Bad habit

After witnessing a near punch up between a stroppy German archaeologist and an Orthodox Priest (and that’s not a sentence I’ll write more than once,) I decided to get on the road early.

I knew trouble was brewing when the slightly unhinged German snapped back at some pilgrims during evening meal
They told him to be quiet (a monk reads from the Bible ) and he told them to get lost

(he’s travelling the world and wants to visit Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq because if the “history”. He seemed slightly put out to be refused permission – notwithstanding the fact those are two of the most dangerous cities on the plant

He also believes that 6000 years ago there existed a higher civilisation with “triangular heads”. And he’s spent 5 years travelling the world trying to prove it.

It all kicked off when he tried to take a picture of the main gates. Unfortunately the priest was sitting in shot
I’ve never been fond of Orthodox monks. They strike me as a surly and miserable bunch I’ve met a few on mountain tracks and they completely ignored me
But this guy took surliness to new heights.
They don’t like having their pictures taken and he went mad at the German who gave as good as he got.
Two police officers stepped in and still the German guy wouldn’t shut up.
It ended with him being ordered to leave the monastery at 7am. Which meant he missed a “hearty ” breakfast of bread jam and olives …

I walked across the headland to my final monastery.
Another German who’s visited here 20 times told me the walk was “flat”
Dear God. If that’s his definition of flat I’d hate to see his mountains.

As the crow flies it was probably about 8 miles. That would normally take a couple of hours
Five and a half hours later I literally staggered into St Anna’s Skete (like a monastery but smaller)
The last stretch was particularly cruel. Steep downhill on a surface that all hikers hate – small loose rocks that roll under your feet and – in my case – sending you flat on your back with an oath that reverberates round the Holy Mountain

My legs were shaking. My feet blistered and red from the combined effect of crap walking boots and mosquito bites.
But it was the friendliest welcome so far
Greek coffee, Turkish Delight, cold cold water and – get this – a glass of Raki
. Sometimes I love monasteries

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