2 May 2013

Switzerland with Mosques and the Sumela Monastery

Day 6. 30 April 2013.

Waking up in there middle of nowhere is a wonderful thing - all the same simple things whish make settings up the camp good are there again in the morning - a focus on striking camp, breakfast and then hitting the road. As nice at have WiFi access it at the campsite tonight is (it allows me to keep in contact with your lot), having no contact with the outside and being focused on the moment is good too - I need to find a balance between these two, where I think it's a little too sided towards contact at the moment. We'll see.

There only planned activity for the day was a visit to the Sumela Monastery, a now disused ancient christian monastery half way up a cliff. No, really, this thing is build into a cliff, about 800 metres up. I'd shown you the pictures I've taken, but they are still stuck on them camera - a quick image search will show you what I mean.
Given how big it is and where it is, my first thought (after: wow!) was: how the hell did they build that?! Humans do some amazing (and also stupid and downright nasty) things in the name of God.
Rachel had a good point - gives that the place is built where there was a miraculous appearance or Mary in the rocks (order so the storyline goes) - what were the people who've discovered it doing up their in the first place?! It isn't what you'd call accessible.
The place itself is another place I'm glad I've visited - it's an insight in to a world in just don't know; the world of a people who build a monastery in a place which just can't have been easy to build in, make it fully functional by building an acquaduct (because building the monastery just wasn't hard enough), have then carved out a "priest room" and decorated with fresco painted scenes from the bible. Being atheist (although one with another increasing soft spot for Buddhism) I won't haven got from my place what someone who has actually read the bible could, but well worth the visit regardless.

One of the side bonuses to the visit is that we had a gentle 40 min walk up the hill to get to the monastery, providing a nicely relief for the otherwise far too static time only the truck - yes the truck is moving long distances, but there in limited ability for us to do real exercise; this is a major change in my life as compared to the previous 6 months. It's nice to be able to stretch my legs properly.

The bonus "activity" of the day was the drive, or at least the views whilst driving - he says with a feeling that I'm turning in to a stuck record. Having spent a week or so in the Swiss and Austrian Alps a few years ago there scenery was very familiar - mountains, twisty passes which take you up & over, small little groups of houses, rivers through the valleys and all with a touch on snow still on the peaks. The major difference - mosques. All the little "Swiss" towns and villages had a mosque; other than that you could have been in Europe.