How can I stay in a Greek monastery?

by Caroline
(Stockholm, Sweden)

I just wanted to know the name of the Monastery in Thessaloniki, (or any Monastery in the Halkidiki area that will accept female guests) where you stayed with nuns, and possibly get the adress.

Answer:

Unfortunately the monastery I stayed in in Thessaloniki doesn't take guests - I was only there as part of a research study group that involved the monastery.

That said, it is extremely difficult to find women's accommodations in Greek monasteries (let alone in a specific region), and just as difficult to find information in English. Strangely enough, it is a lot easier to find Greek Orthodox nunneries, as the women's monasteries are called, outside Greece.

Despite quite a bit of digging, I haven't been able to come up with much. Perhaps other readers will...

A few tour organizations offer trips that include stays in Greek monasteries, and a random search brought up Goddess Pilgrimage.

These nunneries either have a web presence or are quoted by readers:
- Fragovouni Nunnery (Chios)
- Agios Nikolaos Nunnery (Santorini) Agios Nikolaos Nunnery
- Convent of Annunciation (Patmos)
- Agios Stephanos (Meteora)
- Asprovalta St. Lydia nunnery

You could also contact the Greet National Tourist Office in your country, or in Greece at visitgreece@gnto.gr, and it occurs to me that the Association of Tourist Guides of Thessaloniki might have some ideas at guideskg@otenet.gr. Of course there is no guarantee you'll be able to correspond in English.

Finally, you might glean some insight from these stories:
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/steph-is-abroad/1/1213259040/tpod.html or
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/mikvs/1/1250554724/tpod.html

You could also try this list of monasteries at
orthodox-christianity.org

If you do find any additional information I'm sure other readers would appreciate if you could come back and post it here!

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Where would be the best, cheapest place to stay in Istanbul?

by Delilah
(Cornwall)

Hi I am planning to go overland from Paris to Istanbul. And I was wondering if you had any advice as to transport/accommodation etc. Thank you.

Answer: Your question has two parts, how to get from Paris to Istanbul and where to stay. First, the journey. You have three realistic choices if you're traveling on a budget. My favorite is by train, and you'll find plenty of information at the excellent seat61.com. The second cheap way to travel in Europe is by low-cost flight, although the Paris-Istanbul route isn't as well-served as some. Still, whichbudget.com should point you towards some cheap flights, and I've found some good deals at Mondial and Marmara (beware, the sites are in French only so you may have to use Google Translate if your French isn't up to it). I would also check Turkish Airlines because they often have rock-bottom specials. Finally, there's the bus - I wouldn't even consider it, not even if you're in search of local color - usually provided by seasonal workers heading home for a holiday. Most of these buses leave from Germany, where there is a large Turkish population, rather than from France.

When it comes to accommodation, my first stop would be Tripadvisor for recommendations. You could also try Hostelworld and hostels.com, both of which have cheap listings for hostels. And if you're really low on funds, why not try Couchsurfing? It's not cheap - it's free!

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Jul 21, 2010
Paris to Istanbul
by: Melissa

Hi, It sounds like a fun trip. A couple of things - when looking at trains, depending on age, check out the possibility of Interrail/Eurrail tickets which are one payment, go anywhere tickets. For bus options, there is a British-owned coach company, Eurolines, which operates comfortable long-distance coaches all across Europe at really low rates. You'll find them all easily on google with local booking.

As far as accommodation is concerned, they don't work as well in Istanbul itself, but over the rest of the trip, for budget accommodation, you would do well to check out the Youth Hostel Association (Hostelling International) - they aren't just for the young, have some great city properties at really low rates.

In Istanbul, dependent on your budget, one of the best cheaper places I know is the Naz Wooden House (www.nazwoodenhouseinn.com) which is ?50-?90 per night for a single ? cheap by Istanbul standards, right by Aya Sofya. Hope you have a great time!

Jul 21, 2010
Thanks for the railpass advice!
by: Delilah

Thank you! I am really looking forward to it, and, as I am 19, I am looking into Interrail tickets now, as I think I would prefer to do the trip by train but I am not sure how to go about it, if I should get a whole Europe ticket or one for each seperate country. I would have to double back at the end of the trip as I am meeting my sister in Barelona. Maybe it would be easier and cheaper to get just a global pass.

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Can you recommend any monastery stays in France?

by Alice

Also I am 66 and traveling France with my 18 year-old granddaughter, low budget - any safety advice, or other advice? Suggestions?

Answer:

Alice, staying in a monastery is a good option if you're looking for clean, safe surroundings. They're often (though not always, so check carefully) cheaper than hotels or guest houses, and the rooms tend to be clean although again, there have been known exceptions. This article has some great suggestions for monasteries in France, or you can order an entire book about them.

As for safety and other tips, staying in a monastery is no different than staying in a regular hotel... you can usually expect the monks and nuns to be honest and the atmosphere to be safe. Most times the rooms are clean, although some monasteries are stricter about cleanliness than others. Just beware that they tend to have rules, and some have curfews. For more tips on monasteries, read Stay in a Monastery on this site.

