After a leisurely lunch involving screening random songs from ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’, (if you haven’t watched, do so now) we left Sofia for the mountains.
Unfortunately, Bulgarians drive quite manically. Also unfortunately, I’m quite prone to getting carsick. The 2hr journey up to the mountains (complete with winding roads) involved me staring bolt ahead at the road, thinking calming thoughts and not trying to focus on anything in particular.
It wasn’t the best car trip of all time, but it was absolutely worth it. We were staying in a mountain resort, which was very, very lovely.
I really do love nature.
The next day, we started out on our mountain walking adventure. We reached a slight calamity when the chairlift we were meant to be taking up to the top of the mountain wasn’t working. The alternative, a jeep.
Given my motion sickness tendencies, I was apprehensive – assuming a continuation of the sweeping winding roads that we’d experienced so far. The reality was just so much worse. Indescribably worse. So unbelievably and comprehensively worse that it was absolutely hilarious. Calling the route up to the top of a mountain a ‘road’ would be an insult to decent pot-holed lined, flooded and overgrown roads everywhere. We were basically driving up a pile of rocks. Large rocks, ones which cause the vehicle to shake constantly and violently. We laughed, a lot. It was awful. In a really, really funny way.
Once we’d gotten up to the top (thankfully, only a 20 minute journey) and I’d recovered my composure, we were met with this:
Someone had drawn a flag onto a rock; on googling, I can’t find the nationality it represents. But it’s a lovely idea to mark your presence.
The mountains were beautiful. And windy.
Look of love ❤
Ben was cold, so I lent him my scarf which he proceeded to wear around his arms. It was excellent, it made it look as if he had winged devices attached to him. Very fly.
I just have so much love for these two weirdos ❤
We settled here for a picnic lunch – by a lake. It was the perfect spot.
Jane, the famous mountain orator.
Thankfully, the chairlift was operational again for our ride down. It was really fun floating past the tops of trees, such an interesting perspective of the mountainside scenery. Approximately 45778462 times better than the jeep.
Ben, looking so damn cool.
On leaving the mountains, we snapped the following graffiti – one of the funniest pieces of political graffiti I’ve ever seen. Yes, a lot of our conversation this trip involved Trump-bashing. It’s fairly inevitable.
Our last stop before returning to Sofia was Rila Monastery.
It was a significant detour, but completely & overwhelming worth it. One of the most stunning structures I’ve ever been in, resounding due to it being in the midst of mountains. There’s something about the juxtaposition of wildness and control – nature and civilisation: it was beautiful beyond description, and serene beyond belief.
It was built in the 10th century, and is the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It’s an icon for the country as pervasive as Big Ben or Niagara Falls, and is such a very popular tourist site. It’s also active – it houses around 60 monks, and we did see them wandering around. It must be an odd way to practice, but they also must be very used to it.
All of the colours were vibrant; they’d been repainted recently. It was all very done. In a very tasteful and appropriate way.
Amongst all the interesting pictures on the walls, there were a few inexplicable ones. I would love to hear the story behind the pistols hanging from a nail with curtain ties.
Real-life nun spotting.
Jane found a cat.
Photos really don’t do justice – it was a remarkable place, and I’m very grateful to Ben for taking us there.
For our last night in Sofia, we used the metro for the first time to go out to dinner. I was amused by an advert – learning English ‘for the brave’.
Our restaurant was a traditional Bulgarian one – it was incredibly cute and charming.
The food was excellent, but we colossally overordered. We also mistakenly ordered some ‘hot strained cheese’, which was – an acquired taste.
After a lovely large meal, we set off into the night.
For end of trip cocktails!
An amazing holiday, with incredible friends. To be repeated.