The Pilgrimage? | Travel Blog

Advertisement

Published: August 30th 2023

Edit Blog Post


Amorgos localAmorgos localAmorgos local

Issy joins the Rembrandts for a morning of drawing on the hotel terrace, while I head off on what I think I‘m entitled to call a pilgrimage. Amorgos Pilgrimage Route Number 5 should lead me to the Stavros Holy Church which is near the north eastern end of the island. The track starts off as a wide concrete path, but it seems that was only put there to lull us prospective pilgrims into a false sense of security. I’m not far out of Lagada when the route turns off the main path and deteriorates into a steep, narrow, windy, rocky goat track. For the first time since we arrived here there aren’t any clouds swirling around the peaks; the sky’s clear and it’s hot. The views down over Lagada, Aegiali and across to some of the neighbouring islands are excellent.

I’m starting to feel a bit lonely. I’ve been going for over an hour now and I haven’t yet come across any fellow pilgrims. I read that to go hiking here you need to obey three strict rules. You mustn’t go alone. I’m sure all the Rembrandts think I’m some mad hiking nut so there’s no chance of any of

Church of St John the TheologianChurch of St John the TheologianChurch of St John the Theologian

them coming with me, and I don’t know anyone else on the island. Secondly you must tell someone where you’re going and what time you expect to be back. I don’t usually know where I’m going to be going myself, let alone when I’m going to be back. Fortunately I’ve got the third one covered; I’ve got my phone with me. I haven’t got any reception, but the rules didn’t say anything about that minor detail.

I think I remember reading that there were two monasteries or churches along the route. I can’t remember the name of the first one, but the second one is the apparently iconic pilgrimage site, the Stavros Holy Church. I reach the first church. It’s a bit small, there are no signs, and I can’t get into it, but at least I can now tick that one off.

I round the bend and there’s the much larger looking Stavros Holy Church sitting up on the hilltop in front of me. I climb the path and walk triumphantly through the gate. I’ve completed my pilgrimage! I’m now officially a pilgrim! There are no signs here, and I can’t get into the church, but that

Amorgos localAmorgos localAmorgos local

doesn’t matter. I made it. I’m not sure if there’s anyone living here, but I’m pretty sure I can hear a radio, and it sounds like a Greek talkback, well either that or it’s not a radio at all, just one of the monks talking politics to his wife. I didn’t know Greek monks had wives. Anyway, the views across to both sides of the island from up here are excellent.

I start the long trek back. I haven’t been going for too long when I turn around to see a man on a donkey, or it could be a horse, riding along the track behind me. I think he must be the caretaker of some of the local churches and monasteries. He stops briefly at church number one, presumably to do some of whatever remote tiny church caretakers do, and then gets back on his horse and heads off again. I wave to him and he returns suit with a broad smile. A bit further on he suddenly emerges from nowhere and offers me some figs. He must have seen me up at the Stavros Holy Church, and he’s now rewarding me for having successfully completed my pilgrimage.

View towards AegialiView towards AegialiView towards Aegiali

That’s very kind.

As I hike along it’s a bit hard not to notice the remnants of what look like a handful of windmills on the top of the ridge hundreds of metres above me. That must be close to the highest point on the whole island, which is up at a very respectable eight hundred plus metres. I think I might have seen the ruins of one of these when I hiked up one of the cliffs a couple of days ago, and didn’t realise what it was. I read that the windmills scattered around the island were in use for around 300 years, mainly to produce flour. The ones in Chora were really close to the village (sorry town), but this lot are on the top of a mountain out in the middle of nowhere. It must have required an extraordinary amount of effort to get the grain up to them and the flour back down again to whoever was going to be using it. I hope it was worth it.

Back in Lagada again, and I proudly announce to Issy that I’m now officially a pilgrim. I get out my iPad to show her where

LagadaLagadaLagada

I went. Huh. What’s this? It seems I may have miscalculated. It looks like there are three churches along the route, not two, so I never actually made it to the Stavros Holy Church. Noooo! Disaster! All that effort I’m still not a pilgrim. I hope I don’t have to give the figs back – I left them in the bottom of my backpack to give to Issy and they’ve now disintegrated into an ugly sticky mess.

Anyway, the church I did get to was apparently the Church of St John the Theologian. It looked quite new, but my new friend the caretaker’s clearly been doing a good job. I read that it’s believed to have been built between the seventh and ninth centuries on the site of an ancient temple. … so not really all that new.

It seems Issy’s been having some fun of her own while I was off on my pilgrimage (which it seems has now been relegated to the status of a lowly hike). She tells me she came into our room when she came back from producing masterpieces to find me stretched out on the bed in my undies. Only it wasn’t

LagadaLagadaLagada

me, she’d gone into the room next door by mistake – well I hope it was by mistake. She says she’s still not quite sure who was more shocked, her or retired anaesthetist David. He was having a quiet morning off while his wife Jenny was off painting, or that was the idea until Issy barged in and upset the apple cart.



Advertisement

Tot: 0.04s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 8; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0173s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.1mb

https://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Greece/South-Aegean/Amorgos/blog-1079216.html

#Pilgrimage #Travel #Blog

Add a Comment