Friday, May 30, 2014

Bulgaria Day Trip

While I was in Bulgaria, I got to take a day trip to the countryside! One of my favorite things to do is being able to observe the way people live throughout an entire country. And, at the same time, there are some real gems hidden across the Bulgarian county-side! 


The morning was an early one. I grabbed some breakfast at the hotel before the tour company picked me up. Luckily, the group was fairly small that day. Myself and three other women plus the tour guide. It got to be much more customizable due to the small group! 

About two hours post being picked up, we started up the curvy mountain roads to Rila Monastery. When I say curvy, I mean the type that caused me to get motion sickness. I ended up having to put my sunglasses on, closed my eyes, and then chugged a bottle of water. But, the drive was worth it!

Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery is listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Built in the 10th century, Rila Monastery is known as largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria.  At one time, there were more monks than there were rooms. However, today, there are only nine monks in residence. 

Oldest Part of the Monastery 

Say Cheese!
We toured as much as we were allowed to see. Inside the main building, there were numerous relics from the original building of the monastery.

While we were there, we also tried the "famous" bread made at the monastery. Sadly, I likened it to fried dough from a state fair. Still had to try it though!

Post viewing the monastery, we stopped at local "famous" restaurant. Known for their access to a fresh water stream from the mountain ranges, we all dined on the trout. 


Re-engergized, we headed to Melnik for our last stop of the day.  

Melnik used to be a huge city and served as a seat of the Ottoman Empire at one point.  It is roughly 15 km from the Greek border (no small trip, that day). Apart from the fact that only 450 people now live in the city, Melnik is famous for its wine. We got to tour a wine cellar, sample our way around the city, and see how people live in the town. It has to be one of my favorite memories of Bulgaria.

Wine Cellar

Sampling...Check!

Melnik

Old Ottoman Empire Building
It was an amazing day trip to the country-side. If you're in Bulgaria, make sure to get outside of Sofia!