Athos Peninsula – forbidden for women!

We felt like Diaporos was a Venus Flytrap – no matter how hard we tried to escape, we just ended up back in the same place! It’s a lovely area but really beginning to wear thin now. We also do need to be on our way or we’ll not make it back to Preveza in time. So ….. finally ….. with fuel and provisions on board, we pull up the anchor and make the short crossing back to the Athos peninsula in the morning with the intention of cruising down and crossing back to find a place for the night at the bottom.

Athos is famous for its monasteries and is forbidden for women to go ashore – or indeed to be within 500m of the coastline. The ban also extends to female animals! The most Northerly part is home to a number of tourist resorts which are not part of the independent state but the remainder is holy ground, including the holy mountain Mount Athos itself which is 2033m altitude. The area has its own legal jurisdiction and although officially still part of Greece and the EU, the special rules and strictly followed and visiting is only possible for men by special permit.

There are 20 independent monasteries in the state of Athos and the state is home to just over 1800 monastic inhabitants.

It was a fascinating and curious place to see – we kept more than the prescribed distance from the shore, but with the help of the camera zoom, were still able to see the detail of most of the monasteries and other buildings. For an area which has so few inhabitants, there seemed to be a lot of accommodation available and still more building going on – you can’t help but feel there is a story there that isn’t being told.

The sea conditions were quite challenging towards the end of the afternoon and even if anchoring had been allowed, it would not have been a viable proposition. Having cruised the length of the peninsula, we crossed again to the Sithonia peninsula in the middle, and headed for the bay of Sikia where we had stayed on our inward journey.

We had now definitely escaped Diaporos and were on our way back to base!

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