Showing posts from September, 2013

Bulgaria: A postcard from the periphary

The industrial remains of Soviet Socialism are very evident in the towns on the outskirts of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Decay and dereliction scars the region.  Listen to a podcast description of the startling views from a bus window travelling west towards Macedonia.

Photo:  A warm welcome in the village of Dobrinovo

Mount Athos Epiphany

The ferry to Mount Athos is a serene, sedate affair. Women have been left behind. Black clad bearded monks and priests finger rosary beads and contemplate the steep rise of pine clad foothills to the sharp jagged mountain pinnacle. Peppered amongst the black gowns are logo brandishing pilgrims flicking mobile phones; some carrying wooden staffs. 

Here 21st century meets ancient tradition head on. Although Athos is a peninsula the feeling is of cutting away from the modern world, to an island set back in time. Among the foothills to the Mountain there are many monasteries where one can stay and pray. Since praying for my life Afghanistan I had lost all resistance to deep contemplation or prayer. In the words of William Dalyrmple Athos is, “A self governing monastic republic dedicated to prayer chastity and pure untarnished orthodoxy.” So it was to this rather austere environment I came for solace.  Fortuitously unplanned my arrival comes at an auspicious time. It is the feast of th…