Bumbling through Bulgaria
To make the most of our jaunt through Bulgaria we booked a hire car from Sofia & started the next adventure: Bumbling through Bulgaria.
Our first stop was the Rila monastery. Named after the cave hermit, Ivan of Rila, who founded the monastery in the 10th century. This is certainly one of the most interesting and peaceful places I’ve ever spent the night.
It's the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
Next stop, Kovachevitsa - a beautifully preserved village. Old world Bulgaria! It was founded in the 17th century and was recognised by UNESCO in 1977. Walking the cobbled streets felt like stepping back in time - even the cars are old school!
We inadvertently grew an entourage of dogs on a hike to the next village. Harmless fun until we walked through the territory of another pack. Displays, threats & viciousness followed. The more cowardly of our doggy crew cowered around us, bringing us into the melee.
We bailed out of the pack at this point & ducked into a nearby cafe of sorts. It got a bit hairy, if you’ll pardon the pun. Interesting though, from an animal behavioural point of view. We'll be careful not to attract a pack again!
On to Western Bulgaria and Plovdiv - the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe.
Unsurprisingly, construction companies have a nightmare here. When they start to excavate the land ready for laying foundations, inevitably they find some ancient building or other & have to stop work. Archaeologists have to be brought in & a decision has to be made - preserve the ancient building or build the new one.
There is a fabulous mix of new and old in the city. Old town dates back more than 8 millennia. New town is a heady mix of cafe culture, good food and street art.
Driving through the country was another great experience. The roads were generally much better than most of the Balkan countries we've seen so far. Lots of beautiful countryside!
Thanks for the memories, Bulgaria!
We dropped the car off in Plovdiv and took a bus into Istanbul for the next part of our adventure.