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Do you know any English-speaking Buddhist monasteries?

by Samantha Johnson
(Chicago)

I am interested in temporarily staying with monks in France, Switzerland, or Thailand. Do you know of any place that does this with the teachings mainly in English?

Answer: The good news is that there are plenty of English-speaking Buddhist monasteries around - they are popular with students from North America, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Many English-speakers also volunteer at Buddhist monasteries to teach the monks English!

For Thailand, I'd try this retreat list, which has plenty resources for English speakers.

Switzerland has plenty of Buddhist monasteries, although they would tend to work in French or German. Still, many Swiss speak English so they are worth a try. Check with the Dharma centers database for a list of monasteries.

Finally, France may be the most difficult when it comes to English-language monasteries. Still, I'd start with the Plum Village Sangha.

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Jul 28, 2010
Moulin de Chaves
by: Anonymous

Here's a great one in France that offers retreats in both English and France (the owners/teachers are English): Moulin de Chaves at http://www.moulindechaves.org/

Aug 16, 2010
Kopan Monastery
by: Mary Passmore

Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal (http://www.kopan-monastery.com) has a variety of retreats all taught in English. I can recommend a home-stay place at http://www.familyhomestays.com with a family about 20 minutes walk from the monastery and a trekking company (info@destination.com.np) for anyone who wants to experience family life and/or explore the many treks in Nepal.

The homestay family also sponsors an orphanage and visitors of all ages from around the world volunteer at the orphanage and at the school the children attend in Kathmandu while staying with the Tamang family.

May 24, 2011
Buddhist monasteries in the UK?
by: michael

Can you plesase tell me where there are English-speaking monasteries in England, Wales or Scotland?

May 24, 2011
Lists of Buddhist monasteries in England and Scotland
by: Leyla

English monasteries? You're in luck - they're actually quite plentiful. Just start working your way through a good list, like the list of Buddhist temples at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Buddhist_temples or the one on http://www.dharmanet.org/infowebTherv.htm

Aug 20, 2012
Buddhist monastery in California? America?
by: Anonymous

Are there any English speaking Buddhist monasteries in America? I can't afford to travel out of the u.s., let alone California :(

Sep 18, 2012
Nalanda Monastery in the South of France
by: Anonymous

Nalanda Monastery in the South of France is an english speaking monastery in the Tibetian Tradition.
Website www.nalanda-monastery.eu

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Where do I get a list of monasteries and convents in Greece?

I am interested in this kind of accommodation but the information I can find isn't really comprehensive. Is there any way you can help?

Answer:

I haven't been able to find the perfect list online either - in fact, no list at all, but I have managed to find a few resources for you. If anyone else has suggestions, they'd be welcome!

Here goes:
The Independent
Trip Advisor
Panagia Vlahernon



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Couchsurfing for women?

by Margie
(USA)

Is there an organization like SERVAS or Couch surfing (in which you let a traveler stay at your home for free for a couple night) that is strictly for women or for retired teachers?

My answer:

I don't know of any network specifically dedicated to hosting other travelers but a number of women's networks provide advice, and some may also provide accommodation, although I wouldn't automatically expect it.

Women Welcome Women World Wide - also nicknamed 5W. It's a membership club that puts women travelers in touch with one another.

Another women's network that can provide information and advice is Her Mail, which puts you into email contact with other women travelers or women who have agreed to be in touch with others traveling to her country or city. Again, this is not a hosting service, but if there is one in the town you're heading for, a Her Mail member might know about it.

A women's travel network through which you can at least get in touch with women interested in travel is the Thelma & Louise Club. Again, no homestays, but you can make friends this way and then, who knows...

Just one thing: even though couch surfing and other similar outfits aren't for women only, the Advanced Search features usually allow you to search for specific accommodation types, so don't be shy to specify you want to be hosted by 'women only'!

If anyone out there knows of additional resources, please let the rest of us know and I'll add them to the site.

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What if I don't want to stay in hostels?

by Lisa
(Santa Monica, CA)

I traveled alone every summer during college Thailand, Mexico, and Europe. When I was 20, I stayed in hostels and cheap hotels. I'm 46 now and want to start traveling alone again.

I've outgrown hostels, but am not a "4 star hotel" gal either. I want accommodations that are safe, beautiful, reasonable, and with a common room so I can meet other travelers. I'm going to the South of Spain this summer...Barcelona, Ronda, Granada, Cordoba, Seville.

Any suggestions on hotels? I'd love a monastery stay too.

Answer:

I'm afraid I can't give you any specific information or recommendations on hotels or accommodation - this site doesn't do that. But I can suggest you post your questions on travel forums. At the cheaper end you could try BootsNAll, and for slightly more upmarket offerings post your question on Trip Advisor. You'll also find great information on Transitions Abroad.

Be as specific as you can in your question - post a separate question for each destination in the appropriate section, and mention the maximum you'd be willing to pay.

Another interesting option could be couchsurfing or similar services - plenty of people would love to host travelers and it's a great way to meet people who actually live where you're going.

For monasteries in Spain, try this site or buy Lodging in Spain's Monasteries from Amazon.

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