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Every morning of every season, Ouranopolis port at Chalkidiki is crowded by men waiting for the ship that goes to Mount Athos. That's where the end of the "modern" world is; beyond this point there are no highways and no limos. Only narrow paths. The boat that leads to Daphne passes near desolate and peaceful coasts, like the ones that existed in the old times, without massive buildings and factory chimneys.
People passing by
Visitors laying eyes on the monasteries, their domes and chimneys for the very first time are engulfed by a feeling of familiarity. The same experience is also described by some photographers visiting Mount Athos for the first time. They feel, as they say, that some pictures pre-exist inside them, even before they shoot them.
From the small monastery docks where the boat is anchored, small groups of shaved and puzzled pilgrims are disembarking, while others -unshaved and rather distracted- are getting ready to leave the monasteries.
The boat does not only transport people, but also fruits and vegetables necessary for feeding the monks and the pilgrims.
The worshipers begin their long walk on the mountain's paths from the small port of Daphne, holding a wooden cane and following the small red signs that show them the way through the forest. It is a long and lonely route, strongly bound to the monasteries. It also brings comfort to the pilgrim, as he looks at the monasteries coming into view, each one more beautiful than the one before it. On the way to the monasteries, the worshipers don't feel hungry, they're not in pain or afraid, even though there is not a soul in sight to help them in case of an emergency.
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEIROPOULOS