Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Free Stays with the Monks

Although I am not generally a fan of gender segregation, I recently learned of such a good deal for men only that I had to write about it. At Mount Athos, the renowned Orthodox holy site in Greece, men can stay at any of a number of monasteries for free. Conditions are very rigourous and you need to apply six months in advance, but it sounds like a fascinating adventure. (You do need to pay between $50 and $60 for a residence permit and ferries to the site.)
There is a very interesting account of one man's visit to Mt. Athos in the current issue of International Travel News(,) a mainly reader-written print publication that offers a few of its articles for free online.
The writer, Bill Altaffer, says that his visit to Mt. Athos, difficult though it was, was the highlight of his lifetime of travel. The difficulties include problems getting accurate information while at the monasteries, travelling between monasteries, and living conditions in the monasteries. He had a good meal at the start of his visit, but then things went downhill. Lodging is in dormitories, toilets are Eastern style, and there are no bathing facilities for guests. Silence is observed at all meals.
Still, although he returned from the trip thinner, dirty and tired, Altaffer found it very inspirational.
International Travel News itself could be worth investigating for its no-holds-barred first hand accounts of international travel. A subscription costs $24 a year.


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