Dan Panarama.  It was about a 15min walk to the Old city.

 

We stayed in Ouranoupolis Hotel at Pyrgos.  I would definitely recommend this hotel.  It is not far from were you catch the boat. 

 

We stayed a night at this Hotel, the next day we left our big suitcase in the hotel and I left for Ormylia and my husband left for Mount Athos.  On his return, 2 days later, he picked up the big lugguage.

 

The owner of this hotel is a very nice man, and he allowed us to leave the bag till he returned.


Edited by Angie, 14 June 2013 - 07:01 AM.


#10 Dusja

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 09:27 AM

About Jerusalem, why don't you try Moscow Patriarchate Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, see here: www.rusdm.ru/en/programm/11 and http://jerusalem-mission.org - I really recommend them and their services!



#11 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 12:52 PM

Dusja:

 

Those are wonderful sites!

 

Thank you for sending them.

 

I wish I had seen the first one a long time ago.

 

I always wanted to go to Sinai.

 

Thanks again.

 

w.



#12 Paul Cowan

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 04:42 AM

I took an impossibly large suitcase. I am sure I looked quite the American tourist as I lugged it down the main strip in Ouranapolis. I was able to pack my backpack in that huge suitcase and the night before I got on the boat, I repacked what I needed into it and left the stuff I would not need in the hotel. I can't remember the name of it, but it was literally right next door to the Pilgrims Office. I think it had a girl's name. Yes; Hotel Diane. Beware of that place...

 

When I left though, I had both to deal with. Leave enough room in your back pack to buy souvenirs. Iveron and Pantalemon both have wonderful bookstores. I would shy away from the shops in Karyes and Daphni as these are impulse points of purchase. Kyres does however have a wonderful bakery. Just follow all the cats. They will lead you.

 

As far as shoes, since you were in BSA then buy a good pair of hiking boots. Think Philmont.Mine were dark brown and waterproof (you will be stomping around water). Just remember your feet are going to stink when you take them off. :0

 

Make time to explore. You may not get another chance to go back. When I was there, the chestnuts had fallen and the olives were being picked or had just been so it seemed. There was also a bright red/orange/yellow berry that did not look edible, but it is. Oh; and the water from the falls... I walked 99% of my trip. I had a windbreaker and baseball cap the whole time due to the cool wind, but I sweated to death in the direct sunlight so I had to dry my clothes everyday on the back of my pack as I traveled.

 

Walk as much as you can. Alone is better. Try to put 100 yards or more between you and your group. YOU need to experience this as an individual, not as a loud cacophony walking down the road. Just remember to listen for the taxi drivers as they don't know what a speed limit is. I hope you have already reserved your rooms at each monastery. If not a group will be almost impossible to get one and being that several have their names days during the summer and this is high tourist season anyway, it will be all the harder.

 

Pray for me

 

Paul



#13 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 08:25 PM

Thanks for the info Paul.  The group has the reservations the last week in Sept. and the first week in Oct.   Hope it's not snowing but maybe the bugs should be gone.

 

What would you say was your eureka moment during your time there?  If you would like to share it that is??

 

How would suggest I spend the next 3 months preparing for this experience?  I'm talking about spiritual prepreation now, not how my shoes fit, even though I need to break in a new pair.

 

I will. Please pray for me also.

 

w.



#14 Paul Cowan

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 09:53 PM

I prayed for a year to the Theotokos and to St. John the Fore Runner to help me get there. I had MANY obstacles in my journey from passport to missing the bus to lost reservations in the Pilgrim's Office that were ALL miraculously "fixed" for me.

 

I wanted to learn Psalm 50. I practiced and practiced but could just not remember the whole thing. I remember trying to say it out loud on my trek, but it wasn't until I got back home that I just seemed to know it. Now I say it every night before bed and every time I wake up during the night to get back to sleep.

 

I guess my eureka moment was when I met St. John in the flesh (rather in the bone) at the Great Lavra. I have only seen icons as cartoons. It is only the Latins that draw icons in 3d and in flesh tones. Byzantines do not. They look like cartoons. When I was in line to venerate the relics they were all in Greek. I asked the Fr. who they were in English and when he told me the first one was St. John the Fore Runner, I broke down in sobbing tears much to his concern. I don't think he expected a stupid "American" to behave in such a way. But he took me to the side and they brought all the relics back out for me; which I thought was pretty cool of them.

 

My moment came when I realized icons are not of cartoon people we read about in books. They were living breathing people that died horrible deaths so I could Live in Christ. For the rest of my trip I cried every time I thought about it and venerated them. Even St. Joseph the Betrothed my parish's patron saint. For months afterwards and even now as I write this memory, I tear up.

 

Write a journal. Every night before you go to sleep, write down every thing you saw, felt heard, thought. Your memories will start to fade as soon as you get home. I have a 19 page diary. If I lose it, I will have lost a piece of me I can never get back.

 

Paul



#15 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 11:31 PM

That was beautiful Paul.  I can relate to the cartoon feeling/understanding.  As a convert I have thrown myself into everything knowing that what I missed for 60 years was right and true and still have trouble with icons.  I have trouble even with candles, even though I force myself to light them knowing that when the Lord want's me to understand I will. 

 

One person that I converse with that has gone to the Holy Mountain said that I should (along with the things you suggested) tape when permissible, the chanting, so I can listen to it again and again and be there daily.  I don't know the best way to do it but I'm thinking of trying.  Do you think it's possible?

 

Thank you so much for sharing your moments with me.

 

w.



#16 Paul Cowan

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 04:41 AM

All things should be done with permission. Once acquired you could put a hand held device in your pocket. I know most of the Frs. don't like pictures being taken in church or of themselves, but I don't know why they would object to a taping device.

 

PC



#17 Alice

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 03:08 AM

That was beautiful Paul.  I can relate to the cartoon feeling/understanding.  As a convert I have thrown myself into everything knowing that what I missed for 60 years was right and true and still have trouble with icons.  I have trouble even with candles, even though I force myself to light them knowing that when the Lord want's me to understand I will. 

 

One person that I converse with that has gone to the Holy Mountain said that I should (along with the things you suggested) tape when permissible, the chanting, so I can listen to it again and again and be there daily.  I don't know the best way to do it but I'm thinking of trying.  Do you think it's possible?

 

Thank you so much for sharing your moments with me.

 

w.

Dear Warren,

 

I don't know if you will be given the blessing (which one  should always ask for in anything out of the ordinary) to tape the chanting, but if you are not, don't worry, because you can hear many of the same chants by the same monks which have been taped on CD's which you can buy-.

 

We listen to CD's of services from the Holy Mountain all the time in the car. We have bought many of them from St. Nektarios monastery in Roscoe, NY., but I am sure that they are available at most of the monasteries of Father Ephraim here in the U.S.

 

Hope this helps!

 

Alice

 

P.S. Also, you tube has many chants available of Athonite monastic fathers.



#18 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 01:05 PM

Thank you so much Alice, for reminding me.  I to have, and do listen to the ones on youtube.  I just got carried away with thinking I could get something that I heard while I was there.

 

Do you see how many " I's " are in the above line of text?

Please pray for me that the time spent there will help me to reduce that.

Thank you again.

w.






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