My 7-week summer break has finally begun and I’m planning to visit:
There’s no theme this year, like The Silk Road or The Transsiberian Railway. I’m just combining visiting friends and family with visiting some countries in Europe I haven’t seen yet. Like Ireland. It’s embarrassing to have to admit that I have never been to Ireland, especially since I lived in the UK for 15 years, but there it is. It’s all out in the open now.
All the tickets up to Sweden have been booked already and I will book the rest as I go along. The only destination that requires more planning than air/train tickets and hotel bookings is the UNESCO heritage site Mt Athos. To enter this independent polity in Greece (it’s the Patriarch of Constantinople who has jurisdiction over the 20 monasteries there), you need a 4-day visitor’s permit called a diamonitirion. I’ve got this permit approved now, as well as bookings for accommodation at a couple of the monasteries there.
The whole process for applying to visit Mt Athos hasn’t been completely straightforward, but it hasn’t been overly complicated either. It obviously helps if you speak Greek (which I don’t; but a friend if a friend does) for the accommodation bookings. The person I’ve spoken to several times at the Mt Athos Pilgrims Bureau speaks impeccable English.